Vegas Debate Recap

Perhaps it is because this primary season has been so long and overblown, I found myself a little bit less on the edge of my seat, and frankly slightly bored about halfway through last night’s debate.

Accordingly, I’m not going to dissect the finer points of the content or the storylines. I’ll just include a few takeaways about where I think we are now.

  1. We have seen enough of these candidates. It is definitely time for several of them to throw in the towel. I hate to suggest this, because many would argue that my own personal favorite candidate should be one of them due to his recent low polling. I disagree with that suggestion for a few reasons, but there are several candidates who have seen no momentum, or they peaked early and fell quickly. I don’t know why they hang on at this point. In my opinion, Fiorina, Carson, Kasich and the entire slate of undercard candidates should just walk away.
  2. Ironically, just three days after revealing my affliction with Trump Derangement Syndrome, I have been cured of it. I can’t quite explain it. Something about Trump was just less obnoxious to me last night. He was slightly less arrogant and he refrained from the playground attacks on his opponents. I still rank him pretty low on my list of options because I am looking for a more serious candidate, and one with a better understanding of the constitution and a stronger commitment to limited government, but I do not see him as a destructive force as I did before. At least for last night, I … almost … liked him. Maybe if he can go a few days without inciting violence I can start to take him a bit more seriously.
  3. Rand Paul had his best debate. In the past his eyes have been glazed over and he’s looked angry and quirky. In this debate he did not back off his position, he was clear, and his eyes were wide open. He rattled Rubio and demonstrated a masterful understanding of the lesson we refuse to learn. My concern is that voters in this election do not want to learn this lesson. I think I am starting to understand why people do not want to accept the reality, and I will write something about it very soon. That being said, I do not think Rand can expect to have a better showing. Therefore, if his numbers don’t see a spike, I don’t think it’s going to happen this time around, and we need to focus on a conservative education campaign for future generations. This is the man who can unite the country, bring in young thinkers to the party and restore the idea of individual liberty through limited government, if we could only get over our obsession with foreign entanglements. Let’s hope we see a #randrally.
  4. Bush and Christie were more of the same. Sadly, if I were going to pick an establishment candidate, I would pick either of these guys over Rubio. ‘The die is cast’ though. I didn’t include them in the ‘walk away now’ category, because statistically they did well in the eyes of their supporters last night and could see a spike, but I think they should walk away very soon.
  5. Rubio established himself firmly as the unashamed establishment neocon standard-bearer. He will carry on the proud tradition of GWB, Mccain, Graham, Cornyn and Mcconnell. It is ironic that so many see foreign policy as his strength. He is a slick little dictionary of rehearsed pseudo-patriotic platitudes. He all but promises war. In a Rubio administration, we would see an increase in the size of government and an expansion of our overseas presence, if we are lucky enough to avoid all-out World War III. There is likely to be no difference whatsoever between a Rubio and a Clinton presidency other than different shades of rhetoric.
  6. I have often considered Cruz my second choice, but he is really starting to annoy me with his fence-riding ‘analytics’ campaign, in which he tries to cover all bases and avoid making a single mistake.  I know that deep down he is a constitutional conservative, and perhaps the best equipped of all to select supreme court justices, but I am concerned about his authenticity. I will be writing something very soon concerning the ‘analytics’ approach to a presidential campaign.

That’s it for now. Simply put, not much changed after last night, except for, in my view, Rand Paul completing a hail mary pass to the end-zone. A shake-up is necessary. Let’s hope we see it soon.

Trump Derangement Syndrome, and a bit about Muslims

I want to talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).

TDS comes in two forms. The first form is embodied in the Trump idolizers. These folks adorn themselves in Trump apparel, use the term “cuckservative’ a lot, and type in all CAPS on social media. Those suffering from this brand of TDS (Type I) are likely to tell you that they will NEVER vote for ANYONE except TRUMP. If you are not on the TRUMPTRAIN then you must be a LOSER.

The second form of TDS (Type II) manifests itself in those who loathe Donald Trump to such a degree, that they are unable to utter his name without the involuntary formation and projection of spittle from the mouth. To the afflicted,  Trump is the anti-christ. They spend all day on social media firing off shots at Trump and engaging in long Twitter-debates with those afflicted with TDS Type I. They are hardly able to focus on any of the good candidates or any current issues because of their unhealthy obsession with Donald Trump.

