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Richard Larsen: If Conservatives Want to “Save the Republic”, We Must Use Pragmatic Approach

October 31st, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

Conservatives have to start thinking pragmatically and tactically, rather than ideally, when it comes to politics. As long as we continue to throw the most viable conservative candidate under the bus because he or she doesn’t measure up to our personal standards of conduct, we will continue to lose crucial elections that might otherwise curb the rate of descent into the statist abyss.

It’s a regrettable characteristic of many on the right, in their sanctimonious way, to dismiss their imperfect politicians with not a thought of forgiveness or of the consequences. Meanwhile, liberals take the pragmatic approach of rallying around their embattled candidates. Liberals are the pragmatists, and seem ostensibly more “Christian” in the process.

Politics is not a religion. Rather, it’s “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” If conservatives truly have a “conscience,” the salvation of their country should weigh much more heavily on them than whether they “feel good” about a particular candidate, especially when most of the complaints against him are not regarding his policy. After all, it’s policy that governs the country. There are no acts of Congress, executive orders or regulatory oversight based on what someone purportedly said or did years ago. Governance is by policy, and the candidate who wins the election sets policy.

Character is so crucial for our political leaders, yet both of the presidential candidates with a chance to win in this election cycle suffer from a dearth of it. With that out of the differential equation, it all boils down to policy and governance. We know what we will get with Democrat Hillary Clinton — four or eight more years of the moribund economic policy, the strangling effects of ever-expanding regulatory control of every aspect of our lives, foreign policy purchased by “donations” to the Clinton Foundation, and lies ad infinitum.

We may not know for sure what we get with a Donald Trump administration, but at least we know it will swing the pendulum, perhaps even slightly, to the right. This is crucial, for political shifts, and changes at the governmental level, are always incremental.

Politics, and governance in general, is incremental. The ebb and flow of the political environment and the mechanics of governance move incrementally, either toward liberty and constitutional principles, or toward centralized planning, governmental hegemony and dependency. Every piece of legislation, policy statement, regulation, executive order, election and judicial decision moves the nation, a state or a community slightly one direction or the other. It rarely moves all the way to one extreme or the other.

Too many conservatives suffer from “ideality paralysis”. They are waiting for the “perfect” candidate (who will never be found, since everyone’s notion is different); hoping against hope for a miraculous “victory” in the House (if their candidate can win but one state); incessantly rejecting the one person in a position to abate the nation’s perpetual descent into the statist abyss; or hoping against hope for a miraculous future victory based on a variety of “ifs.” This schismatic parsing of candidates, and perpetual self-inflicted shooting of the conservative movement in the foot, operationally and tactically, provides little hope for any future victory at the national level. That is, unless we can start thinking incrementally, and tactically, rather than ideally.

Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” And in politics, he couldn’t be more correct. Rather than waiting for the perfect candidate, we choose the most conservative viable candidate (who can win) on the ballot. This is tactical and pragmatic incrementalism, as we consider, from the candidates who can win, which inches us closer to liberty or away from it.

Long-term perspective significantly shapes incremental adaptation. Liberals seem to have a more long-term view of the process, and realize that each political victory is a rung on the progressive ladder. Too many conservatives suffer from severe myopia, mistakenly believing that if they can’t jump to the top of a ladder in one jump, they’ve failed, or that other conservatives have failed them if they can’t, or don’t, make the jump to the top minus the intervening steps.

This tendency places some conservatives in the unenviable position of never being satisfied with anything. Since they can’t have things just precisely the way they want them to be, they will forever be unsatisfied and politically unfulfilled. Liberals, generally, seem to relish each minor victory and recognize any politically incremental movement for what it is — one step in the process. And rather than bemoaning the failure to leap to the top of the ladder, they relish the small victory and gear up for the next battle for the next incremental triumph.

The two viable candidates in this presidential election cycle will move the country incrementally one direction or another. One, hopefully slightly back from the liberal abyss, while the other plunging headlong into it. And winning is everything in politics. Symbolic votes and votes of “conscience” don’t make Supreme Court appointments, implement policy or direct where a country is heading overall. Winners do.

Too many conservatives claim they have to “vote their conscience.” If they cared more about their country than “feeling good” about their vote, their conscience would demand they vote for the most conservative viable candidate, in spite of his or her flaws.

We should be collectively looking at the possible incremental movement away from the liberal abyss by voting for a less-than-perfect candidate, rather than willfully allowing the country to lurch, not just inch, ever closer to the point of no return – where the republic will be unsalvageable from the permanent damage of leftist policies. A true patriot would put his republic ahead of his “feel good” vote of conscience.

While conservatives are more likely to know their Constitution by rote, too many of us are political illiterates. Politics is about policy, which takes us even slightly closer to our founding principles, or further away. And the only way to effect change back to constitutional governance is by winning elections, with the most conservative electable candidate in a race. Tactical pragmatism rather than ideality should determine our voting. Symbolic third-party votes and third-party votes of “conscience” only enable the victory of the enemies of liberty. And in politics, winning is everything.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Paul Harvey’s Warning to America – “If I Were the Devil”

October 21st, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

Many years ago, a courageous and devoted American broadcasted a message to his listeners that served as a harbinger for where the nation was headed socially and culturally. In his broadcast he revealed what he would do if he were “the devil,” to destroy our culture and undermine our collective societal standards and social mores. That man was Paul Harvey Aurandt, affectionately known to the nation simply as Paul Harvey, and his message not only has proven to be prophetic, but serves as a warning to Americans today of where our society continues to trend.

Paul Harvey was a broadcaster who rendered daily news on the radio from the 1950s through the 1990s, and inspired generations of Americans with true stories of goodness and heroism with his daily, “The Rest of the Story.” He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 for his contributions to the nation. At his peak, his broadcasts reached as many as 24 million listeners and readers, as 1,600 radio stations and 300 newspapers carried his program and columns across the nation.

