Clinton supporters are claiming that since Hllary won the popular vote, it proves the Electoral College is a dysfunctional anachronism that impedes modern democracy. They don’t seem to understand, or care, that statements like those only prove the reasons for the Electoral College in the 1780’s remain with us today.
First and foremost, the Founding Fathers had deep, abiding distrust of unfettered democracy. James Madison wrote in Federalist 10:
A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
This understanding that direct democracy is an unwieldy form of government, certain to end in direct violence of neighbor versus neighbor, is what drove the Founders to establish the United States as a representative republic. They strove, at every level of the federal government they were creating, to isolate the democratic forum to the smallest, most localized unit possible. Indeed, one of the striking aspects of American governance is the interplay between the states and the federal government they devised.
A large part of the reason for establishing that interplay between state and federal government was the Founder’s understanding that, even in the earliest days of the nation, there were stark differences between the various states and regions, and competing interests between heavily populated areas and sparsely populated ones. In establishing a federal government that was an equal partner of the states as regards most matters, they allowed local control over local issues, while allowing for an overarching national policy that might be in direct contravention to what a state preferred. Factionalism, which they understood was an unremarkable and inevitable feature of human society, could thus be controlled. No single faction could become so omnipresent as to impose its will on the rest of the nation.
This theory of government extends through to the idea of the Electoral College. Most of us are familiar with the idea of the Electoral College as stated by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68:
It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.
But very few of us have given much thought to this part of the same essay:
The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.
Here we see expressed the idea, once again, of deference to state preference, even when contemplating a federal election. Yes, the election of a President would occur in all the states simultaneously, but it was not a singular electoral event. Rather, it was to be the continuation of state elections. To ensure that each state was not pressured by outside influences, each states electors are to meet in that state and vote. They are not to travel to the seat of national government. The method of their meeting and deliberation is left to the states to decide.
So how does the 2016 general election demonstrate that these ideas are still needed today? Consider this: Mrs. Clinton will assuredly wind up with more raw votes, if tabulated nationally, than Mr. Trump. But, that is due to her extreme support on the Pacific Coast. Her share of the popular vote in California, Oregon and Washington is around 65%. Of the roughly 61 million votes she received, nearly 9.5 million of them came from those three states versus only 4.3 million for Mr. Trump. To look at in reverse, in every other region of the nation, Mr. Trump outpolled Mrs Clinton by some 5 million votes and had the far higher share of the total, with nearly 53% of the votes cast.
If we were to do as Mrs. Clinton’s supporters ask, and amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College, we would be saying that only 3 of our states were electing the President. The other 47, despite a preference for the opposing candidate, would be shunned.
But the hidden beauty of the Electoral College is in ensuring that every state and every region receives import upon the selection of the President in proportion to its size and influence in the federal government. So yes, Mrs. Clinton is assured the 74 electoral votes from those states. All she needed was another 196 (or 38% of the remaining) electoral votes to win the Presidency. But Mr. Trump, by virtue of his running a broader campaign that appealed to more voters across a wider swath of the nation, gained more electors in the other states. He outpolled Mrs. Clinton in the deep south, the midwest, the plains states, the mountain west and battled her to a near draw in the northeast.
I understand its a bitter pill for her supporters to admit that Mrs. Clinton’s message did not have the type of broad appeal that resonated across the nation. But one again, the Electoral College is ensuring the candidate with the broadest support will assume the Presidency on January 20.
I’m a person with a slightly bent sense of humor. I realize it, most of my friends have learned to live with it, my wife tolerates it and my kids (fortunately) didn’t inherit it. I find Monty Python hilarious, roar with laughter throughout The Rocky Horror Picture Show, still guffaw at Peter Seller’s portrayal of Inspector Clouseau, and laugh for hours with The Three Stooges. I love watching Wile E. Coyote fall off cliffs, Bugs Bunny put one over on Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam always puts a smile on my face.
I mention this, because despite the arduous training in the sublimely ridiculous that the many hours of such entertainment brought about, I’ve never seen anything as nonsensical as the current state of the American left wing. Setting your cities on fire because your candidate lost is like a lost scene from Dr Strangelove. Indeed, the only person on the left I’ve come across in the last 4 days with any sense of why we have President-elect Trump is this guy here:
But even he only half understands it. Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton was probably the worst possible candidate the Democrats could have stood for President. As awful a candidate as Trump was, Hillary proved to be even more awful. Approximately 6.3 million fewer votes were cast this election versus 2012. The Democrat nominee garnered only 91% of the votes President Obama did just four years ago. So, while Trump was holding on to 98% of the Republican vote won by Mitt Romney, Hillary couldn’t generate anywhere near the enthusiasm from Democrats. And why would they be? Hillary is easily the most corrupt, least trustworthy and most befouled politician of the last quarter-century. And Democrats voted their displeasure, with 5.4 million fewer of them voting for her.
Ok, so Hillary is obnoxious, condescending and reeks of corruption. How is it that her opponent, a man so vile and disgusting that his sanity has been questioned, could hold on to such a large percentage of the vote from 4 years ago? That story begins with TARP and ends with the “basket of deplorables.” In the 8 years in between those events, the non-urban American has been vilified, denigrated, insulted and belittled. We were told we’re “bitter clingers” for believing in the God of Abraham and Isaac, and owning firearms. We were told we’re homophobes for not wanting our pastors to be forced into performing gay marriages, our bakers forced into baking cakes for gay weddings or our florists and caterers forced into serving those events. We were told we’re misogynists for not wanting nuns to be forced to pay for abortions. We’re denounced as racists for not supporting #BlackLivesMatter, when all we see in that “movement” is a bunch of ill-informed youth intent on hate and destruction. We’ve been told we have to believe in global warming – except when that theory blew up in the face of evidence, we were told that it was just another way of saying “man-made climate change.”
We’ve been told we have no rights, except the ones our benevolent government decides we have, that we’re too stupid to read the words in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. In the meantime, we’re also told those very documents that founded our nation are now irrelevant because they’re old and don’t reflect modern times. At the same time, we’re ordered to buy a government approved product from a government market because somehow, that’s not an abrogation of our rights as a free people? Maybe the left is trying to be funny or something, because usually if something works you don’t try like hell to break it.
We’ve been virtually ordered to send our kids to college, even though the local electrician’s union is hiring apprentices at $25/hour and my kid happens to enjoy working with his hands, so they can be brainwashed into spouting the same nonsense. And how do we know this is vitally important? Well, it must be. After all, we’re also told our sons become rapists and our daughters will be gang raped the moment they step onto campus at Whatsamatta U. If the only hope our kids have of a future is to willingly live and study in that cesspool, then it must be awfully important, right?
(Ah, yes. Whatsamatta U, where if you’re lucky your child will graduate with a degree in French History, $100,000 of debt and no prospects for a job, other than working as a part-time barista at the local coffee bar.)
But nobody dare say anything about how nonsensical all of that is, because then you’re violating some precious snowflake’s safe space. Unless that safe space is the bathroom, where we’re told the plumbing God gave you doesn’t count and so we have to let grown men use the same facilities as our mothers, wives and daughters. It makes sense, really – how else can we ensure the rape culture has a steady supply of victims? Besides, we’ve been told, that’s progress!
Oh, and because of man-made climate change, all you people who made a living mining coal or pumping oil from the ground, or building pipelines or driving trucks to move it around; yeah, well, here’s one final, mighty FUCK YOU, SORRY NOT, your jobs have to go. Grab a mop, sonny boy – the local Chuck E. Cheese needs someone to clean up behind the kiddies.
So after 8 long years of hearing this nonsense, of course people voted for Trump. When you’ve already been painted as a racist misogynist homophobe, a dolt incapable of anything other than collecting welfare and shooting heroin, you’re not going to worry too much about voting for a guy who actually is a racist misogynist – after all, it’s not like you have anything left to lose. Yes, Donald Trump can’t figure out which policies he supports and doesn’t support. In the end, that doesn’t matter. We’ve grown accustomed to politicians making extravagant promises they never intend to keep and position papers that would take an hour to read, and could be summarized as “I have no frigging idea what I’m talking about.” No, what mattered isn’t that Trump is a lout or that he doesn’t even seem to care about policy.
What mattered was that at the end of the day, after being insulted for 8 years, there was finally a candidate willing to insult the Powers That Be back. To give as well as he got, to take it from the gutter to the sewer if need be. Every “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary” was music to the ears of the disenfranchised. Every 3am tweet calling someone a lying SOB, every pronouncement at a campaign rally against his enemies only showed he was willing to fight. So what if he’s a New York billionaire? The other billionaires never liked him – and they never liked him because he never stopped being the brash kid from Queens.
So, go ahead and burn down your cities. Enjoy the bonfires in Portland, the smashed windows in LA, the blocked roads in New York. Throw your hissy fits and keep complaining about “whitelash” or whatever idiotic, progressive bullshit name you want to give it. It’s nothing more than the vast middle of America saying, “Enough, already!”.
And if you’re willing to leave your safe space and actually engage in something other than name calling, I’m the guy over here sipping a cold one and laughing at your idiocy. Hell, I might even slip on a Make America Great Again cap so I’m easier to find.
As I’m writing this, Hillary Clinton needs a miracle of biblical proportions to prevent Donald from winning the Presidency. Odds are, I’ll win the Powerball lottery before she does.
I’ve made no secret that I do not think Mr. Trump will prove to be a good President. I’ve been #NeverTrump since he announced his candidacy because I’ve felt a government led by him will be a disaster. As person dedicated to small government, Trump’s big government tendencies are an affront to my sensibilities. So are his attitudes on race, gender and immigration. And his love of authoritarianism and total ignorance of our Constitution remain deeply troubling, and dangerous, flaws. All of this led me to vote today for Evan McMullin.
Regardless, the man has won the Presidency. It was a herculean effort that required defeating the best political machine ever created. Now, it is my duty to support this man as President.
