The Democrats’ Refugee Crisis

Democrats, nationwide, face a vexing refugee crisis of their own making: Hundreds of thousands of people have picked up their lives to rescue their families from devastation wrought by liberal incompetence and naive policies. These refugees, numbering nearly 1,000 per day, simply seek a better life, even if that means contending with culture shock and a change of climate. However sympathetic to the refugees’ plight, the people tasked with accepting them fear that the newcomers will bring along a dangerous worldview that can turn their newfound garden spots into the dysfunctional locales they left behind. As observers sift through the data to learn as much as possible about these refugees, one point remains clear, virtually all of them are Americans.

Writing for the Washington Times, Stephen Moore describes the IRS’ findings showing that, liberal blue states continue to hemorrhage people to conservative red states.

“The new Census data…in 2014 shows that the top seven states with the biggest percentage increase in in-migration from other states are in order: North Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. All of these states are red, except Colorado, which is purple. Meanwhile the leading exodus states of the continental states in percentage terms were: Alaska, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Kansas. All of these states are blue, except Alaska and Kansas.”

The first, most obvious, question is why.

In a summer debate with Moore, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, argued that weather caused the migrations. “Air conditioning,” Krugman said, “has made the South more liveable.” While that may play some role in the migrants’ calculus, that explanation fails to justify why Americans jettison New Mexico for North Dakota. Furthermore, Moore notes that California, known for its beautiful weather (droughts notwithstanding), lost more than a million more people than it gained over the last decade.

Moore accredits this phenomenon to liberal policies, like pro-union legislation and green energy myopism, noting that Right to Work laws and the exploitation of oil shale mining act as magnets for people, industry, jobs, and opportunity.

Nowhere can Moore’s point be more evident than in our home state of Illinois. Illinois Policy Institute’s Vice President of Policy, Michael Lucci, explains that Illinois lags behind every state in the region in job growth, in large part, because it is surrounded by Right to Work states. And while the Land of Lincoln greatly underperforms her neighbors in job growth, she surpasses them in adding citizens to food-stamp rolls.

“During the recovery from the Great Recession, the Land of Lincoln, alone in the Midwest, had more people enter the food-stamps program than start jobs. Food-stamps growth in Illinois has outpaced jobs creation by a 5-4 margin. In fact…Illinois put more people on food stamps than every other Midwestern state combined.”

Increasing the number of Americans living in red states may appear to favor conservatives, as population boosts equal increases in the number of U.S. House seats and electoral college votes. In fact; Reid Wilson, writing for The Washington Post; argues that the 2016 electoral college map will favor Republicans precisely because of these migrations.

“Blue states would lose a net of four electoral votes, and red states would gain a net of two…the equivalent of flipping a state the size of Iowa from the blue column to the red column,” Wilson writes.

Unfortunately, though, Republicans may not enjoy such luck. Just as Moore indicates, by noting Colorado’s “purple state” status, the sad truth is that too many blue state refugees bring their blue state politics with them to their new homes. NPR’s Alan Greenblatt explains,

“Lots of Californians have moved to Denver and its environs, bringing a progressive strain of politics with them and angering more conservative parts of the state…Conservatives have discovered that living on the far side of the Rockies is no longer far enough to get away from the influence of West Coast liberals.”

Even worse, Colorado is not the only Republican state suffering from the political ideologies of the Left’s “huddled masses.” Greenblatt notes that Nevada, Idaho, and Utah are also transitioning, while other red states “enjoy” more liberal enclaves than in years past.

The remedy for conservatives wanting to combat these trends remains unclear. By staying in red states and fighting off the refugees’ influence, the state remains an attractive magnet for an even greater influx of liberal immigrants. By leaving red states and going to abandoned blue states, like Michigan and many in the Northeast corridor, red states flip quicker to blue as liberals drive conservatives out.

In an ideal country, liberals would own up to their deficiencies. They would abandon fallacious policies; like arbitrary minimum wage hikes, and aversion to nuclear power and hydraulic fracturing. Liberals would understand that unions have a place, but they also have costs and limitations. In an ideal country; liberals would be cured of their obsession with expensive, high-speed rail fantasies; and massive, duplicative, food-stamps programs.

In an ideal country, liberals would be conservative.

In the meantime, maybe red states should consider adopting comprehensive intra-immigration reform.

