The Free Exchange (15-012)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.

Iran Deal Epitomizes the Wrong Way to Encourage Peace

Black and Red Fan writes:


Sigh… This naive approach to Iran and many other bad guys shows the leftists’ dangerousness and cluelessness. I think the bottom line is that these leftists truly do not understand the nature of evil and have not dealt with them.

What do you think fuels their thinking? I am sure they mean well and would want to do the right thing. But how can they be this wrong? I mean this leftist president did order the killing of Bin Laden and asked for the death penalty for the Boston Bomber, both of which were conservative moves that I applauded. (I was especially pleasantly surprised about Bin Laden anuthorization since many leftists such as Michael Moore said there was no trial for Bin Laden and also that Bin Laden did not personally kill anyone that we know about.) And yet here he is doing this half-ass, looks-like-a-deal-but-not-really-a-deal with Iran but with but bigger stakes for the world.

I would love to hear what you think is the motivation behind their thinking. Another great piece but a subject matter that angers and worries me. I am sure that Israel feels very isolated and alone. They deserve our prayers.


J Hunter:


Indeed Israel needs our prayers. I’m sure they’d greatly appreciate our unwavering support for once, too.


Liberals want to believe that the Republicans fabricated enemies and oversold threats in order to win elections and start wars for corporate gain. Some of them believe that nonsense, and believe that the first step toward a more peaceful world is by reconsidering who America’s enemies are. The Left believes that America’s enemy is the Right. Everyone else is a lesser threat, by their estimation.


Maybe that has nothing to do with President Obama’s dealings with Iran. In that instance, perhaps the President is trying to get a foreign policy win. He hasn’t had one. A peace deal with Iran could justify his Nobel Peace Prize. It could, at least, distract attention from his infamous reliance on drone strikes.


I can think of a million reasons why the President may be engaging with Iran the way that he is, but the truth is, we may never know. What we do know, is that every step must be taken to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. If we think Iran is dangerous now, it’ll be leagues worse armed.


Thank you for your comments!

The Liberal Creed (A Bit of Satire)

Black and Red Fan writes:

This is great stuff! And so I’m curious, what made you write this piece and in this satire form? I always find the origins of inspiration fascinating. And do you really think she’ll be more hawkish/interventionist than Obama? Id be curious to hear your thoughts.


J Hunter:


I’m glad you liked this.

It was just dumb luck that on a Monday, still thinking about the Sunday church service, I was switching my brain over to look at political news and conflated the Democrats’ 1 candidate with the Nicene Creed. I wrote it and tested it with my wife and brother and then posted it. Interestingly enough, it’s the most popular piece on the site. I guess there isn’t a thirst for debate over political theory.


On Clinton’s hawkishness, I suspect she’d be much more hawkish than Obama. That’s because of a couple of assumptions and stereotypes that surround our politics: The first, is that because people understand Democrats to be nice, they must show themselves to be tough to earn respect. Conversely, Republicans have a reputation for being tough, so the most successful ones are those who come off as nice. As a Democrat, Clinton must be tough.


Also, though, Hillary is very obviously a woman. As such, she may want to highlight her collaborative abilities–a skill associated with femininity–but (as the first female president) she also has to prove to history that she has the ability to use military force successfully, to diminish the reputation women have for avoiding conflict and war at all costs.
I look forward to your thoughts on this.


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The Free Exchange (15-011)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.


The Redistribution Reality

Black and Red Fan writes:


This is great news! Prager once said that the more people truly examine, engage, think about, and discuss a topic closely, they tend to overwhelmingly come out on the conservative side. This is why shows like Prager and your blogs are so important; they explains logically and plainly the issues which usually lead to the conservative side. Margaret Thatcher was right when she said that facts and the reality of life are conservative.


The liberal desire for income/wealth redistribution is so strange when you think about it. I think the bottom line is that they must either not understand or not care about how wealth is produced. They must think or presume that everyone who has a higher income must have got it by inheritance or by cheating or stealing. They must also think that those who don’t work as hard or have lesser skills or have lesser career drive should still get the same wealth without having earned it. I just don’t understand this line of thinking. I guess it must be the emotion of envy or wanting a certain outcome? Bernie Sanders the socialist comes to mind. That guy is a bullying and dishonest man in his arguments and position.


As I said, this essay and the two articles your quote do give me hope. This is what gives me encouragement that despite all the indoctrination of the universities, Hollywood, and the press: the facts of life and its realities will show the people the truth about conservative positions. This is why you and your voice is so important. (and mine too I guess) I have been trying to do my part here in one of the bluest states in the country. And even the hardcore liberals here do see what I mean when I have those discussions with them. I do believe that I am planting those seeds of truth that we talked about. And so reading this is a great bit of encouragement and we will continue to fight on to preserve this great country. Thanks for this essay.


J Hunter:

Thank you for commenting, and for the kind words.


I agree that the Left doesn’t understand how wealth is created. President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment exemplifies the liberal view of the relationship between public and private ventures: Yes, it is true that tax money builds roads that help deliver goods to market, but businesses must exist in order to create the tax money in the first place.


Nowhere is this clearer than in Detroit, where people and businesses have left the city and the government cannot afford to pay for the infrastructure that once served the millions who used to live in the city. If government created wealth, then Detroit wouldn’t be where it is right now.


I think that liberals are motivated by wishful thinking. They see the kinds of services that smaller, poorer nations provide for their citizens, and are upset that America doesn’t too. In their minds, these services, not differences in culture or circumstances, are what make the more liberal countries more successful at tackling certain issues that “plague” the U.S. Therefore, the cost to implement these programs hardly matters–the program will ameliorate American life and the high cost will be offset by these improvements.


Of course, the Left is wrong precisely because they do not understand (or accept) cultural or circumstantial differences between the U.S. and other nations–namely the emphasis Americans place on self-reliance.


I hope we don’t lose that trait anytime soon.

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The Free Exchange (15-010)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.


Rand’s Gambit

BJ writes:

I don’t know what to say about this guy. He’s got such mix of confusing values. As you listed, he seems and sounds libertarian just like his father. But he has many non-libertarian views as you articulated. We have discussed what we think of libertarianism in the past, especially involving that awful Brink Lindsey.


One observation that I would love to hear your comment on: it seems like many non-religious conservatives like to call themselves as libertarians. But when confronted with specific issues such as drug legalization, many fall on the traditional conservative side rather than the libertarian side. And so I have always thought of the so-called libertarians as frustrated conservatives who oppose the Iraq War and is OK with same-sex marriage. In other words, moderate Republicans. (Especially those who did not like President Bush the younger.) Most of us have a mix of view on issues. However I don’t think these people truly understand libertarianism as it is classically defined.


All of this is to agree with your point; I don’t see Rand Paul as any kind of serious candidate. A few questions for you though: do you see Rand Paul as just another younger version of his father Ron Paul? I find it funny that Ron Paul is not running although he’s been running for decades. Do you know if they disagree on anything?


Also what do you think of Rand Paul being aggressive with the liberal media but it backfiring when he’s labeled as sexist against women reporters since for whatever reason, he’s only been interviewed by women reporters since his announcement?


J Hunter:


Thank you for commenting BJ!

As usual, I think you’re spot on about libertarian frustration.


