A Few Thoughts Before Voting Tomorrow

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the Republican presidential race…a lot. And, after pondering the matter for quite some time, in my opinion the least desirable Republican candidate running for president is…Marco Rubio.

Image from Marco Rubio's Facebook page
Image from Marco Rubio’s Facebook page

Yes, I know many people will say it is Donald Trump. He certainly has said some offensive, sexist, and racist things and that kind of behavior is unacceptable to me. But, think about Marco Rubio. Trump’s derision of people’s physical appearance is abhorrent when Rubio acted the very same way this weekend? Come on! In Marco Rubio you have a man who hasn’t bothered to show up to work most days and yet still draws a paycheck for a full-time job. He has and continues to deprive Floridians of representation in the U.S. Senate and ought to have resigned his seat if he had no interest in serving so that someone responsible could have taken his place. Furthermore, on foreign policy he is without a doubt the worst candidate running. I think Rubio is the most likely to get us embroiled in another endless overseas war and heaven knows we have had enough of those already. To me Marco Rubio represents a return to many of the failed polices of George W. Bush, policies Republicans and Americans ought to have rejected but are still embraced by the Republican establishment who longs for greater power once more. Marco Rubio has even snagged the endorsement of Virginia’s least principled Republican Representative, Barbara Comstock.

Yes, I know many of my brothers and sisters in liberty are afraid of Donald Trump and I’m not saying that these concerns are unfounded. However, surrendering our principles because of these fears is no path forward.

I don’t care which candidate is the most likely to beat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination if he or she does not embrace the ideals of liberty. Yes, it is likely that if you vote for principle your candidate won’t win, but do you know what else is true? Odds are very good that your one vote won’t influence the outcome in the slightest. Can you name even one national or statewide election whose outcome hinged on a single vote? Although I’m sure there has to be one somewhere, I can’t think of an example. Therefore, why not vote for what you know is right rather than what can “win” or what is popular?

Chances are very good that Trump’s momentum is already too great and if he wins a majority of the states on Super Tuesday then he will be the Republican Party nominee. And that, people say, will destroy the Republican Party. The truth of the matter is that the Republican Party has been dying for decades as it sheds principles in the pursuit of power. What difference does it make if it suffers a quick and explosive death under Trump or a continued slow and painful decline under Rubio? For some of you this is a hard thing to come to grips with but if the GOP isn’t the party of limited government principles, as it claims to be, it is better off dead.

So whom should you support? Well, assuming I vote in the Republican Party primary tomorrow, it will be for Rand Paul. Yes, I know that he isn’t running any longer, but he is really the only candidate on the ballot who comes close to the principles of liberty and limited government, principles which many of us claim to hold but have now jettisoned due to fear. Acting out of fear has gotten us the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, TSA, the erosion of our civil liberties, and much more. How much more of an empire will we become abroad and how much more of a police state will we become at home before we finally declare that enough is enough?

Sure, the GOP may nominate a terrible candidate for president. But guess what? Just because he is the Republican nominee that doesn’t mean that you have to support him or even vote for him. In each election we ought to be voting for the best candidate, not voting against the worst. Remember that there is no ribbon or trophy awarded if you cast your vote for a terrible winner as opposed to voting for a principled loser other than the knowledge that you actively helped install someone horrid who now has power over you. This whole voting for the lesser of two evils nonsense has been making our country worse and worse and the quality of candidates continues to degrade as a result. Hold your head high and if you vote tomorrow then vote for someone you believe in. Don’t look back with regrets of another slightly less bad decision. I know I won’t.

Thoughts of Iowa

Well, the Iowa Caucuses have come and gone and with it the battle for both the Republican and Democratic Party nominations for president are in full swing.

First, let’s focus on the more crowded field, the GOP.  Here are the results of candidates who picked up at least one delegate:

Candidate          Votes      Percentage    Delegates

Ted Cruz             51,666    28%                8

Donald Trump   45,427   24%                7

Marco Rubio      43,165    23%                7

Ben Carson         17,395    9%                  3

Rand Paul           8,481      4%                  1

Jeb Bush             5,238      3%                  1

Photo from Ted Cruz's Facebook page
Photo from Ted Cruz’s Facebook page

Going into the final days, it looked as if Iowa would be a contest between Cruz, Rubio, and Trump and that’s exactly what happened.  Although Ted Cruz captured the most votes and delegates and thus is deemed the current front-runner, only one delegate separates the three candidates.  Therefore, one could make the argument that all three of these candidates had a good night.  Ben Carson, the once rising star with amazing amounts of cash was outclassed.  Rand Paul’s campaign, who boasted of having a thousand precinct captains and having made a million phone calls finished with very disappointing numbers.  Jeb, once the establishment favorite, has seemed to have lost a lot of steam.  Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, the 2012 and 2008 winners of Iowa, were little more than a blip on the radar.  And both you and I were only thirteen votes away from beating former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, and we weren’t even candidates and the ballot!  As a result of Iowa, Mike Huckabee has ended his campaign.

Before the results were announced, I posted this message on Facebook.  “However Iowa turns out tomorrow, I encourage you not to read too much into it. After all the GOP winner in 2012 was Rick Santorum and the 2008 winner was Mike Huckabee.  As John Sununu said, ‘The people of Iowa pick corn, the people of New Hampshire pick presidents’.”  In recent elections Iowa has typically gone for the Republican candidate with the best ground game who also most appeals to social conservatives.  Therefore Cruz’s victory shouldn’t be all that surprising.  Trump was likely buoyed by the endorsement of the head of Liberty University, but reports indicate that he didn’t have much of a presence in Iowa in terms of staff, phone calling, door knocking, and other traditional campaign apparatus.  And Rubio is starting to solidify the Republican establishment base behind him after besting Bush and Kasich.