Support does not mean blind obedience. Support does mean pointing out those occasions when his conduct is unbecoming of his office. Support also means going to loggerheads when I believe he is advocating policies that will harm our nation. In short, support does not require anyone vacillate on their principles. Rather, it means defending those principles to the fullest while allowing Mr. Trump to govern in his way.
Indeed, it is by being supportive that we can mitigate any damage President Trump causes best. Given his history, this is likely to happen often. We must be prepared.
And it is our duty, as United States citizens to so. But for now, I’m off to bed.
It’s possible the United States has had worse candidates for President in our history. We’ve certainly had our share of horrible campaigns, and we’ve had our share of horrible Presidents.
But you’ll be hard pressed to come up with a worse combination of candidates and campaigns than 2016 has brought.
The incumbent party nominated a woman with a 40 year history of corruption and scandal. How can anyone be surprised that, true to form, she may well become the first President-elect under indictment in our history? If elected and she manages to avoid prosecution for what certainly looks like egregious violations of the law, Hillary Clinton’s presidency would be kneecapped before she ever takes the oath of office. Nobody trusts her. Nobody can even pretend to believe anything she does or says any longer. As her own campaign staff has said, she has demonstrated terrible instincts and decision making. To call the next four years under her “leadership” a disaster in the making is to be generous – to disasters.
Ordinarily, a candidate that bad and that flawed wouldn’t have a chance in hell of being elected. But the Republicans, in a remarkable display of self-immolation, nominated someone as equally awful. Every character deficiency exhibited by Mrs. Clinton is personified in spades by Donald Trump. Self-dealing? Corrupt? Narcissistic? Check off all those boxes. And just as Hillary “bleachbit” her copy, I’m not even sure Donald has even read the Constitution. But he loves his petty dictators, from Vlad Putin to Deng Xiaoping. As for the rest of us, he’s already he told us what he thinks: “For the most part, you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect.”
I had held out hope for the Libertarian candidacy of Gary Johnson. That was before he started talking and proved that (a) he’s either insane or killed his brain in a fog of hash smoke and (b) he’s actually not a Libertarian. He is, however, obviously just as opportunistic as both of the major party candidates.
So, the top three pretenders for President of the United States are unqualified and unfit for the office they aspire to, and probably belong in prison. What is a patriotic citizen to do this November 8th?
There is an answer. There is one candidate who, despite probably not able to carry more than a couple of states, embodies the strength of character, dedication to Constitutional principles and belief in the greatness of America we’ve found so lacking in the other candidates.
That is why, for 2016, Political Baseballs is proud to endorse Evan McMullin of Utah for President of the United States.
Since he’s only listed in 11 states, odds are you will have to write his name in on your ballot. I encourage you to find out the vagaries regarding write-in candidates in your state and take the effort to write him in. As mentioned, he likely will not win. But casting your vote for Mr. McMullin will not be wasting it, for two reasons.
First, the entire concept of “voting for the lesser evil” is what has left our nation in it’s current state. Far too often, we accept the idea of a binary choice between two poor options. This leaves voters voting not as much for a candidate, as against the opposing candidate. It’s a terrible situation that our current political parties have delivered to the American people, one who’s likely outcome this time will be the worst four years for our republic since the Civil War. By voting for Mr. McMullin, you can actually vote for someone who isn’t corrupt, isn’t beholden to either political party, isn’t bankrolled by all of the usual power players and isn’t responsible to anyone other than his own conscience and the voters. Rather than needing to rinse the stink off from voting for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, you can be proud of your vote.
Second, by now even the most partisan among us have to realize something has gone terribly wrong with our political parties if the best candidates they can come up with are the parasites they’ve nominated. If you truly want to send a message that we, the People, have had enough of their nonsense, there is no better way than to vote for a candidate who is inviolate in his beliefs. Even if you do not agree with Mr. McMullin’s conservative viewpoint, you cannot deny his uncompromising defense of his principles. I’ve heard many of you over the last two years, both conservative and liberal, say you want to “blow up the system.” Voting for Mr. McMullin is a shot right into the heart of the unscrupulous parties that have placed power and wealth above the country.
So, when you vote, don’t worry about pulling a lever or punching a hole. Write in the only candidate worthy of your vote: Evan McMullin.
Good Morning! In just 16 short days, our long national nightmare, almost two years in the making, will be over.
And when we wake up on November 9, Hillary Clinton will be the President-Elect of the United States of America.
I don’t say this with any glee, but more a sense of resignation. While many will blame Donald Trump or the GOP establishment for an outcome that seemed impossible 24 months ago, they worked hand in glove to bring it about. The political bosses, in a series of unnerving and politically driven moves, made three crucial decisions that paved the way for Trump to sap the energy out of the conservative wing.
First, they insisted on open primaries – a system that allowed anyone, regardless of primary affiliation, to decide the Republican nominee. It’s akin to the membership of the American Legion allowing Code Pink to select their chairman. It’s Ford letting GM pick their board. It’s insanity, is what it turned out to be. Yes, almost 32 million people voted in this year’s Republican primaries – but less than 69% of them were registered as Republicans prior to this year. Nearly 1/3 of the “Republican” electorate wasn’t Republican.
Second, they let anyone and everyone run for the GOP nomination. As a result, what should have been the strongest field of conservative candidates in a generation became diluted to the point of irrelevancy. Centrist champions? There was Bush, and Kasich, and Fiorina, and… you get the point. The same for conservatives, for the religious right, for the libertarian wing, for the neocons, and on and on and on. When the starting gun sounded, there were 22 people announced as running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. The RNC, for reasons known only to Reince Priebus, treated them all as if they were equal of stature, of seriousness and ability to win. Overconfident? Drunk? Who knows? But when you insist that Rick Santorum be given as much gravitas as Jeb Bush, what you get is Donald Trump. Because it became nothing more than a popularity contest, and not a contest of ideas, this primary season naturally wound up favoring the reality TV star who’s spent 40 years crafting a popular image.
Third are the convoluted rules about delegate apportionment. The front-loading of “winner take all” state primaries meant that despite no candidate gaining 50% of the vote in any of the first 15 primaries, Trump had an overwhelming delegate lead. He eventually won the nomination with support of only 38% of the vote. If you really want to get into the weeds on this point, Donald J. Trump won the Republican nomination with only around 8.5 million Republican votes – the rest of his margin came from those non-Republicans the RNC allowed to vote in their primaries. When you wrap your head around that fact, you realize that he’s actually done a pretty good job of parlaying today’s polarized partisans into his roughly 2/3 support among Republican voters in the general electorate.
And so here we are, 16 days from President-Elect Clinton and the Republican Party has nobody to blame but themselves. It isn’t that Hillary Clinton became a better candidate as this election season wore on. If anything, the questions regarding her use of a private email setup for official business, the general shadiness of the Clinton Foundation and still unanswered questions about her role in the Benghazi disaster should have sunk her campaign. But the RNC threw in with the only politician in America more disliked and distrusted than Mrs. Clinton. Those of us who have been #NeverTrump since the beginning warned the rest of the party that Trump would be easy pickings for the Clinton political machine. That we’ve been proven correct doesn’t do us any good, unless the party recognizes the mistakes it’s made and works to rectify them.
At this point, that Donald J. Trump is going to lose, and lose badly, is not in question. (Well, not in question, except among his most vitriolic supporters, the ones who have forgone reason in the quixotic quest to “blow it up”). The only question is how badly the worst GOP nominee in over 100 years is going to harm the Republican brand. The Presidency is gone. The Senate is most likely gone, as well. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin are dead people walking. That means the Democrats only need to pick off two more seats to gain control, and they’re likely to grab at least three others (Indiana, Illinois and Colorado), as well as hang on to the retiring Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada. Should Trump continue his freefall, his coattails could well spell doom for the GOP held seats in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida, too.
For all the talk about how Hillary Clinton needs to be stopped, if for no other reason than to prevent her ramming through thoroughly liberal Supreme Court justices, the RNC has shot itself in the foot. It hitched a ride with Trump and is likely to lose the only vehicle available for forcing at least a compromise on that front. And yes, it is a serious threat to the very nature of the Constitution. In the last debate, Mrs. Clinton avowed her preference for justices who will do many, many unconstitutional things from the bench. Side with the people? What? The entire reason the court exists in the form the founders created was so that they could deliver unpopular opinions without fear of recrimination. This is not to say it is a perfect system or that the court hasn’t a history of overstepping its bounds (Dred Scott, anyone?). But I cannot recall a President, at any time, essentially telling the American public that the court should ignore the Constitution when ruling on the Constitutionality of a statute. Also, Mrs. Clinton’s propensity for feint-and-maneuver was on display during her Heller answer. I had to go back and re-read the case just to be certain, but the case never referenced murderous toddlers. It was wholly about whether a jurisdiction (in this case, the District of Columbia) could ban an entire class of firearm (handguns).
Again, a real conservative would have pounced all over that particular gaffe. But the RNC’s Golden Man-Child, who until last year was a proud contributor to Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun crusade, couldn’t even muster one of his trademark “WRONG” outbursts.
This is the reality that Priebus and his ilk have foisted upon the nation. We will have at least four years of a Hillary Clinton presidency. At least the first two of them will include her party controlling the Senate. There is a very real possibility that the Trumpster doesn’t go quietly in the night, continues to rail against the Republican party and conservative movement, giving Hillary the latter half of her term with full control of Congress and the Supreme Court.
There’s also another reality that Mrs. Clinton’s party and the national media are already attempting to ignore. In no way, despite the severe drubbing Republicans are facing, should anyone assume this indicates any sort of mandate for leftist policies. Yes, Trump is likely to lose by well over 150 electoral votes. Yes, for the first time in generations, Texas, Georgia, Utah and Arizona are toss-ups. But that is not an acceptance of the socialist dreams co-opted by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Rather, it is a repudiation of all things Trump and Trumpism. The Clinton machine would do well to remember Hillary will begin her tenure with the lowest approval ratings of any President in history. If her goal truly is to unify the nation, she’ll need to find areas of agreement between the GOP House and Democrat Senate. I have my doubts, as Clintonism is about partisanship first, country second. I fully expect her to attempt to ram through her personal goals of HillaryCare, tax increases and gun control measures in her first 100 days – and a nation more antagonized and polarized than even now.
