All posts by Remy Smith

electoral college

Apportionment Based on False Premises

Defense of the Electoral College centers on its bias towards small states — to its supporters (of whom I do consider myself one), the Electoral College protects the liberty of small states from the tyranny of an assumed collusion of their larger counterparts.

This argument comes straight from the constitutional convention debate over the president’s election, but in neither time did the argument actually hold merit.  Coalitions and divisions between states arose from interests related to economics, not size.  Small states resisting population-based representation simply wanted to maintain their power by creating a union with legitimacy drawn from the states, treated as equals, rather than the people.



The Constitutional Convention

At various points in the constitutional convention, small states threatened to leave the proceedings if the foresaw their power in the new government decline.  These threats almost came to a head during the debate over Senate representation.  Nationalists such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton pushed — and the convention initially accepted — a Senate apportionment scheme that allotted members on the basis of a state’s population.

Angered, small states ranted about their looming decline in power and forcefully argued for representing the states equally in the Senate.  The Connecticut Compromise did just that, with the House of Representatives being apportioned based on state population.  Divisions on that vote largely followed state sizes.

Similar debates erupted over the method by which the president should be selected.  Those from large states tended to favor either direct popular election of the president or the indirect election of president with electors apportioned based on state population.



Again, small states took issue with the proposals, presenting a plethora of arguments that ranged from alleging that large states would collude to control the presidency or the likelihood of individuals within states voting for a “favorite-son” candidate, thus preventing any one candidate from earning a majority of the votes and throwing the election to a large-state dominated legislature (the tie-breaking method in many early plans for presidential election and the final one adopted).

False Premises

But these fears had no basis in reality, as should have been immediately clear to all present at the convention.  Small-state delegates had a cynical desire to maintain their state’s power and so naturally resisted any effort that would bring their residents back to status of united equality.  Large-state collusion would never materialize because they had different material interests.

Of the five-largest states at the convention — Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina, in that order — no natural allegiance could emerge.  MA and NY naturally had mercantile interests.  Boston and the fast-growing New York City bound the two states in favor a strong state with an eye towards economic development (and later embraced the Hamiltonian financial system).[1]

VA and NC had few commercial interests and no large cities to become international ports.  They had an interest in preserving slavery and, later, resisting an expansive federal government that helped “stockjobbers” and other “speculators.”



PA, with the nation’s largest city and its capital, had split interests: Naturally, Philadelphians would align with those in MA and NY, but the western frontiersfolk of PA cared little for commercial emphasis and policy geared towards presumed speculators.  They wanted a government that protected from Native American raids and which did not align closely with the British.

As party splits emerged, western PA became Republicans while Philadelphia remained in the Federalist camp.  It should have been obvious that the different interests between (and within) these states based on the vastly different nature of their economies would have prevented any collusion.

Coalitions of Region, Not Size

Unsurprisingly, no large-small state divisions emerged; geographic differences largely defined the nascent parties.  In 1796, the first competitive election, location, not state size, explained support for Federalist John Adams or Republican Thomas Jefferson.  Northeastern states of all sizes supported Adams whereas southern states of all sizes chose Jefferson.  Of the five largest states, only NY and MA voted for Adams.  PA, VA, and NC went for Jefferson.  Of the five smallest states (Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Vermont), 3 went for Adams and 2 for Jefferson.  The hotly contested election of 1800 saw 4 of the largest states and 3 of the smallest states go for Jefferson.  Clearly, no alliances on the basis of state size formed.



A Nation of States and Unequal People

In the end, the cynical actions of small-state delegates forever changed the republic by creating a natural inequality on the basis of geography.  Those living in large states find their Senate votes worth fractions of those in small states — this also holds true for the Electoral College, though the disparity is less pronounced.  Small-state delegates pushed a union wherein legitimacy came from the states, thus demanding their equal status in government.  Nationalists envisioned a government with legitimacy, or power, coming from the people, and so urged representation to follow the population, not be bound by the amorphous and rather arbitrary state lines.

The huge consequences related to this decision gave small-states the power they craved, but it created a union with representation determined by arguments based on false premises.


[1] New York City, at that time, had not yet developed into a central commercial port and New York did not immediately embrace the Constitution.  NY and MA did not initially ahve the same interests as NY had a frontier that bordered with Native Americans and British Canada.  MA had no frontier of which to speak.


