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THE JEFFERSON-MADISON DEBATES: Can the Constitution Survive?

July 17th, 2019 // 8:20 am @

PART I

European “Conservatism” and American “Conservatism” are not the same thing.[i] It’s important to realize that “conservatism,” in the generic, isn’t defined as a specific platform or set of ideals. It’s simply the posture and priority of “conserving” a certain tradition or form, as opposed to liberally or “progressive-ly” moving away from said tradition or form.

As George Will has pointed out, in Europe “Conservatism” was rooted in protecting monarchy, aristocracy, and the class system (where the many are ruled by the few), while in America “Conservatism” means protecting and maintaining the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which it was framed, including the key principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence.[ii] Indeed the Declaration itself initiated the end of European Conservatism in America.[iii]

The tug-of-war between American Conservatism and Progressivism has been part of the American story ever since.[iv] Progressivism has gone through several stages–all of them a direct and escalating attack on the Constitution:

Step 1- Statism: Increase the size and scope of the government

Step 2- Centralized Statism: Increase the size and scope of the federal government

Step 3- Liberalism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent to the lower classes by state force

Step 4- Socialism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent and middle classes to the lower classes by state force, putting control of the federal government in the hands of a few, and also mandate social and environmental causes that require the federal government to grow even more

Step 5- Globalized Socialism: Expand progressive goals to include federal government programs for people around the globe (not limited to American citizens), requiring a massive expansion of government size and scope and progressive transfers of power and sovereignty from the American voters (and voters within other nations) to international organizations, agreements, and entities

We are currently in the High-Growth Phase of Step 4 and the Early-Growth Phase of Step 5.

PART II

American Conservatism, in contrast, focuses on implementing the U.S. Constitution, a return to Constitutional limited government (to the extent that we’ve moved away from the Constitution), and a citizenry that rules itself rather than being ruled by a class of elites.[v] Today the battle between Conservatism and Progressivism is in full swing.

To measure which side is ahead in this contest, the scoreboard is a simple two-question matrix:

  • Is the size, scope, debt, and expenditure of the federal government shrinking?

If “Yes,” Conservatism is winning.

  • Is the size, scope, debt, and expenditure of the federal government expanding?

If “Yes,” Progressivism is winning.

This is the only real indicator of direction, momentum, and victory. Every other possible marker can be faked or obscured. What this scoreboard shows is that the following administrations in the modern era have increased American Progressivism (thus decreasing Conservatism/Adherence to the U.S. Constitution):

  • Roosevelt
  • Truman
  • Eisenhower
  • Kennedy
  • Johnson
  • Nixon
  • Ford
  • Carter
  • Reagan
  • Bush
  • Clinton
  • Bush
  • Obama
  • Trump

In contrast, the following administrations reduced the scope, size and expenditure of the Federal Government, increasing American Conservatism and adherence to the U.S. Constitution:


NONE


This comes as a surprise to many conservatives. Indeed, this reality makes it clear which approach is winning: Progressivism. But surely some of the more conservative administrations at least significantly slowed down the increasing scope, size and expenditure of government, right?

The following administrations significantly slowed these things down:


NONE


This must have been caused by the opposing liberal Congress faced by certain administrations, right? The following administrations attempted to significantly slow the increase of the Federal Government’s size, scope, and expenditure, but were thwarted by the Congress:


NONE


At first glance, for conservatives at least, this doesn’t seem to make sense. Clearly there is a big difference between some of the administrations, that of Carter and Reagan for example, or Obama and Trump. While this is true, the actual differences are not what most people tend to think.

Where the genuine application of Conservative principles often results in significant benefits to the nation, the overall trend since 1944 can only be characterized as firmly escalating in the direction of Progressivism. The nation has occasionally profited from a short-term implementation of Conservative principles (e.g. Eisenhower, Reagan, Trump), but this has not resulted in a reversal of the Progressive trend.

