The presidential election is a mess. Often, the election rhetoric is full of charges of false conservatism and allegations that non-Trump supporters are Hillary supporters. At times, it must rely on fatally flawed logic. Trump’s supporters, lacking substantive (and consistent) merits to praise, must rely on assumption, distraction, and name-calling. Alternating between anger, fear, and a complete lack of self-preservation, the GOP has backed Trump.
Somewhere, there may be a political ledger with the balances of each camp, I think a more intriguing investigation is who owes who support, or their votes. The want of loyalty by Trump supporters for their man grows tedious – but why should that be? They would claim conservatives owe our votes to the Republican candidate. Critical thought and principles, need not attach to the equation.
What has happened to the simple action of heading to the ballot box, and pulling the lever for the Republican? When did this cease to be a viable reaction for voters? Was Trump in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was there actually a tipping point – a spot where voters dug their heels in, and said, “No – you move”?
We should reflect over the past ten years to gain perspective leading up to this moment. We could go further back, and use Bob Dole’s candidacy as a starting point, but I’ll start with John Boehner. Boehner, seeing his support erode in the House, sought to punish detractors. He removed “non-loyal” conservatives from House Committees where they could force fiscal responsibility. Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Justin Amash, and David Schweikert lost their committee positions. Conservatives raged, and said the GOP would pay.
GOP stalwarts like John McCain and Mitch McConnell often fought with conservatives. McCain called Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, “Wacko birds”. Mitch McConnell ran against a Tea Party candidate, and Trump donated to McConnell. And again, conservatives railed, and said the GOP would pay.
Donald Trump used friends in media, like the National Enquirer, to smear primary opponents. Unfounded rumors, ties to assassination, and marital infidelities were all used to tarnish opponents’ reputations. Those actions, echoed by his supporters, will only hinder promising candidates in future elections. Given an opportunity to walk back those claims, Trump refused, and said the Enquirer, “does have credibility“. And conservatives, knowing what kind of effect this would have in the future with those candidates targeted, knew an apology was due.
The GOP’s past actions, along with their steadfast support of Trump, has irritated conservatives. The final straw was Trump’s claim that, he doesn’t need conservative votes. And it was then, the conservatives finally realized they had a belief in common with Trump. And they had something that they would grant him.
Now, there is a history of the GOP taking conservatives for granted, and the GOP has spent as much political capital as they dare. Spending most, if not all of it, on big government types and otherwise non viable candidates. This election was finally where conservatives said, “No more”. Having spent, borrowed, begged, and promised – the GOP finds its base turning them away.
The idiom goes, “It’s easy to find a stick to beat a dog”, and the GOP and their recent leftward wandering candidates have no problem with sticks. But, they neglected to notice that the dog they beat isn’t chained – and it can simply walk away. And conservatives have.
An exodus from the GOP has boosted libertarian numbers, as conservatives now find more common ground with them. The conservatives perhaps see an ability to work together and build something with libertarians, where the GOP only needs their conservatives every four years. This leper-treatment by the GOP has no blame to lie at any place other than at their own feet.
For its taking, and never giving, its continual leftward march, and for its rejection of principles and critical thought. It is becoming clear that the GOP does not think it needs its conservatives, and having waged war against them, they may find it exceedingly hard to recover them. The GOP owes much to its conservatives -but to now demand their votes while Donald Trump as the titular head of the party? It is a loan too far. And conservatives should consider the debts already owed to them as unrecoverable.
Donald Trump continues to hold a lead in the Republican primary race, and although it is very early to put much credibility into those polls, I have seen some troubling things from The Donald. His rhetoric, while unrefined and brusque, resonates with a certain audience. Both Donald Trump, and Barack Obama, are ideologues – despite claiming to share different visions – they share many other similarities.
Both men seek issues that infuriate their bases, Obama with healthcare and class differences, and Trump with immigration and the country’s international slipping as a world power. Both men can rely on a rabid response when mentioning these things, and both know how their supporters will respond to any criticism of either man’s stance. The president, currying favor, says forget the rules, forget Constitutional checks and balances – I will do it myself. There is no stopping my attempts to help people. Trump says walls and free trade will be his methods – all to protect the American workers. This is Marketing 101 – 20th century despots and dictators all did this to great effect. Identify a problem, and set yourself up as the sole bastion against that threat. “Only I, with your support, can protect you, Americans,” the politician promises.