I have to make a confession. This has gone undiagnosed for some time, but the results are in. I suffer from a rare strain of intermittent Type II TDS. It comes and goes, which is why I have been able to live with it undetected for so long. I’ve been suffering in the dark.

I learned this about myself about a month ago when I looked through a few days worth of my Tweets and realized they had taken on an uglier tone. I was spending more time lashing out at Trump than I was discussing my candidates of choice. I had undergone a 3-day TDS Type II bender. I’ve been trying to get clean ever since.

I’ve been able to take control of my condition. I’ve been focusing on the positive and spending time developing a few new hobbies. I am well on my way to recovery. The first step, they say, is admitting you have a problem. Right now, unfortunately, I’m having a relapse.

Donald Trump has suggested we ban muslims from entering the country. Let me clear one thing up very quickly. This ridiculous idea does not make me think Donald Trump is a racist. Fear of being labeled a “racist” or being “politically incorrect” is not what keeps me up at night.

Donald Trump, evokes hysterical populist pleas that rely on the same flaws in logic as the gun control, black lives matter and ‘Christians are evil’ factions. Relying on the most readily accessible and convenient group of scapegoats du jour as a prop (has anyone noticed Trump’s former targets ‘the mexicans’ seem to have gotten a get out of jail free card now that he has moved on to muslims?), while events are fresh in the populist psyche, Donald Trump, like most big government authoritarians, sends a message to the vulnerable base: You need me. You need the government. Only I am smart or strong enough to save you.

He even uses many of the same rhetorical devices that Obama frequently employs in his hand-wringing gun control speeches, drawing on themes of ‘common sense’ and ‘I told you so.’

He used the same method with the mass deportation scheme for illegal immigrants. When pressed, he did not back off his plan to deport all illegal immigrants, and he defended the idea at all of his rallies. “He won’t back down, he’s not afraid of anyone, he tells it like it is,” they said. No one bothered to take a look at his plan and see that the mass deportation of 11 million plus illegal aliens was NEVER in the plan.

His plan entirely dodges the issue of the illegal immigrants already in the country aside from the no-brainer deportation of the 76,000 illegal immigrants who have committed felonies. When you remove the key feature of his plan (which was never actually in it) you have a wall that Mexico pays for (a cheap gimmick), and aside from that you are left with an identical plan to  that of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and yes, even much of Marco Rubio’s dreaded Gang of Eight plan.

The tragedy is not that Trump actually believes we should ‘ban muslims’ from entering the United States. The tragedy is that he is simply pulling rhetorical strings and pleasing his crowd. Trump knows the idea is fantasy. We do not believe our government has the ability to properly vet refugees and immigrants, but we think we are going to be able to identify muslims?  Is there a blood test, or are we going with a polygraph? A Quran pop quiz perhaps?

There simply is no room for Trump to propose plans that would work. All of the candidates have reasonable, well-thought-out plans. Trump succeeds (in polls) because he proposes plans that could never work. He has given people permission to verbalize their innermost thoughts; the things that they’ve only been able to say quietly for the past 50 years.

It’s simple really. With each new wild idea, each one-upping the last, the stiff shirts condemn Trump with righteous indignation. Completing the cycle, the mob is energized and fueled by the perceived establishment conspiracy to stifle the ‘silent majority.’ Poll numbers see a quick spike. The longer Trump goes without saying something crazy, his numbers start to lag, so he rolls out a new shocker. He swings like Tarzan from outrage to outrage, while the sane and thoughtful voices from those with their feet on the ground cannot be heard above his jungle cries.

Forget practicality for a moment. Assuming it were possible, should we be banning muslims from the US?

I am a plain-speaking constitutional conservative. I do not believe in using cute and convenient words to avoid stating the obvious because it might be offensive to someone. I do not believe in the promotion of cultural diversity simply for diversity’s sake. I also like to think that I have the capacity to understand root causes of problems, and see through fearmongering belligerence. Above all, one of the most important values, in my mind, of a constitutional conservative, is an understanding not just of the mechanics of the constitution, but the underlying themes. Despite the frequent liberal (and lately, Trumpian) claims that the founders would not have understood the times we are living in now, these themes are timeless. One of these themes is absolute blindness to (not contempt for, nor promotion of) religion by the state.