For more on the early republic, read Gordon S. Wood’s “The Empire of Liberty,” which you can purchase by clicking on the image below.

PoliticalEdu may receive a commission for purchases made through the above link. They help fund the site.

john kelly niger

John Kelly’s Shame

Many days after American soldiers died in Niger, Donald Trump finally decided to call the grieving widow of one of the lost soldiers.  He bombed spectacularly, telling the widow her husband “knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it still hurt.”  A car full of mourners heard the president disregard an American death because they should have seen it coming and been emotionally prepared.

Donald Trump, when faced with the natural outrage that followed his most recent stunning lack of basic human empathy, decided to attack Congresswoman Wilson, a longtime family friend of the deceased, on Twitter, labelling her account of the conversation as fake.

As usually happens when Trump claims to have proof that vindicates his side of the story (see his threat of releasing tapes on James Comey which the White House ultimately conceded did not exist), Trump lied.  He’s lied to the American people well over a thousand times; this one just so happened to concern a Gold Star family, a label which Trump has long disrespected.



To soothe things over, the administration trotted out Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired general whose son died while serving the country.  Kelly, faced with the impossible task of defending Trump’s callous and entirely heartless remarks, decided not to and instead resorted to the logical fallacy of whataboutism.

Whataboutism, a common propaganda technique, shifts focus from one wrong to another (whether real or imagined) to dilute outrage and signal loyal partisans that the offending party actually did nothing wrong, or is simply the lesser of two evils.

In Kelly’s case, he decided to attack the family friend and congresswoman present with the family during the phone call, saying “it stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. I would have thought that was sacred.”  What Kelly fails to mention, however, is that the family invited the congresswoman to listen to the call, putting it on speakerphone when all were together.  



Kelly decried Wilson’s “selfish behavior,” but not the president’s callous remarks.  He attacked a friend supporting a widow faced with raising children alone, but admitted that the president spoke without sympathy or empathy and offered no support in such a trying time.  

John Kelly tried to create phony outrage by slandering a widow’s friend while letting the president off the hook for his ineptitude.  That’s perfect whataboutism — shifting the focus from the president to the supposed evils of someone else.

It’s also a complete lie, and John Kelly knows it.  He purposefully lied to the American people in an effort to help a man who said he prefers military members “who weren’t captured.”

Mr. Kelly, I must ask: What is wrong with you?



cost-sharing reductions

Congress Must Appropriate Cost-Sharing Reductions

Donald Trump announced that the federal government halt cost-sharing reductions with insurance companies, threatening the stability of the insurance marketplace and raising premiums for all as well as increasing the federal deficit by $194 billion.

Unfortunately, though Trump’s sabotaging the law, he has good reason to end cost-sharing reductions: They’re probably unconstitutional because Congress never appropriated the funds spent by both the Obama and Trump administration.

Congress, and Congress only, has the power of the purse.  Whereas parts of the ACA have a permanent appropriation — the tax credits given to low- and middle-income Americans do not have to be reappropriated every year — the cost-sharing reductions are not included in those provisions.



The Obama administration unsuccessfully argued that Congress intended for the cost-sharing reductions to be grouped with tax credits and their permanent appropriation, an argument similar to the intent argument made in King v. Burwell.  A federal judge did not buy that reasoning.

We won’t know the case’s ultimate outcome as the Trump administration will drop its appeal (Trump’s decision made it moot).  Regardless of intent, or what a court would divine as intent, the hastily-written ACA final text did not permanently appropriate cost-sharing reductions.

And Congress has not appropriated them since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2010.



It must do so now.  As mentioned, ceasing the subsidies increases premiums and gives insurance companies a reason to leave the marketplace in 2018.  The poor see access to healthcare restricted and the federal government spends more to cover rising premiums.

Let’s be smart and appropriate cost-sharing reductions.  Failing to do so hurts everyone.



cost-sharing subsidies

Cost-Sharing Subsidies Stabilize the Insurance Market

Donald Trump, after mulling the issue for months, has decided to end the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) cost-sharing subsidies, a move that could drive insurers from the market place and which will raise the cost of insurance, especially for those hovering at or just above the federal poverty line.