Having not been victimized enough once (whether actual or perceived), the aggrieved are again made victims by slick talk. While it may feel reassuring that, for once, someone has your back, there is a tacit belief that the “victims” cannot save themselves. This may lead to a perpetual system of victimization, saving, failure of saviors, and re-victimization all over again. With different causes, and different promises – all ending in the same manner. While it is great for politicians, it is a hellish quagmire for the populace that they suppose to lead.
Both men sell their solutions as being beneficial-only. The cost to the victims? Negligible when considering the worst case scenario (and, it is always a worst case scenario that we face) . Unintended consequences are merely unforeseen and unfortunate results. The Affordable Care Act came with higher costs to consumers, who Obama promised cuts in their premiums, and to access to care, due to doctors refusing to treat Medicare patients, and due to early retiring doctors. If Trump were to engage in a massive immigrant deportation project (attempting to force 11 million illegal immigrants to return to their homeland) – where would the funding for that originate? Which agencies would be tasked with conducting such a huge operation? It is not hard to imagine an over-budget scheme that deports illegal immigrants, only to see them return before any completed walls rise on the southern borders.
Both men seek to surround themselves with loyal lieutenants, willing to both support their man, or fall onto a sword for them, if necessary. Obama’s stalling and faulting supporters have names like: Jarrett, Holder, and Clinton. Trump’s while lesser known, have been with him for decades as he has built his empire. Might they stay within that business sphere, or can we expect to see them rewarded by a Trump presidency? (Bloomberg had a great report on Trump, and how his loyal associates have been long-time business associates and underlings) While such loyalty is admirable, the Obama administration reminds us how much associates can cover and stall for their boss.
Both men talk tough when it comes to their plans – Obama’s talk, when followed by action, promised to be short-sighted and very expensive. Trump’s tough talk sounds very similar, and his temperament can be expected to lead him to take actions, whether he has Constitutional support or not. Both men set themselves up as speakers for the masses, and for certain aggrieved classes. We have seen more than six years of results from Obama – do we really want to risk another decade of it, because it is “our guy”?
We have seen the missteps and the successes of the Obama administration. We have seen the worst, seemingly having each “accomplishment” being worse and worse than the previous one. The country is now subject to a namesake piece of legislation, in Obamacare, and we have seen Obama’s revolving door of big-government, tax-and-spend Keynesians spin like a dynamo.
We have seen the confident Obama boast that, “We won” when talking about his party, and their misreading of elections results. Most recently, the country has seen the administration’s misunderstanding of the Middle East, and their finger-pointing ability when they sought to make the Benghazi fiasco go away. We were witness to a massive fall in the president’s support among his former voters too (although it was not enough to overcome the lack of support for Mitt Romney among conservatives).
So, how does all this make Obama a hero of the right?
Read the rest, along with my explanation on how the right should take advantage of the left’s frequent missteps and failures, here: Conservative Daily News “Obama, The Gift That Keeps Giving”
In what will surely leave a sour taste in many conservatives’ mouths for some time, Speaker John Boehner has removed several conservative Republicans from leadership positions in the House of Representatives. The story, revealed on December 4th, made mention of a secret list of guidelines and criteria for reappointing Republicans to their chairs. Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp acknowledged the revelation and existence of this secret list on Tuesday.
So far, the House leadership (Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy) have been mum about the list, its origins, and why it was necessarily to determine which Republicans are no longer welcomed as leaders of committees. Those leaders attempted to explain the removals were merely normal, procedural, actions. Other angered Republicans expressed their disillusionment with the ridiculous nature of the secrecy and privileged nature of knowledge of the chair removals: Representative Jim Jordan (OH) said this kind of behavior was not good for the party; and Senator Jim DeMint (SC) went so far as to say conservatives “Lost the battle in Washington for now”. The conservative, Club for Growth is calling for the release of the list of criteria used by Boehner to replace the chairs.
Jeb Hensarling, who is the incoming chair of the House Financial Services Committee, claimed ignorance of the entire mess. He just happens to move into a newly opened spot, and knows nothing about the vacated position? Even if Hensarling did have an inkling of a political payback, he is now wise to the game, and he is keeping his mouth tightly closed.
It is interesting that a number of blogs and news sources actually refer to the fiasco, as a purging of conservatives from leadership positions in Washington. I find parallels to 20th century leaders. Feeling threatened, those same leaders – even though their supporters were successful, and showed themselves as loyal adherents of the party orthodoxy – were eliminated as chairmen from leadership positions. Minimizing or eliminating any threats to any top dog (in this case, top-dog Boehner) will occur.
