Team Trump Planned a Convention Ambush – It Backfired

The headline of the third night of the GOP convention is Ted Cruz’ non-endorsement of Donald Trump, and his command to voters to “Vote your conscience, up and down the ticket…”.

cruz

The list of credible politicians and media figures claiming that this was political suicide on Ted Cruz’ part is… non-existent. There are however many loud voices in the new Trump GOP claiming just that. “He’s finished. This is why everyone has always hated him!” bla bla bla. The critique might sting more if it wasn’t coming from Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Peter King and uber alt-right tabloid Breitbart.

The real story is not in the headline though. The Trump campaign knew exactly what was in the speech. They knew there was no endorsement. Ted Cruz himself told anyone who would listen that he has not been asked to endorse, and did not intend to endorse Donald Trump specifically.

The real story is not about Ted Cruz, but once again, about the mafia style tactics of the Trump campaign. Putin loyalist and Trump capo Paul Manafort indicated earlier in the day that Cruz would not endorse specifically, but would “suggest” an endorsement. Without the boos and the overdone outrage, Cruz’ comments, and his very presence at the convention after a nasty and personal primary battle, could have easily been spun into an implied endorsement.

The Trump people did not want an endorsement. The Trump campaign plan was to humiliate Cruz by orchestrating boos from the front-and-center New York delegation.

As is usual in today’s polarized politics, Trump supporters heard the loud boos and nothing else. As a non-Trump supporter, I heard the boos, but I also heard a loud swell of applause coming from the many Cruz supporters, not to mention the pride welling up in my own chest.

Think about this for a second. This was not an ordinary campaign. In a primary in which Donald Trump prided himself on not playing by the rules, scorning party leadership and age-old concepts of unity, and displaying his toughness (mostly mean tweets consisting of name-calling and potty-talk) in destroying his adversaries, these were just a few of the highlights:

  1. Trump directly attacked Ted Cruz’ wife, calling her ugly in comparison to his supermodel third wife. He has not deleted that tweet to this day.
  2. Trump directly implicated Rafael Cruz (Ted’s father) in the JFK assassination.
  3. Trump ran with demonstrably untrue rumors planted by his allies at the National Enquirer that Ted Cruz was involved in a torrid affair with five women.
  4. Donald himself revoked the now-sacred pledge long ago. (A pledge by the way, that could only have ever served Trump and was a horrible Reince Preibus idea from the very beginning. It never should have seen the light of day).

If Ted Cruz had explicitly endorsed Trump after this set of facts, he would have erased any shred of dignity that anyone would have accused him of having. He would have fallen in line with the long list of conservatives who expressed their personal opinion that Trump was unfit for office (including Gov. Mike Pence), but have since changed their minds for political expediency. Is this what you want in a leader?

Ted Cruz was hired to flip the bird to the establishment in 2012, and he has been doing it ever since. Personally, I have expressed the opinion that I do not see Ted Cruz as the future of conservatism, mainly because he has problems with likeability, and has shown a tendency to opportunism (see his early embrace of Trump in the primary). I also feel like the future of a viable conservative movement will need a tad more emphasis on civil liberty (see Rand Paul). It was for this reason that I, myself, wrongly predicted that Ted Cruz would kiss the ring at the convention and endorse Trump.

With all that said, please do not be fooled into believing Cruz hurt his political career in Texas. Texans have an ingrained sense of insurgency and are particularly enthused by a Senator who will stand up against the party. His support here, especially in Houston, runs very deep. He will take some flak for the next four months, but it will fade quickly. He will phone in a campaign in 2018 and cruise handily to re-election.

Once you cut through all the spin, one stubborn fact remains for all objective observers to see: The GOP is not a united party, and is unlikely to be united under Trump. Trump has placed the worst elements of the party front-and-center in his campaign, while ridiculing those who stand up for everything worthwhile about conservatism: limited government, free markets and liberty.

The episode revealed a division that has always existed in the GOP, but which is much deeper and corrosive than it has ever been. For the most part this division is between the powerful go-along get-along establishment, and those committed to conservative principles.