I highlight Nate Cohn’s piece in this article because I think that it best illustrates the state of libertarianism in the Republican Party today–small, insignificant, and only marginally interesting. Cohn explains that the swath of people who call themselves libertarian don’t truly hold libertarian views, and that the term has become a catchall for liberals and conservatives who want to have their cake and eat it too: fiscally responsible and pro-gay marriage, for example. In short, it’s becoming a shorthand for moderate–as you suggest.


That’s really a shame, in my opinion, because I think classical liberalism–libertarianism–has its place in political debate. There are instances in which I’d like to see a more Millian sense of liberty enacted, but Millian liberty offends liberals and conservatives alike. And that’s where I see libertarianism’s greatest shortcoming: liberalism and conservatism advocate for a sense of fairness and morality, whereas libertarianism does not.


Failed policies thrive because their defenders are motivated by their morals. People want to raise the minimum wage, for example, because they believe that it’s immoral for a company to make a profit while some workers live paycheck to paycheck. Arguments about the negative impact of raising the minimum wage don’t persuade these people. It sounds like white noise to them because they weren’t motivated by cold arguments in the first place. Moral pitches against raising the minimum wage would be more appropriate.


I say this because libertarians, to their detriment, market themselves as cold, policy wonks–economists concerned with auditing the Federal Reserve, returning to the gold standard and championing an abstract concept of liberty. Abstractions don’t resonate with people, and neither, therefore, does libertarianism. You and I know that liberty and morality sit on opposite ends of a spectrum: a theocracy obsesses over morality at the expense of liberty. Likewise, liberty can work against morality. So, libertarian obsession over liberty offends liberal and conservative notions of morality, and libertarians’ unwillingness (or inability) to make the moral case for their positions keeps them small, insignificant and only marginally interesting.


As it happens, I don’t see Rand Paul as a mirror of Ron Paul, but I think that Rand should do more to distance himself from his father. The biggest differences I see between the two is that Ron Paul is anti-American. Ron Paul pedals dangerous conspiracy theories and racist theories. To the best of my knowledge, Rand does not follow suit.


As for Rand’s treatment of female interviewers, I agree that Mr. Paul has behaved obnoxiously. Even if Republicans weren’t trying to change their fortunes with women, Paul’s “shushing” reporters should never have happened. It’s something I suspect his advisers have warned him to stop. I hope he listens.

Rubio in the Running

BJ writes:

Ah Rubio. This is my current man-crush of all the GOP candidates running right now. Like you, I vote based on ideas and party rather than the candidate. And so I am not wedded to Chris Christie or any one person. But of all the people running, Rubio is the man for me. In terms of values as well as excitement and charisma, I don’t see anyone better. Fiorina would be my second favorite.


I understand you take a more cautious approach which is fair enough. His inexperience and some financial potential mini-scandals that I’ve heard about back in Florida are concerning. The fact that he’s not been a governor is a minus but nothing fatal. Everyone talks about his flip on illegal immigration and Prager worries about his tax plan. Nonetheless, he seems to be the best out of all of them so far. But it is early and I am cautiously excited.

I would love to hear what specific reservations you have about him; not for me to refute but to see if there’s something about him that I’m not seeing. In terms of the various writers you quoted, none of what those people say concerns me. In fact, they sound more like bad sports broadcasters. What Bouie says about only 5.6% saying he is their top choice now is exactly that: now. Just because Rubio isn’t the clear front runner like Hillary, doesn’t mean he’s going to fail. That’s a lame criticism of Rubio or anyone. Any her continued criticism of oh-there-is-some-candidate-for-every-demographic is also ridiculous. Bush will not succeed since when it comes down to it, GOP voters won’t think that he can win due to his name. And so that won’t be a factor in taking away Rubio’s specialness of him being a Latino, as she is pathetically saying.


Wright’s comments reek of time-filler for these pundits who are biased and are trying to say something profound but comes off as someone who is looking at politics as some kind of sports game. You dismantled her words much better than I. It is too early and I am not wedded to Rubio. But I loved him when he ran for the Senate in 2010. And I am a little surprised that he’s running now. I thought he may wait since he is so young. But I’m glad he’s running since I do believe that he’s the best so far of all the people that’s running. As you said, we shall see.


J Hunter:

Well, BJ, I am leaning hard in the Rubio direction. I even donated to his campaign. I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Rubio’s for years for many of the reasons that people are discovering about him right now: he’s an excellent communicator and a problem solver. He’s a political man-crush of mine as well.


As for my piece, I agree that the arguments against Rubio are pretty flaccid. I only added them to keep from writing a gushing piece. The truth of the matter is, if he continues to be as nimble, positive and substantive throughout the campaign as he has been so far, I think we could nominate him and make history.


Rubio is mainstream; he appeals to the many different factions of the Republican Party; he’s young, energetic, Spanish-speaking, and inspiring. I ask myself when choosing a candidate for the nomination race: “What does this candidate bring that’s lacking?” When I ask that question, I rule out people like Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. What they bring, we either don’t need or another candidate does it better. For this reason, I hope that Jeb Bush does not enter the race (though I suspect that he will). While I like and respect Mr. Bush, I don’t think he adds much to the field.
On the other hand, I think Mr. Rubio would make a fine president, and he’s at the top of my list of 2016 GOP candidates.

Thanks for reading and commenting, BJ!


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The Free Exchange (15-009)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.

A Constructivist Approach to Iran Spells Certain Disaster

Black and Red Fan writes:

It’s great to read more about political theory. I think if more people understood the political theory and the root of liberalism/progressivism, the more people will realize how naive and dangerous it is.

The constructionist foreign policy theory as you explained it, falls perfectly within liberalism and their post-modern approach of placing us as God. Instead of recognizing that there is something beyond us that forms the world, liberalism places the liberal and his child-like point of view as king and himself as God; whatever he perceives and dreams up, it must be real and he treats it as such. That is such a dangerous approach to the world, especially when it comes to foreign policy that it is scary to see it, as you explained so well in this article.

I believe we will pay a dear price for this awful deal in the future. But when the consequences of this deal occur, it will be up to us to explain it clearly since the mass media will engage in damage control and a rationalization & defense of this deal since it was done by Obama. That’s always been the most frustrating part; truth gets twisted and distorted just like the consequences of Obama pulling out of Iraq not being blamed on him but on Bush. The non-truth drives me crazy. I think God hard-wired people like us to point out their untruth and clarify the world with truth.

J Hunter:

Thank you. I’m glad you liked this piece. I love political philosophy and theory.

To that end, I’m not sure if postmodernists believe that we’re God or gods. You’re right to point out that postmodernism fits snugly into Leftist thought–it’s just that there has been a change in liberal thought–and in American philosophy altogether.

America, as a country, was founded by modernists–people who believed that truth existed, but that it had to be determined via scientific means and less through supernatural means. Modernists, those responsible for the ugly chapters of the 20th century (fascism, Nazism, and communism), are much more likely to consider enlightened humans as God or gods than the postmodernists.

Postmodernists challenge the idea that a God or gods exist. They challenge whether or not truth exists, and they definitely challenge the idea that truth can be objective. This ideology is a cancer when it comes to policymaking–especially in the realm of foreign policy. It undermines authority and sovereignty–the very things necessary for a foreign policy to exist. It leads to isolationism and caprice. Constructivism is its feeble brainchild.

Your calling this worldview “childlike” is spot on. What comes immediately to my mind is a 2006 Katie Couric interview with then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The two women were discussing the Iraq War, and Couric challenged Rice’s claim; that we are right to fight for the freedoms of the Iraqi people that we, westerners, enjoy; with a question echoing a liberal and libertarian talking point that drips with postmodernist slime: “To quote my daughter, ‘Who made us the boss of them?’”

