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.

The 3 Least Christian Things Donald Trump Has Ever Said

In an ongoing series of posts about Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump I want to turn my attention to those of us who are followers of Christ.

I realize that no candidate is perfect. There isn’t a single conservative or liberal candidate out there, running for any office, that will be the perfect Christian candidate. I don’t expect Trump to be perfect. In fact, had he not repeatedly brought up his faith I wouldn’t even write this.  He has said recently that he is a big christian, and no one reads the Bible as much as he does. He even went so far as to say, after the recent debate in Texas, that the reason that the IRS was auditing him might be because of his faith, since the IRS targets religious people/groups. I know that some will think that I shouldn’t “judge” but Matthew 7 does say that people who are religious should be known by “their fruit”.

Back before Iowa, Trump had a few well known pastors endorse him. He has done very well with voters who are evangelical. I’m confused as to how this has happened. You see, there are things he has said. Not things others accused him of, but things he has said (and then said again) that are incongruent with the Christian faith as I know it.

The 3 Least Christian Things Trump Has Ever Said

He said he doesn’t have to ask for forgiveness: At a Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa he said: “I’m not sure I have ever asked God’s forgiveness. I don’t bring God into that picture.” (July 18, 2015)

Later that same month he told Anderson Cooper on CNN:

“I like to do the right thing where I don’t actually have to ask for forgiveness. Does that make sense to you? You know, where you don’t make such bad things that you don’t have to ask for forgiveness. I mean, I’m trying to lead a life where I don’t have to ask God for forgiveness….Why do I have to repent? Why do I have to ask for forgiveness if you’re not making mistakes?”  When pressed, he repeated that he is a member of a church.

Obviously, everyone needs to ask for forgiveness. 20 years ago Trump wrote about affairs with married women: In his 1997 book “Trump: Art of the Comeback” he said: ““If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller (which it will be anyway!).”

Later, in his 2007 book “Think Big and Kick A**” he said, “Beautiful, famous, successfulmarried – I’ve had them all, secretly, the world’s biggest names, but unlike Geraldo I don’t talk about it.”

We Christians know that God can forgive anyone of anything. And I wouldn’t bring up any of this man’s past indiscretions, except to point out two things: 1. He brought them up himself, multiple times. 2. It’s obvious that Trump, like everyone else, needs forgiveness. I suspect that he needs it as much as anyone; every day.

1 John chapter 1 speaks clearly about this:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10

He is not consistent on the issue of Life: We all know that Trump was previously pro choice, and had an experience where he became pro life. Christians, in general, are pro life because human life is intrinsically valuable; we are made in the image of God. In multiple debates and interviews Trump has also said that he does not support abortion, but he said in two debates that he thinks that Planned Parenthood does “very good things.” He also repeated the misinformation that Planned Parenthood does mammograms. (They don’t, they refer patients to other clinics for mammograms.). At first he didn’t say he would commit to defunding them, but when it became an issue, he said that he would not allow federal funding for Planned Parenthood as long as they performed abortions.

Praising the largest provider of abortions in America for doing good things is like saying a doctor convicted of serial killing children isn’t so bad because of the adults she helped. Christians, in general, are pro life because humans, created in the image of God, have intrinsic value. (Genesis 1:26). A conservative, pro-life, Christian candidate should denounce the actions of Planned Parenthood- every time, as often as it comes up.

He said he would kill the families of terrorists: In 2015, talking about how to stop ISIS he said,

“And the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families. They, they care about their lives. Don’t kid yourself. But they say they don’t care about their lives. You have to take out their families.”

Given the chance to clarify this further at the 5th debate on CNN (which was after the terrorist attack in CA), in response to a questions that asked, “How would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?” he said:

“You look at the attack in California the other day — numerous people, including the mother that knew what was going on…They saw a pipe bomb sitting all over the floor. They saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on… I would be very, very firm with families,” he added. “Frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.”

Multiple times Trump said that he would kill the families of terrorists, without due process. Just for being related to them and not stopping them. While we might make the case for capital punishment for the terrorists themselves, killing their families…? I cannot believe he stood by this, twice.

In John 13 Jesus tells us how we can identify his disciples:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

And if you want to know what love is, you need look no further than 1 Corinthians 13:

 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Does this describe Donald Trump in any way? Try saying it this way… Donald Trump is patient and kind; He does not envy or boast; Trump is not arrogant  or rude. He does not insist on his own way; Trump is not irritable or resentful… 

I’m sure Trump is a decent guy at home. He has a beautiful family. But his public persona, his public witness is not one that fits with a committed follower of Jesus Christ.

None of that means that Christians cannot vote for him. If they like his policies, they can vote for him. But we should all know that his veneer of religiosity is very thin. Fellow Christians, please do not support Donald Trump simply because he says he is a believer.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Mass Shootings Don’t Justify Gun Control

Although I shouldn’t need to, I will define mass shooting. It’s not- like some would have us believe- when 4 or more people are wounded or killed in a gun crime. It’s when one person attacks a group of people with the intent to kill as many people as possible. (If gun control advocates want to use general gun crime as a reason to push their agenda, they can. But don’t broaden the definition of mass shooting to artificially raise the number of incidents.)

Every time we see a new mass shooting in the news, the same thing always happens. People who support gun control jump up and down begging for more laws and restrictions while pointing to the mass shooting as an indication of the need for these new restrictions. But no new gun law will ever stop a mass shooting.

Mass shootings are not crimes of passion. They are committed by people who have decided to break a lot of laws. They are planned. And then executed. Anyone who already plans to murder people will not blink at breaking laws about gun acquisition, or any other gun restriction. No gun law will ever stop a criminal from getting and using a gun to commit crimes.

They are criminals. They break laws.

OK, sure, we could limit access to guns for a lot of people, and that might slow the mass murderer down. He or she might have to work a bit harder to get the weapon they plan to use to slaughter defenseless people. But they will find a gun, no matter what the laws says. So yes, we could  restrict the rights of law abiding citizens in order to hopefully slow down criminals. Yet, unless we can un-invent guns, we can’t stop criminals from getting them.

Guns exist. That genie is out of the bottle, that egg shell has cracked. There is no going back. Look at any country that has made guns illegal. Gun crime still exists. How? Guns were not just restricted, but completely illegal? Criminals break laws. Prohibition doesn’t work.

I’m not unreasonable. I am willing to accept reasonable back ground checks. For example, violent felons should not have the freedom to own handguns. They gave that up when they committed a crime. Assuming due process, I’m am willing to agree to reasonable background checks.

But as a law abiding American citizen, I’m not willing to give up my right to own a firearm, if I so choose. Whether I use it to hunt, or protect my family in my home, for target shooting, or any other legal way I choose to bear arms; that is my right.

The rights of US citizens should not be infringed because criminals might commit crimes. Any proposed gun restriction that is in place or might ever be put in place, whether by actual law or executive order, will never stop someone who has already decided to break the law. No new gun restriction will ever stop a mass shooting.