The faulty rational of persistent #nevertrump’ers

Election 2016While the primaries were in full-swing, it made sense for movement conservatives to speak out against Donald Trump.  He made many a comment that would have ended the campaign of any other Republican.  His statements about Senator McCain immediately turned off many a patriotic conservative.  He made statement after controversial statement and yet his popularity with the working man only increased.  His has policies were all over the political map, some being conservative, some to the left of even Hillary, mostly all of them populist.  He was outmatched in knowledge about foreign affairs by nearly all of his opponents.  His near absolute ban on Muslims was completely unworkable, but since then has been refined away from populism to pragmatism.  He’s also made it a point to surround himself with foreign policy and military experts.  Still, there were preferable alternatives who showed greater aptitude for conservatism, and who had nearly mistake-free campaigns.

Marco Rubio had great foreign policy credentials. Carly Fiorina also proved herself equal to any of her rivals in that department and focused like a laser beam on Hillary from the beginning.  Senator Cruz has the support of the Constitutionalists and had by far the best ground game of any of the candidates, rivaled only possibly by the Clinton machine.   This was to finally be the year of the movement conservative.  What none of them realized, was that the white, non-college educated working man had abandoned the Republican party two elections ago. With no popular support for so-called ‘establishment’ Republicans (read Jeb Bush) and young, intelligent candidates who could speak the language of conservatism fluently, this election was to be the era of Regan reborn.  The problem was, the average American spoke the language of not conservatism, but populism.   Trump, like his followers, feels free to cherry-pick from any political school of thought, conservatism, nationalism, populism, and even liberalism.  In short, Trump followed former Republican constituency to where it wanted to go.

Everyone knows the result, Trump won the nomination.  the #nevertrump crowd now had (and still has) a decision to make, reluctantly follow the new GOP standard-bearer, for all his flaws, or stick with Republican and  conservative orthodoxy. As Trump filled in the gaps of his foreign affairs and military knowledge, and softened on some of his more problematic stances on immigration, the opposition of many Republicans against him softened.  Little by little, Republican diehards resigned themselves to the reality that it was Trump or bust.  Others though, convinced of the certainty of a Trump loss, and fearful of down-ballot losses stubbornly dug in their heels on the subject of never Trump, even to the point of actively undermining his candidacy.

Reluctant, even stoic support for Trump is to be expected and understandable.  He is not the second coming of Reagan, but the first coming of Trump.  Those who insist on ideological purity won’t find it in this GOP candidate.  Those who had fought hard to rehabilitate the Republican Party’s image after losing virtually all of the black and most of the Latino vote four years ago find themselves besides themselves with frustration in their candidate.  He is their candidate though, and for all his shortcomings with regards to many conservative principles and a maddening lack of political sense, is still better for America in many ways then his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The key is to show that while Trump says controversial things, Hillary has done, time and again, many things that were deeply dishonest, maybe even illegal.  While Trump’s thoughts get him into hot water, Hillary’s actual deeds (or occasional lack of) have gotten Americans killed or put in jeopardy.  While critics can theorize about Trump being bad, we have proof positive that Hillary would be worse.  Evidence of her corruption is well documented.  We don’t have to wonder how she would govern, she would turn America into her own personal fife, and we her serfs, existing only to provide her and her sycophants  with wealth.  On the subject of Supreme Court appointees alone, there is no real choice for the constitutionalist that wants a Scalia type justice on the Court.

There is no chance of Trump being replaced as GOP nominee, any talk to the contrary is pure fantasy. There is no realistic chance of someone not from the Republican or Democratic parties becoming our next president.  Even if the #nevertrump crowd could come up with a candidate with the financial means to do so, it’s too late to get him or her on the ballot in many states.  So why does anyone claiming to be a Republican seek not to simply withhold support, but actively act to undermine his campaign?  They are ideologues, but ones who fail to understand that under a Hillary presidency, none of their conservative initiatives will come to be.  Clinton will enact her liberal, even socialist policies.  If she can’t get her agenda done under a Republican Congress, the Democrats will appeal to the American sometimes pathological need to just “get things done” regardless what that actually means.  Republican control of Congress his hardly guaranteed.  Democrats are already counting on the fact that the Republicans were put into power on Capitol Hill for the express reason of stopping the liberal Obama agenda.  Whatever political victories Hillary can garner, she will lock in by appointing active judges and an ever-growing, compliant regulatory machine.

The never Trump crowd has fooled themselves that in four years, they will get a do-over if Trump loses and finally undo the Obama/Clinton agenda.  It won’t happen, what they dont’ realize is this election may be the last one for America as a true constitutional democracy.  The next election, should Clinton win, will be more like those in the democratic-socialist countries of Western Europe– mere referendums on how quickly or slowly to descend into the socio-economic oblivion, and who will go out on top. The fact is, regardless of how much the conservative true believer would rather not, there is no real choice when it comes to any meaningful governmental reform.  There is only one candidate that will appoint justices that will respect the letter and spirit of the Constitution.  There is only one candidate with a pro-growth agenda, only one candidate that will turn America away from an otherwise certain, yes certain, move toward a single-payer healthcare system.  Like it or not, the only viable choice, for all his shortcomings, is Donald Trump.