That’s reality, folks. And you can thank the spineless idiots in the RNC and their equally hopeless candidate for making it so.
If you’re a masochist, or just needed a good excuse to drink heavily, you sat through all 90 minutes of last night’s “Presidential Debate.” If you managed that and still retained your sanity, congratulations! You’re better off than either of the two candidates.
Ok, so who won? Who lost? Did anyone have an aneurysm on stage and put us out of our misery?
- Donald Trump – look, somebody had to win this shit storm. I suppose the winner is the guy who threw the most shit. Unfortunately for Donald, he came on stage last needing to do two things. First, he had to stop the hemorrhaging his campaign endured over the weekend. Second, he needed to convince people he’s something more than an angry old man. He may have succeeded on the first – the next couple of days will tell us. But he definitely failed on the second.
- Breitbart TV – Stephen Bannon & Roger Ailes dream of an alt-right TV network survives! Expect a launch date of January 20, 2017.
- Liquor distributors – The real slogan of this campaign should be, “Make America Drunk Again”.
- The truth – Look, we know all politicians lie. We’re surprised when one doesn’t fib. But last night might have set a record for lies per second.
- The audience – Imagine you’re invited to ask the candidates a question. You sit, waiting, and you never get a chance to actually ask it. Or even worse, you do get a chance to ask it – but both candidates and both moderators just ignore it. Yeah, it was like that. It was EXACTLY like that.
- Mike Pence – after doing his all to save his running mate’s hide and killing any future in politics he had, Trump threw the Indiana governor under the bus. Not only that, he backed up and ran him over again. The poor guy is going to be a punch line in jokes for years to come.
- Duels – It seems that in the same year the play Hamilton is playing to rave reviews (btw, deservedly so), we could revive the same method the title character and his main political rival used to settle their differences. Could you imagine the TV ratings? Maybe it’ll be the first live event broadcast by Breitbart TV.
- Children – if you have kids, this entire election is a good reason to ban them from watching television. Last night encapsulated it.
- Bill Clinton – if you haven’t seen this, it’s all you need to know about Bill’s night…
Too often, in our poorly educated minds, the words “fascist” and “Adolph Hitler” are transposed. While Uncle Adolph is certainly history’s most infamous fascist, he was hardly alone. Fascism as a political system has existed for nearly two centuries and been used far too often and by far too many dictators to pretend Hitler was it’s only proponent. He was, in fact, only one of several fascists who rose to power in the early- to mid-twentieth century. Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo and Chiang Kai-Shek preceded Hitler to power; Francisco Franco, Antonio Salazar, Juan Peron, Engelbert Dollfuss, Getulio Vargas, Jorge Marees, Ionas Metaxas, and Robey Leibbrandt were all peers. More modern adherents include such luminaries as Manuel Noriega, Ferdinand Marcos and Tudor Ionescu.
It is obviously a false equivalency to say they are all acolytes of Adolph Hitler, especially as several of them rose to power as much as a decade before the Reichstag burned. Indeed, Mussolini considered Hitler to be his student. Nor is it correct to say all fascists are natural allies. The Axis powers of World War II were all led by fascist governments, but distrust rather than cooperation was their hallmark. And let’s not forget that despite the aid from Germany and Italy that helped Franco secure power, Franco snubbed all overtures to join them. Franco was busy in an on-again, off-again shooting war with his protege Salazar (one that lasted into the late 1960’s). What this illustrates is the variances within fascism: nazism, clerical fascism, falangism, and so forth.
So, if HItler wasn’t the proto-fascist, who was? Who founded the ideology that dozens of tin-pot dictators have adopted as their own in the past century?
That would be Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), a British philosopher, writer and mathematician. Indeed, if modern students hear of Carlyle at all, it is usually because of his work in mathematics: he is credited with developing the quadratic equation (you know, the joyless algebra equation written as ax2 + bx + c = 0). And while high school freshmen the world over hate him for making their homework harder than they want, their real derision should be directed at his influence on sociology.
Carlyle was a reactionary in his approach to what he viewed as the shortcomings with classical liberalism. Whether the free market economics of Adam Smith, or the idea of natural rights borne out in our Declaration of Independence, Carlyle viewed the advancements made in the 18th Century to be the direct cause of the chaos overtaking Europe in the early 19th. This culminated in his 1840 opus, “On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History”. It is a rather long tome in which he lashes out at the idea of democratic rule and free markets as the antithesis of history’s natural order. He passionately argues that in accepting these ideas, society abandoned the natural roles of the hero as leader, of war as the principle means to glory, of industry being directed towards producing the means of war, and of societal hierarchies (today we would call them “classes” or “castes”).
Carlyle advocated that Great Men are the natural leaders of both government and society and should be elevated as such; if society refused to accept them, then it became their duty to wrest power away from the masses. He had tremendous scorn for free markets and coined the term many use today to describe modern economics, “the dismal science.” It isn’t that Carlyle didn’t believe that business owners shouldn’t be able to keep their profit (after paying the government their “equitable duty”); but rather that anyone in business not producing goods and services that directly benefitted the state should not be in business. A natural hierarchy was emplaced of men, but natural rights were not. The amount of rights a common man could be expected to receive were commensurate with his place in society; those at the top naturally had more rights than those at the bottom. And as for those at the bottom, they were generally an impediment to the advancement of the society. Enslavement or even execution was their only natural right. (Carlyle expounded further on this in “Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question” in 1849).
Further, Carlyle was a proponent of the state as the only viable method by which the Great Man, or Hero, could extend his rule and direct his will. The principle role of the common man within the state was to prepare for war. Treason in thought or deed were the only crimes that truly promoted social disorder; treasonous activities included anything that could subvert the rule of the Great Man and should be eliminated at all costs. And since the state was the engine that made society possible, it was incumbent upon all citizens to ensure that undesirables be kept out, by all means necessary.
In short, Carlyle’s view of national socialism (he coined the term to separate his philosophy from that of his contemporary, Karl Marx) relied on these key points, in order of importance:
- A Great Man or Hero; the natural societal leader
- A strong, insular state
- A hierarchical society, down to and including slavery
- Policing of society to ensure adherence to societal norms
- Directed markets
- Denial of Natural Rights
Of course, today we call this fascism, not national socialism. That term we reserve for nazism, which differs from straight fascism in its adoption of some Marxist principles, particularly as relates to property rights and the veneer of popular rule.
So the question is, does Donald Trump embody those 7 principles in his vision? Anyone who’s paid attention to what he’s said – and just as importantly, not said -in not only the past 15 months of campaigning but also the past 40 years of public life, will have already recognized Trump’s themes in Carlyle’s worldview. But for those who need further convincing, let us see how Trump and Carlyle agree.
- A Great Man should be our natural leader: An entire forest’s worth of paper has been produced detailing Trump’s narcissism and self-aggrandizement, so no need to expound further on that. Suffice it to say anyone willing to proclaim the virtues of every dictator from Benito Mussolini to Deng Xiaoping to his current infatuation with Vladimir Putin sees himself as a man of similar abilities – and traits.
- The strong, insular state: His motto, “Make America Great Again,” is a paen to this idea. In case you still weren’t sure, remember one of the hallmarks of the strong state is keeping undesirables out. From his proposed Mexican wall to the Muslim ban, a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign is keeping the undesirables out – by all means.
- Hierarchical society, including slavery: Trump certainly views American society as existing within a strict hierarchy. He launched his campaign by demonizing those of Mexican heritage as “rapists and murderers.” He has been sued by the federal government for housing discrimination, but various state governments for employment discrimination and once by a trade union for refusing to pay immigrant workers. It isn’t overt racism, so much as revelation in his belief that if you aren’t in the correct class, you have fewer rights and if you reside at the bottom, you’re unworthy of much more than crumbs.
- Police State: At various times, Trump has advocated for expanded police power to ensure the classes remain in their correct position. Undesirables should be rounded up. Agitators should be put down, with force. Indeed, Trump’s idea of “Law and Order” is less about law and a great deal more about order, enforced at the point of a gun.
- Militarism: “I’d bomb the hell out of them.” “Keep the oil.” “The military would not refuse my orders, even if they found them illegal.” “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.” “I’m more militaristic than even George Bush.” Tie all of that in with his expressed desire to spend trillions on rebuilding the military machine to Cold War levels, along with his willingness to economically attack the rest of the world and yeah. Donald Trump is definitely a militarist.
- Directed Markets: The other prominent cornerstone of Trump’s candidacy is a complete refutation of free trade. It’s also, in addition to a lifelong commitment to the hierarchal society, the one thing you can go back decades (his very first Wall Street Journal interview, in 1980, in fact) and find a consistent view. In fact, Trump hates free markets every bit as much as Carlyle did in his day. After all, as Trump has said, any business that puts profits ahead of Making America Great Again is engaged in treason and should pay a heavy price.
- Denial of Natural Rights: There are two documents that historians point to as delineating natural rights. One is the French The Rights of Man. The other, fortunately, is enshrined as law in our Constitution; our Bill of Rights. At various points throughout this campaign, Trump has shown contempt for the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th Amendments. He loves the 7th (I can’t think of another politician who’s filed more lawsuits). He likes the 2nd, but only for certain people (here we go back to the hierarchical society again). That Trump thinks natural rights are a figment of some 18th century scholar’s imagination is pretty obvious.
So, is Trump a fascist? Undoubtedly, and as such, he is the antithesis of every idea this country was founded upon and supposedly stands for today. While frightening, it isn’t that he is, or that he has come within a hair’s breadth of the Presidency that worries me. No, what’s truly frightening is that so many of our fellow citizens remain blind to his nature – or worse, not blind but fully supportive of his goals.
Both major parties have now concluded their national conventions. Traditionally, this is when most Americans actually begin paying attention to politics. This marks the point when what may have been a cursory delving into the upcoming election gels into a closer examination of the candidates, their positions and their histories among the general population. Everything up to this point has been debated, argued and bandied about by only the most politically active people in the country.