Opposing Political Correctness without being a $#@*!

To be sure, Trump’s candidacy tarnishes the Republican brand by playing into a caricature of us: dumb, boorish, mean, wealthy, white and misogynistic. Trump doesn’t act alone, though. He graced the debate stage because more Republicans prefer him to Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, or George Pataki.

 

What’s wrong with us?

 

Frank Luntz’ debate focus group highlighted how many Republicans walked into the debate viewing him positively, but were disgusted with him by the night’s end.

 

“I was repulsed by it,” one respondent said.

“He was mean, he was angry, he had no specifics, he was bombastic,” said another.

 

Most Republicans are surprised that they were surprised. Of course, Trump lacks substance. Of course, Trump is bombastic. This is why we detest him.

 

When asked about his abrasive, offensive style, Trump offers the red meat his supporters gobble up in droves.

 

“Mr. Trump,” Megyn Kelly asked at the debate, “one of the things people like about you is that you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter…You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’…Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments on women’s looks. You once told a woman on the Celebrity Apprentice that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees…How will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”

 

To this question, the crowd roars in amusement. Trump pouts and delivers:

 

“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct…What I say is what I say.”

 

In spite of Trump’s ugly rhetoric, the crowd cheered. Luntz’ focus group ticked positive. And 24 million people saw the Republican frontrunner defend vile comments against women. Luntz, himself, says that conservatives were not responding to Trump’s sentiments about women as much as to his negative feelings about Rosie O’Donnell, but his point is largely irrelevant.

 

This moment in the debate highlights a problem we have on the right. Political correctness represents a legitimate problem sometimes. The problem with political correctness is that the essence of what is described gets lost in euphemism. Islamic terrorism becomes “workplace violence.” Baby becomes “fetus.” Retreat becomes “redeploy,” etc. To Trump supporters, and too many other Republicans, though, opposing political correctness offers cover to say offensive things without reproach.

 

What Trump said about Rosie O’Donnell is cruel, disrespectful and unnecessary. What Trump said about the woman appearing on Celebrity Apprentice is deplorable. When he says these things, and gets a high-five from his Amen-choir at the Church against Political Correctness, it puts him in the position of defending ugliness. When we cheer him on, condone his antics and make him our frontrunner, we endorse the “crass frat boy” behavior, when all we really wanted to do was defend truthful language.
Republicans must be more mindful about our perception. Yes, we need to fight for our principles. Yes, we must be brave enough to deliver unpopular news. Yes, we must stand against political correctness. But the opposite of political correctness isn’t hate speech–it’s truth.

Take Our Country Back from the Plantation: 2 Things Republicans Should Stop Saying Immediately

Good politics pertains as much to good policies as it does to good rhetoric. If Republicans learned nothing else from the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, we should have learned that image and rhetoric matters–perhaps more than anything else. Our mission, to increase the number of Republican voters, begins with a careful analysis of our public statements. To that end, we should avoid mindless cliches, and statements so inflammatory that they detract from their own message.

 

I’ve created a long list of things Republicans say (and shouldn’t), along with my rationales.

 

Here are the first two:

 

Take Our Country Back

 

Both Rand Paul and Rick Santorum launched their 2016 presidential bids with these words. Liberals, like ex-Attorney General  Eric Holder, erroneously claim that this phrase contains racial undertones–serves as a dog whistle, a microaggression–when juxtaposed with the presidency of the first non-white to hold the office. Like much of what the left says, this bears little resemblance to the truth. Lesley Clark scoured the annals to produce the ancient origin of this phrase, employed, first, in 2003 by presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

 

Even when employed by a Democrat, the phrase is silly, at best, and insulting at worst.

 

What does it mean to “take the country back?” America belongs to Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between–even the politically unaffiliated. Besides, if one party “has it,” does that party take it for exclusive use, like a petulant child?

 

For conservative Republicans, this phrase fails for another reason. “Take Our Country Back” can connote a chronological shift–a vow to take America back in time, to an era marked generally by better social morals, but also by egregious civil rights shortcomings. This undermines our assertion that conservatives believe in moving America to a brighter future, even as we do so via time-honored traditions and values.

 

Better phraseology exists (e.g.: “Win back the White House,” “Win back the Congress,” etc.).

 

Republicans should bury this hackneyed trope.

 

Democrat Plantation

 

This one is very problematic.