Moreover, during this entire timeline, Progressive momentum has accelerated. It has never reversed. Conservatism (protection and application of the U.S. Constitution and Constitutional limits) has given way to Progressivism (the expansion of the welfare state and the size/scope of the central government) during every administration in the post-World War II era.

A more accurate understanding of these trends is possible if we consider the dominant Steps of Progressivism implemented in modern American history. This allows us to more clearly rate the Conservatism vs. Progressivism of each administration:

Dominant Focus of Washington D.C. from 1860-1913

Step 1- Statism: Increase the size and scope of the government

Dominant Focus of Washington D.C. from 1913-1944

Step 2- Centralized Statism: Increase the size and scope of the federal government

Dominant Focus During the Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton administrations

Step 3- Liberalism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent to the lower classes by state force

Dominant Focus During the Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Bush, and Trump administrations

Step 2- Centralized Statism: Increase the size and scope of the federal government

Dominant Focus During the Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama administrations

Step 4- Socialism: Use the increasing size and scope of the federal government to redistribute money from the affluent and middle classes to the lower classes by state force, putting control of the federal government in the hands of a few, and also mandate social and environmental causes that require the federal government to grow even more

Dominant Focus of the Current Left since 2016

Step 5- Globalized Socialism: Expand Progressive goals to include federal government programs for people around the globe (not limited to American citizens), requiring another massive expansion of government size and scope and progressive transfers of power and sovereignty from the American voters (and people within other nations) to international organizations and entities

PART III

There are at least three significant considerations in all of this that every American needs to understand:

  1. None of the presidential administrations in the post-World War II era have implemented Conservatism (the genuine application of Constitutional limits). All have supported the Progressive agenda at some level (increase of the size and scope of the federal government beyond its Constitutional boundaries, including an expansion of the welfare state). Some administrations promoted this more than others. But all are complicit in Progressivism, while none adhered to Conservatism as defined above (the Application of all Constitutional Limits, versus Increasing the Scope, Size, and Expenditure of Government).
  2. Presidents considered by many to be the most “Conservative” (including Eisenhower, Reagan, Trump) promoted Step 2 Progressivism but not Step 3 Progressivism. Specifically, they actively increased the size and scope of the federal government, but didn’t drastically increase redistribution of money/programs from the affluent to the lower classes by state force. This led to economic upturn through deregulation—a good result. It did not, however, reverse the momentum of the welfare state or reinvigorate Constitutional limits; as a consequence, the trend toward bigger government and increased Progressivism continues unabated.
  3. Presidents widely considered the most Progressive (Roosevelt, Johnson, Obama) implemented Step 4 Progressivism (socialism: major redistribution from the upper and middle classes to government programs nominally for the poor and disadvantaged) and drastically increased the growth rate of the long-term Progressive trend. This always coincided with major (albeit medium-length) economic downturn.

There has been no genuinely Conservative presidential administration (one focused on maintaining the limited size and scope of government to the specific limitations of the Constitution) since presidents Harding and Coolidge in the 1920s. All administrations since that time have promoted an expansion of the federal government in size, scope, and expenditure. The growing welfare state (Progressivism) has continually won out over Constitutional limits (Conservatism).

This has been aided by a number of decisions in the Court expanding the scope of the federal government and naming many additional federal powers “constitutional”. Ironically, such decisions are, according to the original words of the Constitution, unconstitutional.[vi]

PART IV

Why?

Why have all administrations since the mid-1920s joined the Progressive trend, even while many have loudly proclaimed their “bona fide Conservatism”? The answer may be as simple as that suggested by George Will[vii]: Most Americans actually like a lot of our government programs. And today we want more of them, not less. We want programs for “other people” to be cut or discontinued, but we tend to cling to government programs that directly benefit us.

Irony is at work here. On the one hand, voters seem to want freedom—but within limits. Specifically, they want more freedom for themselves than for others. And they want government programs—also within limits. The masses want something that has never been a reality—the quality levels attained by private schools, private institutions of higher education, private health care, and private-sector prestige jobs, provided free to all by government, and paid for by “the rich”–“the 1 Percent”.