As a data point, consider this. In the primary elections, approximately 57.6 million people voted. That was less than 29% of eligible voters. If turnout rates simply match those of 2012, when 58% of eligible voters cast a ballot, that would mean another 57.6 million people voting. If turnout is closer to the 63% from 2008, it would mean an additional 67.5 million voters. And if turnout is the same as the last time primary participation reached as high as this year, in 1960? In 1960, 31% of eligible voters cast a primary ballot* and 67% one in the general election. An equivalent turnout this year would mean an additional 75.4 million votes cast in November.
What all of those numbers mean is this: at best, only half of the people who are going to vote this November have actually paid enough attention to this point to have participated in the electoral process. Each candidate has been able to play their base, solidify their standing and not worry too much about attracting the votes of the rest of the country. But with the close of the conventions, that changes.
What we do have is a clearer idea of what each party intends as it’s core message for the fall campaign. For the Republicans, the message is the country is hopelessly fouled up, and only Donald Trump can save us from ourselves. The Democrats message is that things aren’t really that bad and we need the experienced hand of Hillary Clinton at the nation’s tiller.
But this year also features an electoral monkey wrench unheard of in prior contests. Both nominees are almost universally disliked, distrusted and flat-out repulsive to most of the electorate. How that plays out, in terms of messaging and voter turnout this fall, remains to be seen. It also presents third party candidates an opening unseen since Teddy Roosevelt ran as a Bull Moose over a century ago. Indeed, it is completely possible that a third party candidate could garner Electoral College votes for the first time since 1912.
The only thing certain about this year’s election is that these factors will create a race unique to our time. Prior models will almost certainly prove worthless to pundits and political scientists alike. The only relatively sure thing about this year is, it will be fascinating to watch and take part in the process.
*Note: The primary system was much different in 1960, as there were only 14 Democratic and 13 Republican primary contests held.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.“ – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
The Party of Lincoln has abandoned Lincoln in its embrace of Donald Trump. I daresay, the The Party of Lincoln has abandoned the United States of America in it’s embrace of Donald Trump.
There is no other explanation. Honest Abe understood that what makes us “American” is the simple proposition that “all men are created equal.” Have we always lived up to that expectation? No. Our history is one of struggling with that ideal and overcoming the innate prejudices that animate us. From Harper’s Ferry through the Civil War, Reconstruction to Rosa Parks, The March on Washington to today, we have moved forward towards recognizing the inherent worth of all our citizens. Until now.
By selecting Trump as their standard-bearer, with his campaign rhetoric harkening back to the Know-Nothing Party of the 19th Century and a record of racist taunts and statements stretching back nearly 45 years, the Republican Party has taken a giant step back in time. If you aren’t sickened by Trump’s statements over the past ten days denigrating Hispanics, Muslims, Blacks and all Americans, then I don’t know what else to say to you. You are the same people who would have gladly posted signs in your shops announcing “Irish Need Not Apply” in the 1850’s or “No Wops Allowed” a century ago. You are the same people who would have loosed the dogs upon the marchers in Selma. You are the same people who threw bricks through the buses in Boston.
If you cannot denounce Trump and all he stands for, you must ask yourself what it is, that separates you from any other nationality in the world? You want a return to “American Exceptionalism”? Fine. But your embrace of Trump demonstrates that you haven’t the foggiest what that even is. You haven’t any idea what it is that allowed the United States to become the world’s preeminent power, what led to our economic successes and made us the envy of every other nation on the planet.
That exceptionalism lies in the fact that we’re willing to accept anyone who pledges loyalty to the Constitution of the United States of America as an American. We are the only nation on Earth that can say that. The core strength of our nation is that our nationality is not defined by where your parents or grandparents were born. We are united by loyalty to a common ideal rather than a bloodline. Our forefathers left those nations behind, as Mr. Lincoln said, to create a new type of nation – one where belief in liberty and justice for all is both our founding and guiding principle.
So if you want Trump’s overt racism as the standard for the United States of the future, understand what you’re buying into. Understand that by supporting Donald Trump, you are supporting the dissolution of the United States of America and the torching of our Constitution. Understand that you are setting in motion the end of the concept of free men.
So, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Christie, Mr. Sessions and all of the other Republican “leaders” who have jumped aboard the Trump Train: the choice laid before you can’t be more stark. You may continue to support Mr. Trump as your party’s nominee, and accept the permanent branding as racists. Or you can realize that he isn’t actually the nominee yet and totally not worthy of the Party of Lincoln, and as unceremoniously as possible dump him. The choice is yours.
The other day, Hillary Clinton launched a blistering attack on Donald Trump’s foreign policy suggestions, his character and his temperament. Among some of the choice words she had were:
- “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.”
- “He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors because he has — quote — ‘a very good brain.’ He also said, ‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.'”
- “He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”
- “He believes America is weak. An embarrassment. He called our military a disaster. He said we are — quote — a ‘third-world country.’ And he’s been saying things like that for decades. These are the words of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.”
- “He has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.”
- “He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists — even though those are war crimes.”
- “Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”
- “This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.”
Salient points, all. Nothing about them can be disputed: the policies she attacked are all direct quotes of the Donald. There was just one problem with the entire speech.
It was delivered by Hillary Clinton.
This is the same Hillary Clinton responsible for the “Russian reset,” which has resulted in Vladimir Putin annexing parts of Georgia and Ukraine, harassing US & NATO ships and aircraft and settling into Syria.
The same Hillary Clinton responsible for starting the negotiations with Iran. The net result is that Iran will have US sanctioned nuclear weapons within a decade; weapons that we actually paid them to build.
The same Hillary Clinton who demonstrated (at the very least) horrible judgement in how she handled the nation’s top secrets. As a result of her insistence on breaking the rules and relying on a private, unsecured email system, it’s likely rogue nations like North Korea, China, Russia and others were reading classified intel in real-time. Heck, a Bulgarian hacker broke into that server in under 30 minutes, working by himself.
The same Hillary Clinton who bungled a Libya-to-Syria gun running operation, after bungling the “Arab Spring” related removal of Muammar Gaddafi, and then bungled the security arrangements of the US Consulate in Benghazi. The result? One dead American ambassador, along with three other Americans. And let’s not forget, there are still unanswered questions about why a rescue mission to save those men was never launched. The military has put that onus squarely on Hillary’s State Department.
In short, the Democrats aren’t incorrect in attacking Donald Trump as man wholly unfit for the office he is seeking. The problem is, their candidate is equally unfit for that same office. For every misstep Donald makes, Hillary has already made two. Her 44 year Washington DC record is as flawed as it is complete. And every attack she launches is easily parried with a counter-attack on her equally horrible record.
In fact, both candidates are so terrible that electing either could result in an immediate Constitutional crisis. It is a situation unprecedented in our history.
It’s also skewed the election in ways that pollsters and pundits can’t begin to sort out. But there is definitely one effect that doesn’t need to be polled to be understood: there are a lot of people who aren’t so much as supporting one candidate, as they are voting against the other. The same holds true for many of the political arena’s actors. They’ve endorsed their party’s candidate, not of party loyalty as much as pure disgust with the other party’s choice. Among Republicans, the one constant I hear regarding Trump is, “He’s not Hillary.”
I personally have my doubts about that. I look at both and see mirror images of one another. For me, Donald is Hillary. Hillary is Donald.
That being said, in the latest polling, Trump is only getting the support of roughly 1/3 of the electorate. I believe if Hillary were not the Democratic nominee, that support would crumble. Better than half of his support is of the #NeverHillary variety – those people do not support Donald and they will do anything to keep Hillary out of the Oval Office. That includes voting for someone they think is a horrible candidate.
So, it’s up to you, Democrats. If you truly want to keep Donald Trump from getting his tiny hands on the nuclear football, you’ll select someone other than Hillary Clinton as your nominee in Philadelphia. Oh, and for God’s sake:
Don’t let it be Bernie Sanders, either.
Perhaps the most convincing argument coming from those who’ve decided to back up the truck to Donald Trump’s candidacy is the one regarding appointments to the Supreme Court. Even the most politically clueless individual realizes that Hillary Clinton will never nominate anyone with a conservative viewpoint. Hillary probably doesn’t even know any lawyers or professors who aren’t decidedly liberal. With one court vacancy already and the majority of the sitting Justices eligible for Social Security benefits, odds are the next President will have a once in a century opportunity to shape the Court. Certainly, nobody who cares about the Constitution can reasonably argue that a Clinton Presidency wouldn’t greatly imperil our system of government.
So the argument becomes we know what Hillary will do as regards SCOTUS, and that’s pack it with as many anti-gun, pro-abort, big government types as she can get past the Senate. Trump has at least made noises about nominating conservative justices. Who knows? He might actually keep his word on at least this subject and select people from the list he published a couple of weeks ago.
I’ll admit, that’s almost a compelling argument. Nobody of sound mind wants to see the Supreme Court packed with people who make Lenin look like James Madison. Of course, it relies on assuming that Trump will hold true to his word on this topic. And we know the old saying about assumptions… The question becomes, can we trust Trump to nominate, as he claims, a justice worthy of Antonin Scalia’s seat?
Well, no. In fact, I’m here to show that not only won’t he nominate a Scalia type to the court, but that his nominees would be every but as dangerous to the long-term health of the republic as Hillary’s. And I have two reasons I can say this with absolute, complete and total certainty.