 

Herman Cain boasted, in 2012, of having “left the Democrat Plantation a long time ago,” echoing similar statements by former Florida Representative, Allen West. Louisiana State Senator Elmer Guillory likened the Democrat Party to a plantation. Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, said that liberals hate him because he dared to “come off the plantation.” The list of Republicans equating the Democrat Party to a plantation runs unfortunately long. What you may notice about these speakers is that they are all black–and all wrong.

 

As a black conservative, I empathize with the general frustration that they feel. To them–to us–black allegiance to a party that does little more than pay lip service to a desperately struggling people can be vexing. Just as Frederick Douglas, in his autobiography; decries slaves’ ready willingness to drink, fornicate, fight and waste their precious little money during Christmas celebrations, rather than conspire to break from the shackles of unjust servitude; conservatives (of all colors) detest seeing blacks living in deep privation in Democrat strongholds like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland.

 

Republicans, black Republicans in particular, should make the case that we are the party founded on love for black people. Instead, though, by invoking the Democrat Plantation rhetoric, we insult black Americans (calling them stupid), and our enslaved ancestors (downplaying slavery).

 

Chris Rob explains this nicely in a piece posted on the DailyKos:

 

“I’ve never really understood the argument. Black people trade their votes to Democrats for the ability to sit home and collect government checks or something like that, right? But you know that doesn’t sound like slavery at all, right? I mean, first, you argue that black people just want to be taken care of and do nothing all day, except cast a couple of votes when the time comes. And in exchange, we get free food, housing, and health care. That’s insulting enough. But then you suggest that such an arrangement would be akin to the slavery of our ancestors. As though American chattel slavery consisted of slaves lolling around all day watching t.v. and waiting for the next election. The first claim is infuriating, the second, unforgivable.”

 

 

I note that the greatest offenders of this rule are often, themselves, black. Imagining the firestorm that would engulf a white public figure for claiming that blacks voting Democrat do so out of a plantation mentality suffices to show the daftness of the phrase.

 
Republicans, don’t say it. Leave stupid sayings to the Democrats.

What Buckley Left Undone

William F. Buckley Jr. stares down at me from a giant poster I made to add a little conservative life to the bone white walls of my office. Beside him, in the poster, reads a quote from “The Conscience of a Conservative,” the book that he ghostwrote with L. Brent Bozell Jr. in 1960. When co-workers and visitors confront the 3 by 5 foot image; they crane their necks back, read the quote, look at Buckley’s wrinkled face and ask, “Who is that?”

“That’s Bill Buckley,” I say. “My hero.”

Intrigued that I profess to having a hero in a time when deconstruction insists that everyone is “complicated” at best and monsters generally, I’m often asked one of my favorite questions: why I so revere Mr. Buckley. With ease, I rattle off the short list of Buckley’s impressive works:

In 1955, when conservative media did not exist, Buckley started National Review magazine, a publication that still exists as one of, if not the, most influential among conservatives. Eleven years later, Buckley started “Firing Line,” the longest running public affairs television program with a single host in American history. Both endeavors codified conservative ideology and brought it into the mainstream political conversation. During this time, too, Buckley courted libertarians and fused them with traditional conservatives, hinging the union on a shared commitment to free market economics and a mutual disdain for communism. An excellent debater, and prolific author, Buckley’s polysyllabic writings intellectualized a movement largely defined by its populist appeal–a populism that made space for conspiracy theorists and white nationalists. In effect, Buckley made space for intellectuals within political conservatism, so that affirming conservative ideology did not negatively affect one’s respectability.

This became important when Buckley worked to marginalize the John Birch Society and anti-Semites, expelling them from conservatism, and welcoming Jewish conservatives into the fold. After this purge, one could not be a respected conservative and either hate Jews or traffic in wild communist conspiracy theories. Today, the conservative movement benefits from the many Jewish voices that Buckley’s efforts welcomed. Jennifer Rubin, Michael Medved, Charles Krauthammer and many others enrich political debate and make conservatism stronger.

Understanding that these accomplishments make up only part of Buckley’s short list of accomplishments makes it easier to believe his tongue in cheek claim that his singular lacuna was baseball. Indeed, however, there was another, much more important, blind spot in Buckley’s construction of the conservative movement. What he had done for Jews, Buckley did not for blacks.

