Yeah, the ratings for the Republican presidential campaign debates are through the roof. Yeah, there are lots of choices this time around–and that’s a good thing. That being said, I’m getting frustrated that I can’t identify a candidate I’m excited about. I had a favorable opinion of Bobby Jindal based on how much less corrupt Louisiana state government is than it was before he took office. A record of reform is appealing to me. Jindal, however, is one of four GOP candidates who have dropped out of the race. Lindsey Graham dropped out very recently. Further back, Rick Perry dropped out. Scott Walker was the first to drop out (which made total sense to me). On the Democrat side (not that anybody across the aisle interests me), Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee have dropped out. That still leaves 13 Republicans and 3 Democrats in the running:
To get an idea of the lay of the land, I’ve listed the candidates top to bottom in each party to approximate recent polling data (not an exact science to be sure). I’ve linked each name in that list to the corresponding official campaign webpage. Go ahead and click on the links. See if anybody excites you.
Let me list some of the grievances that cause me to cross candidates off my list of preferences:
- Crony capitalism? Support for bailouts? Ties to the gambling industry? Ties to businesses “too big to fail?” Pay-to-play politics? Manipulate markets through artificial means to predetermine winners and losers of your own choosing? More beholden to campaign donors than to voters? Sorry, not for me. Oops! I just shoveled a bunch of people off my list already!
- Isolationism? Reluctant to propel our nation to lead the world? Fearful of increasing legal immigration? Hey, wake up! People are watching us all around the world. I am mindful of that. We cannot have leaders that bury their heads in the sand.
- Dishonesty? Trying to be enigmatic about policy positions? Talking out of both sides of your mouth? Unwilling to be held accountable? Holding double-standards? Dodging culpability through legal technicalities and obfuscation? Lacking integrity? (I’m looking at you, Hillary Clinton. This is why you’d be the last person I’d vote for of either party.)
- Lack of leadership? No executive experience? Unable to rally people to your cause? Unable to form coalitions? Unwilling to negotiate with those on the other side of the political aisle? A lone voice in the wilderness that no one cares to listen to? Ineffective administrator? Constantly making excuses for poor performance? The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing? Take credit for the good but pass blame for the bad? The buck doesn’t stop at your desk? There are places in society for such people. They can be bloggers, just like me. And, just like me, they shouldn’t be POTUS.
- In trouble with the law? Domestic violence? Sexual harassment? Driving while intoxicated? Use of recreational drugs? Evaded taxes? Commingled personal funds with business funds, campaign funds, NGO funds, or government funds? Hired a domestic that was not eligible to work in the United States? Steered contracts for bribes and kickbacks? Hid information from FOIA requests that the public has a right to know about? Does a life of privilege protect you from reaping legal consequences that would ordinarily befall someone in less-priveleged circumstances? No one should be exempt from the law.
- Utopianism? Should free markets go the way of the dinosaur? In the interests of economic egalitarianism in pursuit of a classless society through destratification, should our society and economy be centrally planned by a benevolent federal government comprised of the best thinkers within the ivory tower? Do we need to be saved from ourselves? Are we citizens irrationally prone to vote against our own best interests? Should the interests of the betterment of society trump the ambitions of individuals? Wouldn’t equality guarantee happiness for everyone? Well, I don’t call myself Buckeye RINO because I am okay with being herded like cattle.
- Constitution allergy? Is the U.S. Constitution inconvenient? Should speech, religion, the press, and peaceable assembly be regulated? Should firearm ownership be confined to on-duty law enforcement and military personnel? Is the whole population comprised of suspects, thus seeking warrants just bothersome red tape? Do the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution intrude on the branches of government to the point that each branch needs work-arounds to circumvent the checks and balances? Are the people too subversive to be sovereign? Is it too hard to declare war before engaging in acts of war? Is due process too much to expect when the government has an interest in seizing private property? Shouldn’t the Senate have the same right of introducing an appropriations bill as does the House? Should special interest groups be delegated the responsibility of writing the legislation that gets introduced in Congress? If any act of Congress, on its face, is unenforceable, should the executive branch be given carte blanche to add whatever administrative code to it deemed necessary to make it enforceable? Should the new loophole of regarding the U.S. Constitution as a “living document” render the Constitution malleable to the point at which it means whatever it is expedient to say it means at any given point in time? Should any U.S. District Court judge be permitted to strike down the laws of any state, or institute new state laws, based upon the federal government’s interests and the federal government’s notions of political correctness? Is holding on to power, whether for incumbents, the federal government as a whole, the two major political parties, businesses “too big to fail,” or government bureaucracies (like the IRS, the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of Land Management, the DEA, the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, ICE, the FEC, the EPA, etc.) so imperative that the sovereign people, the 50 states, and the U.S. Constitution must ultimately be subjugated? I cannot abide politicians who act in this manner, and maybe that’s why GOP voters have been driven toward non-politicians early on in this election cycle.
