Bathroom Wars: Newest Front in an Old Conflict

The war for “LGBT rights” has been a long one. There have been many battles over the years.

When I was in college in the 90s I wrote a weekly opinion column for the university newspaper. I was the lone conservative, Christian voice in the editorial pages. The reoccurring moral/political topic of the day was the university’s non discrimination clause. Specifically, should it be amended to say no discrimination based on “sexual orientation” or not. Those in favor argued that recent criminal acts against homosexual students required the change. I argued that the university itself did not discriminate, that the crimes committed by individuals were already illegal, and that adding the words would only serve as a comment on the moral equivalence of all sexual orientations- a statement that was not the university’s place to make. In the end, the statement was not amended.

During that time it became increasingly clear to me that the desired outcome was not less discrimination on campus. The proponents of the change instead wanted to see their sexual orientation legitimized. In this particular case some idiots had made calls from their personal phones and left voicemails on the LGBT Student Organization phone, threatening violence with specific weapons; a Class A Misdemeanor. The organization touted this as proof of discrimination on campus, but refused to actually press charges. Punishing the crime might actually deter future criminals, or at least show that society was serious about protecting people of every sexual orientation. No, they wanted the political capital of anonymous bad guys threatening the LGBT community. (Even though the police knew exactly who had done it, and if charges had been pressed, that information would have become public.) This crime was used to further their agenda.

Around the same time there were rumblings about marriage equality. Back then, a few gay rights activists were pushing civil unions as a way to get the rights denied to same sex couples. I agreed that the government could, and even should, recognize civil unions between same sex couples. I was actually naive enough to think the fight for same sex rights was about the actual rights, not moral equivalence. Today, we know that a civil union wasn’t the goal of the LGBT lobby. They wanted to expand the definition of the word marriage. A civil union which would give the members the same rights as traditionally married couples did not accomplish their goal: they wanted homosexual couples to be seen as morally equivalent to heterosexual couples. They didn’t simply want the right to visit a sick loved one in the hospital, or access to a partner’s health insurance, or clear lines of inheritance and familial custody of children. They wanted their unions to be called marriages, just like heterosexual marriages.

Why? Because in their mind there’s no difference between a gay couple and a heterosexual couple. That’s what the LGBT activists have fought for. It was never about rights, it was about recognition.

Today, you can’t get away from the latest front on the LGBT battle for moral equivalence, the bathroom wars. With news story after news story about transgendered people being forced to use bathrooms that match their physical gender, instead of their gender identity. Stories about the president vastly over reaching his office and threatening schools with loss of federal money if they don’t adopt his administrations rules for bathroom/locker rooms. And Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, poster “boy” for transgendered individuals, visiting a public restroom owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

If I didn’t know better, I would think there were millions of transgendered people being forcibly turned away from bathrooms across the nation. It makes you wonder how anyone was able to go to the bathroom in peace. I can count on one hand, with fingers left over, the number of men dressed as women I’ve ever actually seen in person. I’ve never seen one in the bathroom. I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable in a restroom. How have I lived such a reclusive life, if this is such a big problem that the United States President must weigh in?

Here’s a secret about the men’s room you ladies may not know: we don’t chat up strangers, especially if they’re in a stall. For all I know I’ve encountered hundreds of transgendered people in the bathroom. But because they looked and acted like men, I didn’t know. I don’t know how transgendered people relieved themselves before 2016, but if it was not as easy as it might be, that’s going to be a direct consequence of your gender identity being different than your actual gender. That’s not society’s fault. Blame that on nature.

Pre-2016-society said people with lady parts go to the women’s room, people with gentlemen parts go to the men’s room. Back in the 90s the gay rights movement wanted homosexuality to be seen as natural. But transgendered people can’t say it’s natural, because God, or nature if you don’t believe in God, gave them different body parts than their identity. But in 2016 we aren’t restricted by our natural body, we can identify as another gender. And now we have the Bathroom Wars.

