Sunday, November 6, 2016

Woe unto the Vanquished! - What Happens if the Republicans Lose

When King Brennus of the Celts (pictured) led an army against the fledgling Roman Republic in 390 BC, the Romans fought bravely but were ultimately unable to defend their city against the barbarian horde. Soon six of Rome's seven hills had fallen to the invaders, and the desperate defenders, besieged on the Capitoline Hill, agreed to pay a ransom of 1,000 pounds of gold to save their city. King Brennus provided a balance to measure out the thousand pounds, but the Romans complained that he was using unfair weights. "Vae Victus!" - the Celtic King angrily exclaimed, "Woe unto the vanquished!" as he tossed his heavy sword belt onto the Celts' side of the scales.

 "Woe unto the vanquished!" - a phrase that will ring true to American conservatives if we lose Tuesday's presidential election. It makes sense for conservative ideologues to be lukewarm about Donald Trump - I need not list the reasons. But while it is fair to criticize some of Mr. Trump's ideas, it would be dishonest not to admit that he loves America and believes in defending many of the principles that our Republic was founded upon. This can't be said of Hillary Clinton - if she wins, then woe unto the vanquished! I'll devote the remainder of this article to a summary of what conservatives can expect if our party loses.

The consequences of defeat can be expressed in terms of two numbers, Four and Five. America will suffer four more years of President Obama's policies, and at least five liberals in solid control of the Supreme Court.

Four more years of Obama's policies may well be more than America can endure. Under Obama, the total national debt increased by about $8 trillion, and exceed the gross domestic product for the first time in our nation's history. Clinton will continue the trend. Right now, politicians can get away with this by making the Fed create artificially low interest rates on the order of 1 percent. But the world is continually placing less and less trust in American currency. Sooner or later, the whole rotting system will collapse, and faced with paying 3 or 4 percent interest (and making interest the largest federal budget item after Medicare), the current financial system will collapse.

Add to that Secretary Clinton's history of putting the interests of wealthy elites over ordinary Americans in her trade and immigration policies, as well as her general hostility toward American industry and business in general (except for her friends in the finance sector). Hillary openly boasts of putting coal miners out of business, because in Hillary's America, the only jobs that are allowed to exist are the politically correct ones.

And then there is four more years of the Obama foreign policy. The Islamic State will still be around in four years, carrying out its work of death with as little real opposition as it has faced during the last three. Meanwhile, expect Clinton's tendency to get involved in useless wars with countries that aren't really hostile toward America to continue.

The Russians have lost lives to ISIS just like the Americans, and ought to be our allies in this conflict, but the foreign policy establishment of which Clinton is a part regularly flirts with war with Russia. The cause will likely involve President Putin's support for Bashar al Assad. Assad is a dictator, but American opposition to his regime is nevertheless a foolish policy, as the only other power vying for control of Syria is ISIS.

But this is just the first four years. It is with President Clinton's other great act, appointing a fifth liberal to the Supreme Court,  that she will have Americans saying "Woe unto the vanquished" long after her own generation has gone to the dust.

Liberals have almost controlled the Court for the last five decades. In the early '70s, the makeup was 4-1-4: four liberals, one conservative, and four swing voters. Liberals won nearly all the time, since they only had to convince one of the four swing voters to take their side. The swing voters were amenable to striking down laws that they didn't like, at both the federal and state level, but were generally unwilling to do anything that would totally eviscerate the other branches of government. That is how, for example, they were able to legalize abortion by a 7 to 2 vote (with the Court's last principled moderate, Byron White, joining conservative William Rehnquist of Arizona in dissent), while an attempt to force the government to fund abortion against the will of Congress failed 5 to 4, in the 1980 case Harris v. McRae.

Meanwhile, other cases often left Rehnquist as the sole dissenter. In one of these, the Bob Jones University case, the eight-justice majority decided that a religious institution could lose its tax-exempt status for engaging in conduct which the government deemed discriminatory. Rehnquist's frequent dissents earned him a new nickname: The Lone Ranger.

Under the Reagan and first Bush administrations, things improved, but only slightly. Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice, and one swing voter and one liberal were replaced with conservatives, leading to a 3-3-3 balance in the early '90s. But all this came crashing down when Bill Clinton replaced Byron White with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, restoring the liberal faction to four members, where it remains to this day. Meanwhile, swing voters still decide the balance of the court, so its big decisions can generally go either way.

But all this will end if Hillary Clinton appoints a fifth liberal, something which, with Justice Scalia's seat vacant, she could do on her first day in office. The liberal voting bloc has almost no internal variation - statistical analysis reveals that it's more common for all four liberals to vote the same way than for any two of the conservatives to agree on a specific case. While Republican appointees often disappoint the party that chose them, Democrats never do.

Here is what the five liberals will most likely do: They will overturn Harris v. McRae and strike down the HydeAmendment, leading to full Medicare coverage of abortion. They will also get rid of nearly all remaining abortion restrictions, such as mandatory waiting periods and bans on late-term and partial birth abortions.