I already eliminated all the presidential candidates based on these 7 bulletpoints. Now what? Choose the least of the evils? In that case, I find myself being pushed toward Rand Paul, for the 7th bulletpoint trumps them all. I don’t think of Rand Paul as a leader. I have no data from which I can extrapolate what kind of administrator he would be. Libertarians often outsource the work of government because the government is deemed too inefficient. I am not libertarian. I think many functions of government should be kept in-house. Ideally, there’d be a chain of command within government that would hold bureaucracies accountable to the chief executive and responsive to the people, thus a political leader should reform government agencies and lead them to greater efficiency. I don’t agree with many tenets of libertarianism, legalization of recreational drugs being just one example of what I oppose. I worry that a libertarian running the government would be like steering a rudderless ship, for I think that libertarianism aspires to such an extreme of individualism that it interferes with a sense of community. I think having a sense of community is the essence of good government that rules by the consent of the governed. I think Rand Paul is isolationist. In foreign policy, I fear a President Rand Paul would project weakness. I fear that the U.S. would step aside as world leader, and that, in turn, would leave a vacuum that Russia or China or many other nations would like to fill. I must admit that I believe in American exceptionalism. I think we have the best nation on the planet, and I wish that other nations would emulate ours at least to the extent that their respective constitutions grant liberties to their respective populations that are equal to our own Bill of Rights.
What scares me about so many other candidates is that they want to sound so tough on the homeland security front that they are willing to part with key provisions of the Bill of Rights, whether it’s gun control, the tendency to attempt to muzzle the media in the face of criticism (or script, in advance, the messages delivered by the media), and a barely concealed animosity toward religion on the left; or treating all citizens as suspects on the right. Have you heard the GOP candidates’ stances on encryption? They are chilling. I believe the freedom of speech includes choosing who is and who is not the audience of any given communication. This blog is unencrypted because I hope for a wide audience for the views I state here. But if I’m talking about a sensitive personal matter, I want to communicate in complete privacy only to a specific audience of my choosing. Unfortunately, the national security hawks want every civilian communication to be a public one with plenty of ways to eavesdrop at their disposal. I never liked the so-called Patriot Act for its infringement of 4th Amendment provisions regarding warrants, or should I say the granting of policing power with either no warrants or issuance of secret warrants, thus circumventing the constitutional checks and balances upon policing power. The result is an arrangement that makes the government opaque to the people and the people transparent to the government. I think the people of this nation need to put terrorist acts in perspective. What is the ratio of terrorist-on-American crime with respect to American-on-American crime? Remember the chorus on the right side of the aisle that responded to prominent white-on-black criminal cases with the knee-jerk reaction of “What about black-on-black crime?” The casualties from terrorist-on-American crime are much fewer than non-terrorist-on-American crime. I suggest we not throw away our constitutional rights over this. Chris Christie said he puts national security first because, for hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center, he didn’t know what had become of his wife. Along that same line of reasoning, if someone close to Chris Christie, heaven forbid, should be threatened by a firearm, would that make it okay, in his mind, to rescind the 2nd Amendment? I think the 2nd Amendment is one way to ensure that terrorists will never take control of our nation. Do you remember a time when military coups were ubiquitous across the Third World? In those nations, the people lacked the arms that governments and military insurgents had. What purpose do assault weapons serve in the hands of a free people? Some of the answers to that question are that we maintain a civilian-controlled military, that we deter foreign invasion, and that we prevent the formation of a totalitarian state (or that we have the power to overthrow a totalitarian state, heaven forbid). I offered Chris Christie’s position as an example of the candidates’ rhetoric on national security, but he really shouldn’t be singled out, for candidates at the bottom of the polls, like Jim Gilmore and Martin O’Malley, all the way to the top of the polls, like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, envision a security state that must take precedence over constitutional liberties.
For the time being, I suppose I am cornered into the Rand Paul camp, and I don’t like it. I’m not a happy camper. I’m hoping candidates whose leadership skills I admire will come to their senses and take the side of the US Constitution. Barring that, watching this race unfold is like channel surfing and finding nothing intriguing on TV.