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!

2 Serious Questions for Trump Voters

I don’t want to try to argue you into my way of thinking I seriously just want to know the answer to these two questions:

  1. Is there ANYTHING that Donald Trump could say or do that would make you not vote for him?
  2. Is there ANY revelation about his past that would cause you to not vote for him?

That’s it. I’m trying to better understand what motivates people who support him.

Watching the reactions to last night’s debate, and other events… just reading Trump’s twitter feed the past couple of months… and the reactions of those who support him if you criticize him… I fear that the answer to both of those questions is no.

I don’t think there is any reasoned-out rationale behind your support of Trump. I think it’s just an emotional response, frustrations brought to light. He resonates with you. His rhetoric is what you have been waiting for. And nothing he says or does, or has done, or has said will ever make you change your vote.

If that is true, then it doesn’t matter what he stands for, what he actually does, because he just makes you feel like you want to vote for him.

If the answer to those two questions is no, heaven help us.

 

Why Do I Care About Trump?

Prior to this election, I never cared much about the presidential primaries. I always figured whoever made it to the general election would be fine. I mean, I voted, but I didn’t write a lot or try to sway anyone’s opinion about one of the primary candidates. But I’ve been a lot more involved in this cycle.

Mainly because I want to see Donald Trump as a business man and TV personality, not as a President, or even just as an unelectable presidential candidate in the general election. I’m not campaigning for anyone, but against Donald Trump. I will use what little influence I have to try to stop Republicans from selecting him as the nominee for the general election.

I know the world will keep spinning no matter who is elected. Most of my day to day life will not be effected by the president. I will still have to pay taxes, and deal with the healthcare issues. I don’t think my small town is much of a target for terrorists. I will have to put up with the economic policies of who ever is elected, but in many ways that is mitigated by Congress. Like all Americans, local and state election affect the details of life most. But the big things are affected by Federal elections. They matter.

Once we get past Super Tuesday, if Trump wins every state, I will stop. It will be inevitable. He will be the Republican nominee.

A few folks on twitter and elsewhere have chided people about not supporting Trump if he is the nominee. They feel that we must support him if he is the nominee. That’s placing party over principle. I won’t do it. I will never vote for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. Period. Full stop, as they say.

If I can somehow influence people to not select Trump as the Republican nominee, then I will. If he wins the nomination anyway, I will look to 3rd party candidates.

Maybe of Trump does win the primaries, a real alternative to the Republicans will rise up?

Trump is Not The Big Brother, He’s the Bully

Everyone knows the big brother is the one who stands up to the bully for you.

Imagine you had a big brother who was always telling you that he would protect you, and look out for you. He was going to right all the wrongs. He loves you. Pretty great, right? The world is a messed up place, and he is going to fix it. Then you find out that he does that by threatening people, by calling people names, by forcing them to do things they may not want to do. He says that if anyone hurts you, he will not only hurt them but hurt their family as well. To make matters worse, you realize that a couple of years ago he wasn’t even your brother, he was a part of the people who are doing the things you don’t like.

That is Donald Trump.

He says he wants to make this country great again. And I’m sure that’s a part of what drives him. He says that he wants to help Republicans. But he also does all those things I mentioned: Yesterday he tweeted about people he knows in Chicago that shouldn’t work against him, because they have things to hide- implying those things would come out of they continue. He routinely calls people liars, and has used stronger language for his opponents and news reporters as well. He has said often that he will make Mexico pay for the wall and he has flip flopped a couple of times the the insurance mandate. He has said, and then not backed off when given the chance to, that he will not only kill terrorists but he will kill the families of terrorists.  And up until a short while ago, he could have been described as a Democrat, based on his donations, positions, and comments about policy. He’s generally a jerk who tries to force his own will into ever situation.

That’s not leadership, that’s being a bully.

Being a bully might work some of the time. But every time a bully comes up against someone that stands up to them, they back down. Don’t believe this will happen with Trump?