One broadcast, which he titled, “If I Were the Devil,” ran originally in 1964, but he updated it several times over the years, and the version detailed below aired in 1996. In Paul Harvey’s own words, here is what he said he would do, if he “were the devil.”

“If I were the prince of darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — thee. So, I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.

“I’d subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’

“To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington …’

“Then, I’d get organized, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

“If I were the devil, I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves and nations at war with themselves until each, in its turn, was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.

“If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I’d tell teachers to let those students run wild. And before you knew it, you’d have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.

With a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing and judges promoting pornography. Soon, I would evict God from the courthouse and the schoolhouse and then from the houses of Congress. In his own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I’d lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.

“If I were the devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. What’ll you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?

“I’d convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun and that what you see on television is the way to be. And thus, I could undress you in public and lure you into bed with diseases for which there are no cures.

“In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.”

Everything Harvey saw as nascent trends back in the 60’s has come to fruition. And realizing that many readers may not believe in the devil, per se, doesn’t change the fact that these portents have achieved fruition. Whether the causality is the adversary, other nefarious evil or injurious sources, or merely the result of wanton and hedonistic human nature, the culmination of these destructive trends in society has ripened dramatically in recent years.

Some benighted souls may interpret the dissolution of our most fundamental institutions, the defloration of our cultural mores, the rejection and denunciation of God, and the abandonment of standards of decency as “progress.” But to any with even a modicum of conscience, ethical grounding, or even objectivity in assessing our social viability from a historical perspective, we’ve not evolved as a society; we’ve devolved. Not unlike previous great cultures before us.

As intellectual historian Gertrude Himmelfarb has summarized, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized . . . . As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant. The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral – the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called – is now seen as pathological.”

Alas, where do we go from here? Do we continue to plunge to new depths of degeneracy as a society, or do we rise as a phoenix, reversing our downward spiral to nihilism? The answer lies in each of us, individually and collectively, and whether we, by honest introspection and appraisal, acknowledge our own failures and shortcomings, and determine to do better.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: The Lesser of Two Evils, or Third Party?

September 16th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

The presidential election of 2016 presents a consequential conundrum for voters, especially conservatives. With antipathy running at historic highs for a Republican nominee, the temptation to vote third party or not at all is significant. While each must make his or her own decision about what matters most in the process, we have to bear in mind the consequences of our decision.

First, let’s dispense with what elections are and what they are not. Voting for candidates is a means of selecting representatives for our governance. The most pervasive definition is, “An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.” The U.S. is not a theocracy, so we aren’t voting for a pastor, or a spiritual leader, or a great moralist.

Candidates have platforms, or statements of belief to delineate their policy positions in order for voters to ascertain their intent if elected. Ideally, all candidates are decent, honest, and honorable. So what do we do when the two major candidates in a two-party system are not? The most logical approach is to remove the subjective elements and focus strictly on the objective, by comparing your beliefs with those of the candidates. A superb way of seeing how your convictions align with the candidates is on the Internet at www.isidewith.com. Take the quiz at the top of the page for the presidential election and see how your view on the role of government, and specific issues, aligns with the candidates.

Although several candidates, including those from the Libertarian, Constitution, and Green parties are included, and may be on most of the state ballots, ours is fundamentally a two-party system. Some of that is due to our political history as a nation, but according to a research piece by the University of California in 2004, the Electoral College is one of the principle reasons. With a multiple party system, the ability to achieve the requisite 270 electoral votes is greatly diminished, which would cause presidential elections to be decided by the House of Representatives, rather than the popular vote by state, selecting Electors.

One Independent candidate has a strategy to take just one state, which his supporters argue, could possibly prevent either of the major candidates from surpassing the 270 electoral requirement. As it stands now, with the states Hillary Clinton has solid leads in, she has a 262 to 154 Electoral vote lead. Realistically, this isn’t even close, since all Hillary has to pick up is a state or two among the nine toss-up states, while Trump has to pick up all of them to win.

Because of the strength of the two-party system, third-party candidates inevitably draw voters from one of the two major parties. The Green Party takes some liberals from the Democrats, and the Constitution Party draws from the Republicans. While the Libertarian Party draws some from both, in part due to the social policies including legalization of drugs, but mostly from the ranks of the GOP. With the high level of dissatisfaction with the GOP nominee this year, the more votes siphoned away from one party or the other may have an impact on who ultimately wins, just as in 1992. That year Ross Perot, an Independent, amassed nearly 20 million votes, but didn’t win a single state or any Electoral votes. George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton by only five million votes, but it was an Electoral landslide for Clinton with 370 to 168 Electoral votes. The Independent candidate handed the victory to Clinton, having funneled off enough Republican voters to deny Bush the reelection.

Many voters are caught up in the “lesser of two evils” debate, averring they could never choose to support a candidate who is perceived to be only slightly less “evil” than the other. From a logical perspective, this approach to voting is fundamentally flawed, for it’s based on the premise that there is, in the political space, the opposite of evil – a perfect candidate. There are no perfect candidates. We’re all mortal, hence fallible and imperfect. Thus, technically, every election is a choice between “evils.” And since we’re dealing with mortal institutions, every choice is a gradation of imperfection and fallibility.

So given that all candidates are mortal, and therefore flawed, or if you will, “evil,” to some degree or another, we’re always voting for the lesser of evils. Let’s approach this concept from a logical and philosophical perspective based on Immanuel Kant’s deontological ethics, or duty-based ethics. From a Kantian “moral imperative” standpoint, to in any way facilitate the victory of the greater evil, is contrary to our duty to the republic. So if one acknowledges that one of the major candidates is more “evil” than the other, to allow the greater evil victory, by siphoning away votes from the lesser evil, is in fact immoral.