Interestingly, according to CNN, when it comes to education, Trump won a plurality of the least well educated, while Cruz did best with those with some college, and Rubio won with college graduates and postgraduates.  The Paul results were terribly disappointing for many liberty folks.  After all, in 2008 Ron Paul received 11841 votes in the Iowa Caucus or 9.93% and in 2012 Ron Paul received 26035 votes in the Iowa Caucus or 21.43%.  Although there were more candidates in 2016 than either 2008 or 2012, the Rand Paul campaign gambled heavily in Iowa and fared poorly.

Switching over to the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were neck and neck with Martin O’Malley being little more than an afterthought.

Candidate              Percentage    Delegates

Hillary Clinton     50                    26

Bernie Sanders     50                    21

Martin O’Malley   0                      0

Photo from Hillary Clinton's Facebook page
Photo from Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page

Both Clinton and Sanders finished with about 50% of the vote.  However, Clinton received 26 delegates and Sanders got 21 due to a series of six coin flips as a result of ties at several polling places, all of which Clinton won.  As a result of Iowa, O’Malley has ended his campaign.

Again, according to CNN, Sanders was very popular among the younger voters and the poorer voters, while Clinton shined with the older and richer crowds.  Curiously while Clinton won the married vote, Sanders picked up the singles, divorced, and widowed.  While Cruz and Clinton fared the best among people who had previously attended a caucus, Sanders and Trump did the best with first time voters.

Although Iowa is an early and important contest, it primarily serves to winnow the field as it has done eliminating Huckabee and O’Malley.  It’s far too early to declare either Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton the nominee of their respective parties.  It should be interesting to see what New Hampshire brings next.

Gun Show Straw Poll

Photo by Gage Skidmore
Photo by Gage Skidmore

This weekend, the Rockingham County Fairgrounds played host to a gun show, an event that takes place there several times a year.  It is one of the larger gun shows, or perhaps even the largest gun show in the region.  At this event, the Massanutten Patriots (formerly known as the Harrisonburg Tea Party) held a straw poll for the 2016 Presidential election.  The methodology was quite simple.  As attendees would walk by their table, they would be asked which of the candidates (of any party) they would support assuming the election were held today.  Rather than given a laundry list of choices, respondents were expected to offer their own.  Although some were undecided, that option was excluded from the outcome of this poll.

Unlike other straw polls, this one doesn’t gauge political activists but rather average Americans who have at least somewhat of an affinity for firearms.  Like other straw polls, this one wasn’t scientific either.

Anyway, here are the results:

Donald Trump: 43%

Ben Carson: 18%

Ted Cruz: 15%

Marco Rubio: 8%

Hillary Clinton: 3%

Jeb Bush: 2%

Carly Fiorina: 2%

Mike Huckabee: 2%

Bobby Jindal: 2%

John Kaisch: 2%

Chris Christie: 1%

Bernie Sanders: 1%

Total votes: 93

Given that gun owners are typically far more conservative than liberal and more Republican than Democrat, it wasn’t shocking that a majority chose Republicans.  Then again, there are Democratic gun owners too, so there was bound to be a couple of responses for the Dems.  However, I have to say that I found the results at least somewhat surprising.  Yes, Donald Trump is leading in national polls, but I assumed his numbers wouldn’t be nearly this high.  When I asked some of the respondents why they supported Trump, a common answer was that they liked that he spoke his mind and wasn’t beholden to any particular special interest.

Another unexpected result was Rand Paul.  If you scan the tally, you will notice that Paul and a few of the other declared candidates aren’t listed.  That is because not a single person named him as their choice.  Although Paul is a favorite among Republican liberty activists, winning the Republican Liberty Caucus straw poll in New Hampshire, he seems to be either unknown or not favored among the gun-owning citizens of the greater Shenandoah Valley.  As was pretty much the case for his father’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012, so far the Rand Paul campaign has had no official presence in this part of Virginia.  Then again, none of the candidates have had official representation here with the notable exception of the Carson campaign.  One of his staffers was collecting signatures to get Dr. Carson on the ballot outside the gun show and attended the last First Friday meeting of the local GOP.

Although Donald Trump and some of his supporters think that the media is treating him unfairly, and I guess that it is possible that they are, the fact that he is still the most mentioned candidate does much to keep him in the public mind.  As Oscar Wilde once said, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”  Assuming there is at least some measure of favorable or at least neutral press coverage, that maxim holds true in politics.

So, it seems that Trump has actual real supporters among gun owners and is not simply astroturfing.  The question is though, will he continue to maintain his lead until the voting begins in Iowa and New Hampshire?

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XXV)

IMG_0243This morning, I returned to the radio on 550 AM WSVA and was glad to have Andy Schmookler join me in studio once again.

The main focus of the day was the 2016 Presidential race.  We spoke about the various politicians currently vying for both the Republican and Democratic nominations.  On the Democratic side, the main candidates were Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton with a small sampling of Jim Webb.  Switching over to the Republicans, Donald Trump took center stage and there was some discussion of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and even a little Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Jim Gilmore thrown into the mix.  Although I would have liked to mention Gary Johnson and the Libertarians, we are still waiting for his official announcement.

In addition, we also discussed the problematic issue of gerrymandering in Virginia.

If you missed our twenty-fifth installment, you can find it here.