If a person is living as a gender, and can actually pass as that gender, why do I need to know where they potty? If you look like a guy, go to the men’s room. If like a girl, the ladies. What about men with breast implants, or the like? If you look like something in between, that’s on you. Find a “family bathroom” (like the ones a lot of Targets have…) or hold it. Actions have consequences. If you’ve made alterations to your body that make it hard to know which gender you are, then you have to live with those consequences. People will continue to find a way to use the bathroom without government help, and without businesses signaling what’s OK.

But that’s not really the goal of the bathroom wars. Proponents of LGBT rights won’t be satisfied if every public bathroom is unisex. Just like the gay rights battles from decades before, the ultimate goal is to have a civilization that views every aspect of sex- behavior, identity, desire, etc…- as morally equal. Anyone who doesn’t think that way should be shut down, sidelined, called a bigot. People who are transgendered are to be considered normal. (Or at least as normal as 0.3% of the population can be.) Where they are allowed to go to the bathroom is secondary, a means to an end.

I don’t know how the bathroom wars will end, but make no mistake, this has nothing to do with who goes potty where; nothing to do with rights. It has everything to do with our culture recognizing that all gender identities are morally equivalent.

Dear Conservative, It’s OK to Vote 3rd Party

Like you, I have always believed that we should do our duty, hold our noses and vote for whoever the Republican party nominates. The alternative would be to allow a Liberal Democrat in the office.

And also like you, I’ve been increasingly disappointed with the candidates that have gotten the nomination. Politicians that made big promises and proceeded to do little once in office. But I dutifully pulled the lever every time. I believed what I was told, we had to vote for this candidate or someone worse would get into office. I kept choosing the lesser of two evils.

By 2016 many of us were fed up.

Unfortunately, blind anger has led enough GOP voters to support a candidate I cannot, in good conscience, support. I evaluate candidates based on character, competence and core values. I remember when most Republicans felt Bill Clinton had embarrassed the presidency and didn’t have the character traits necessary to be president. Now some of the same ones want me to vote for a man who is apparently (based on his actions and words) just as morally corrupt. One who is not competent, and who does not have conservative core values. I won’t vote for Donald Trump. And I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

I have read that saying I won’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is un American. I’ve been told that not voting for Trump is the same as voting for Clinton. I have been reminded there’s no perfect candidate so I must choose Trump. I have been told that if I don’t vote for Trump Clinton will nominate 5 liberal justices. I’ve also been warned that if I vote for a 3rd party candidate we will end up with another Ross Perot situation, where the 3rd party takes votes from the GOP and gives the election to the Democrats.

Hogwash. Let’s take these one by one:

-The 1992 Perot Effect: For my entire adult life I’ve been told that Ross Perot pulled votes away from George H. W. Bush. He is the reason that we got Bill Clinton as a president. I believed this, and have even repeated it.

But it’s not true. I was shocked to discover when doing research for this article that Perot pulled voters away from both parties equally. According to a 1992 New York Times article , Perot pulled 38% of his votes from those who would otherwise vote for Bush. And 38% of his votes from those who would otherwise vote for Clinton. The rest planned to not vote or to vote for someone else. Ross Perot didn’t kill Bush’s chances at the presidency. He also didn’t help Clinton. Let that sit with you for a minute.

Perot did not get Clinton elected. Could a 3rd party candidate draw voters from the Republican candidate? Sure, if Republicans nominate someone that conservatives cannot support, and they leave the party. I have already said that the 35% of primary voters who promised they would never support Trump will be a hard hit to overcome. This should not be a surprise, since millions of us were very vocal about this before Trump became the presumptive nominee. We weren’t joking. #NeverTrump means never.