The bottom line is, why do you vote for a candidate? Do you vote for someone you believe honest, but whose convictions are antithetical to your own, or do you vote for the one who aligns closest to your convictions and preferred policies, perhaps in spite of perceived personal flaws? If politics was an ecclesiastical exercise, and you were selecting a new pastor, perhaps the former makes most sense. Ideally, all of our candidates would be honest and without character flaws. But as mortals, imperfection is a given, perhaps especially in the realm of politics. And since politics is about governance, and policy follows principle, ideological alignment is a more fundamental and realistic basis from which to choose.

Before the pro-liberty voter commits to a third party, they must consider the implications if they enable a Clinton victory. A few key issues to consider: 1. More Ginsburgs and Sotomayor’s on the Supreme Court, or more Scalia’s and Alito’s? 2. Less regulation versus more regulation. 3. More free enterprise or less? 4. More U.S. sovereignty (and concomitant security) or less, by ceding authority to the UN. 5. A stronger military or a weaker, more diluted and socially engineered one? 6. More wealth redistribution, or more personal accountability and freedom to achieve? 7. Keep Obamacare, or repeal it?

The reality is that either Clinton or Trump will win. Sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zone and vote based on policy and the greater good, rather than on a person, or assuaging our intrinsic sense of propriety. This is especially true for those who live in swing states where the election outcome will be determined.
Abstinence from voting, or voting in such a way to facilitate the election of the “greater evil,” certainly would be a violation of the moral imperative. We’d best consider the consequences of that third-party vote, or not voting, because if Clinton is handed the victory, the political hangover the morning after the election is going to be a doozey!

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: If You are Displeased with the Candidates and Didn’t Vote, YOU are to Blame!

September 16th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

Politics may not be of interest to you, but politics sure has an interest in you. Whether you feel it doesn’t make a difference by having your voice heard, or you just don’t care what government does to you or demands of you, the political process is heavily dependent upon you. And frankly, it often succeeds due to failure on our part to be involved.

Politics, after all, is simply “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” It is the exchange of ideas for governance that occurs in a free society.

There is a more pejorative, or less desirable aspect of the political process that is often laced with conflict over those who seek positions of responsibility that is often a “turn off” to many. This is understandable. But it’s simply part of the process, and arguably the biggest part, that determines the ideas and principles employed to determine the future of a community, a state, or a nation. One can be involved in the exchange of ideas, and sharing or supporting principles or even politicians, and still not be embroiled in the corruption that often defiles the process.

But isn’t that how life is in general? To all good and important things, there are less desirable antecedents, or concomitant events or actions. The pain and discomfort of childbirth is followed by the joys of parenting and delightful children. The prolonged dedication to jobs and work produce the comforts of life we aspire to for our families. The temporal loss of a loved one accompanies a greater appreciation for life and the impact of the one on our lives. As one good book says, “there is an opposition in all things.” There’s the good with the bad, the joys with the pain, and the light with the dark. In short, there’s the satisfaction of articulating correct principles, which is sometimes accompanied by social conflict over those ideas.

Surprisingly, usually only 50-60% of eligible voters in the country vote for their president. In midterm election cycles, between presidential elections, eligible voter turnout drops to as low as 38%, as with the 2008 midterms, even though they are arguably even more important perhaps than the presidential elections. And with each election cycle, every two years, local and state officials are vying for votes to give them the keys of governance. And since local government has a much more significant impact on our immediate quality of life, every election, even strictly local ones, are much more effectual for each of us personally.

There’s a video circulating on the internet that uses pennies to illustrate how many fellow citizens voted in the presidential primaries this year to provide us the two major candidates for president. It starts with 324 pennies, each representing a million people. Subtract 103 pennies from those, which represents the 103 million who are ineligible to vote, like children, non-citizens, and felons. Then subtract another 88 million who never vote, not even in general elections. Then delete another 73 pennies representing those who didn’t vote in the primary elections, but will likely vote in the general election. That brings us down to 60 pennies, representing those who voted in the primary elections, about 30 for each of the two major parties. Half of those primary voters cast their ballots for someone other than the two nominees. Statistically, just 14% of eligible voters, or 9% of the entire population, voted for Trump or Clinton. Fully 161 million eligible voters did not vote for either candidate.

Now, in light of this data, consider how much different the outcome could have been if even a percentage of the 88 million who never vote, had done so, or a portion of the 73 million who were eligible, yet failed to vote in the primary election. If you are dissatisfied with the two nominees, yet failed to vote, you are part of the reason why out of 324 million people, we are left with two significantly flawed candidates.

For those who choose apathy over involvement, are there no principles or ideas you deem worthy of your support? No concepts so important that you are willing to take a stand? No individuals who support the same values that you deem worthy of your support, or at the very least, a vote?

Elected officials, and politics in general, determine a great deal about your life, or can have significant impact on your quality of life. They can impact how dynamic the economy is, which effects what kind of job you may have, or how much you can earn, or how much of your hard-earned money you get to keep. They will have an impact on what government demands of you, what kinds of healthcare you get, the kinds of products that are available to purchase, and the quality of our food and environment. They have an impact on our social environment, the respect or lack thereof for the law, and the quality of our educational system for our children and grandchildren.

In short, there is very little they don’t have an impact on. And their success in implementing their ideas is directly effected by the involvement of the American citizen. We are, after all, a republic, founded on the principle that we are bestowed with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Are we forfeiting our rights by not participating in the process that determines our ability to retain, protect, and maintain them?

Thomas Jefferson stated, “There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.” To some, that debt of service may be to serve in an elected capacity. To some, to fairly and accurately report the facts of what is occurring in our nation and our communities. And for others, it is to merely work hard for our families and pay our taxes. But for all of us, without exception, the debt of service must include participation in the electoral process of choosing our leaders and representatives. Any less than this, as eligible voters, is a forfeiture of our rights as citizens to ensure our pursuit of happiness, and perpetuation of our republic.

