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Where Does This Year’s Presidential Choice Leave Conservatives and Libertarians?

Jake Neher/WDET

Shikha Dalmia (left) with Stephen Henderson (right)

Donald Trump might be the first modern Republican nominee to be labeled by many conservatives as having contempt for the free market.

Critics on the right point to his protectionist trade policies and brand of populist politics. And some Libertarians, such as Detroit Today guest Shikha Dalmia, also question whether Trump’s aggressive stance on immigration is consistent with conservative ideals.

Conservatives and Libertarians have had a mutual “conservatarian” alliance, as Dalmia calls it. But over the last 15 years — since 9/11 — Dalmia says the alliance has been “uneasy”.  


Libertarians were originally attracted to the GOP’s stance on taxation and spending policies, limited small government, and fiscally conservative, free market agenda. But they have always had differences in terms of social issues and foreign policy positions. 

Trump has been notorious for his anti-trade policies. Dalmia calls him a “protectionist on steroids.” Trump’s proposed immigration restrictions have also caused concern of a return to a police state to enforce the deportation of 11 million people. As a Libertarian, Dalmia says, “There is nothing to like from Donald Trump”. 

Donald Trump has rejected the conservative project,” she says.

The rise of Trump has ignited the rise of hard nationalism and restrictionism, Dalmia says. ”He was putting an ugly face to the kind of policies that libertarians don’t like: the nationalism, the protectionisim, the restrictionism,” she says. Trump “speaks in a language of a tyrant. Its difficult to separate restrictionism from outright tyrannism that Trump represents”.

Some prominent conservatives and libertarians have recently endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Dalmia says Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld make “an attractive ticket.” 

But Dalmia is considering voting for Hilary Clinton. Although Dalmia disagrees with many of Clinton’s policy proposals, she says, “she responds to checks and balances… she doesn’t have impulse problems like Donald Trump. She won’t start a nuclear war. With Trump, we don’t know.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

This post is a part of 2016 Elections: Issues & Candidates.

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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