The Donald dilemma

Getty Images

I like Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDNC vice chairwoman apologizes to Sanders 7 pieces of advice for Hillary Clinton Sanders optimistic on future of 'revolution' MORE. He is very smart, able to grasp complex concepts in a short amount of time, and capable of making a decision. Trump is capable of doing the job of being president.

I agree with Trump on trade, the danger of importing people from the Middle East — a percentage of whom will attack our nation from within — and immigration. I am fed up, like Trump, with the insider, corporate crony games that are played to grow government and enrich the powerful at the expense of everyone else.

ADVERTISEMENT
Then why am I having a hard time trusting Trump enough to endorse him in the Republican primary?

It isn't style; I admire his direct and even brusque approach, and his willingness to eviscerate untouchable icons that have been foisted upon us by the intolerant left.

No, it is Trump's ricocheting around on issues, his avowed "friendship" with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), his endorsement of socialist New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that all make me queasy. It is a lingering warning bell that chimes deep inside me that Trump is who he initially proclaimed himself to be: a dealmaker.

A dealmaker by definition cuts deals, and Trump has by his own admission cut deals that used the government to serve his interests quite profitably. A dealmaker doesn't stand on principle; instead, a dealmaker looks for common ground.

If the past seven years have taught me anything, it is that the Democrats are unrelenting in their pursuit of bigger, more expansive government, and the GOP consistently looks for common ground that is only partially disastrous, calling that a bipartisan win.

When Trump says he would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a government-paid healthcare system, I believe him, and that makes me very uneasy.

Not because of the policy difference, but rather because what the policy difference reveals. It reveals a man who accepts big government and would expand it if the right deal were on the table. It reveals that a Trump presidency may be completely unmoored from the constitutional, limited government perspective that has traditionally driven Republican candidates.

It also makes me uncomfortable that Trump seems much more at ease on MSNBC than on Fox News. While his back-and-forth with Megyn Kelly is childish all around, his power play against the primary fair-and-balanced news organization is disconcerting.

Lastly, the sudden embrace of Trump by GOP establishment members in an attempt to knock out their real nemesis, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), has got to force Trump voters to take pause. The GOP gambit is to knock off Cruz in Iowa because his voters go disproportionately to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Trump's voters, on the other hand, tend to go to Cruz. So, beating Cruz would boost the establishment's favored alternative, and in classic "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" fashion, they are pumping up Trump.

I like Trump. Prior to his announcing a run for the presidency, my group, Americans for Limited Government, ran radio ad after radio ad featuring Trump urging Congress to reject giving President Obama fast-track trade authority.

I like his kicking the politically correct safe-place seekers in the shins and not backing down. There is a lot to like about Trump, but politics is more than personality; it is about a leader's personal plumb line that guides his or her thoughts and actions.

At this juncture, I don't know what makes Trump tick. The good news is that the people of Iowa and New Hampshire have a unique opportunity to meet and talk to each of these candidates. They will have taken the measure of them, and render a decision that will narrow the choices for the rest of us.

I like Donald Trump, I just can't figure out what to make of him.

Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government.

More in Presidential Campaign

WATCH: Melania Trump speech to the Republican National Convention

Read more »