Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Why I Plan to Vote for Jill Stein (Green Party) on Tuesday

A couple weeks ago, I wrote why I’m not voting for Donald Trump. The big question that evokes is: who AM I voting for then?

I’ve decided to vote for Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for President. Here’s why:

As I explained in that previous post, Hillary Clinton will win Minnesota. It doesn’t matter who I vote for, she will win Minnesota. In the past, I’ve cast protest votes for Constitution Party candidates. Since they best represent me, they were the natural choice. However, I’ve been convinced that another strategy might be better for Minnesota.

You see, here in Minnesota, if a minor party’s candidate receives 5% of the vote, they are given major party status for subsequent elections. I don’t recall for how long, but it seems to be about ten years. In the past, this has hurt the Republicans a lot. Jesse Ventura won the Governor’s race in 1998 running as the Independence Party candidate. This gave the Independence Party major party status for years after that. They got a slot in debates, they got state matching funds, and all of the other privileges that come with major party status. Since the Independence Party tends to be fiscally more Conservative (more-so than the Democrats at least), they have done a lot to siphon off support of Republicans in subsequent races, and help the Democrats enjoy an easier path to victory.

So, being a much more Leftist party, I’d like to return the favor by doing my part to help the Green Party achieve major party status in Minnesota. My hope is that she’ll get to 5% in Minnesota next week, and the Green Party can then help siphon votes away from the Democrats in the next governor’s race in two years.

It’s really a vote to add chaos to the Democrat campaign in the next statewide election.

The Electoral College and Why I’m Not Voting for Donald Trump (But Maybe You Should)

It’s that time again: Presidential election season. Every four years, I’ve endured an onslaught of lectures about why I need to vote for the GOP candidate. Aside from a single lapse in judgment, I’ve never done it though.

It sure sounds compelling; if you don’t vote directly for the GOP candidate, You’re voting indirectly for the Democrat. Never mind that the same logic could be used to demonstrate that a third party vote is an indirect vote for the Republican, logic is hard.

Every election I’ve paid attention to brings with it a slew of political junkies rehashing the same old tired arguments, usually accompanied by rhetoric suggesting that if you don’t vote exactly as the junky tells you to, you’re a horrible person.

Usually, they have an answer for every argument that can be made to the contrary, no matter how compelling or logical.

Except one.

This year I’ve been making a new argument, and no one, anywhere, seems to have a counter argument for it. Most won’t even acknowledge that they understand it. Thus the reason for this post.

My argument stems from the situation here in my home state of Minnesota. You see, Minnesota has consistently been won by the Democrat candidate in every election since 1976. When every other state in the union went to Ronald Reagan in 1984, Minnesota was joined only by the District of Columbia in handing electoral college votes to Walter Mondale. It was a blood bath, and though Minnesota will never collectively admit it, it was embarrased in 1984.

So what’s my point? Let’s take a step back and just acknowledge the elephant in the room from that (and every other) election; that we don’t have one national election for President. We have 50 state and one district election that each sends delegates to the Electoral College, and it’s the Electoral College that votes for the President. 538 people, selected by the voters of their state, do the actual voting for President.

Here’s a short video by Prager University that explains it.

So what difference does that make in how I vote, or how you vote? That’s the really ironic part. Ironic, because the Prager in Prager University is Dennis Prager, Conservative radio talk show host. Ironic because Dennis Prager lives in Southern California. Ironic because Dennis Prager is one of those junkies I mentioned earlier who suggests that if you don’t vote for the GOP candidate, you’re a horrible person. Ironic because no matter how Dennis Prager votes, his state (California) will award it’s 55 Electors to Hillary Clinton. It’s not expected to even be close. At the time of this writing, Real Clear Politics, which tracks the averages of several reputable polls, has Clinton ahead by nearly 20% in California.

So let’s go back to Minnesota, my own home state. Like I said, Minnesota last sent Republican electors to the Electoral College in 1972. Richard Nixon was the last Republican candidate for President to win the North Star State.

So what does that have to do with how I vote? Well, it has a lot to do with how I vote, actually. You see, I mentioned earlier that, with one exception, I have never voted for the Republican candidate for President. It wouldn’t have mattered if I did, either. Had I, and every other person who voted for a Conservative third party candidate voted, instead, for the Republican; the Democrat still would have won Minnesota. And If every Conservative in California votes for Donald Trump in two weeks, Hillary Clinton will still win that state’s 55 Electors.

Instead of voting for the Republican, I have always voted for the candidate that I actually like best. Why not? Many people will say that’s a wasted vote; but what does it mean to waste your vote? If you ask me, voting for someone you don’t like, just because he’s running for one of the two major parties and is less repugnant than the other major party candidate, even if that candidate can’t win your state’s Electoral votes is the very definition of a wasted vote.

The important thing to understand here, the very point of this blog article, is that the Electoral College matters. It’s not just a civics exercise; just academics, it actually matters. As a Minnesota Conservative who doesn’t like Donald Trump, voting for Donald Trump would be a wasted vote.

Let’s look at another state though. Minnesota and California are solidly Democratic states (at least in their preference for Presidential candidates.) But what about Ohio, or Florida? Those two states (and others) have been “swing states” for quite some time. In swing states, voting for the “lesser evil” candidate can make a real difference in how the Electors from those states are awarded. By not voting for the Republican candidate, you might give the Democrat Candidate the opportunity to win the state with one fewer vote than he (or she in the case of this particular election cycle) would otherwise need. With all of the efforts that Democrats typically put into “Get out the vote” drives, this can be a big help to their cause.