Is there any question at this point, who represents which faction?

Equal is Unfair – my review

This book makes the very important and timely case that the movement for ‘income equality’ is not only based on bad math, but it is rooted in evil.

eiu

The title “Equal is Unfair” is sure to raise eyebrows. Who doesn’t want EQUALITY? What sort of MONSTERS would write this book? The authors make the case that Political Equality is the only equality we should strive for, and that “Income Equality”, “Wealth Equality” and even “Equality of Opportunity” are dangerous misnomers designed to sound benevolent while masking a sinister motive.

Authors Yaron Brook and Don Watkins (of the Ayn Rand Institute) are intellectuals dedicated to educating young thinkers on objectivism, but the book does not read like a haughty philosophical tome.

The authors support their economic arguments with statistical data and charts, of course, but I find them at their best when they examine the underlying motives of the people who claim the higher moral ground in this debate. Put very simply, the ‘inequality alarmists’ as they are often labeled in the book, do not want to level the playing field by placing restrictions on those in power. They simply want to BE the ones in power. The ‘inequality alarmists’ are “authoritarians, and like all authoritarians, they desire to dictate how other people live”, because they are the “uniquely compassionate and intellectually gifted elite” (p. 179).

I won’t cover every argument made. For the full detail, I suggest you go and buy the book. It is just the right length at over 200 pages, and it is very easy to read in a week or so for a moderate reader. What I will do here is list some of the questions that are addressed in the book.

  1. Where does wealth come from? Who creates it?
  2. If the rich are getting richer, does it automatically follow that the poor must also be getting poorer?
  3. Assuming income or wealth inequality is a problem, has it actually gotten worse over time?
  4. Are overseas sweat shops bad? What happens when we shut them down?
  5. Why does the US have an unfulfilled need for plumbers, electricians, mechanics and welders?
  6. Who provides more value to the other: the shoe factory owner or the worker who makes 100 pairs of shoes per day?
  7. Who is harmed most by the minimum wage? If there was no minimum wage, could a company survive paying its employees $0.50 per hour?
  8. What impact does a government monopoly on schools have on the quality of education?
  9. Who are the 1%? Are they paying their fair share of taxes?
  10. Why do attempts to achieve economic equality so often result in brutality and violence?

The economic arguments made in this book are important. I think everyone should understand them. More importantly, however, is the unmasking of the technique used by collectivists/statists/utopians to wear down the individualists or free market proponents in the debate: The Appeal to Morality.

Everyone should arm themselves with the tools offered in Equal is Unfair to combat the deceptive moral arguments of collectivism. Whether you are an avid Ayn Rand reader, a libertarian, a conservative or just someone who wants to understand the issue better, I highly recommend this book.

I’ll close with one of my favorite lines from the book:

It is just to treat things equally. But for the same reason, we must treat unequal things unequally. [Paraphrasing Aristotle].

Achievement is unequal, and so equal is unfair.

(p.205).

Why #NeverTrump #NeverHadAChance

No one likes a naysayer.

This is one of the reasons many of us never caught the Trump bug. Negativity and fear-mongering get old after a while, even if you are angry. At some point, a calm and principled message of rationality and optimism takes over and wins the day. Right?

#NeverTrump started from the reasonable position that Trump is a polarizing candidate with questionable conservative principles, with the potential to cause significant harm to the republican party and to conservatism. Instead of offering a solution though, #NeverTrump tried to beat Trump at his own game. Relying on negativity, fear and hatred, the #NT crowd basically conveyed the message that none of the candidates were any good (at least not good enough to vocally support), but that any would be better than Trump. This is basically Trump’s message in reverse.

Not only did this movement fail to slow Trump down, it actually bolstered him by feeding in to the fiction that the ‘elites’ despise the voters, and that all of a sudden anyone who opposes Trump is ‘elite’. I always felt like the most lethal weapon against Trump would have been to take him seriously.

When you keep wailing and whining that a guy is a crazy stupid nazi, you are going to convince even the undecided to give him a chance.

