Author: adamelijah (page 1 of 2)

Memebusters: 4.1% GDP Growth

We’re beginning a new series called Memebusters.

The social media meme is the modern propaganda tool for lazy activists. Lazy activists is an oxymoron but sadly applicable. You can change the world (and not for the better) by sharing memes that confirm your own prejudices and being too intellectually lazy to think about whether it makes sense and too lazy to take two minutes to research something before proclaiming it to all your friends.

According to a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, many of these memes, on both the left and the right, are crafted by the Russian Internet Research Agency. Everyone making, posting, and sharing malicious memes is inadvertently doing Russia’s job for them.

The goal of the memebuster series is:

  1. Expose the lies and misrepresentations of a given meme.
  2. Encourage independent thinking and research.
  3. Discourage sharing false, misleading, illogical, and hateful memes whether they come from the far left or the far right.

We’ll begin the series with a relatively simple meme:

Whoever made this meme should have said GDP growth rather than GDP. Beyond that, there are three important things that must be said:

  1. This Meme is Out of Date

I found this meme being passed around on social media in November 2019. The story on GDP growth was based on initial estimates for 2nd Quarter 2018 and made the news in late July 2018. Sixteen months later, it’s still being touted on the Internet as if it was just released. The latest quarter’s initial numbers put GDP growth at 1.9%. Though those are initial numbers accurate as of this writing but could easily change.

2. Quotes are Taken Out of Context or Just Wrong

The meme itself discloses one statement that was taken out of context. Obama did say something involving Trump and a magic wand, but it wasn’t about a GDP growth number, it was about Trump’s promise to bring back manufacturing jobs. While bringing back manufacturing jobs might help GDP growth, they aren’t the same thing. Even there, Obama’s point wasn’t that growth in the manufacturing sector or bringing back manufacturing job was impossible, but rather that Trump was being vague on how he was going to achieve results.

The quotes about 1% economic growth being the new normal and 2.5% Growth being unattainable are invented. The second is silly as Obama had two years exceeding 2.5% GDP growth. Obama’s Administration did state that economic growth would be “permanently slower than it was in earlier eras.” That’s reflected in the fact Obama’s administration didn’t have a single year with growth over 3%, and neither has President Trump.

3. Confusing the Issue

While Trump had a quarter with 4.1% growth, that was an initial report of a quarterly number, not an annual number. Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times provided some important context:

…on the campaign trail, Trump promised growth of 3.5% a year, and sometimes even 4%. That’s sustained, annual growth, not annualized growth for a single quarter. He still hasn’t delivered on that promise…

In any case, a 4.1% annualized growth rate isn’t only not “amazing,” it’s not even particularly remarkable. The Obama administration reached it in four quarters, including one with an annualized rate of 5.1%. 

LA Times

It’s worth noting Trump’s Contract with the American People promised 4% growth per year. By focusing on numbers from a single quarter, Trump makes it look like he achieved a goal when he’s still falling short of what was promised with 2.86% in GDP Growth in 2018 and lower growth is expected this year based on the numbers so far.

Overall Thoughts:

The question of GDP growth is a complex one. Economists not only debate what level is attainable, but growth numbers for given years and quarters are revised up and down for months, multiple times based on new data.

As such, Facebook memes are not a serious way to discuss this issue. It doesn’t help that this particular meme is unclear as to what it’s talking about, is out of date, makes up quotes or rips them out of context, and distracts from President Trump’s campaign promise, which remains unfulfilled as of this writing.

How to Talk to Your Family About the Need for a New Political Party this Thanksgiving

Just Don’t

Many left wingers are eager to use Thanksgiving to give their Trump-supporting/right-leaning relatives a smackdown lesson in politics as they see it. One Thanksgiving host I know of has set the wifi password to IMPEACH45 as to require their Trump-supporting relatives to type the words if they want on wifi. I would argue that this and other holiday political hi-jinks is a bad idea and ultimately counterproductive.

There are three big reasons why arguing politics at Thanksgiving is generally not a good idea. I say generally because there I have heard of families full of people who love nothing more than to have a good-natured argument, and are able to do so with good humor and without rancor. If you’re from a family such as this, than feel free to ignore this.

First of all, from a purely personal perspective, the Holidays are a special time when you actually get to spend time with people, many of whom have limited life time remaing and enjoy a feast together.If this Thanksgiving turns out to be the last time you see a grandfather or a beloved aunt, would you really want to remember that you browbeat them about their political preferences?