If I lived in Ohio, I would probably hold my nose and vote for Donald Trump. When people question me, I would probably give a logical and conscientious reason why voting for the “lesser evil” is what my conscience instructs me to do.

What about solidly Conservative states? States like Texas and Arizona have been consistent wins for the Republican candidate as long as I’ve been old enough to vote. What would I do there? Again, I would strongly consider casting a “lesser of two evils” vote. States move from Conservative states to swing states without warning, and from swing states to Liberal states with equal warning. Don’t take your neighbors for granted and assume that they will cover for you, vote as though you were in a swing state because you just might be and not know it yet. If your conscience still says that you cannot vote for a man with poor character, then vote for the candidate who has the character necessary to earn your vote.

So you’re probably wondering just who I will vote for in two weeks. To be honest, I haven’t decided. Perhaps I’ll do another post sometime explaining my thinking this time around. We shall see.

What it Would Take to Get Me to Vote Romney

About a month ago, I posted my refutation to some of the more idiotic things said by people who want me to vote Mitt Romney. I’m about to share some of the same thoughts, but also explain what it would take to get me to vote Romney.

There is about a 99% chance that I’ll be voting for Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate for President. Why, you ask? Simply put, he’s the guy I like most. I don’t have much love for Mitt Romney, and voting for him would be a protest vote only, not a meaningful vote.

As I stated in my previous post, I live in Minnesota. Minnesota consistently votes Democrat for President. The last Republican to win Minnesota was Richard Nixon in 1972. We were the only state to go for Walter Mondale in 1984 (though likely because he’s from Minnesota). Only Washington DC joined us in not voting for Reagan. This year appears to be possibly moving more toward an even race, but is still in the Obama/Democrat category.

With Minnesota likely to go Obama, a vote for Romney is a protest vote. It’s an “anyone but Obama” vote. I don’t cast “anyone but…” votes, I vote for the guy I like most on the ballot.

“But You’re Wasting Your Vote”

You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, and you’re welcome to come up with whatever justification you wish for casting your vote, but I’ll decide what constitutes wasting my vote, thank you very much.

How you come to the conclusion of whom to vote for is your business. I don’t cast “lesser evil” votes, or “anybody but…” votes. I vote for the candidate that I like the most. For most races down the line, that ends up being the Republican, mostly for lack of any other choice – it’s the Democrat or it’s the Republican. In races even further down the line, such as school board, city council, or county office, it is often the Liberal Democrat vs. the more moderate Democrat. Whomever comes closest to my political philosophy gets my vote.

That said, it’s my opinion that “lesser evil” or “anyone but…” votes are the ones that are wasted. If there is a better candidate on the ballot, but you refuse to consider him/her because he/she is third party, you’re just rubber-stamping the status quo. In the case of the Presidential race this year, voting for Mitt Romney is voting for the guy who will drive us toward the cliff at a more leisurely pace, rather than speeding ahead with the pedal to the metal. I prefer a candidate that turns the bus around and heads away from the cliff.

“But A Vote for Anyone but Romney is a Vote for Obama”

I addressed this one in my previous post. This logic is completely idiotic, and using it shows that you don’t think at all, you just repeat the garbage you hear others saying. Just sit down and relax. You think Mitt Romney is the only other candidate. Well, just rest well knowing that since I’m not voting for Obama, my vote is as good as a vote for Romney. That may sound strange, but it’s your own bullet-proof logic.

“So What Will it Take to Get You to Vote Romney?”

I’m glad you finally got around to asking. That is what I set out to address, isn’t it?

Put simply, Minnesota will have to be very close. There will have to be a reasonable chance that it will go to a recount. Anything else and I’m going with the guy I like.

Why so close? Well, in any other case, it’s hard to make the argument that my vote really will make a difference in the outcome. If, as is normally the case, Minnesota is headed toward sending 10 electoral votes to the Democrats, then voting for Romney would be a protest vote. It’s an “anyone but Obama” vote. If that’s the case, what’s the difference between voting for Romney (who can’t win Minnesota) and Virgil Goode (who also can’t win Minnesota)? Neither guy will win Minnesota either way. In that case, a vote for Romney is a vote for the status quo. A vote for Romney says that I buy into the system. It’s Kang vs. Kodos.

If it suddenly swings in the other direction, and Romney becomes the projected winner in Minnesota, then a vote for him is simply a rubber-stamp for him. I don’t like him, and don’t have any desire to rubber stamp him. Sure, he’s the lesser evil, but still not my guy. He’s not the guy that will turn the bus around and head in the right direction.

“Why Do You Keep Talking about Minnesota? This is a National Election!”

Go back to third grade History and Civics class. We don’t have a national popular vote. We vote for electors from each state, who in turn vote for the Presidential candidates. My vote affects who those electors from Minnesota will be. Romney could get every vote from every voter in every other state, and it will make no difference who the electors from Minnesota are.

What was the Point of this Post?”

Mostly to tell you to shut up. You sound like a buffoon repeating every idiotic talking point you hear from your Republican Party handlers. Please, stop and think a little before repeating the same old tired and illogical arguments. If your candidate can’t win me to vote for him because he’s the best candidate on my ballot, then resorting to “wasted vote” and “lesser evil” arguments just expose him as being hollow, and your reasoning as weak. Maybe consider learning some basic informal logical fallacies. You’re engaging in several of them and you’re too ignorant to see it. For starters, you’re engaging in the following fallacies: Special Pleading, Bandwagon, Black or White, and Appeal to Emotion. There are probably others as well, but we’ll start there.

