Dunagin: Donald Trump is not so conservative

By CHARLES DUNAGIN GUEST COLUMNIST,

There was no shortage of self-styled “pro-Trump conservatives” in this month’s Mississippi Republican primaries.

Not every candidate in every race ran a television advertisement including Donald  Trump’s picture or a pledge to stand by the president in protecting the border and Mississippi values, but quite a few did.

In at least one race, for secretary of state, Sam Britton and Michael Watson traded barbs over who is the most pro-Trump.

No doubt there’ll be “pro-Trump conservatives” running throughout the general election.

I don’t question the bonafides of Mississippi politicians claiming to be conservative.

Most, if not all of them,  are conservative if measured  by the  definition of the term  as “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.”

Nor do I question the political value of aligning with the president who may be more popular in this state than anywhere else in the country.

So, I understand why they claim to be “pro-Trump conservatives.”

But there is a bit of a dichotomy here. In my view Trump isn’t very conservative by any definition of the word, either personally or politically.

He’s the quintessential caricature of an abrasive and arrogant New Yorker. He appeals to fundamentalist Christians but is not very religious himself. His personal lifestyle, including his history with women, isn’t what they teach in Sunday School. He evaded the draft when many Mississippians his age were dying in Vietnam.

But enough about Trump’s personal qualities or lack of what I consider traditional Mississippi values.

He’s even less of a conservative when it comes to government spending.

In Mississippi, the state is required to spend no more than it takes in, and conservative Legislatures and governors have adhered to that rule.

Not so, the federal government, and in the Trump administration the federal debt  and deficits are climbing to record levels.

Last week, Trump  signed into law a budget bill that will add an estimated $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

According to an article in USA Today, “when other bills that Trump has signed are factored in, Trump’s total contribution to the national debt is projected to top $4.1 trillion, the budget watchdog group said.”

When Trump became president, the national debt was $19 trillion, and it’s now reached a high of $22 trillion.

In 2016, Trump promised he’d eliminate the national debt over an eight-year period. It’s doubtful he’ll be able to do that in the next five years as he currently is heading in the wrong direction.

Of course he also said Mexico was going to pay for a  wall on the border. That doesn’t seem to be on track to happening either.

Give some credit to the Democrats for last week’s budget deal. Their votes helped push it through both the House and the Senate. It was one time when President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were allies.

But Democrats are noted for big spending, the difference being they are likely to raise taxes to do it.

Everett McKinley Dirksen, who died in 1969, was a well-known Republican in the 1950s and 1960s who represented Illinois in the House of Representatives and the Senate where he became Senate Minority Leader.

Speaking of federal spending he  is noted as saying: “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money.”

Now it’s trillions here and there instead of  billions, and a real conservative can’t help but wonder how much longer this kind of spending, along with tax cuts, can be sustained.

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