Secondly, our inability to have a peaceful Holiday meal without getting into an argument about politics is a part of a much larger problem. Politics has become too big and too important. Spaces and days free of political angst are shrinking. It’s poisonous to our national life and when you start an argument about politics at Thanksgiving, you’re becoming part of the problem.

Third, it’s really a question of “time and a place.” I have yet to hear of any minds being changed by a belligerent Thanksgiving argument. You’re far more likely to annoy rather than persuade as the fact you’re starting an argument and “ruining” the family time together we’ll obliterate the value of your message.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in the midst of arguments we didn’t start. Arguments are started by others and we have to choose how to respond. In doing so, remember to be respectful and to work maintain the relationship. Carly Fiorina had some interesting thoughts on handling political disagreements in her latest podcast, encouraging the use of “open-ended genuinely curious and caring questions” which is probably more effective than most other approaches to political disagreements.

We face many serious problems. However, the best thing we can do for our country’s future tomorrow is to come together to celebrate Thanksgiving in a spirit of goodwill and do our best to be agents of peace and unity.]

Happy Thanksgiving.

Pro-Life Democrats are Among the Politically Homeless

Most of my blog posts have addressed ex-Republicans like myself, yet we received a reminder last week that pro-life Democrats are also among the politically homeless. CNN reported last week:

The group for state Democratic attorneys general issued a warning to potential candidates on Monday — back abortion rights, or we won’t back you.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association announced that it would only endorse candidates who support abortion access and publicly vow to defend reproductive rights, a requirement the group called “first-of-its-kind for any Democratic campaign committee.”

cnn

Coming two days after pro-life Democrat John Bel Edwards was re-elected as the only Democratic governor in the deep South, it shows Democrats are out-of-touch regarding what it takes to win in many areas of the country.

More than that, it shows the Democrats’ decreasing lack of tolerance for pro-life viewpoints. The Democrats have long been the home for strident pro-abortion activism. It’s been pretty well-established if you want to become a national figure in the Democratic Party, you’d best dump pro-life views. In the 1970s-1990s, politicians like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson abandoned pro-life positions for national political ambitions. This century, Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) did the same thing. However, there was a time where you could be a pro-life Democrat. There were pro-life Democrats like Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH) and Richard Stallings (D-ID) and Senator Howell Heflin (D-AL.) In the House, there was a Congressional pro-life caucus with dozens of Democrats and a Democratic Co-Chair. Believe it or not, the National Right to Life Committee used to get to elect their own Democratic Convention superdelegates.

Now pro-life Democrats are on the verge of extinction. Pro-abortion groups like Emily’s List are trying to eradicate the few that remain like Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) In addition in 2017, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has declared every Democrat must support abortion rights.

While Democrats for Life struggles on, their battle for the soul of the Democratic Party has been lost and Democrats who refuse to bow the knee on abortion risk losing their positions. Pro-life voters who vote for Democrats are voting for a party that not only disagrees with them but is hostile to their beliefs. However, most are not going to find a home in today’s Trumpified GOP.

Could Democrats who oppose abortion find common cause with ex-Republicans who reject the increasingly anti-immigrant, pro-war crimes stances of today’s GOP? I believe many very well could. It’s important that a new party doesn’t draw all of its members from one party, but from both major parties, as well as members of minor parties and those who belong to no party at all.

Breaking the Binary, Part Four: Focusing on Generations Not Elections

In the third part of this series, I explained, in a presidential election, even someone as far left as Elizabeth Warren is unlikely to bring about the apocalyptic consequences many warn about. Does that mean I take a “Be happy, don’t worry” approach to politics? Certainly not.

Perhaps my view could be best explained by Ronald Reagan’s quote, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Notice that Reagan said “one generation” and not “one election.” That sets him apart from modern Republicans.

There is cause to be concerned that freedom is in jeopardy:

  • A crushing national debt that hit $23 trillion.
  • Out of control growth in entitlements that threatens to bankrupt a future generation.
  • A lack of tolerance for differing viewpoints that endangers the First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and speech.
  • Growing racial and ethnic polarization.

These are huge issues that have to be addressed. The problem is most political leaders in the GOP and thought leaders on the right say we are one election away from losing our liberty should the Democrats win any given election. Therefore, they make decisions that alienate future generations from the Republicans in order to succeed in capturing enough votes from white baby boomers to win elections. They also tolerate policy decisions that are bad for the long term for short-term political gain.