Cost-sharing subsidies make healthcare affordable for low-income consumers

These cost-sharing subsidies help consumers who earn between 100 and 250% of the poverty line afford copays and deductibles if they purchased select healthcare plans through the ACA exchanges.

The plans that qualify for cost-sharing subsidies tend to have high deductibles — the Silver Plan, for instance, had an average deductible of more than $3,000 in 2016 — that would otherwise render purchased insurance all but useless for low-income consumers.  Cost-sharing subsidies help make the Affordable Care Act affordable.

Payments, made directly to insurance companies, total around $7 billion a year.  Without these subsidies, health experts fear insurers would drop out of marketplaces.  Those that remain would have to raise rates to “cover the costs of reducing cost sharing while ensuring solvency.”



Ending cost-sharing subsidies leads to uncertainty

Before Trump announced an end to cost-sharing subsidies, uncertainty around future payments caused insurers to raise rates in case the administration cutoff reimbursements.  Insurance companies had to insure themselves against the possibility of the Trump administration signing an executive order; unfortunately, the premiums for that insurance fell on consumers.

That’s not all.  On top of insurers leaving the markets and premiums rising, ending cost-sharing subsidies would actually increase the deficit by $194 billion over 10 years.  This paradoxical finding by the CBO — federal spending actually rising by the president cutting some spending — will happen because of premium increases.  As premiums rise for those with low incomes, government subsidies will also rise, costing the government hundreds of billions over the course of a decade.

Trump’s decision and his rhetoric leading up to it have sabotaged the ACA and the healthcare markets by creating instability, discouraging insurers from entering the marketplace, raising premiums, and, as subsidies end, increasing the deficit.



The Founders Did Not Want a Businessman as President

The Founding Fathers never wanted businessmen elected to public office and they certainly did not want one to become president.

Public officials, the Founding Fathers believed, should act disinterestedly — that is, with virtue, willing to sacrifice their own interests, and those of their peers, for the benefit of the country.  Patricians should lead the government as only they, free from avaristic influences of occupation, could rationally and dispassionately consider policy.

Businessmen could not for their commercial interests and bias would skew public policy towards a special interest.  Considerations would ignore the state as a whole and instead focus on, at best, enriching peers and patrons, and, at worst, themselves.



The Founders’ Warning

Alexander Hamilton warned that electing those representing special interests, such as businessmen (as well as men from other occupations), would take government’s focus away from the polity and shift it towards helping specific factions.  Writing in Federalist No. 35, Hamilton asked “Will not the merchant understand and be disposed to cultivate, as far as may be proper, the interests of the mechanic and manufacturing arts, to which his commerce is so nearly allied?”

To free government from such influence, he advocated electing statesmen free from conflicts of interests.  These statesmen would have studied government and its science and “feel a neutrality to the rivalships between the different branches of industry,” making them “likely to prove an impartial arbiter between them, ready to promote either, so far as it shall appear to him conducive to the general interests of the society[.]”

Adam Smith, father of modern economics, also voiced similar concerns.  His Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations argued that “The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public….The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order…ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined…with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men…who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public.”

The Constitution’s framers and other influential thinkers understood that electing a businessman to public office would risk conflicts of interest that pitted the financial stakes of the individual with the concerns of the country.  And, understanding the greed so natural in mankind, they knew which interest such an official would pursue.



Donald Trump and his Conflict of Interests

These warnings are particularly prescient today.  Donald Trump’s sprawling business empire from which he refused to divest leaves him susceptible to innumerable conflicts of interest as well as chancing his violation of both the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses.

We’ve already seen Trump’s personal interests butt heads with the interests of the country.  He spends a disproportionate amount of time at his private golf clubs, mingling with donors and lobbyists who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year be with the president at such resorts.  As Puerto Ricans — American citizens — suffered a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Trump golfed at his own club.

Trump has shown no ability to place America’s interests ahead of his business interests.  That is precisely the unenlightened leadership our Founders and other enlightenment thinkers so greatly feared.



To learn more about the Founding Fathers and the birth of the new American nation, checkout Gordon Wood’s The Empire of Liberty, linked below.  PoliticalEdu may receive a commission for purchases made through that link; such money helps maintain the site.

empire of liberty
Click to purchase
end the iran deal

It Would be a Mistake to End the Iran Deal

Donald Trump wants badly to end the Iran Deal, which he has wrongly lambasted as “one of the worst deals ever created.”  The Iran Deal has successfully stopped Iran’s nuclear development and triumphed diplomacy over armed action.

