Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Do Trump’s GOP Challengers Have Any Policy Ideas (Besides Opposing Trump)?


New rule: If you want to launch a primary challenge against a sitting U.S. president with high party approval ratings, you have to actually say why your ideas are better.

Elections provide the best opportunity to inject new ideas into public debate. It’s no surprise to anyone that politicians pay the most attention to their constituents when they are out seeking votes.

Unfortunately, President Trump’s competitors don’t seem particularly eager to share their policy aspirations with the American people. Or they don’t have any.

As a political news junkie, I scoured the Internet in hopes of discovering what meaningful policy disagreements exist between President Trump and his Republican challengers on economics. Are they with the President on tariffs? Immigration? Monetary policy?

This exercise proved to be a pretty solid waste of my time.

Perhaps I should have taken heed after stumbling on the report that, when asked about what he would do in his first days in the Oval Office, candidate Joe Walsh stated, “It’s not about issues. It’s about Trump.”

Uh…come again?

Joe Walsh, Bill Weld, I get it. You guys hate Trump. But come on — if you expect anyone to listen to what you have to say, you have to at least turn in your homework. Why bother running for president if you don’t want to put forward actual ideas? If you don’t have a platform, maybe just stick to foaming out the mouth on a low-rated radio talk show.

Speaking of which, is the author of this tweet before the 2016 election actually lecturing Trump supporters about civility?

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The campaign websites for Trump’s longshot primary challengers Joe Walsh and Bill Weld are embarrassing. Good luck finding one non-impeachment policy position Walsh holds (post in the comments if you find one!). Ditto for Weld, who also does not put forward any plans to distinguish himself from Trump — other than a vague statement that “the current occupant of the White House” does not possess a “deep understanding” of how climate change and income inequality are interconnected. Enlighten us then, oh woke one!

And then there’s Mark Sanford. To his credit, Sanford is not shying away from naming what he feels is his biggest policy disagreement with Trump. Sanford is running a single-issue campaign focused on the national debt. I generally think Sanford overly obsesses on the debt when the focus should be on reducing government spending, but the materials on his website provide interesting food for thought. But while the website gives fine background on the national debt, it is light on his solutions.

All three of Trump’s primary challengers will be taking the stage at “Politicon” in the next couple days. When they do, let’s see if the three of them combined are capable of forming an actual agenda. If they won’t engage President Trump on policy matters, why would they expect us to tune in to their race?

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Jonathan Decker

Jonathan Decker is the Chief Economic Correspondent for

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