Anyone who has read Friedrick Hayek's The Road to Serfdom should be able to understand the new popularity of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. When Hayek writes that the average person is attracted to the "can do" leader, it is not hard to believe that Trump fits within the broad definition of what Hayek had in mind.
It is the belief that what the country needs is a leader who can fix things. As far as Trump on the issues, it appears his view is exactly this view that what is needed is a qualified leader and that he is such a leader and President Obama is not.
With this as his sole guiding light, Trump can come down anywhere on any issue. He does not appear to have any deeply formed views about free markets, foreign affairs or anything else. He has a very gut instinct view, which attracts the average man in the street.
The masses can also sense that Trump is not beholden to the usual special interest groups. He does not appear to couch his words for the benefit of protecting any particular group. This also makes Trump attractive to the masses. But deep down, what Trump would be as a candidate is the anti-Ron Paul. Where Dr. Paul is humble, Trump is boastful. But more important, where Dr. Paul has a studied and deep appreciation of liberty and the intricacies of what liberty means in different situations, Trump has an off the cuff, ad hoc manner of looking at issues.
During a recent interview on the Today Show, Trump said that he wished that President Obama was the "greatest President since Abraham Lincoln", which shows that Trump has no deep understanding about Lincoln and simply has the pedestrian view, fed to us by mainstream media and the government controlled education system.
He also said during the interview that the only reason that he would be interested in interfering in Libya is if "we can get the oil". If nothing else, this is certainly an open and blunt statement about the fact that the United States is an international bully, and that he wants to maintain that policy, at least as far as Libya goes.
Trump can read a financial statement so he knows the current budget posturing between Democrats and Republicans over a tiny portion of a huge out of control budget is a joke. During the interview he called the cuts, "peanuts".
Some time back, I heard Trump criticize Fed Chairman Bernanke for not pushing interest rates down fast enough, so this means Trump either doesn't understand the destruction that Federal Reserve manipulation of interest rates causes or he doesn't care as long as it helps the sector where he makes a good chunk of his money, the real estate sector.
Outside of the few positions reflected in these Trump comments, it is hard to know how Trump will land on any issue. He certainly has no principled stand against government intervention in the economy or the world and most likely no principled stand against government intervention when it comes to personal freedom.
Since it is clear he has no understanding of Hayek's warning about the "can do" leader, one can certainly surmise he has no understanding of Hayek's further warning of how the "can do" leader is also the leader that leads a country down the road to serfdom. And it is because of this, that a President Trump may be a very dangerous thing.
Further, a Trump candidacy should also not be taken lightly. I have always been fascinated how Trump as a developer has had no problems with the notoriously difficult to deal with NYC construction unions. Trump seems to be able to work with them. During the general election, this could be a vulnerable spot for President Obama in a Trump-Obama race. Unions are the base of Obama's support, I think Trump can nip away at that.
It's still early in the race to the 2012 election and Trump says he won't announce a decision on running until June, after the current season of his television show, The Apprentice, is over, since if he officially announced he was running before that, according to election laws, he would not be able to appear on the show. So we won't know how how serious Trump is about running until then. Perhaps, he is just feeding into the buzz to boost ratings for his show and sales of his book. If, on the other hand, Trump announces in June that he is serious and will become a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, it is going to be time for all of us to re-read The Road to Serfdom and pay close attention to what Hayek says about "can do" leaders.