-5 Liberal SCOTUS Judges: It’s scary to think that the next president may appoint 5 Supreme Court Justices. Our so-called-conservative court gave us same sex marriage and upheld the Affordable care Act. Imagine a court with members selected by a liberal like Clinton. Now imagine a court with member elected by a man without core values. One who has a history of changing his mind and positions on major issues for conservatives. Republicans haven’t done such a great job of selecting SCOTUS justices so far, let’s give a life long liberal the chance to pick some. I mean Trump; he’s a life-long liberal. He’s a very recent convert to conservatism. And he has been so wildly inconsistent, how can anyone know who Trump will nominate? And how can the Republican Congress stop a Republican president from getting his own justice? The Republican congress can’t even stop funding for Planned Parenthood.

Assuming Republicans can keep the Senate and House, would you rather have a bad Clinton nominee voted down, or a bad Trump nominee forced through by the leader of the Republican party? There’s no good solution here. When 40% of Republican primary voters (along with a media which gave over $2 Billion worth of coverage) voted to make Trump the presumptive nominee, we gave up the chance to place actual conservatives on the Supreme court. It’s just degrees of bad now. And this one issue, the chance that Trump might not nominate bad justice does not overshadow how terrible his presidency will be.

Regarding the power of a legislative body made up of 9 unelected judges, I would like to see the Convention of States people keep talking about happen. Part of that process could be to introduce a way for Congress to overturn a SCOTUS decision. Maybe even to set a term limit on sitting justices (as well as Congress). It’s obvious that whether the court is supposed to be conservative or liberal they won’t stop legislating from the bench. I believe we need a few more checks against their balances.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.09.01 AM-It’s a vote for Clinton: Not voting for Donald Trump is a vote for Clinton. The logic of this doesn’t work. I could just as easily say a vote for someone besides Clinton is a vote for Trump. That’s obviously untrue. Your vote is for who you vote for.

But what they are really saying is that in order to win, Trump requires all of us to vote for him. It’s a play at guilting us into voting for someone we don’t like. And it’s been successful for decades. Do you want Obama? Vote McCain, vote Romney. But the problem with voting for the lesser of two evils is that you end up with one of the evils.

When candidates are so far from my own core values, I don’t have to vote for them. Do you know why we have a two-party, lesser-of-2-evils system? Because millions of us keep dutifully voting for one of the 2 party candidates, even if we don’t like them.

The real question is do I owe anyone my vote? My answer is no. Candidates must earn my vote. Just as they must earn every vote they get. There will be millions of people who vote Republican to stop Clinton. But that is an individual choice. One of the greatest responsibilities of any American citizen is to vote. It’s how the Republic works. My vote counts. I don’t think my one vote will be the deciding vote between Trump, Clinton or someone else. But my vote counts, and it’s mine to give. If a candidate wants my vote, they must earn it. No party can demand my obedience, especially when I (and millions of others) warned that we would not vote for Trump.

-There’s no Perfect Candidate: Sure. I agree. I don’t expect to find one. But I do expect to find one that comes closer than Clinton or Trump. This time around, the Republican nominee is just too far from what I require in a candidate to be able to vote for them. I understand that line will be different for everyone. But this time the GOP has gone down a path I cannot follow. I won’t find a perfect candidate to vote for, but I will find one that is closer to what I desire in an elected leader.

-Un American: This is just plain wrong. It’s very American to find a candidate you want to vote for. It’s not unpatriotic to reject two candidates that you don’t want elected and go looking for a 3rd. The Constitution did not create the 2-party system. It is not un American to want to see that system broken. To vote is one of the most American things anyone can do, even if they choose not to vote for a Republican or Democrat.

It’s said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Can we hope to stop Clinton or Trump? Perot’s ill fated campaign received almost 19% of the vote, but won no states and earned no electoral votes. He announced in February, and by early Summer he was leading the polls. He bought 30-minute blocks on TV to introduce himself to voters. Mid Summer the wheels came off. He dropped out of the race for over 3 months, He performed poorly later debates, and never regained his position again. The most successful 3rd party run since 1912 was a terrible campaign. And he gathered almost 19% of the popular vote.