There I said it.

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Enough with the brokered convention fantasies

Election 2016

This primary season and the possibility of a contested convention has brought us some very interesting, if incredible speculation as to what could happen.   As it becomes more and more likely that no one candidate will get the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination the pundits have taken to making up some pretty wild scenarios.  Most of them revolve around some sort of  draft of someone, anyone but Donald Trump.  Some suggest that Cruz and Rubio could join forces with an all Cuban-American ticket.  That one, if not likely, is at least plausible.  Some are much less so, even bordering on the absurd.  When Mitt Romney gave a big anti-Trump speech, it was immediately seen as a sign that last election’s candidate was trying to insert himself into the race.  Romney has flatly denied that.  Another theory making its way around the talk shows is the possibility of putting the former VP nominee, and current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan on the ballet ahead of all of those who actually ran.  The fact that he already has a enough on his plate makes no difference to some, he’s establishment and not Trump.  One wonders with so many fantastic schemes, worthy of the Game of Thrones, if not House of Cards, when they will posit the notion of digging up Ronald Reagan’s bones and running them.

Most likely whoever has the most delegates going into the convention will be the nominee.  If there is a brokered convention, the candidate that emerges will be one of the four men still in the race.  Rubio could convince his delegates to go over to Cruz or vice-versa.  Kasich believes they will draft him, as the “only adult in the room”.  This probably won’t happen unless he starts racking up the wins after and including his home state of Ohio.

Declaring a nominee who did not win the most delegates would be a dangerous thing for the Republican party. There would certainly be a revolt on the part of the followers of the snubbed candidate. There will be threats, especially in the case of a frustrated Trump, of a third-party run.  A third-party run would ultimately succeed only in handing the election to the Democrats, but the threat will almost certainly be made. The real danger would be that the supporters of the snubbed candidate would simply stay home on election night.

Theorizing about what could happen in a contested convention might be entertaining. Unfortunately, voters are being dazzled by some very unlikely scenarios. Most of these are put out by a flailing “establishment” grasping at straws. The fact they fantasize about someone riding in on a white horse who’s not even in the race bespeaks their desperation.  Please, if you are a voter and hears this nonsense, please do yourself a favor and ignore it. The convention might get contentious, and there could be intrigue, but the candidate that emerges will be one of few who make it there; not Romney, not Ryan, not the ghost of President Reagan.

News Brief, March 6th

RL New BriefNancy Reagan Dies at Age 94

Nancy Reagan, wife of President Ronald Reagan died Sunday at the age of 94. She was absolutely devoted to her “Ronnie”, and is regarded as a chief enabler of the Reagan Revolution.

According to Foxnews.com:

Reagan died at her home in Los Angeles. She’s set to be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband. Prior to the funeral, there will be an opportunity for members of the public to pay their respects at the Library, the spokesperson said. Details had not yet been announced Sunday afternoon.

Trump, Cruz, and Rubio Win Primaries Over Weekend

Trump won Kentucky and Louisiana.  Cruz won Kansas and Maine.  Rubio won Puerto Rico. Trump now has 384 delegates, Ted Cruz 300 and Marco Rubio 151.  1,237 are needed to win the nomination.

Dr. Carson and the Golden Rule of Debating

GOP DebatesDr. Carson had the funniest line in the Thursday night’s GOP debate.  After being largely ignored, and during a spirited exchange between his fellow candidates he begged, “Can somebody attack me please?” to an amused audience.  The levity provided a needed break from an otherwise intense debate.  His question also was symptomatic of a chronic problem of his, a lack of understanding of how presidential debates differ from the academic kind.  Academic debates are measured, well controlled affairs.  Presidential debates are media events. Even so, they have rules, some apparent and official, some less apparent and unofficial.  The same rules that work for Trump, Cruz, and Rubio work against the good doctor.

The debate rules are deceptively simple.  The candidates are asked a question, then have a certain length of time for their response.  Typically, if another candidate on the stage is mentioned in the answer, that person is allowed a response.  Naturally, a smart candidate loves it when one of his opponents mentions him or her because it gives them an additional opportunity to speak.  Ben Carson is no different, which explains his ironic protest at not being attacked.