My First Major Twitter Achievement

Yesterday I posted a tweet that ended up being seen by a few guys with a lot of followers and before I knew it, it was getting a lot of retweets. My experience with twitter is that 10 retweets is a ton (for an average guy like me), so seeing 100 before I went to bed last night was a bit of a shock.

For future reference, the tweet refers to the attack and assassination of our ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. The Obama regime claims that it was instigated by a video that was made by an Israeli-American dual-citizen that mocked Muhammed and offended Muslims. The president of Libya said the attack was planned in advance, involved Al Qaeda, and was meant to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11.

There Are No Proxy Votes

The screams that I have to vote Romney, or I’m in effect voting on Obama are weak. People need to stop and think about that a little. If you make this argument, you should know you make yourself look like a person with a sub-100 IQ.

First of all, a vote for anyone is a vote for that person, not someone else on the ballot, especially in the Presidential race. Voting for Mickey Mouse is a vote for Mickey Mouse, not some back-door, super secret proxy vote for Donald Duck.

No one, and I mean NO ONE, seems to understand that we don’t have one national election for President. We have 50 state elections for people who we will send to the Electoral College to cast the only truly meaningful votes for President. What does this mean for you? Well, the biggest implication this will have on the average voter is that “electability” is a much more local concern than you probably think. I live in Minnesota, the last time Minnesota voted GOP for President was in 1972 for Richard Nixon. The GOP may be “electable” for local and state office, but not for President, as far as Minnesota is concerned. This means that arguing that Romney is electable, but the various right-of-center third party candidates are not is simply smoke and mirrors. A Minnesotan who votes for Romney is casting the same contrarian, protest vote that a Libertarian or Constitution party voter is casting. Those who are voting for “Anyone but Obama” may as well vote for the person best reflecting his/her real values in Minnesota.

On the other hand, if you live in a state like Florida, Ohio, or even Wisconsin (this time around), voting for Romney will actually accomplish something. Those states (and others), swing states, actually have a chance of tipping in his favor. While a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Gary Johnson, and not Barack Obama, voting Romney instead may actually make a difference. As close as Florida was in 2000, every single vote may make a difference. Those voting “anyone but Obama” in swing states probably should vote for Romney if they really want Obama out.

On another note, I also like to point out that the argument that “voting for Gary Johnson is the same as voting for Barack Obama” is no more logical than “voting for Gary Johnson is voting for Mitt Romney.” When people make idiotic statements like this, I like to point out that by NOT voting for Barack Obama, I voted for Mitt Romney, even though I filled in the bubble for Virgil Goode (the Constitution Party candidate). Most people then see the inherent problem with their “argument”.

My Voting Philosophy & Thoughts on the GOP

This is a follow-up to my last post, entitled “What should my political role be?“. That post got similar responses from all who weighed in, which basically boils down to “please keep doing what you’re doing, except please please vote for the GOP nominee for President in the general election – pretty please!”

Before I get to what weighs on my decision of who to actually vote for in November, let me just say that I don’t see the GOP improving in the foreseeable future. Now would have been the time for me to be proven wrong, and I most certainly wasn’t. Had I been asked to put money on which presidential candidate would get the nomination a year ago, I would have put that money on Romney. The GOP is just too predictable.

How is that? I think in the end it boils down to this: given a handful of candidates, there always seems to be a strong “moderate”. Then there are a bunch of Conservatives, some good and some bad. All the Conservative grassroots pick a candidate to get behind and push their guy (or gal). Even if 80% of the grassroots are Conservative, there are always enough Conservative candidates to split that 80% into small enough groups that the strong “moderate” has little trouble winning with the votes from the remaining 20%.

There are ways to change things, but they all seem to be unpalatable to the rank-and-file in the GOP. The first would be to take a strategy that smaller parties are much more willing to do: hold their nominees to their party’s platform and ideals. If a particular candidate is 51% Conservative and 49% Liberal, the GOP is all too willing to crown him with a political nomination. The rank-and-file will fight for hours on end over exactly what words to use in the platform, getting very passionate about the most minute details in semantics – yet when it comes time to nominate a candidate, they are all too quick to throw the whole thing out and vote for the guy who can abandon that platform the quickest and go after the Democratic vote (and they’ll point out all day long how Reagan won because he got a lot of votes from Democrats). But if the GOP can’t hold their candidates to the very platform they fight so hard to craft “just perfectly”, what’s the point of having a platform at all?

Another way to go about getting a more Conservative candidate would require that Conservatives all line up behind the same guy. It sure is nice to have eight or ten people to choose from when lining up behind a candidate a year before the general election, but it tends to split the votes that will hand the nomination to the best candidate seven or nine ways, leaving an easy path for arguably the worst candidate every time. There almost needs to be sub-conventions before conventions (and actually the Ron Paul campaign has been good at this*). Get everyone who is like-minded behind the same guy so the vote doesn’t get split up and diluted too much.

As long as that continues to be the case that the Conservative vote is split and the “moderate” gets the nomination, my own voting philosophy will continue to be employed when I go to vote. It’s quite simple actually: I always vote for the guy who best matches my own values. In smaller, more local races, that’s usually the Republican, since there are often only two choices and the other is the Democrat. In larger races like that for Senate or Governor, there may be a few more choices, but the Republican may still be the best match for me. In 2008 that wasn’t the case in Minnesota’s Senate race. Norm Coleman was the Republican, and proved himself over the preceding 6 years to be a guy I often couldn’t stomach. He was too willing to get in bed with the Democrats on issues like the environment or national sovereignty. I voted for the Constitution party candidate that year because there was such a candidate.

