The headline on the national Associated Press story that moved across the wire this past weekend read, "On trade policy, Trump is turning GOP orthodoxy on its head."

The headline on the national Associated Press story that moved across the wire this past weekend read, "On trade policy, Trump is turning GOP orthodoxy on its head."

    That's true. Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were pro-trade, big-time, with the latter president increasing the number of international trade agreements the United States was involved in from three to 16.

    So for President Donald Trump to campaign on an anti-global trade platform and then, once elected, launch a trade war with some of the United States' biggest trade partners, in the form of steep tariffs, it would all certainly seem to go against the typical GOP stance on trade. But, no matter, Trump announced last week that he's going to help farmers, many of whom happily voted for him in November 2016, get by in the short term with a $12 billion aid package through a variety of funding channels via the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an aid package that due to a rule on the books dating back decades, doesn't even allow Congress to weigh in. Not that we'd want this Congress to weigh in on anything important, anyway.

    But there's a bigger picture here, a bigger "orthodoxy" being turned "on its head." Yes, there was a time and there was a Republican Party that would have ran through the streets with flaming torches before signing over a $12 billion check in the form of aid to anyone, especially aid that could have been avoided by not igniting a trade war. It's unnecessary spending, those Republicans in that time, budget hawks all of them, would have said.

    But that was then, this is now. It’s laughable that Republicans still get a free pass when labeling Democrats "tax and spend liberals," because too many Republicans these days spend and spend and spend some more. Throwing the economic equation even more out of whack, they at the same time cut taxes and therefore there's no revenue coming in to counterbalance all of that money going out.

    Where did all of the traditional, fiscally conservatives go? They probably retired because they saw the tea party wave coming, or they stuck around one election cycle too long and were defeated by today's neo-conservative Republicans who yell "America first!" into the wind, but don't really know what that means or what it takes to actually put America first, or Americans first, in a global society. It’s more like “America alone,” and is that really what we want? Or what we think is possible, a return to isolationism?

    Our deficits and our debt continue to expand at mushroom cloud levels. Republicans used to say that, if elected, their top priority would be to start shrinking those frightening numbers. But, no more. They give the Pentagon billions more in defense dollars than it asks for, they give their corporate billionaire friends billions more, and when they make farmers mad by torpedoing their bottom line, they say, "Here, have $12 billion."

    And from the old-school conservative GOP'ers, it's a deafening silence. Crickets. Are they afraid to speak up in Trump’s Republican Party? Or are they simply extinct?

– Mike Christopherson