To end the Iran Deal, to renege on an agreement from the previous administration, would dissuade other (rogue) regimes from negotiating with the United States as Trump would increase the costs and decrease the benefits of civilized issue resolution while making it clear that the United State’s word is only good as long as its speaker remains in power.

A Victory for Sanctions and Diplomacy

The Iran Deal represents the victorious conclusion of economic sanctions.  We never intended to hurt Iran’s economy indefinitely; instead, we hoped to bring them to the negotiating table by offering a clear benefit — relief from crippling sanctions — in return for ending its nascent nuclear program.  That succeeded.

Iran, once mere months from building a small nuclear stockpile, has followed the terms of the deal and now stands a decade (or more) from attaining a nuclear weapon.  Its centrifuges have been cemented and uranium stockpiles reduced some 98 percent.  Relatively moderate leaders have even used sanction relief to gain power in the state, reducing tensions with Israel and the West.

Should Trump fail to uphold our end of the deal, as he seems likely to do, Congress will have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran.  If it does, the Iran Deal will fall apart and, without sure support from our allies (who, aside from Israel, want the Iran Deal affirmed), only weak sanctions could be levied.



Iran Walks Away and Doesn’t Come Back

These sanctions would not, as before, bring Iran back to the negotiating table so Trump can work his faked dealmaking magic.  Iran will be free from its nuclear obligations and could resume work on weapons of mass destruction.  That sets Trump’s successor(s) up with a dilemma similar to what he faces with North Korea: How to handle an aggressive regional power with, or close to having, nuclear weapons.  And the Middle East has a lot more fluid parts than does North Korea.

Importantly, if we end the Iran Deal and manage to apply meaningful sanctions, it’s highly unlikely that Iran could be brought back to the negotiating table to hammer out a new deal.  They did so once and ended their nuclear program, abiding by all of the deal’s terms.  But that hasn’t stopped Trump from doubting the deal and continuously threatening to tear it up.  If he does so, why should Iran trust us again in the future to uphold our side of the bargain?



Can’t Negotiate with Other Rogue States

This breach of trust hurts us with other states.  Take North Korea.  We can only hope that North Korea could be induced to diplomacy to curtail its nuclear development.  While this might not seem likely — and seems especially unlikely when President Trump continues to throw cold water on the idea — it’s not impossible and is a partial hope of sanctions.

However, should Trump end the Iran Deal, North Korea will have no reason to ever negotiate with the United States.  What possible benefit could they get from it?  A brief respite from sanctions that could be reimposed at the whim of a tempestuous president?  An agreement at risk with every new election?

Without standing by our agreements, one president’s word — one Congresses action — means nothing.  Continuity in foreign affairs is incredibly important.  Signaling that our words and deals means little takes away whatever benefits other states might gain from negotiating with us: Following the agreement hurts their interests and may not help them in the long run if the United States backtracks from our word.



Don’t End the Iran Deal

Should Donald Trump end the Iran Deal, we will see our foreign policy become much more complicated.  Rogue nations will double-down on nuclear development and will avoid making deals with the United States.  We’ll increasingly isolate these states and they will increasingly build arms and increasingly become a threat.

Mr. President, please don’t end the Iran Deal.



americans first amendment

What is that First Amendment Thing?

Americans are politically ignorant.  Far too many can’t name the three branches of government (is asking to know three things really too much?) and even more don’t have a clue as to what rights our Constitution protects.

In particular, the First Amendment really puzzles Americans.  A whopping 37% cannot name a single right it guarantees (this is slightly higher than the 33% who don’t know a single branch of government).

A Real Stumper

Even the right most closely associated with the First Amendment, free speech, only rings a bell to 48% of survey respondents.  For a nation built on arguments — pamphlets and other circulars rallied support for the nascent independence movement; essays and speeches ultimately led to the Constitution’s ratification — and which prides itself for largely unfettered free speech, that only 48% can name it as a right disappoints.



