Author Archives: Stephen Littau

TLP Roundtable – Contributors React to Trump as the GOP Presumptive Nominee

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party. Needless to say, the TLP contributors have a great deal written on this development. Go ahead and take a study break from your Trump University homework or your Trump Magazine and pour yourself a glass of Trump Vodka to go with your Trump Steak. Or maybe you are reading this while flying on Trump Airlines. Either way, settle in for our thoughts on a Trump candidacy that will meet the same fate of all of the aforementioned Trump business ventures.

Albert Northrup:

At the beginning of this election cycle, the Republican Party had a broad field of candidates, which was arguably the best field of candidates the GOP has had in decades. They had successful governors, passionate senators, and the momentum heading into the election cycle. At the same time, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee was arguably the worst candidate they have run since Dukakis. She has been embroiled in scandal, has high unfavorable ratings, and is highly unliked by members of both parties. Enter Donald Trump. If there is anyone with higher unfavorable ratings, it is Donald Trump. While some Republicans showed they could defeat Hillary in a head to head race, Trump consistently loses to her in the polls. Barring anything drastic happening, Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. But make no mistake about this. Despite claims that “the people have spoken,” this is no sort of mandate of the people. Through the Indiana primary, Trump garnered 40.2% of the vote. This is not a mandate yet.

Principles matter more than any political party. Donald Trump has ran on a platform that is riddled with empty rhetoric and the same narcissism that his supporters found unacceptable in Obama. His speeches are filled with foul language and he insults his opponents and detractors by calling them losers, idiots, and even p***ies. His followers are no better by calling people the same names and even making death threats. They’re angry at the current political structure. We get it. A lot of us are angry. Electing Donald Trump will not solve our problems. In many cases, it will make things worse.

After becoming the presumptive nominee, Trump announced that he loves debt and threatened to raise our national debt, which currently trying stands at $19 trillion. He claims that an option would be to default on the debt then renegotiate the terms. This may work in the business world but national economies work much differently. A default on this level could cause a global economic collapse, which makes a Trump presidency very dangerous. This alone should be enough to never vote for Trump.

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Brad Warbiany:

Okay, so it’s not like I consider myself even a libertarian Republican any longer… And in CA, you won’t exactly see me holding my nose and voting R just to spite Hillary, because she’s going to win this state easily. So I’m not particularly interested in Trump, except as his rise portends much more interesting changes to politics in general.

So why do we have a #nevertrump movement? Why do we see what appears to be a wholesale fracturing of the Republican Party coalition, where we will honestly see many voters refuse to line up behind their party’s nominee? Why is the same thing happening on the Democrat side, where Bernie supporters will likely stay home on Election Day instead of voting for Hillary? How did each lunatic fringe become emboldened to blow up their party coalition instead of falling in line behind the establishment?

Simple: the internet and the explosion of alternative media has forced the Balkanization of the constituent groups in the political party coalition. The various constituent groups used to be party-first, and group second. Thus libertarian Republicans considered themselves Republican first and libertarian second. I don’t remember the words “I’m a Conservative, not a Republican” 20 years ago. But today libertarians confer with other libertarians online. Conservatives read conservative media. Donald Trump’s core constituency can read Stormfront. And as we’ve found more “people like us”, we’ve realized that the rest of our coalition isn’t really on our side.

Where might this go? I think this is the end of the Republican Party as we know it. I see the likelihood that the parties will re-form around two new coalitions:

  1. “Conservatives” and mainstream Democrats will fuse. This will include law & order conservatives, military hawks, union backers, etc. The sort of people who value the predictability and stability of strong institutions like government and religion will coalesce into a single group. This may seem like a bold prediction, but I think mainstream conservatives and mainstream Democrats have a lot in common.
  2. Libertarians and the far left will fuse. They’ll fuse around individual freedom and liberty, distrust of a strong surveillance state, overactive policing, and interventionist foreign policy. They’ll find that they have more in common on social issues than they are opposed to each other on economic issues. Because anarcho-capitalism and anarcho-socialism aren’t really incompatible–both require breaking off the yolk of government.

Trump is the beginning of the end. #nevertrump is a sign that the political coalition we call “Republican” is broken, never to return in its current form.