A smart 3rd party run would utilize the strategy of winning enough states to prevent either candidate from getting 270 electoral votes. Don’t waste resources in states that you can’t possibly win. Win enough states and the election gets sent to the Republican controlled House. The House must choose from the top 3 candidates. They would either choose Trump or the 3rd party. If Trump, then the 3rd party is in a great position for 2020. If by some chance it’s the 3rd party, then that’s even better.

No matter the result, there is nothing wrong with voting for someone who is not a Republican or a Democrat. Your vote is your own. You owe it to no one. Find a candidate that you want to support.

The Party is Dead, Long Live the Party!

I’ve been thinking a lot of the future of politics in the USA. As the Republican Party moves in a direction I cannot follow, I wondered about the demise of another political group, the Whigs.

The Death of the Whigs
It was the 1830s. Large, organized political parties were a relatively new thing. The Whig party was ardently opposed to many of the actions of Democrat Andrew Jackson. For example, Jackson changed how the presidential veto was used. Before his administration, generally it was only used if the President felt the law passed by Congress was unconstitutional. Jackson set the precedent that a President could veto for any reason. He also picked his own cabinet, which hadn’t been done before. The Whigs felt that the office of the President was overshadowing the Congress.

The Whigs ultimately died because of a division over slavery. Southern Whig leaders wanted it, Northern ones didn’t. After the Compromise of 1850, which expanded slavery into new territories gained in the Mexican-American war and reworked the laws about retrieving fugitive slaves, many of the Northern Whigs left to join the Republicans. In 1856 the Whigs fielded their last Presidential candidate.

It seems that the reason the Whigs died was that they could not agree on one pivotal issue. Slavery. And that there was a clear alternative for members to move toward. Obviously, nothing is that simple and there were surely other factors, but slavery played a major role in the Whig’s eventual demise.

The Birth of the Republicans
On March 20, 1854 the founding meeting of the Republican party was held. Former members of the Whig party, upset over it’s inability to deal with slavery, were creating a new party along with Northern Democrats. After 2 years of planning and winning elections in the North, on Feb 22, 1856 the first organizing convention of the Republican party began. June 17 of that same year, the first nominating convention of the Republican party kicked off. This eventually led to the election of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President.

The Death of the Republicans?
Over the following years, the Republican party became synonymous with the conservative movement; limited government, and conservative social and economic policies. In an environment that created a polarized electorate, party leaders increasingly failed to deliver on their promises to Republican voters. After the 2008 presidential election many were frustrated with the established GOP. In 2009 the Tea Party emerged within the ranks of the Republican Party. For a few years it seemed like there would be a revolution within the party by those wanting to return to more conservative values.

But by 2015 the Tea Party was largely sidelined, stifled and squelched. The Republican Party was back to business as usual. In turn, Republican voters in 2016 ignored traditional Republican candidates by in large, and narrowed the GOP primary down to 2 candidates: Ted Cruz a Constitutional conservative, and Donald Trump, a life-long liberal who claimed a recent conversion to conservatism but held positions on issues that differed greatly from many conservatives. Fueled by a platform that catered to voter anger and over $2 Billion worth of free media time on top of 100% name recognition, Donald Trump successfully won enough delegates to eliminate Ted Cruz from the Republican nomination. Barring massive rule changes and maneuvering at the national GOP convention, Donald Trump will be the 2016 Republican nominee for President.

I believe that many of the positions espoused by the presumptive nominee are directly contradictory to conservative values. I have said that when it comes to character, competence and core values, candidate Trump falls far short of what is required to be a conservative president. I am not alone in that belief. According to polls taken during the primaries, over 35% of Republican primary voters refuse to vote for Donald Trump in the general election. Some are turning to the DNC candidates, but many are looking for other options.

I do not believe that the Republican Party will ever swing back toward conservatism. It had already drifted away before this nomination. Trump will do nothing to bring it back to the party of limited government and conservative social and economic policies. The most conservative nominees from the Republican party are behind it. Future Republican nominees will be moving further away from conservatism.

While the GOP may remain in existence, the Republican party I knew is in its death throes.

The birth of a new party?

The Party is dead, long live the Party!