First, one only need look at that list a little more closely. It’s a list of potential jurists that any high school junior could have put together in about 15 minutes by doing a Google search (and that’s assuming they were slow at copying and pasting). Of the eleven potential nominees, nine are politicians first, jurists second. None are considered an actual legal scholar, much less in the intellectual vein of Justice Scalia. Only three have taught law (one in an adjunct capacity only) and none taught the Constitution. Besides being intellectual lightweights, they all share two other things. The first is a trail of opinions justifying judicial activism. Their other common trait (one that frankly I applaud) is that all have struck down restrictions on the 2nd Amendment. Unfortunately, reading through their legal reasoning in doing so is at best, bewildering. Judge Sykes, for instance, is most famous for striking down Chicago’s attempt to outlaw gun ranges. (Well, in legal circles, anyway. She’s also famous for another reason). But in her opinion, she gave credence to the idea that prior restrictions on gun possession and ownership could and should be considered when adjudicating 2nd Amendment cases. In other words, had a prior legislature outlawed firing ranges and another court upheld that ban, she would have gone along with it. Or to put it more bluntly: she would place legal precedent ahead of the Constitution. That is about as far from Justice Scalia as one can get and not end up with someone named Ginsburg.
Perusing through the other nominees’ legal opinions reveals the same sort of bent. These are not legal conservatives. They may be social conservatives, but are willing to tear the Constitution to shreds in the name of their “conservatism.” Of course, that isn’t conservative at all. That’s the flip side of the same judicial coin that social liberals have been flipping for 70 years. It’s also the sort of person Trump has consistently been throughout his life. Which is to say, one with little regard for the law – and if the law gets in your way, either ignore it or change it. A politician willing to change the law willy-nilly is dangerous enough. A Supreme Court justice willing to ignore the Constitution in furtherance of a goal is inherently dangerous. In fact, we have one such “conservative” justice now occupying the Chief Justice’s seat, and it was his pursuit of maintaining the court’s “integrity” over the Consitutional principles it is supposed to be upholding that gave us Obamacare.
In this light, it isn’t surprising that actual Scalia-type legal scholars, who also happen to be social conservatives, are nowhere to be found in Trump’s thinking. Not one of Janice Rogers-Brown, Brett Kavanaugh or Paul Clement seems to even have been considered. I’m not even going to mention Mike Lee or Ted Cruz. We all know how Trump feels about Cruz, and putting Thomas Lee on the list seems like a sop towards Mike (they’re brothers). The point is, those are people who firmly believe in the Constitution’s delineation of powers, including restrictions on executive authority. If there’s one thing the Donald hates, it’s anyone telling him what he cannot do, especially a legal authority.
Which brings me to the second proof that Trump will not nominate a Scalia-type conservative. As you are probably aware, he is facing several lawsuits for his involvement with Trump University, about as scammy an operation as has ever operated in these United States. The one that is closest to being heard is in California, being presided over by US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Late last week, Trump launched into one of the most hateful diatribes against a sitting federal judge in US history. It was certainly a first for a presidential candidate. In terms of political assassination of a court, the only comparable thing that comes to mind was President Obama’s singling out the Supreme Court for not bending to his will during his 2010 State of the Union.
Stop to let that sink in for a moment: Donald Trump and Barack Obama have the same regard for courts that don’t do as they want.
Of course, Trump did his best to poison the well further. He decried Judge Curiel as Mexican (he’s actually from Indiana) in his inimitable “I’m-not-a-racist-but-I-am” wink & nod cattle call. Indeed, he pushed right up to the edge of facing contempt of court charges. That he hasn’t is an example of judicial restraint, a concept foreign to Judge Trump (as is restraint in anything). But more instructively, Trump’s willingness to harangue a sitting federal judge tells us what he expects from the judicial branch of the federal government: total compliance with Trump. Comply, or face my Brownshirts. In Curiel, however, Trump’s threats probably don’t have much currency. After all, he’s faced down Mexican drug cartels in his courtroom.
Besides sending a shudder up the spine of anyone who happens to think the separation of powers provided by the Constitution is a good idea that’s worked really well, this type of behavior also lays low one of the other arguments I’ve heard. Namely, that Trump would be constrained by the both the Constitution and the grinding bureaucracy of the federal system. Trump has already subverted the second half of that argument; watching the likes of Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio licking his boots proves that. Seeing what Trump expects of a justice, and the lengths he will go to exact compliance, makes the first invalid, as well.
First things first. I was wrong. I did not think Republican voters would choose Donald Trump as their nominee for President. There are plenty of people dissecting and offering opinions as to the how and why; I’ll probably add my two cents to that discussion later. But I prefer to focus on the future, and now Mr. Trump is the presumptive nominee, that future begins today.
I seriously considered going down to the courthouse today and changing my registration from Republican to Independent. When I went to bed last night, that was my intention. After all, if I am to remain #NeverTrump (and I do), then how can I honestly consider myself a member of the party that supports him? But here’s my problem: there are many other people who consider themselves Republicans who also do not support Mr. Trump. Governors, Senators, Congressmen and others who have expressed no interest in even voting for him, much less actively supporting his candidacy. People like Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ben Sasse in the Senate. Conservative writers Geroge Will, Ben Shapiro, Eli Lake Philip Klein and Jamie Weinstein all penned columns this morning on the same theme: they remain adamantly #NeverTrump.
I certainly do not want to hand over the downballot races this November to the Democrats. That would turn fiasco into disaster, as the only hope the nation has is that the Congress will act much as it has for the 8 of the past 10 years. Which is to say, by simply refusing to even consider any of the sitting President’s proposals, much less act on them. Trump cannot trample all over the Bill of Rights and Clinton can’t seat liberal SCOTUS nominees wihout a compliant Congress. States under conservative leadership can continue to foul up the insane progressive programs sent down from 1600 Pennsylvania Avnue.
So, in the interest of protecting those downballot candidates, I’m not changing my voter registration – yet. What I’m waiting on is the party platform to be decided at the GOP convention in July.
We already know Trump is wildly inconsistent on policy and as socially inept a candidate as we’ve ever seen. But distilled down to their basic elements, the principles Trump has run on are as follows:
- Nativism: the idea that “others” cannot participate in the American Dream.
- Protectionsism: The US cannot compete – militarily, diplomatically or economically – with the rest of the world.
- Isolationsism: The rest of the world is a big, dangerous, scary place filled with “others.” We must disengage from it and let the “others” fend for themselves.
- Bigotry: Everyone is great – but some people are greater than “others.”
- Government: The bigger and more intrusive, the better. A powerful Federal government is the only way to ensure peace and prosperity.
A platform is the shared policy positions of the party. It also outlines the enabling principles of the party. The problem facing Republicans in July, and particularly the platform committee, is defining those standards. If they adopt any of the principles above, then the Republican party has given up even the pretense of being a conservative party. Conservatism (or the term now being bandied about to seperate from Trumpism, “Classical Liberalism”) is the antithesis to all of those princples. As conservatives, we understand how dangerous any of them can be by themselves. Combinations of two or three yield the Democratic platform since the days of Bill Clinton; combine everything but the bigotry and you get the Democratic platform of Jimmy Carter, Teddy Kennedy and Michael Dukakis. Combine all 5? Yes, that would look eeirly similiar to the platfrom of the American National Socialist Movement Party.*
Should that happen, I will bolt the GOP faster than Usain Bolt with a case of diarrhea. Here’s the thing: should the GOP adopt a truly conservative platform (or even a center-right platform, giving up prior socially oncservative positions), I don’t expect Trump to actually run on it. After all, he’s done his own thing and changed positions as often as five times in one day, so expecting him to suddenly have the discipline to follow a platform would be completely out of character. But I would fully expeect downballot candidates to point to it and say, “this is what being a Republican means.” It would provide a blueprint, one that would find Trump instinctively opposed, but something the rest of the party and country could point to. And I would fully expect Republicans to honor that committment once elected.
Do I have hope that such a thing is possible, that the GOP could adopt a platform opposed to everything their Presidential candidate believes? Yes, and here’s why: we’ve seen conservative candidates win some of the downballot races in the same states where Trump has been strongest. People who are for lower taxes, reduced government, less regulation and have both feet firmly planted in the real world. So, as enamored as a sizable chunk of the Republican electorate seems to be of Mr. Trump, it also seems to want true “Classical Liberalism.”
We’ll find out come July which the way the wind prevails. Until then, I will continue to fight for conservative principles to be the GOP’s guiding light, and for the GOP to return that light to the Shining City on the Hill.
Ever since getting blown out in Wisconsin, Donald Trump has been hollering about the way we select presidential candidates, calling it unfair, or deriding it as a “rigged system.” Sure enough, the left-of-center pundits and writers who support him, and most of the misguided people who’ve pledged their allegiance to the “Trump Train,” have suddenly decided that a system that’s been around almost as long as the United States is fundamentally flawed. I shouldn’t be surprised. The typical Trumpster also tends to think the US Constitution is terribly flawed and no longer relevant.
The delegate system is based on the same idea that fueled the adoption of our Constitution. That is, the best system of governance is a representative republic, with semi-autonomous states sharing power with a centralized national government. As conceived by the men who gave us our Constitution, the office of President was not to be directly entrusted to the general populace. Rather, they conceived the idea of electors being chosen by the people. The electors would then choose the President. They had two reasons for this, both outlined in Federalist 68. The first is that the general populace can be easily swayed by emotional appeals to our baser instincts. As Alexander Hamilton noted, “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.” The second was they understood the vast majority of citizens are not active politically, nor are they as attuned to the issues and policies as their brethren who are politically active. Their decision was that by entrusting the selection of Chief Executive to a group of people who were politically active, they were ensuring that the gravitas of the position was honored. Yet at the same time, because the electors were selected by the citizenry, the people’s voice would be heard. Hamilton, again: “… the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”
I realize this conception of how our political system was created will confound most of you. After all, you’ve heard since childhood that the United States is a democracy. Every politician declares it during every speech. Most sadly, we’re taught in school that because we vote, we’re a democracy. Some people are taught that we’re a representative democracy; that our votes go to elect representatives who are supposed to vote the way we want them to. That’s also incorrect! We are a representative republic. We elect representatives. The representatives we elect are then to debate and vote on the issues and policies as best they see fit. The decisions they reach are not bound by any measure to popular will. We then can decide if we approve of those decisions at re-election time. There have been occasions – quite a few, actually – when a representative has defied popular will in the votes they cast. One of the most celebrated books of the 20th century, Profiles in Courage, highlights eight such occasions that profoundly changed the history of our nation.