I have never supported Donald Trump for reasons I have documented extensively, but I also never jumped on the #NeverTrump bandwagon, because I knew there was something about the movement that just wasn’t quite right. Frankly, it struck me as a defeatist position very similar to the feigned outrage and indignation of leftists who throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way.

My criticism of #NeverTrump is not that those who firmly oppose him should have left open the possibility of voting for him one day. What they should have done though, was identify the best candidate and support him or her whole-heartedly.

I follow many #NeverTrump types. It has always been remarkable to me how reluctant these folks have been to fully stand behind any one Non-Trump candidate (notably Cruz or Kasich). Just below the surface appears to be a sincere desire to throw the ball in the air and see who can catch it at the convention. I suspect many #NeverTrumps envision that person to be Marco Rubio. (The now-famous hash tag originated within his campaign originally).

The reason we ended up with #NeverTrump is because these folks dislike Cruz almost as much as they dislike Trump. Even Cruz’ BIG endorsements (e.g. Jeb Bush) could barely contain their disdain for Cruz.

Though I never bought into #NeverTrump, I am partly guilty of a similar mindset. I whole-heartedly supported Rand Paul early in the primary season, but when he dropped out after Iowa I struggled to fully stand behind any one candidate. If my sentiments on the GOP race since Rand Paul dropped out could have been reduced to a hashtag, it probably would have been #EitherCruzOrKasichNotSureYet.

I voted for Ted Cruz in Texas, and I believe he would make a fine President, but I have real concerns about his electability. He is widely disliked, with sky-high unfavorables (short only of Clinton (2) and Trump (1)). Trump has been very successful in turning public opinion even further against Ted Cruz, even among those who would have stood behind Cruz as an ideal conservative candidate in any other election year.

I also held out hope that John Kasich could gain some traction. My support for someone like John Kasich came from the incrementalist within me, that understands the middle/moderate types of the country may not have the same appetite for a staunch constitutional conservative that I do, and that if we shoot for a 180 degree course correction from Obama’s transformational momentum, we may strike out completely. It is beginning to look like I might have been on to something.

I have made the argument that John Kasich is more principally conservative than anyone has given him credit for. Unfortunately, there is no appetite within the GOP primary for John Kasich. No one wants a candidate thrust from last to first place on the convention floor, even if it technically happens within the party rules.

In any event, I should have picked one and worked to spread his message, the way I fought for Rand Paul early on.

My advice to the #NeverTrumps: Pick someone and fight for him. Even if it is your desire to pull your guy off the bench and lobby him through the convention, just come out with that goal. Change your hash tag from #NeverTrump to #Marcovention, or whatever your true vision is.

Though I stand by that advice, I’m also aware it might be too late. We are deep within the blue state run of the primary that ordinarily works to the advantage of the squishy establishment folks, but this year is boosting Trump.

If Donald Trump wins the nomination, you will be asked to set aside your objections. The general election will become a battle between #NeverHillary and #NeverTrump; the lesser of two evils.

Instead of a battle of ideas, we are headed for a war of anti-ideas, with each candidate essentially telling the voting public: “He/she is scarier than me.” This is a tragic way to elect our president.

How will #NeverTrumps complain about this miserable predicament in the general when this is how they spent their energy during the primary?

TvC
#NeverHillary vs. #NeverTrump?

Being FOR something or someone is much more powerful than being AGAINST the alternative. I support Ted Cruz and Gary Johnson in their respective parties, not because they are not Donald Trump, but because I respect them both, and they both have consistent records and principled stances concerning limited government.

I will #NeverSayNever. I will vote FOR good people and principled ideas, not against scary ones.

cruz johnson
A vote for someone or something you believe in is not wasted

 

 

Don’t be a Phobe-a-Phobe

I am sad to be writing about the backlash in response to North Carolina’s new statewide law (click to read it) providing for single sex multiple occupancy restrooms and statewide regulation of employment laws.

broom

The law is legally sound, moral and ethical. It is not an ‘anti-LGBT’ law or a law that permits unlawful discrimination as it has been widely characterized. It limits the extent to which local governments such as counties, cities and towns can tailor the definition of discrimination with the narrow aims of creating new discrete classes of protected citizens and defining new conduct which would be unlawful.