The Democrats are going to win an election. All that Republicans and Trumpist apologists are doing right now is making the core ideas of conservatism (such as free markets, limited government, the right to life) unpalatable because they’re mixing it with tolerance for racism, conspiracy theories, and a willingness to enable abuse for “our side.”

We need to challenge unsustainable and unwise progressive policies with bold, common sense approaches that preserve liberty and protect America’s sacred values. We need to not be content to win an election by a few thousand votes in three states and call it a landslide, but rather to build an enduring political movement that will address our country’s real problems.

You’ll never get this from the Republicans. That’s why it’s time for those who are tired of politics being driven by those who want us fearful and angry all the time to start a new political party.

Libertarians Are Willing to Settle for Delicious Tears

Governor Matt Bevin (R-KY) appears to have lost his re-election bid. As with everything in our politics these days, Bevin’s loss has led to a debate about Donald Trump and his responsibility for the loss because everything leads to a debate about Trump.

The Kentucky GOP swept the rest of the statewide races and won a supermajority in the state legislature, so there’s not a great case for blaming Trump. There are much better examples of Trump dragging the GOP to defeat last Tuesday: the Virginia state legislative elections and elections in the Philadelphia suburbs. But Matt Bevin did not have a Donald Trump problem, he had a Matt Bevin problem.

However, Republicans don’t blame Trump or Bevin’s loss. They are blaming the Libertarians. The margin between State Attorney General Andy Beshear and Bevin accounted for .4% of the vote, Libertarian John Hicks received 2% of the vote. Kentucky State Senate President Robert Stivers told USA Today that most of the votes that went to Hicks would have gone to Bevin in a two-man race.

For their part, the Libertarians are happy to take the blame:

“We are always happy to split the vote in a way that causes delicious tears. Tonight there are plenty of delicious tears from Bevin supporters,” the party said in a Facebook post.

The party also claims Bevin’s decision to not have Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton as his running mate for reelection played a role in Bevin’s results along with many political positions that go against what many libertarians believe in. The statement concluded with a final parting shot for Bevin supporters.

“For the Bevin supporters, your tears are delicious.”

WKYT.COM

When I talk about the need for a new party for Conservatives, many right-leaning Libertarians point out the Libertarian Party. In We Can Do Better, America, I reject the Libertarians as a viable alternative and this post from the Kentucky Libertarians illustrates why.

They’re far too used to losing. A good 98% of the state voted for somebody else and they’re happy because they made other people unhappy. That’s not how you change the country or build a successful political party, that’s just being mean-spirited. In addition, it’s reinforcing the idea that voting for anyone other than the GOP and Democrats is splitting the vote.

Without the Libertarian on the ballot, would Bevin have won? It’s hard to say. If you’re a Republican like Stivers, you just add Hicks’ 2 percent to Bevin’s 48.8% and voila, instant victory. However, the reality is often far more complicated. It’s a popular Republican myth that Ross Perot’s independent candidacy cost George H.W. Bush his re-election in 1992 but, as I’ve written before, actual polling shows this isn’t the case and some suggest Perot took more votes from Clinton. Similarly, studies have shown that George W. Bush would have Florida by a wider margin in 2000 without Ralph Nader on the ballot, contrary to conventional wisdom.

As a general rule, a 1/3 of people who vote for Third-Party candidates wouldn’t have voted otherwise. So that would leave 1 1/3% of Kentucky Voters up for grabs. Generally, the remainder would have voted about 2:1 for one of the major candidates. This would leave a margin of 6,352 votes which is more than the difference between Beshear and Bevin. However, we have no idea which way the 28,000 Kentuckians who voted Libertarian would have gone. Were they primarily right wing voters or anti-Bevin voters?  Despite their pretense, the Kentucky Libertarian Party doesn’t know either. A party that is happy with 2% of the vote doesn’t have the capability of doing a political deep dive to find out how their voters would have voted otherwise. Mean Facebook posts are the limit of what the Kentucky Libertarians can produce.

If we wanted to find out who the second choice of Libertarian voters were and to avoid “splitting the vote” elections, there’s a simple solution. It’s called ranked choice (or instant runoff) voting. Had this system been in place in Kentucky, voters would have cast their vote for Governor by order of preference. If no one got a majority, votes for the last place candidate would instantly be redistributed to those voters’ second choice.