Justice Kennedy's  assurance, when legalizing same-sex marriage, that "it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate... that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned" will probably last only as long as Kennedy is the swing vote. With five liberals in charge, the Court will extend the Bob Jones ruling to sexual orientation, so that any institution that doesn't accept the Court's doctrine on marriage will be subject to heavy punitive taxation. This will break the backs of religious universities, making it impossible for them (and also perhaps religious hospitals that won't perform abortions) to continue to exist.

That the liberals will overturn D.C. v. Heller and dispose of the Second Amendment is beyond question. Also note that Secretary Clinton's litmus test for Justices is that they will vote against Citizens United, a landmark free speech case whose central holding was that a non-profit corporation could not be punished for showing a documentary that criticized Hillary Clinton.

Building upon the Hyde Amendment case, the liberal Court will continue to usurp Congress' power of the purse, deciding that more and more services (education, health care, etc.) are fundamental human rights, and that the government must pay for them whether Congress approves or not. They will order the bureaucrats in the Treasury to write the checks, and the bureaucrats, being the Quislings they are, will comply.

Most of our country's policy is already set by judges and bureaucrats, with Congress coming into the picture mainly at money-time. If Congress is stripped of its power of the purse, it will become almost entirely irrelevant in our political system. With our elected representatives entirely cut out of the picture while liberal technocrats extend their power without end, conservatives will come to know the truth in King Brennus' words: "Woe unto the vanquished!"

And what of the naysayers, those who insist that Trump is just as bad as Clinton? I have already addressed the issue of his womanizing, and do not intend to do so again. To the complaint that his fiscal policy is fantastical, it is enough to say that Trump is a dealmaker, and the deals he makes with Congressional leadership will feature some sort of compromise between Trumpism and ordinary Republican policies. In other words, they will be much better than what Hillary and the Democrats intend to do.

Finally, on Supreme Court nominations, some have questioned Trump's conservative credentials and complained that he cannot be relied upon to pick judges devoted to the Constitution. This was a legitimate argument in the primaries, but it falls flat when his opponent is Hillary Clinton. We know exactly what kind of judges she will choose - every Democratic nominee in the past fifty years has consistently ruled as a liberal.

Trump could break his promise to only nominate judges from the list of 21 conservative jurists that he recently provided. But he probably won't. He has no reason to fight his own party's congressional leadership to get a liberal judge onto the Court. Furthermore, history shows that Trump's promise is of the kind that generally gets kept. Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan made some poor choices for the Court, but his central promise - to appoint a woman - was upheld. Conservatives can probably expect the same thing from Trump. He has promised to appoint from one of the greatest lists of Constitutionalist judges ever assembled, and it would be politically reckless for him not to do so.

But if Trump loses, then from the moment of the fifth liberal's enthronement onwards, conservatives will have nothing left to do but plaintively repeat King Brennus' words: "Woe unto the vanquished!" 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Yankee Doodle - Donald Trump Style

In this age of talking points, stunted discourse, and politicking-by-twitter, it's easy to lose sight of the beauty of the English language at its best. In the spirit of making politics more eloquent (while at the same time lightening up the mood), I've put my thoughts on my favored presidential candidate into verse, to the familiar tune of Yankee Doodle:

A New York Yankee tried and true,
who earned a lofty station,
who loves the red and white and blue
and treasures freedom's nation.
Twenty thousand he employs;
his wealth is in the billions.
He shares the bounty he enjoys
with soldiers and civilians.

When he look’d at our statesmen
and saw their poor condition,
to make our country great again
became his only mission.
Seventy's a ripe old age
to brave the grand election.
The Donald's mind is sharp and sage;
his health is all perfection.

Donald Trump will build a wall
along the southern border.
He'll build it beautiful and tall
with steel and bricks and mortar.
Donald Trump will take a stand
for legal immigration;
he'll bring the jobs back to our land
and safety to our nation.

Our country's lost respect abroad,
The world can barely hear us.
In Moscow, Beijing and Riyadh
our foes no longer fear us.
Clinton goes to ev'ry length
to understate the crisis,
but Trump will bring us peace thru strength
and cut the head off ISIS!

He'll bomb the hell out of Iraq
and take away their oil;
our troops will know he's got their back
when ISIS' plans are foil'd.
Never shall we drop our guns
to kneel before Jihadis;
our enemies will be the ones
who count their comrades’ bodies!

We'll get the truth from Donald Trump
while Clinton's lies are leaking,
For we know when he takes the stump
it’s from the heart he’s speaking.
Here’s a man who’s never shy
to say the controversial;
'tis better far than one fresh lie
with ev'ry new commercial!

He's hir’d the best of personnel:
The Trump Organization.
And we know he'll do just as well
with his administration.
If things ever get too far
in foul corruption mired,
he'd find out who the culprits are
and then he'd say 'You're fired!'

And to our highest Court he'll name
originalist judges,
whose Constitution stays the same
so freedom never budges.
Vindicating each who fights
to keep and bear his rifle,
and with our sacred Bill of Rights
the Feds will never trifle.