It is helpful to remember that discrimination (that dirty dirty “D” word) is not illegal, per se. You and I discriminate daily, and so do nearly all of the businesses and government

tall to tirde
Discrimination

agencies we interact with. You might say discrimination is an important facet of our freedom to associate. Over the course of our history, certain groups have been discriminated against in such a pervasive and institutional manner that it became necessary to pass laws that would protect these groups, in order to ensure their liberty. Even the most staunch libertarian is usually willing to surrender some ‘liberty to discriminate’ in the interest of ensuring the personhood of others is respected.

Has the scale tipped too far?

Despite desparate attempts to convince you otherwise, the LGBT movement is not the new civil rights movement. Lest we forget, african americans were slaves. They were owned, sold and traded, physically abused and deprived of humanity. There is no comparison between the plight of black people and those with a sexuality that differs from the norm.

Anti-discrimination laws rarely serve their purpose to protect bona fide victims of unlawful discrimination. More often than not, they provide a vehicle for the subject of a lawful adverse action (such as choosing one job applicant over another, issuing discipline, or terminating employment) to negate the premise of unilateral employment contracts (at-will employment) and shift the legal burden to the employer to prove they acted with a non-discriminatory purpose. Bear in mind, this burden-shifting vehicle is entirely unavailable to anyone who does not fit in a statutorily protected class or category. Due to the realities of our legal system, the costs borne by a company in vindication often outweigh the costs of a modest settlement. It is often a business decision to settle even the most unfounded claim, despite the inevitable presumption of the lay person that settling out of court proved the company did something wrong.

Simply put, discrimination suits are often retaliatory shake-downs, and only select groups of individuals have access to the procedure.

We should all support hb2 in North Carolina and any similar law in any other jurisdiction. Not just Christians and straight people. Civil libertarians must take a principled stand in support of this common sense law, because it is not a law that imposes any onerous requirements or regulation; rather it prevents the out-of-control proliferation of local ordinances aiming to impose a new vision of morality. A new religion.

The position I see many modern, younger conservatives taking is that they are ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’. This sounds like a bit of convenient ideological fence-riding, but I can get on board with that if it means we don’t hate gay people, we understand that people are different and we want to treat people with love and respect. We must NOT allow this to turn into the statist version of social progress, which holds that it is not enough to treat people with love and respect, but that you must actually adopt and endorse a view of the world that is foreign to you. 

Liberty, above all, means liberty of the mind.  I would vigorously defend a transgender or gay person against a legitimate case of harassment in which hateful individuals sought to threaten, intimidate, or bully them for who they are. But liberty of the mind means you are free to maintain your view that a person is created as a man or a woman.

Don’t be a Phobe-a-Phobe (one who fears or hates [being labelled as] one who fears or hates). Let your actions speak for who you are.

You are free to maintain your view that gender roles are significant; that there are meaningful differences between men and women, and there is value in maintaining the distinctions. These are not hateful views. Given that foundation, you are absolutely free to ‘cling’ to the age-old notion that single-sex multiple occupancy restrooms are appropriate in your schools and in your places of business.

I suspect this entire issue is a red herring. Practically speaking, if one has undergone surgeries and is a particularly convincing gender convert, it is unlikely that anyone notices when they use a restroom contrary to their birth gender in the first place.

From what I understand, the law permits one who has ‘transitioned’ to change their sex on their birth certificate, so these local provisions are truly only applicable to those who have NOT fully transitioned.

If Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams (who?) and PayPal want to flex their muscles in the free market to harm North Carolina, let them try.

If a business wants to be socially progressive, then by all means they should create unisex restrooms (The North Caorlina law permits this). The opposition to the law, however, is aimed at depriving YOU of the liberty to remain traditional.

 

Contested Convention – End Times?