President Harry Truman, integrating the military, cracked the door for blacks to leave the Republican Party and begin trickling left. Still, though, many blacks voted for Republicans and stood for conservative causes. When Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, blacks believed that the GOP had abandoned them at a crucial moment in the civil rights struggle. Though more Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act (117) than did Republicans (40), the Republican standard bearer joined the dissenters. This move sent a message to blacks and to enemies of civil rights.

This pivotal moment changed American politics dramatically. Whether or not Mr. Buckley, himself closely tied to Goldwater, recognized or cared about this trend remains unclear. Regardless, though, he did nothing to address it. In fact, his own tone deaf comments on segregation, South African apartheid, and the federal government’s proper role in addressing civil rights for blacks further alienated the GOP’s first constituents. Before his death in 2008, Buckley expressed regret and admitted short-sightedness on these issues. The damage to the conservative movement, though, had been done and some of the effects of Buckley’s oversight still haunt the GOP by way of some odd associations.

In 2014, news broke that Republican House majority whip, Steve Scalise addressed a white supremacist group founded by David Duke. Duke is the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who started the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). Scalise denounced EURO and claimed that he only attended the event by accident:

“I didn’t know who all of these groups were…I had one person that was working for me. When someone called and asked me to speak, I would go.”

Last month, after Dylann Roof killed 9 black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, an investigation uncovered that he found motivation from a white supremacist organization called the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Earl Holt III, the council president, donated to many Republicans including 4 presidential candidates. Among the CCC’s statement of principles are vows to help the American people and government “remain European in…composition and character,” to “oppose all efforts to mix the races,” and to protect “the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people” from “the integration of the races.” In the 1990s, Senators Trent Lott and Haley Barbour addressed the CCC, as did Governor Mike Huckabee.

Had Buckley’s efforts in the formative years of the political conservative movement focused more squarely on attracting and retaining blacks, Scalise’s campaign manager may never have had ties to EURO in the first place. Neither would CCC have thought it advantageous to its cause to support Republican candidates (note: some of the candidates CCC supported are non-white). Racists would have been politically isolated, relegated to the backroom with anti-Semites and Birchers.

So where does that leave us now?

Buckley is still my hero in spite of his flaws. Besides, to lay the conservative movement’s race problems squarely at his feet would be unjust. That said, what we learn from his oversight should help us move forward with improving our relationship with blacks. Republicans should not be satisfied in our own proclamations that we are not racist when our party serves as a refuge for racists. My hero, were he able to rectify his mistakes, would focus on tone. He would promote black conservative writers and thinkers. He would align the conservative cause with black advancement. He would do all of this with the joy and brilliance and flair that he did whenever he did anything at all.
The conservative movement indeed has a lacuna. The man who helped create it can also help us rectify it.

3 Reasons Why Republicans Should Keep an Open Mind about Jeb

After months of Hamlet-like vacillation, John Ellis (Jeb) Bush decides to join the 2016 Presidential race. The leader among all of the declared and undeclared Republican presidential candidates, Bush offers something most of the candidates do not–executive experience running a state that the GOP must win in order to win the 2016 election. Still though, many Republicans remain skeptical of Mr. Bush, some flatly refusing to vote for “another Bush.” Here are 3 reasons why Republicans should keep an open mind about the Jeb Bush candidacy.

 

Reason One: Jeb Bush Joins the Race Enjoying Advantages the Other Candidates Envy


Martin O’Malley, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson share a common first hurdle to a successful White House bid–earning widespread name recognition. For some candidates, their relative obscurity serves them well: Senator Marco Rubio, for example, can define himself on his own terms. Martin O’Malley, on the other hand, struggles to get any attention at all. For Jeb Bush, name recognition cuts both ways: on the one hand, Bush enjoys the benefits of belonging to a respected political family that Americans feel as if they know. After all, the only Republicans to win the White House since Ronald Reagan were Bushes. Still, though,Jeb must make the case that he is his own man, worthy of the job on his own merits, not just because of his last name. That task represents an opportunity similar to Senator Rubio’s.

 

Being from such a successful political family brings with it two more important advantages–networking and money. Leading up to his announcement, Bush has been cobbling together an enviable campaign team of big names like Danny Diaz, Heather Larrison, and Alex Lundry. Many of these people worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and worked for George W. Bush as well.