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Christopher Bowen:

I can come up with no rational reason – at least one that makes sense – for why a plurality of primary voters – into the >50% territory in the final few primaries – decided that Donald Trump was the best standard bearer for the Republican party. How does this happen? Anger at the system? Betrayal by politicians? A desire to watch the world burn? A population that, despite the ubiquity of information that the internet provides, will believe just about anything they’re told by a walking hairpiece? A moral quandry that lying, cheating and abusing systems, and bullying the weak are OK so long as the victims are Other People™, whoever they may be? Or are Americans just swayed by celebrity? Hell, that’s not even an America-only problem; Italy was led by Silvio Berlusconi for nine years.

If anything, the actions of the Republican Party over the past week have exemplified why we’re getting Trump as the Republican nominee. Person after person in political leadership has been against Trump, but when it came time for a put up or shut up moment… they folded. “The will of the voters”, they say. “We’ll support the nominee”, many others whimper. Donald Trump is the Presidential nominee because many politicians – especially on the right – will tolerate totalitarian scumbags so long as they think they can get something out of it. They have, once again, put their political futures in front of the needs of the country. They should be treated accordingly.

In fact, I find it interesting just how many people had to suppress their gag reflexes on this front. Trump won the evangelical vote, despite being a serial philander that makes Bill Clinton look like Mister Rogers. He won a section of people that celebrate the business acumen of a man who’s been bankrupt four times. They highlight frankness of a man who hasn’t actually put forth a serious proposal for just about anything that didn’t involve either building walls or locking out an entire religion. “At least he’s not Hillary!”, say others about a man who donated to her and her husband. For every argument that is meant to make Donald Trump look good, there are five that prove it fallacy, and that’s before I get to the racists, sexists, and “alt-right” scumbags that his careless words have allowed to crawl out of the recesses of 4chan and Reddit.

There is no good reason to vote for Donald Trump, no matter your political persuasion. This isn’t a political wind that’s changing and should be heeded. It’s an insurrection, and it should be responded to in kind.

OKAY
Chris Byrne:

So… Trump:
… Admits there isn’t going to be a wall “it was just a negotiation point”
… Renounces his own tax plan “it was just a negotiation point”
… Affirms that he’s totally gung ho for single payer health care
… Admits that he would raise the minimum wage
… Admits he isn’t self financing his campaign, and hires a hollywood democrat who worked for George Soros and Goldman Sachs as his finance chair…
…Oh and he says that he’s considering a democrat for his vice presidential pick… Or not… or Ted Cruz… who he calls “lyin Ted”… or not…

… Oh and he’s going to default on the national debt… Or maybe he’s not…

… did I miss anything?

… Oh yeah… except the next day, he says exactly the opposite…
… And then the next day, he says both… at the same time…

So… yeah… Trump supporters… It’s gonna be fun seeing how you rationalize all this.

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Kevin Boyd:

What a disgrace for starters. The Republican Party has nominated a man who is likely the most anti-libertarian presidential nominee for a major political party in recent American history. It compounded that error by picking in the same man a thin-skinned, amoral lunatic who peddles conspiracy theories from The National Enquirer as if they’re facts.

Now let’s get to how terrible Trump would be. Trump’s economic policies would cause a worldwide economic depression, his foreign policies (I’ll let others go more in depth) would cause trade wars with nearly everyone and make the world a much more dangerous place, and his domestic policies would result in the largest assault on the Rule of Law and civil liberties in recent American history. Trump is a vulgar demagogue who pits Americans against each other based on race and religion. He’s a campus Social Justice Warrior except for old white guys.

One of the biggest mistakes that’s being made is giving Trump supporters a pass, morally. “Being angry at the establishment” is no excuse for supporting a neo-fascist who clearly does not grasp the basic responsibilities of the job. Nor does a nihilistic desire to “burn the system down” give the right to install to power a tempermental demagogue to threaten the liberties of all. This is not a serious choice. This was a temper tantrum.

Finally, a thought about libertarians and Trump. I’m proud to say many of the most hardcore #NeverTrump members are libertarian Republicans and Millennial libertarians. Hopefully, this is the future of libertarianism. Unfortunately, many Trump supporters though call themselves libertarians and got into politics to support Ron Paul. The truth is, they’ve outed themselves as reactionary populists, regardless of what they call themselves. This has been a very clarifying exercise.

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Sarah Baker:

I am one of the #NeverTrump. His economic policies and broad view of executive power (among other things) are antithetical to my principles.  I don’t have the same vitriol for him as others, however, as I don’t grant him sufficient agency to merit it. He puts me in mind of the clueless nerd being elected prom queen just so the cool kids can point and make fun—not the jokester, but the butt of the joke.

