The Battle Begins. How Will you Fare?

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By Mike Cronin

Barring a “black swan” event, the race for president is down to Trump vs. Clinton.  Who will you vote for, and why?  Will you even vote?  Will your vote matter?

There are so many marginal factors that can shape an election, but there are some basic election fundamentals that seldom get explained.

First: From 1932 to 2012, the average voter turnout has never been higher than 63% or less than 49%.  That means on average only a little over half of the eligible population votes in any given presidential election.  Of the half that votes, roughly 32% are dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrats and will always vote for the Democrat candidate.  Roughly another 22% of the half that votes is comprised of hard-core conservative Republicans who will always vote for the Republican candidate.  These groups are the “base” for a given candidate/party.  Once you exclude the 54% of voters that are going to automatically vote D or R in any given election, the real battle takes place over the remaining half of the half of Americans who are going to vote. Expressed another way: Presidential elections hinge on the lever pulls of slightly less than 25% of the adult population!

It gets better.  Where those 25% reside is crucial.  If a majority of them reside in states that are overwhelmingly likely to vote a certain way, their votes aren’t going to mean very much.  Conversely, if the bulk of those independent voters reside in states that could go either way (the so-called battleground states), their votes could wield enormous influence!

Are you one of the independents or third party members who vote but don’t blindly punch holes for any party’s candidate (or against the other party’s!)?  Where do you live?  Will your vote count?

If you are, how will you make your decision? Party loyalty isn’t your thing, so what does it for you?  Unfortunately, some will waste their votes on frivolous criteria such as the looks, race, or gender of the candidate, or on candidate’s oratorical prowess.

To do justice to our system and not waste my vote, I’ve developed a small list of criteria that I can rate each candidate against using a survey technique called a Likert scale.  Here it is:

Rate each candidate on how you believe they would:

Honor the Oath of Office and abide by the Constitution & the laws of the land Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Appoint Supreme Court Justices that will uphold the Constitution Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Command the armed forces and employ military force only to counter serious threats to the United States Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Act with integrity & honesty, and demonstrate character Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Govern transparently Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Reduce dysfunction and corruption in the Executive Branch Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Work to reign in government spending, promote capitalism and demonize socialism Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Work to audit, and possibly end, the Federal Reserve Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Work to end, or at least lessen and simplify, the income tax Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary
Overhaul the immigration system to allow maximum freedom to enter and remain in the country  consistent with preventing criminals, terrorists, and other bad actors in and without yielding an automatic electoral advantage to any party Fail Marginal Mediocre Good Exemplary

Obviously, you might prefer different criteria than what I’ve settled on, but whatever thoughtful criteria you select can still work.  Once you establish your criteria and rate each candidate, score them thus: 1 point for each Fail, 2 points for each Marginal, 3 points for each Mediocre, 4 points for each Good, and 5 points for each Exemplary. Total up the scores and vote for the candidate that earns the highest marks.

Still, there is at least one other major contextual factor that is seldom examined during presidential elections: Congress.  We can elect a president based on the most cogent criteria, but if he or she must deal with a Congress skewed to the opposing party, it is likely they will face high resistance to carrying out their plans or their mandate.  Even if he or she gets to work with a same-party Congress, your candidate could still find it hard to make headway if, like Donald Trump, they come from outside the beltway political establishment.

There is a simple (not easy!) fix to that: Help your presidential candidate get a sympathetic, same-party Congress to work with!

 

Do We Need a Dictator to Restore our Freedom?

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By Mike Cronin

Over the last 240 years, our federal government has become a bloated monstrosity that bears little resemblance to the founder’s vision. It is so massive and tangled that there is little hope that we can restore it to a more reasonable size or constrain it from grabbing an ever-increasing share of our liberty and freedom. Even if we could elect a Congress and Presidency full of freedom- and liberty-minded politicians for a generation or more, it might not be enough to de-fang the beast and put it on a forced diet.  How can we fix it?

I have an affinity for the adage that whoever wants to be the president is not qualified to have the job. I certainly don’t want it, but if I was ever elected, people might call me the world’s first libertarian* dictator**.  If you think that’s a contradiction, you are only partially correct.  No doubt, in all of human history, the record of dictators tends towards loss of freedom.  But what if we had a dictator who used his or her power to shrink government and increase freedom?

Here’s how I would become subject to such a characterization:

After being elected and taking the oath of office, I would declare a state of emergency and impose martial law.  It would be the weirdest martial law ever, because there would be no curfews or tanks in the streets. No rationing, checkpoints, or firing squads.  Instead, I would go before the American people and explain that the emergency is that we are destroying the Republic with excessive government.  Too many bureaucrats have too much power to regulate our lives.

My first dictate would be to abolish the IRS and institute the Fair Tax plan.  We would no longer punish productivity; we would pay for government the same way we pay for everything else: according to how much we use. In the same stroke, I would put in place a plan to audit the Federal Reserve and end the use of fiat currency, and re-introduce currency exchangeable for precious metals or other suitable commodity. In these two acts alone, we would greatly curtail the power of the government by removing its prerogative to confiscate our money before we see it, and its ability to confiscate our wealth by devaluing the currency we have been allowed to keep.

I would also announce to the world that the vast bulk of our armed forces based abroad would be returning to US territory in calibrated withdrawals from foreign lands.  Our defense strategy would focus on protecting US territory and US interests in international sea- and airspace. In this way, military spending could be reduced without reducing military strength.  Indeed, such a pull-back would allow the armed forces a much-needed breather to reconstitute after decades of continuous warfare and deployments.  No doubt, some countries would not be happy with us, while others, including some adversaries, would be ecstatic.  It would certainly disrupt the balance of power in many regions…but it would not alter the fundamental truth in the global balance of power: The US has the most powerful military and the economic might to back it up.

Next, I would turn to the various departments of the executive branch.  I would call in each incumbent cabinet-level secretary/director to defend the constitutionality of the operations, or even the very existence, of their department – on the basis of how it protects the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the citizens.  Some would have an easy job of it, especially the Departments of Defense and Justice, and perhaps the Director of National Intelligence (though he or she would have a tough time convincing me domestic intelligence operations do more constitutional good than harm!).  Some would have a very tough time indeed, such as the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Education, Energy, and the Interior.

Departments with unsatisfactory answers would be on the chopping block for re-organization, mission reductions, or even complete dismantlement.  The chief of every department left standing would be under orders to examine all of their operations and to de-regulate anywhere such operations do not protect the life, liberty, or property of citizens.

There are innumerable issues that would have to be addressed during such a departmental shake up:  Welfare. Social Security. Immigration. Guns. Abortion. Drugs. Trade. All manner of regulations. The list would be quite long, but always the test for each would be simple: How does a program, regulatory structure, function, etc. protect the rights of the citizens? Is the coercive power of the federal government the right way to address the issue?  If the answer to the first question is that it does not, or to the second, no, then that program would be on the chopping block for re-design, privatization, or elimination.

Of course, such a scheme (getting elected on a “libertarian dictator” platform) is pretty much a pipe dream, but the idea that it will take some unorthodox leadership to re-align the Republic to the founders’ vision and restrict the government to its Constitutional limits is very timely.

*Note that my use of the word “libertarian” (little l) should not be construed as an endorsement for the (Big L) Libertarian Party.

**There is a book by the name of “The Libertarian Dictator” (published in 2015).  I’ve never read it, but if any of the ideas I espouse in this post were first put forth in said book, I yield credit to the author.