The question supports postmodernist thinking because to the postmodernist, there can be no answer. Rice couldn’t have answered “God,” because postmodernists don’t believe in a uniform reality, let alone, one in which a God can exist and make demands. Had Rice answered, “the Iraqi people,” the postmodernist would “deconstruct” that answer to the point of questioning whether “the Iraqi people,” or any people, could express a unified, intelligible will (How did they make us the boss of them? Did they write a letter that they all signed? If there was a poll, was the question biased? To what degree did they want us to be ‘their boss?’ etc.).

Similarly, postmodernists not only argue that truth cannot be ascertained, but they argue that truth is subjective, so it cannot exist for anyone except whoever accepts a certain version of a truth. Therefore, Couric’s question is rhetorical. No answer could please her (or other postmodernists).

Apply that to foreign policy and postmodernists ask constructivist questions: “What makes us a superpower? What makes Iran a rogue state? Isn’t one man’s terrorist, another’s freedom-fighter? Who’s to say?

Not us.

Constructivism has its place, and that’s in the interpersonal realm. Rightly applied, it goes a long way to explain the effects of stereotyping and prejudice. Elevated to the realm of foreign relations, it is a nightmare–a postmodernist nightmare.

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The Free Exchange (15-008)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.

(Entirely Negative) Thoughts on Ted Cruz’ Candidacy

Black and Red Fan writes:

Holy cow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I wrote any comments on any of your pieces. I’ve been reading them, loved them, and had lots to say but life got in the way and to my delight, you’ve been so productive that I can’t believe how much time has passed. I hope you’ll forgive me commenting on past pieces since many of the comments have closed on those pages.

You and I have always disagreed on this guy. I am sure that you and I both agree with Cruz on many things but I know that it is his methods that you don’t like since they hurt our cause. And I am coming around to more of your point of view. I think the problem is that I just may not be as aware of the negative effects that he has on the conservative movement. I probably care less about what the press says than you but maybe I should. What I appreciate about Cruz is his willingness to fight, engage the enemy, and him being fearless in articulating our conservative position without any shame or caution. After suffering through the disappointing decision of President George W. Bush to not fight back during the majority of his second term, it seems like we conservatives lost our mouthpiece. Since they already dominate the media, Hollywood, and the schools, I felt like a handicapped mute without a champion on our side. Cruz is one of the few that courageously speaks out and doesn’t care about the consequences. I realize that’s not necessarily a good thing but it speaks to my huge thirst and appetite for someone to stand up for us.

The following is a good example

Nonetheless, I’m surprised that he is running for president and wished that he wasn’t. He has no chance and he could serve more effectively as a senator. I just hope he doesn’t start tearing down other GOP candidates like Rick Perry did in 2011. But the specific examples you mention in your piece are all true, as well as what you wrote about how Cruz plays into the leftists who paint us as extreme lunatics. And so your piece is a sobering one that was good for me to read and put Cruz in perspective. But I wanted to let you know why I cheered for him when he was gathering attention, although I realize now that he was being counterproductive. I don’t think I am alone in us conservatives wanting someone to fight back fearlessly and boldly. And on a side note, my vote for Republicans who I publicly detest are Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, and Rick Perry. That would be a interesting topic one of these days.

J Hunter:

It’s always good to hear from you. Thank you for your perspective on this piece.

I’ll begin by saying that there are things about this essay that I regret–mostly that my piece is entirely negative. I don’t like dumping on other Republicans, but I want to be honest as well. With politicians like Ted Cruz, it’s a tough balancing act for me.

There’s no doubt that Cruz rubs me the wrong way:  I find him repulsive, slimy and recklessly self-serving. But, still, I regret not writing more about some of his positive qualities.

He is, without a doubt, a brilliant man. He understand political issues and he understands the importance of conservative remedies. Mr. Cruz can speak compellingly and connect with many conservatives, including those of us (like you and me) who have been starving for a fighter.

As it happens, though, my general feelings about Mr. Cruz are overwhelmingly negative. I don’t see him as a “brave” fighter any more than Nancy Pelosi is a “brave” fighter. He represents a Republican stronghold, unlikely to disagree with him. Scott Walker, Bruce Rauner, Chris Christie: these people are brave. They face opposition and vitriol on a daily basis and stand up for conservative principles. Bravery, is not telling your friends what they want to hear. Furthermore, bravery is not leading good troops into a losing battle. And that’s what Cruz’ “fight against Obamacare” was–a kamikaze mission.

Cruz’ doomed-from-the-start filibuster against Obamacare was aimed squarely at raising his personal profile.  He undermined then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was winning a budget fight with President Obama, to do something that would have had absolutely no effect on Obamacare. The funds for Obamacare had already been appropriated, so there was no possibility of his filibuster defunding it. If Cruz is no fool, then, he knew this before he started. A government shutdown would not have (nor did it) affect the program one iota. That didn’t stop Cruz from equating good Republicans who didn’t stand with him to “Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people ‘Accept the Nazis.’”


So, Cruz says that voting against Obamacare (as every single Republican in Congress did), but not endorsing his self-aggrandizing publicity stunt was the same as appeasing an anti-Semitic, genocidal, socialist dictator.

Even if Harry Reid would have allowed a separate, clean, bill defunding Obamacare to go to the President’s desk (BIG if), everyone in America (Cruz included) knows that Obama would not defund his signature piece of legislation. So what was the point?

Ted Cruz used the filibuster–reading “Green Eggs and Ham,” discussing Ashton Kutcher, and bootlicking Rush Limbaugh–to raise money for himself (no surprise, he’s running for president). In other words, like a sleazy televangelist, he snookered frustrated Republicans across the country, who believed the lie that he pedaled, that he could bring an end to Obamacare with his stunt, into parting with their hard-earned money.

That is despicable beyond words. And unforgivable.

Moreover, Republicans need unity more than anything right now. Ted Cruz, in my estimation, is far too polarizing within the Party to make him our nominee. Add to this a further complication: our mission in every election is to persuade independents to vote for us. We cannot win with just Republican supporters anymore than Democrats can win with just Democrat partisans. Mr. Cruz will alienate (scare away) the voters that we’re trying to enlist. Our job as Republican voters is to nominate the most conservative candidate who can win. That man is not Ted Cruz.

If, we have the unfortunate pleasure of welcoming Cruz as our Party nominee, I will rally for him, sing his (2) praises and convince everyone I know to vote for him, because a Cruz White House beats any Democrat White House. I pray, though, that we don’t put ourselves in such a perilous position.

Thanks for the comments.

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The Free Exchange (15-006)

The Free Exchange is a regular series in which I answer comments to the articles I write at Black and Red. I welcome any and all of my precious readers to share your thoughts about anything I write, tweet or post. I promise to respond.

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The Complexities of Identity Politics and The Free Exchange (15-005)

Black and Red Fan writes:

I just finished reading your comments on illegal immigration. I love it. This is the most clear and most organized groups of words on this topic that I have read. It makes total sense to me. Your words reflect Prager’s view who said that illegal immigration is not an immoral act, only a technical violation of the law. I agree with that completely. I actually supported the President George W. Bush/Edward Kennedy comprehensive immigration bill back in 2007. I was sad that it did not pass thanks to the Republican Party. I think what you said here is exactly what the GOP needs to do.

