May 4, 2016

Ron Paul’s 2012 delegate strategy isn’t cheating when Cruz uses it against Trump

trump cruz croppedDonald Trump lost it on Fox News Monday after learning Ted Cruz has secured 34 of Colorado’s 37 delegates to the Republican National Convention. The Colorado GOP canceled its caucus vote last August, electing to choose its delegates at its state convention. The Centennial State is only the latest in which Cruz has won a larger percentage of the delegates than his percentage of the popular vote.

Trump called the process “a crooked deal,” adding, “That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work.”

Newsflash to Trump: This isn’t a democracy. It’s a republic and this is exactly how a republic is supposed to work. The whole reason Colorado and many other states don’t assign their delegates on a winner-take-all basis after the popular vote is they want their nominating process to be more republican (small “r”) than democratic.

If this sounds like déjà vu, it’s because Ron Paul employed the same strategy in 2012, winning the most delegates in eleven states, despite not winning a single primary or caucus popular vote (although he may have been robbed in Maine). Paul was the anti-establishment candidate that year and many of the same people who are now riding the Trump train were Paul supporters who defended the strategy vehemently.

But while it is widely accepted that Trump picked up a large portion of Paul’s 2012 supporters, he obviously hasn’t captured the contingent that mastered Robert’s Rules of Order and took over state conventions in 2012. That’s not surprising, given the difference between the candidates. Paul’s delegate core were highly principled libertarians who typically understood and believed Paul’s message of limited, constitutional government.

That’s what saw them through the long, tedious process of advancing through local, district, county and state conventions. It’s relatively painless to show up at your local polling place and pull a lever behind a curtain. It doesn’t cost anything in time or money. But when the “beauty contest” is over, the real political work has just begun. The months-long process requires would-be delegates to make their candidate’s arguments hundreds of times and hear their opponents’ arguments just as many. By the time they are elected at a state convention, they are fully informed and vetted.

These aren’t the type of people likely to respond to Trump’s largely emotional pitch. Yes, Paul’s supporters may have been “angry” with the status quo, but it was a much more deliberative anger. Unlike Trump’s supporters, Paul’s were always the victims of any violence that broke out at meetings and conventions. And these followers of Austrian economics would never support Trump’s spurious economic theories, although some of his statements on foreign policy may have caught their attention.

While it is true Trump’s support is much wider than merely white working class voters, as pundits initially described it, it is still largely a protest vote. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals can be just as justifiably fed up with Washington, D.C. and its connected interests. It’s not surprising an independent candidate like Trump, apparently impervious to the influence of the donor class, would appeal to voters over a wide demographic. But while their dissatisfaction with the status quo is legitimate, whether Trump is the solution is another story entirely.

The truth is Trump is the type of candidate the whole republic-not-a-democracy idea is supposed to prevent. The founders’ chief concern with democracy was its susceptibility to the “turbulence” resulting from “common passion,” as James Madison put it. That was the reason for the electoral college. They wanted to give the people a direct say in choosing their government’s leadership, but they also wanted a buffer between the multitude’s passions and the reins of power. They would have been horrified by Trump’s rhetoric, no matter how refreshing his destruction of “political correctness” might be.

Trump can rage all he wants about the nominating process being rigged, but the truth is he’ll have to inspire something besides fist-shaking in his supporters if he wants to be president. In many states, it takes more than a fifteen-minute commitment to pull a lever behind a curtain to get your candidate nominated. That’s not such a bad thing.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

McConnell and Obama Both Wrong on Scalia Replacement

220px-Obama_and_Mitch_McConnellOne of the dumber debates in recent history has broken out in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that President Obama shouldn’t nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia because Obama is in the last year of his final term.

Opponents, including the president himself, have responded that the Senate has a constitutional duty to bring Obama’s appointments to a vote and to confirm one, if qualified.

Both sides are completely wrong. The President has the legitimate authority to nominate a successor on every day of his presidency, up to and including the very last day. That precedent was set by no less than the second president of the United States. As Elizabeth Warren astutely observed,

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.

But neither can be found the words “shall bring to an up or down vote” or anything to the effect that the Senate is required to take action on the President’s nominees. The Constitution was deliberately constructed so that inaction would be the starting point in all matters. The reason for the separation of powers was to ensure that things didn’t get done efficiently within the federal government, because efficient government is a threat to liberty.

Read the rest on The Huffington Post…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Rand Paul’s Campaign Proved Libertarianism and Conservatism Are Antithetical to Each Other

1024px-Rand_Paul_by_Gage_Skidmore_7Google Rand Paul today and you’ll find stories about him suspending his presidential campaign under “Breaking News.” In one way it is; in another it isn’t. It’s really an old story, but those who don’t know history have been doomed (again) to repeat it.

Since William F. Buckley started National Review in the 1950s, libertarianism has been viewed as a subset of conservatism. Reagan affirmed this view in the 1970s, before rising to the presidency selling that same theory.

But what caused Reagan to fail to shrink the federal government (it doubled in size during his presidency) is the same problem that doomed Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. Libertarianism and conservatism are antithetical philosophies and any attempt to combine them will fail.

