Warning: Binary Choice Syndrome Epidemic in USA

WARNING: There is a dangerous epidemic spreading across America. Binary Choice Syndrome (BCS) is a condition where voters believe they only have 2 choices for President. If they don’t vote for one, then they are actually voting for the other. The condition, prevalent on both the right and the left, has caused feelings of alienation and frustration. In more acute cases, the people afflicted with BCS have shown symptoms of rabid, illogical support for one candidate over the other. It is in this state that they are actively spreading the syndrome. Be very cautious when dealing with anyone who says the presidential election is a binary choice.

Binary Choice Syndrome plays on your fears about the two major party candidates. If you find yourself in the position where you don’t want to vote for either politician, those with BCS try to scare you into reluctant support of their candidate. They hope you will hold your nose and vote against the horrible politician by voting for the less horrible one. Should you think about not doing that, they trot out the binary choice. It’s your duty to vote for the less bad candidate, or you are helping the worse candidate get into office.

The premise of BCS is this: If you don’t vote for candidate x, then you are voting for candidate y.

3 reasons why Binary Choice Syndrome should be destroyed.

  •  It’s illogical. Obviously, if you don’t vote for X then X get’s one less vote. But does that mean Y get’s an extra vote? Of course not. Just just means X doesn’t get a vote. You might chose to vote for Z or even not to vote at all. (I encourage everyone to vote their conscience, but that’s your choice.) Voting for Z does not add votes to the tally for Y or X. It just adds votes for Z. In a 2 party system it may feel like you are throwing away your vote but you are definitely not adding to the tally of another candidate.
  •  It cheapens your vote. Binary Choices limit your options. Who are they to say you must choose between one or the other? Who are they to say that a vote for a candidate you support, no matter how unlikely to carry the day, is actually a vote for someone else? It is your right as a citizen to participate in the election process in the way you feel is required by your conscience. If that means voting for someone not represented by the two major parties, then that is your right. BCS is often spread by those in leadership of one of the two major parties because BCS keeps them in power.
  •  It is only valid if voters allow it to be valid. The ultimate cure for Binary Choice Syndrome is to realize that as long as we vote for the lesser of two evils we will get one of the evils. Every voter has the power to break free of the binary choice and vote for someone they actually support. If enough voters did this, the 2 party system would fall. We are not required to vote Republican or Democrat, just as people in elections of the past were not required to vote Whig or Democrat. Parties can change, the system is what we, the individual voters, make of it. We have all the power. We choose to remain in a 2 party system by voting for the two major party candidates. We don’t have to.

Be careful, one of the more slippery symptoms of BCS is the Issue Related Binary Choice. Sometimes, BCS sufferers will not talk about particular candidates, but will choose an issue to present as a binary choice. Recent cases of this have centered around the US Supreme Court. BCS sufferers will present the concern over the Court and then point to a binary choice as the only way to protect us from this runaway government branch. Previous cases have centered on the issue of abortion, LGBT rights, immigration, and many other social and economic issues. While concerns about issues may be valid, the binary choice is not.

You can be vaccinated against BCS by realizing that your vote matters, and you can choose who you will vote for based on your values, not your fears.

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!

Let’s Talk Independent Presidential Bids (And Breaking the 2 Party System)

Well, I had been writing this before the debate last night. But that last question where each GOP candidate pledged again to support whoever the nominee is… sort of ruined it. Even so, fun to speculate:

Super Tuesday has come and gone. With a few surprises, Donald Trump won most states, but also under performed in most states. Is it too late to stop him from entering the GOP convention with enough delegates to secure the nomination? Maybe, maybe not. But aside from Carson mostly dropping out, the field of GOP candidate won’t get any narrower until it will likely be too late. There is no way Kasich drops out before Ohio and no way Rubio drops before Florida.

There is a good chance… unless things turn… that Trump will be the GOP nominee. I cannot believe I typed those words. He is not a conservative. He does not represent me. But, the GOP hasn’t really represented conservatives for a while. We vote in Republicans, and then they continue to do big government things and get nothing we want done. We haven’t been happy with the GOP for a while. That’s part of the revolt against the “GOPe” that’s going on, ironically it’s part of what’s fueling Trumps popularity. It started with the tea party, then that got side tracked and squashed. Whatever. If we put up Trump as the nominee, I am done with the GOP.

Period, end of sentence. Done.

In our current 2 party system, that means my 3rd party vote is a waste in November. But what if we could use the opportunity to destroy the 2 party system and bring some options to our elections? Ross Perot tried it, and that failed horribly; but this is 2016. No one knows what is gonna happen. I hear rumors of people like Bloomberg from NY running 3rd party. Imagine if there were 4 viable candidates? Trump, Clinton, Bloomberg, and … ? Bloomberg is a long shot, and really, if Clinton gets indicted and drops out… also a long shot… who knows what happens to the Democrats. Can you say Biden vs Trump? The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain in this election.

Looking at the GOP field, who could run independent/3rd party and have a chance? Who has money and support, but isn’t too tied to the GOP? The only candidate is Ted Cruz.

I have gone out of my way to not endorse any candidate. I obviously tried to derail Trump with what little influence I have. But I have never said who you should vote for on this blog. And I’m not endorsing Cruz, per say, as much as saying he would be infinitely better than Trump or Clinton. Sadly, our 2 party system lends itself to voting for the less undesirable of 2 candidates most times. In a scenario where Cruz is a viable 3rd candidate, he will do the least harm to our nation, and has the most chance of getting elected. So I’m not endorsing him, as much as saying for the sake of our nation we should support him.

That goes for the primary as well as the general election. If you vote in the GOP primary, vote Cruz. If he runs 3rd party, vote for Cruz. He is the only one who can possibly beat Trump in delegates, and he is the only one who can beat both Clinton and Trump in a general election. Kasich doesn’t have a chance. Rubio appears very tied into the “GOPe” and couldn’t swing the support. Doesn’t matter if he is a part of the “establishment” or not, he looks that way. Only Cruz could do it.

Now, before you jump down my throat about Cruz’s campaign antics I would urge you to remember: no candidate is perfect. I felt he should have handled the Iowa/Carson issue differently. He ended up having to fire his communications guy anyway over that Rubio video. His campaign has made mistakes, and done some stuff I don’t like. I’m not saying he’s my perfect candidate. I’m saying if I have to choose between Cruz and Clinton or Trump, I pick Cruz every single time. And so should you.

Yes, a 3rd party run of a popular conservative could split the GOP vote and give the election to Clinton. I’d hate to see that happen. I really do think that a true conservative like Cruz could position himself in a way to win the general election. I’d love to see a poll on that. Here’s the rub: at least with Clinton we know what we’re getting. She will do what she always does, placing herself above the needs of the nation. we’ll have 4 more years of policies similar to Obama’s, with gridlock in Congress, and then have another election. Not the best option. But is it better than a Trump presidency? At least we know what we get with Clinton. Trump is a wild card.

I am not saying I want Clinton as president. I am saying that I will not vote for Trump, and I think Cruz could beat Trump and Clinton with a properly run campaign. Add a 4th person running as a liberal, and all bets are off.

But what if Trump gets fed up with the RNC shenanigans, and runs as 3rd party? Again, Cruz would still be running against Trump and Clinton.

Of course, after the GOP debate last night, no GOP candidate will run 3rd party, they all said they would support the nominee. The only hope of a 3 person race would be for Trump to bail and run independent. Or another liberal to jump in. Regardless, I will never vote for Donald Trump.