For as the Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago has said, “The painter paints, the musician makes music, the novelist writes novels. But I believe that we all have some influence, not because of the fact that one is an artist, but because we are citizens. As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved, it’s the citizen who changes things.”

None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something. And the very least we can all do, is to be informed and to vote. In fact, our citizenship demands it of us!

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Capitalism Works, if Government Would Just Get Out of the Way!

August 26th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

A seemingly accelerating trend with many Americans is to look with skepticism and a jaundiced perspective at business, capitalism, and the profit motive. In spite of efforts by some to rewrite history, those of us who are students of history recognize that capitalism made America the economic superpower that it is. And the more we allow government to interfere in our economy, the more we move toward a fascistic system where government controls the means of production.

Business and the profit motive have turned us from an agrarian to a high-tech producing and consuming nation. All of us are dependent upon business and the profit motive for everything we do every day. From the manufacturer of the bed we arise from and the alarm clock we wake up to, to the toothpaste, shampoo, and comb we use in the morning. The beverage we imbibe to give us a kick-start in the morning and the vehicle we drive to work are products of once small businesses that have grown sometimes to global proportions. If any of those products or services we depend on get too expensive, we start shopping for cheaper alternatives. That’s capitalism in a nutshell.

Most of us even work for a small business driven by the profit motive. Those firms, created and managed by entrepreneurs, market and sell products, provide advice and services, and fill the needs of people from all walks of life. They pay us to fill a specific function within the company to help them service their customers more efficiently and cost-effectively. And most of them pay another 30% of our salaries or wages in the form of benefits to help retain quality employees. And according to Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University an amazing 89 percent of us are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with our jobs.

As a matter of fact, according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99% of all employer firms, employ half of all private sector employees, pay 45% of total U.S. private payroll, generate 80% of new jobs annually, create more than 50% of nonfarm private GDP, comprise 97% of all identified exporters, and produce 26% of the known export value to our GDP.

Yet every time new governmental regulation is imposed on businesses, the costs increase. Whenever the government increases taxes on companies, the costs increase again. In order to stay in business, they must pass those costs on to their customers, or find other ways to reduce costs like eliminating jobs. That’s why it makes no sense to tax companies since we all end up individually paying their taxes via increased prices for their products and services.

And it’s not just small business that makes our quality of life what it is, but the brother of small business; BIG business. It’s not an evil concept, to sell things that people want and need at prices that most people can afford, so they can sell as much or as many as possible, applying the economies of scale. And they do so with a profit motive in order to share their success with those who ponied-up the capital, (investors, silent partners, share-holders) facilitating their business ventures. Remember, if they over-price their widgets, they price themselves out of the market. If they underprice their widgets, they’re not going to remain viable, and will have to lay off employees and won’t be able to pay all those taxes the government is requiring of them. Then their employees will have to hope they can find another widget company to replace the job they lost.

The media, Hollywood, and even some of our fellow citizens bash “big pharma,” big oil, or big retailers like Wal-Mart. But in reality what do those “big” evil companies do? They provide needed products and services at reasonable prices, and jobs, enabling our national economic engine, and our quality of life, to keep chugging along. They have limited control over much of their expenses, but to be able to continue doing what they do, they achieve a modest profit to ensure their viability in future years, and allow us to have a job.

When politicians promise “free stuff” at the expense of taxpayers, they’re doing nothing more than attempting bribery – they promise free stuff for our votes. And it’s not their free stuff. It’s stuff they promise to use governmental coercion to forcibly take from others, in order to redistribute to those they’re bribing.

It’s no wonder that Bernie Sanders, who nearly captured the Democrat nomination, (and would have if the DNC had not colluded with the Clinton campaign) garnered the support he did as the self-avowed socialist peddled collectivist promises for populist electoral support.

And Hillary Clinton is no less ideologically aligned with socialistic solutions. A disciple of Saul Alinsky, and the first architect of a socialized healthcare system for the U.S., she has made some brash statements over the years that reveal her ideological convictions. Among her many anti-capitalist statements are these nuggets. “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good,” (6/29/04). “It’s time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity,” (5/29/07). “(We) … can’t just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people,” (6/4/07). “I certainly think the free-market has failed,” (6/4/07).

The brilliant economist, Thomas Sowell, has philosophically put the failed socialist ideology into proper perspective. “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you’ve earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” And for academics who are smitten with the failed ideology, “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant than only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

Too many of us rely on fallacious populist typecasts of what business and the profit motive do, rather than relying on our empirical observations of their contributions to our quality of life and economic viability. We allow the media, Hollywood, or anti-business kvetching to taint our perceptions with a failed, yet idyllically appealing narrative of “equality” or “social justice.”

PragerU has produced an insightful clip that explains this perfectly. It can be seen here.

The profit motive, capitalism, and free enterprise, are the backbone to our economic system, and as such, are the key to future growth and prosperity, individually and collectively. Government encroachment and increased regulation stymie future potential growth, our quality of life, and our job security. It’s time for Americans to quit buying (with their votes), what self-serving politicians promise for them. Less regulation, less taxation, less government spending, and less government control is the solution for future economic growth and security.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Time for Candidates to Address Debt, Spending and the Economy

April 15th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

The discourse on the presidential race has devolved to a point that the most pressing issues seem totally lost in the verbal brawls between candidates. The economic threats and risks to the republic should be the centerpiece of the campaign, for both parties, rather than relegated to a footnote to their public statements.

We have nearly $19 trillion in debt now as a nation. Eight years ago when it was $8 trillion, then candidate Barack Obama denounced the fiscal profligacy of such exorbitant debt, only to more than double it during his two terms. Even Hillary Clinton called it a “threat to our national security.” Why is this threat hardly even mentioned during this campaign?