 

Heather Larrison leads Bush’s dynamic fundraising team that has been greatly outpacing his rivals’. Mr. Rubio, also from Florida, has been struggling to build his fundraising base upon Florida donors, because Bush’s influence in the state is deeper and wider-reaching. In fact, whichever candidate performs worse in Florida’s winner take all primary will likely end his White House bid immediately thereafter.

 

Name recognition, deep political networks and strong fundraising abilities are important aspects to running a winning campaign.

 

Reason Two: America Values Individual Accomplishment More than Bloodlines


By far, the most braindead “argument” against a Jeb Bush presidential run (and in fairness, against Hillary Clinton as well) is “Not Another Bush.” This reticence to support Mr. Bush purely based on his last name indicates immaturity and irrational thinking. For those of us who have siblings, would it be fair to say that knowing one of you is the same as knowing the other? Do you think the same as your siblings on all matters? Do you think the same as your father on all matters? Most matters?

 

Most bothersome about the “Not Another Bush” line, is that it runs contrary to America’s greatest ideal, that which sets us apart from our European kin: America values the individual more than the bloodline. And we should continue to do so. Betraying that idea betrays the notion that anyone can “make it” in America if he or she just works hard and plays by the rules.

 

By this standard, Jeb Bush has earned his right to be taken seriously along with the other candidates because he governed Florida successfully and conservatively. At present, he appears to be an upstanding man with a good family (all families face challenges, of course). He holds his own policy positions that may vary from his brother and father, and still fall within the conservative spectrum. On these elements should he be judged, not on his family lineage.

 

Reason Three: Jeb Bush Falls within the GOP Mainstream


The 2016 GOP candidate will surely need the support from the broadest coalitions of the conservative movement. He or she will need to speak most of all to social conservatives, economic conservatives, and defense-minded conservatives. On the issues most important to these constituencies, Jeb Bush falls within the mainstream. Unlike George Pataki, Bush holds a consistent record opposing abortion. Unlike Mike Huckabee, Bush does not need to defend himself against allegations of reliance on federal funds during his governorship. Unlike Rand Paul, Bush speaks clearly about reinstating a forward-leaning foreign policy.

 

Furthermore, for Bush’s conservative bona fides, he strikes a moderate tone–an important ingredient for any GOP candidate to win the general election.

 

Without a doubt, Mr. Bush faces a list of challenges and formidable candidates in his 2016 bid. While he leads the pack in most polls, his lead wanes–most notably, in Florida. Still, though, Bush represents a serious candidate in whom Republicans can take pride. A welcome addition to the large field of candidates, Jeb Bush deserves serious consideration in his own right.

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 (15-008)

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.’”

Charming.

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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3 Reasons Why a Big Republican Field is a Good Thing in 2016

or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 2016 Candidates


Every day, it seems, a new Republican enters the 2016 nomination race. Media reporting on announced, as well as potential candidates, like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, adds to the wall of noise and to the anxiety for Republican voters interested in winning the White House and improving the Grand Ol’ Party’s reputation. As 2016 shapes up with Governor George Pataki, Governor Rick Perry, Senator Rick Santorum and Senator Lindsey Graham among the most recent entrants to the race, I would like to share 3 reasons why my anxiety is subsiding, and if you’re a Republican, why yours should too.

Reason One: A Crowded Field Indicates an Optimistic Outlook

Especially when you consider the expenses involved with running for president, candidates must believe that he or she can conceivably win the nomination and the general election before getting involved in the race. Governor Mike Huckabee and Senator Santorum, specifically, know how much money presidential races can cost. Surely, Rand Paul has experienced this vicariously through his father’s perennial races.

Marco Rubio may face the greatest sacrifice, as Florida law precludes candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. That means that if he loses the nomination for president, he’ll also lose his senate seat.

Still, though, these men, and the throng of other candidates, choose to spend their own money, time and reputations on a bet they believe will pay off.

The Democrats, on the other hand, enjoy a particularly weak field aside from their frontrunner who enjoys name recognition and deep pockets. Even Hillary Clinton, though, exudes an air of vulnerability (rather than inevitability), and the Republican bench senses that.

