About 12 hours after the first prime-time GOP debate a message from a group called True Conservatives PAC showed up in my email with the title “you’re a useful idiot.” The beginning of the email is listed below.

defendthedonald

It’s obvious Trump has struck a chord with people who are apoplectic at the GOP Establishment and for good reason. But people should stop to ask whether Trump is a conservative or if he’s using the crowded GOP field to promote himself. There’s also the entire “Trump is a Democrat plant” theory rolling around, which may or may not be true. But let’s take a look at some of the stances he took during the first prime-time debate.

Trump was asked by Bret Baier why he supported single-payer in 2000. Here’s his answer.

As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here. What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state…Get rid of the artificial lines and you will have…— yourself great plans. And then we have to take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves. And I will do that through a different system.

Here’s the problem: the single-payer systems in Scotland and Canada aren’t working. The Fraser Institute did a study on wait times in Canada, which found people waited a LONG time to see a specialist after seeing a general practitioner (emphasis mine).

Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian Healthcare…Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 18.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment. This wait time is 96% longer than in 1993 when it was just 9.3 weeks. There is a great deal of variation in the total waiting time faced by patients across the provinces. Ontario reports the shortest total wait (14.1 weeks), while New Brunswick reports the longest (37.3 weeks).

As far as Scotland is concerned, Avik Roy at Forbes writes why that single-payer system isn’t working “incredibly well,” especially for cancer patients.

If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S., you have an 84 percent chance of living for five years. In Scotland, it’s 71 percent. If you have colon cancer in the U.S., you have about a 60 percent chance of surviving five years. In Scotland, it’s 46 percent. If you have prostate cancer in the U.S., you have a 92 percent chance of living five years; in Scotland, it’s 48 percent.

Sounds fantastic right? It’s true Trump talked about getting rid of state lines for insurance companies, which isn’t a bad idea. But he also talked about taking care of those who can’t afford it. This suggests a government-run system of some kind, whether it’s Medicaid or single-payer or Obamacare. The U.S. already has a single-payer system: it’s called the VA system. How’s THAT going? If Trump was a “conservative” he’d be more interested in letting people buy whatever insurance they wanted without a government mandate. Or trying to figure out how to get it back to doctors prescribing their own prices without worry about the insurance companies at all.

Trump also admitted to buying and selling politicians.

TRUMP: I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give.
And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.

Baier: So what did you get?

TRUMP: And that’s a broken system.

Baier: What did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?

TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world.

Note he didn’t say what he got from Nancy Pelosi. This is a fundamental problem. Trump can rail all he wants about the broken system (and it is broken). But talking about it and participating in it are two different things. And Trump is admitting to participating in it. Here’s the other thing about buying and selling politicians. It doesn’t have to involve political donations at all. Amity Shlaes wrote in her biography on Calvin Coolidge how people wanted to use their presidential connections to gain influence.

Even old friends could not resist exploiting the advantage of knowing a president. After he joined the Congregational Church in Washington, his family minister, Kenneth Welles, at the Edwards Church, could not conceal his glee at the power derived from being able to claim a president in the fold. In a letter to the president, Welles got specific on the power Coolidge’s step would give him to get support from the congregants: “It is going to give me a grip on some men like Gred Garrar and Judge Field which I never otherwise would have that.”

And that’s from a minister! Anyone remember the Ohio Gang involving Coolidge’s predecessor, Warren G. Harding? These were people who were friends of Harding who became political leaders. Trump has already talked about putting friends in charge of the VA system. Who’s to say he’s not going to do the same thing as Harding? Trump has used political connections to seize houses through eminent domain, including one from an elderly widow in Atlantic City. Since she wouldn’t sell, he used the New Jersey government to seize it. The government got tax dollars in return. Favor for favor.

Get past his rhetoric on illegal immigration. From a political standpoint, do we really want a president who thinks single-payer would have worked and admits to buying and selling politicians? Remember, Obama promised reform too, and then went out and rewarded his friends. Trump isn’t a conservative and to paint him as one is ridiculous. There’s a ton of anger out there and all Trump is doing is tapping into it by pretending to be a populist. But there’s a big difference between channeling anger into actually trying to solve the problem (and being very direct with it) and just giving in to rage. Trump is hoping people will just stay angry all the way to the White House (if he’s really serious about this run at all) so he can put in big government solutions and hand out favors. That’s not what a “true conservative” is. Those claiming otherwise just need to stop.