There’s a dangerous misconception brewing that could take the GOP primary to another level. Some want you to believe it will trigger the End Times.

horsemen

This  idea, being pitched by Trump-friendly public figures including Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, and even some left-leaning outfits is that a contested convention would be a subversion of the people’s will and would represent an attempt by the elite to control the outcome of the 2016 GOP primary. These messengers are poking the coals of an obviously angry Trump base and setting the stage for chaos and violence in July. The problem is, those conveying this message either do not understand the process, or they are intentionally misleading their respective audiences.

The mere occurrence of a contested convention is not evidence of an establishment ploy. It is very plainly the necessary consequence of a primary nomination process that fails to identify a candidate with a majority of delegates.

Let’s establish a few fundamental points concerning the primary process:

  1. Both parties seek candidates that will ensure the maximum number of voters turn out in the general election, to defeat the candidate from the opposing party.
  2. With this goal in mind, no prudent party would award the nomination to a candidate who has only proven the support of one third of the party.
  3. This does not mean a plurality is not indicative of support. It clearly is. It simply means it is not sufficient, standing alone, to earn the nomination without a  final contest. 
  4. The primary objective is to identify a candidate that is able to garner a majority of support of the party members. (1237 out of 2472 delegates).

A contested convention is not some new idea dreamed up by party overlords to defeat Trump. The convention is, by its nature, a contest. It just so happens that the primary process usually narrows down the field early enough that voters rally around a leading candidate. When that candidate achieves the majority of delegates prior to the convention, no further contest is necessary. The convention becomes more of a ceremonial roll call, a celebration and a grand send-off to the nominee.

In a marathon in which runner A drops out at 24 miles, Runner B drops out at 25 miles, and Runner C drops out at 25.8 miles, no one gets a finisher medal. The finish line is measured to be exactly the distance between Marathon and Athens in Greece (26.2 miles). The number is not arbitrary. If runners A, B and C want to establish marathon running dominance, they need to arrange a final contest.

Fact: There is currently no consensus candidate. If the remainder of the primaries do not reveal a candidate who can earn a majority of delegates, The primary process has failed.

Rubio
“Let’s dispel once and for all this notion that any candidate has a majority. Let’s dispel once and for all…”

A final contest is the only proper response. There will be plenty of time to argue over the rules, who the delegates are and how much deference will be given to the popular vote.

In the meantime, Donald Trump should not be thinking about riots. He should be thinking about reaching the finish line before the convention. There is one prize the party elders cannot take from him, and that is 1237 delegates.

If, on the off chance he does not reach the required number, then he should focus on negotiating one of those great deals he’s been telling us about at the convention. He will have immense leverage with his impressive plurality of delegates. Should be a cinch for the guy who wrote the “Art of the Deal.”

To listen to Trump and his surrogates, if he arrives at the convention with a plurality, he should simply be awarded the nomination. This is pure nonsense. It would require the entire rulebook to be rewritten and would completely fail the primary objective of the process, to amass a majority of support behind the eventual nominee.

But Trump controls the message, and his supporters are hearing: “They are going to screw you over again!”

Before anyone starts stuffing oily rags into glass bottles, do your best to get your candidate past the finish line.

Vote for Trump?

We may be forced to face this question soon. Given the current delegate count, Donald Trump’s impenetrable fortress of 35% of base voters, and the insistence of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich to split the remainder 30/20/15, Trump has great odds to win the republican nomination. This outcome could either be solidified or further challenged today: The Ides of March, 2016.

I have been open about my opposition to Trump, from the very beginning. After instinctively opposing him shortly after his announcement, and later realizing he wasn’t going away, I honestly considered whether I could get behind him. I listened to him. After one debate I almost caught myself appreciating his style. I kept coming back to the same issues however, and as the campaign went on, more troubling, non-political red flags started popping up.

I have political concerns about Donald Trump. I don’t believe he is a conservative. It is important to know at this point though, that I am not going to expect ideological purity out of any candidate. I haven’t felt 100% behind a candidate since Rand Paul dropped out in early February. John Kasich is too soft on issues of limited government. He is sanctimonious and stubborn. Ted Cruz is in perpetual lawyer mode and often strikes an unnecessarily adversarial tone. He panders shamelessly to evangelicals (whatever the heck those are) and has a reptilian quality I can’t quite put my finger on. Marco Rubio is a slick packaged platitude-machine with massive debt-expanding ideas to solve all the world’s problems, who also dove headfirst into the gutter to trade schoolyard insults with Trump.

