Republicans’ Trump Card…is a Joker

Say What You Will, Donald Trump is a Republican Nightmare


“[Donald Trump is] the personification of the Republican id, saying forthrightly the things most of them want to finesse, embodying their worst impulses, and doing it all with a spectacular if unwarranted confidence. Other Republicans may recoil from him, but when they look at Donald Trump, they’re only looking at a version of themselves.”

Before I criticize The Week’s Paul Waldman for writing an insulting article predicated on his ability to read Republicans’ minds, I must admit that I concur. However, concurrence does not equal agreement.  If your cat tells you that fish tastes delicious, you may think you agree. When the two of you discuss why you like the taste; your cat highlighting how much he loves the taste of the fins, crunchy pin bones, scales and blood; you learn the definition of concurrence.

So, is Donald Trump the GOP’s id? In many ways, yes. Just look at his polling: Real Clear Politics’ poll average shows Trump ahead of Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Rick Perry, and Carly Fiorina. Each of these candidates has earned serious attention for their campaigns because each has shown dedicated support to conservatism and to the Republican Party. Governor George Pataki, another announced GOP candidate, does not even register on RCP’s poll average. Clearly, many conservatives like what Trump offers. They even prefer him to many serious candidates.

Trump’s visceral disgust for Mexico and South America resonates with many Republicans even while others are trying to broaden the party’s appeal among Latinos. While most Republicans may say that they do not feel as harshly as Trump’s clearly racist rhetoric suggests, the xenophobic writings of Pat Buchanan, Michelle Malkin, and most recently, Ann Coulter (author of “Adios, America”), enjoys large audiences among conservatives.

Even Trump’s remarks on trade with China impressed Republicans in spite of the fact that his policy prescriptions run contrary to the free market principles that conservatives champion.

Waldman goes astray, eating halibut guts, when he tries to elucidate what Republicans truly believe. “It is the investors and inheritors…to whom we must attend–showering them with favors, relieving their burdens, tiptoeing around their tender feelings–for they are truly the best of us,” Waldman writes, mischaracterizing Republican arguments against the Democrat’s punitive tax schemes. He goes on to compare Trump’s self-aggrandizement to Republican belief in American exceptionalism–a ridiculous comparison. Finally, he finishes by comparing Republican ideas to the Birther quackery that Trump pedalled for years. Again, Waldman seems to know Republicans about as much as Trump knows subtlety.

Still, though, his piece offers some sobering insight, if we, Republicans, can be smart enough to benefit. That Mr. Trump; who donated copious amounts of money to Democrats, took cheap shots at other GOP candidates and pundits, paid actors to cheer on his 2016 presidential announcement, and publicly grifted foolish people with the Obama birth certificate fraud; polls better among Republicans than so many of our serious candidates, brings shame upon our party. If, in fact, Trump represents our collective id, though, we are not completely doomed. We’re humans, after all. We are not ruled completely by our ids. We have to rely on our superegos to deal with the problems posed by Mr. Trump, and elect a respectable nominee.

The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that one exists. In Trump, troubles abound: He’s garnered enough attention, on name recognition alone, to crowd out serious candidates from the debates. He’s prideful enough to recklessly spoil the GOP field by hurling insults and baseless charges, damaging the eventual nominee ahead of the general election. He’s wealthy enough to launch a third party campaign that could siphon votes away from the eventual Republican candidate. He could cause all of this mayhem without losing a wink of sleep. Donald Trump is a liability.

The next step is for Republican candidates to deal with him in a way that doesn’t raise his profile or his inclination to launch a third party bid. On the debate stage, Rick Wilson, a national Republican media consultant and campaign adviser, offers solid advice. Republican candidates, Wilson argues, must engage with Mr. Trump in a very delicate fashion that keeps interactions to a minimum, but doesn’t ignore him. Ignoring Trump could create the outsider vs. insider (establishment) dynamic that could play in his favor.