A few days ago Trump was making noise about how Ted Cruz was lying and playing dirty politics. He threatened that if Cruz didn’t pull a TV advertisement, he would file a lawsuit claiming Cruz was ineligible to serve as president. Typical bully move, do as I say or I will hurt you. Cruz didn’t back away, he stood up to Trump. He dared him to file the suit. Trump, like all bullies will, backed down from the issue. The point isn’t whether Cruz was or wasn’t lying; it’s that Trump made a threat, a show of political and legal force, but backed down.

Now, imagine Trump negotiating with Iran, or even just Democrats. Imagine them getting tough with him when he tries similar bullying tactics. Trump will back down.

I know, politics and diplomacy always has some give and take. But bullies always back down, they never stand firm, even when they are talking about core issues/values.

We need a candidate who will stand firm, and not back down on issues that are important to us. We don’t need a bully.

 

Donald Trump is #notright

Trump is #notright. Not only is he not correct about many of his policies, he is also not conservative. He isn’t on the right, he’s on the left. He’s #notright.

He can’t define what conservative means. In the debate before New Hampshire he was talking about what it means to be a conservative. He talked around it and finally said something about “conserving money”. But that’s not even close to an acceptable definition of conservative. Trump should be able to articulate the principles of conservatism, like limited government, but he can’t because he’s #notright.

He won’t commit to defund Planned Parenthood. In the last debate, during a heated exchange with Cruz, Trump said it was a lie that he supported Planned Parenthood. Cruz said that Trump had claimed Planned Parenthood “did good things”. Trump responded by saying that Planned Parenthood DOES do good things. I don’t know any conservative that agrees that any amount of service to women can outweigh the hundreds of thousands of murders of unborn children that PP performs each year. There are plenty of clinics (more than PP locations, and they don’t get federal funding) that offer care for women. Trump should unequivocally commit to defund Planned Parenthood, but he won’t because he’s #notright.

He thinks 9/11 was George W. Bush’s fault. And that Bush knowingly lied about WMDs in order to get the country into the war with Iraq. He may not support the Iraq war, but to blame 9/11 on the serving president is just ignorant. And to ignore the fact that Congress, including the Democrat candidate Clinton, believed reports from our intelligence services and voted to go to war with Iraq so you can blame Bush sounds like what liberal Democrats do. Trump is #notright.

He has no track record of conservatism. Until just a short while ago Trump held positions that would have made him comfortable in the ranks of liberals. He donated money to some of the most liberal politicians. He made statements about taxes, healthcare, gun rights and more that do not line up with conservative values. Now that he is running for President he is saying different things. But he cannot point to a track record of conservative values because he’s #notright.

He wants to use the Presidency to bully the people and countries into doing what he wants. Listen to what he says he will do. Listen to how he will do it. He’s gonna do some great things, thing we want, and make others pay for it. Trump’s history is full of instances where he used what he calls “truthful hyperbole” to paint a picture that appeals to his current audience, and then bulled his way into whatever he wanted. He does everything he can within the law, and some say sometimes outside the law, to get what he wants done. And everything he has ever done has been for one person, himself. Conservatives want a government that lets us live our lives with minimal interference. Trump says he will make people do what he wants, because he’s #notright.

On issue after issue, after issue, he says what he thinks the audience wants to hear. He has found a few issues that resonate with conservatives and Republicans who are fed up with the way things are. He is making wild promises, and promising to deliver. He has no substance in most of his policies. And his track record says that everything he does, he does it to benefit himself. He brags that he will make deals in Washington, but will those deals be better than the deals already being made?

I cannot imagine a country that has Donald Trump as President. We are conservatives. If polls are to be believed, we are planning to vote for a man who is not a conservative. Man who does not reflect our values. Man who will not act as a conservative president will. Donald Trump is not correct on many things, and not a conservative.

Donald Trump is #notright!

Trump Melts Down Over Iowa Caucus, But He Should Move On

During the Iowa Caucus the other night twitter was full of reports that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. For some reason they felt it was necessary to announce that Carson was taking a few days off. Getting clean clothes, or something, is how they put it. immediately everyone was speculating that he was about to drop out of the race. There was so much speculation that the Carson campaign had to send a memo out telling everyone that they were still in the race.

