Stop the Madness

In the early morning of June 12, a man opened fire in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. He reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS before the attack, and ultimately killed 50 people and wounded over 50 more: The worst mass shooting in our nation’s history.

Surely America will put aside its differences to unite together as countrymen against a common opponent, radical Islam? Surely after an attack involving a radical Muslim who pledged allegiance to ISIS that directly targeted gay men, America would not argue about a damn machine? Surely.

No. Before the bodies turned cold, Americans from all sides began peddling various agendas, but the main agenda debated on social media was gun control. It was vile. Back and forth all day, gun control and gun rights activists spewed contemptuous hate for each side. The animosity and disdain was palpable through the screen. It was grotesque. When does the madness stop?

Too often we use tragedy as opportunity to advance our political agendas, especially to frame a winner or loser in issue debates. Exemplified today, for instance, America generally tries to make gun control a black and white, binary issue with either an absolute right or absolute wrong answer, a winner or a loser. It’s not.

Gun control has layers and complexities that all sides need to quit ignoring. Are guns dangerous? Absolutely, when used improperly. But when do we confront the reality that there is a violent culture that glorifies, incentivizes, and encourages pulling the trigger?

Would gun control have stopped this attack? Honestly, possibly, and gun rights groups need to be willing to admit that. But when do gun control groups ask themselves whether or not the assailant would have just bombed the bar? Or when do they ask themselves if the scope of the attack would have been lessened if the bar patrons were armed?

I’ll wait. Clearly, gun debates are far from binary.

If we’re going to politicize tragedy for our own political interest, at least attempt to respect and recognize the complexity of an underlying issue surrounding said tragedy. Perhaps if we understood this concept, we wouldn’t argue and hate everyone on social media in the days following attack which only makes the problem worse.

The Orlando attack provided a unique mix of agendas and optics that set America up for a horrible, vile day. Perhaps that was an end goal for the terrorist. We generally tore each other apart, and that may ultimately do greater damage to our nation. Divided we fall, or so I’ve heard.

When do we begin to recognize the complexity of issues to reduce our contempt? When do we end the madness of political competition and opportunism regardless of the event or tragedy? When do we come together as Americans again for once?

Not soon enough.

Your Party Means Nothing, Mr. Rubio

As criticism rolls in over Donald Trump’s attacks on the judge presiding over the Trump U fraud case, Marco Rubio took the time to remind America that he warned us about “con man” Trump. Unfortunately, Rubio will still vote for Trump in November, citing “I gave my word that I would support the nominee.”

Interesting, coming from a man whose gave his word to Never Trump until times got difficult. Party loyalty oath is such a tired excuse.

If Mr. Rubio felt that the prospect of Trump warranted a strong warning to the electorate, shouldn’t country loyalty take over? Is it more important to appease the GOP or take a stand for the country? Who knew Jeb! would end up the principled and most resolute man of the bunch? (Credit to Ted Cruz for also seemingly standing firm against Trump.)

Rubio says we face difficult choices, yet takes the easy way out, surrendering to the myth that there are only two options for presidency and hiding behind an oath. Perhaps he forgot that America offers limitless choices.

More often than not, over 50 percent of GOP primary voters cast a ballot against Trump. Former candidates cannot act like they’re powerless and can’t influence an independent candidacy.

It’s simply lazy and frustrating to see Trump’s endorsers surrender to the idea that party matters before country when their influence could still positively shape the race.

I voted for Mr. Rubio. I probably would again. He may not give me an opportunity to, however. America needs bold leaders, who aren’t afraid to stand on principle against a man they warned us about––not party loyalists.

You gave your word, Senator? The United States appreciates it. Your party means nothing.

When Americans suffer from Trump’s trade wars or Hillary Clinton dangerous foreign policy, at least Rubio and others kept their oath to a party when a 3rd option was available.

Less French, More Sasse

Up in the sky. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…a trial balloon?

According to a report from Bloomberg, Never Trump voters finally found their man. Drum roll, please: Constitutional lawyer, writer, and veteran David French. I’m sorry, what?

I’ve long advocated that for any third party to have a shot it must be bold. Mitt Romney’s image as the D.C. establishment and failed candidate weren’t going to cut it in 2016, especially not against the personality and names involved. But potentially trotting out a near complete unknown perhaps jumps the bold shark, right?