Before jet travel and the internet, it took less than 2 years for the Republican party to go from dream to reality. Within 6 years it had given us one of the most important presidents in our country’s history. Is it so crazy to think that this year a candidate could emerge and challenge the RNC/DNC nominees?

There are lots of people that might be interested. Senator Ben Sasse recently wrote an open letter about finding a 3rd party candidate. People who claim some affiliation with the Tea Party were at 10% of the population in 2014. 35% of 2016 GOP primary voters are already searching for another candidate. Both Hillary Clinton and Trump have horrible unfavorables. People don’t like them. Independents and principled conservatives are up for grabs in 2016. More people this election cycle will be voting 3rd party than any in my lifetime.

In 1992 Ross Perot– the most successful 3rd party candidate since 1912- got over 19.7 million votes, but he didn’t carry a single state or get a single electoral vote. Perot actually dropped out of the race for several months, and the re-entered it and still won almost 19% of the vote. Ross Perot’s limited success was a reaction to George H. W. Bush and a shift away from what Reagan accomplished. (In many ways Trump is similar to Perot, in background and economic positions.) But Trump as the GOP nominee has negatives so far beyond Bush, he’s not even in the same league. Perot never recovered from dropping out, and his performance in the national debates was very poor. Exit polls said that he drew equally (38%) from Bush and Bill Clinton, with the rest of his voters from those who had not planned to vote for the two main parties.

The conditions for a more successful 3rd party run are ripe. The right candidate could perform much better than the flawed Perot campaign.

What if a new political party was formed? Made up of discouraged Tea Party members, the #NeverTrump camp, and any other conservative that doesn’t want to see Clinton or Trump in the White House. Like the Republicans did with the Whigs, we could bleed off conservatives into a new party. Let the GOP do as it will, we can start something new, that reflects our principles.

Do I really expect a new party to win the 2016 general election? No. That’s not the goal. The goal is to win enough electoral votes to keep the other candidates from getting 270 electoral votes. If no one wins, then the House of Representatives chooses from the top 3 candidates, in this case Trump, Clinton or the new party nominee. A Republican controlled House will not choose Clinton, so either Trump or the new party’s candidate would win. No matter who the House chose, the new party would immediately be a player in the midterms and in 2020.

Who would the new party’s presidential candidate be? Someone who is the opposite of the other two candidates. Both Clinton and Trump are of similar age, have similar ethics and ideologies. The new party’s candidate would need to be young, an amazing and energizing communicator with high moral standards and conservative core values. And because the people this candidate would be running against have 100% name recognition, they would need to already have a decent sized platform or following. And they would need to be able to bring in deep pocketed donors in order to withstand the media onslaught from the other two parties. Could it be one of the existing 3rd party candidates? Sure, if they meet these criteria, it could work.

Time is short. If there is not a viable campaign in motion by mid Summer or before, there won’t be a viable 3rd party campaign in 2016. But we live in a time when communication and access to potential voters has never been more open.

With both Democrats and Republicans nominating candidates that are so disliked, there will never be a better time to launch a new political party. There will never be a better time to break the two party system that results in a choice between the lesser of two evils.

The GOP we knew is dead, long live a new, better political party!

Never means Never

Donald Trump won Indiana last night. I was just going to be quiet and let the Trump supporters have their moment. Regroup today. See if there was any honorable way to stop Trump from becoming the nominee. It didn’t look good.

Then Ted Cruz, the last hope to stop Donald Trump from becoming the RNC Nominee, dropped out of the race.

Immediately the calls for the #NeverTrump people to unite behind the presumptive nominee began. Didn’t we know that we had to give up our position and stop Hillary Clinton?

Hold on. Were you not paying attention before? Maybe I need to explain what the word “Never” means?

When I, and millions of GOP primary voters (35-37% of us if exit polls are to be believed) said we wouldn’t support the GOP nominee if it was Trump, we meant it. We weren’t just saying stuff.