The sources of Trump’s popularity have been analyzed ad nauseam. Tribalism and xenophobia. Social order authoritarianism. Anger at the establishment. Anti-PC backlash. A yen for creative destruction. I even have some sympathy for that last one. Over and over and over again, the GOP has failed to deliver on its promise of limited government. I can see why a significant faction of betrayed voters have decided to light a Trump-match, let it all burn down, and see what rises from the ashes.

But the more interesting—and in my view, under-analyzed—faction of Trump supporters are those among the 47% of U.S. citizens who could not come up with $400 to pay for an emergency. These voters understand on a certain gut level that they are getting screwed by big government—that over-regulation, barriers to entry, excessive government spending, crony capitalism, and welfare for the rich are conspiring to keep working class people poorer than they need to be.

At least Trump pays lip service to their struggles. I know he won’t deliver. He has nothing to deliver. But voters have given other Republicans a chance—and they keep telling us to wait while they focus on getting reelected.

Trump mocking reporter
Stephen Littau:

Five years ago, I warned Liberty Papers’ readers that Trump was in no way a conservative, much less a libertarian. I will not rehash that argument now other than to say that someone who has that much disregard for private property rights should not be the Republican Party nominee for president.

Beyond the property rights issue, in this very campaign Trump trotted out several positions that are progressive rather than conservative. Anti-free trade, a single payer healthcare plan to the left of Obamacare, raising taxes and spending…

Then he made a disparaging comment about John McCain being a POW. A man who never served, who could have served himself was being critical of the service record of a POW? I thought for sure his goose was cooked right there. He was done.

But Trump wasn’t done.

Then came the misogynistic comments Trump directed at any woman who he thought didn’t sufficiently think he was great. And comments about the hair styles, makeup, or general appearance of other candidates. And making fun of a journalist with disabilities (then he lied about it).

None of that mattered. Many Republican candidates have lost primaries for doing far less.

What I learned from this campaign, more than anything is that I completely misunderstood what is most important to Republicans (at least 50% when he gets the nomination). I actually believed that when grass roots Republicans stood against Obama and formed the Tea Party, they were opposing him on principle. Now I see some of the very same people supporting Trump who could not be further from these principles (other than the illegal immigration issue).

I defended these people against charges that they were xenophobes, racists, and misogynists. Now I have come to realize that at least for a significant percentage of the GOP, maybe the people who made these charges were right and I was wrong. This is what pisses me off the most.

How to Fix the Nomination Process


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Whether you are a Trump supporter, Cruz supporter, Kasich supporter, Sanders supporter, Hillary supporter, or a disinterested observer fed up with the whole thing like myself, we can all agree that the nomination process is a complete disaster. Not that any of this is new to this particular election; the 2016 campaign has only exposed the flaws in the process that have existed since the earliest days of the leading political parties.

No, neither Trump nor Sanders are having the nomination ‘stolen’ from them, at least not in a sense where actual ‘cheating’ is happening (best I can tell from afar anyway). The fact that Trump doesn’t understand how the process works does not mean Cruz is doing something wrong. And the irony of ironies where some of Sanders’s delegates are being redistributed…well, Hillary Clinton would never cheat right?

If the argument is that the game is rigged at worst or just a little screwy at best then I can certainly agree with that. The rules and process as was set up long before the 2016 campaign is really what is causing confusion leaving many primary voters angry and disillusioned. While it may be too late to cure what ails the nomination process for 2016, I believe I have a few ideas that would vastly improve the process and I would encourage any political party to at least give this a try.

A National Primary Day

This incredibly long drawn out byzantine primary system has outlived its usefulness. There is no reason to have a few states vote early while other vote later. If it’s good enough to have the general election on one day than the primary should be no different. My proposal is to have every state and territory vote on the same day, say 40-60 days before the party’s convention. If the states want to follow roughly the same calendar as the traditional primaries holding town halls, debates, or even non-binding straw polls then by all means, do so. The days of a handful of states determining who emerges should be done away with forever.

Allocation of Delegates

In the 2016 South Carolina Primary Donald Trump “won” the election with a whopping 32.5% of the vote. To put this another way, 67.5% of South Carolina voters voted for someone other than Donald Trump *but* because South Carolina is winner take all, Trump will be awarded all 50 of the state’s delegates! While I’m not one of these people who think that “majority rule” is a good thing in and of itself (actually it’s often terrible), it seems that in a primary or caucus which purports to reflect the “will of the people” should at a minimum, require that the winning candidate actually earned the majority of the vote.