The rise of the Tea Party, and the re-ascendancy of conservative values, have worried the progressives in the United States, and now we see how much the Republican establishment is uneasy too. While a nameless Congressional aide confirms that the removals from the chairs were payback, what does it say about a Republican leadership who would rather snipe and in-fight, than take on progressives in the White House and Senate? It seems like familiarity really does breed contempt. Apparently Boehner would rather stock committees with his sycophants and yes-men, than appoint responsibly spending conservatives, voted into the House by their constituents, to chairs of fiscal committees.
The years of conservative criticism that Boehner was nothing more than an ineffective, establishment shill, seem to finally have the evidence anyone would ever require to confirm their belief. Boehner’s frequent crying episodes, and his tough-guy-only-to-cave-to-Democrat-demands acts have grown very thin. Boehner has done little, if anything, to curb Obama’s runaway debts and deficits, or to counter progressives’ deceitful claims about Republicans, or even hold the Senate responsible for tabling so much that the House has passed and sent to the body. Boehner’s media presence is lacking, his laid back nature is contrary to what is needed right now, and his frequent bouts of one-sided “compromise” are antithetical to conservatives’ belief that there is one way to conduct politics: competently, fiscally responsibly, and at the direction of their constituents, not special interests.
How do you deal with a politician like John Boehner? Do you call his Congressional office, and leave a strongly-worded message? Do you scowl and swear whenever you see Boehner’s mug on the television screen? Do you buy an overly-tanned voodoo doll and some stick pins? Of course not. You hit him where he has shown he has soft spots. You make him worry about the people that he has shown he fears. Conservatives must take every opportunity to hold his feet not only to the fire, but in the fire. It is clear that Boehner may need to be primaried to send a message to him. If so, do it, and get him to debate, to explain his frequent collapses to the Democrats and his wishy-washy support of fiscal responsibility. Whatever it takes, Boehner ought to be run out of town on a rail.
I was recently reading a book by British author, economist, and historian, Niall Ferguson, called “Colossus“, where he compared the British Empire to the American pseudo-empire. Ferguson made it very clear that the American version was far differing in its outcomes than the British, which had numerous factors working in its favor. One of the most glaring differences was that British citizens were far more willing to move to colonies and conquered areas, both to build and develop a British-style administration and to improve infrastructure over decades, where American citizens would rather simply stay put.
There were a number of factors Ferguson cited, in a list by historian David Landes, that are tactics that second- and third-world countries’ economies and legal systems should use to improve and grow. Upon reading this list, I grew dumbfounded as many of the things enumerated within that list, are the polar opposite of the policies of President Obama and his administration, in the last three years in the United States. Instead of moving “Forward” (if you will forgive the use of the already hackneyed campaign slogan of Obama’s), the president acts in ways that are completely contrary to common sense and pro-American beliefs. I post the list below (also posted in one of Ferguson’s previous works, “Empire“) along with my thoughts as I read the tactics:
1. secure rights of private property, the better to encourage saving and investment
This item put me in mind of the egregious Gibson guitar raids in the summer of 2011. Secure rights of private property? Hardly – the U.S. government twice raided the Gibson factory, citing a law from 1900 (more commonly known as the Lacey Act, found here with amended text), that was originally written to protect the trade of feathers for hats. Amended and broadened in 2008, the law now includes plants. Despite legal sales, approved by Indian and Malagasy authorities, the U.S. Feds raided and seized Gibson wood stocks anyway.
2. secure rights of personal liberty...against both the abuses of tyranny and...crime and corruption
Can we honestly say the administration has done this? My mind goes to the loss of Brian Terry’s life, as a result of the “Fast & Furious” scandal, a flawed, illegal, haphazardly executed gun selling operation. Refusing to apologize to Terry’s family, A.G. Holder still balks at producing the papers Congress is requesting from his D.O.J. Another example that is also connected to this program, is the ongoing scuttlebutt that the program’s design was to negatively effect the power of the 2nd Amendment.
3. enforce rights of contract;
I do not feel like there is much more to say than bringing up the government take over of the student loan program, and its take over of healthcare in the country. The government came in, and while promising one thing, delivered everything but.