French seems like a wonderfully decent man, owning a deep depth of knowledge on foreign affairs and the Constitution. However, do Bill Kristol and other “Renegades” honestly believe enough conservatives will jump ship to join the French Revolution that features no government or executive experience and not much more than thoughts on paper? Will French even earn the opportunity to showcase his superior grasp of the world? The general sentiment of 2016 seems to be the rise of the outsider, yet the presumptive Democratic nominee has been the consulate insider for decades and the Republican nominee attempted to run a business his entire adult life. Even in 2016, experience still matters. 2016 turned political wisdom on its head, but an unknown candidate still likely cannot. The optics of the French trial balloon don’t look good either, only making the uphill battle steeper.

Right now we need a little more than French, but obviously cannot touch Romney. Where are the principled conservatives with enough experience combined with enough distance from Washington?

If a third party alternative wants to rise to legitimately challenge Trump and Clinton, the best option remains Sen. Ben Sasse. I understand Sasse probably won’t run because he wants to maintain time for family and serve the constituents that voted for him. I honestly commend him for it. But if an alternate to Trump and Clinton wants to be taken seriously and have a legitimate shot at winning, Sasse is the only option. The Nebraska Senator provides the fantastic wit necessary to directly take on and fluster Trump as well as the conservative ideals and values necessary to defeat both Clinton and Trump. Sasse has the experience of a Senator but also the perceived distance from D.C. Who else realistically does?

Would I vote for French over Trump and Clinton? Of course. But the United States needs a little Sasse.

 

 

Waste of Time: Drafting a Never Trump Option

According to a report in the Washington Post, leaders of the “Never Trump” movement are in overdrive to attempt to draft a third party candidate to derail Donald Trump. The report names the top two recruits: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Gov. John Kasich from Ohio. Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has even reached out to the two men according to the report.

While I am fully on board with a third party alternative to Donald Trump, any recruitment effort to draft a candidate wastes everyone’s time. Hand picking a candidate will only alienate voters, and drafting a run-of-the-mill Republican will not generate enough support from Bernie Sanders voters.

Now I understand the leaders of the Never Trump movement might want one of their guys to run. There’s a certain trust factor and comfort supporting a Republican senator of governor as compared to a Libertarian candidate. But drafting a candidate only appears like more Washington games against the people. Supporting a candidate already in the race–whether it’s the Libertarian candidate or another–shows humility and a turn away from the status quo. It frankly just looks better than drafting a candidate.

Now is not the time to wait out for your guy, but rather throw support and money behind a candidate committed to liberty, the Constitution, and sound economic policy such as Austin Petersen.

Odds are the leaders of Never Trump do not agree with Petersen on foreign policy, parts of immigration, and some social issues. The time for purity tests from them is over. Petersen represents the only candidate committed to liberty, and he is clearly the only candidate remaining with an economic policy that won’t cripple America but instead grow her economy. Petersen may not be Never Trump’s first choice, but he’s their best choice.

Imagine if the leaders of Never Trump threw their support behind Petersen ten days ago and put as much energy into introducing him to the American electorate as they did attempting a futile recruiting effort for Sasse or Kasich. Petersen’s outreach could have expanded exponentially and increased in viability. Instead, he remains unknown to large parts of the electorate while the Never Trump leaders look silly and desperate.

Don’t waste your time, Never Trump. Don’t play games. Petersen may not be your guy, but he offers our best shot. He won’t alienate voters who distrust Washington. He represents our best bet to potentially swing some support from Bernie voters. You can work with Petersen and trust him, differences aside.

Never Trump recruitment is destined to fail, whether a candidate is drafted or not. Stand for liberty, for the Constitution, and for sound economics with Austin Petersen, and drop the games. Choose wisely.

Plenty of Options, Yet No Path

Now that Donald Trump all but the official Republican nominee for president, it’s interesting to look back on the race that wasn’t. While there were 17 candidates at some point vying for the nomination, no one really had a shot besides Trump.