It is important to understand the philosophical differences here, because they do indeed dictate political positions today. I’ve written an entire book about this, but the crucial difference between libertarians and conservatives is this: true conservatives don’t believe man keeps his natural rights when he enters society. Understood properly, they don’t even believe they exist in nature at all.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Without Rand Paul It Isn’t a Debate, Trump or No Trump

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The big news from last Thursday’s Republican Presidential Debate on Fox News was the absence of what Meghan Kelly called, “the elephant not in the room.” Thanks to the ongoing feud between her and front runner Donald Trump, the latter was not on the stage. In what was largely treated as a footnote, Rand Paul was.

Several media have asserted the debate was more substantive without Trump, the issues having more space in the absence of his overpowering personality and the likely attention that would have been paid to his controversial style. But it wasn’t Trump’s absence that made this debate more substantive. It was Rand Paul’s presence. Without him, the last spectacle wasn’t a debate at all.

Debate moderators are television people. They are interested in whatever makes the best television and gets the highest ratings. The debate moderators on Thursday, echoing the larger media narrative, continually pushed the establishment vs. anti-establishment theme. That’s certainly a phenomenon in this election cycle, but it really means nothing in terms of policy.

The whole purpose of this exercise is to determine the difference, if any, between the candidates seeking the presidency. Without Rand Paul, there isn’t a difference to determine, not even with Trump. Trumps style might be different, but he’s a lot more like an establishment Republican than the media narrative would have one believe.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Five reasons Donald Trump is a true conservative

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_3Republican politicians as disparate as Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have long decried Donald Trump as a fake conservative, who doesn’t truly believe in the movement’s first principles. National Review recently published an entire issue “Against Trump,” making the same argument.

They’re all wrong. Trump is the only true conservative running for the Republican nomination, outside of long shot Rick Santorum.

Since the Democratic Party abandoned classical liberalism for progressivism at the turn of the 20th century, the classical liberal ideas of laissez faire free markets, personal liberty and a noninterventionist foreign policy have needed a new home. Due to the outright hostility towards them in the progressive-liberal movement, they’ve largely resided within the conservative movement.

This is a very unnatural marriage between worldviews that are for the most part antithetical to each other. American history during the 19th century was very much a war between classical liberal and conservative ideas, with the former dominating the first half of the century and the latter the second half. But after Woodrow Wilson, classical liberalism had nowhere else to go. As a result, classical liberal ideas have become jumbled together with classical conservative ones.

For example, the natural consistency in supporting a laissez faire (i.e., “noninterventionist”) economy and a noninterventionist foreign policy has disappeared. Today, one finds rabid supporters of free markets also supporting a highly interventionist foreign policy. They’ve selected positions they like without understanding the philosophical basis for either, resulting in a confused, self-contradictory worldview.

This is why so many on the right have decried Trump as an inauthentic conservative. They don’t understand the difference between the classic conservative worldview that informs Trump’s positions and the classical liberal worldview that has found a dubious home within the conservative movement. In an attempt to sort this out, here are five reasons Trump is, indeed, an authentic conservative:

  1. He’s a protectionist. British and American Conservatives from Edmund Burke to Alexander Hamilton to Abraham Lincoln to Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush have all been protectionists. It’s the natural economic expression of their worldview.
  2. He’s a nationalist. Conservatism can be split between Hobbesian centralizers and Burkean constitutionalists. Trump is a classic example of the former, placing “national greatness,” as fellow conservative centralizer Alexander Hamilton put it, above the rights of the individual. That all rights, including liberty and property, are revocable by the sovereign power in the interests of preserving the commonwealth are inherent conservative principles. Trump’s enthusiastic support for eminent domain is just one example.
  3. He’s a militarist. Trump has expressed skepticism about the Iraq War (it turns out he only opposed it a year after the invasion), but he’s also said the U.S. should invade Iran and take their oil. Like all conservatives in British and American history, he believes only a worldwide military empire can ensure the “greatness” he wants to restore to the nation.
  4. He’s a nativist. Distrust of foreigners is another foundational conservative principle. Conservatives believe any disruption of longstanding traditions is a threat to all of society. Immigrants naturally bring with them different perspectives, worldviews and skill sets. They not only represent competition for domestic employment (see #1), but threaten to introduce new sensibilities to the population, which is a threat to societal order.
  5. He’s a Police Stater. Trump’s suggestions to “shut down parts of the internet” and his denigration of freedom of speech are classic conservative tendencies. Conservatives have always promoted unlimited power for law enforcement. That’s because they see law enforcement as the only thing that stands between a peaceful society and the “war of everyone against everyone” Hobbes asserted was man’s natural state. The Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act of 2006 and Trump’s ideas about the internet are all classic conservative responses to perceived threats.

Trump is horrifying those on the right and the left because he represents a return to pure conservatism. Ironically, what attracts most everyday people to the conservative movement isn’t true conservatism at all. It’s the classical liberal ideas tenuously residing within conservatism which more naturally belong to today’s libertarians.