Due to the massive debt being amassed by government spending, the role of the dollar as the global reserve currency is threatened. During the first five years of the Obama administration, our deficit spending exceeded $1 trillion per year. The first two of those years we were within a few hundred billion of spending twice what we were collecting in treasury receipts. The lack of discipline and fiscal responsibility in Washington led to a downgrade of the nation’s sea of debt by Standard & Poor’s. The ratings organization stated at the time, “Elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising U.S. public debt burden in a manner consistent with a ‘AAA’ rating.”

Three years ago, Dick Bove, vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets said, “Generally speaking, it is not believed by the vast majority that the American dollar will be overthrown. But it will be, and this defrocking may occur in as short a period as five to 10 years… If the dollar loses status as the world’s most reliable currency, the United States will lose the right to print money to pay its debt. It will be forced to pay this debt.”

At the current rate of spending, the federal debt is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to be a staggering $24 trillion by 2020. Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission has calculated that service on the interest for that debt alone, if rates stay near current record lows, will be nearly $1 trillion! If interest rates rise, we’ll pay more. Very soon the largest line item spending category will be paying interest on our debt. More than welfare programs, more than defense spending, more than everything!

The General Accounting Office was explicit in its warning to the policy makers three years ago about our spending. They said in the very first paragraph, “GAO’s simulations continue to show escalating levels of debt that illustrate that the long-term fiscal outlook remains unsustainable.”

Yet we hardly hear a word about our onerous and debilitating debt. Nor do we hear much about economic growth, that is equally important as prudent fiscal policy. As Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “A growing economy means a growing standard of living. … That translates into more dreams fulfilled for more Americans, whether that means a college degree, a home in a decent neighborhood, or just the certainty that your children will do even better than you did.”

It’s no surprise for the Democrat candidates to not fret over the debt or economic growth. Bernie’s programs are calculated to cost $18 trillion themselves, and Hillary’s plans would require a 69% tax increase! Don’t expect economic reality from them. But the Republicans should know better.

To illustrate how critical economic growth is to the country. University of Chicago economist John Cochrane recently wrote that “sclerotic growth is the overriding economic issue of our time. From 1950 to 2000, the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.5 percent per year. Since 2000, it has grown at half that rate, 1.7 percent.”

This is more important to the middle class than any other segment of the population, because as Cochrane points out, from 1952 to 2000, real income per person in the U.S. rose from $16,000 to $50,000. If the economy grew by only 2 percent per year over that period, rather than 3.5 percent, real incomes for the average person would have risen to only $23,000, not $50,000. That’s why average middle class incomes have actually declined since 2008 – a moribund economy with negligible growth.

And it’s organic economic growth we need, not questionable monetary-policy-based growth that we need. Arguably, the Federal Reserve’s “quantitative easing” has exacerbated the problem with regard to the debt hole we’re digging for ourselves.
ftblog63Bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital, concurs. Gundlach says, “The slow-growth U.S. economy is living on cheap money as is the bull market, which is in its last stages.” He explains that the central bank is committed to “easy money,” referring to the accommodative low rate policy and quantitative easing. He calls these policies “circular financing schemes.”

The economy has not improved in any tangible way for the millions of Americans struggling with unemployment and underemployment. A healthy jobs market is crucial to strengthening the middle class, which currently exhibits a troubling lack of long-term stability. More people have dropped out of the work force than at any other time, and median household income continues to decline. A growing economy can solve this economic malaise.

There are other important issues as well. But these are the most crucial for survival of the republic, and having the wherewithal to provide for the defense of the realm. And what we need from our presidential aspirants is solutions to these critical issues. Whichever one of them starts to provide meaningful and realistic solutions should be the winner not only at the convention, but in November. I believe economist John Cochrane is exactly right. “Solving almost all our problems hinges on reestablishing robust economic growth.”

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Richard Larsen: Possible Drama for GOP Convention

April 8th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

This could be the first year in a long time that a major political party convention actually serves the function of producing a nominee, rather than simply being a coronation of a nominee. For many who are emotionally invested in a certain outcome from the conventions this year, the angst and outright anger is nearly palpable. But it’s unwarranted, as borne out by history, and an understanding of the function of conventions.

Until 1972, major party presidential candidates were all chosen by the respective party conventions. The chaotic 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago provided the incentive to move more to a presidential primary system to generate delegates to party conventions. Hubert H. Humphrey became the Democrat nominee even though he had not run in a single presidential primary.

The Republican Party has also reformed its nomination process over the years, yet has left most of the delegate selection process in the power of the state party organizations. Each state has rules for selection of their delegates, and their voting obligations, that may be different from even their neighbor states.

For example, Republicans have never adopted proportionality as a universal rule, which has left some with “winner take all” delegate assignation while others have been allocated on a percentage basis. They have intentionally left many of the delegate rules in control at the state level, rather than imposing a top-down system.

This also applies to how rigidly committed the delegates are to a particular candidate once the convention begins. If any of the candidates garner the requisite 1,237 delegates before the convention, nominee selection is a moot point. He will be the party nominee. But if none of the candidates garner that many delegates, the convention will of necessity be a contested one, not technically an open or brokered one. And there’s nothing ominous or pejorative about that, it just means the votes on the convention floor will actually mean something, rather than being a perfunctory vote for a predetermined nominee.

The RNC is going to great lengths to make the process as transparent and open as possible for the convention scheduled for July 18–21 in Cleveland. They’ve even created a new website where rules, facts, and details can be perused at conventionfacts.gop.
With a contested convention, the eventual nominee is unknown beforehand, since no candidate has garnered the requisite number of delegates to secure the nomination. Under the rules established by the party, since it is their convention and the respective candidates have at least ostensibly pledged allegiance to the party since they’re running under the party’s banner, several rounds of voting may occur before a nominee is selected by a majority vote. A plurality will not suffice. Most state rules only obligate delegates to vote according to the primary results of their respective states for the first ballot. After that, most can vote according to their conscience.

