The Republican Choice for President

I’ve had more than a few people ask me my preference for the Republican primary. Up until this point, I’ve been hesitant to name a preference. I tend to have very strong libertarian leanings, believing that individual rights, as outlined in our Constitution, take precedence over a collectivist, socialist system. Accordingly, my preferred candidate for the GOP nomination was Rand Paul. I also deeply admire the presumptive Libertarian Party nominee, Gov. Gary Johnson, and, depending upon how the campaign plays out, might vote for him in November.

For anyone who has read my blog or any of my Facebook entries, it is obvious that I can’t, and won’t, support either of the two remaining Democratic candidates. We do not need a president dedicated to pandering to every left-wing interest group and who advocates forcing his or her pet social-engineering projects on the population through governmental coercion. Private property is one of the cornerstones of liberty. Both Democratic candidates believe that their personal perception of the “public good” grants them the right to seize private property as they see fit to fund and support any group to which they wish to pander.

That leaves the five remaining candidates seeking the Republican nomination. I urge all voters to carefully read the candidate’s websites and to take some time to review their positions on the issues and their histories.

It is no secret that I consider Donald Trump a danger to both the Republican Party and to the nation. Historically, Trump has backed Democratic candidates and has supported “activist” government programs, like socialized medicine and the use of eminent domain for private projects. He has been very vague on most issues of substance, substituting bravado and insults for nuanced policy positions. He is not afraid of throwing his weight around to bully those with whom his disagrees, and there is no reason to believe that this pattern would change if he became president. He displays an alarming naïveté on foreign affairs, doing all he can to insult and alienate our nation’s neighbors and allies. His whole campaign has been based upon nationalist appeal, the venting of anger without any substantive remedies, and tapping into vague, populist slogans. When cornered on specifics, he has let slip an inclination towards an increase in federal governmental scope and power. The world saw what happened when industrialized nations elected National Socialists in the 1920’s and 1930’s. We don’t need to repeat that history here in the United States.

Ben Carson has arguably developed one of the most comprehensive, detailed, and workable set of policies on today’s issues. His proposal for a national, flat income tax is fantastic for its simplicity, effectiveness, and fairness. I urge everyone to take some time to take a look at his policy positions on his website.

While Dr. Carson is an affable and likeable candidate, I harbor serious doubts about his experience and overall temperament, and believe those to be current impediments to his ability to both win the election and to serve as an effective president. He would be a beneficial addition to anyone’s administration, particularly as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or Surgeon General. I hope that his current campaign is just the start, and not the end, of his commitment to national service.

Either of the remaining three candidates would make fine presidents, and would be vastly preferable to either of the Democratic candidates.

John Kasich has had a solid record, both as a Congressman and as Governor of Ohio. He has confronted many challenges in Ohio, and has handled all of them well. However, he still has a tendency to rely upon governmental programs, when the free-market would be far more effective. With the exception of Trump, Kasich has been most vague about his policy plans once in the White House. He has, rightfully, extolled his record as governor, but has not been very specific as to what he will accomplish as president. I am looking for a more detailed and specific set of plans than what Kasich has already advanced.

Ted Cruz has laid out a fairly detailed set of proposals, and most of them are pretty solid. He is arguably the strongest Constitutionalist of the remaining candidates. He is a fervent believer in the Constitution and in respecting the limitations of federal power. He is the candidate least-likely to pander to specific interest groups in order to solicit political support. His vocal opposition to ethanol subsidies while campaigning in Iowa is a testament to his integrity on the issues and fidelity to his beliefs.

While I would probably have few reservations about voting for Cruz over either Clinton or Sanders, I do find some aspects of his positions and temperament troubling. His corporate tax plan seems to be a value added tax in disguise. I am always reluctant about supporting new ways to tax individuals and businesses, since such taxes always seem to supplement, rather than replace, other forms of taxation.

I also find his positions on immigration and social issues to be a bit too hardline. The government has no more business interfering in people’s private lives than it does their economic affairs. In addition, we have over ten million illegal immigrants in our country. While the United States certainly has a right, and an obligation, to secure our borders, illegal immigration has been tacitly accepted by government, private industry, and individual citizens with a “wink and nod” for generations. A nativist element in the country uses the issue of illegal immigration as a cover to express their deeply held prejudices. The rest of the country has had, in one form or another, no problem in hiring illegals when it was convenient. While I believe the government has no obligation to provide welfare and other governmental benefits to illegal immigrants, I believe that we need a more realistic policy towards them than just “throwing them out of the country.”

Finally, Cruz’s temperament is a potential issue. It is no secret that he is a strident advocate for his views, and this stridency has won him few friends among his Senate colleagues. His campaign has also engaged in very questionable tactics, using dirty-tricks to a far greater extent than any of his rivals. A president needs to work effectively with both members of his own party and with the opposition. Reagan did this masterfully, while failed presidents like Carter and Obama were less adept. We need a president who will be able to work effectively with Congress, while maintaining fidelity to his beliefs. While I have no doubt about the sincerity of Cruz’s beliefs, I do have serious doubts about his ability to work well with other politicians of either party.

Marco Rubio has pretty solid positions on most of the issues. His tax plan, while not a flat tax that I would prefer, is well thought-out and comprehensive. He is a solid Constitutionalist, and would certainly appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court. He does have the personality to work effectively with others in government, while maintaining his ideological integrity.

Rubio’s history on the immigration issue is mixed. I believe that the attempts of the so-called “Gang of Eight” were well-intentioned. Their proposals acknowledged the reality that exists, and did not solely pander to either the nativist or social-engineering liberal elements. However, he has supported expansions of the H1-B visa programs, which have had a detrimental impact on some U.S. workers. He has since backed off his previous support of H1-B visas.