This all happened about the time that the Iowa Caucus was getting going. Evidence has come to light that someone from ted Cruz’s campaign seized on the speculation that Carson was dropping out, and sent out emails to the “reps” at the caucus sites, encouraging them to announce this information and try to get Carson voters to switch over.

Maybe you didn’t know that was how the Iowa Caucus worked. People show up, and before they vote, someone speaks for each candidate. Every candidate had the chance for someone to speak for them.

Today, after an unexpectedly civil initial reaction from Trump losing to Cruz, he used twitter to sort of melt down about “fraud” and lies and deceit. See the tweets below (latest to earliest):
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So, a couple of things about this line of thought.

  1. We’re talking about the difference between Trump (or someone else) getting 7 delegates or the 6 he has now. Iowa doesn’t award all of their delegates to the overall winner, but splits them up based on what precincts they win. If this race comes down to one delegate at the primary, this might be something to bring up then. But it won’t.
  2. The Carson campaign had the exact same opportunity to speak to the voters that Cruz did. Easy to set the record straight. “No, sorry, Carson is just taking a couple of days off. He is still in the race.” Why did this not happen? Or did it?
  3. In essence, Trump is saying that Carson voters would move to Cruz rather than any of the other candidates, including himself. Assuming anyone actually switched their votes, do we know they didn’t choose another candidate? Was Rubio’s larger than expected numbers influenced by this Carson rumor? It’s all speculation.
  4. The only reason this is even a discussion is because someone in the Cruz campaign said the same thing that non campaign people were saying, and they said it in an official communication. They didn’t make it up, they repeated a rumor, and if it hadn’t gone through their official network, it wouldn’t be an issue. Cruz should figure out who made that choice (and who ever came up with the mailer that was so dumb) and take the necessary disciplinary steps. Cruz has already apologized to Carson.
  5. I’m about 99% positive that no Carson voter would ever vote for Trump. carson is the anti-Trump, in just about every way a conservative can be. If at some point Carson drops out, none of his voters will ever go to the Trump camp. So long term, this does not affect Trump at all. it’s 1 delegate in the first primary.

No one really knows what might have happened. Carson’s campaign released an ill timed announcement. (Ill conceived? Did anyone need to know this?) Someone in Cruz’s campaign made a poor choice, assumed the rumors were true, and acted without all the facts. In the end, would it really make a difference? One delegate.

What Trump should do (I can’t believe I’m giving advice to Trump…) is leave things as he did after his speech on Monday night and focus on winning NH and SC.

Chance favors Hillary: Democrat Iowa Caucus was Decided by 6 Coin Tosses

That’s right, Clinton edged out Sanders by 5 delegates in the Iowa Caucus. The incredibly close race was literally decided by 6 tosses of a coin. 6 precincts were tied and had to be called based on a coin toss, as is Iowa regulation for Democrat caucuses.

How crazy is the Iowa process, in general? It’s not a regular primary, where people vote all day. Instead voters go to their precinct, and if you are a Republican you cast a ballot, which is apparently counted in whatever receptacle is available since there were images of popcorn buckets and plastic tubs in use, and the winner of the precinct is decided. For the Democrats, you go to a large room, and stand in various spots to indicate your support of a candidate. If a group doesn’t reach a certain size  (15%) then representatives from other candidates can come and try to get you to move to their group.

And finally, in the case of a tie, with a delegate in question, the winner of that precinct and  the tie breaking delegate is determined by a coin toss! Amazing. 6 times this happened last night, and all 6 times the coins fell for Clinton.

So she technically won the Iowa Caucus. But I guarantee you that there will be some major changes in the Clinton campaign. In a state where Clinton was leading by dozens of points a few months ago, she won by mere chance. And most young voters were overwhelmingly for Sanders. She has to change her strategy.

Will it be attacks on Sanders? or will she move more to the left? Will she pick up some of the ideas that Sanders is pushing in order to woo those younger votes? I don’t know, but expect some changes in the message from the Clinton camp in the wake of this “win” in Iowa.