Another way to describe our situation is that Progressivism has largely won the battle for the hearts and minds of most Americans. The Conservative ethos—that government should protect our freedoms by adhering to the U.S. Constitution, and give us nothing else, nothing at all, because the rest is up to us alone, our individual hard work, tenacity, initiative, ingenuity and good choices—is now largely a foreign concept.[viii] It is as quaint in our cities, and beyond, as vinyl records or public payphones. We want government to do things for us—lots of things. “How else will it get done?” most Americans now ask.

A majority of Americans now want to work less, make more, and receive a lot of extra government benefits paid for by someone else. If that’s what it means now to be an American, then America is on the path to major decline.[ix] And perhaps the most shocking point: Almost nobody is arguing about this.

We argue about whether or not such government benefits should go to illegal aliens. Some say “Yes, of course. Be generous”, while others respond “No way! Don’t make me pay for their needs. What about Americans, what about our needs?” But both sides miss the deeper issue. Again, most Americans now want to work less, get paid more, and receive a lot of extra government programs paid for by someone else. As long as this is our agreed-upon worldview, we’re in decline, and sinking fast.

We have, on one side, those who want more government benefits for everyone. Another side wants fewer government programs/expenditures for those who aren’t Americans.

But where are those who refuse all benefits that the government offers to them, preferring freedom? —the citizens who want to stand on their own, to make their own way without government help, who want to actually be free? Where are those kind of Americans today?

Without them, American-style Conservatism is extinct. Without them, Progressivism has won.

Most modern Americans want independence without having to select the choices that make them independent. “With all the taxes I pay, I’m not going to turn down government benefits.” The problem is, at its root, that government forces us to pay for the welfare state, whether we accept any of its benefits or not. For most people, as a result, rejecting the benefits appears illogical, even stupid. And they’re right.

But can the Constitution survive such a populace? If the masses want to work less, make more, and refuse to reject government benefits, the government will continue to grow. Limited constitutionalism is already over, in such a world.

Prediction: Unless this changes, we will only elect those promising the easy path, and we will vote ourselves consistently into decline. The Republican Party will oscillate between Progressive Steps 2 and 3, while the Democrat Party will swing back and forth between Progressive Steps 4 and 5. Regardless of which side wins elections, the federal government will keep expanding. Freedom will be redefined, redirected, and reduced, and eventually it will disappear, following the long-established pattern of great power nations.[x]

There is, of course, a solution. It is called limited government. It is outlined in the United States Constitution.

First: the federal government must be held to the twenty powers (only 20!) outlined in Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Second: the Executive branch and its agencies must be required (by the voters, and all those they elect) to actually follow the Constitution. Third: the Court must also be required to follow the Constitution (by the voters, and all those they elect), without dodging this duty by claiming that it can simply redefine the document whenever it wants.

The voters have all the power to make these three things happen.

We have the blueprint. It will work, if the voters demand it.

But it will only work if the voters demand it.


*How can we get regular citizens to be this kind of voter? The answer is outlined in the book LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille. In LeaderShift you’ll learn the 5 Laws of Declining Nations, why America is currently failing all 5 Laws, and what to actually do about it. Find out how to get America back on track for the long term!

Available here>>


NOTES

[i] See George Will, 2019, The Conservative Sensibility

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] See Russell Kirk, 1974, The Roots of American Order

[iv] See Arthur Schlesinger, 1986, The Cycles of American History

[v] See op cit., Kirk; see also W. Cleon Skousen, 1985, The Making of America

[vi] The Constitution of the United States, Article III; see also Madison, Hamilton, Jay, 1989, The Federalist, Papers 78, 80, 83

[vii] See op cit., Will

[viii] See Oliver DeMille, 2014, The U.S Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom

[ix] See Orrin Woodward, 2014, And Justice for All; see also Jonah Goldberg, 2018, Suicide of the West; see also Thomas Sowell, 2007, A Conflict of Visions

[x] See Paul Kennedy, 1987, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

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News of the Day: Which Constitution?