Reason Two: RNC Changes Diminish the Prospect of a Protracted Intra-party Fight

The spectre of 2012 still looms in Republican minds, and we remember the crowded stage of 10 candidates (11 if you count Gary Johnson) debating “vulture capitalism,” a manned trip to Mars, and a $10,000 bet. President Barack Obama smartly looked on while Republicans did his bidding–eviscerating each other publicly so that he could sustain the attacks on the eventual nominee simply by parroting his primary opponents’.

RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, well aware of the effect the vicious primary debates had on Governor Mitt Romney, the party nominee, has taken steps to avoid that this time around. First, the RNC shortened the primary season so that the party has more time to coalesce around a nominee. Second, instead of holding 20 debates, as we did in 2012, 9 are scheduled with no more than 3 more discussed as possibilities. Finally, Priebus plans to make better use of the thresholds needed to participate in debates. In other words, a candidate must have a certain percentage of support before he or she can grace the debate stage.

Reason Three: The Large, Diverse, Field Quells Anti-Republican Stereotypes

Though Democrats incessantly work to paint the Republican Party as one hostile to racial minorities and women, that argument continues to lose steam every time one looks at the GOP office holders and presidential field. With Republican women like Governor Susana Martinez, Governor Nikki Haley, and Senator Joni Ernst in the forefront of our party, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina appears much less like an outlier. Furthermore, Martinez and Haley share their statuses with Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio; and accomplished Neurosurgeon Ben Carson as people of color.

Compare the Republican field to the Democrat’s (all white, mostly male and mostly rich) and what the GOP offers better resembles the diversity of America.

More Republicans will enter the race, and the GOP is a richer party for it.

Carson for Fuhrer

Ach du Liebe, Dr. Carson!


From the moment Ben Carson entered the public eye, bashing Obamacare at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, many conservatives clamored for him to run for president. Even when Carson indicated that he would not run, groups–often nefarious groups–collected money in his name, claiming that they needed the money to urge Carson to run. His soft-spokenness, unapologetic appeal to principle and religious dedication endear him to conservatives tired of the self-promotional bombast of typical politicians. For Republicans looking to change the Party image, the black Carson offers a rebuttal against the stereotype that the GOP regards blacks with hostility. Carson writes about his successful career as a neurosurgeon in “Gifted Hands,” the most popular of his books. Before him, no one had ever successfully separated craniopagus twins. That said, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that Dr. Carson’s newly announced presidential campaign’s greatest weaknesses may be the candidate himself.

In any presidential campaign, the potential nominee must be supremely accomplished, as is Dr. Carson. However, Americans have yet to decide what kind of experience best translates to being a good president. So far, we appear to favor Ivy League lawyers (sorry, Scott Walker), governors (sorry, Rand Paul), and distinguished military service personnel (sorry, John Kerry). Each of those fields, and elements of others, correspond to some responsibility of the Executive office. This means less to Dr. Carson whose success in an admirable profession will hardly disqualify him. The point, though, is that in the absence of knowing what profession best predicts the skill set necessary to be a successful president, Americans faced with fields of accomplished candidates look for more superficial traits–namely those that make a candidate a good campaigner. Dr. Carson, for all of his accomplishments, fails where it matters the most–as a politician.

“I gotta tell you something. I’m not politically correct,” Carson said during his official presidential announcement. “I’m not a politician. I don’t want to be a politician. Politicians do what is politically expedient. I want to do what’s right.”

Carson’s line, appropriately striking a populist tone, attempts to cover him for some egregious remarks he’s made–remarks that he must renounce. Saying that “Obamacare is really…the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” and then doubling down, saying that “it is slavery,” represents a monumentally stupid statement. Todd Akin stupid. (Abortion ranks higher than Obamacare on the spectrum of morally reprehensible policies, I think.) In March, Carson apologized for saying that prison turns straight men gay. This statement brought such a backlash, that Carson refuses to address gay rights issues (a pivotal topic in America right now) for the rest of the presidential campaign.

Then, there is his comparing America to Nazi Germany–implying that the IRS equates to the SS or the Gestapo. One needn’t be Jewish to take offense to a comparison that trivializes the most sinister part of Nazism–the genocide. Still, Carson stands by his comments, and this represents a problem for Republicans who want to win the 2016 election.