If the goal of the nomination process is to nominate an individual who represents the “will of the people” in the party then the parties are not doing a very good job in achieving that goal. My proposal to improve this aspect of the process is as follows:

Each state/territory is to have one delegate for each congressional district and two at large delegates. Each would-be delegate is bound to a particular candidate and can only become a delegate if his/her candidate wins 50%+1 of the vote in the congressional district or, in the case of the at large would-be delegates, 50%+1 of the entire state, commonwealth, or territory. The candidates would keep every delegate s/he won (i.e. no winner take all states). The 50%+1 threshold would be easily achieved by implementing instant runoff voting (this is key). This way every vote actually would matter and the “spoiler effect” would be minimized if not eliminated.

Rather than explain how instant runoff voting (a.k.a. alternative voting) works for those who are not familiar, here’s a short video:

The Nominating Convention

The convention would operate more or less like it does now. The delegates would then go about choosing the nominee by either multiple rounds of voting or using the instant runoff method as described above. Because all the delegates would be bound to their candidate (at least to start with) in the former method s/he must vote for the candidate in the first round, in the latter s/he must rank the bound candidate #1 and the candidate of his or her choice for #2, #3, and so on. Whichever way the convention decided to go, the important thing is no winner would be selected without a majority recorded vote (i.e. no voice votes where the Chairperson decides which way the vote went based on his/her opinion).

Oh yeah, one other thing: no other candidates could be nominated who was not running on National Primary Day.

Would this process be perfect? Of course not. There is no system I can think of which will prevent a truly terrible person from being nominated or even elected. If there’s a better way, I would certainly would love to hear it. That being said, I believe this process is much superior than the one either party is using now.

All this makes me wonder though: if the parties are having this much trouble determining the will of the majority of their party members (assuming that’s really what they are trying to do), how can they be trusted to solve the more complex problems they want us to believe they can solve?
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One Point of Clarification

If you read carefully, you will notice that everything I wrote is just a suggestion about how any political party can improve its nomination process. None of this in any way is meant to advocate that the law should be changed to comply with my opinion. Its free advice and the parties can take it or leave it (and they probably will leave it…who am I to advise them right?).

I’ve come across some individuals who are upset about how some state parties have gone about choosing delegates (which I can sympathize with; I hate how the Colorado Republican Party chooses delegates). What everyone needs to understand though is that regardless of what they think they know about how the system works, the U.S. is not a democracy. It never was and never was intended to be. Some misguided individuals believe that the shenanigans (as they see it anyway) taking place in some of these state conventions is tantamount to treason against the U.S. Constitution.

For those who think this way, I’m about to drop a giant atomic truth bomb so here it goes…

There is no constitutional right for the average citizen to vote in a presidential election (neither in the party primaries nor in the general election). No, really there’s not.

For those who don’t believe me, the part of the U.S. Constitution that addresses how the POTUS is to be elected is located in Article II, Section 1, Paragraphs 2 through 4. I’ll share the most relevant part (paragraph 2):

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

As stated from the excerpt above, each state determines how Electors are picked to vote for POTUS. This means that if the state legislature wants to choose Electors by drawing names out of a hat or by roshambo, the state legislature may do so. As it happens, every state legislature has decided that the people have a right to vote for the Electors provided they are eligible to vote (as determined by that state’s laws).

Did you notice something else? What about all the explaining about the nomination process of delegates of a particular political party?

Read the excerpt again, no actually read Article II in its entirety because I know some people reading this think that I cherry picked one small part from the U.S. Constitution to make my point.

Did you notice that there wasn’t a single word about political parties, much less how they go about choosing a nominee for president?

Themoreyouknow

Libertarians Debate on Stossel (Part 2 of 2)

Watch-Part-One-Of-The-Libertarian-Party-Debate-On-Stossel-702x336This isn’t by any means an exhaustive analysis of the second part of the Stossel LP presidential debate but I wanted to share the video now before too much time passes and this becomes irrelevant.

In this second part, Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera each posed a video question regarding drugs. O’Reilly said he had a question for “the libertarian geniuses” which it seemed that he thought he really had a question that would stump them. As it turned out, O’Reilly’s question made him look like a fool. What he thought was a fast ball was actually a hanging curveball that any libertarian worth his or her salt would have hit out of the park (It’s clear that either he doesn’t watch Stossel’s show because he crushes these kinds of questions on a regular basis). All three candidates indeed did hit it out of the park (bonus points for Petersen for calling O’Reilly a pin head).