Actually, if you look at it the right way, we’re at a better place now than we were in January when the Primary/Caucus process began. All but two candidates have dropped out. We have Mitt Romney, who has won over the squishy-middle as should have been expected, and we have Ron Paul, the candidate that personifies the GOP platform and historical Conservatism. If those who have yet to have a primary in their state would stop and consider both candidates, and vote for the guy who really is closer to their own position on the most issues, I think they’d vote Ron Paul if they were really honest with themselves and the process. Likewise, if those delegates to the national convention that are pledged to candidates that have dropped out did the same, I believe there is still time to vote for a Conservative candidate (one with an actual track record of Conservative votes in office). Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen, and the “moderate” is headed toward getting the nomination. In fact, he’s already campaigning as though he has the nomination sewn up.

My Voting Philosophy

As a Ron Paul supporter, and a guy who (Ron Paul or no Ron Paul) has voted Constitution Party for the last three Presidential elections, I get a lot of heat from Republicans who want me to vote their guy. That was what my whole last post was about, and I won’t go into it all again. One of the points of criticism that is often offered for Ron Paul supporters who won’t swear allegiance to the GOP in November even if Mitt Romney is the candidate is that the top candidate often brings people to the polls to vote for candidates further down the line. Maybe, but I’m not the guy to criticize in that regard. I’m much more likely to vote Republican for local office than most voters, and I always go to the polls. If you’re worried about the candidate for my state legislative district winning, beating me up over the head about my vote isn’t going to help, he probably already has it. Same goes for the US Congressional race, and several other races on my ballot.

I just don’t see myself voting GOP for that top spot. I also don’t see that it matters much. Minnesota hasn’t sent GOP electors to the Electoral College since 1972, and probably won’t in 2012. In fact, most of the time if everyone who votes Libertarian or Constitution were to vote GOP instead, Minnesota’s electors would still likely be Democrats.

So those who are worried about how my vote affects other candidates running for office need to either rest easy or find another argument for why I should hold my nose and vote for a terrible candidate just because he has the Republican nomination.


*Those involved in organizing the Paul campaign often hold gatherings ahead of conventions to all pick good candidates to run for party positions. That way, even if they don’t have a strong majority at the convention, they can capitalize on the fact that everyone else is too disorganized to capture more votes. The “slates” with the candidates chosen in advanced is handed out to all of their delegates at the convention, and their people often end up winning in the end.

What should my political role be?

I have a serious question for my Republican friends. Before I set up the question, let me give a little background about me and my political views.

I am 34 years old, and I grew up in a staunchly Democratic household. Both of my parents grew up in staunchly Democratic households. I was first old enough to vote in the 1996 election (actually 1995, and I did turn out that year for a school referendum). I voted for Bill Clinton’s re-election, though don’t fault me given the background I just laid out.

In 1998 I first decided to start considering my vote a little more carefully than “who would my parents vote for?” and voted for Jesse Ventura for governor. It turns out that even though I sought to vote independently of my parents, they both voted Ventura too. I was not aligned with the Democrats, but hadn’t come to the point of being comfortable with the Republicans yet either.

In 1999 I was soundly saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the first prayers I prayed after my conversion was for the Lord to show me how He views the world and to bring me into alignment with it. That prayer is still being answered to this day, though one of the first things to change in me was my understanding of politics. Far be it from me to say that Jesus is a Republican, I’ll never go that far, but I could see everything detestable about what Democrats stand for (abortion, the legalized theft that is the social program system, etc.) By the time the next election came around, I was not only firmly Conservative, I was substantially to the Right of most Republicans, where I remain to this day.

Since my conversion, I have voted Republican most of the time in non-Presidential races, and I voted Constitution Party for President in 2000, 2004, and 2008.

Also since my conversion, I have been given the riot act from countless Republicans about my views on Presidential candidates. I’ve been told that I MUST vote Republican for a whole host of reasons. I may not like the candidate, but the Democrat will always be worse. I’ve never been much of a pragmatist in elections, and these conversations drive me as crazy as my vote drives these Republicans crazy, if not more.

I’ve been told numerous times by many Republicans that if I don’t like the candidates that are nominated, I need to get involved in the process early and do what I can to get candidates nominated that I can feel comfortable voting for. Had I heeded such advice from the beginning, I likely would have been caucusing for Alan Keyes in 2000 and 2004.

In 2008, I did what all those Republican friends had been begging me to do, I identified the candidate I liked and I got involved in the caucus process to lend him my support. I had been aware of, and to some degree familiar with Ron Paul for many years, and it was natural that I would support him. I went to precinct caucuses, got elected to my BPOU, where I got elected as a Delegate to my Congressional District and to the State.

Despite the way my fellow Ron Paul supporters were treated in 2008, I repeated the process in 2010 in order to be a part of selecting a candidate for Governor. I didn’t know the candidates well, as I tend not to follow state politics nearly as closely as I follow national politics. However, I had made a lot of connections two years prior in the process and befriended a lot of people who were out in 2008 to support Ron Paul. I knew that their political views were more in line with my own, and believed I could trust their judgment on a Gubernatorial candidate. To a man, they were all behind Tom Emmer, and I threw my support behind Emmer. Despite the fact that he lost, I have no regrets.