I’ve tried to sort all of this out in my latest book. You can read a free excerpt here.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

No Hillary, Donald et al, The President’s First Job is Not to Keep Americans Safe

n-CONSTITUTION-large570The Democratic debate on Saturday proved one thing: powerful interests that transcend the political parties have an agenda. That’s the only explanation for the talking point mindlessly repeated by virtually all of the presidential candidates in both parties: “It is the first job of the president to keep Americans safe.”

Maybe it’s a slogan that’s been thrown around in Council on Foreign Relations meetings or some other gathering of the wonderful people who make all the decisions for us rubes. But wherever it came from, it was certainly no coincidence Americans heard it from virtually every candidate, Democrat or Republican, during the past two debates. It would have been only slightly spookier if they heaped effusive praise on Raymond Shaw.

More important than it being creepy and patronizing is that it’s completely wrong. The first job of the president is not to keep Americans safe. It is to defend their liberty.

 

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

San Bernardino and Paris Shootings the Latest Proof: Conventional War Does Nothing to Deter Terrorism

1st_Boston_Marathon_blast_seen_from_2nd_floor_and_a_half_block_awayMarcio Rubio is running a television commercial in which he says, “What happened in Paris could happen here.” He seemed prescient in retrospect following the tragedy in San Bernardino last week.

Whether radical Islamists want to kill us “because we let women drive,” as Rubio contends, or because of decades of nonstop political and military intervention in their countries is another story. Ultimately, one cannot solve this problem unless one understands what has caused it.

For the past fifteen years, the Unites States has tried to solve it with conventional warfare. It is accepted without question that, whatever else the intelligence community or other security apparatus are doing, waging conventional war on Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban or other Islamic paramilitary groups in the region is a necessary and effective way of deterring Islamic terrorism in the United States.

After fifteen years, it’s time to question that dubious assumption.

The answer has always been intuitive to me and I doubt I’m alone. Sending 140,000 soldiers to fight a conventional war in the Middle East does absolutely nothing to make it harder for two guys in Boston to bomb a foot race or a guy and his wife to shoot up a government building. How could it?

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The Libertarian Moment Is Alive and Well, Regardless of Rand Paul’s Campaign

bitcoinRand Paul’s campaign reported $2.5 million in donations for the entire third quarter, a precipitous drop from his previous reports and a fraction of what rivals Ben Carson ($20 million) and Jeb Bush ($12 million) brought in. That and anemic poll numbershave inspired many to not only pronounce Paul’s presidential campaign dead, but to gleefully declare the so-called “Libertarian Moment” over.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anyone who believes the presidential election is a barometer of how libertarian America is becoming doesn’t understand libertarianism and isn’t paying attention to what’s happening in the real world. Libertarians don’t believe government solves anything, no matter who is running it. The purest libertarians refuse to vote on principle.

As radical as that might sound, almost half of all eligible American voters behave the same way, if not for the same reasons. Let’s face it, most Americans couldn’t name three policies held by the frontrunner in either party and couldn’t explain one in detail.

This is often ridiculed in the myriad You Tube videos where men and women “on the street” are asked basic policy questions and don’t have a clue what policies their candidates support. You’re supposed to assume they’re stupid.

For the most part, they’re not stupid. They just don’t care. They may say they support this or that candidate when a microphone is shoved in their face, but in reality they live their lives, do their jobs and run their businesses without giving politics a second thought. This is an inherently libertarian worldview and it’s growing.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The Real Reason Rand Paul is Losing to Trump and Carson: Republican Voters Want Bigger Government

Official PortraitRand Paul’s campaign actually showed faint signs of life in the last ABC/Washington Post poll, where his 5 percent showing has him within striking distance of Jeb Bush and every other candidate besides Donald Trump and Ben Carson. That’s little consolation considering the poll shows Carson at 20 percent and rising sharply and Trump doing the same at 33 percent.

There has been a lot of digital ink and hot air expended on why Paul fell from the GOP lead as “the most interesting man in politics” to a long shot candidate fighting for scraps with the Walkers, Bushes and other members of the rejected “establishment.” There have been reports of infighting among the campaign staff, Paul’s failure to energize his father’s activist base and even his reluctance to woo big money donors.

One would think that last “shortcoming” would be appealing to voters fed up with Washington insiders, but apparently not so for Paul.

The most prevalent theory is that in trying to avoid alienating mainstream Republican voters while championing his father’s libertarian platform, Paul has alienated both groups: libertarians and traditional Republicans. That sounds good, but it doesn’t add up.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Cop Killings Are Way Down During Obama Presidency

obamaMilwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke told Fox News yesterday, “President Obama has breathed life into this ugly movement,” meaning Black Lives Matter and the “war on cops” Clarke says the president is at least partly responsible for.

This is part of a larger narrative in right-wing media that cop killings are increasing due to Obama’s tacit support for anti-cop activist groups and failure to condemn those who attack or kill police officers.

There’s only one problem with the narrative: Cop killings are way down during Obama’s presidency and on pace this year for the lowest annual total this century.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.