With Rubio and Kasich, much like with John McCain in 2008, I have a basic idea of what I would get. Although it is watered down, it is at least in the ballpark of what I’m looking for. I know that there are some core conservative principles within them I can count on. I can watch them speak, and even if I think they are soft or wrong on an issue, I believe they are respectable servant leaders that fit into my picture of what I hope America is. With Ted Cruz, I get even closer to my ideal candidate, notwithstanding some troubling issues with warmth and authenticity.

My primary objections to Donald Trump are not political matters of degree. They are personal. They come from my gut. In the end, I have to at least KINDA like the guy. Before I answer the title question of this blog post, I’ll document just a few of my non-policy related observations of Trump that set him apart from the other candidates, making me less willing to compromise my support.

1. Trump stole the media with shock humor. 

Simple strategy. Drop a bomb. If people laugh, pretend it was a joke. If people cheer, pretend you meant it. If people are shocked and outraged, back off the statement quietly on morning show interviews, but double down and play the victim in front of your supporters and blame ‘political correctness’ and social justice warriors.

Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee had to raise five dollars at a time and shell out a million dollars for a 30 second commercial in Iowa. Trump only needed to say “Ban Muslims” and he ran away with 60 minutes of free live television coverage on multiple networks.

Many of his opponents were flabbergasted. How to respond! All they could manage was to essentially shout “He’s cheating! You Can’t just SAY STUFF!”

To illustrate this point, I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Pedro is running for student body president against much a much more popular  and polished Summer Wheatley. He is nervous about his upcoming election speech and he confides in Napoleon: “I don’t know what to say.” Napoleon responds: “Just tell them… if they vote for you, you’ll make all of their wildest dreams come true.” Pedro got in front of the school and promised just that. How could Summer Wheatley’s promise to “get a glitter Bonne Bell dispenser for all the girls’ bathrooms” possibly compete with that!

votepedro

Sure enough, Pedro won the election despite Wheatley’s promise that ” with me, it will be summer all year long.”

And so has gone the primary. A detailed flat tax and a complex plan to send federal government functions back to the states simply cannot compete against a promise to “treat veterans better than they have ever been treated before, believe me!”

2. Trump cast doubt on conservatism. While attempting to destroy the establishment, Trump has weakened the conservative movement in a year in which it had unbelievable potential to make a comeback. He has given momentum to this idea that conservatism has somehow failed, asking “What has conservatism done for you lately?”

tweet

When Trump plants a seed, he has millions of followers and an army of personal media willing to give it water and sunlight. This idea has now taken full bloom. Consistent conservatives are in danger of losing a voice that they barely had in the republican party to begin with. Trump has convinced many that conservatism is not a worthy aim. The fact is that we have had no legitimate conservative movement candidates for years, but that trend has reversed in the past six years with people like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie and more. The Trump phenomenon has overshadowed the significant gains in this movement of principles.

3. He has ruined the war on political correctness. Trump blames the ‘PC culture’ at every instance of revulsion to his outrageous behavior. Lifelong conservatives don’t even know what the term means anymore. If it means being generally respectful and polite to people, then most of us want more of it. The real threat of political correctness was the cowardly avoidance of important topics, usually by making up cute new invented terms.

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This is political Correctness.

Instead of focusing on the PC epidemic being thrust upon college students (ideas of cultural appropriation, genderless pronouns and mandatory ‘fairness’), Trump wants us to believe we are being wimpy and PC because we want some basic civility from our public figures; say, for instance, to refrain from repeated references to physical appearance in a presidential campaign, or to scale back the alienation of an entire religion.

If our leaders must humiliate their critics with vulgar personal attacks in order to defeat political correctness, many of us are willing to bring PC back.