July 8th, 2019 // 9:03 pm @

I. Today in the News

There is so much going on in the news these days–big events that have major potential to influence the future of our nation and freedom. Unfortunately, almost all the news is reported with strong partisan leanings. The slant and spin are frequently overwhelming.

To respond, I’ve decided to do an in-the-news series that steps away from current partisan spin and addresses the big news of the day from the perspective of the U.S. Constitution and the viewpoint of the American Founding. It will give readers a different way to look at things. I’ll try to keep these brief and to the point, just a few paragraphs per post. I hope you will comment and share so this can influence people…

II. July 2019: Which Constitution?

Myth: The other side (Democrats or Republicans) don’t care about the Constitution.

Fact: Actually they do. Both sides care deeply about the Constitution. But, it turns out, they care about different Constitutions. This isn’t surprising, given the way Red and Blue State cultures tend to disagree on almost everything. But most people, on both sides, don’t understand the way the other side passionately likes the Constitution. Here’s a quick primer.

Blind men describing an elephant

Three scholars (Pozen, Talley, and Nyarko) tallied speeches and comments made on the floor of Congress between 1873 and 2016 and put them to computational analysis. (See “Republicans and Democrats are Describing Two Different Constitutions“, The Atlantic, June 2, 2019) They learned that “…today’s conservatives” use the following constitutionally-charged terms a lot:

  • Founding Fathers
  • First Amendment
  • Second Amendment
  • Tenth Amendment
  • individual liberty
  • original intent
  • inalienable rights
  • states’ rights
  • limits on government

Democrats, in contrast, are more likely to use the following constitutionally-charged terms:

  • equality
  • federal authority
  • flawed origins of the Constitution
  • civil rights
  • right to vote
  • government power

While Republicans tend to emphasize the stories and values of the American founding, Democrats the stories and values of Reconstruction and the Civil Rights era. When speaking of American flaws, Democrats frequently point to the Antebellum South while Republicans often criticize the counter-culture wars of the 1960s.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress do tend to agree on one thing: citing the Constitution to make their point. However, as Pozen, Talley and Nyarko put it:

“To an unprecedented extent, Republican and Democratic members of Congress no longer speak the same constitutional language. Underlying this polarization of constitutional discourse…are competing constitutional vocabularies.”

Bring up a controversial issue, and both sides are likely to appeal to the Constitution for support. (e.g. “The Constitution requires Trump to give Congress his tax returns” vs. “The Constitution prohibits the Treasury from giving Congress the President’s tax returns.”) The two sides cite different clauses in many cases, and nearly always provide opposite definitions and commentaries.

The bad news: the Constitution isn’t a unifying document in modern partisan politics. No surprise there. But it’s unfortunate. The good news, however, is that our nation’s top officials and experts are providing such different accounts and explanations of the Constitution that the only way most people can separate fact from fiction is to read the document for themselves. We’ve reached an ironic juncture in our era of hyper-partisanship:

Americans who want to know the real answers need to read the Constitution.

Not a bad place to be. And before you discount this and assume almost nobody from the “other side” will do it, stop and ask yourself:

Will you?

Is understanding what’s actually happening in the news worth a few minutes a day of looking it up in our nation’s most important document?

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THE JEFFERSON-MADISON DEBATES: A New Cold War is Coming PART II

June 11th, 2019 // 7:41 am @

What Americans Can Do To Effectively Protect American Freedoms in the Decades Just Ahead

(Book Review of American, by Shanon Brooks)

Note to reader: read Part I of this report here >>


I. The Challenge

The 21st Century is shaping up as an era of major conflict, between (1) the three superpowers (the U.S., Russia, and China) and their allies and proxies (the European Union, Israel, North Korea, Iran, etc.), and also between (2) the Red- and Blue-state cultures that are further dividing America. If the U.S. doesn’t fix the problem (2) above, it will almost certainly lose the first battle (1) to China and/or Russia.