 If I were (for example) the President of the State Senate in a state where my party held a Supermajority and I was convinced that a third party effort had cost my party the Governorship, I’d definitely want to introduce a bill to put such a system in place. Under a ranked choice system, major party leaders wouldn’t have to worry that a third party effort would “split the vote” and cause the other major party to win.

Why won’t Senator Stivers bring forth such a bill? A ranked choice voting system takes away the stigma of voting third party. You’re not going to split the vote. You can vote for the candidate you actually want (and if you’re so inclined) you can order your vote so it automatically goes to the major party candidate you’d prefer. It increases the risk that citizens fed up with the Republicans and Democrats will come together to start a new political party that won’t be satisfied losing every major election it enters for 42 years if it gets a few tears from the major parties. In essence, it will encourage competition and Senator Stivers and Kentucky Republicans can’t have that.

Instead Stivers will use John Hicks’ candidacy as yet another argument against people voting third party and risking splitting the vote. As a bonus, Stivers and other Republicans may also use this argument over how Libertarians would have voted to overturn the result of the close election in the legislature, a prospect that should leave us all in tears.

Breaking the Binary, Part Three: Thinking Realistically About the Consequences of Elections

Continuing from our series on Breaking the Political Binary, if we want to stop finding ourselves forced to choose between horrible candidates, we need to think realistically about the consequences of the worst candidate losing.

Presidential candidates release plans to impress the constituents they need to win their party’s nomination. Senator Elizabeth Warren, by many accounts, is the Democratic Frontrunner and she is a master of plans, really bad plans. If she’s the nominee, you can expect a pitch to Republican voters to include listing all those horrible plans and imagining that they’ll all happen if Senator Warren wins. But will they?

The answer is almost certainly not. Presidents can only get so much done and for a President to really make lasting changes, he or she has to get legislation passed as opposed to just taking executive action.

Let’s take Barack Obama as an example. Barack Obama had many things he wanted to do and Republicans told us that they’d all happen if he won the election in 2008:

  1. Cap and Trade legislation.
  2. “Card Check” to replace secret ballot elections for Unions, making it easier for unions to intimidate workers into joining.
  3. Amnesty for illegal immigrants.
  4. Socialized medicine.
  5. Major gun control and bans on various types of weapons.
  6. A repeal of George W. Bush’s tax cuts on Americans earning $250,000 per year.

Obama had a large majority in the House, and won 59 seats in the Senate, which became 60 when Senator Arlen Specter joined the Democratic Party. With such numbers, Obama was set to pass his entire ambitious agenda and it would be the end of our country.

Yet most of it didn’t happen. No cap and trade, no card check, no formal amnesty deal, no gun control or weapons bans. Obama did pass the Affordable Care Act, which didn’t make healthcare more affordable and has allowed the government to bully religious employers. Obama had to put off his efforts to repeal the Bush tax cuts due to a poor economy, and in the end only succeeded in repealing them for people earning more than $1 million per year.

Obama did do damage. Both of his Supreme Court picks were bad, if you care about the Constitution. Obama did a lot of governing by executive order. However, most of his “legacy” has been undone by President Trump. Many of Obama’s policies were held up for years in court and never fully implemented.

In my opinion, Obama was a bad president on policy, but he was not apocalyptic. Elizabeth Warren would also not cause an apocalypse. The same goes for the rest of the Democratic field, and there is no chance of any of them having Obama’s congressional majority in the Senate.

If we are truly one election away from losing our Republic forever, as alarmists in the GOP allege in order to get reluctant conservatives in line behind Trump, we’ve already lost our Republic.

Of course, most of these alarmists don’t believe their own rhetoric. If Glenn Beck really believed Trump losing the election would mean the end of the country as we know it, he would make plans to shutter his operations at the end of 2020 if Trump loses and go into hiding. If Trump loses in 2020, Glenn Beck, the NRA, and the rest of the alarmists will continue to draw their paychecks, sell their merchandise, and make a living off of grassroots conservatives. It’s a game. They are playing us for fools and selling snake oil.

While a Democratic win is unlikely to end the Republic, that doesn’t mean there’s no serious concerns about our country’s future. However, addressing them is beyond the scope of people whose political vision is limited to selling the idea that an apocalypse is coming every four years. We’ll talk about them in the final post of the series.