Back when this whole rodeo began, Jeb Bush was perceived the favorite due to his name value, his record as governor of Florida, and his deep money backing. But Jeb! had no chance simply because his last name was Bush. After Bush 41 and Bush 43, the family used all of its capital and opportunity to be commander-in-chief for the short term. Jeb’s lack of charisma and entertainment combined with his political rust left him in an immediate hole near impossible to dig out of. His message also wasn’t tailored to the electorate after Trump’s emergence. Money can only take a candidate so far even today. Our society and democracy does not reward familial dynasties. Jeb’s presidential hopes went out the door when his brother was elected. If Jeb had come anywhere close to the nomination, it would have been a miracle and an underdog story for the ages.

Marco Rubio should not have entered the race. For him to become president, he essentially had to run against Jeb then run against any other perceived establishment alternative. After that, he’d be forced to run against Ted Cruz before finally being able to run against Donald Trump. The influx of money spent against Rubio combined with youthful miscalculations such as his comedy tour against Trump doomed him as well. I firmly believe Rubio had the message and vision to win this election cycle, but there were too many obstacles in his path to trip him up. 

Ted Cruz believed the key to victory was uniting the evangelical vote. However, the evangelical vote is too wide ranging to truly unite. All evangelicals are not the same and Cruz’s bristling outsider message turned off too many others when social conservatives did not ultimatum unite behind him. Again Cruz had multiple races to run: against social conservatives, against Rubio, unfortunately against John Kasich, and then ultimately against Trump. Cruz’s message simply had too many limits for the challenges in his path, and that ultimately really eliminated him before he started.

Rand Paul’s chances ended with the rise of ISIS and expansion of radical Islamic terror. Paul’s message for Liberty, limited government, and anti-interventionist foreign policy can be a winning message, but the continued rise of radical Islamic terrorism turned people away from Paul’s sometimes misconceived isolationism. Citizens want to feel powerful and safe and they gravitated towards big, tough foreign policy talk over the last couple years. Paul may have a future opportunity to capture the presidency, but forces out of his control derailed him before the race began this cycle.

Scott Walker may have had a message this cycle, but he didn’t have the personality to break through. Governing records could not alone carry a candidate this election. He just didn’t take advantage of his moment, especially when Trump entered and took out all the air.

Speaking of governing records and moving on, John Kasich was never a fit for this cycle. Ben Carson was never going to be more than a prayer breakfast darling. Carly Fiorina was too unknown to many and too disliked to few. Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, and Chris Christie missed their moments years ago. George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, and Jim Gilmore were always wasting their time. 

We all expected a hard fight, a decent fight for the Republican nomination. Perhaps we would’ve gotten one had Trump punted on the opportunity, but no one ultimately had a clear path to the top if they even had a path at all. No candidate was positioned to secure the moment and opportunity in front of them. I do not support Trump, but I think we can all acknowledge that he took advantage of the media and followed, maybe even paved, arguably the easiest path despite fending off a “Never Trump” movement. The fact that the race was slow to dwindle and never came down to one-on-one also eased his path. His brand helped build the myth.

In 2016, the Republicans had options in front of them. But the options largely were closed from a path. Maybe they learned a lesson.

Lecturing the 3rd Party Vote

This weekend I announced to my family my intention to support and vote for a third party candidate. I was lectured:

Oh, you’ll just hand the White House to Hillary.

You know third party can’t win.

You don’t have a third option, deal with it.

That’s just a sampling of all normal responses we’ve seen on the Internet and heard around the dinner table. However, it’s time the lectures stopped. They’re lazy and tired arguments the weak, unprincipled, and cowardly make. 

I don’t believe in the worst of two options theory. It’s wrong, lazy, and an excuse to give up. This nation wasn’t built on the lesser of two evils. It was built on strength, decency, common sense, and commitment to fight for freedom. It’s high-time citizens fought back for values, courage, and principles.

I’m fully aware the path for a 3rd party presidency is a steep, uphill climb. Hillary is such a weak candidate that the ghost of John Quincy Adams could beat her this election cycle. Don’t be so sure a third party option can’t win, especially with the Libertarian candidate likely to be featured on the ballot in all 50 states. 