2012 rolled around and I got into the mix again. I was unhappy with my experience four years prior, and was tempted to forget the whole thing, but ultimately decided to give my fellow Republicans another shot. I had made many connections in 2008, and met a lot of people. Most of which were friendly toward me and seemed happy to have me in the process. However, when my support for Ron Paul would come up in conversation, defensive walls would immediately go up. There were, and are, strong stereotypes of Ron Paul supporters, many of which are unfair – based on a very small minority of fellow Paul supporters. In addition, I left Rochester and the state GOP convention with a very nasty taste in my mouth. The way Paul supporters, and even Ron Paul himself, were treated it was clear that we were not wanted in the party, that the tent was big but not big enough for us. The fact that Ron Paul came to the convention and wasn’t even allowed past the lobby was incredibly disrespectful, and I didn’t think any Presidential candidate should have been treated that way. Had Mitt Romney, Tom Toncredo, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter, Rudy Giuliani, or Fred Thompson stayed in the race until that point and showed up at the convention, I would have expected them to be able to speak. The fact that Ron Paul had to go around to the back of the building and speak in the park was disgusting. The fact that Barb Davis White, candidate for US House in my own 5th District was completely thrown under the bus by the MN GOP after speaking along with Ron Paul in the park was disgusting as well.

Nevertheless, I got over my anger and came back two more times to participate in the process.

Now we’re at a pivot point. Last weekend, three Congressional Districts held their conventions and Ron Paul supporters got their people elected to all of the National Delegate and Alternate positions in all three of the CDs. A lot of Non-Ron Paul Republicans are upset. So my question is this: Do you want my participation in the GOP? I was told I should get involved and do what I could to get my guy nominated. I did that. Now that my guy is winning Delegates, which is what gets people nominated, I’m hearing a lot of Republicans saying that I should get out of the party. A lot of Republicans are saying that Ron Paul is “a Libertarian, not a Republican” and that Libertarians aren’t welcome in the GOP. A lot of Republicans don’t feel my contribution to the process is good enough because I’m not spending 20 hours a week knocking on doors, cold-calling potential voters, or passing out campaign literature. (Sorry, I have a growing family of small children – all 5 and younger – and don’t really even have time to be doing what I am doing.)

If you, GOPer, want me to go back to staying out of your way, and voting Constitution Party for President, I will be happy to do so. If you want me to stay involved in the process, and put in the work to make my voice heard in 2014 when we’re looking for a candidate to unseat Mark Dayton, I will be happy to do so. What I am not happy to do is to get involved, but echo your voice. If my role in the GOP is to be a yes-man, check in with you on which candidates to support and what work to do for your precious party, count me out!

Snapshot: GOP Candidates

The GOP Primary season continues to roll on. Last night was the latest “debate” hosted by CNN in Las Vegas. I haven’t been terribly impressed with the candidates so far, and my opinion isn’t getting any better. Here’s how I view each candidate as of today:

Herman Cain

Cain is the current front-runner. He recently passed Mitt Romney in the polls (which I don’t put a lot of trust in, but it’s all we have). When I first heard of Herman Cain, I liked him. I was very cautiously optimistic about the guy. I liked what I saw, but I hadn’t seen much. That has changed dramatically as I’ve learned who he is.

He’s pushing his “9-9-9 Plan”, which replaces the Federal tax code with a 9% individual income tax, a 9% corporate income tax, and a 9% national sales tax. It sounds pretty good to me, but it isn’t the best plan on the table. It does nothing to address spending at all, and claims to be “revenue neutral,” meaning that the Feds would bring in as much under his plan as comes in now.

I like that it flattens the tax, giving everyone a stake in the Federal budget. I think that is very important to really addressing spending down the road. People love adding programs upon programs, just as long as someone else ends up paying for it. If everyone’s taxes went up with every new program, people would think twice about supporting endless programs.

To be fair to Herman Cain, the other candidates were not so fair when addressing his plan. There are things wrong with it, but juxtaposing it to state taxes is unfair. Romney said that Nevadans don’t want to pay a 9% National sales tax on top of their state sales tax. Well, actually, if they paid less in federal sales tax, they actually might come out ahead. Cain was right that they were comparing apples to oranges, and they are only being fair if they propose either eliminating all Federal taxes, or (somehow) eliminating all state taxes. That’s not what any of them are proposing though.

What originally changed my mind about Cain was his history on the Federal Reserve Board. I believe the Fed to be one of the most corrupt institutions in the world. I’m very much in favor of abolishing it. I don’t see Cain allowing a Fed ban, or even an audit, through without a veto.

Cain also said something a couple months ago regarding the second amendment that didn’t sit well with me. He was against gun control at the Federal level, but said it was okay for the states to enact whatever gun control measures they wanted, up to and including an outright ban on the keeping or bearing of arms.

The fact that he supported TARP in late 2008 doesn’t help either, or that he has said that he doesn’t regret his view, nor has he changed it.

Mitt Romney

I never liked Mitt Romney, and I don’t see that changing. He’s from the Northeast, and as “Conservative” as he would like people to believe he is, anyone living west of Ohio and/or south of Virginia can see right through it. “Conservative” in Massachusetts is still Liberal anywhere else.

Romney’s religion has been an issue, as much as people would like to brush it aside. While I would love to see a Reformed, Evangelical, Born-Again, Trinitarian Christian become President, it isn’t a deal-breaker for me. However, I can’t vote for a Mormon any more than I can vote for someone from any of numerous theological systems. And the more dedicated they are to their Mormonism, the less likely I am to vote for them. Romney, as far as I know, is a Temple Mormon, which is about as devoted as it gets. I won’t get too detailed into why I feel this way, but just to suggest looking into Mormon “prophecy” regarding America. Mormons believe that America will teeter on the edge of collapse, and a Mormon will save America and institute a Mormon theocracy. I’m not a proponent of a theocracy of any sort, including one that perfectly matches my own theological views. (I do believe that some day, Jesus Himself will rule the entire world, but that’s another story – He’s ruling, not a human proxy.)