The outcome far from certain is,
for Trump we labor daily.
But if we make the vict'ry his
we'll sing our triumph gaily.
And the joyous prize we win
shall live in song and story!
America made great again
in all her shining glory!

And the joyous prize we win
shall live in song and story!
America made great again
in all her shining glory!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

GUEST ARTICLE - The Truth About Evan McMullin – And Why I Am So Disappointed in My Mormon Friends For Falling For This - by Stacy Stine

The Truth About Evan McMullin – And Why I Am So Disappointed in My Mormon Friends For Falling For This

                I challenge any Evan McMullin supporter to tell me what they knew about Evan McMullin a year ago. Unless you are one of maybe a hundred people who ran into him at your ward picnic, the answer is nothing. That’s my answer and I am a huge political junkie. To the dismay of my family I can rattle on about all sorts of obscure politicians and behind the scenes players who influence elected politicians, but for the life of me I couldn’t have told you a thing about Evan McMullin... because he was a nobody.

                McMullin worked for the UN for a bit. He worked for the CIA for 10 years – doing what? He can’t really tell us much….“It’s secret.” He worked for the bankers at Goldman Sachs for a few years…. “His work was private.” And then he went to work for the Republican House Conference where he did… well he can’t really say…“it’s confidential.”

                On his Facebook page for the three years prior to running for President, he never posted about social issues, economic, or domestic issues. He says now he is personally against gay marriage but thinks the Supreme Court's decision is fine and wants to move on. Summer 2016 rolls around and political outsider Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination and suddenly Evan McMullin is the 3rd party choice of establishment Republicans from the Bush and Romney families and of the Wall Street donor wing of the GOP.

                I have been a Republican since I first registered to vote. I have worked with hundreds of Republican campaigns going back 20 years, I have served in party office here in Arizona. I have always supported Republican candidates but I will be the first to tell you that there are a lot of dirty Republicans. The reason so many people look at politics today and say there is no difference between the Republican and the Democrat on their ballot is because all too often it’s true.

                There is a powerful and established section of the Republican leadership (elected officials, party members, big donors) who do not support the values of grassroots conservative Republicans. They are bought and paid for by large corporate interests. They seek the approval of the liberal media, academia, and Hollywood. They support open borders, amnesty for illegal aliens, free trade even when it’s not in most Americans’ best interest, gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, and a plethora of foolish wars and bad foreign policy.

                These Republicans are terrified that if Donald Trump is elected president there will be major shakeups in Washington. He will shine a light on the dark backroom deals that have resulted in policies like Obamacare, The failed war in Syria, and 20 trillion dollars in debt. The livelihoods of their wealthy corporate backers are on the line and with that their own power and perks in Washington. For that reason they would rather see Hillary Clinton become president than Donald Trump. They feel like they can work with Hillary.

                So enter Evan McMullin, Crony Capitalist Spoiler. No one in the world including Evan McMullin believes Evan McMullin is going to be elected President. What the corrupted Republican establishment and the Clinton campaign hope is that he will keep Donald Trump from getting to 270 electoral votes and thus guarantee a Hillary presidency.

                But How? Enter the Mormon Suckers. I am proud to be a Mormon so it pains me to say what I am about say. When the GOP Establishment Never Trumpers and their Clinton allies went looking for a 3rd party spoiler they needed someone with a constituency of sheeple who would follow him regardless of the obvious logical outcome (President Hillary.)  There were plenty of Republican politicians who had lost to Trump in the primary or who had foregone a run in 2016 and didn’t like Trump much or were outright hostile to him, but not a one of them would put their name on the line and be the fall guy who put Hillary in office. So plan B – find a weak-minded demographic and create a leader for them.

                I know a lot of Mormons. Most of them are Republicans. Most of them are pretty conservative Republicans. A good number these days still vote Republican but are registered independents because they support more conservative or Tea Party values than they see in the current Republican Party. There are great Mormon conservatives serving in DC and in state offices throughout the country. Mormons are proud to point out that Utah is the State where Bill Clinton didn’t just lose, he got 3rd place in the 1992 presidential election.

                The LDS Church does not endorse candidates. The LDS Church leadership does however strongly encourage it members to be informed, to be involved, to vote and to serve. The Mormon demographic is overwhelmingly pro-life, pro-family, anti-communist, and protective of the Constitution they believe was divinely inspired. So how do you get these folks to throw an election to Hillary Clinton, someone whom most of them revile? It’s a complex but straightforward sociological scheme. In addition to being hardworking, God fearing, Mom, Apple Pie and Baseball loving Americans, Mormons are also some of the biggest suckers in the nation.

                Utah leads the nation in financial fraud schemes. Anti-Mormon critics like to point out the huge amount of Ponzi schemes, real estate fraud, and stock swindles and say it is because Mormons are sneaky, greedy liars.  Make no bones about it. Like in any community there some bad apples and Utah has its fair share. In that fair share there are plenty of Mormons but Mormons are no more criminal than most, in fact statistically they are quite a bit less criminal than the average American. But the real reason that Utah frauds are so successful is not that the conmen are any wilier than a Baptist or Catholic conman. It’s because they have a highly homogenous market of overly trusting people. They want to believe you’re a good person and they want to help out the good person.

