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.

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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.

Why I Cannot Support Donald Trump

Never means never.

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runners
A picture’s worth 1,000 words. Via: Dominick Reuter/Reuters

I was sitting upstairs at work when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination. I laughed. “Lordy be, this man is a damn fool,” I said. Nothing to see here. Move along now.

The Republican field was enormous, arguably the most talented assortment of conservative ideals and values of the past, present, and future. Boy, I could not have been more excited to prepare for my first presidential election. I planned on attending the convention, and volunteering for the nominee. But then Mr. Trump cast his shadow, and the storm came.

I never supported Mr. Trump. Like I said, I thought he was a damn fool from day one. His rambling, incoherent, blustery style did not mesh with me. More importantly, neither did his positions.

Economically, Mr. Trump wants to cripple us. I will admit the man has good intentions. But like his other ventures, he just isn’t that good at execution. His extreme protectionism begs for a trade war that will tear down the U.S. economy, leaving it to rubble, dust, and ruin. The ensuing chaos of economic calamity, outrageous price increases, demoralizing unemployment, and hostile foreign relations would lead the United States down a dangerous road to isolation, despair, and destruction. Protectionism does not work, has not worked, and will never work. I cannot in good faith support a man willing to lead a nation to the economic brink because he “tells it like it is.” I grieve for jobs lost due to globalization and technological advance, but I also know there’s light and hope in creation. Capitalism and markets destroy jobs sometimes, yes. But it also creates greater than the original. Throughout history, markets have created greater prosperity despite destruction, and we cannot allow us to stagnate. Instead of making false, unattainable promises to bring jobs back, our leaders should focus on training Americans to compete in new industries and fields rather than allow them to die with the old. Mr. Trump has no viable plan to handle our debt. He has no viable plan for entitlement reforms. He would be a disaster. Frankly, Mr. Trump would allow us to die on the vine.

Speaking of telling it like it is, Mr. Trump’s immigration views again are ripe with good intentions, but, quite frankly, are dangerous. I also think it’s just rich many choose to ignore that Mr. Trump’s plan essentially rounds up the illegals, sets them gently across the border, and lines them up single file for reentry into America. There is absolutely zero difference between illegal and legal immigration. Either way, jobs are lost and  demographics change. If we’re going to commit to sealing up the border and kicking everyone out, commit 100% and don’t waste my time and money on a spectacle that doesn’t change anything. Suppose Mr. Trump really rounded’em up and kicked them out for good, the notion that the government can or would go door to door and round up millions of people to simply toss them over the border is wrong. It goes against what we stand for: people, values, and decency. Aside from that, who is going to pay for such a time, labor, and capital consuming project? Mr. Trump will be a job creator, alright, but he will do so only to expand the federal government and its forceful power. One day Mr. Trump comes after all those illegals. The next, he comes after you.

The first amendment and idea of freedom of speech is arguably the most important aspect of our society. Mr. Trump may tell it like it is, but he isn’t afraid to punish you for doing the same. A man hell bent on ego stroking press coverage, Trump has already blacklisted reporters and outlets, threatened to loosen up libel laws, and sends his Trumpkins to do his bidding and attack media members. He shuts down opposition, encouraging violence and other tactics. His contempt of free speech and ideas is grotesque and the sign of a weak leader. My president will never tell me what I can say or do. Only I may tell him.

I believe foreign policy is the number one task and priority of a president. He or she is a commander-in-chief rather than simply a legislator-in-chief. Mr. Trump’s foreign policy horrifies me. He flaunts a seemingly isolationist view of “America First.” Isolationism does not work and makes the world a dangerous place, gearing up to swallow us while we aren’t watching. He wants to be neutral with Israel, essentially betraying our only true friend and ally in a dangerous and awful region. Why does Mr. Trump want to alienate us from our allies in Europe and across the globe? Mr. Trump’s ineptitude and inability to understand of simple foreign policy ideas combined with his lack of control of his impulses sends a chill down my spine should he command nuclear weapons. What is stopping this man from making a grave error of blowing up the planet because someone pissed him off? What is stopping him from frivolously sending our young men and women into harm’s way because it is not politically correct to do so? Mr. Trump can’t be trusted holding such an honor of command.

Mr. Trump wants America to sit around, lounge a bit, and suddenly be great again. But America is at its greatest when it leads from the front. Mr. Trump may claim to advocate America First, but when America does not lead, she sinks to the world’s standard. Our standard is higher. The United States has a unique ability to single handedly improve our world. We are a beacon of hope, innovation, and prosperity. The world goes as we go. America is first when it’s leading the pack, setting the pace–not when it stands idle. America slips when we refuse to commit to lead.

Mr. Trump is untrustworthy, and that’s his biggest problem. The bloviating con artist flips and flops and waffles like no other. His ideas and opinions have been around the block a time or two or three or four. He claims to not be like most Republicans, likely because he’s never had a true conservative thought. He’s playing, acting, and he essentially tells us so. I must be able to trust my president. I simply cannot trust Mr. Trump. Who knows which one would sit in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump, simply put, is dangerous. I do not trust him. I do not support him. How can I? While he maintains good intentions, he would only pull this country down into the mud of the world. He does not believe in freedom. He cannot give us prosperity. He is a con artist and a fraud, plain and simple. Sad!

I do not yet know who I will vote for in November. I do know one thing, however: I am Never Trump. Never means never.