Mises Would Not Support Trump
It’s not clear how Mises would feel about every individual facet of the current election, but we can say without hesitation that he would not support either major candidate. It should be obvious that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose virtually every tenet of classical liberalism and sound economics. Unfortunately, justified opposition to Clinton has led many people to overlook the fact that Trump’s major positions also run directly contrary to the economic and political doctrines of classical liberals like Mises.
Consider the following (incomplete) list of ways that Mises would oppose Trump’s views and policies:
- The racism and nationalism that characterize the Trump campaign also help to undermine peaceful social cooperation, which Mises stressed is the very foundation of society.
- The old-fashioned protectionism that Trump espouses is completely antithetical to the free trade doctrines of Mises, who fought mercantilist fallacies throughout his life.
- As a student of the classical liberal theory of class, Mises would recognize that the politics of Trump’s protectionism will create a privileged class that exploits the productive members of society. This class contains more than just politicians: it also includes the big businesses that support them.
- Trump’s enthusiasm for government control of immigration means abrogating property rights and labor markets, which Mises showed are vital in the struggle for free trade and peace between peoples.
We can’t know in every case what Mises would think if he were they alive today. But we can feel confident claiming that, true to his character, he would firmly defend free trade and peace against all their opponents on the left and right.
Matt McCaffrey is assistant professor of enterprise at the University of Manchester.