4. He will betray even his supporters. 

Trump has taken to repeating the line: “Politicians: All talk, no action.” Meanwhile, he has privately backed off every single stance he has taken to date, while publicly adopting the anti-principle that everything is negotiable. If elected, he could never be held to any campaign promise, because he has not made any measurable promises, with the exception of building a wall. Somehow he has been given a complete pass on 180 degree policy reversals, including astonishing denouncements (or ‘softenings’) of his signature issue: Immigration.

Many of us fear what will happen if Trump were somehow elected and keeps his promises. Supporters will feel betrayed when he does not. No one wins.

5. Dangerous Red Flags.

The hysterical reaction to Trump is overblown by some. He is not a Nazi or a Fascist, but he is willing to allow people to think he is if it keeps him on camera during primetime.

And while Trump himself is not directly as dangerous as some make him out to be, he has exploited raw anger, and stoked the fires of hatred in a significant chunk of his following. Trump is a rich kid from New York. It is hard to imagine how he could personally understand or relate to the partially legitimate anger of his followers. If elected, he would discover that he cannot control it.

Leaders that I admire diffuse explosive situations. They calm the angry and point them in a productive direction. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this Trump phenomenon to me has been the instigation and provocation of anger. Trump’s schtick does not work with a calm and happy audience. He needs them fired up and whipped into a frenzy. They return the favor with the most shocking display of idol worship of a public figure that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.

Combine zealous supporters willing to physically fight for their leader with an authoritarian leaning Trump who promises to protect them when they do, and we have a real problem.

6. My aversion to aggressively Type A Leaders.

I have had the opportunity over the years to work with and observe many different types of leaders. I have witnessed a very familiar pattern in Type-A, ass-kickin’, blustery, head honcho-type leaders. Those who use fear and disorientation (shock and awe) to motivate people often achieve impressive short term results, at a recognizable human cost. This is fine when you are running a business, especially if the business is in trouble and tough decisions must be made to turn it around, because you can just keep cycling through humans. You are accountable only to your shareholders who are concerned solely with the bottom line. This type of leadership is also effective in a military battlefield environment, because every order could be the difference between life and death. There is no room for collaboration or servant leadership.

The federal government is not compatible with a business or a military combat unit. The liberty of individuals is THE objective of our government. US citizens are not employees accountable to achieve the aims of the nation. Our leaders serve us, and those most effective are able to do this while also inspiring us and making us proud. There are many leadership styles which are strong, effective and dignified without belligerence.

reagan
Was he a “Beta Male” because he was a gentleman? I think not.

So I’m on record. This post is not designed to persuade anyone. This is basically my last gasp before this thing is essentially over and I have to find a new hobby. I oppose the nomination of Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States, without equivocation, because I don’t share any identifiable principles with him and he is not the type of leader I admire.

Vote for Trump?

Prepare yourselves. If you have made your opposition to Trump public, you could soon be bombarded with “It’s either him or Hillary!” and “Time to unite for the good of the country!”

To acquiesce and cast a “Beat Hillary” vote for Donald Trump in the general election is to submit to the very principle Donald Trump’s candidacy has so effectively overcome, that one must simply accept the inevitability of the candidate the party produces, no matter how offensive and contradictory to one’s own principles.

This is an establishment idea. The republican ‘establishment’ has been deposed. Why then, should we be expected to rally to the call of this collective? What ‘party’ are we rallying around?

Despite its awful reputation, the establishment legitimately served one purpose. It dominated the media and talked down to us, all in the effort of convincing us that we needed to stand behind the leading candidate for the sake of THE PARTY.

The establishment was a flag that we all begrudgingly waved when our ideal candidates had been rejected. Donald Trump deserves credit for marginalizing, if not obliterating this venerable institution. Now though, having torched the flag, Trump cannot reasonably expect conservatives to coalesce around the charred remains based solely on the age-old establishment rationale of UNITY.

rand-paul
 <SMH>

Mr. Trump has aptly pointed out that I am part of a statistically irrelevant minority of the republican party. I suppose he won’t need me in his coalition. I won’t stay home on election day though. I will vote for limited government principles, wherever they may be found.