Another irony is that the answer to Dr. Carson’s problem could be a basic Christian tenant, one that he knows well. He has yet to apply its application, albeit in a novel way perhaps, to his present situation.  That rule is:  “Do onto others as you would have done to you.”  It is understandably not an obvious connection for him to make, that for him to be attacked, and thus get an opportunity to respond, he must attack himself.  His attacks need not be gratuitous like Trump’s, or biting like Cruz’s but he does need to call out his opponents by name where he disagrees.  He can do it civilly or at least in a way that’s not off-putting, Rubio effectively walks that fine line using his sharp wit.  Fiorina did it by likening her opponent’s stance to one of Hillary’s or President Obama’s, then providing an alternative view.

Think of the premise of almost every question, the formula going something like this:  “Candidate X, candidate you said this about candidate Y last debate, do you stand by your remarks?”  Yes, it is often a transparent attempt to pit one candidate against another for the sake of drama.   It is a simple proposition—if you’re a candidate on the debate stage and want to speak, you want to be either candidate X or Y in that question. We are ten debates in, the eleventh is around the corner in Michigan.  Maybe he has yet to make the connection between calling out opponents on the stump and the reception of debate questions, maybe he thinks himself above such things.  If it is the former, he needs to figure it out in the course of a roughly a week.  If it is the latter, the old saying may unfortunately prove true yet again, that “good guys finish last.”

The Week in Conservatism

The South Carolina Primary

South Carolina is now in the record books.  Trump is once again the winner, despite dredging up Code Pink’s talking points against George W. Bush, and despite a dust-up with the Pope.  Cruz has fallen to third and Rubio is back on track after the New Hampshire debacle.  Jeb is out of the race.  Believe it or not, that is how the process is supposed to work.

The Loss of Justice Scalia

When Justice Antonin Scalia died, the balance of the Supreme Court came into question.   President Obama sorely wants to appoint a liberal justice to replace Scalia, an arch Constitutionalist. He will accuse the Republicans in the Senate of obstructionism.  Never mind that he practiced obstructionism himself as a member of the Senate. Hard-line conservatives don’t even want to hold hearings for an Obama nominee.  Does this bespeak a certain lack of trust of the leadership in the rank-and file?  Might some Republicans waiver and actually vote for an Obama nominee?  One hopes that for once they will emulate their Democrat colleagues and vote in lock step with their leadership.

Apple vs. the FBI

The Department of Justice has insisted that Apple crack the code that keeps the iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooters secure.  The FBI wants to see who else the terrorists might have been communicating with in case there are more plots in the works.  Apple has refused, as they fear that any program to hack the phone in question can be used to hack into any iPhone, and maybe by others outside of Washington.  The FBI counters that the warrant is for the one phone in question, and they don’t even want the decryption program, just the unlocked phone. There is just one problem, the decryption program does not exist, and forcing someone to do the work entailed in creating one would constitute well, slavery. Maybe if the FBI offered to pay for the efforts if the Apple programmers and go to every length to keep the programming secure, even from themselves, everyone can benefit.

New Hampshire: The establishment’s last stand?

Election 2016

Iowa didn’t go Cruz, it went Constitutionalist, and it went Conservative.  Now it’s New Hampshire’s turn.  The Granite State is notorious for cancelling out Iowa’s choice. That may be a good thing, or not.  Conventional wisdom suggests Cruz won’t go two for two.  The question is, if that happens, will they go contrary to the candidate, or contrary to the candidate’s ideology?  If they, though their votes, suggest a conservative alternative to Cruz, maybe trading in some conservatism for electability then expect a Rubio win or place.  If they collectively decide to endorse a moderate, it might suggest that D.C. is working just fine, and want more.  Perhaps they will say the answer for America is to hire a strongman (read Trump) to counter Putin and friends.

Almost more important than the votes will be the exit polls.  Finding out what motivated the voters to vote for who they did will provide an insight into Republican priorities.  Will the priority be electability, economics, foreign affairs?  Wednesday morning we’ll know, and we’ll have a better idea of what sort of candidate will win the nomination. Two states does not a nomination make, but historically a Republican must win one state or the other to make it all the way to the convention.

Marco Rubio
GOP Presidential hopeful, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

One thing is reasonably certain; if a moderate does not win, place or show, it will likely mean the end for the candidacy for all moderates not named Bush.  Only Jeb can withstand a finish outside of the top three.   If Cruz wins, well the media will go nuts, but only slightly less so than if Trump wins.  Before Iowa, pundits theorized about Trump steamrolling the competition all the way to the nomination.  The real steamroller, should he finish first, or even a strong second will be Marco Rubio.  In every race to the nomination, a sense of inevitability becomes the strongest weapon for fending off the other contenders.  Marco knows this, and the moderate governors currently assailing him definitely know it and want to stop it.  New Hampshire then might be their last stand.

What to Expect at Tonight’s Prime-time Debate

GOP Debates

  • The very first question will be about Donald Trump
  • After the first question, expect mainly oblique references to Trump
  • Cruz will take shots from everyone on stage but Dr. Carson and John Kasich
  • Jeb will attack Rubio to little avail
  • Every candidate will have some story or anecdote about Iowa