4. provide stable government...governed by publicly known rules;
Have we seen a good example of this from Democrats? Between their “deemed to have passed” legislation, and a completely “tabled” Senate (also led by Harry Reid and Democrats) – can we honestly call this a “stable government”? With state Congresses fleeing the states to prevent votes on hotly contested legislation, who needs rules and stability? There are plenty of easily understood rules, but if the people in charge choose to ignore them, what do we have?
5. provide responsible government;
Responsible government? Again, I’d like to bring up “Fast & Furious”. Eric Holder continues to serve as Attorney General, and the threat of contempt of Congress does not seem to phase him. Another thought is the numerous, unanswerable czars of the president’s and the regulatory agencies (think: E.P.A.) that are using their power (with little, if any) oversight and accountability.
6. provide honest government...[with] no rents to favour and position;
How could I not think of the Solyndra mess? Loaning millions of dollars to the business, only to saw it wasted, as the company blew through it, at its (well-known and purposely overlooked) high burn-rate, and where it was later revealed that a big investor was George Kaiser, one of President Obama’s campaign bundlers. As far as no favor to position – how about the benefit of being a Congressional member? Access to a legal way to get in on nearly impossible-to-join IPOs and investments, that normal Americans were held out of?
7. provide moderate, efficient, ungreedy government...to hold taxes down [and] reduce the government's claim on the social surplus
While the cry of the left is “Well, Bush did it too!”, when they defend Obama’s questionable actions, whatever Bush may have done does not hold a candle to the extent of Obama’s odious actions. Obama has expanded the deficit more than any other president in history. How would he and his party seek to pay for their bills? Taxes, of course. Create some new ones, and expand the old ones – simply tax, tax, tax, then they can spend, spend, spend. The administration raided Medicare Advantage funds to help pay for Obamacare (to the tune of $204 billion).
So, if the list contains directions for a well-maintained and least troublesome government, why would the president do anything otherwise? If I were a cynic, I might offer Rahm Emmanuel’s quip, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Create a crisis, and then ride in to save the day. The only problem is that there are far too many crises, and too many unaccountable people, following their own rules, in Washington.
I had not intended to write another post, surely not another so soon, about Rick Santorum, and I felt as though I covered my concerns about him in a previous post. It turns out, over the span of the last week or so, he has done things that again made my ears perk up, and forced me to do research, confirming that I had heard the things I had actually heard. Again, my worries seem to have been proven true, and the things I thought (and hoped) had to be media stretching the truth, were confirmed…
Most Recent Missteps
On a recent Sunday morning media shows, gearing up for a double primary today, in Michigan and Arizona, Rick Santorum knew he had to try to rebound from his poor performance in the last debate in Arizona. If I were him, I think I would have stressed the reasons I was the fitter candidate, and why my decision-making skills were the best among the candidates. However, Santorum seems to have given his opponents on the right and the left plenty to think about. In a time when people balked at the notion that the President has given an order to American religious groups, that they must provide contraceptives to employees, Rick Santorum said President Kennedy’s remarks about the separation of church and state made him “want to throw-up”. My main concern is that if a leader can give a directive from a secular stance, to religious groups (and we all think that is an overreach), then why would it be better that a religious-oriented leader give a directive to secular groups? This seems to be what Santorum is endorsing when he rejects Kennedy’s assurances to Baptist leaders in the 1960 election. While I would not go as far as Chris Matthews, and call Santorum a “theocrat,” I do worry that either playing to more religious voters, or dragging this election to a more social-issue oriented election, is tantamount to throwing away the biggest electoral-weapon the GOP has – the ECONOMY! They should be taking the economy, and how Obama has thrown away money, time after time, and ride that horse to death. Rely on winning back the Senate, and making it more conservative, to then legislate more socially conservative issues to send to the Republican president.
The second concern that I have with recent Santorum remarks, is that he was against the open-primary system. While he was in Minnesota, he criticized permitting Democrats to vote in open, Republican, primaries. The CNN article below, mentions that there was a good chance his criticism was a result of Mitt Romney’s winning the New Hampshire primary. Santorum went so far as to suggest that anyone voting against their party affiliation, should just go ahead and switch parties.