Our founders were against the idea of political parties, but their creation is a natural outgrowth of politics. It’s only natural that people who share similar views and goals would coalesce into groups working towards implementing those ideas into law and policy. Even in our nascent stages, the republic soon found itself being divided into political parties. The very men who were opposed to the idea of political parties were creating them. As those parties formed, they began to decide on which candidates for office would receive the backing of the party – including candidates for President. Should it be a surprise that they adopted a similar system for choosing their candidates as the one outlined in the Constitution?
Of course not. Many of you seem surprised at the notion that the popular vote doesn’t decide who a party’s nominee for political office. In order to understand why this is, you need to realize that prior to 1972, most states didn’t even have primary elections. Those that did, did not “bind” their delegates to vote for any particular candidate. The delegates, in most cases, were selected at state conventions. In the remainder, delegates were directly chosen during a caucus. In either case, the general public was barred from attending: only members of the party could choose their delegates. And quite often, the national party conventions did not resolve the issue of who the Presidential nominee would be on the first ballot of delegates. It seems to me that the system worked rather well. In the case of the Republicans, the convention chaos resulted in some pretty momentous choices; men who went on to become some of our most consequential Presidents. Lincoln (3rd ballot), Harding (10th), and Eisenhower (2nd) were all the products of contested/brokered conventions. In fact, during the 1952 convention Robert Taft accused Eisenhower of “stealing” delegates that were supposedly his. That led to the adoption of the “Fair Play” rule. In an ironic twist, it is that rule which Trump is using to accuse Cruz and Kasich of “stealing” delegates this year.
The liberalization of the nomination process began in 1972, in the aftermath of the riots at the Chicago and Miami party conventions in 1968. Most states adopted primaries, many opened those primaries up to the general public (no party affiliation required) and states bound the delegates chosen to reflect the popular vote at the convention for at least the first ballot. Only a few states opted to remain with caucuses or conventions selecting their delegates. And only one state does not bind any of their delegates, while several have a mix of bound and unbound delegates. The desired effect, the nominee being chosen by popular affirmation, has been achieved. Indeed, only the 1976 Republican and 1980 Democratic conventions have offered any drama, although in both cases the insurgent candidate was defeated between the end of the primaries and the convention.
Since the liberalization of the nomination process, consider the men nominated by the popular vote: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Dole, George W. Bush, and Romney. Only one of those men could be considered consequential in a positive manner. Only 3 of them have managed to win the Presidency, and two of those left office with the country in far worse shape than when they entered. If we were to change anything as regards candidate selection, I would prefer we return to closed caucuses and conventions without general public input. You may call it “undemocratic,” but the objective is to find the best candidate; to find people who can represent the values of the party and lead the nation. The general public has demonstrated exactly what the founders feared: an incredible ability to choose the very worst people for the most important job in the world.
Consider the roll call of Presidents since 1972 and see if you can actually dispute that. Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama have been elected as President. One was forced from office, another was impeached. Both Bushes left the nation economically in tatters. Carter is best remembered for his failures, while Obama is ending his Presidency with his signature achievement about to go belly up and the nation slipping back towards recession. Only Reagan managed to accomplish anything of note, but even his accomplishments have proven to be short-lived. Even ending the Cold War hasn’t lasted; today we’re faced with a resurgent and belligerent Russia and China.
You might also argue that by returning a system by which party insiders, we would be disenfranchising you. I don’t think so. Remember, the nominee is supposed to represent the party, not the general populace. I know many people who call themselves Republican or Democrat, but the reality is, they only are on election day, and often only on Presidential Election day. The other 1,460 days of the election cycle they do absolutely nothing to support the party. It’s kind of like telling people you’re a member of the cast of your favorite TV show, because you can quote some dialogue and know all the characters. In other words, if you want a say in who a party nominates, it would mean actually getting involved in the political system. Simply voting is a privilege of being a citizen. Performing the actual duties of citizenship – canvassing for candidates, raising funds, perhaps serving in local government, attending party meetings – these are also ways of becoming involved with a party at the local level. Not incidentally, it’s also how you become more acquainted with the political system.
In this year when so many of you seem more interested in blowing up the system, rather than putting in the individual effort to make it “work,” it’s also the best way to change the things about the system you don’t like. And who knows? Maybe, instead of whiners-in-chief, we can actually get back to commanders-in-chief, to Senators who worry more about representing their states than the national party committee and Representatives with more than graft on their minds.
One of Donald Trump’s tag lines this election has been that he’s going to build a “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. The idea is that such a wall will prevent illegal aliens from entering the country. In an election that has been defined by emotional hyperbole, it’s turned into Trump’s clarion call. So how effective would it be? How would Mexico be forced to pay for it?
First, walls have been used since the beginning of civilization as a way to keep “others” away. They’ve proven since the beginning of time to be more of a psychological defence than an effective physical defense. From the famed walls of Jericho to Hadrian’s Wall, they’ve all been breached. Medieval warfare centered on methods for breaching castle walls. Constantinople was famed for its walls, but the city was conquered. The French grew so complacent behind the Maginot Line that they never even considered the German’s running around that wall.
Most recently, the East Germans built a wall around West Berlin. It even included machine gun emplacements and mine fields. The purpose was to keep the east Germans in East Germany. How effective was it? The simple fact that I’m writing this post in English from a comfortable office in the USA can tell you that.
So, walls aren’t terribly effective at actually keeping populations separated. But there is the psychological factor. It might make us feel safer, so perhaps the cost to build a 1700 mile long wall makes sense from that perspective. Of course, we’ll have to remain focused on wetbacks crossing the Rio Grande and completely ignore the fact that half of our illegal alien population came here legally and then overstayed their visas for that to make sense. There’s no wall that can change that.
Oh, yes – the cost. How much would it cost to build a 1700 mile long wall, say 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide? Well, just in concrete, that would work out to around $39.5 billion – that’s at the going rate of around $90/yard. To make it a wall that wouldn’t collapse under its own weight, you’ll need to reinforce with rebar, and of course you’ll need explosives, tools & equipment, manpower, etc. Let’s say the final cost is around $100 billion.
I think giving everyone in America a year’s supply of Xanax might be cheaper, if you’re looking for a way to ease our collective anxiety.
That cost (I know, Trump is saying he can do it for $8 billion, but not even he could swing that real estate deal) wouldn’t be an issue IF you could, in fact, get Mexico to foot the bill. But really, Mexico is a sovereign nation. They are hardly obligated to pay our bills. Trump has said he’ll use the trade deficit with Mexico to seize the funds. That’s so nonsensical I have a hard time believing I actually even need address it, but here I go. Trade deficits are not accrued by governments – they are the difference between the imports and exports of trade goods between nations. And, just to demonstrate how silly even Trump thinks that notion is, another major point of his platform is that he’ll redress trade imbalances by forcing companies to make everything in the US. So, if there isn’t a trade deficit with Mexico, then there is no way to seize those thousands of balance sheets from private companies and presenting them to the construction companies. who built the wall as payment.
Exactly. Trump’s entire idea can be imagined this way: your neighbor has a dog, who insists on doing his business on your front lawn. After months of feuding with your neighbor over his not curbing his dog, you finally get fed up and build a fence. All your neighbors “ooh” and “ah” over how beautiful you fence is. It is truly the most impressive fence they’ve ever seen. It even has camera emplacements and a barbed wire top, disguised as a giant flower garden. When the contractor presents you with the bill, you give him an IOU, telling him to collect from your neighbor. He sues you and you spend the next three years in court, fighting over the bill.
In the meantime, your neighbor snickers at you from his side of the fence. Eventually, the courts rule in the contractor’s favor, but now with interest and court costs your $4,000 fence is going to cost you $8,000.
And then, to add insult to injury, one morning you walk onto your front lawn and find that a mole has taken up residence. Your big, beautiful wall didn’t do the job, after all.
Many others have already set out their reasons for pledging to never support Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. It is time to add my voice to theirs; to express my outright horror and dread at the thought of a Trump presidency. There are many reasons why I can not support Trump, but they boil down to this: I will not abandon the principles that led to the creation of this Nation. Our nation, in living by those principles, once gave refuge to my family from the totalitarian states that flourished in Europe in the mid-20th century. In return, I’ve spent my lifetime defending those principles, adopting them as a creed. To abandon them on the altar of Trump would make a mockery of everything I, my family, and the United States has ever stood for.
Reason #1: Donald Trump may not be a fascist, but he sure acts like one
Fascism is a system of government that relies on four things – a cult of personality, managed markets (usually by coercion), identifying national problems as being caused by an “other,” and militarism, both abroad and domestically. Trump hits on all those themes as part of his standard spiel. The cult of personality is obvious, he’s spent 40 years developing it.
The managed markets part of his platform isn’t as obvious. After all, Trump loves to proclaim his affinity for business. But if you listen closely, you begin to see a pattern emerge. If you want to do business in Trump’s America, you have to do it his way – or else. He’s threatened Nabisco, Ford Motors, Carrier, Apple and Pfizer in just the past week. You might think using governmental power to force companies to do business in ways that are neither profitable nor humane isn’t really socialism. I’m sure many Germans thought the way Hitler coerced everyone from Mercedes to Krupps to only do business the Nazi way was perfectly respectable, too.
Trump launched his campaign last June with a diatribe against the “others.” As with all fascists, he identified a sub-population that isn’t well liked by the majority of the citizenry. A group that is forced to live on the periphery of society. Just as with the Jews and Gypsies of central and eastern Europe, a group that is largely homogenous. Donald Trump chose to demonize illegal aliens. From day one, he has castigated illegal aliens as purveyors of rape, murder and mayhem. Why do we have rampant crime in our cities? Illegal aliens. Why do we have high unemployment? Illegal aliens. Why are illicit drugs flooding our neighborhoods? Illegal aliens. For such a marginalized and relatively small group, illegal aliens have a tremendous amount of sway over our everyday lives.