As to whether Mormonims is a cult, theologically that’s technically correct. It may be a loaded term, conjuring up images of David Koresh, or that sect that committed suicide in San Diego to join an alien spacecraft a few years ago, but it’s still technically correct. Mormonism is quite a bit more main-stream sociologically, and so it is not a cult in sociological terms. They are not Christian under the strictest definitions of the word. Christianity is monotheistic, whereas Mormonism is polytheistic. James White, a Christian expert on Mormonism calls it “the most polytheistic religion the world has ever seen.” Christianity is Trinitarian; God is One being in three persons (it’s been said it’s “one what in three who’s”.) Mormonism sees Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three separate beings entirely. I could go on, but this isn’t a treatise on Mormonism, but an opinion on nine political candidates.

Back to politics, I think that having a view that global warming is a real problem, and it’s cause by humanity is one view that disqualifies someone from my vote. I also think that being a proponent of a health care system that even vaguely resembles Obamacare, even at the state level, disqualifies someone from my vote. The fact that Romney fits both should be enough to have him run out of the GOP with pitchforks. The fact that he’s even considered a “frontrunner” says a lot about the GOP, and I don’t think it’s good.

Newt Gingrich

Newt says a lot of things that sound really good to a Conservative. Being in the gray zone between Conservative and Libertarian, as I am, he even sounds, on the surface, fairly reasonable. At the very least, he sounds a lot better than the status quo.

My issue with Newt Gingrich is that my gut tells me he would forget all of it the day after he’s sworn into office.

Rick Perry

Perry’s involvement with various Christian groups is troubling to me. I didn’t follow “The Response” very closely, but what little I know of it strikes me as not something I’d involve myself in. Perry apparently (though I don’t know this for sure) has connections to the New Apostolic Reformation, which is a dangerous and heretical sect of Christianity that I can’t even remotely support. They are bent on world domination, albeit under the guise of Christianity.

I have to be honest though, I don’t know enough about Perry to be certain. Don’t go quoting me on the issue.

Perry has enough baggage that is clear to disqualify him from my vote anyway. His comments a few weeks ago about not having a heart if you don’t want the government subsidizing the college education of illegal immigrants rubbed me as badly as most in the GOP. His campaign has faltered ever since, and I don’t see it recovering. (Despite what he says, in state tuition is a subsidy. If there is no subsidy, there is no reason to charge more for non-residents of the state.)

One thing I want to say on Perry’s behalf is that I don’t hold his former status as a Democrat against him. I once considered myself a Democrat as well. I even voted for Bill Clinton’s re-election in 1996, the first election for which I was old enough to vote. If his conversion to Christianity is recent, as in within the last 20 years, it may explain his move to the Right as well as anything. That is why I moved from Liberal to Libertarian.

Rick Santorum

Who is he? He has said a few things at debates that I’ve liked, and a few I thought he was way off on. I can’t remember what though. He’s an also-ran.

Ron Paul

I’ve already stated I’m a Libertarian-Conservative. Thus Ron Paul is an almost perfect-fit for my political views. I worked hard in 2008 to work my way up through the Caucus process in Minnesota to send delegates to the National GOP Convention that would vote for Ron Paul’s nomination. I plan on doing the same thing this time around. Frankly, Paul is the only candidate that I could vote for in November 2012 without any hesitation. I differ with him on a few small things, but so minor it’s insignificant.

I do get very annoyed with Republicans over their views on Ron Paul. Many will say they are for this or that, and line up closely, or even perfectly, with Ron Paul, but disregard him for specious reasons. What’s worse, Republicans will lecture me about how no candidate is perfect and I should support this candidate or that, but then will turn around and dismiss Paul for much more minor reasons than I dismiss their particular favorite candidate.

I like his views on military bases. Why are we in Germany, Italy, Japan, and countless other places? The one place we have a foreign base that I don’t think we should pull out of is South Korea. The only reason for that is, as I understand it, South Korea pays us to be there. That being said, if they are willing to cover the costs of our troops being in their country, why not transfer their security to a mercenary force? Why not let them hire our soldiers after they are discharged from our military?

Michele Bachmann

Overall I like Michele. I think sometimes she has put her foot in her mouth, or that her mouth moves faster than her brain, but I still like her. I do the same thing at times (though I’m not running for President). She is the only candidate that I would consider myself “on the fence” about. If Ron Paul gets the nomination, I’ll vote for him in 2012. If Michele Bachmann gets it, I’ll strongly consider voting for her in 2012. If anyone else gets the nomination, I’ll probably vote for the Constitution Party candidate as I have in the last three Presidential elections.

I think Bachmann’s biggest weakness, in my opinion, is her support of the Patriot Act. Bachmann is a lot like Paul on many issues, which is why I like her. However, where they differ, she tends to be for bigger government. She likes bigger government in areas that Republicans in general like bigger government, but that’s bigger government none-the-less.

I’m not a fan of Bachmann’s views on Iran. She seems to want another war, which I don’t think this country needs. If we were to go to war with Iran, let Iran drag us into it.

Gary Johnson

Is he still in the race? He wasn’t at the debates last night. If he is, I wouldn’t support him. He and Ron Paul are similar, both being Libertarians, but where they differ, Johnson disqualifies himself from my vote. Ron Paul understands the government’s role in enforcing Natural Law, whereas Johnson takes a more pure Libertarian view that “if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, who are we to stop it.” In reality, it does hurt others, such as his view that abortion should be legal. Paul at least understands the rights of the unborn, though having delivered over 4,000 babies likely plays an understandable role in that view.