Finally, Republicans inclined to vote for, volunteer for, or donate to Donald Trump should be seriously dissuaded. Irresponsible conservative news outlets will treat him favorably because his controversial status boosts ratings. But serious coverage doesn’t equal serious ideas. Remind Trump supporters that he is an unprincipled fraud. David Graham, writing in The Atlantic, points out that Trump may not last beyond mid-October because disclosing his financial worth–a worth he claims is 9 billion dollars–will reveal that he is lying.

Whether or not Trump represents the GOP id, this nightmare scenario can only be defeated by our superego.

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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Hillary Clinton Should Embrace Her Wrinkles

The buzz Democrats want surrounding Hillary Clinton’s campaign is that her ascension to the White House would represent a shattering of the “glass ceiling” that has held women back from enjoying the fullness of American life. In reality, though, Democrats champion equality the only way they know how: by advocating unfairness–special treatment. And as usual, the unintended consequences do more harm than good.

Actor, Cecily Strong, pleased liberal feminists at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner when she led the room of journalists to swear an oath:

“I solemnly swear… not to talk about Hillary’s appearance… because that is not journalism,” Strong said.

Ashley Alman of The Huffington Post cheered Strong, calling her statement “an important lesson,” and writing:

“The journalists of America have sworn to produce 2016 coverage free of sexism. Thanks, Cecily!”

This would be a welcome departure from “sexist” campaign coverage if journalists (themselves, liberal, by and large) showed a penchant for commenting on female candidates’ appearances and not men’s. The truth of the matter is, journalists wrote extensively about Mitt Romney’s stiffness and Rick Santorum’s sweater vests. Furthermore, liberals stood by quietly when Newsweek ran the Michele Bachmann “Crazy Eyes” cover and the cover photo of Sarah Palin in running shorts. In other words, at least when pertaining to Republicans, journalists have never hesitated reporting on candidates’ appearances–male or female. Why should Clinton be exempt? Besides, Hillary Clinton tends toward pant suits instead of running shorts and sweater vests, so there may be little to fear about journalists commenting on her clothes.

As it happens, though, the aspect of Clinton’s appearance with the most potential to inspire journalistic notice may come in the form of long hard lines and branching tributaries of wrinkles over her face and hands. Indeed, liberal feminists do not want journalists (or anyone) commenting on Clinton’s age even though (if elected) she would be “the second oldest person to take the presidential oath for the first time” at 69 years old. In fact, liberals are poised to pounce on Republicans who would tread into these waters.

James Oliphant, writes a piece in Reuters titled, “Republican rivals imply–but never say–she’s old.” In it, Oliphant quotes Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, who says that she has met with more than 5 Republican presidential candidates “and none of them has indicated they want to go after Clinton on issues involving her age.” Likewise conservative political action committees; American Crossroads, America Rising, and Citizens United; have said that they have no plans to attack Clinton’s age. This represents a contrast with Democrats’ ageist tactics deployed in 1980 against Ronald Reagan, in 1996 against Bob Dole, and in 2008 against John McCain.

But Reagan, Dole and McCain are men–the “stronger sex.” Feminists claim that they seek equal treatment of women, not special treatment. Equality dictates, then, that Hillary Clinton’s age and health should concern us every bit as much as the age and health of other presidential candidates of advanced years. Republicans know that they stand only to hurt themselves by commenting on Clinton’s age and appearance. However, why should the media refrain from doing so–especially since it has routinely commented on these characteristics in the past?

A simple Google search (“John McCain” + “old”) yields numerous examples of the media obsession over McCain’s age. In January 2007, CBS ran a story about McCain titled, “Too Old to Run?” The Wall Street Journal in April 2008 titled a story, “Is McCain Too Old?” Three days later, the Associated Press ran a story about Democrat Representative John Murtha saying that McCain was too old to be president. Pew Research Center in May 2008 reported on results of a poll titled “McCain’s Age Problem” that found more than a quarter of registered voters thought McCain was too old to be president. That number rose to 32% when voters learned his actual age. Two days later, NPR ran a story about McCain’s age followed by one about his health and the dangers of melanoma. On June 15th, 2008, CNN began a story titled “Age an Issue in the 2008 Campaign,” an article leading with  the question, “Is Sen. John McCain too old to be president?”