One interesting aspect of this is whether our viewpoint on this would be considered leftist or liberal or moderate conservative. I ask this because I don’t know about your experience, but this is the one issue where I’ve heard fellow conservatives be surprised that I have this “soft” view. Since they know me to advocate staunch and strong conservative viewpoints on just about every issue, they figured that I must have some liberal viewpoint on some issue and they think this is it. Frankly I don’t care. I don’t take a position on an issue because it is conservative. I follow the Bible and think out the issue and the conclusion I arrive at just all happen to be conservative viewpoints. I guess this is the one possible exception. Again it doesn’t matter in terms of the substance of this issue (which I agree with 100% of what you wrote) but just on a political theory nerd intellectual perspective, I wondered where we would fall on this issue. Thanks and I look forward to your comments if any.

J Hunter:

Thank you so much for the comment. I’m glad that you found my comments on immigration clear–when I write Free Exchange articles, I’m a lot less formal and sometimes that informality can cloud my clarity. I’m glad that wasn’t the case here.

My experience with talking about immigration with other Republicans has been mixed. Most of the time, my views on immigration are pretty well received. Some conservatives, though, think I’m way to the left on this issue. My first answer to the question of where we are (liberal or conservative) on immigration is: we’re not on the liberal side. My second answer is: that can’t be determined in the “left or right” paradigm. These answers may appear contradictory, so I’ll take great care to make my case as clear as possible.

To my first answer, our approach to illegal immigration matches the principles of the modern Republican Party–namely respect for the rule of law and a concern for the welfare of others. Liberals take a more Romantic view of immigration–one that cares less about the rule of law and more about “helping” the immigrants. Talk to liberals about border enforcement, and you hear silence. In practice, though, they piggyback off of Republican efforts. What has President Obama done to increase border security? Not much beyond continuing what the Bush Administration successfully implemented. Obama has done more to push legalization efforts like the DREAM Act, and has failed the millions of children who crossed the border months ago. In short, the difference on this issue between left and right is that the left appears unconcerned about enforcing laws going forward or penalizing those who broke the immigration laws in the past and need to attain legal status.

Our position cares for the people: the illegal immigrants, the legal immigrants, the children of illegal immigrants, and natural born citizens who share communities with the newcomers. Our position also cares for the rule of law, mandating that those who broke the immigration law face appropriate punishment, be in good standing with our other criminal laws, and positively contribute to our society by working. So, in these ways, I see us as squarely supporting the tenets of Conservatism: personal responsibility, respect for the rule of law, and welcoming other people to be a part of the American experience.

To my second answer, liberal and conservative (left and right) refer to an answer to The Enlightenment–to The Age of Reason–to Modernism. Premoderns believed that objective truth was knowable and that it came from God. Our rights, therefore came from God. During the Enlightenment, intellectuals like Rousseau and Voltaire challenged that assertion and concluded that truth comes from man and his experiences. Therefore, our rights come from man.

Those who believed Rousseau and Voltaire went East and spawned Nihilism, Communism, Nazism–the brainchildren of Modernism. Those who believed that God grants us rights and Truth went West to England and the New World–America.

This dichotomy describes the difference between liberalism and conservatism in that liberalism believes that rights derive from man: Homosexuals want to marry? Let’s name it a right. Do you want your neighbor to pay for your healthcare and material desires? From government comes your right to these things. Conservatives look to God and tradition to determine our rights’ source: there is no right to kill the unborn because God (the author of Truth and Rights) names every life sacred. There is no right to homosexual marriage because from God comes the institution of marriage between one man and one woman (furthermore, he names homosexuality a sin).

So, in terms of illegal immigration, since this isn’t a question of the source of one’s right to cross the border illegally and live in this country, I don’t see this technically as a left vs. right issue in terms of a “political theory nerd intellectual perspective.”

We could stretch theory and argue that if all men are endowed by God the inalienable right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then the right thing to do is to allow all people the ability to partake in the American version of liberty and pursuit of happiness, but I think that does little to answer your question as both Democrats and Republicans would argue that they are working to achieve that end with their respective policy positions.

Let me know what you think of this. I hope my answer was useful.

Loretta Lynch is a Hostage. Who are Her Captors? and The Free Exchange (15-005)

Black and Red Fan writes:

Thanks for your comments as usual! I’m glad you and I could at least connect and keep in touch through this means. Now if only we can do so on a more personal level; we will have to work on that.

In terms of the Loretta Lynch subject: I am looking at the despicable lies by themselves since they are separate issues than whether the Republicans should move to confirm her now etc. On that issue, I’m agnostic. We may differ here but my philosophy is that even though we control the Senate, since they won the executive branch they have the right to appoint whoever they would like to such a cabinet position such as the AG. As long as the person is qualified and competent, I think it is the mature thing to just confirm Ms. Lynch. Of course we’re not going to like her views and all that, but the way solve that is to have won the presidential election back in 2012.

My reaction was only to look at their race-baiting tactics alone which it deserves. I don’t think this should be related to whether we should confirm her or not. I feel the same way with Supreme Court nominees. And so I don’t really care what the Republicans are doing or how impotent the GOP’s response is. That’s a separate topic to me. What do you think? I would love to hear whether you separate such subjects or not. Thanks. I’ll be commenting on the other pieces you wrote in a separate comment.

J Hunter:

Speaking just to the Democrats’ accusations of racism in the Loretta Lynch confirmation fight–I agree that the tactic is despicable. This is what happens when they run out of ideas–they resort to race-baiting and fear tactics.

The question to ask, though, is “is it effective?” On that point, I think the answer is clearly, “no.”

Thank God.

Thanks again for your comments. Please support Black and Red by following me on Twitter and supporting me on Facebook. Also, feel free to share any piece you find on Black and Red via email.

The Free Exchange (15-005)

The Free Exchange features your comments on my articles. In this series, I respond to some of your comments in an effort to clarify or correct my own statements, and expand debate on political topics. I welcome your comments (positive or negative, but preferably clean) here, on Twitter, on Facebook or via email. Thanks for reading and participating.

Loretta Lynch is a Hostage. Who are Her Captors?

Black and Red Fan says:

Excellent piece. I love it as usual. However I have a more angering and disgusted reaction than you. That’s not to say you aren’t disgusted, but your piece here is civilized, well reasoned, and absolutely true. But you are your usual calm and reasonable self which is what I may be in court. But as a normal human, I find these tactics to be thug-like and completely lowlife.

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for such lies and foul behavior. I find myself getting more angry, toxic, and having a more in-your-face and visceral reaction. No more of this gentlemen response anymore. I just want to call it what it is, the absolute, unfiltered truth: a despicable, disgusting, lowlife, thug-like, desperate, pathetic, dishonorable, malicious, intentional lie.

I find the these people like Durbin, Howard Dean and Michael Moore, to be loathsome and morally equivalent to many of the criminal I prosecute and place into prison. I am not saying they should be thrown in jail. But the mentality and personality of them are identical to those that I prosecute. And so morally, they are on the same ground. I can go on, but I am sure you see my point. Thanks for being the reasonable and persuasive gentleman.

J Hunter:

I would share your outrage more on this item if I weren’t happy with what the Republicans are doing. This episode feels like the beginning of sweet revenge to me. We got shut out of stopping Obamacare when it passed because we lost a momentous election. Now, we shut them out and make things right. If Democrats want Lynch confirmed, and they do, then they need to recognize that elections have consequences and give us what we want–protection of the unborn, protection from a government forcing us to pay for killing babies.

