Grading President Trump’s Libertarianism: Personal Liberty

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address marks the midway point of his first term. This is the first of four articles to analyze his policies and how well they relate to the Libertarian Party’s platform and libertarianism in general.

The four points to be analyzed are:

  • Personal Liberty
  • Economic Liberty
  • Securing Liberty
  • Overall Liberty

The Presidents policies will be analyzed with regards to how well I believe they correlate with the LP’s platform.

Self-Ownership, Expression and Communication, Privacy

President Trump’s appointment of two anti-marijuana legalizations Attorney Generals (Jeff Sessions, William Barr) and his expansion of the Drug War, most especially concerning opioids and the wall, are attacks on self-ownership. When it comes to substance use, he favors an authoritarian approach to substance use.

Self-Ownership Grade: D

His attacks on NFL players for kneeling to highlight the need for criminal justice reform, as well as to support immigrants from Muslim-dominant countries, are violations of freedom of self-expression. At the same time, he created a special class of citizens for law enforcement officers and public employees in which crimes against them would be legally treated as hate crime. However, he has not taken much legal action to stifle expression which means the government is not growing in this area.

Expression and Communication Grade: C

President Trump hasn’t ended the NSA/DHS spying on American citizens, despite complaining about being bugged by President Obama. Our President has demonized Edward Snowden but praised Wikileaks. Basically, he only supports whistleblowers when it helps him. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court despite his anti-Fourth Amendment writings. Many credit Kavanaugh’s legal writings for building justification for the surveillance state.

Privacy Grade: D

Personal Relationships, Abortion, and Parental Rights

President Trump has not made an issue out of defining marriage. If he continues the hands-off approach on government involvement in marriage, that would aid his score. Removing government from personal relationships is the preference. However, he has been antagonistic toward transgender persons regarding bathroom usage and has banned them from military service. I see this as the all too familiar republican story of only being for small government when personal beliefs coincide.

Personal Relationships: C

Early in his administration, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, which keeps Federal funding from being used to pay for international abortions. Later, he authorized State governments to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Both moves reduced the amount of State involvement in the abortion issue. However, he does advocate for legislation to ban various forms of abortion, which re-engages the State on the issue. Many are concerned that he has stacked the Supreme Court with Justices who will overturn legal precedent on the issue.

Abortion Grade: C

President Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, signaling a commitment to end Federal involvement in our education. In this capacity, DeVos has worked to eliminate Federal involvement while promoting private and home-schooling options. Additionally, our President signed an Executive Order aimed at curtailing the amount of Federal involvement allowed in education.

Education Grade: A

Crime and Justice, Death Penalty, Self-Defense

The First Step Act is a great opening salvo at a larger and more comprehensive criminal justice reform. Trump has talked about going further on this issue. Yet, his expansion of the Drug War that criminalizes victim-less crimes and his State-centered approach on sex-trafficking contradicts a libertarian stance on crime and justice.

Crime and Justice Grade: B

President Trump is in favor of the administration of the death penalty by the State.

Death Penalty Grade: F

Our President portrays himself a champion of gun ownership rights. He has opposed various attempts at gun control on the Federal level. However, he banned bump stocks and advocates for enhanced background checks.  He also supports red flag laws. He has also expressed support for Senator Feinstein to pass Assault Weapon Bans. In terms of immigration, private property owners deserve the right to enforce their property boundaries, even on our international border with Mexico, however they see fit. Immigration reform should address that reality.

Self-Defense Grade: B

Rating Trump on personal liberty, I give him a C (2.0). He could really harm his score if he continues promoting State-centered solutions at the expense of individual rights. I am truly rooting for him to improve that score.

Stay tuned for the next article in which I will grade Trump’s policies on Economic Liberty.


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