And that disappointment only grows as Americans struggle to name other First Amendment guarantees:

  • 15% identified the freedom of religion (the First Amendment’s leading topic and another source of historical pride given the religious persecution that pushed many of the colonies’ first settlers into the New World)
  • 14% said the freedom of the press (Donald Trump is not one of the 14%; neither are those who fawn over his attacks on the press)
  • 10% named the right to (peacefully) assemble (no surprise given antipathy to protesters and a weird fascination with running them over)
  • 3% remember the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances (and who can blame the 97% — after all, it is the last right mentioned and reading all 45 words of the amendment is a big ask)



For my valued readers who discovered new rights just now, here’s the amendment in full:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In fact, I’ll link the Constitution, too.  Take 20 minutes and read it.  Maybe you’ll learn something.  After all, Americans have a long way to go before understanding the document that governs our nation.



trump press fake news

More Shameful Attacks on the Free Press

A whopping 86 percent of Americans do not know that the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press.  Apparently Donald Trump, in whose presidential oath of office he swore to uphold the Constitution, falls in that group.

His repeated attacks on the free press, routinely and incorrectly calling it “fake,” have always reeked of authoritarianism.  Now, though, he’s extended his authoritarian leanings by specifically floating the idea of cracking down on the press simply because he dislikes or is angered by its reports.

For those wondering, the First Amendment specifically forbids the government from silencing the press.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press.



The Burden of Proof Falls on Trump

Donald Trump’s talking about an unconstitutional policy borne from his hatred and anger that accompanies each leak about his train-wreck of a presidency.  He has yet to identify a single instance of fake news and doesn’t seem to realize that basic logical concept that when making such outrageous claims, the burden of proof falls on him.

The burden of proof to show his views are the truth, the failure to provide which shows he’s but a goof.

Elite Cues and Political Beliefs

Unfortunately, voters don’t particularly care about logic.  Political scientists have long argued that the power of elite signals — popular politicians explicitly supporting or even winking at certain ideas — leads to partisan acceptance.  Voters take signals and incorporate those views into their political beliefs.

As partisanship increases, so do the value of these signals as they increasingly define and coalesce the party tribe against its adversary, the opposition.

Such virtue signaling helps the competition of ideas and is only bad for democracy when leaders attack its fundamental underpinnings.  Donald Trump has routinely done this, especially with the press.



The Press’s Virtue

The press plays an invaluable role in a democracy.  It enables the electorate to make educated decisions while also holding power accountable.

Our mainstream press outlets do just that.  Unfortunately, Trump bristles with negative accounts and so lashes out at the institution without realization his words have profound consequences — people take seriously attempts to undermine faith in the press and come to doubt honest outlets.

It’s yet another indication of Trump’s efforts to backslide our liberal democracy by eroding faith in institutions and encouraging the ultimate political sovereigns to run from reports and facts that in any way harm their leader.



nfl's taxes

Trump’s Completely Wrong about the NFL’s Taxes

Donald Trump, lover of all culture wars and hater of the National Football League (NFL) ever since his failed attempt to start a rival league, denounced NFL’s taxes, claiming that no organization tolerant of protest should receive “massive tax breaks.”

Trump Doesn’t Understand the NFL’s Taxes

There’s one major problem with Trump’s tweet (aside from the grammar), however: The NFL no longer receives these tax breaks and hasn’t for two years.

In 2015, the NFL’s taxes situation after the organization voluntarily gave up its 501(c)(6) tax-exempt trade organization status, which it held since 1942.

Even that status didn’t stop the NFL from paying taxes.  The 501(c)(6) status, shared by the Chamber of Commerce, the NHL, and PGA Tour, did not exempt the NFL’s taxes on revenue from sponsorships, broadcast deals, and ticket sales.

Only office income remained untaxed and the NFL did not generate any such profit (a requisite for taxation) until 2012.  From that point, the exemption saved the league an average of $10 million a year.

Furthermore, whereas the NFL had limited tax exemption, individual teams — those against whose toleration for political speech Trump rails — have no tax exemption.



Using Taxes to Silence Opinion

Though Trump’s fell flat for want of facts, his intent remains clear (and authoritarian): He wants to politicize taxation and tax exemption to coerce organizations into abiding by his moral and political standard.