Then, after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino last year, Trump had a second group of “others”: muslims. Another marginalized group, living on the periphery of society and not well understood by most Americans (I read once that only 20% of us have ever actually met a muslim). And again, Trump laid many of our national ills at their feet. It’s a repetitive cycle; a simple solution to the world’s most complex and vexing problems.
Now, I am not a fan of illegal immigration or Islamists. but it isn’t difficult to see where Trump’s call for mass deportations lead to a national secret police force and internment camps. It is equally possible to foresee what they might look like:
One of Trump’s standard lines is that he’s “strong.” The United States needs “strength.” We don’t “win” anymore because America’s leadership is “weak.” And how does Trump define strength? He identifies strong governments as like the one in Beijing, using tanks to literally crush protesters. He identifies strong leaders as men like Vladimir Putin, who maintains a reign of terror over not only the Russian people but also those in neighboring countries. In short, he identifies strength as a willingness to use force – if necessary military force – to achieve goals and suppress opposition. That such a man could command the world’s largest military is something that should give everyone pause.
Reason #2: Donald Trump may not be a bigot, but he sure acts like one
Bigotry is nothing new to the United States. Carroll O’Connor and Sherman Helmsley both gained fame by playing bigots on memorable television shows. Donald Trump may be a TV star, but the bigotry he overtly displays isn’t a laughing matter. Like Archie Bunker, Trump has shown bigotry towards almost everyone who isn’t a WASP. Women, blacks, hispanics, asians – all have come under fire and derision. The ugliness almost caught him when he wouldn’t tell David Duke, of KKK fame, to take a hike. A consummate politician, Donald understands his base of support is white bigots – he couldn’t do the right thing, for that simple reason. Besides, the bigotry serves a useful purpose for him: it’s much easier to ostracize minority groups when they’re guilty of nothing more than being a minority group.
In times past, we’ve had bigots occupy the Oval Office, including the guy currently there. We survived them. But odds are the next president will serve two terms (most do) and by 2025, no ethnic group will command a majority of the population. The next President needs to be a president of and for ALL Americans, not just WASPS. If not, the divisions we’re already witnessing will fracture the nation irreparably.
Reason #3: Donald Trump may understand the Constitution, but he doesn’t act like he does
Many of Trump’s proposed solutions run counter to the Constitution. He wants to undo First Amendment protections for the press and protesters. He demands arbitrary control over the nation’s budget, even though that power is reserved for the House of Representatives. Indeed, as much as Barack Obama has run roughshod over the Constitution, he would be a piker compared to what Trump has planned. Trump’s very first act as President would be a lie: swearing to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Reason #4: Donald Trump’s moral code was written Machiavelli
I understand politics is a dirty game. It always has been and always will be. However, one could and should expect that people of conscience would occupy the political world, that their decisions would be informed by a moral code that reflects the best in humanity. Trump’s morality, such as can be discerned from his public stances throughout his life, is best described as one of expediency and instant gratification. If ever there were a perfect representative of the moral faults of the “Me Generation,” Trump is it.
Extended to how Trump would “reign,” his brand of morality would cause all previous generations of Americans to blanche. In matters of the military, he has made it plain he would order the torture of POW’s and mass casualties of enemy non-combatants. Officers who refused to carry out those orders “will be made to pay.” As if that weren’t enough, he wants to turn our military into a mercenary force, available to any nation that wants to wage war, for whatever reason, so long as they can pay the price.
That Donald is corrupt is irrefutable, he gladly admits to it. What’s more, he admits to corrupting public officials. Imagine such a man with his hands on the levers of the executive branch. The damage he can cause is nearly unfathomable when combined with Trump’s greed and insatiable desire for attention, I shudder at the thought of what would happen should he get Presidency.
I realize that for many, taking this stance is unacceptable. They argue that withholding my vote from Trump means I am tacitly supporting the Democrat nominee (and this election, both choices offered by that party are as distasteful as Trump). However, the idea that Trump represents the Republican party is either a joke or the Republican party no longer aspires to make America a “shining city on the hill.” Of course, Trump’s nomination is far from assured. I hope Republicans awake from their slumber and realize the danger their flirtation with a demagogue poses not only to the party, but the nation.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll take a few minutes of your time to watch this video. Almost 70 years ago, we recognized the dangers a man like Donald Trump posed to the national well-being, and the stability of the world. It is almost eerie watching this, as if a newsreel of current events had been transported back to 1947.
One of the popular discussions in political circles has been the prospect that this summer’s Republican Convention could end up being the first brokered convention since 1976. But I think there is a very real possibility that both parties’ conventions might end being brokered. Regardless of who emerged as the nominees in this case, the resulting political earthquake would reset American politics. Indeed, it would recreate the paradigm that both parties strove to leave in the past over 40 years ago, in the wake of the disastrous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Perhaps I should begin by explaining what the term “brokered convention”means. Put simply, it is one in which the party elites, the “bosses,” pick the nominees for President and Vice-President. This was once the norm, but liberalization of both parties primary and caucus rules -and especially the awarding of delegates based on the results – had made them a thing of the past. Over the past 40 years, the eventual nominees were able to garner a majority of delegates prior through the electoral process. While the party bosses still held significant power during the convention, it did not include the ability to change the popular choice for the Presidential nominee.
This year, there exists a very real possibility that no candidate in either party ends the primary season with a clear majority of delegates.
On the Republican side, there are still 6 candidates in the running. Of those, Ben Carson would seem most likely to drop out soon, but the other 5 have the funding and enough backing to continue on, at least until the March 1 primaries. In terms of delegates and convention politics, the longer the field remains this crowded, the longer the possibility that no candidate is able to cobble together 50.1% of the delegates. In fact, a scenario exists wherein the current frontrunner, Donald Trump, could exit the March 1 primaries with more state wins and higher percentage of the popular vote, but fewer delegates than the putative number 2 candidate, Ted Cruz. (And now, you understand why The Donald becomes unhinged at the mere mention of Cruz’ name). How? Cruz’ home state of Texas (where he holds a decided polling advantage) has a complicated two-step, primary and caucus method for picking delegates. Mobilizing the vote there requires an extensive and disciplined network, the type of which Cruz has demonstrated an ability to knit together and which Trump has not. Were Cruz to win Texas, a “winner take all” state and her 155 delegates, he could simply run a strong 2nd or 3rd in the remaining 15 states voting that day – and end up with more delegates.
Of course, we’ll know more after South Carolina votes. But to understand how crazy this is shaping up, you only need to realize that for all his braggadocio (and vaping by the press corps), Trump hasn’t even garnered 1/3 of the delegates awarded so far. And here’s the quirky part about primary elections: each state gets to choose how their delegates are divvied up. For the Republicans, South Carolina is a terrific example of how the winner of the popular vote can wind up with fewer delegates, especially with this many candidates. First, delegates are awarded to the winner in each Congressional district. There are 3 delegates available per district, awarded based on a “winner take all” basis. There are 16 “at-large” or “bonus” delegates, awarded to the winner of the popular vote – provided the winner exceeds 50% of the vote total. Finally there are 3 “RNC” delegates, bound to the winner of the popular vote, regardless of the percentage won. First, it’s extremely unlikely any candidate will win more than 50% of the popular vote, immediately putting those 16 at-large delegates into limbo. In fact, it seems likely that Trump will win Districts 1 and 7, while Cruz is strong in Districts 2, 3 and 4. District 5 is a Democratic stronghold and no Republican polls well there. District 6 is the heart of establishment politics in South Carolina and Jeb Bush’s redoubt.
So, while we’ll know more about how the race is shaping up, there’s a very strong probability that no candidate will emerge with so much as 40 total delegates. If current polling holds true, then the delegate race exiting South Carolina will look like this:
So, to recap: the likelihood is that even after March 1, no candidate will have even so much as 1/4 of the total delegates required to ensure the nomination, and the leader in popular vote could well be trailing in total delegates. This is despite that by then, 19 states with 554 delegates will have voted. This is how you get to a brokered convention.
Of course, there’s been a lot of talk and speculation regarding the possibility of a brokered Republican National Convention. To date, I haven’t heard anyone mention the possibility of a brokered Democratic National Convention. But the possibility exists, and the longer Bernie Sanders remains in the race, the greater the likelihood becomes. The reason has to do with the DNC’s “superdelegates.”
Unlike the potential Republican fiasco, the Democratic one would result from a direct divide between the party elders and the base. The elders (quite correctly, I think) do not believe that an avowed socialist can win the Presidency and thus have bet on Hillary Clinton as their standard bearer. Their primary process includes not only voted delegates, but also some 700 superdelegates. These are members of Congress and other party faithful who may vote for whomever they choose at the convention. Effectively, this means for Sanders to win the Democratic nomination outright, he needs to win the state delegates by a 701 vote margin.
Currently, Sanders holds a slight edge in awarded delegates, 36-32. However, to ensure the nomination, he needs to garner around 59% of the remaining at-large delegates. That’s a tall order. Partly because the Democrats have as many quirky state rules regarding how delegates are divvied up as their Republican counterparts, and partly because winning 59% of the electorate in any election is a tall order. Assuming Sanders does well in Nevada and better than expected in South Carolina, the possibility becomes much more likely that Sanders does wind up winning the popular vote among Democrats – but falls short of the delegate count required to secure the nomination.
If Bernie enters the convention with a lead in declared delegates but not enough to secure the nomination, you will have a brokered convention. The party elders will be faced with a grim choice: do they cast their ballots for Hillary, angering the rank-and-file members of their party? Or do they acquiesce to the popular vote and back Bernie? The floor fight might well be reminiscent of 1968, along with the attendant mayhem.
One thing is for certain. Regardless of whether these scenarios play out or not, this is an election cycle that won’t soon be forgotten. I expect the nastiness, vulgarity and personal attacks to intensify the longer the campaigns roll on without a clear victor. Strap in, it’s going to be a long ride until summer!
Our nation is in great trouble and we seem to have lost our collective minds as a result. Rather than focusing on actual solutions to the things that need solutions, we’re gravitating towards creating even greater problems that may well prove unsolvable. The very dissolution of the Republic is foreseeable in these circumstances.
