Here are some labels that apply to Donald Trump:
On Monday, the nonpartisan group No Labels gave him a new, and hilarious, one: problem solver.
Six presidential candidates – Democrat Martin O’Malley and Republicans Ben Carson, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Trump – signed the organization’s Problem Solver Promise, officially making them No Labels Problem Solvers. The group says it will bestow the label on any candidate who signs its meaningless pledge.
No Labels declined to make an exception for Trump – the candidate who has proposed, among many other things, building a giant border wall, deporting 11 million people, banning Muslims from entering the country and shutting down mosques. In just the last two days, he’s come out in favor of direct head-to-head collisions in the NFL and elephant torture.
The only problem Trump could solve is that we don’t have a dumb enough president.
Calling Donald Trump a “problem solver” is the natural result of dedicating an entire organization to the destruction of partisanship. No Labels, chaired by failed presidential candidates Jon Huntsman (too liberal to win the GOP nomination) and Joe Lieberman (too conservative to be the Democratic nominee) wants the parties to come together to solve problems – which sounds like a lovely goal until you realize the problems it wants to solve are defined by a narrow, elite group of people, most of whom look like Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman.
Just look at the promises the candidates had to sign onto:
–Create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years
–Secure Social Security and Medicare for another 75 years
–Balance the federal budget by 2030
–Make America energy secure by 2024
Looks reasonable at first blush. But the first and last pledges are meaningless – who wouldn’t want to create jobs? And the middle two are downright pernicious: When nonpartisan interest groups push plans to “secure” entitlements like Social Security, nine times out of ten they’re proposing cuts to benefits. And balancing the federal budget is a great way to sound serious, but it can be terrible policy when the economy needs stimulus.
No Labels doesn’t offer solutions, just problems, and it demands people put aside partisanship to figure out a way to fix them. What No Labels, along with huge swaths of the punditocracy, refuse to acknowledge is that the two sides disagree fundamentally on how to fix society’s worst ills, on what those ills even are, and on the fact that one side is correct while the other is wrong.
Labels are good. Labels matter.
Around the same time No Labels was announcing it believes Donald Trump has what it takes to solve America’s problems, Louisiana swore in a new governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards. Within hours, Bel Edwards announced he was reversing the policy of the previous governor (another failed presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal) and accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid.
This decision will give thousands and thousands of people in Louisiana health care coverage they didn’t have before, at no cost to the state. It’s a no-brainer.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the newly elected Republican governor, Matt Bevin, is doing the reverse and trying to take health care away from some of his poorest citizens. In Virginia, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been stymied by the GOP-controlled legislature in his attempts to expand Medicaid.
This is a fundamental difference between the two parties: Obamacare passed with almost exclusive Democratic support, and the governors who have opposed Medicaid expansion have been almost exclusively Republicans. Every every single GOP presidential candidate has pledged to overturn Obamacare, while none has offered a plan that wouldn’t result in millions of people losing their health insurance.
Labels matter because ideas matter. If you want to solve the problem of people not having health insurance, you don’t put partisanship aside: You elect politicians from the party that gets it done.
Solutions are, by their nature, partisan. Pledging to create 25 million jobs in a decade is meaningless if you think you can do it by slicing the top tax rates. We won’t drill our way to energy independence.
If you don’t care about actual solutions, or the ideology that underpins them, you might just end up suggesting that a racist buffoon like Donald Trump has what it takes to solve America’s problems. And if you do that, you lose what little credibility you ever had.