It is sad to me to see so many people who shout and yell at Republican leaders to fight and stand for values and principle just to roll over so easily. It’s especially frustrating when GOP leaders such as Rick Perry, Rand Paul, and Bobby Jindal admit their intentions to hold their nose for a perceived lesser of two evils. These great men could have the power, vision, and ability to lead the battle to make our presidency great again, but instead tote the party line and drive the excuse train we hear far too often. What happened to our commitment to putting power in the people’s hands and standing our ground?

What difference does it make whether I vote for a lesser evil or hand a presidency to a greater evil? Evil is evil. Are you comfortable voting for evil? I simply cannot hold my nose, especially not now. 

If you’re voting for Trump simply because he’s the Republican nominee, please understand your party means nothing. It has forsaken you and left you out to dry. Take back your principle, and stand with us in a fight to put a candidate committed to liberty, economic and social, into the Oval Office. 

You don’t just have two options. You can still vote for good, honest candidates. Frankly, the lesser of two evils option leaves you repeating “the horror, the horror” four years later, so hand the presidency to Hillary if you must, but stop the lecture and fight with us. Your country needs courage and resolve more than ever. Let’s pull off the upset. See you on the other side.

Why I Support Austin Petersen 2016

“You only have two options,” they told me. No, no I don’t think so.

After the dust settled that Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nominee, I began searching for a new candidate to support. Hillary Clinton? Nah. Bernie Sanders? Nope. Gary Johnson? Maybe, but let’s keep checking.

“Meet Austin Petersen, Libertarian candidate for president,” the website proclaimed.

Petersen on trade: “Lower barriers to trade with foreign nations, and allow American companies the leeway they need to develop domestic energy production, in order to create good paying jobs at home.”

I must admit I am an adamant free trade supporter. I believe wholeheartedly that free trade allows the United States to grow, prosper, and lead from the front while also lifting up other nations. Support of free trade is a must to earn my support. Free trade allows the specialization and creativity to take over in order to move a nation upward. By lowering barriers to trade, we reap the benefits of cheaper access to high quality imports. Thus our burden decreases as we focus on our specialties and both trade parties obtain more goods, better goods. When Petersen mentions “leeway,” he’s allowing American companies the opportunity to tap into their creativity which improves economic standings across the board. Creativity allows gas prices to remain low, for industries to emerge, and for Americans to continue to thrive despite a growing population and limited resources. Unlike Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, Petersen actually embraces America’s creativity and trusts her citizens will continue to lead. We need that trust in the White House.

Petersen on spending: “Urge congress to adopt the “Penny Plan,” across the board spending cuts of 1% per program.”

As the United States watches debt and debt-to-gdp ratio grow, we need bold leadership and ideas to deal with the problem. Mrs. Clinton only plans to increase spending, and who knows what Mr. Trump truly wants to do. We actually know Petersen’s intentions, and, while difficult to swallow and enact, we know he’ll move us back in the right direction away from debt growth. Now, I admit, debt is such a nuanced and complicated issue that it can’t simply be solved with this blanket plan. However, Petersen put forth the best and boldest option to begin solving the debt issue. Petersen is far and away our best hope if we want to cut government spending and debt growth.

Petersen on foreign policy: “Strengthen national security by reducing/ending foreign aid to nations hostile to the USA. No more nation building.”

The United States spends billions in foreign aid each year, and one could easily argue the U.S. wastes billions in foreign aid each year. Too often, we support and prop up hostile regimes and corrupt administrations. What if we said no more? Could U.S. withdrawal of aid push some nations into action to embrace protective institutions and shun corruption?  How hostile will regimes remain without our money? It’s clear after decades of failed attempts that we cannot force democracy and markets onto nations. They have to want it themselves. It’s worth exploring what affect our country rescinding financial support would have on certain countries and administrations. Perhaps it could kickstart an embrace of our values that force never could. Petersen believes in strong, efficient foreign policy, and clearly does not want our treasure and blood to go to waste. I support his position of strength and realism in dealing with the world.

Petersen’s commitment to liberty cannot be matched, certainly not by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. He has the vision our Founders shared that made this nation great. I am fully prepared to support Johnson or another third party candidate should one arise, but Petersen is the best option for these United States.

Confession of a Former Republican: I support and intend to vote for Libertarian candidate Austin Petersen in 2016.

Check out Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen at his website, austinpetersen2016.com. Also be sure to follow Petersen on twitter, @AP4LP.