Trump dislikes free speech, especially when the arguments presented challenge his worldview.  Now that he’s president, he wants to wield the powers of the state to punish any organization, business, or individual that challenges him (see his attacks on the Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos) or the status quo.

This is a worrying precedent as it threatens ideological coercion.

Political viewpoint has no bearing on whether the IRS grants an organization tax-exempt status.  This is incredibly important as it means that a conservative (or liberal) government cannot muzzle opposition by making it unduly expensive (or unprofitable) for, eg, think tanks to disseminate ideas.



The free and equal opportunity to share viewpoints — to compete in the marketplace of ideas — maintains a liberal society.

But Trump doesn’t understand these normative issues and instead contributes to the further degradation of democratic values by signaling to his followers that it is just and legitimate for the state to punish dissidents by withholding tax-exempt status for those who tolerate protest.

So much for small-government conservatism.



fairness doctrine donald trump

Donald Trump Wrongly Supports the Fairness Doctrine

Donald Trump, who spends a disproportionate amount of his time watching and raging over news and late night television (versus, say, reading about policy or the origins of North Korea’s aggression), has suddenly latched on an antiquated idea that he thinks will force the press and media to fawn over him: The fairness doctrine.

The fairness doctrine mandated that holders of broadcast licenses present issues in what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deemed “honest, equitable, and balanced.”  Ronald Reagan rolled back this requirement for obvious reasons – it trampled on the First Amendment, wrongly created two sides to every story, and allowed the government to restrict criticism of it.

Free Press and the Fairness Doctrine

Obviously, the fairness doctrine conflicts with the First Amendment.  The very nature of a free press mandates that the government cannot in any way shape or control published content.  With the fairness doctrine in place, the government, whether through a genuine commitment to perceived fairness or simple malice, can wholly alter coverage and exert control over the press and media.



Coverage can be altered by curtailing government criticism and instead forcing outlets to have on their shows administration cronies offering little more than predictable propaganda.  Similarly, using the coercive power of the state to enforce fairness threatens outlets and bullies them into government control.  A malicious FCC encouraged by a reckless president could interpret the fairness doctrine as necessitating that the administration get more time than its dissidents – a true authoritarian move.

Bizarrely, Trump not wants to bring back the fairness doctrine, he wants to extend it beyond traditional news outlets and into the realm of late night television.

Late night television is not news.  No people – and not responsible voters – get their information primarily from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel (against whom Trump’s likely railing).  People of intelligence, and I realize this removes Trump from the mentioned population, watch shows for laughs and a good time.  So even the theoretic idea behind the foolish fairness doctrine – that all sides have the equal time to make their cases – doesn’t hold up here.

Instead, it’s a clear desire for Trump to tamp down on criticism.  He wants to restrict the time comedians can spend attacking him and instead mandate that he, or one of his cohorts, can defend him in front of millions (millions who would then turn of the television and grow even more frustrated with the administration).  Trump wants the government to have the unfettered ability to shorten criticism and spew its nonsensical defenses.



There are Not Always Two Sides

Perhaps the fatal conceit of the fairness doctrine is the notion that each story has two sides.  Facts and clear moral happenings do not have two sides and we should not pretend otherwise.



Climate change, a scientific fact, does not have two sides.  GMOs do not have two sides.  Bragging on tape about sexually assaulting women does not have two sides.  Assaulting a reporter because he asked a question does not have two sides.  These facts or happenings are entirely clear cut and do not warrant a defense.

However, the fairness doctrine would force outlets to air defenses by those who simply deny science or excuse predatory behavior.  These defenses, of course, have First Amendment protections and have every right to be aired, but news outlets have every right to deny lending credence to such smut (and the government has no right to force a private company to broadcast a single thing).

Trump, often on the wrong side of one-sided stories (such as a dozen allegations of sexual assault), has every reason to force outlets to empower those who for some reason defend him.  Only by calling for the fairness doctrine can Trump hope to keep mindless voices with undoubted loyalty in the news despite his existing scandals and those that are still to come.

In the end, the government controlling news coverage and the ideas that can be heard invites authoritarianism.  It enables the president and the FCC to muzzle criticism and strengthen the administration’s voice.  Control over the free press empowers those without society’s interests at heart.  It’s a step towards authoritarianism and so it’s little wonder that Trump has embraced the fairness doctrine.