Their political tactics are pathetic. I don’t think they’re working. Race relations have gotten worse since the Obama presidency. The Democrats are clearly dividing the country up along racial lines every time they cry wolf and play race games. My sense is that people are pretty tired of it. More importantly, I don’t think anyone will remember the Loretta Lynch confirmation battle, except Democrat politicians.

This is good. This is how Congress balances power. I think that if Ruth Bader Ginsburg were to retire today, we shouldn’t fill the position until after the 2016 elections. Let’s have the fight.

Thank you!

The Complexities of Identity Politics

Black and Red Fan writes:

Maybe you have done this, but have you written about illegal immigration in one of your prior Black & Red essays? I have a faint memory of something you did but maybe I’m getting something confused with perhaps one of our many conversations? I would to hear you expand on this importance of having the right tone with specific examples what has not been said well by Republicans/conservatives & what has been said well.

One of my favorite Republican and my secret wave-my-magic-wand-to-make-president person is actually Susana Martinez. As you know, she gave the BEST speech I’ve ever heard in terms of an introduction. She is a Mexican American and has some great views on this subject that I’ve read. I wonder if you think how she’s handled this issue is one of the good examples that you’ve seen? Curious to hear your thoughts.

J Hunter:

I wrote a little bit about illegal immigration, and my own opinion on the matter has changed over the years–starting with the push for comprehensive immigration reform under George W. Bush. I learned from a lot of the mistakes I made during that time, and I hope that Republicans will continue learning from some of those same mistakes.

First, Republicans took a stand on principle that we didn’t balance with a concern for people. (This is a problem that plagues us still.) During the Bush immigration push, the loudest voices said that anything less than crippling businesses that hired illegals, deporting all illegals once found, and erecting a near-impenetrable wall along the Southern border equaled amnesty. For starters, I define the “loudest voices” as those I was reading at the time, many of whom I don’t anymore: Michelle Malkin, Thomas Sowell, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Pat Buchanan, Sean Hannity, etc. (I still read Sowell.)

From these highly visible parts of the conservative movement, there was a stiff resistance to any new legislation on immigration. The cry was “Enforce the laws we have on the books!” These conversations were usually accompanied by self-righteous stories about European ancestors who “legally” immigrated to the U.S., learned English and happily assimilated into American culture. These narratives created an unfortunate image of illegal immigrants as “the criminal brown masses.” We saw images of illegal immigrant groups marching with Mexican flags making demands upon us. I went to town hall meetings where speakers would argue that these demonstrations could never occur in the countries the immigrants came from. In Mexico, I heard, immigrants can’t buy land. Simple things can land you in prison, and Mexican prisons are Draconian compared to ours.

What gets lost in this heated, passionate rhetoric is a concern for people and a positive appeal to our ideals and to facts.

In the first place, typically, those who call for us to abandon an immigration fix and simply “enforce the law” tend not to know what the law actually says. Often, these are the folks who view being in the country illegally as a serious crime when our criminal justice system treats it as an infraction. Talking to people who emigrated from countries like Haiti, Belize, Mexico and Honduras, we discover that our immigration laws need updating and we could do more to expand opportunity for businesses who rely on immigrant labor and the immigrants who want to work here.

Referring to efforts that call on illegal immigrants to come forward, pay a fine, pay back taxes and wait to earn legal status (not citizenship, but legal status) as amnesty is dishonest and unhelpful. That doesn’t stop Drudge Report headlines from accusing politicians who try to seriously address immigration as “pushing amnesty,” or “caving on amnesty.” Amnesty is allowing people to break the law without penalty. Fines, back taxes and a longer wait time to earn legal status is an appropriate punishment for people who have immigrated here illegally, and by definition, is not amnesty. The word “amnesty” has become a four-letter word among our brothers and sisters on the right akin to “racist” among people on the left. It’s meant to shut down debate, chill speech, and shame dissenters from an untenable idea of shipping 12 million people back to their countries of origin.

Shipping people back home, breaking up families, or sending children to countries that they never knew because their parents risked their lives to give their family what they couldn’t in the home country is absurd. It’s also impractical. How do we find the 12 million? Where will they be detained while awaiting trial? How do we afford ferreting them out, detaining them, trying them and sending them from the country? What impact does this have on businesses?

We know that our immigration courts are overrun with cases that don’t receive the attention they deserve. There are fewer judges adjudicating an increasing number of cases and the result has largely been arbitrarily expelling people (sometimes to a country they never knew). This kind of policy punishes everyone in exactly the wrong way: businesses lose good employees, families are split up, and the rule of law is undermined by arbitrary enforcement.

A comprehensive immigration plan is exactly what’s needed. Fighting comprehensive immigration reform is defending the status quo. The status quo allows illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S. without penalty. The status quo is amnesty.

The Republican tone needs tweaking. We are the party of freedom and upward mobility. Therefore, we should not stand in the way of people who want to come here to attain freedom and opportunity.

We’re also the party that believes in principle and the rule of law. We understand that allowing illegal immigration undermines our laws, is unfair to legal immigrants, and patronizes coyotes and thugs.

Seeing how important it is for the GOP to “care for people like me,” we need to take Arthur Brooks’ advice and stop fighting for things (abstractions) and start fighting for people.

For starters, we might want to consider referring to illegal immigrants as undocumented workers. This is something the left has done that is very effective. The term illegal immigrant boils a person’s identity down to a negative act. It doesn’t invite them to come forward in contrition. It negates the fact that most of the people who come here illegally are generally law abiding. They have to be for fear of deportation. Most of the people who come here illegally work. They can’t receive government assistance. A conservative objection would be that illegal immigrant is accurate, whereas undocumented worker assumes they are all working when they are not all working. This is true, but is a rhetorical point that makes little difference in the grand scheme of things. We could refer to illegal immigrants as unrepentant sinners–that would be accurate, but unhelpful. It wouldn’t show our concern for people. Even if undocumented worker rubs us the wrong way, we must come up with a phraseology better than illegal immigrant.

We must stop demonizing efforts at reforming our immigration system. That means reserving the word amnesty for true amnesty. That means understanding the differences between legal status and citizenship. That means understanding that our system needs reform.

We should remember that illegal immigrants are people who like us. They want to be part of us. They may have gone through more hell to be here than we have ever experienced. Our rhetoric should reflect that.

One of the many reasons I am proud to be a Republican is because I believe the GOP is the serious party. We take on real issues: our complicated tax code, Islamic radicalism, entitlement reform, school choice, human life, immigration. The Democrats don’t. As the “adults,” I think it’d be best if we were the ones shaping immigration policy. We’ll lose that chance if we give the impression that electing us means implementation of harsh policies. Our ideas are right. We simply must speak to people as people and not as abstractions.

This answer may be a bit to wade through. I hope I’ve been clear. If not, please ask any question you have or challenge any assertion I’ve made. I love talking about this. I know you do too.

Thank you for your comment.

Colin Powell and the “Dark Vein” of Intolerance

Black and Red Fan says:

Sorry I haven’t checked your blog in a while, holy cow look at these articles! I feel like Christmas and I’ll catch up to all the articles soon. I have some questions regarding the Powell comments.

I see what you are saying and agree with everything you wrote. It’s important what you have said here and I wish there was a greater dialogue about this subject on a national level within the GOP. I particularly love all the things you said about how the GOP doesn’t reach out and just write off blacks. I agree; of course our values with resonate with blacks. And over time, such planting of the “seeds of truth” in their minds will be invaluable. I loved what you said about this.