John Huntsman

I think he’s still running. He prided himself in not being at the debates. I think he compared them to a circus sideshow, don’t quote me on that.

Huntsman is a Mormon. See Mitt Romney for my views there. Though I haven’t heard anything about the sincerity of his Mormon faith, whether he is a Temple Mormon, “Jack Mormon,” or somewhere in between.

Huntsman was governor of Utah, and Ambassador to China under both Bush (43) and Obama. He seems to agree where they agree (which is far more than most people will acknowledge.) I dislike Obama as President, and I also disliked Bush. I can’t see Huntsman as the Conservative hero that I’ve been looking for.

Saving Social Security

There is a lot of talk about government programs these days, especially entitlement programs, in light of the crippling debt that Washington is heaping on us all and the programs they intend to spend that money on.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I actually believed that Social Security would survive long enough for me to start cashing checks. Even before my political views shifted dramatically from Democrat tool to Libertarian-Conservative Constitutionalist, I knew that money taken from my paychecks to fund Social Security would never be seen again.

Considering my current political views, and my respect for both the Constitution (interpreted literally and in line with authorial intent) and the long-forgotten concept of Natural Law, I would actually support the complete eradication of all entitlement programs, especially at the Federal level. I’m open to shifting them to the states, and allowing people to vote first at the ballot box and then with their feet whether they want such programs or not.

That said, I hold no illusions that my wishes will be fulfilled in the national political arena. Even with the rise of the Tea Party, and a strong chorus of calls for fiscal responsibility and minimalism in government, few seem to be willing to address the sacred cow of Social Security in any meaningful way. However, I’d like to offer my view on how to save this program so that there might be a slim chance I could get my money back when I hit retirement age. Whether or not you like my ideas here, there is no question that serious changes need to be made before the program not only dries up, but sucks our nation into serious economic turmoil in the process.

Sustainable Contribution Base

The relationship between who pays into Social Security and who receives benefits needs some serious work. Surprisingly though, it is the one program that seems to tie recipients to contributors. Currently there is a cap on how much income will be taxed for Social Security. I don’t recall the exact figure, but somewhere just north of $100k, income stops being taxed for Social Security. This is the one element of the program I think actually makes sense. There is an underlying presumption that everyone will receive Social Security, despite the acknowledgment that our wealthier Seniors have little need of it. Talk of taxing every dollar while applying a sort of means-test to decide who receives benefits gets into wealth-redistribution territory, which is pure tyranny at every level. No man, no matter how “successful” should be obligated to work for the benefit of another unwillingly, which is exactly what redistributionist programs require. This is where I lean on Natural Law, and encourage the reader to learn what you can about Natural Law.

One major reason Social Security is unsustainable, and is speeding toward insolvency, is that when the program was created, there were nearly 16 people paying into the program for every person receiving benefits. Today that number is closer to two. That means that a typical married couple is paying into a program to support one of their four parents. It is left to their kids to support the other three, while trying to support themselves in the process. In past generations, it was much more reasonable for kids and grandkids to support their elderly parents and grandparents because birth-rates were much higher. Life expectancy was also much lower. Most people didn’t expect to live to see 65 years of age, when they would become eligible for Social Security. Today they are living well into their 70’s. And when you had four or six kids, who each had four to six kids of their own, you’d have a couple dozen people pitching in to make sure your needs were met in old age. Today we are in the position where most people have made caring for the elderly a low priority because “that’s what Social Security is for”, and there are fewer of us to do it.

As a result, the age of eligibility absolutely needs to be adjusted – dramatically. Assuming that life expectancy will continue to rise (just for the sake of prudence), I would tie the age of eligibility to life expectancy in percentage terms. For example, life expectancy averages 75 years, and we set eligibility at 95%, new Social Security recipients would be eligible at age 71 and 3 months. This would give them 3 years and 8 months, on average, of benefits. This doesn’t seem like much, but keep in mind that when the program started, most people didn’t expect to live to see anything. Also keep in mind that Social Security is little more than a guaranteed welfare program, and the only requirement is to keep breathing for a specified length of time. Welfare has a lifetime cap of five years, not much more than my proposal.

Choice

As with any other government program, Social Security is crumbling for lack of choice. Just like government schools, you’re stuck with it, you have to pay in, and have no say in where the money goes. The only saving grace is that you’re free to supplement Social Security through an IRA, 401(K), or other retirement account. You can put all your change in a jar for 60 years and retire on it if you want to. Sticking with the government school analogy, this is like going to private school in the evenings, after getting let out of the government school; that’s probably where the meaningful portion is going to come from.

Because any word of making any change to Social Security, besides sending out bigger checks, is met with the strongest of resistance, even among the so-called Conservative, I’m willing to be careful with how a system of choice is offered.

I propose that anyone anyone age 50 or older be given a few options. The first option, which should satisfy the staunchest of Social Security lovers, is to continue with business as usual. If they haven’t retired yet, they can continue to pay into the system as usual, and get the checks they expect when they expect them.

The second option would be a lump-sum payout. If the person is retired, they could receive a tax-free payout equivalent to everything they’ve paid in over the course of their lives. If retired, they could do what they wish with the money. If not yet retired, they could put it into any investment they like under the umbrella of a Roth IRA, where it would never be taxed. This option would probably be disregarded by lower and middle class retirees, who have been counting on Social Security to pay their bills in retirement. However, for many wealthy and prudent retirees that saved all their lives, not expecting to receive anything, this is a great option. They get back what they paid in, without being a greater burden on the system. I say that because most people receive back what they paid in within just a few years of retirement, and the remainder of their lives continue collecting long after their own contribution is exhausted.