But what can regular Americans actually do? What will really work?

The three most effective things Americans can do to maintain our freedoms, families, and leadership in an increasingly dangerous world are:

  1. Spread great, classics- and freedom-based, leadership education
  2. Engage entrepreneurialism, the key to free enterprise, and encourage/help others to do the same
  3. Vote correctly and influence other voters to do the same (to protect and increase freedoms), and effectively influence government between elections

The battle for world leadership will come down to how well Americans do these three things. If we don’t win this battle, the world by 2040 will likely be run by two superpowers: China and Russia. Freedom values will be at odds with the rest of the world, and greatly reduced in the United States. Socialism will be the norm from the California redwoods to the beaches of Florida, from the Midwest to the Plains, and from the Rockies to Maine, in the cities and farms, and across all fifty states. Many of our most cherished freedoms will be reduced, or stolen.

How can we ensure that this doesn’t happen? A new book addresses this very question. This may be one of the most important books of our time; if we read and understand it, and take the right action, the future of America, our freedoms, our economy and our families, will be bright. If we don’t take the needed action…freedoms will be lost, socialism will spread, and families will suffer.

The book is titled simply, and sagely, American.

II. The Journey

Indeed, the title says it all. Written by Shanon Brooks, American gets to the heart of the problem, and the solutions. As Brooks puts it: “…we are killing the American Dream. Out of the top 30 countries in the world, the U.S. ranks 16th in literacy…and 14th in problem solving.”

Does that sound like a superpower? Or more like a past leader currently in decline? If we’re only 14th in problem solving, how can we truly expect to lead in the decades ahead, to tackle and solve our greatest problems, to help lead the world as it faces and overcomes the challenges ahead?

But the problem is even more daunting. Brooks wrote:

“National unfunded obligations are more than $100 trillion while U.S. household debt is at an all-time high of $13.2 trillion. We have one of the most litigious societies in the world, our incarceration rate is among the highest globally, and our state and federal legislatures are convinced that they are our cradle-to-grave caretakers.”

Unless something changes soon, and in major ways, we are not on the path to increased freedoms or economic opportunities for our children or grandchildren. In fact, we are quickly headed in the opposite direction.

As Brooks notes:

“How can we claim that America is the greatest nation in the world when 60% of our population can’t even pass the U.S. citizenship test? What have we done with the legacy of liberty that the founders so carefully crafted for us? And what are we creating to pass down to our children and grandchildren?”

The problem is real. The divide between those who even care about freedom and those who don’t is quickly expanding. And the root of the problem is at the very core of our daily lives: how we are educated, how we make a living, and how we participate (and don’t participate) as citizens overseeing and governing our own nation. As Travis Slade notes in the preface to American: “Pretty much everything about how we live today is killing the American Dream.” He’s right. And this book, American, is much more than a handbook on the principles of freedom—it’s all about how to apply those principles in the world today, in this economy, given the reality of the world we actually live in. Along the way, it addresses real issues across the board, including:

  • Our Decaying Education System
  • Our Work Life—Pros and Cons
  • The Way People Vote and Otherwise Participate (or don’t) in Overseeing Our Government
  • Commercial and Residential Construction
  • The Health Care Industry
  • The Transportation Industry
  • The Food and Grocery Industry
  • Local Law Enforcement
  • The Issues of Immigration
  • The Regulation State versus Free Enterprise
  • Socialism versus Investment
  • Employee versus Owner Mindsets
  • Federal Government Overreach
  • …Etc.

American asks us to seriously consider a number of poignant questions, questions that our national school/education system has patently taught us not to ask—or even think about in any meaningful way.

For example: “How can the American Dream be alive when each new American baby…inherits $300,000 of national debt…?”

And “…bureaucracy so deep and stifling that most just give up and give in.”