I also hear you in terms of not purging or being intolerant of internal GOP criticism. It sounds like Powell is no longer part of the Republican Party and supports the Democratic Obama. But I see your point about taking what he says seriously and substantively and not just writing him off. This is a significant point.

My only question is whether what you say about seeing the “strands” of racism in the Republican Party and not disagreeing with Powell’s statements is true regarding the Democratic Party. I am guessing that your answer is yes. Since racism was such a part of our history and we are a flawed people, such strands are still there in the GOP, I would think that such strands are there in the Democratic Party as well.

In other words, the silent, unspoken, powerful implication is that the GOP has these sinister sounding “dark veins” of racism but the Democrats do not; that the GOP was founded and filled with racism all this time but there is nothing like that said about the Democrats. And so the silent implication is that the GOP doesn’t care about blacks and that minorities and others who doesn’t tolerate racism should support the Democrats and not the Republicans.

This implied, undercurrent of a narrative is what I have a problem with. Yes Powell may be technically correct in his statements. But it just serves their entire demonizing and smear campaign of us being racists to get black votes. I am sure you find these tactics as disgusting and thug-like as I do. And since Powell stands with the left on voter ID laws, sticking with Obama & Biden through a second term, being pro-choice, being pro same-sex marriage, repealing the don’t ask, don’t tell policy, and being in favor of gun control to some large extent, I just figured he is more comfortable being a liberal and feel more at home in the Democratic Party. I would expect him to continue to endorse Democratic candidates from now on. And as part of being a good Democrat, he seems to have gotten on board the Democratic strategy of smearing GOP with the racist claims.

That’s my thought and I would love to hear your thoughts on the next Free Exchange. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and I’ll be reading through and commenting on the other articles past the Hillary one. Talk to you soon.

J Hunter:

Thank you for the comment. I couldn’t agree with you more. The question George Stephanopoulos asked Colin Powell pertained to the GOP. Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic political advisor, wouldn’t ask those kinds of questions about the DNC. The fault lies primarily with the host (who would defend himself by saying that he simply asked Powell about his own former statements). I agree with you, though, that the implication is the tired, old line that Republicans are racist and Democrats aren’t.

I believe that the irony is that the Democrat Party is far more racist than the Republican Party. Democrats take blacks for granted and only talk to them about racism, as if blacks don’t care about education, immigration, defense and social issues. Democrat support for abortion is support for the killing of millions of black and brown babies. Talk to any liberal about this and they argue, essentially, that a baby born into poverty is better off dead. The left’s argument that loosening marijuana laws will improve black lives by reducing black involvement with law enforcement assumes that blacks cannot be expected to follow laws like whites–that black criminality should be met with acquiescence because blacks just can’t help themselves. It’s disgusting. It’s sickeningly racist to the point of moving me emotionally.

Indeed, Democrat policies are rife with racism and I actually don’t think they know it (I don’t want to believe they do). While I was growing up, my father used to always say, “Pigs don’t know pigs stink.” Referring to political opponents as pigs is something Harry Reid did, so I want to avoid that by rephrasing the axiom in the way my older brother used to say it: “The ass can’t see its own ears.”

As for Mr. Powell, I think of him as a Republican, still. He self-identifies as Republican even as he probably doesn’t call himself a conservative. He probably thinks of himself as a moderate, and moderates (though wrong) should be tolerated in our Party. There were many Republicans who voted for Barack Obama in 2008. There were some who voted for him in 2012. I see our challenge as making a place for these people in the Party. Educating them, but not running them off.

I thank you for your readership and for your insightful comments as always. I ask that you follow me on Twitter, support me on Facebook, and continue to visit Black and Red for more political commentary. The podcast is coming together (slowly, but surely).

The Free Exchange (15-003)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.

Goodbye Aaron Schock: How Republicans Should Move Forward

Black and Red Fan writes:

I remember you telling me about Schock back then. It’s too bad that he turned out to be such an arrogant and immoral man. I always wonder about what you said to me a while ago: if a person is a true conservative then his or her life should reflect the conservative values at all levels. And if so, how could this happen to such a promising young supposedly conservative man? I guess Schock’s talent was in being a good orator and having charisma. But perhaps he wasn’t a true conservative? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

I have met and know about this Darin LaHood. He almost married one of my former friend & colleague back at the State’s Attorney’s Office. He broke it off with her and later quickly married someone else in what looked to be a shotgun wedding. He was at the Nevada US Attorney’s Office for a little while. (Father’s connection no doubt, as he has no known ties to that state) He then ran for the Peoria State’s Attorney and lost. He has wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps into politics way back in his law school days. I remember having some conversations with him where it was pretty clear to me that he was no principled conservative. I’m not saying he’s a leftist, but he sounds more moderate just like his dad. The main impression I got from him is that he cared more about being in politics rather than the ideology or values.

He’s been gearing for this his whole life. I find people like this end up making the worst politicians. He’s really only in it for himself, not for a greater cause. These are the kinds of guys who later get into scandals like Schock or Rostenkowski. It sounds like he’s the frontrunner which is too bad. I hope Bill Brady runs and beats LaHood.

Anyways, this is the last kinds of things that we need especially since we are now in power at Congress. I hope we don’t have the scandal-filled headline days like we did back in 2006. What a shame and good riddance. I hope Schock goes to prison and let him reflect on swallowing his arrogance.

J. Hunter:

Thank you for commenting. You’re right about Schock, it’s a shame that he was such an arrogant guy. His farewell address to Congress was pretty despicable, in my view. He doesn’t appear to be contrite at all, but rather, annoyed that he was caught. Tell me what you think.

Your personal interactions with Darin LaHood are fascinating and your observations about his ideology concern Illinois conservatives as well. Brady will not seek the open seat though, unfortunately. There’s talk of a challenger, but I think the seat will go to the well-connected LaHood. In one respect, this isn’t much of a surprise: Illinois is simply not a conservative stronghold. Our Republican governor holds moderate views, though I like him. It’s just a shame that in order to be governor in Illinois, one must equivocate on killing babies.

As for the conversation you and I had some years ago about an instinctive conservatism, I still think about that. Basically, my thought is that some people are instinctively conservative–to their core. I know people like this: they are emotionally connected to conservative principles and don’t even bristle at conservative policy ideas that are utterly shocking to liberal sensibilities. I think, for example, of Colorado’s Amendment 2 that caused the controversy in Romer v. Evans. Amendment 2 was supported by Republicans and viewed simply as a states’ rights matter. Liberals, though, were mortified at the very thought of the law. Similarly, the new Indiana Law protecting religious rights strikes liberals as completely untenable. For the record, I support SB 101.

There are conservatives–people who vote for Republicans, who uphold conservative tenets–who are personally conflicted or even afraid to defend some conservative values. They agree with the values intellectually but accept a tradeoff that allows them to support a policy that offends their knee-jerk sensibilities. Imagine, if you would, someone who is almost instinctively frugal. He’s disgusted (emotionally, viscerally) by wasting money, and cringes whenever he hears stories about people and governments squandering cash. Now, imagine someone who works hard at frugality because he knows (intellectually) that he should. He thinks about his retirement and does things to actively curtail his impulse to spend. He, unlike the other, isn’t viscerally offended when he doesn’t get a good deal, or whenever he hears stories about Paris Hilton’s expensive handbags. Both of these men could vote Republican and argue the supremacy of conservatism, but one (at least in terms of spending) is a conservative to his core, one could say.  The first man’s heart informs his mind. The second’s mind trains his passions. In a practical sense, is either one, really “less” conservative when they revel in the same result?