                In 2016 that good person is Evan McMullin. The Never Trumpers couldn't talk Romney into another run, or Huntsman or any Mormon politician you had ever heard of.  So they created Evan McMullin from thin air and Goldman Sachs receipts. Evan is a good member of the Church. Mormons are tight knit and like to support their own, hence Mitt Romney's 93% win in the 2012 Utah primary despite the fact the many Utah Republicans had more in common politically with Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum.

                So here comes the conman’s pitch – “Evan is a good man, he’s one of us, you don’t have to vote for dirty nasty Donald Trump who has been divorced twice, who swears a lot, who won’t apologize when he hurts people’s feelings.” This is where not all, not even most, but a sadly sizeable number or Mormon patsies reach for their wallet, or in this case their ballot.  They've been told and sold that by voting for Evan they don’t have to shed their values and principles. They don’t have to choose the lesser of two evils. But that is the lie that the Evan McMullin candidacy is built on, because in 2016 you do have to choose between one of two people who will be the next President: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. A vote for anyone but Trump helps Clinton to move ahead and to defeat Trump.

                A Hillary Clinton presidency is one where she will most likely appoint three Supreme Court Justices. They will be radical liberals. They will stand against everything political that good and faithful Mormons believe in. They will gut the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Amendments. They will force all Christians denominations to have gay clergy and to perform gay weddings in their churches or temples.  They will bring back abortion on demand at any time during the pregnancy, paid for by taxpayers, performed in church owned hospitals, performed by Christian doctors who will be forced to do so or lose their license. Euthanasia will be the law of the land, not just for the terminally ill and elderly but for handicapped and unwanted children.

                Did you imagine 20 years ago that gay marriage would be legal in all 50 states, mandated by liberal judges despite the sentiment of voters? Did you imagine you would be forced to buy overpriced and underperforming health insurance or be fined by the government? And these things came about with a Supreme Court that was evenly split between conservatives and liberals. Hillary’s new liberal Court will steamroll the America you once knew. You won’t recognize it anymore.  Her tried and failed economic policies of higher taxes and more spending will eventually bankrupt our nation. Her support for wars and conflicts not in our interest will bleed the best of our youth.

                This is an election with dire consequences. Donald Trump is no saint, Latter Day or otherwise, but he loves America, he respects the rights of Christians, he has vowed to appoint judges who will protect life, the rights of churches, the rights of gun owners and our Constitution as it was written. It's OK to vote for Donald Trump.  Read Dennis Prager's excellent article ‘In Defense of Pro-Trump Christians,’ and then join the millions of other Christians who will be voting Trump to save our country from the terrible alternative. Most of the Mormons I know are voting Trump but you can and should be more vocal about it. You need to let your friends and neighbors know that it's OK. You need to encourage the less likely voters to go the polls and you need to keep them from the conman.

                Please Mormons don’t get suckered into the Con of the Century.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Donald Trump and the Return of a Great Era

This article originally appeared as a letter to the editor in Prescott's newspaper, The Daily Courier.

Donald Trump’s statement that the late 1940s and ‘50s were a great era for America has come under unfair criticism from Democrats. I write in defense of this past era, not because I believe in a perfect past, but because I realize that much that was good about America has been lost. While I can understand why Mr. Trump’s rhetoric would worry people who think only about the uglier aspects of our nation’s history, it seems quite ridiculous to assume that every social change was a move in the right direction. I’d like to point out three specific ways in which our country has been backsliding over the years.

I'll begin with what Mr. Trump has said is “a big issue, a horrible issue, and a very important one. It's called law and order. We want law and order.” According to the FBI, murder rates are now higher than in the mid 1950s, and rape is nearly three times more common than in 1960, the earliest year in the dataset. Robbery has risen 70%, and burglary is up by 260%. The inner cities, where Democrats have ruled for the last half century, are suffering the worst.

The second issue concerns employment. In 1950, 86% of men aged 16 and older were working. Now the figure is barely 69%. The fraction of men not working has more than doubled. Industrial workers have suffered the most, with mining and manufacturing jobs being outsourced. As the ability of men, especially young high school graduates, to support a family has declined, so have marriage rates. In 1960, 72% of American adults were married; that figure has now shrunk to 50%.

Hillary Clinton believes in abandoning blue-collar workers and instead focusing on high-tech and service sector jobs. She boasts of putting coal miners out of business. But America can do better than building an economy that only values the most skilled laborers. When Benjamin Franklin wrote to Europeans considering immigration to America, he admitted “there are very few [in America] that in Europe would be called rich,” and instead emphasized America’s favorable conditions for the working poor. Unfortunately, in recent decades these conditions have largely disappeared. Mr. Trump’s opponents have criticized him for getting so much support from voters without a college degree, but perhaps they neglect to consider that he may be the only candidate who cares about these people’s future?