This book describes an America the Framers wouldn’t even recognize, a nation deeply entrenched in a bureaucratic quagmire the likes of ancient Byzantium, with a few celebrities, wealthy super elites, and top government officials (and their families) enjoying benefits akin to a medieval Venetian aristocracy.

And we call this “American?” It isn’t. It was supposed to be different. It was designed to be different. But only the people are capable of keeping our freedoms, as the Framers warned. No elites will save us. It is up to regular Americans.

III. Solutions

The best part of American is the solutions. I won’t spoil the book by listing them all here, or going into detailed applications and strategies, but they cut right to the heart of the matter, skipping symptoms and focusing on what we really need to do in order to steer things in the right direction. If we want real freedom, and effective results, we’re going to have to act. Brooks outlines what we need to do, and how to get started.

Specifically, as mentioned above, this book emphasizes the three major things we need to influence, change, and improve if America is going to survive as an effective beacon of freedom—in the world, and at home to the rising generations.

First, the right kind of education. Second, the right choices in the way we as a people make a living. And third, the way we vote—what goes into our voting decisions and the way we train up young people to be wise voters—and the ways we actively participate in governing our nation between elections.

Ultimately, these three things boil down to the quality of our learning, the kind of education we share, support, and pass on to our children and especially our young adults. If we get this right, the rest will follow. If not, our freedoms are very much in danger. America simply cannot survive three more generations of education like what we currently have.

We actually have two education systems in modern America, one for elites and those who work as the elites’ advisors, professionals, and managers, and another for the masses. Most Americans attend the second type of schools; the result is that America now educates mostly followers. This hard-to-hear reality is, nonetheless, true. It is time to face it openly, and change it. American is not just a great book on freedom and leadership, but an excellent book on higher education, right up there with Henry Newman’s great classic The Idea of a University, The Higher Learning in America by Robert Hutchins, An Education for Our Time by Josiah Bunting, and The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. Brooks benefitted from the ideas in all of these, and many others, and as a result American is the best book on higher education that I have ever read.

Every American who cares about freedom and our future should read it. And every American should care about freedom and our future.

Perhaps most importantly, Brooks’ book will introduce the reader to a number of very important ideas and principles that are seldom discussed anymore—in schools, homes, churches, or places of business, and certainly not by the media—but were once understood, cherished, and debated by every free American. The early Americans taught these things to their children, and were ashamed if any of their children couldn’t articulate these principles of freedom and life fluently and in detail. Such principles constitute the bulk of chapters 1 through 10 in American. Knowing them fully, and understanding how to apply them in society, was once considered crucial to being an American. They have now been almost entirely lost, and with them many of our freedoms. To reboot our freedoms, we must understand these vital principles and ideas.

It is time for us to know them. To pour over them, and to master them. To share them, teach them, talk about them, debate them, and apply them. It is past time. We cannot wait any longer. We must act. Again, our freedoms and the future of our posterity are at stake. If we get the freedom principles right, if we understand and effectively implement them, we will be another generation of American heroes. If not, the candle of American freedom will be snuffed out.

This is true. This is real. This is happening.

Not every person will apply the things learned in American the same way. Or even agree on every specific. This is the way it should be—free people applying principles differently, based on personal mission. But all of us should learn them. Know them. Ponder, discuss, and apply them as inspired.

It is time.

To act…

Recommended Reading

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In the News: The Biden Bump?

May 22nd, 2019 // 12:07 pm @

The Biden Bump?

Why is Joe Biden so far ahead in the early Democratic polls? A lot of Republicans, Democrats, and others aren’t sure what gives Biden such a significant lead.

The answer is that he’s the only “real” candidate right now. What does “real” candidate mean?

Will the “real” candidates please step up

First, it requires major name recognition, especially this early in the election. Biden, as president Obama’s vice president, clearly leads the pack in this category. Second, “real” candidate also means someone who leans to the middle. This is even more significant than name recognition.