As always, I’m curious about your thoughts on this.

I’d like to thank each of my commenters this week, and all of my readers. To all of my readers: please feel free to leave a comment–positive or negative (but, preferably clean) whenever you feel so inclined.
Please, also, feel free to share any and all of what you find on Black and Red with anyone and everyone. You can find me on twitter (@blkandred) and NOW ON Facebook! Thank you for your support. Have a wonderful week!

The Free Exchange (15-002)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.

Why Rand Paul (and Others) are Wrong about Pot

Brian writes:

The 2011 emergency room visit report of marijuana next to heroin is alarming, but to me I feel that this report could be skewed because if you’re dead [heroin overdose]… you don’t need an ER visit. Also, “new research indicates” is a phrase that I believe we’re all a little tired of hearing. It’s old news that pot is bad for your lungs, bad for your brain, bad for safety, and thus bad for society. We don’t need another legalized vice and we still have all these unregulated synthetics to worry about. Look out America PALCOHOL is coming soon! Round up the BAN WAGON!

Seriously though, making a drug like marijuana just makes it more available, more acceptable, and more obtainable for every audience we want nowhere near it.

J. Hunter

Thank you for reading and commenting, Brian.

You’re right to note that the heroin overdose numbers could speak to heroin’s lethality over marijuana’s. That said, I think that the great difference between the numbers may diminish that argument a bit, as it probably can’t be contributed to that fact alone. Not to mention, if you look at the graph (USA Today is known for its graphs and charts), you’ll see that cocaine ER visits dwarf both marijuana and heroin.

Of course, I agree with you that we want to shrink marijuana’s access rather than enlarge it, and that’s the point entirely.

I’d like to thank each of my commenters this week, and all of my readers. I’d especially like to thank the very kind folks at The Black Conservative blog. Thank you for your encouragement and for alerting your readership to my return from hiatus (among other things, my family just welcomed twins, so it’d be wise to buy stock in Similac right about now).

To all of my readers: please feel free to leave a comment–positive or negative (but, preferably clean) whenever you feel so inclined.
Please, also, feel free to share any and all of what you find on Black and Red with anyone and everyone. You can find me on twitter (@blkandred) and the Facebook fan page is coming soon. Thank you for your support. Have a wonderful week!

The Free Exchange (15-001)

The Free Exchange is a regular forum in which I reply to reader comments on the week’s articles. I encourage any reader who has questions, disagreements, suggestions, or statements to leave a comment here. I’m always happy to hear from you and willing to respond.


Welcome to the New Black and Red

Black and Red Fan writes:

Wow!! This is an answer to prayer. You were sorely missed and I am so happy to see Black & Red’s return. I am excited at all the possibilities. It’s probably too early for you to take requests but future possibilities/my requests include being able to access your old articles and audio blogs. Sky’s the limit.

J. Hunter:

Thank you so much. You’ve been with me from the beginning of this blog, always offering me encouragement and the impetus to improve the site. I’m in the tedious process of moving all of my old articles to a file and erasing them from the old site. They’ll be available to you and by request, but not widely available beyond that.


Once I get a good amount of material on the new blog, get the Facebook fan page humming and establish a posting schedule, etc., I plan to jump into the audio again. I just got a new mixing board for interviews, and I already have a good list of topics that I’d like to pursue for the podcast. The time required for creating even a single podcast can be quite much: editing 5 minutes of audio can sometimes take more than 10 minutes, for example. That said, I don’t want to sacrifice the budding blog to a budding podcast just yet. But I am excited about getting to the point when the podcast can become a regular part of Black and Red.


Keep praying! I need and appreciate it.




Brian writes:

Thank God the hiatus has ended! I am looking forward to having more poignant conversations about today’s issues instead of having to deal with specious arguments from windbag hacks on the radio [looking at you Joe Walsh]!

I’ve marked my calendar… the day a long spell of laryngitis has been cured.

J. Hunter:

Thank you, sir. I look forward to keeping you engaged.

Colin Powell and the “Dark Vein” of Intolerance

Black and Red Fan writes:

Well said. This is a sermon that you should be giving, as these are such important points that you are making. One thing though is I would love to hear your thoughts on specifically why Powell would say this considering how well he was treated by the Republican Party?

I wanted to leave a 2nd comment but I don’t see any such option. And so as strange as it sounds, I need to leave a reply to my own comment in order to do so. So please excuse this strange result.

Your piece has been on my mind as usual when you write. My guess with why Powell would do this is that he is a leftist at heart? That he never shared the ideological values of conservatism? And so with leftism being a religion that is impervious to logic and his own life experiences, this is why he said this disgusting untruth.

In terms of the perception thing, my suggestion is that yes GOP should do more reaching out by going to NAACP events etc. But we should also call them on their lies such as Ferguson and its terrible result such as the 2 NY cops murdered. Same with George Zimmerman.

In addition, we can continue to make the logical arguments (majority white country voting in a black president, America least racist country based on ideas, not ethnicity, point out real racism in other countries such as Japan, Middle East etc) But as Prager said once, I think the real hope for progress in this area lies with minority conservatives such as me and you. Unfortunately the reality of life is that the messenger is more powerful than the message. Thoughts or comments are always welcome.

J. Hunter:

Thank you so much for your comments.

I’m glad that this piece has been on your mind, I know that this is a topic that’s important to both of us. I hope that my response offers more insight into my thoughts on Mr. Powell’s statements.


I will say that my own experiences in the Republican Party have been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t mention this to create any sense of equivalence between myself and Mr. Powell–I am a fish egg in the vast Republican ocean compared to him, and I have only been a Republican for about 15 years. Mr. Powell has been part of the Party much longer, and experienced the Party at a time when America was less enlightened on matters of race. I mention my personal sentiments only to say that my assertions about the Party’s race problems do not stem from mistreatment that I have personally sustained, but from observations and from others’ trusted testimonies.


First, I can’t exactly speak for why Powell said what he did except to assume that he expresses his own true belief. I also don’t begrudge his expression regardless of how the Party has treated him–I see the two as separate issues. He, for example, may have been treated well, but may have seen other blacks within the Party treated poorly. If that were the case, then he’d have an obligation to speak out. Otherwise, one could say, for example, that a well-treated black had no right to speak out against civil rights offenses in 1960s America.


Second, I am not inclined to attribute Powell’s statement to a flawed political conviction. Again, I see the two as unconnected. For more on this point, I recommend reading Clarence Thomas’ essay in the book, “Black and Right: The Bold New Voice of Black Conservatives in America.” His assessment of race problems in the GOP are simply scathing–hard to read, even. Thomas says, for example,  “there was the appearance within the conservative ranks that blacks were to be tolerated but not necessarily welcomed.” He writes further, “It was made clear more than once that, since blacks did not vote right, they were owed nothing…there was a general sense that we were being avoided and circumvented…There was a general refusal to listen to the opinions of black conservatives. In fact, it often appeared that our white counterparts actually hid from our advice.” There is more text like this within the essay, and just these excerpts dwarf the criticism Powell levied. I don’t doubt Thomas’ political convictions, though, so I definitely don’t doubt Powell’s.