The third issue I will address is abortion. In the 1950s, this abhorrent practice was illegal in all 48 states. Now, it is legal nationwide, and many of the largest abortion providers are funded by the government. Quite frankly, not much can be said in support of a society that abandons one fourth of its children to such an awful fate. It can hardly be called progress when a nation decides that someone whose life once had legal protection now has none. Has there ever been a country that came to regret granting basic human rights to too many of its inhabitants?

It isn’t without reason that Mr. Trump has promised to make America great again. “Every day I wake up determined to deliver for the people I have met all across this nation that have been ignored, neglected and abandoned,” says Trump. “These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.”

It’s time for their voice to be heard.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Republicans, Democrats, and the Deficit

When election season comes around, one can expect Republicans to emphasize their role as the party of fiscal responsibility, while the Democrats trot out their old argument to the contrary. They say that since recent Democratic presidents, such as Clinton and Obama, have left office with a smaller deficit than they started with, while Republicans like Bush and Reagan have done the opposite, we should actually be looking to Democrats for leadership in taking on the debt.

My desire is to refute this argument, and also to expose a fundamental flaw in the way Democrats think about our Republic. While it is true that Clinton and Obama have left (or will leave) office with the budget in good condition, one shouldn’t forget that they’re also leaving office with a Republican Congress.

Under our Constitution, it’s up to Congress, not the President, to write the budget, and the House of Representatives plays the dominant role. Not satisfied with what people in the media (who tend to give all the credit or blame to the President) had to say about the relationship between parties and debt, I decided to research the issue for myself.

From 1955-1995, a span of 40 years, the House was controlled by Democrats without interruption. During the latter half of this period the average deficit was 3.5 percent of GDP.

From 1995-2007, America had a Republican House. The average deficit was 0.8 percent of GDP.

After the Democrats came back, in 2007-2011, the deficit reached an obscene 7.2 percent of GDP.

During the present period, with Republicans in the majority, the figure fell to 4.0 percent of GDP.

I think we tend to make a grave mistake by assigning all the praise or blame for these things to the President, especially on an issue like the budget, where he has little direct control. The Democrats’ lust for centralized power often leads them to regard our nation as a monarchy where the President is in charge and the Congress’ job is to advance his agenda. But Republicans and Independents can do better than to follow this line of reasoning.

So let’s be proud of the fact that, in our system, decisions are in the hands of the many and not the few or the one. We got rid of the monarchy for a reason. And if you’re concerned about the burden of debt we leave on future generations, then vote Republican. We are, after all, in a Republic.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Why I'm Still Supporting Trump

I write this blog post in response to a recent scandal involving leaked audiotapes of Donald Trump discussing his many adulterous affairs. While I am certainly dismayed by these revelations, I am not surprised by them, and I stand firm in my support for the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

I have no illusions regarding Mr. Trump's lewd and lascivious private conduct. I knew of it in the primary, when there were still virtuous men in the running, and I voted for one of Trump's opponents. That he is a rake is beyond question, but I will not allow the dark underside of Donald Trump's personal history to distract me from what this election is really about.

Sordid as they may be, the private lives of politicians should not take precedence over the things they intend to do with the powers they seek. Anyone who has voted for John McCain, who is an adulterer, or who admires the legacy of Ronald Reagan, the first divorced president, can understand this. There are two people who might win in November. One of them, for all his flaws, has nonetheless shown a sincere desire to stand up for the rights of Americans. The other is openly hostile to everything that conservatives such as myself believe in.

The addition of another womanizer to our nation's list of presidents simply does not compare to the abolition of free speech, religious liberty, and second and tenth amendment rights that would surely be accomplished under Hillary Clinton and her chosen bureaucrats and judges. A solid majority of five liberal Supreme Court Justices would strike down the Hyde Amendment and break down all other right-of-conscience barriers that prevent religious people like myself from having to engage in activities which are repugnant to us.

In a country where decent men and women are in the minority, we can't survive without allies among the heathen. I see Mr. Trump as one of those allies.

The Young Conservative

I realize that, in my last post, I spoke of a single future article explaining how my conservative principles on a list of issues are based in my belief in individual rights and respect for the Forgotten Man. Since then, I've come to doubt the usefulness of such long articles, so in the future, I plan to stick to brief posts more narrowly focused on specific conservative ideas.

What follows is my first such post. I originally wrote it in response to a question on another website asking why a young person would buck the trend and choose to be a conservative. Here's my answer:

As a conservative, I base my politics around basic human rights: life, liberty, and property. The purpose of government is to protect these rights, and America owes her greatness in large part to the fact that government has, throughout most of her history, been restrained to this purpose.

Liberals, in general, do not share conservatives' respect for inalienable rights. Rights are brought up frequently in liberal discourse, but easily discarded when they don't fit the narrative. The liberal will respond to one person’s sympathy-inducing problem with a solution that runs roughshod over the rights of others. Applied repeatedly, this leads to rampant "legal plunder" where nobody's rights are secure.

Children and young people, being out of power and easily ignored, generally get the raw end of liberal policies, especially on entitlements and deficit spending. I see conservatism as the natural choice for someone my age - conservatives are more concerned about the future generation, and don't see policies that harm them as being appropriate solutions for the current generation's problems.