As of this week, Donald Trump has 736 delegates of the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the convention. The number of delegates awarded to non-Trump candidates, including those who have “suspended” their campaigns (meaning they’re no longer seeking the nomination with an active campaign, yet have debts they still need to liquidate) is 834 delegates. That’s 98 delegates more than Trump has at this point. And there are still 902 delegates to be determined by the remaining primaries.
www.usnewsThis week Donald Trump reportedly met with the Republican National Committee to consider a rule change that would assure him the nomination even if he doesn’t reach the necessary threshold to secure the nomination. This seems more than a bit ironic since he’s been alleging that the RNC would change their rules to prevent him from securing the nomination, but he has no compunction in requesting a rule change to assure his victory. Perhaps ironic is insufficient; duplicitous would be much more accurate.

While Trump supporters are vociferous in their assertion that Trump should be the nominee if he has the most delegates, if he fails to secure the required 1,237 delegates, they must acknowledge that those supporting candidates other than Trump actually have more. So technically, the majority belongs with the non-Trump delegates, and a second or third ballot at the convention will likely determine the nominee. If he fails to secure the required number of votes, he loses the nomination, fair and square.

Metaphorically, having the best record in the NFL does not make a team the world champion. They have to win the Super Bowl to earn that title. A team is not merely proclaimed “champion” due to their record. Yet that seems to be what Trump adherents are arguing.

If, after losing a nominating vote on the floor of the convention, Trump opts to break his word and not support the nominee, he’s done nothing more than perhaps prove he is just a common politician after all, as his word means nothing. And if he pursues a third-party nomination, he simply proves he’s in it just for himself, and not for the nation, for he’d certainly hand the general election to either of the socialists running for the other party’s nomination.

For a little historical perspective, it would be good to know that Abraham Lincoln was the nominee who emerged from an open convention in 1860, on the third ballot. He was victorious even though he was not considered a contender heading into the convention.
Another contested GOP convention was in 1952 when retired general Dwight D. Eisenhower was in a close race with Senator Robert A. Taft, a respected party elder making his third try for the office once held by his father, William H. Taft. Eisenhower won on the first ballot after some delegates changed their vote to Ike.

In 1976 Ronald Reagan challenged incumbent president Gerald Ford. Neither had sufficient delegates to ensure the nomination, but the unpledged delegates to the convention pushed Ford over the nomination threshold on the first ballot. The same thing happened with Democrats in 1984, when the race between Walter Mondale and Gary Hart was decided on the first round of balloting after unpledged delegates opted for Mondale.
Reagan_giving_his_acceptance_speech_at_Republican_National_Convention_7-17-80Of the total of 2,472 Republican delegates, 437 of them are unpledged delegates, and 168 of those are members of the Republican National Committee. Any combination of those could well be the deciding factor pushing Trump over the top, even in the first round if he fails to secure 1,237 before the convention. Or they could combine with the non-Trump votes to the nomination of someone else.

Despite cries of inequity and manipulation, the GOP has rules established, and will follow those rules in the selection of their nominee. While many Trump supporters maintain it’s them, not the party per se that should be selecting the nominee, it is, after all, the “Republican Party.” The Party chooses the nominee, not just a plurality of boisterous adherents.

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Richard Larsen: Uncomfortable GOP Fit for Trump

March 30th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

Even the mention of political parties in general brings out the worst in some people, and the reaction only becomes more vociferous and “colorful” when specific parties are mentioned by name. As despised and maligned as the two major parties are, at any given time, it’s amazing they’re still around, even though they fill a crucial role in our American political system. But there has perhaps never been a presidential election in which party affiliation has meant less than in this one.

The founding fathers were adamantly opposed to the concept of political parties, or “factions,” as they often referred to them. The principles upon which our republic was established are fundamentally premised on the assumption that governance would be by rationality and collaboration amongst the citizenry and those in government, and our founders were convinced that a consensus for the greater good would always prevail.

The ink was hardly dry on the Constitution before factions, or parties, began to be formed. And perhaps most surprisingly, those most critical of parties were most instrumental in their formation. George Washington had said that party bickering “agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another.” And Thomas Jefferson claimed, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

Washington’s policies, foreign and domestic, strengthened and expanded the power of the new federal government, spawning a faction of Federalists. A broad cross-section of the populace was opposed to this expansion of centralized power, and became known as the Democratic-Republicans, harboring the same loathing of centralized power that the Anti-Federalists did during the drafting of the Constitution. This anti-federalist sentiment led Jefferson to resign as Secretary of State to lead the opposition to the Federalist faction of Washington, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. This marked, in essence, the birth of America’s two-party political system.

The ideological bifurcation of our founder’s republicanism, which spawned America’s earliest two-party system, continues today, and still provides the demarcation of contemporary parties. In general ideological terms, yesterday’s Federalists are today’s Democrats, more inclined toward centralized power, and the Anti-Federalists, or Democratic-Republicans, are today’s Republicans, favoring decentralized power and individual liberty.

Like the Anti-Federalists of yesterday, today’s Republicans generally favor less government, less centralized control over the economy, less regulation and control over the private sector, less spending, and lower taxes. Also, like their 18th century predecessors, the current iteration of anti-federalists also are more literal and devout in enforcement of our Bill of Rights, and the credo trifecta of the Declaration of Independence, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Even though such a general belief system runs deep in the GOP (Grand Old Party), there’s no litmus test for fealty to those principles in order to declare party affiliation. Nor is it requisite for those who run under the Republican banner. It’s simply a matter of self-identification, and anyone can claim at any time to be a member of either of the parties, or none of the parties.

And the same holds for candidates. And this is where things get sticky for Republicans. The current GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, has a history of statements on his belief system that could make him more of a Democrat than a Republican. He also has a history of donating more to Democrat candidates in the past than to Republicans. Yet today, he claims to be a Republican.