Third, and most importantly, I don’t believe that what Powell said is untrue. For starters, Powell didn’t say that the Republican Party was a racist party, or that it was uniquely racist. He said that he stills sees it (strands of racism) in the Republican Party, but you don’t have to be a Republican to be touched by it. That latter statement confirms my sense that it would be extraordinary if this were not so, given America’s racial history and how that history affects us today. Racism shapes part of who we are as a people. It doesn’t define us, it is simply a part of us–a negative part. The Republican Party, which best represents the whole of America, will inevitably quarter racists. That said, we are a great nation and the Republican Party is a great party, just as the philandering Martin Luther King Jr. was still a great man and had much to teach us. What makes us a great people, and a great party lies in how we deal with our shortcomings. As a nation, we fight our inherited flaw.


As for the GOP, I fear that it does a poor job at purging racists. We did a much better job, in the 1960s, purging anti-semites. I see this not only as it pertains to blacks, but also as it pertains to Latinos and others as well. There is a sickening self-righteousness that costs us the hearts and minds of too many groups (see the Texas delegation’s planned walkout on Jim Kolbe in 2000 and CPAC disinviting GOProud in 2012). Since losing black support between the 40s and the 60s, we have concluded that we shouldn’t pursue blacks as aggressively as we pursue other groups (Suburbanites, Middle-classers and Latinos, for example). We are at the point now, where we consider presidential candidates successful if they get as much black support as George W. Bush received in 2004–11%. We say that we only need enough blacks to win. But if conservative ideas make for better lives, why don’t we try to attract even more? Why not try for 35%? What would that take?


You don’t have to wait long after asking that question to a room full of conservatives before someone says we cannot get 35% of the black vote without changing our message. But that is not true, and I think we know that is not true. Otherwise, we hold that either blacks are inherently liberal (which is wrong and racist) or that they are incapable, somehow, of receiving our message (which is wrong and racist). I think the sentiment is closer to: they’re not worth the trouble. I admit to having even thought this myself.


At the 50th anniversary of the Selma March, President George W. Bush marched with Reince Priebus and others. The New York Times cut him out of the image it posted on its front page. Civil Rights icon, Diane Nash, refused to march because Bush was in attendance. Nash supported her cowardly, moronic position to an applauding audience. Some Republicans, viewing this, would argue that we can’t win–that we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. That, too often, serves as an excuse for why we shouldn’t even try. As you may know, that is not an uncommon conclusion. But it is a wrong one. One that makes blacks wonder why the GOP hasn’t taken a new approach, or simply tried harder. After all, Republican candidates like Bruce Rauner and Aaron Shock (both coincidentally Illinois politicians) when asked how they did so well among blacks, simply answer that they went to black neighborhoods to talk to black people and set up events in black areas. Often, they report, these are areas that haven’t seen Republicans in decades. Why is that? More importantly, put yourself in the shoes of the Republican, like me, who wants to grow the party and convince the vast majority of blacks who did not vote for Bush or McCain or Romney that the GOP wants them to join us. The skeptical black asks, “If the GOP wants us, why aren’t they here? The Democrats say they don’t care about us, and it appears as if they don’t.”  What should be my response when Republicans have abandoned these areas for decades?


I disagree with Powell on Voter ID laws, but I don’t write off his critique–not with black poll numbers like the ones we experience. Haven’t we moderated our verbiage on immigration to keep from turning off Latinos? (I’d argue that we need to do more of that, but we, at least, entertain the notion.) What have we done to appeal specifically to blacks? Is it helpful to never campaign in black neighborhoods, but then refer to black Democrats as being on a plantation or having a plantation mindset? When Mitt Romney said that 47% of people won’t vote for him, essentially because they’re voting to get free stuff from the government, he was impugning more than 90% of blacks. Instead of castigating the assumption of Romney’s claim, questioning whether years of bad messaging made blacks feel unwelcome in the Republican Party, many Republicans wrote his statement off as being bad, not because it was untrue, but because it was too honest for politics. Does that help or hurt our cause among blacks?


I’ll close by saying that the biggest mistake we can make is to vilify internal critics. That would create a chilling effect that we can’t afford, and don’t want even if we could afford it. That is why I detest calling other Republicans “R.I.N.O.s” or trashing our brethren for holding a slightly different view. What we should do is moderate our message (not our policies). We need to speak to how our policies will help black people, and we need to do so in a way that is accessible to all. We also have to accept damned if you do, damned if you don’t; and simply choose to be damned for doing. We have a lot of work ahead of us.


I hope this answered your question. As you know, I’m always willing to discuss further.


Thank you.


Brian writes:

All politicians know, because their handlers and campaign managers know, that perception IS reality. So, the perception that the head honchos of the Republican party don’t care about acknowledging racism among their ranks IS the reality that blacks and other minorities who have any interest in joining the Republican party are going to experience. This event is one of those “NO SPIN NEEDED” news stories that just emboldens the Left in their quest to officially own the minority vote. Go ahead guys, turn ‘em away. We’ll see a Republican president in 2048 maybe… a house divided and all that jazz…


J. Hunter:

Thank you for the comment, Brian. I would say simply, you’d be amazed how diverse the opinions and abilities of handlers and campaign managers is. I wouldn’t say that GOP leadership doesn’t care about acknowledging racism in the Party, rather, I’d ask how one addresses it. We work with what we have. Right now, there aren’t enough blacks in the party to give it the look of inclusion that we need. So, we must seek out more people of color. What tools do we have to do that? People who don’t as readily identify with their target audience. It is a frustrating situation that can lead to hopelessness. I think that the answer is to fight the despair because to do so shows an interest level that is not seen currently.

Black and Red Fan writes:

Another article! What a treat. This is an interesting one. Like you, I actually don’t care about this story. I don’t see any substance behind it but I read that Trende article as well. And I guess that’s where this story plays out. It just shows her arrogance and her political clumsiness, which is great news for us.

You once said that Romney’s loss in 2012 was mainly attributable to the public perceiving (rightly or wrongly) that Romney didn’t seem to care about/relate to the troubles of the common, middle class citizen; that he seemed like a cold, detached, rich Gordon Gecko type. Do you think that Hillary Clinton has the same unlikability problem (which was raised in a debate with Obama) or the same unrelability problem as well? Interesting. I’m more drawn to substantive and policy discussion, as this seems like high school/reality show type of stuff, but if it helps us, I will certainly take it.


J. Hunter:

I am completely with you. I thought the dust up over the emails was absurd and childish before I read Trende’s piece. I will add this, too, I spoke with someone who works in messaging and opposition research with some prominent national Republican candidates. He posited that one of the candidates rumored to run in 2016 dug up this information on Clinton, positioned him/herself in an advantageous way and then leaked the findings to the press. In other words, this is a shot across the bow of Team Clinton.


As for Clinton’s likeability, I think she’s still lacking. That said, the most important thing is, her lacking does not matter if we offer a worse alternative. Primaries matter.


Thank you for reading and commenting.


Brian writes:

Hillary has a big broom and the public a big rug to sweep all of this underneath. I don’t believe this will be an issue to her election-worthiness unless she comes out as the “transparency” candidate. I mean really, her husband said that “depends on what the meaning of “is” is,” and people love him.

If we don’t focus on getting OUR candidates together, we won’t have to worry about her Secretary of State emails, we’ll have to worry about her Presidential ones.

J. Hunter

I definitely agree, Brian. I would add that too many people see Hillary and Bill as being equally adept politicians. That couldn’t be further from the truth.


What matters, though, is what we offer. About that, you couldn’t be more right.
Thank you for participating.


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