All liberal policies hinge on what Yale professor William Graham Sumner called "the Forgotten Man" - he who, while totally absent from the liberal rhetoric surrounding a policy, nevertheless pays the cost of that policy. Liberals win by making the issue look like it’s about everyone but the Forgotten Man.

Consider the debacle of the Affordable Care Act. The law's benefits are clearly visible, in the form of millions of people who credit it for their health insurance. It's easy to accuse anyone who's against the law of hating these people. But look for the Forgotten Man, and you will find him. People who lost their insurance or saw their premiums rise, but more especially those who can't find work because the law makes hiring more difficult. Is the Forgotten Man easy to see? Hardly. Nobody gets a call saying that he would have been hired except for the new regulations on anyone with more than 50 employees. All of which goes to show that this law is a classic example of the concentration of benefits and obfuscation of costs, a classical tactic for progressives.

Similarly, one can identify (with varying degrees of difficulty) the Forgotten Man in liberal policies on deficit spending, entitlements, corporate taxes and regulation, education policy, environmentalism, and, most tragically, abortion. The victims are often poor (consider who hurts the most when the price of energy goes up) but even more often they are young; perhaps they haven't been born yet. All of which plays well into the hands of liberal policy-makers, whose goal is to make the general public forget about them.

I refuse to forget, and that's why I'm a conservative.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why I am a Conservative

            Conservatism, like liberalism, has meant a lot of different things throughout the years. Liberals often point that, during the American Revolution, the Tories - that era's version of conservatives - were against independence.  But whatever baggage may be attached to the word , I identify as a conservative because I believe that the modern American conservative is devoted to upholding the basic principles that made America a great nation – protection of the individual rights of life, liberty, and property within a republican system of government – while the modern liberal often sees these as mere obstacles to social progress.

            It is my intention in this article to make an exposition on the principles I have just mentioned, endeavoring to show, first, why the protection of individual rights must be the central purpose of government, second, why governments that do more or less than this become instruments for oppression of the many by the few, and third, who the Forgotten Man is and why conservatives must be mindful of him.

The Centrality of Individual Rights

            The centrality of individual rights in the conservative ideology cannot be overstressed. As written into our nation’s founding law, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

            Some intellectuals have made quite a pastime of deriding the concept of individual rights as the foundation of political ethics. Many thinkers, operating on the basis that the whole is more important than the part, reject individual rights in favor of collectivism.

Consider, for instance, the mid-20th-century psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, who developed a theory of six stages of moral reasoning, each more enlightened than the last. Beginning at blind egoism, Kohlberg’s hierarchy advances to a moral philosophy based on respect for the rights of one’s fellow men. However, this is only stage five; specific legal rights are discarded in stage six in favor of universal, abstract ethical values and principles.

I believe that there is a serious problem with this line of thought. Naturally, people disagree on what is best for the community of which they are a part, and they rarely come to a consensus on which ethical values are of the most importance, or how an abstract guiding principle should be made into concrete policy. So if a commonwealth lacks any constitution more rigid than ‘Take care of people,’ ‘Respect human dignity,’ ‘Do what is reasonable,’ ‘‘find a moderate solution’, or ‘Be on the right side of history,’ then inevitably there will arise a ruling class which, proclaiming their own interpretation of these ideals to be the only legitimate one, will crush all others beneath their iron heels.

The only alternative is government based on individual rights – the bold notion that whatever my own ideas are about what is the best way to live or how an individual can best serve his community, I must respect the life, liberty, property, economic and religious freedom, political franchise, and other rights of my fellow men. I must respect these rights even if I disagree with the way they are using them, because that is the only way I can justly expect them to respect my rights

That is not to say that abstract values such as caring, respect, dignity, reason, and progress are unimportant, only that they are not politically enforceable and must remain in the realm of personal morality, not public law or regulation.

My own personal values will inform my own decisions. But when it comes to my dealings with my neighbor, I have got to respect his or her rights: let everyone exercise them in the way they think best, so long as they respect the rights of others. And those who desire that more people live their lives in accordance with universal values of caring, respect, moderation, progress, loyalty, purity, or whatever moral principle is most dear to their hearts, should reject the temptation of trying to get the government on their side, and instead rely on the gentler methods of persuasion to bring about their worthy ends.

We should by all means avoid rash appeals to the coercive power of the state, which destroys the equality of men and the peace of society and all too often places the resources of the entire community in the hands of its cruelest and most power-hungry inhabitants.

Proper Role of Government

            The conservative ideal with regard to the role of government, especially the large, distant federal government, is that governmental force should be used only when necessary to defend our God-given rights and freedoms from those who desire to destroy them.

Whatever notions a particular class of people might entertain, of using state power to advance its own social or economic standing at the expense of others, should be abandoned. These notions must give way to a quiet faith that the common man, working alone or in voluntary associations, can in nearly all cases govern his economic, moral, spiritual and intellectual life in a better way than the state can.