I didn’t say #NeverTrump for political expediency. It wasn’t a clever way to support Ted Cruz or some other candidate. I, like millions of Republicans, will not vote for Donald Trump, ever.

I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton either. She stands for things I don’t. She will never get my vote.

I evaluate candidates along 3 lines: Character, Competence, and Core Values.

With Clinton’s character, I don’t believe she is a woman of integrity. It’s obvious to me that she will lie and try to further herself over the country’s interests. Regarding competence, she certainly has had ample opportunity to learn how to lead, and has obviously given thought to the issues facing our nation. I disagree with her on the issues, and if her previous performance is any indication, I don’t think she would do a good job as President. And her core values are directly in contradiction to mine. So, of course, I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.

In previous Presidential elections, I’ve been able to turn to the Republican nominee, hold my nose and vote for them because while they may not be perfect (none ever is) at least I could live with them in the role of President. I didn’t doubt there character (more than any other politician) or competence. And at least some of their core values aligned with mine.

But Trump?

Character: People say there are two Trump’s, the one he has to play in the primary and the private Trump. A man of integrity is the same in public and private. He has lied so often I can’t even keep up. Just yesterday, a few hours before calling for Cruz supporters to unite behind him, he was accusing Ted Cruz’s father of being involved in the JFK assassination. he will say and do anything to get what he wants. He has written in the Art of the Deal that he often plays to people’s fantasies, and tells them what he thinks they want to hear. he calls it “truthful hyperbole”. He spins the circumstances, and presents them in a way that best help himself. I would say he is the master of that. But he is not a man of integrity.

Competence: He routinely contradicts his own stated policies. He campaigns according to public opinion. He basically throws something out and sees if it sticks. before the Wisconsin primary, there were a couple of days where he actually held 4 different positions on abortion. It seemed like he hadn’t given any thought to how to answer questions about a pivotal issue for conservatives. He changes positions all the time, based on whatever he thinks he should say to help himself. Most of the positions he claims to hold have been written by others, and he doesn’t seem to be familiar with them. His style of leadership does not lend itself to being President. his behavior on the campaign trail indicates that a Trump administration would not be a competent one.

Core Values: This is a big one. As I mentioned before, he doesn’t have a consistent position on abortion. He called for the killing of wives and children of terrorists (multiple times) and when he found out it would be a war crime, he said we should loosen up those laws. He’s soft on LGBT issues. He’s not for limited government. He’s soft on the ACA and government healthcare. He’s not for free trade. He’s a populist. He wants to ban immigrants/refugees based solely on their religion. He wants to round up illegal immigrants and send them home, build a wall, then let them back in. He wants to start a trade war with China and Mexico. He says he’s against visa for worker in American, but admits to using them himself to the benefit of his businesses. He wants to open up libel laws to shut down criticism from journalists. Until a few years ago, he held very liberal positions, and doesn’t have much of a reason for why he changed his mind. He has no conservative track record. He lies, a lot. He uses dishonorable tactics to smear his opponents.

Every core value I can identify is directly contradictory to my own. And the rest, who can tell what he thinks or will do? How many times has he given an interview, only to have his campaign clarify and walk back something he said?

At least with Clinton I know what we are getting. So no, I’m not going to vote for Clinton and I’m not going to vote for Trump.

And no, a vote for someone else is not a vote for Clinton. It’s a vote for someone else. Either my vote matters or it doesn’t. The Republican party has to earn my vote just like any party. Frankly, if I had been required to register as a Republican in Texas before the primary, I would request to be removed from the Republican membership. Since I didn’t, that makes it easier. I’m not handing the election to Clinton. Millions of us told anyone who would listen that we were not buying what trump was selling. the fact that th rest of you decided to buy it does not make it my responsibility to join you.

Principle over party. Period.

A Republican party that can nominate someone like Donald Trump doesn’t represent me. So I no longer “identify” as one. I’m now an independent conservative. I will find someone I can vote for, instead of against. As long as we keep voting for the lesser of two evils, we will keep getting one of the evils.

I’m still #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary. Never means never.