Indeed, refusing to comment on Clinton’s age, as Strong urges, would be a departure from political reporting. Refraining from commenting on Clinton’s age, simply because she is a woman would be more sexist than treating her like any other candidate. Moreover, in Clinton’s particular case, this abstention may prevent her from changing her image from an entitled, Machiavellian, politico to a warm, human being with a sense of humor.

To this point, Ronald Reagan’s quip about his age in a debate with Walter Mondale has become legendary in presidential debate history. John McCain, when endlessly asked about his age, replied:

“I’m older than dirt and have more scars than Frankenstein, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.”

After Barack Obama won reelection in 2012 largely on the issue of empathy, and with the Republican Party casting dynamic and empathetic candidates for the 2016 contest in droves, Hillary Clinton should welcome opportunities to appear a little self-deprecating and to highlight that she’s more than “likeable enough.” If the radical feminists get their way this election cycle, they will have coerced the media from doing its job as it has in the past. In effect, equality to the left means special treatment, even if that treatments hurts those it’s intended to help.

iCarly

Joining Dr. Ben Carson’s entrance into the GOP nomination pool, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, announced her presidential campaign. Fiorina leads the pack of Republican hopefuls in her incisive critiques of Democrat frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.

We must understand our role in the world – which is to lead – and the nature of our allies and especially, our adversaries. Like Hillary Clinton, I too have travelled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike her, I have actually accomplished something…Mrs. Clinton, flying is an activity not an accomplishment.”

This, her most memorable line so far, provides a glimpse into her vision of American leadership in foreign affairs, but also her feistiness. In this statement, Fiorina asks the most important question Mrs. Clinton must answer: In the many years you have spent in public service, what have you done for this country that you take pride in?

Turning this question around on her, many of her detractors, including some on the right, note that Fiorina has never worked in government. She ran for Senate in California in 2010 and lost–giving Republicans desperate for a presidential win reason for reconsideration. Fiorina, though, answers that her tenure at Hewlett-Packard makes her uniquely qualified, at least among the rest of the GOP field, to be president. This assertion speaks to an issue in presidential politics in which the voters do not know what careers best prepare their employees to be president of the United States. Furthermore, her tenure at Hewlett-Packard is not without its share of detractors.

“Fiorina’s short time at Hewlett-Packard is all we need to know — laying off 30,000 employees, while being rewarded with a multimillion dollar bonus,” Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Holly Shulman said in a statement. “If this is how Fiorina ran her business, just imagine what she would do to the country.”

Of course, most conservatives understand exactly what difficulties face business executives who run for office. “The fact is, business people have to make tough decisions,” Mart Wilson, Fiorina’s 2010 Senate campaign manager said to CNN. “In the end,” says Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, “the company succeeded and grew [through the Great Recession] because of her tough choices.”

The problem Fiorina faces in defending her record is that for Republicans to win in 2016, a case must be made to independent voters–voters who do not understand and grant the same deference to business leaders as conservatives do. Fiorina’s populist message, painting her failed Senate campaign as a plus that allows her to benefit from her status as a “Washington Outsider,” will be damaged or bolstered by the way she answers criticisms about her tenure as Hewlett-Packard’s CEO.
At this point, though, Fiorina’s participation in the GOP presidential field goes a long way to helping the party showcase its diversity. Showcasing the Party’s bright, successful, fiery women can erode the stereotypes liberals paint of a paternalistic Republican Party insensitive to women’s issues. Fiorina can sting Hillary Clinton in ways that none of the Republican men can without seeming like bullies. Even if Fiorina does not win the nomination, she could still serve as a strong Vice Presidential pick, or as a positive voice for the 2016 campaign.