Allow me to explain. We are fortunate in that we get to choose the people who create and enforce our policies and laws. It’s both a privilege and responsibility. Yet, too many of us do not see it as the grave responsibility to our fellow citizens that this opportunity entails. We do not participate in the process, or when we do, we do not take the time to understand the choices or the people we’re entrusting to make those decisions.
It’s been festering for more than a generation, this lack of civic responsibility. Our founders envisioned a democratic republic and provided the tools required to see that vision through. Even the greatest calamity to strike our nation, the Civil War, wasn’t a result of a failure of those tools. It came about from a deficiency in the nation’s moral character that couldn’t be solved by earnest debate. Yet, even the earnest men of the 1850’s would be shocked to see what has become of us. At the way so many of America’s citizens no longer care enough about the national character to do more than rant, rage and fire off a few nasty tweets.
Which brings us to the current election. At one time, there were 21 declared candidates for the Presidency of the United States. Twenty-One. Amazingly, none of those candidates has been able to elucidate a plan for how the country moves forward while handing the problems we currently face. On the Democrat side, we are given the choice of a septugenarian who wants to return a system of governance thoroughly discredited 25 years ago or a person of such low character that threat of indictment for corruption, murder and treason casts a gloomy shadow over her campaign.
The Republicans haven’t been any better. That the leading contender from that side of the aisle is nothing more than a self-aggrandizing carnival barker should be immensely obvious to even the most daft among us. Yet, somehow it escaped the millions pledging their support that the very character flaws they’ve spent the past eight years deriding the current president for, their champion exhibits.
This is beyond whether the Trump is a conservative or a liberal. This goes straight to our own deficiencies as a society. After all, if we weren’t as morally bankrupt as we’ve become, a third-rate reality TV personality, devoid of ideas and unable to even identify the real threats to the nation, would have been exactly what he should be: a public laughingstock, chased from the political process before the first chill winds of autumn blew. Instead, the modern day PT Barnum continues on, dragging the nation closer to self-immolation with every nonsensical statement he makes, egged on by a hallelujah chorus of sycophants unable to see the danger he represents to their own well being.
“Wait!” you cry. “The Trump speaks the truth I know, when no one else will!” you lament.
But does he?
His entire campaign is based on playing off the legitimate fears of the American people, and the continuing inaction of the Powers That Be to address them. A lackluster economy, a growing terrorist threat and changing mores have all left middle America wondering what happened, and left those who want to be led looking for what they perceive as a strong leader. Trump, whose entire life was built around being the ultimate huckster, the shyster, the carnival barker, selling himself in order to sell his services, is tailor made for this pathos. Ideas and thought are minimized; all that matters is being that perfect reflective surface in which everyone can see the things they want to see. It is Bill Clinton’s “I feel your pain” mantra on steroids. It is as fake as the winter is long. It is the proof that perception can be reality.
Were that all there was to Trump, we would survive (albeit not without pain). But what makes him far more dangerous to the nation is not campaign style nor the way he’s hoodwinked so many of you. We’ve survived empty suits in the Presidency before. We’ve even thrived with some. No, the danger of Trump lies in his history and the few policy positions he has taken. The Trump continuously demonstrates a Machiavellian tendency to get his way. Combined with his proposed solutions to America’s situation, you should be quaking at the very thought of a Trump presidency.
Those solutions are, at best, extra-constitutional. The electorate is supposedly upset over the last two administrations’ use of the Executive Order as a way to get around the Congress and enact policy against the will of the Congress and the people. Yet the idea that you would now support, unequivocally support, a man who plans to use that questionable instrument as a sledgehammer must be acknowledged. Too few of you have bothered to understand what Trump says, and what it means in practice. You do not want to hear that enacting those policies can only happen by suspending the Bill of Rights, a declaration of martial law, and the end of the United States as the world’s preeminent moral compass. In your rage and impotence, you cling to the megalomaniac and the promise of stability. Little do you realize that attaching the nation to the whims of one such as Trump will bring us all to ruin.
So please, by all means, vote for Trump. Just remember that when you do, you aren’t just pulling on a lever in the voting booth. You are also pulling the handle on the toilet and flushing the United States of America away.
There was another GOP debate last night, as you might have heard. When it all was over, I gave my unvarnished opinion on how the candidate’s fared on Twitter:
@BretBaier Cruz, Trump, Paul. Biggest loser: Rubio. Whiniest: Jeb! Guy from Ohio: Kasich
— Ray R (@rrothfeldt) December 16, 2015
— Ray R (@rrothfeldt) December 16, 2015
When I awoke this morning, I was greeted with articles like this one in the Washington Post and this one in Politico. There are plenty of others out there, but if you’ve got a few minutes (that is, a few minutes you are not spending reading this post), perusing those two will do two things for you. First, you’ll immediately feel a need to purge lunch. Second, you’ll wonder (as I have) if they were watching the same debate as the rest of the country.
It is an important question, since most Americans still get their information from the same type of people who wrote those pieces. Obviously, the MSM was watching an old Dean Martin roast or something. Because otherwise, how could they possibly come to the conclusion that Marco Rubio was winner last night?
Of course, they weren’t watching a Dean Martin roast. And before you chime in, please let me state for the record that the pundits and writers who populate the airwaves and fill the white spaces in the newspapers are, for the most part, really intelligent people. But their problem is, as it has been for this entire cycle to date, that those really intelligent people haven’t been smart enough to leave the Beltway Bubble behind and get out with the people who are actually voting in these primaries. Because of that, we keep getting flawed coverage. They’ve been at a loss as to why Donald Trump polls higher than any candidate. They’ve been at a loss as to why Jeb! (or maybe just Jeb) is sinking more spectacularly than the Titanic. They’re at a loss as to why Ted Cruz is surging.
Everything Rubio did last night was geared towards winning over the Beltway crowd, which shows how bad of a pol he really is. Rubio punched all the buttons that pundits, spinmeisters and consultants love. He was polished. He was confident. He stood tall. He gave lengthy, wonky answers in a relatable way to policy questions. Heck, for once he even managed to leave the water bottle alone (mostly). So I can see how they thought he had a knock-out performance. His “optics” were durn near perfect, as if scripted by Hollywood. Rubio is, now that Jeb! is thoroughly discredited as a viable candidate, the establishment’s best hope. And last night, they projected their hopes on the canvas that is Marco Rubio.
But this year, the people doing the voting are paying attention to what these guys are actually saying. The candidates who are succeeding understand that the electorate is 180 degrees from DC. In fact, the quickest way for politicians to alienate themselves from the voters this year is to even have a whiff of “Eau de Establishment” on them. Optics (so long as nobody spontaneously combusts) are taking a back-burner to positions, and wishy-washiness is the second fastest way to obscurity. The fastest way? Taking positions that are at odds with what the electorate wants. This isn’t a new”phenomenon.” It’s been percolating through the GOP for a few years now. Ask Eric Cantor. Ask John Boehner.
So, when Rubio gave a vigorous defense of unnecessarily toppling foreign governments, you could hear the hiss as the tires on his campaign bus started leaking air. When he attacked Ted Cruz as being soft on defense because Cruz doesn’t think governments spying on their citizens is cool, you could hear the engine start to sputter. And when Rubio came out full-bore for illegal alien amnesty, the bus came to a screeching halt. Really, Rubio’s night was lost the moment Rand Paul hit him in the mouth (figuratively speaking) by labeling him “as the weakest of all on immigration” and Rubio had no retort. None.
Anyway, I feel somewhat vindicated: in post-debate polls on Brietbart and Drudge (which are decidedly unscientific), my three winners match up almost exactly – the difference being that Trump is 1, Cruz 2 and Rand Paul 3. but you know what? The NSRC – a Republican establishment organization – released their post debate poll, which was conducted using scientific methods. Guess what?
Cruz : 27%
Paul : 13%
But hey, there is some good news for the MSM. In the NSRC poll, Rubio finished with 8% of respondents saying he won, which is better than Drudge (7%) or Breitbart (6%).
Anyone who knows me also knows the likelihood of my ever supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is on par with me joining up with ISIS. I consider the man little more than a carpetbagger, a charlatan and a fraud.
That being said, he is a declared candidate for President and in this early stage, a successful one. While I doubt he believes even half what he says (based on previous positions he’s taken and supported financially), the fact is that he’s given voice to the concerns of a large number of Americans. Enough so, that he’s surged to the top of the most recent polls. While I think the man expressing those points of view should be the subject of ridicule, there shouldn’t be any doubt that the views are worthy of merit.
This is why I’m disturbed and disheartened about Huffington Post’s determination to marginalize the Donald’s campaign by relegating their coverage to their entertainment section. Yes, I know this particular publication is to the left of Pravda. And yes, I know they wouldn’t be happy with any candidate unless their name was Che. However, their action is much more than an editorial decision. They’ve decided that the media – not the American electorate – should be the final arbiter of who is, and who is not, a viable candidate. With that decision, they’ve also made themselves the sole voice on what opinions and topics should be discussed during the campaign. They’ve become nothing more than the propaganda arm of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The issues that have vaulted Trump to the top are immigration and foreign trade. The positions he’s taken are not only anathema to liberals, but guaranteed to get them frothing at the mouth. Yet, these are positions that are echoed by a plurality of the electorate. They cannot and should not be disregarded. Yes, I would like to see them expressed by a better candidate – but the candidate who allows them to be discussed should be respected, if only got that.
I have no problem with any publication editorializing. HuffPo can write an editorial every day demonizing Trump. My concern is when they show such overt, discriminate bias in news coverage. News is news, regardless of whether you like it. And disregarding the views of (based on polling) more than half the country by calling it entertainment is only resigning yourself, and your readers, to a very small corner.
Although I have to admit, this absurd editorial turn does pose an interesting question. Since Trump is virtually guaranteed a spot in the initial debates, does HuffPo intend to cover them as a political event, or out them in column two, right below an article about Bruce Jenner’s next boob job?