Perhaps even more disconcerting for Republicans, rather than broadening the GOP’s “big tent,” he’s narrowing it with his incendiary speech and antics. By so doing, he’s reshaping the perception of the party he claims to be a member of and wants to lead. And judging from current polls indicating Hillary Clinton would thoroughly trounce him in November by eleven points, his alienation of minority voters, certain religious voters, most voters with a sense of principle, many conservatives, and people with a sense of decency and propriety, his march to the nomination could easily be characterized as a GOP political suicide by amputation – one limb (or demographic) at a time.

No wonder “the establishment” Republicans, and life-long party members who have invested years, even lifetimes, to broaden electoral appeal while striving to stay true to party principles take exception to his redrawing the face of the party! He is not a Republican at heart, and in 2004 even said “I identify more as a Democrat.” He has given little over the years to the Party, and shares little ideological alignment with it, yet much like a 19th century “carpetbagger,” sweeps in and hijacks the political apparatus with which he shares little affinity, and takes over.

With no litmus test or oath of fealty to the GOP, or to the principles espoused by the party, it’s disturbing that one can simply assume the right to take over and reshape the face of an entire organization, simply on the strength of his populist lingo and propaganda. To many who have spent their lives attempting to favorably shape the public perception of their party, Trump’s hijacking is as distasteful as it would be if Rush Limbaugh were to do so to the Democrat Party.

Party representation has perhaps never, in recent political history, meant less substantively or ideologically, than it does this year. The surprising breadth of support for Trump is not based on principles and party ideology. It’s based on electorate anger, dissatisfaction with the system, and adulation of an anti-establishment persona. Because ideologically, Trump is a box of Cracker Jacks – we have no idea what kind of surprise comes inside!

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Richard Larsen: Mitt Romney has Every Right to Express His Concerns for America

March 18th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

The vitriol heaped upon former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney this past week is entirely illogical and irrational. It only makes sense in the emotion-driven context prevailing during this election cycle. But alas, due to the prevailing emotional populist sentiment, logic has become the most obvious casualty of the primary election season. No wonder this is often referred to as the “silly season.”

Romney had the temerity to criticize the demeanor, abrasive and crass style, as well as some of the unpropitious statements by current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. “He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss,” Romney declared.

The former Massachusetts governor came short of endorsing one of the other three candidates in the GOP race, but discouraged Republican voters from supporting Trump. In doing so, he echoed the sentiments of many who claim affinity with an ABT approach to the primaries – Anyone But Trump.

Some of the critics of Romney’s interjection into the race have said he has no right to do so. Isn’t it ironic that those so critical of Romney think they can express their disdain, but Romney can’t? Can’t get much more duplicitous than that! Frankly, every citizen has that First Amendment right of free speech. One is not deprived of that right just because they’re a former candidate, or may have lost an election.

Should his opinion carry weight? Logically, as well as a matter of principle, one should think so. He’s carried the party banner, and did so with dignity and class. He’s a man of sound judgment and acumen, and sometimes those who have run and lost have a better grasp of the stakes than those who haven’t. He has a vested interest in the future of the country and the future of the Republican Party. Perhaps his words are ignored at our peril.

Others have criticized Romney saying he was a “horrible” candidate in 2012 running against Barack Obama. This begs the question, what is a good candidate? He had no skeletons in his closet, no moral turpitude, and he acted presidential. He is, in many ways, the antithesis of this year’s frontrunner. Maybe that says more about the party and how it’s changing, than it says about Romney.

That’s not to say he didn’t make faux pas’ as a candidate. His factual observation that 47% of the populace is on some kind of federal assistance didn’t help, and according to some political operatives, his refusal to go negative against Obama sealed his fate. Is that another component to being a “horrible” candidate? Refusing to go negative? If so, it certainly explains why many in the GOP are in full-fledged adulation mode with Trump. With him, it will be a surprise if and when he goes positive.

Perhaps the animosity directed toward Romney is merely transference because of the anti-establishment mentality prevalent during this election cycle. Even this is illogical since Romney was not the preferred “establishment” candidate either in ’08 (when he bowed out early) or in 2012.

As the Washington Post reminded us a year ago, “Romney wasn’t the first choice for many in the establishment. True, a few bigwigs were deeply committed to him from the start. But they hardly represented consensus opinion. That’s why we heard so many entreaties for other candidates to run.”

In an interview earlier this week, Chris Wallace asked Romney about the “establishment” allegation. Romney responded, “Establishment suggests there must be some Wizard of Oz somewhere pulling the strings. That’s not the way it works. I sat there and watched Donald Trump, and I said, look, someone has got to say something. I didn’t talk to anybody and say, ‘I’m going to do a speech, do you have some ideas?’ This is something I did on my own because I care very deeply about the country.”

“I love America. I’m concerned about America and I believe the heart and soul of conservatives and Republicans recognize that the principles that Donald Trump is talking about have nothing to do with conservatism, nothing to do with keeping America strong.”
What the establishment allegation against Romney does is create a whole new definition of the “establishment.” In this iteration, it’s everyone who doesn’t share the gutter-mentality, gutter-speech, and noncommittal ideology of Donald Trump.

Which brings us to arguably the most denunciatory claim made against Romney – that he’s a “loser.” This requires assessment of why he lost in 2012. As Rush Limbaugh explains it, “4.5 million to 5 million Republicans didn’t vote in 2012. This is the conventional wisdom and they didn’t vote because they didn’t like the nominee, he wasn’t conservative enough, or there was a religious component.”

So was he conservative enough? Many in the establishment thought he was too conservative, hence their efforts to recruit and back more “mainstream” candidates. Further, anyone who read his book “No Apology,” knew where his priorities and his values were based. He did not lack in conservative fidelity! But as Rush points out, there likely was a bigotry issue with some who refused to back an LDS (Mormon) candidate. Their ecclesiastical purity trumped their love of country. That is unconscionable! Voting for a president is not an ecclesiastical endorsement!