Geraldo’s question was a bit more nuanced: Should government have programs to help drug addicts? Among the three candidates, I thought McAfee had the best answer. Treatment cannot be forced on those who don’t want it.

From there, Stossel addressed more of the issues in which libertarians are outside the mainstream.

Combining the two parts of the debate together, my opinion hasn’t changed much. I feel like Austin Petersen “won,” I liked much of what John McAfee had to say (he has a great voice too; he should get into broadcasting), and if anyone “lost” it was Gary Johnson.

All of that being said, any one of these individuals is lightyears better than what the blue and red teams are offering.

Libertarians Debate on Stossel (Part 1 of 2)

Watch-Part-One-Of-The-Libertarian-Party-Debate-On-Stossel-702x336In case you missed it, the first half of the Libertarian Party Presidential Debate aired on Stossel on April 1st (the second half will air on Friday, April 8, 2016). The three participants were 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, software developer John McAfee, and the founder of the blog The Libertarian Republic Austin Petersen.

After watching some of the GOP debates and the first Democrat debate, watching the Libertarians debate was refreshing. No name calling or commenting on the appearance of the other candidates. No scolding the debate moderator for asking questions the candidates didn’t like. To the extent that one candidate challenged or disagreed with another they were on the substance of the issue at hand (more on that in a moment). There seemed to be more areas of agreement than disagreement (and even a kiss on the cheek) among them. This debate was more about presenting to a national cable audience the case for Libertartian policy alternatives to those of the Republicrats.

Did any candidate “win” Part 1 of the debate or help/hurt his chances with the LP faithful or viewers who are open to supporting a third party candidate?

I can only answer for myself. I enthusiastically supported Gary Johnson in 2012 all the way back from when he was running for the GOP nomination to election day as the LP’s nominee. Of the three, he’s the only one I was all that familiar with. I took the Isidewith.com survey on the issues (mentioned in the debate) several weeks ago and found that I sided with Austin Petersen 97%, Gary Johnson 92%, and Ted Cruz 77%. I’m not sure why John McAfee wasn’t among those I sided with because I found myself in agreement with much of what he said in the debate. Due to these results, though Gov. Johnson is sort of my default favorite I watched with an open mind.

To my surprise, indeed I did find myself agreeing more with the thirty-five year old Austin Petersen than the other two. For libertarians looking for “purity” of libertarian principles, Petersen is your guy it seems (based solely on one half of one debate). When asked about whether a cake decorator should be forced to make a cake for someone based on personal or religious reasons, Johnson (to my profound disappointment) said they should while Petersen said the market should decide making the freedom of association argument (an argument every good libertarian should have down pat).

The second strike against Johnson and for Petersen was the question of the so-called gender pay gap. Johnson sounded like a progressive echoing the “equal pay for equal” work line but said he would be hesitant to sign any equal pay legislation because “the devil is in the details.” Petersen on the other hand skillfully explained why the gender pay gap is a progressive myth. McAfee, for his part argued that if a person doesn’t like how much they are being paid they are free to look elsewhere.

There’s certainly more in the debate that I didn’t get into here. My conclusion as far as my opinion goes: Petersen helped himself, Johnson hurt himself, and McAfee is intriguing. In a world where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are looking to be their party’s nominee any of the three would be hands down a better choice.

Time to Put Differences of Principle Aside and Unite Behind Donald Trump

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After doing some reflecting, I’ve come to the conclusion I have been wrong about Donald Trump. Yes, he’s a loud mouth and he insults people but maybe that’s what we need in a POTUS. And even though he’s against everything conservatives claim to stand for (i.e. property rights, free trade, limited government, free market healthcare etc.) maybe it’s time conservatives changed to suit him.

None of these things are important anymore. He’s taking a hard line against the M&Ms (Mexicans & Muslims) and all freedom loving American need to be united against Hillary Clinton in the fall.

And what if Trump doesn’t have the 1,237 delegates by the time the convention comes around? Let’s forget about the whole idea of requiring a majority to win the nomination, a plurality is good enough. Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve pointed out that this is against the rules that have been established since the very beginning of the GOP but screw tradition! We need a leader like Trump to “Make America Great Again” nobody’s got time for these antiquated rules!

Let all Conservatives and Libertarians join hands and back Trump no matter what our differences on principle. This whole time I’ve been saying #NeverTrump but my priorities were all wrong: #NeverHillary.

Oh, yeah one more thing…

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