Clearly, Democrats have a problem: their wealthiest candidate also has the best name recognition and potentially gives the Party four more years to develop new talent that is sorely lacking. This candidate, though, is Hillary Clinton: the secretive, corrupt, overly-ambitious, unaccomplished Hillary Clinton. Democrats look across the aisle and see formidable Republican candidates assembling to take control of the third branch of our three branch government, and potentially secure further control in the Supreme Court by replacing aging conservative judges and perhaps even Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The left’s best chance to denigrate the Republican Party is to paint the candidates as out of touch extremists, as clowns, as unserious. Just as Akin’s comments hurt the entire Republican field in 2012, forcing candidates outside of Missouri to speak to Akin’s gaffe, Democrats are always on the lookout for another candidate that can help them advance their narrative and direct the electorate to discuss a stupid statement rather than the issues at hand. Alexandra Jaffe, writing about Carson’s Nazi Germany statement for CNN.com, writes: “Carson’s unapologetic, outspoken style has contributed to his meteoric rise within the conservative movement and the Republican Party more broadly…” The subtext of Jaffe’s statement  is that conservatives like Carson’s crazy statements, and his egotistical refusal to walk them back. Between Ted Cruz’ government shutdown and Ben Carson’s “wrong-but-strong” proclamations, Democrats have strong opportunities to smear the party–perhaps even well enough to damage our aspirations.

While I hope that Dr. Carson contributes positively to the 2016 race, I highly doubt that Republicans will make the mistake of nominating him to represent the party in this important election. The accomplished, Dr. Carson may do well as Surgeon General; or as a beloved conservative speaker, campaigner, and writer. Whether or not he wins the nomination, though, I don’t foresee him leading the United States into a Fourth Reich.

America Untethered

“For the first time in my 72 years, I have no idea what’s going on,” writes Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Henry Allen, in the Wall Street Journal. “We are all outsiders with no inside to be outside of…What a strange time it is to be alive in America.”

What a strange time indeed.

Since President Barack Obama and the Democrats committed to “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” Americans find themselves increasingly perplexed by events–untethered to the immutable, reliable reality of life in an ordered society. Police are the enemy. Marijuana is legal. Marriage is redefined. Iran is a negotiating partner.

What’s happened?

The American Left increasingly exchanges its championship of liberal virtues for support of the avant garde. Ronald Brownstein and Libby Isenstein of National Journal provide a series of charts showing how the Democrat Party has realigned politically while the Republican Party changed much more modestly. These charts, sourced with data gathered in Pew Research Center surveys, show that the percentage of Democrats self identifying as “very liberal” has dramatically increased since 1996. On some issues, too, Democrats have “evolved” more substantially than the general public.

Judging by Obama’s drive to normalize relations with Cuba and to broker a nuclear deal with Iran, there appears no slowing of the Democrats’ trend.

This helps make the 2016 election so crucial.

Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, makes this very case.

“The importance of a presidential election depends on what’s at stake…Now…the stakes are even higher than 36 years ago. Not only is the economy unsteady but threats to American power and influence around the world are more pronounced and widespread.”

Barnes’ assertion rings true. But how does it connect to Democrats’ unmooring America from once accepted social norms and order? The answer rests in the courts–specifically, the Supreme Court.

“Four justices are 76 or older. Two…are liberals. Antonin Scalia (79) is a conservative. And Anthony Kennedy (78) is a swing vote.”

Control of the Supreme Court affects lower court rulings and much of America’s character for generations. Liberals understand this and cheer whenever their agenda is codified by courts. The implications of these decisions will outlast us–and likely our offspring as well.

Unfortunately, pundits deem every election “The Most Important Election in the Entire History of Civilization.” Americans, myself included, tire of the superlative and consider it nothing more than talking heads crying wolf. Considering the Democrat Party’s sharp leftward turn, though, there is something to be said about using the 2016 election to take stock of where we are, where we came from, and where we want to go, before these changes are cast in stone by a liberal Supreme Court.

A Republican president elected in 2016 will likely preside over the retirements of justices Ginsburg, Scalia, Kennedy, and Breyer. With a friendly Congress, these judges could be replaced with strong conservatives. At the end of one term, Justice Thomas will reach 70 years old and Alito will be 69, granting the next president the opportunity to replace six Supreme Court justices.

On the other hand, a Democratic president could do the same, if he/she enters the White House in 2016, leaving us to collectively ponder the rest Allen’s quote:

“I worry that reality itself is fading like the Cheshire cat, leaving behind only a smile that grows ever more alarming.”