If you do not apply your Constitutional thinking and rationale consistently, you lose an enormous amount of credibility. It is a simple document. If you resort to it when it protects your particular right of interest, then you must not explain away or minimize those provisions which would protect your wayward neighbor.

I always like to think of the principled constitutional conservative viewpoint as providing a rational response to many different types of social and political hysteria.

When a movie theater gets shot up by a college student and the gun control apparatchiks start warming up their bombast, the rational voice responds: You can’t blame guns or lawful gun owners for what this crazy kid did.

When a fundamentalist mormon in southern Utah is convicted of child molestation and polygamy, and the secular progressives decry ‘organized religion’, the rational voice responds: This is not representative of the Mormon Church. There are bad people in the world and this is one of them.

When a middle-aged man storms into a Planned Parenthood clinic and starts shooting, and before the bodies are cold there are politicians blaming other politicians, the  the rational voice responds: Opposing abortion, or government funding of abortion does not lead to murder. 99.9% of those who oppose abortion do not believe that abortion providers should be bombed or burned alive.

When a police officer in a major city uses a racial slur and fires 5 shots into the back of a criminal who is evading arrest, and kills him, followed by protests and claims of ‘systemic injustice’ and ‘institutional prejudice’ the rational voice responds: There are over a million police officers in the United States. 999,999 want to keep people safe. 999,999 care about everyone in their community, regardless of race.

What is our rational response to islamic terrorism?  The first is to realize that we are actually quite safe. Paris and San Bernadino notwithstanding, violent crime is at an all time low in the United States. Terrorism is  one of the very least likely ways that you might die. It is certainly one of the more frightening ways to go, but statistically speaking, you have  a better chance of slipping on a banana in your local grocery store and dying than being the next domestic casualty of ISIS. If our focus is to be on those preventable occurrences endangering American citizens, then the next three debates should focus squarely on drunk driving and the 10,000 people it will kill next year, as it did last year, the year before, and the year before.

It is the enumerated responsibility of our federal government to keep us safe from foreign threats, however. It is one of the few original purposes that has survived the expansion. So, do we have any good ideas from current presidential candidates on how to protect us from the foreign threat? Rand Paul has identified 30 nations with significant jihadist movements and suggested an immediate moratorium on visas from these countries (class and religion neutral), as well as longer waiting periods on those from visa-waver nations.

The merits of this plan, and whether or not and to what degree they pander to the base, could be the subject of debate. The point is, these are religion neutral, thoughtful actions aimed at keeping our nation safe from foreign threats. This action would be far broader than Trump’s muslim ban. The difference is it is less exciting to those who want their disdain for muslims (or anyone different from them) validated, and it stands on much firmer legal and constitutional ground. No one has suggested that it is inappropriate to put a school or government building on complete lockdown after an uncontrolled active shooter type situation, but school shooters tend to be white males. Can you imagine the reaction to a ban on white males from bringing backpacks to school?

Rand Paul is facing the very real possibility of being excluded from the next debate due to low polling numbers. A true political outsider, with constitutionally sound ideas concerning limited government is likely to be the next victim of this Trump phenomonen. Trump is claiming to be the man that Rand Paul actually is, and always has been, dating back to Trump’s Clinton/Obama days and before.

Trump does not even need to win the nomination to destroy the constitution. The impact he is having on this primary is nearly certain to lead to victory by Hillary Clinton and further expansion of government and, ironically, very Trumpian ideas on the role of government in solving all of our problems. Likewise, Trump does not need to win the nomination to strengthen the caliphate. There is one thing the liberals have right. National proclamations of contempt for members of a religious group are certain to promote a wave of radicalization.  Young muslims throughout the US, previously harmless, are hearing the national conversation. All young people are looking for a cause, and Trump is giving them one.

So I’m not apologizing for, or concealing my TDS anymore. I don’t hate Trump personally, but I am deeply concerned about what he is revealing about who we are and how we think. Most importantly, I’m concerned about who is being silenced, and cast out, in the process.