The Impeachment Process: Another Reminder Why the Major Parties are Horrible

An Impeachment inquiry is under way into the conduct of President Donald Trump. There’s a lot to be said about this, but the entire process is a reminder both parties are corrupt. My top three takeaways are:

  1. Blind Tribalists Dominate the Republicans and theDemocrats

Regardless of the facts, the House will impeach President Trump and the Senate will acquit him. In both cases, this will be due to partisan affiliation and the interests of the parties, not the interests of the American people. The number of Republican members who haven’t even bothered to read the Whistleblower report is stunning, but it stems from the fact Republicans and Democrats in Congress frequently ignore their oath to uphold the Constitution and don’t take their duty seriously. They fall into lockstep behind whatever partisan position they’re supposed to take for the good of their career.

The number of persuadable Republicans and Democrats are limited. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) may vote for removal, but only because he is bulletproof in his home state of Utah and won’t face voters until 2024. The most likely Democrat to vote against conviction is Doug Jones (D-AL) who faces a tough re-election campaign next year in a state where President Trump is hugely popular.

In the impeachment trial, the facts don’t matter to either major party. Each party will stick to its own narrative no matter what the truth is.

2. Both Parties Have Led Us Down a Road of Declining Standards

During the lead-up to the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) informed the lead House Manager Henry Hyde (R-Ill) that it didn’t matter if they had evidence Bill Clinton raped a woman, stood her up, and shot her, there would not be 67 votes to convict. Donald Trump boasted he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and not lose any support. Both were sadly right.

Now many feel that impeachment and removal is inappropriate for legal and constitutional reasons. I get that idea in principle, but that’s not the only way for a party to address misconduct by a leader. Richard Nixon was forced from office when senior statesman led by Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) came to him and informed him he needed to resign. Many political leaders for lower offices have been involved in scandals that haven’t merited impeachment, but have been challenged in the primary. This would be an opportunity for a leader to stand up for character and integrity of the office. Instead, the good of the party are keeping their heads low. There is no moral or political leadership, leaving Trump with three well-intentioned but hopeless challengers.

3. Both Parties are Into Self-Dealing

Hunter Biden’s chief qualification to be on the board of a Ukrainian Oil Company earning a six digit paycheck is he was the son of the Vice-President of the United States. It’s part of a disgraceful pattern of children of those in public service cashing in on their parents’ connections and in the case of the sitting Vice-President’s son, you can bet the company hoped for some advantages from this arrangement.

However, Republican attacks on Biden lack self-awareness given that President Trump’s sons continue to manage his business empire, his daughter and he are obtaining patents and intellectual property rights in other countries while they hold public office. In the read-out of the Ukrainian phone call, the Ukrainian President buttered Trump up by talking about how he stayed at a Trump hotel, which is just the latest proof that the President’s continued ownership of his properties is creating opportunities for people to use staying at Trump hotels to influence the hotels’ owner.

Add to this, the overwhelming number of grandstanding hypocrites in the Democratic Party whose motives for impeachment and removal are entirely political, and you have a picture of dysfunctional moral cesspool that the Major Parties have created.

The impeachment efforts will end one way or another, but for citizens who want honest, competent government, this should be a reminder that we ultimately need a new political party.

Happy Citizenship Day and Constitution Day

September 17th marks Citizenship and Constitution Day. This day celebrates two powerful central strengths of our Republic and combines them. Mostly, this day is ignored, I hope a new party will embrace it and the principles represented today.

Citizenship Day was born as I Am An American Day. The holiday has its roots in the activity of a refugee from the then-Communist nation of Hungary. Clara Vadja founded the Americanization League of America in 1930. Having found the dream of liberty, she set out to provide citizenship education to help those who came behind her find an easier way into the country.

In addition to celebrating new citizens, the original I Am an American Day Act celebrated those who attained their citizenship by coming of age. This focus on new voters could be traced to Manotwac County Wisconsin which included a five-month program where those about to reach the voting age met to discuss the duties of citizenship.

I am an American Day was designated in 1940 as the Third Monday in May. In 1952 it was renamed Citizenship and moved to September 17th, which was also Constitution Day as this is the Day the Constitution was signed at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

This combined commemoration may be overlooked by most on the calendar but is important a new political party observe it.

The Importance of Citizenship Day

Citizenship Day stands as a reminder of how a more traditional Americanism approached new arrivals with an open heart as opposed to the fear-based nationalism. This fearful nationalism views families fleeing from persecution, and those who go through the legal process to become citizens, as threats and dangers to political power.

A new political party should embrace the meaning of Citizenship Day and all that new immigrants bring to our shores.