            The antithesis to this idea, the premise of modern liberalism, is to routinely call upon government as the only remedy to a grab-bag of highly-visible social and economic ills. There is no respect for individual rights, no cautious deference to the independence of those who are out of step with the agenda. As the introductory video from the 2012 Democratic National Convention put it, “Government is the only thing we all belong to.”

            It is indeed an ugly thing when a party thinks lightly of the use of force and violence – which is what all government power is – to achieve unity and progress, and it belies the extreme illiberalism of the modern liberal movement.

Equally ugly is the way in which Democrats often argue for their policies: claiming to feel compassion for the victims of some high-profile injustice (be it real or imaginary), they present, as the only reasonable solution, some new curtailment of individual rights. Anyone who questions the effectiveness of the proposal, or doubts the morality of imposing it through government fiat, or dares to call attention to the forgotten man who, though he never figures into the official calculations, would nevertheless bear the brunt of the new policy’s costs, is branded as heartless and mean.

The Forgotten Man

At this point it is worth setting the record straight concerning the Forgotten Man, who he is, and what kind of relationship he has with the government. Those who are politically savvy might be familiar with the term from New Deal rhetoric, but it really goes back much further, to an 1876 essay by Yale professor William Graham Sumner, who described him as follows, using pithy algebraic notation:

“As soon as A observes something which seems to him wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or, in better case, what A, B, and C shall do for X... What I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of.... I call him the Forgotten Man... He works, he votes, generally he prays—but he always pays...”

Thus Professor Sumner endeavors to show how compassion for a few highly visible cases of suffering, combined with indifference toward the many unseen people on the other side of the issue, is the cause for great evil in our political system. It is rather unfortunate that Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal liberals turned this concept on its head, and made X, rather than C, the Forgotten Man, thereby making the analogy into a mere tool for promoting the kinds of policies which Sumner found abhorrent.

For  the true Forgotten Man is not the one whose concerns a liberal politician (or any politician) is championing – he is the man who is too obscure, unpopular, or just plain ordinary for any politician to care about. The only way to protect the Forgotten Man is to hold fast to the very conservative principle that the universal rights to life, liberty, and property must take priority over the demands of loud and well-connected interest groups that seek special rights and privileges for themselves at the expense of others.

To the New Deal liberals, the Forgotten Man might be a farmer who needs help to get a decent price for his crops. But to a conservative, the real Forgotten Man is the one who doesn’t enter into the calculation at all – the ordinary working man, struggling to make ends meet, who suddenly sees the cost of food increase when the government begins paying farmers to burn their crops in an effort to manipulate prices.

In modern times, the Forgotten Man might be a youth who can’t find work because of minimum wage laws which force him to compete in the same market with men twice his age, or a single mother who ekes out a living with multiple part-time jobs, unable to advance to full-time work because doing so would bring down a mountain of regulations on the small business employs her.

Concern for the Forgotten Man – not some specific person or group of people for whom the liberals are whipping up an emotional frenzy, but the actual Forgotten Man who doesn’t figure into the political calculations at all – should be the prime concern of conservatives. And the truly Forgotten Man can be defended only by defending the rights, freedoms, and autonomy of all citizens – anything else creates winners and losers.

Liberals, in their process of political reasoning, may follow a cycle of See-Feel-Solve, seeing an injustice (real or imaginary), feeling compassion for some, (seldom most, never all) of the people involved, and solving the problem through an expansion of the government.

But principled conservatives must approach things differently, considering both what is seen and what is not seen, what is felt and what is not felt. Finally, being of a meek and cautious nature, they must be very wary of proposing a solution that would impose their own vision of social progress in place of someone else’s inalienable rights.

Only in a certain type of country, a country where the fierce protection of individual rights is the guiding principle of politics, will the Forgotten Man be remembered.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Practical Trump Agenda

    One of the frequent criticisms leveled against Donald Trump by much of the thinking class is that his agenda is too outlandish, and he will never be able to accomplish all or even most of his policy goals. This is true, in a way, but no more so of Mr. Trump than of any other presidential candidate.

    Mr. Trump has floated a lot of ideas over the course of his campaign, but has produced relatively few  concrete policy plans, most of which are explained in detail at his website. A lot of the reason for this is his unusual communication style: sales. Honed over his decades as a salesman, Trump’s style consists of making lots of creative proposals (often with considerable hyperbole), seeing what excites his audience, and refining his many proposals into a few solid points of action that he’ll stand by. Trump is making deals with the American people, not expounding an immutable ideological creed, so it shouldn’t be surprising when he shifts his positions to win popular support.

    Nevertheless, Mr. Trump’s most central and enduring priorities remain clear. He will build a wall to secure the southern border and stop the illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and sex slavery that currently prevail in that region. (With the wall in place, the United States will continue to admit more legal immigrants than any other country). Trump also is keenly aware of America’s decline within the global economy, and intends to make America more competitive through tax cuts (our current corporate tax rate, 35%, is the highest in the world) and trade reform, bringing back millions of jobs otherwise lost to foreign countries.

    For those with an ear for music, a song expressing Trump’s basic platform can be found here.

