Freedom ain't free

The great GOP hostage crisis of 2016

June 5, 2016

We are not ready to endorse a presidential candidate — the year is yet young! — but we have no regard for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and expect to spend the better part of the next five months hammering on both of them. Since we vote in Texas, our influence on the Electoral College is non-existent, so we will in all likelihood take the opportunity to cop out and #FeelTheJohnson at the end of it all.

This will not be easy for us, because we cannot abide Hillary Clinton, of whom we expect to write much more in the coming months (we commend you to Christopher Hitchens’ 1999 classic “No One Left To Lie To” if you would prefer your indictment of the Clintons from the left). But voting for Donald Trump is more than we can bear, and not for all the usual sanctimonious virtue-signalling reasons. Trump is a bad guy, but Hillary is a bad gal, and weighing the moral deficiencies in their respective characters requires precision instruments not yet invented. For us it comes down to this: All evidence and our own instincts suggest that Trump is impulsive to an almost incalculable extent, and we cannot have an impulsive person at the top during a national security crisis. Or catalyzing one with a midnight tweet.

Hillary Clinton’s recent and otherwise silly speech on foreign policy actually framed the issue well:

Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.

He is not just unprepared — he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.

This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes — because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.

We can agree with that notwithstanding our view that Hillary Clinton will probably extend the endless war of the Bush/Obama years, further weaken the geopolitical advantage of the United States, and remorselessly lie about anything that either does not go well or that does not perfectly reflect the transnational progressive party line. We do believe, however, that Clinton will be deliberative and calculating in a crisis, and is highly unlikely to bring us into armed conflict with a great power. We have no such confidence in Donald Trump, and since impulsiveness is a trait that we believe is disqualifying in a president of the United States, we cannot hope that Trump wins.

This is also true for the vast majority of Republican leaders who actually understand the demands of the presidency, or at least have an inkling. But they are in a difficult spot, because they are partisans in the literal meaning of the word. If they do not support the party’s nominee, however dangerous that nominee may be, their careers are over. And since politicians are not fit to do much else — well, other than lobbying other politicians on behalf of rent-seeking clients — most of the GOP brass are cracking under the pressure and issuing tepid endorsements of Trump. This article neatly captures the “hostage video” endorsements from the Republican elite and is worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few choice nuggets:

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

July 22, 2015: “Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

May 5, 2016: “He’s not a perfect man, but what I do believe is that he loves this country and that he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and that he will listen to them.” …

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

March 4, 2016: “Donald Trump has been perhaps the most vulgar — no I don’t think perhaps — the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency in terms of how he’s carried out his candidacy.”

May 10, 2016: “”I signed a pledge, put my name on it, and said I would support the Republican nominee and that’s what I intend to do.”

Paul Ryan’s precisely tuned announcement that he would “vote for” Trump was the most painful to watch. He might have preferred a long night in the prison showers.

This much is clear. We are watching the destruction of the Republican Party. Whether it survives in name remains to be seen — the legal entrenchment of the party duopoly will be very tough to dislodge — but a realignment is unfolding that will completely remake not only the GOP, but ineluctably also the Democrats. Because one cannot change the yin without also changing the yang.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply E Hines June 5, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    It doesn’t need to be the end of time, though. I posted this on Ricochet ( a bit ago under the title Now Is Not the Time:

    Now is not the time to form a third party with which to run a presidential candidate. Such a move, spawned in the emotional heat of the moment, will only guarantee Democratic Party control of the White House and the Senate. The latter would be the more disastrous, because that would expand the left-wing bloc on the Supreme Court — the bloc that insists that the text of the Constitution means what a judge says it means for the convenience of her narrative — to a decisive majority, and the subsequent destruction of the Court and of our individual liberties and responsibilities.

    However, that does not mean a conservative third party should not be formed. In fact, the time to form such a third party is now, so we can field and sustain a presidential candidate with a serious chance of winning the White House in a few years. A rough overview of the idea follows.