The strength of America traditionally is that it is not a closed system. Its story is ever-continuing. If the story of people coming to America and finding opportunity and better lives for themselves and their families had ended with the Pilgrims coming to Plymouth Rock in 1620 or 19th Century with Irish immigrants, it would be a stale story and a much poorer country. Each immigrant who makes the effort to come to our country and proceeds to work hard through the laborious process of becoming a citizen writes their own page in that ongoing narrative.

This is a great day to celebrate the contributions these new citizens will make and an opportunity to reach out to them.

I also think it points out the need to encourage those who are newly eighteen to take seriously the responsibilities of citizenship. While our twenty-first-century world may not have time for five-month classes, we can definitely do a better job of civic education and helping new adults understand the responsibility and heritage being passed down to them than shallow efforts like “Vote or Die.”

Those who believe in traditional American principles should engage in youth outreach, knowing that Socialists and other radicals are more than willing to make up for our lack of effort.

The Importance of Constitution Day

The Constitution of the United States is something many citizens affirm and that all federal officials swear fealty to. However, it’s also a document that is under increasing assault.

Demagogues on the left and right find it inconvenient. It was written to make it hard to get your way on changes. In a country where we love instant gratification, the Constitution infuriates the entitled mentality that dominates our political debate.

Both the left and right are repelled by the amount of freedom it gives. Recently, the third most powerful Democrat in Congress James Clyburn (D-SC) observed there would be “strong support against the bill of rights” if it were voted on today.

There are so many know-it-alls on the Internet who are convinced our system of government is preposterous and antiquated and they have a better plan that we should follow instead.

Yet, this fact is missed: our Constitution has worked. Our country has many flaws, the state of our union is not perfect. Many have found ways to ignore the Constitution and get around its requirements. Yet, its framework frustrates most authoritarian and totalitarian impulses.

President Trump publicly admires and lauds dictators. Many of them such as Vladimir Putin came to power in countries that had more modern democratic constitutions, which were more easy to alter. These dictators were able to get around their pliable constitutions to set themselves up as a strong man. Trump can only admire them, because he is under the U.S. Constitution, he can never be them.

I won’t say the Constitution should never be changed, but we’d better be careful and respectful in any alterations we propose. We’re talking about a document that’s kept our country free for 230 years. We’d better know what we’re about when we try to change it.

“I don’t understand why the Constitution does this,” is not an argument for changing it, any more than, “I don’t know why the contractor put a ceiling support on that wall” is an argument for ripping the support out. Rather, not understanding is a good reason for finding out why.

Citizenship and Constitution Day are two very important days that have been combined. Whatever the intent of Congress in 1952, this combination has meant that they can both be ignored at the same time. I hope that a new political party will change that.

Breaking the Binary, Part Two: Thinking Realistically About Elections

In my last blog post, I called for us to stop viewing every election as an apocalyptic event and consider the consequences in a realistic way.

How do we do that? One way is to calculate the mathematical consequence of an individual vote. Partisans will guilt their friends with the idea, if they don’t sacrifice their conscience, they’ll be responsible for the election of the worst of the two evils. This is nonsense. The odds of an individual vote swinging a presidential election are infinitesimal. Steven Weese of the Foundation for Economic Education posted a great mathematical analysis on the issue in 2016.

However, mathematical arguments may avail little during the heavily emotional 2020 campaign.

Voters may view themselves not as “individuals” voting for a candidate they believe will do a good job but as part of a grand alliance to save the country from the radical left. The key to defeating this tendency is to be realistic. The first thing reality tells us is the idea of “saving America” by “stopping the Democrats” is a myth.

Whether we like it or not, America is a land of political parity when it comes to Presidential politics. From 1952-2016, the average length of time a political party has held the White House is eight years. The exceptions to this are the four-year run of Jimmy Carter and the twelve-year Reagan-Bush years. The Reagan-Bush success was built on two historic landslides where President Reagan averaged more than 500 electoral votes and 46 states in the 1980 and 1984 elections, a feat we’re unlikely to see again. The most wildly optimistic scenario for a Trump’s re-election is for him to win his 2016 and add New Hampshire and Minnesota, which would leave him at around 320 electoral votes, hardly a foundation for a third GOP term.

Thus, if conservative voters pull the lever for Trump in 2020 and “save America,” they will most likely wake up the morning after Election Day in 2024 to find the Democrats have won back the Oval Office.