“We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don’t even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee,” Santorum told voters on the call held January 29. “I don’t like that. I believe that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries.” (via CNN)
Once he began to show some life in a close Michigan race, and various liberal sources began to throw around the idea of a leftwing version of Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos,” he suddenly changed his attitude. He then began to support robo-calls to try to get all the support from whatever places that he could – even those Democrats that he crititized in Minnesota. This is unfortunate, and it puts me in mind of the “Father of Flip-Flopping,” John Kerry. (Now do not send me comments – I am NOT calling Rick Santorum, John Kerry – but Kerry is so inextricably bound to the “flip-flop,” whenever I see it, I think of him, so sue me…) What I am suggesting is that it is possible that other voters make the same connection, and it turns them completely off.
I fear that losing Arizona and Michigan on the 28th may force Santorum into a more desperate position, and I wonder what different issues he may begin to adopt and endorse, to try to salvage his campaign. While I do hope he stays active in the race (no matter the outcome), and afterward keeps conservative social issues in the news, I do not think that now is the time for doing so.
So, unless you have completely been away from media since Monday, you have heard about Mitt Romney’s colossal failures in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado. His entire campaign has collapsed, and he may as well just pack it in, and return to one of his palatial estates in the northeast. Right? That is the narrative his competition would have us believe is going to occur. He is down, and he is out. I, on the other hand, am not so sure.
So, what does the miraculous-sweep of the three states mean for Romney’s seeming inevitability? For me, not much. Other candidates may see it as a sign that there will surely be a brokered convention, or that there is serious rejection of Romney among Republicans. I, however, see a few silver linings to the “rejection” of Romney.
First, these losses are seen as huge and unexpected – he should play to this fact. As the campaign wears on, he can show himself as a candidate who is not the stuff-shirt, boring, businessman that he has been painted as, but he is a candidate who is flexible. He now has a situation, if he sells it right, that allows him to break out of his silver-spoon, always-been-a-winner, never-had-any-struggles story. He needs to make more people aware of any struggles or tragedies he may have faced. A candidate who can bounce back from unexpected setbacks, who can roll with unexpected punches and is dynamic, that kind of guy is seen as a better president – the type who can lead an ever-changing country. He has now been bested in five states, and if he acts humbled (as he should be), people may see a more relate-able guy (especially in a country facing so many problems, that have touched everyone). He should create a contrast to the effete, aloof Obama.
Secondly, the sheer appeal of candidates like Santorum and Gingrich, who are “conservative alternatives,” shows him what many people are seeking. Romney sure does not do himself any favors by having candidates who have already been losers to Obama (read: John McCain) appear with him. If that is somehow supposed to help him, why not invite Alan Keyes and Jack Ryan to events too? He should maximize any appearances he can make with prospective GOP Congressmen, especially those who are seen as farther right than any others. Meet with current GOP leaders (like Jim DeMint) that holds sway with conservatives, and adopt and advocate for views he shares. He does not need to be seen as any farther left or moderate when his record and talking heads already make him appear that way. He should play up the angle as much as possible, that capitalism did not put us in the economic quagmire we find ourselves in, but capitalism will lead us out.
The economic angle being stressed, will help at events too – feature the people who kept their jobs because of Bain’s investments and actions, and contrast them against the president’s claims of saved jobs. “This is what a real, legitimately saved job looks like America!” Use full advantage of any opportunities like this to differentiate and take shots at failed Obama policies. The more these regulations and economy-killing policies are brought up to voters, the more firmly Obama can be painted as a complete economic blunderer and failure, and the more people will see you as a person who understands the dire situation, and is competent and able to turn a stumbling country around.
He should look to build consensus wherever he can – against the do-nothing Senate, and the any Democratic Senators for continually neglecting their duties. This could help ensure that he would have a more “friendly”, GOP-led Senate. Because of the recent political fallout and anger at the “contraceptive mandate” of Obamacare, Romney could point out the struggles and religious persecution he has faced as a Mormon, and stress how he would never support anything resembling that mandate. Take a stand with Catholics and others, promising to strip out or veto any legislation sent to you with any religious questionability.
Finally, he should take concrete, permanent stands on issues and stick with them. He should draw guidelines and NOT deviate – there is so much concern that Romney is “wishy-washy” and flip-flops. When elected, he should make sure he does everything he can to see those issues’ passing and enforcement occur. America is tired of suave leaders, who are so self-assured that they have convinced themselves that they can do no wrong. He should be humble and willing to listen, and admit as much. He needs to take full advantage of events like CPAC to talk to people, and speak without the safety of prepared material. He needs to show people the person, they seem to have seen nearly enough of the candidate.