The next group would be the 30-49 crowd. This group would also be given options. However, the options given to this group would have more serious consequences, no bail-outs for making bad choices.

The first option would be to move to an optional state-run system. This would shift an unconstitutional program away from a Federal government that has no Constitutional authority to run such a program to the states, which have a 10th amendment option to offer such a program. Should this option be chosen, the state would decide the specifics of the program, but could not guarantee a payout greater than that equal to a lifetime of total contributions plus a reasonable, market-determined rate of interest. The contributions could be used by states to provide necessary services, such as building roads or other service that requires a lump-sum initial cost, but offers long-term use.

The second option would be similar to the 50+ crowd’s option of taking a lump-sum payout. However, it wouldn’t be a lump-sum. It would be would be paid directly into a tax-free retirement account, phased in over a pre-specified number of years, probably around 10. The phasing allows the money they have been credited to be used to help pay for the retirees that opt to stay in the current system. I personally prefer this option because it puts the burden back on the backs of future retirees. You will invest your money better than anyone else, especially if there is no hope of a bailout if you are wrong. You will weigh risk vs. reward and make a choice that best suits your needs. If you lose everything, you’ll have to work later in life.

For anyone who is 29 or younger, there is no choice. Their contributions to date would be transfered over a similar pre-specified number of years into a private investment vehicle.

In addition to reforming the system in terms of how accounts are structured, I would open up the options of where to put the money. For example, if real-estate, on average, appreciates over time (current economic situation notwithstanding), I would allow people to buy homes with their IRA money. Many people already spend a lifetime investing in bigger and bigger home, figuring that at retirement they can drastically downsize and live off the equity. Under the current system, you can borrow from your IRA to buy a home, but you are required to “pay yourself back.” I would certainly retain the option, but wouldn’t require that the money be paid back into your account. It’s your money, your retirement, and your problem if you screw it up.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether my idea would work or not, things will change sooner or later. The option isn’t if, it’s how and when. I’m of the mind that the sooner it happens, the better. That gets us out before we dig a deeper hole, and gives us more time to iron out the details and resolve inevitable problems that will arise.

As with any program, private is always better. People will make better decisions with their own money than government bureaucrats will. Also, the gut tendency by many to want a safety net must be resisted. It certainly eases the conscience to help people out who make bad choices, but all that does is introduce a moral hazard that will encourage bad decisions to be made in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I would never forbid anyone from helping a friend or loved-one, that is their choice (and risk) to make. I would not, however, require anyone by force of law, to bail out the irresponsible. Those who make bad choices (like blowing their money on a high-rolling trip to Las Vegas) will provide the example to others that such behavior is not acceptable to society at large, and won’t be subsidized via public bailouts.

Slavery, Racism, and the 3/5 Clause

Any time race and the Constitution comes up, it’s almost inevitable that someone involved in the conversation will accuse the Framers of the Constitution of severe racism, and point to the 3/5 Clause as evidence:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

“All other persons” clearly referred to slaves.

The accusation is that this clause deemed slaves to be three-fifths of a person, somehow sub-human.

Let’s pick this apart a little, as it should be easy to show that counting slaves in this way was not only the right thing to do, it not only didn’t serve to dehuminize slaves as is so often the charge, it worked to do just the opposite. In fact, not counting them at all would have been the best thing to do.

That sounds pretty crazy, I know. Bear with me though, I completely understand why you would think so.

First of all, let’s consider the nature of representation during the early days of the Republic. Since slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person for the sake of representation and taxation, how did they cast their votes? Did they get five people together to decide how to cast three votes? Hardly! Remember, slaves were considered property by their masters and the governments of the states where they resided. Property didn’t vote then any more than your car can vote now. Blacks weren’t given the vote until the 15th Amendment.

At issue was that pro-slave southern states wanted slaves to count the same as whites for the sake of representation, despite the fact that they were considered property in all other regards. Abolitionists argued that such a practice was absurd, logically fallacious. They argued that if southern states were going to count their slaves as property, but expect representation for them, then all property should be counted: horses, cattle, dogs, tables, chairs, etc. Obviously that wasn’t going to work.

What’s more, if the southern states got their way, and were allowed to count their slaves as people for the sake of representation, they would get more Congressmen in relation to the anti-slave northern states. This boost in representation would ensure perpetual slavery. Most of the Founders were abolitionists though, and saw this as a danger to their efforts to ban slavery entirely.

Had slaves not counted at all, representation in northern, abolitionist states would have been higher, giving them the numbers to pass abolitionist laws through the Congress.

You see, the best thing for the slaves would have been to deny them representation altogether. Again, I know this sounds crazy, but they couldn’t vote anyway. Under the 3/5 clause, they were being given partial representation, but no vote. In essence, they are not being represented at all. In fact, they were being counted in a manner that gave more representation to their adversaries, the slave owners! Their best representation came from Congressmen in other states. Thus they would have been better off not being counted at all for the sake of representation, in order to shift the number of Congressional seats to states that did not have slavery. In fact, in many of the northern, abolitionist states, blacks were given full citizenship, complete with the right to vote! They represented their southern counterparts better than southerners.

3/5 was a compromise that was added to the Constitution to make ratification much more likely.

So next time someone throws out the 3/5 clause as evidence that the Founders were racists, ask them why it was that the slave states (the racists) wanted slaves counted 5/5, and it was the abolitionists that wanted them counted 0/5.