Which Candidates will Downsize Government?

I spent a few hours this morning reviewing the specific policy proposals on the candidate websites of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ted Cruz. It was a valuable experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Even if you have been following closely, as I have, you might be surprised at what some candidates have in their plans. You might be more surprised at what is missing.

As a liberty-minded conservative, my primary issue is the promotion of individual liberty, which can only be brought about by drastic reductions in not only the size (headcount and dollars spent), but in the scope (breadth of issues upon which control is asserted), of the federal government.

Every single remaining candidate has specific plans to secure the border, reduce taxes, and streamline regulations and entitlements. Additionally, every remaining candidate with the exception of Donald Trump, vows in writing to repeal Obamacare. These issues are not the focus of this review.

I operate under the assumption here that if a candidate has put serious thought into an issue, and is willing to stand by their commitments, they will put those issues onto paper with some specifics. In other words, I am not going to search You Tube to learn where these folks stand. All of the positions below were pulled from written policies and positions from respective candidates’ official websites.

Only Ted Cruz and John Kasich have specific proposals in their plans to reduce the size and scope of government. See the summary of each candidates’ plans to shrink (and grow) government below.

This analysis will be limited to specific proposals to reduce the size and scope of government. Efforts to “streamline” current regulatory structure such as imposing caps on the costs regulations may impose on the economy (Rubio, Cruz and Kasich) and entitlement reform (Rubio) are important, but for this limited purpose they just muddy the waters. It is not clear whether these are simply efforts to “tame the beast” rather than effect real change in Washington.

kasich

JOHN KASICH

Reduce the size and scope of government:

Downsize the Department of Transportation. Return operations functions to the state. Keep “a sliver” for research and safety support.

Shrink the Department of Education by consolidating over 100 programs into four key block grants, limit DoE to a support and research function for states.

ELIMINATE the 40,000 employee, $12B annual Department of Commerce. Return economic power to states.

Grow Government:

Rebuild the military from the ground up. increase defense spending by $102B.

Cruz

TED CRUZ

Reduce the size and scope of government:

‘Five for Freedom’ Plan – a plan to wind down and ultimately eliminate the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Grow Government:

Triple the number of Border Patrol Agents.

Increase military spending to 4% of GDP.

 

 trump

DONALD TRUMP

Reduce the size and scope of government:

No specific proposals other than a reference to “vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the Federal government, ending redundant government programs”.

Grow Government:

Triple the number of ICE officers.

Increase funding for the VA though no specific numbers are stated.

Rubio

MARCO RUBIO

Reduce the size and scope of government:

Loose reference to “reducing federal workforce” in Washington.

Grow Government:

Loose reference to “Higher Education Reform”, which implies an increased federal role in a state matter.

Return to Secretary Gates’ FY 2012 baseline military budget.

 

Thoughts:

Yes, I excluded Ben Carson while including John Kasich. This is based on the very simple fact that Ben Carson is not in a top two position in polls in any state, and has not earned a top two finish in actual voting in any state. John Kasich satisfies both of those criteria.  If John Kasich fails to win 2nd in some Midwest states, and 1st in Ohio, then I will acknowledge that his campaign might need to wind down, but I think it is silly to do that after three tiny states and the results he has had for very little money. I concede that Ben Carson most likely would have proposals to reduce the federal government. I just don’t have time to review websites all day!

Notice, all candidates want to increase Military/VA spending. I am a Rand Paul supporter, and I firmly believe if we limited defense spending to Defense activities, we would have the most powerful military in the world without increasing spending at all, and probably could reduce spending. Unfortunately, with Rand out of the campaign, that idea has died on the vine for this year. We have to deal with what is left, and I find at least some consolation in the fact that military spending was envisioned by the founding fathers, and is constitutionally appropriate, even if excessive.

I am voting next Tuesday and I am currently undecided. This exercise has helped me to put ‘conservatism’ into perspective.

I have narrowed my search to two very different, and very imperfect candidates.