Rubio is young, and is not as experienced as I would prefer. But he is far more experienced than our current president, and has demonstrated his leadership skills and ability to work with other politicians. I think he has laid out a solid foreign policy platform and has the ability to be a very successful leader.

While I would have no problem with selecting Kasich or Cruz over either Clinton or Sanders, I think that Marco Rubio would be the most effective president of the current candidates of the two major parties, and will be the most electable of the current Republican candidates.

 

Obama’s Toddler Diplomacy

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” 

-President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015

President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast are being criticized from all quarters.  Some have said the president is “throwing Christians under the bus.”  Others have argued that the president’s remarks are historically inaccurate, dated, or serve to trivialize the heinous acts being carried out by groups like ISIS in the name of Islam.  While these criticisms may very well be valid, most commentators are ignoring the more important significance of Obama’s remarks.  His remarks serve as a reminder of the liberal mindset when dealing with enemies of the state – empathize with those whose actions deserve no empathy, try to reason with those who are unreasonable, search for explanations when no rational explanations exist, search for common ground when there is no common ground, and, when all else fails, blame oneself for failing to reign in evil using peaceful means.

How many of us have seen a three-year old toddler engage in a temper tantrum in a public place, only to find a (usually liberal) parent ignoring the situation or quietly trying to “reason” with the child?  Naturally, this approach almost always fails.  Three-year-old children have not yet developed the capacity for reason, so any attempt to rationally “reason” with them is bound to end in frustration for the child, the parent, and any other poor soul in the vicinity.  The only actions to which a child of that age is likely to respond is a firm voice commanding him to stop, or a swift swat on the behind.  Trying to “reason” with a three-year-old is about as productive as trying to teach a dog the principles of quantum physics.

Similarly, throughout history, there have been individuals, groups, and nations that have engaged in actions so heinous; they defy any reason or rational explanation.  Pol Pot wiped out 25% of Cambodia’s population in his attempt to create an agrarian Communist Utopia, Stalin thrust the Ukraine into famine in the 1930’s in his attempt to force collectivization of agriculture.  Japan ravaged China and the rest of Asia in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Hitler killed over 17 million people, and that number doesn’t even include war casualties.  We can go further back in history to find nations and rulers who engaged in wholesale torture, genocide, and repression.  None of these inhumane regimes were stopped by reason, empathy, or appeasement.  Either someone else stepped in and intervened militarily, or the evil rulers died of their own accord.

In conducting his foreign policy, Obama is attempting to apply reason where reason doesn’t exist.  It is not reasonable for a group of middle-eastern terrorists to behead foreigners, summarily execute individuals of different faiths or denominations, or burn prisoners of war alive.  No amount of reason will convince Kim Jong-un to abandon his quest for nuclear weapons or to provide his nation with even the rudiments of freedom.  Gathering the leaders of Europe together to sing “Kumbaya” will not stop Vladimir Putin’s quest to unite all Russian-speaking people under his dictatorship, even if those Russian speakers live in other sovereign states.  We can empathize with those who wish us ill all we want.  But no amount of empathy will prevent evil men from perpetrating evil deeds.

Diplomacy and compromise have an important role in international relationships.  When two civilized nations have a disagreement about a civilized issue, negotiation is often an effective way to resolve the issue.  But when a nation engages in conduct outside of the norms of acceptable civilized behavior, no amount of negotiation will ever be successful.  Perpetrators of evil will continue to engage in evil activities until their actions are stopped by another nation.  No amount of talking, understanding, self-criticism, empathy, or appeasement will reign in an evil regime.  Look at recent history.  Neville Chamberlain touted his appeasement of Hitler as guaranteeing “peace in our time.”  But it took Winston Churchill’s steadfast leadership and determination of physically attacking Germany to finally end the horror of the Nazi regime.

Barack Obama can continue to engage in all of his self-criticism about the past evils of Christianity, or even the United States.  But none of his self-reflection will stop organizations and nations like ISIS or North Korea from continuing to threaten United States citizens.  When a Jordanian pilot was immolated by ISIS thugs, King Abdullah II of Jordan, a 43rd-generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, didn’t wring his hands trying to understand or empathize with ISIS.  He recognized pure evil as evil, and immediately took action – executing ISIS terrorists and conducting air strikes against their strongholds.  King Abdullah recognizes that the only way to defeat evil is to eradicate evil.  Trying to reason with evil is about as effective as trying to reason with a three-year-old.

Liberals live in a world of delusion.  They are so certain of their own moral righteousness, they can not even begin to comprehend the reasons others may not share their opinions.  They believe talking to opponents, even those who seek nothing other than to do us harm, will eventually convince purveyors of evil to change their ways.  And if talking out the problem fails, which invariably occurs when dealing with evil, liberals shrink back into self-reflection and self-hatred – believing that they must somehow be responsible for the evil actions of others.  This leads to attempts at appeasement – another failed strategy for dealing with evil.

Evil can only be overcome by force.  It may be economic force, such as Reagan’s policy to increase defense spending which almost bankrupted the Soviet Union as they strove to keep up.  It may be military force.  Japan wasn’t going to surrender in World War II until they were subjected to certain nuclear annihilation.  Had Churchill followed Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement, Europe would likely still suffer under the Nazi yoke.  Regardless of the type of force used, only an unshakable resolve to directly confront threats to our citizens will be successful in defeating those who wish us harm.  Unfortunately, our current president believes that empathy for our enemies and endless self-criticism will convince them to stop their evil deeds.  Although Obama may pride himself on historical comparisons of Christianity to the Crusades and slavery, he shows an abject ignorance of the more important lessons of history.