In U.S. presidential politics, a lot of people always (or almost always) vote Republican, and a lot of others always (or nearly always) vote Democrat. The voters in swing states–those who sometimes vote Democrat and other times Republican–ultimately determine who wins. Such voters are less connected or loyal to either political party, and more interested in non-party factors and issues when they vote. Since they sometimes vote one way, and other times change sides, they seldom vote for candidates who are arch-conservative or far-left. They never choose an extreme candidate, from either party. (Trump was extreme in behavior, but leaned middle in his politics; indeed, far-right candidates like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz frequently questioned whether Trump is even a conservative.)

Looking Back

In the 2016 election, the final decision came down to voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Such voters, mostly from the working class, are not impressed with socialist and other far-left issues, like:

  • The Green New Deal (kills jobs–the very kinds of jobs that are widespread in these states)
  • Extreme environmentalist policies
  • UBI (a universal basic income)
  • Major tax increases
  • One-payer socialized medicine for everyone in America
  • Extreme gun control
  • Third trimester/late-term abortion
  • Racial reparations
  • Abolishing the electoral college (which would allow California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Florida to determine every presidential election without input from or regard for other 45 states)

The more of these a candidate supports, the more he/she leans left. The fewer of these things a candidate supports, the more he/she leans to the middle. Biden sometimes expresses support for a few of these, in a lukewarm way, but he isn’t consistently adamant or passionate about any of them.

In the current field of Democrat candidates, Biden is the only one with major name recognition who doesn’t lean strongly to the liberal left. Indeed, the only other Democratic candidate with truly household national name recognition is Bernie Sanders, who leans so far left that for many Americans his name is synonymous with “socialism”.

Beyond the first tier of name recognition, filled right now only by Biden and Bernie, the second tier of candidates are known to people who regularly read or watch the news, but are still largely unknown to most Americans. Currently the second tier includes Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bill de Blasio, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg. Kirsten Gillibrand, Stacy Abrahms, Tim Ryan, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper are also known to many who closely follow politics.

Left-leaning

Reality: all of these lean much further left than Biden. All of them. The only middle-leaning candidate other than Biden is Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator with almost no name recognition; the likelihood of her catching Biden and taking his place as the middle-leaning candidate is remote. Plus, Klobuchar has made statehood for Washington DC her major issue. Really? Name one other state that actually likes Washington DC and wants to give it more power.

A couple of entrepreneurs/authors, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang, have also thrown their hats into the ring. While many readers love their writings (myself included–both have books on my “favorites” list), they have entered the race promising support of far-left polices such as racial reparations (Williamson) and UBI (Yang). Again, Biden leans much closer to the middle than all these opponents.

The name-recognition part of the race will eventually fade away. When the last two or three candidates remain, the national media will make celebrities of them all. But the issue of leaning center versus leaning far left will remain. If nobody can fill that “lean-middle” spot, Biden will have the best chance of beating Trump in the general election, and he will likely be the nominee.

In 2016, internal rules of the Democratic Party kept Bernie from becoming the nominee, despite his appeal to lots of swing voters. Democrats have taken steps to change this; whether or not it works remains to be seen. Bernie appealed to a lot of new voters, including youth, who showed little interest in the general election once Bernie was eliminated. Trump won by appealing to millions of new voters as well, especially in the Rust Belt swing states, many of whom hadn’t voted for a Republican in recent elections. Biden, though he leans more middle than other Democrats currently in the race, probably won’t bring in significant blocs of new voters–unless he can effectively draw in a lot of Hate-Trump youth. This task would be much more natural for someone like Beto O’Rourke or Bernie Sanders; but these two also drive away many voters in the swing-state middle.

Place Your Bets

It’s too early to tell what will actually happen, but it’s hard to imagine much excitement or energy surging around the gaffe-prone “aw-shucks” approach of Joe Biden. The Democratic Party has done well when it introduced inspiring, young, high-energy candidates like John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama–not old-timer Washington insiders like Walter Mondale, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, or Hillary Clinton. All of those on the first list won the White House; everyone on the second lost. Joe Biden clearly fits on the second list, and wouldn’t stand a chance running against anyone on the first list. Prediction: no Biden Bump ahead.

