Dangerous people have existed in the past. Dangerous people will exist again in the future. But at this place, at this time, Donald Trump is perhaps the most dangerous.
Like a bull in a china shop, Trump has not only alienated millions with his rhetorical brimstone and bombast, but hijacked an entire political party that once promoted limited government, setting the stage for a fiscally disastrous and alarmingly intrusive federal government.
Yet as convenient as it might be to blame the legion of anti-establishment matadors who unleashed the bull to begin with, the fact remains Trump is merely the byproduct of precedent set before him, and an archaic conservative ideology that has adapted to modern times in all the wrong places.
Executive action, of course, is nothing new. During his time in office, President Obama embarked on a slew of executive actions, ranging from gun control to cyber-security information sharing, much to the dismay of right wing conservatives who built political careers out of screaming the sky was falling.
Likewise, Bush signed his own share of executive orders, permitting new enhanced interrogation techniques and blocking stem-cell research, triggering backlash among liberals.
In both cases, however, the potential long term consequences of bypassing congress and flexing executive muscle went largely ignored.
Now that a new president has stepped into office, however, those consequences have become increasingly clear, and in many ways, only reinforced what some of us have warned all along: big government begets big government.
But there is an important difference between then and now.
Unlike Democrats, who never pretended to advocate anything other than big government, Republicans have — at least in the abstract — traditionally promoted and rallied behind small government.
That position, however, has steadily eroded over time, if not completely disappeared this past election.
Since Trump bulldozed his way into the highest office in the land, conservative Republicans have been nowhere to be found. Rather than speak out at the risk of criticism within their own party, self-proclaimed constitutionalists like Ted Cruz — once a vocal critic of Trump — have instead laid down like dogs out of self-preservation and political expediency.
Never mind the dangerous course Trump has single-handedly set the nation on in merely two weeks.
Few actions have been more unnerving than Trump’s executive order to authorize a $15 billion dollar border wall, and restrict travel from certain countries. However, Trump’s move to suppress scientific data, repeated attempts to manipulate the press, and threats to send the federal government into Chicago should be equally alarming.
Under Obama, and even Bush for that matter, a prominent core of dissenting conservatives could always be relied on to object to the federal government overstepping its boundaries, providing balance and preserving certain long held values.
Under Trump, those values have been severely uprooted and altered with little to no opposition.
Conservative family values have been swapped with calls to rip apart families through restrictive immigration policies. Free trade has been dumped in place of import taxes. And individualism has been overrun with groupthink.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party — America’s only mainstream alternative — has spent what valuable time it has infighting and parading the streets with reproductive organs on its head. Need I say more?
Trump supporters, many who consider themselves limited government conservatives, point to a freeze on federal hiring and a withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership as proof Trump still holds many of their same values.
But at what cost did those policies come?
Executive action by its very nature can never solve big government. On the contrary, a small government predicated on abuse of executive power is equally dangerous. For this reason, a limited government should be measured by action and type of action, not merely employee size and spending.
The nation is at a critical crossroad. Americans who oppose Trump have a historic responsibility to put party affiliation aside and work together to prevent further damage to the country. Anything less risks the very values our nation was founded on.
Worse, it sets more dangerous precedent for the next bull who enters the china shop.
If there’s anything left of the china shop.
This column was written by Brandon Loran Maxwell and originally appeared at Bold in February 2017.
Brandon Loran Maxwell is a writer, speaker, and prize winning essayist. His writings and commentary have appeared at The Hill, Salon, Townhall, The Washington Examiner, The Oregonian, FEE, and Latino Rebels Radio, among others. He regularly speaks on a variety of social topics, and has been cited at outlets such as The Los Angeles Times, Vox, and The Washington Post. His personal essay “Notes From An American Prisoner” was awarded a Writer’s Digest prize in 2014, and his one-act play “Petal By Petal” about drug and alcohol addiction was performed at The Little Theater in 2009. In addition, Brandon has fronted various punk rock and hip hop groups. He holds a B.S. in political science, and often writes about prison reform, immigration reform, pop culture, music, and Chicano culture.