Those verities translate into Romney’s critics perhaps being the real losers. If they didn’t bother to get behind him and vote four years ago, they’re the losers. Romney, and the nation, simply reaped the fruits of those who condemned us with another four years of “the One” by their imprudence and inaction.

The country missed one of the greatest opportunities for principled, conservative, and classy leadership four years ago. What a shame that he is maligned now for having the audacity to share his valid concerns for the future of the party and the nation!
Romney had every right to share his insights, and we simply prove yet again that we’re losers, as a party and as a nation, if we fail to listen to wisdom and reason, regardless of how much we may like or dislike the source.

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Richard Larsen: Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality

March 9th, 2016 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The most disturbing aspect to the Donald Trump candidacy is not the empty rhetoric, non-substantive solutions, or even his brash politically-incorrect style. The most disturbing aspect of his candidacy is what it says about so many of our fellow citizens. A veritable personality cult is developing around the GOP frontrunner rivaling that of the Democrat nominee from four and eight years ago. And it’s just as speciously founded.

Some assert that the Trump bandwagon is reshaping the Republican Party. Some go even further and claim that his candidacy is simply bringing out sordid and ignoble characteristics of the party that have been heretofore more latent and simmering under the veneer surface of decency. Such characterizations are erroneous.

Both major parties are grappling with atypical undercurrents that are largely reshaping the face, and perhaps the heart, of each. Regrettably, both are founded in a pejorative form of populism, whether it’s the promise of “free stuff” for adherents of the Democrat Party, or the abject anger aimed at unresponsive and tyrannical government for the Republicans. Such populism is destructive to the political process in a republic, as it appeals to citizens’ selfishness and most base instincts. And it’s culturally destructive as it drags the public dialogue to the lowest common denominator, while appealing to emotion at the expense of logic and reason.

In the last two presidential election cycles there was a veritable cult following for “The One” that venerated and idolized him regardless of what he said or did. He could do no wrong. His speech was lofty; language grandiloquent; substance lacking; and promises vapid.
low-infosThis year the leading GOP candidate has a similar cult following. It doesn’t seem to matter that “Make America great again,” and “we’re going to win…” constitute 50% of his specious speeches, with the other 50% reiterating his greatness. With little substance accompanying his bold statements, it’s hardly distinguishable from the empty “Hope and Change” mantra of Obama’s cult following.

But unlike Obama’s elevating elocution, Donald Trump’s speech is degrading, debasing, and uncivil. As Mitt Romney aptly delineated this week, Trump is one who “mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s question to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.” But to the cult of Trump, civility, class, and decorum don’t matter.

Whether we like it or not, the fact is that the president of the United States is the face of the nation. For all of Obama’s policy and ideology failures, at least he was not always an embarrassment in terms of his conduct and decorum. He has typically filled his role as face of America to the world with class. He has acted presidential.

Trump has no illusion of what it means to act presidential, and is redefining it to the depths of depravity with his tactlessness and inexorable ad hominem attacks on anyone who crosses him. But to the cult of Trump, it doesn’t matter.

Following Barack Obama’s Super Tuesday victories in 2008, he revealed his “messiah complex” by claiming, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Millions of Americans seemed to agree whilst gullibly falling for his grandiloquent, yet vapid speech. He could do no wrong in the eyes of his cult-like followers.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the leading narcissist of the 2016 presidential race, claims that, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Such is the power of the cult of personality and its hold on the sycophants who suspend reason in order to wholly buy into a campaign idiom of populist appeal. To the cult of Trump, it doesn’t matter.

When Obama preyed upon the emotions of low information voters, many on the right were critical not just of Obama and his insubstantial campaigns, but of the uninformed, ill-informed, and misinformed voters who flocked to him in ignorance. Ironically, many of those critics are now devout members of the cult of Trump.

Compromise is a bad word and anathema to the political purist. Yet in the cult of Trump, it doesn’t matter, because compromise is rebranded as “the art of the deal” and the great dealmaker is adored and praised.

Just as sound-thinking Democrats would likely prefer to not have their party seen as the party of economic illiteracy, abdication of personal responsibility, and freeloaders, so also most Republicans don’t appreciate Trump’s redrawing the face of their party to reflect the crassness, rudeness, callousness, debasement, and moral turpitude of their leading presidential candidate. Such regression in both parties does not portend well for the republic.

In that context, both major political parties are being redefined, and it’s to the detriment of the nation and the freedoms and liberties we hold sacrosanct. Let’s hope there are enough sane and sensible people to save us from the populists in both parties!

Today for the Republican party, the choice is remarkably similar to the ’08 and ’12 choices for the Democrats, and it comes down to the classic Platonic dichotomy of form versus substance. Regrettably for the GOP this time around, not only is the substance lacking, but even the form is not appealing, as it culturally spirals down to the lowest common denominator and our most base instincts.

When reason and logic are employed in the candidate and presidential selection process, policy matters, character matters, and substance matters. When a cult of personality rules the process, none of it matters. And there can be little doubt of how the Trump zealots are amassing behind his persona. And he knows it. He can say or do anything, even “shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue,” and his adherents remain faithful. That’s when you know all reason has been suspended.

Anger and frustration with Washington is totally understandable. But the solution is not a classless self-adulator who spews venomous aspersions as fact, and whose platform is based in rage. Appealing to emotion is the low-information approach to leadership, and requires a cult-like fealty to succeed, much like the last two election cycles. The Trump cult, regrettably, seems filled with faux conservatives who care less about principles, character, or truth, and are willing to march to the beat of another narcissistic, egocentric political drum based on vapid memes and platitudes. Trump has become a Pied Piper of populistic political porn.

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