Do any of the current Democratic candidates fit on that first list? Short answer: Beto, Kamala, Pete. But they all push far left of Joe Biden. So far.

Note: A good place to read more about all the current Democratic candidates and their stance on issues, from a liberal perspective, which, of cours,e is the only perspective that matters in the Democratic Primary vote: “The Rolling Stone Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard“.

Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Government &History &Independents &Leadership &Politics

Let’s talk presidential election 2020

May 8th, 2019 // 6:30 am @

News of the Day

May 2019:

Let’s talk politics briefly–specifically the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Who is the leading candidate for the Democrats? According to the polls, it’s Joe Biden. But it’s way too early for the polls to get things right, and even if the polls could make an accurate prediction right now, the real answer to this question (“Who is the leading candidate?”) goes much deeper than polls, or even who’s running for office.

The real question, as political insiders understand, is this: “Who is the greatest threat to each party’s candidate?” The answers are significant. In the case of Democrats, the major threat is Donald Trump. This is always true of incumbent presidents, so no surprise here. But in the case of who looms as the biggest threat to president Trump in 2020, the answer is a bit surprising for most people, and certainly for anyone who gets their news from the mainstream media. Again, for insiders the answer is clear. But what is it?

Trump vs. ???

Does Trump’s major threat come from Joe Biden? Or Bernie Sanders? What about Kamala Harris, or Cory Booker, or any other Democrat senator, governor, mayor, representative or billionaire running for office? Or perhaps a serious run by Michele Obama, if she makes the unlikely choice to seek the Oval Office?

Answer: None of these. In fact, Trump’s major threat for the 2020 election comes from a former short-time member of George H.W. Bush’s administration in 1992. As mentioned, this is a surprise. But real. The big threat to Trump winning the election is Jerome Powell. For most Americans, the immediate response is “Jerome who…?”

Powell is the chair of the Federal Reserve, and Fed decisions between now and election day 2020 can almost single-handedly determine whether Donald Trump ends up serving one or two terms. How? Answer: As Bill Clinton advisor James Carville once quipped, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

It’s the Economy, Stupid

The 2016 election pitted strongly-blue states against firmly-red states, but came down to Republican wins in the Rust Belt: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. Today these states are experiencing precisely what they voted for in 2016: a booming economy and rising wages, most notably among middle class working voters. If this continues, or even holds steady at current levels (barring major catastrophe of some kind), 2020 is likely a “shoo-in” for Trump/Pence.

If the boom stagnates, or returns to economic decline and “slow growth or no growth as the new normal,” as experienced from 2008-2016, the eventual Democratic nominee will likely sweep the Rust Belt and many-if-not-most of the Purple swing states. That’s the game.

The most significant factors determining economic upswing or downturn, now that the current Administration has drastically reduced the regulatory red tape that hampered business growth during the Bush and Trump eras, are the choices made at the sole discretion of the Federal Reserve. Jerome Powell, not the political parties and not even the media, potentially (if the Fed chooses to put its thumb on the scale) holds the future in his hands.

The Constitutional Question

For me, the real issue here is the following question: “What would the American Framers and Founders say about this arrangement?” Probably the same thing most Americans should be thinking about a lot more:

Why does an institution not even mentioned in the Constitution, and facing only one minor Constitutional balance and no serious Constitutional checks from any of the three branches of the U.S. Government, have this kind of power?

Whatever your politics, why does one organization and its head, virtually unknown to the large majority of Americans, control our future? This is THE question of the 2020 election, but so far I haven’t heard it voiced anywhere.

Category : Blog &Citizenship &Community &Constitution &Current Events &Economics &Featured &Generations &Government &History &Independents &Information Age &Leadership &Liberty &Politics &Prosperity &Statesmanship

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