The next question is, would a Democratic victory in 2024 be worse than one in 2020 for conservative values and causes? I think it would be. We’ve learned a couple of things about executive power over the course of the last two presidencies. First, Congress has abdicated too much power to the President (such as the ability to unilaterally impose tariffs and declare a trade war.) Second, there’s a limit to what a President can do without a significant legislative majority.

Democrats almost certainly will hold the House after the 2020 elections, but the Senate is another matter. While the GOP holds the majority of seats up, Democrats will have to run the table to win a Senate Majority. Likely, Republicans will still hold the Senate or there will be a narrow Democratic Majority where professed moderates like Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) will hold the balance of power and frustrate the Democrats’ most ambitious goals. In addition, the legislative filibuster will remain in place. So, if Democrats win the White House in 2020, they’ll either be blocked from enacting their agenda or have it severely hampered.

What about if Democrats win in 2024? Democrats will be significantly stronger in Congress. Generally, Presidents lose seats in their second terms and the last two Republican Presidencies don’t portend well for Republican Congressional hopes. President Trump, like Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush, didn’t lose any Senate seats in his first mid-term. Reagan and Bush both lost a significant number of seats during their second term. The GOP lost a total of seven seats in the 1986 and 1988 elections. They lost fourteen seats in the 2006 and 2008 Senate elections.

It’s unlikely Democrats will get sixty seats in the Senate, given Trump’s general unpopularity and his flaws in character. However, Democrats could make significant pickups in the Senate in 2022 and 2024. These could be so significant, they could find the votes to end the filibuster for legislation and ram their agenda through the senate with fifty-one votes, something unlikely to occur should Democrats win in 2020.

Note I’m not trying to make an argument that voting for a Democrat for President is ever a lesser evil. What I’m suggesting is there’s a severe folly in voting for bad candidates to “save America.” I’m suggesting the games people play with their votes make little sense in reality.

Elections do have consequences. However, they also have Newtonian questions. Newton said, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. It’s as true in politics as it in physics.

For the last six decades, every party has planted the seeds of its own doom and guaranteed the right of the other party.

The historic trends and the facts of the Trump presidency show us that should Democrats lose in 2020, they’ll win in 2024. Further, they’ll win with a more radical nominee than they’re likely to nominate this year and they will gain a congressional majority that will do their bidding.

This is the most likely legacy of a “pragmatic” vote to save the country from the Democrats. If we want to make a truly positive impact, we need to go in a radically different direction.

Breaking the Binary, Step One: Stop Believing in Apocalyptic Elections

One of the less-remembered Disney films was the 1973 movie World’s Greatest Athlete. However, the beginning of the film stands out to me.

Coach Sam Archer (John Amos) is a multi-sport college coach and we get to see him giving a pep talk to each sports’ team he coaches and in the opening of each talk, the Coach declares each different sport to be his life. The movie was poking fun at overworn exaggerated sports clichés that coaches try to use to motivate their team.

There is a political equivalent to Coach Amos’ clichéd opening and here it is: “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” How many fundraising letters, blog posts, and speeches have begun with those words? We hear it every four years and if it’s fundraising letter, it’s followed by lots of scary lines with bold, underlined text or words screaming in ALL CAPS about how we have to beat the other side.

Of course, the declaration of the super importance of the election isn’t the end of the manipulation…oh no. You then get a list of horrible things that will happen if the other party should win the election which assumes that every policy priority that the other party has will be enacted should they win the Presidency.

As a voter, it’s easy to get brow beaten. You may not like or trust either candidate, your conscience may loathe them, but who are you to cast a vote for a third party or Independent Candidate in the “most important election of our lifetime?” Thus you end up picking between the lesser of two evils.

Let me be clear that in criticizing this rhetoric, I’m not saying that elections don’t have consequences: they certainly do. However, as long as we believe that every election has the potential to bring about the apocalypse, no one will ever find the courage to take the necessary steps to build a new party. It will always be, “In this election, we’ll back the lesser of two evils, but next time we’ll stand up for what we believe in and build a new party…” Only next time, we’ll find ourselves in an apocalyptic “most important election in our lifetime” and the cycle will never end.

I’ve written in a previous post about the importance of rejecting the political binary that says we have to choose between the Republlican and Democratic Nominee. The first step to this is to reject the apocalyptic nonsense foisted on us every four years by the political class.

In my next post, I’ll address a more realistic way to look at elections and their consequences.

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