    Among Trump’s other concrete positions are reforming the department of Veterans Affairs, promoting Second Amendment rights, repealing Obamacare, and pursuing a less interventionist foreign policy, albeit with harsh and decisive action against entities like ISIS which openly make war on the United States. He also has promised to appoint strong conservatives to the Supreme Court and other federal courts. This last point deserves special attention: although Trump is not a conservative ideologue, his populist principles and hatred of oligarchy have led him to support principled originalists who respect the separation of powers. His recent list of eleven potential nominees has been described as a “Federalist Society All-Star Team.”

    All of this theorizing begs the question: will it work out in practice? For the answer, conservatives should look to the presidency of Ronald Reagan who, like Trump, ran on a promise to make America great again. Reagan championed a host of conservative issues, and the agenda he brought to Washington was impressive: recover the hostages in Iran, end the recession, reign in federal spending, balance the budget, eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy, EPA, and other newfangled regulatory agencies, ban abortion, curtail the entitlement state, roll back the Iron Curtain… you get the idea.

    Did Reagan succeed? Only on a few things. He recovered the hostages, ended gasoline rationing, and got the country out of the recession, leaving the economy, if not in ideal conditions, then at least in much better shape than he found it. And he won the Cold War, leaving as his greatest legacy the downfall of European Communism.

    Reagan failed on nearly everything else. But because he delivered real and effective change on a few out of many issues, he is considered a great president. His accomplishments are unparalleled in modern American history.  (To be fair, I don’t have much regard for what passes for reform among Democrats – picking up an issue like health care and churning out tens of thousands of pages of regulation that nobody really understands but everybody has to live with won’t solve much of anything).

    I expect that Trump will be a great president in the sense that Reagan was a great president. Will he enact his agenda in its entirety? No. But then again, what can we expect from someone who isn’t a king, who, while powerful, must work within a system where most of the government’s power is vested outside of himself? The American government isn’t a democracy, where the passions of the mob carry sweeping reforms, and it isn’t a monarchy, where a solitary ruler writes policies according to his personal agenda. As much as I’d like to say we’re a Republic, nowadays our country is looking more and more like an oligarchy. Either way, the president is only the first among many powerful officials.

    But even if Mr. Trump delivers on only a few of his proposals, he’ll be a great president. If we as a country want all the problems fixed, it won’t be enough to elect a great president, we’ll need to elect great Senators, Representatives, Governors, state legislators, and local officials.

    This November, I’ll be casting my presidential vote for Donald Trump. But I am no less concerned about the Arizona primary in August, where I’ll be voting for Kelli Ward for Senate. I will also be running for precinct committeeman within my local Republican party. Conservatives must project power from all of these offices if we are to set policy in the future.

    While Trump may have started the ball rolling, the practical Trump agenda – like any president’s agenda – will require many hands to carry it out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why I Support Donald Trump

While the season lasted, I was a staunch supporter of Ted Cruz. I’m sorry to see him defeated (though I’m sure most have been through this already, in a 17-candidate Hunger-Games style primary.) But I’m also glad to be done with the animosity and ‘mine-is-the-one-and-only’ attitude that prevails during the primaries, and I am now ready to throw my whole support behind the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.

I admire and respect Trump. On multiple occasions, I have drawn attention to things that I disagree with him about, or to blemishes in his record that made him seem less than conservative. But as Ronald Reagan once said, “He who agrees with me 80% of the time is not my enemy.” I believe that it is my duty as a citizen of a Republic to be willing to look outside my own faction-within-a-faction for leadership.

America is a diverse nation, and one shouldn’t expect to always have the option of supporting a candidate who matches own unique image of the ideal candidate. (No – the Libertarian party doesn’t count; breaking all the records for third-party turnout won’t keep Hillary from appointing the next Supreme Court Justice).

I am a classical conservative with libertarian leanings; Trump is a populist conservative who leans toward the center. But we are on the same side of most of the big issues. On some of these – especially Second Amendment rights, veterans affairs, and the need for a non-interventionist foreign policy – Trump has held steady for decades; on others, his conservative positions are more recent. All in all, I believe that Trump is a patriotic American who shares most of my values, and who strongly believes that the current elitist, left-leaning leadership must be driven out if we as a nation are to regain our former greatness.

And even for those who can’t accept Trump on his own merits, it should still be plain to all concerned that he is lightyears better than Hillary Clinton. Consider the issue of the Supreme Court: Trump has stated his intention of appointing conservative Justices, and even if he is imperfect in following through with this promise, he will doubtless do much better than Hillary packing the Court with liberal ideologues who will utterly abolish the freedom of speech, the press, religion, and the right to keep and bear arms.

The Republican Party is a big-tent party. Trump has virtues and vices just like any other candidate, and I think that his shortcomings tend to get attention, not because they’re objectively worse than those of other politicians, but because they’re different. Now is the time for Republicans to move beyond these differences and unite behind our nominee. This is why, as of tonight, I am fully and unapologetically supporting Donald Trump for President. Together, we will make America great again.