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.”

A Letter to Ms. Julia Cohen

Dear Ms. Cohen,

I spend a significant portion of my life participating in politics. When I’m not reading about it, I’m listening to it on the radio, otherwise I’m thinking about it. Likewise, I come across many articles on the subject, but rarely do I feel compelled to respond directly to columns. Yours is different. “What about the Moderates?” strikes me as a particularly important piece because you touch upon an issue that every American wrestles with if he/she is politically inclined–where do I fit into the binary party system? I’d like to argue, first, in favor of our two party system, and then, in support of one of those parties. I hope to offer you some clarity on your political journey.

You and I share some commonalities: I started my political journey on the Left and moved rightward when I was young, for example. To give you an idea of how liberal I was, I was torn between voting for Ralph Nader and Al Gore in 2000. I emailed my professors about my dilemma, and talked to my entirely liberal family about what I should do. 2000 was my first election. It meant something to me–about my integrity, my values, and my commitment to my country. I wanted to make the right choice.

Like many liberals, I found the Democrat candidate too far to the right, too beholden to corporate interests, too timid to fight for liberal values and to stop the right-wing hate machine in its tracks. Ralph Nader made his career on these liberal values. He championed the people as a consumer advocate. He always thought outside the two-party box on political issues, even though he spent the majority of his political life ensconced in the Democrat Party. He represented the real liberal choice for 2000, but he didn’t stand a chance.

When I hectored my liberal professors and family members for advice, they told me not to “waste my vote.” They told me that I had to compromise my values for a candidate who can win. They told me that American politics moves incrementally, and that if I wanted to advocate a leftward shift in the Democrat Party, I would have more success doing so from within the party rather than from the outside.

They were right.

But what lesson does this impart to the independents, moderates and radicals who find no home in our political parties, but want to express their patriotism by affecting positive political change?

The lesson is blunt–Get Real.

“Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable,” Otto von Bismarck famously states. The United States consists of more than 300 million people with twice as many competing preferences and values–each nuanced and based in strongly-held beliefs of varying degrees of rationality. Boiling these preferences down into like categories, and then creating coalitions–parties–around people who share the same preferences would lead to thousands of parties. To some, a multiparty system would represent a positive development in American politics, a reality akin to that in countries like Italy. In practice, what results is dysfunction: hordes of frustrated people who, for some reason or another, never create enough momentum among the disparate parties to move the country in the right direction. In short, politics becomes futile–unable to realize “the possible,” unable to attain anything.

I support our two party system because it represents a logical stasis point. Our two party system is not divided along issue lines, rather it is divided between two competing philosophies of rights and the proper role of the State. The Left–liberals, Democrats–believe that rights derive from the State, and that the hierarchy of rights can be affirmed by a consensus of philosophy and theory. The Right–conservatives, Republicans–believe that an external Creator bestows rights upon us. These rights cannot be curtailed by a government, lest that government forfeit its legitimacy. Through religion, and tradition, we discover and protect these rights, thereby upholding social order by avoiding the chaos associated with the Left’s capricious definition of rights.

In other words, actual policy positions are subordinate to the overarching philosophy on how to order society. The question independents, moderates, and radicals need to ask isn’t “Which party represents my values,” but rather, “Which party agrees with the way in which my values should be argued and implemented?” Once that question is answered, the best thing to do is to choose a party and work to push it in the direction of your choosing.

That’s what I did. I voted for Al Gore, and lost.

As I wrestled with the philosophy of rights, my political journey took me rightward, into the welcoming arms of the Republican Party where I happily reside today. Our Republican Party is a big tent, Ms. Cohen. You can be “a good Republican” and disagree on some policy points. There’s plenty of room for you and I to debate marriage equality–and I hope we do. Most importantly, I enjoy the opportunity to stand alongside a fellow Wildcat, working together toward a strong foreign policy, lower taxes, a better party, and a better country.

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.


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