    To field such a candidate, a conservative party must be a complete party. It must field candidates at all levels of government — for every possible seat at the city and county or parish level, for every seat in state legislatures and governors’ mansions, and later, for every seat in Congress. It needs to be done in this order, too, to build the grassroots necessary to underpin the new party and create the groundswell that will give the new party valuable early momentum. Without this support, momentum, and positioning, the new party will not be viable in national elections. Even elections to the federal Congress — run at the national, state, and district levels — need prior credibility and momentum for success.

    Building from the bottom up will openly emphasize voters more and special interests less. It will provide the new party with political experience, including the experience of learning which compromises are worth making: Some kinds of compromise allow parties to accomplish things, even if the achievements are limited at first; some compromises are neutral in cost and benefit; and some should be refused, even at the cost of achieving nothing at all.

    Finally, building from the bottom will give the new party increasing influence and control over local city councils and over state legislatures (as the Republican Party has already done in a majority of State Houses and Governorships). This will yield a greater reach toward voters for national elections.

    The new party must have a coherent political and social philosophy and be able to articulate it clearly and concisely. This is not the same as having cute sound bites, although that’s a useful skill, too, when dealing with much of the modern communications media.

    I’m not offering a party name here, although the party would be a conservative one. The name must appeal to a broad range of Americans. In particular, I wouldn’t call it the Conservative Party; that smacks too much of the British Conservative Party, and that party is in many ways not conservative. The party needs to decide — early — what it stands for and what policies it will push.

    For the sake of this exposition, I posit (without definition beyond the implications of the names and in no particular order) five primary forms of conservatism:

    Small, limited government conservatism;
    Fiscal conservatism;
    Social conservatism;
    (Strong) military and foreign policy conservatism; and
    Constitutional conservatism.

    These are not mutually exclusive, but they aggregate a broad swath.

    The new party will need to clearly and concretely define what it means by any of these five forms that it chooses to push. (I suspect that carefully defining the other four will add up to the first, a small, limited government, but that’s for the new party to determine.)

    If the new party wants to push all of these, or more than a couple of them, it will need to choose its priorities, or it will dilute its efforts to the detriment of all of them, as we’ve seen happen in the last two Congresses and in the Republican Party itself.

    As the new party makes inroads at local levels and gains credibility in the city councils and state legislatures, it needs to supplant the current Republican Party in a continuation of our present two-party system. Becoming one of three major parties can only dilute the new party’s efforts, even were there a basic ability to work with a less conservative (even rump) Republican Party. The Democratic Party, despite its progressive/socialist split, will remain monolithic; the split is, at bottom, superficial, and so the Democratic Party will remain a single, unified foe of conservatism.

    The next step, which should follow, with overlap, is to run candidates for Congress and get them elected. They will benefit from their experience and enable a properly conservative Congress to begin to pass quality conservative laws, including the one I hold most important: rescinding the delegation of rule-making authority to agencies and cabinet departments. They can rescind a large number of existing laws as wrong or no longer necessary, rescind an even larger number of federal rules and regulations, defund unnecessary agencies and cabinet departments and then eliminate them altogether, reduce funding for others that remain useful but are too large, and pressure the president to sign these — or see none of his agenda enacted.

    Then put forward presidential candidates.

    The seeds for a conservative party that supplants the Republican Party already exist. Major Tea Party factions have infiltrated the Republican Party to good effect, drawing the party as a whole further right than it’s been for some years. That good effect has not been good enough means many of the constituents for a viable new conservative party already exist in the Conservative Caucus of the Republican Party. As the new conservative party demonstrates its ability and grows, members of the Conservative Caucus should be encouraged, and eager, to join.

    None of this can be accomplished in a few short months. However, within two or three presidential election cycles, this new party can be a strong state-level and congressional party that’s ready to put up viable presidential candidates, too.

    Eric Hines

  • Reply DEC (Jungle Trader) June 5, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    FYI — Headline at Voice of America’s Web site, June 1, 2016: “North Korea State Media Call Trump ‘Wise Politician.'” Link:

  • Leave a Reply