As predicted eight months ago, the statist club of Washington, DC (comprising both Republicans and Democrats) have basically cleared Hillary Rotten Clinton from criminal prosecution for either the Benghazi disaster, or from negligent mishandling of thousands of emails related to State department business through an unsecure private server. While it remains to be determined whether either she, her aides or Bill Clinton will face the music over the apparent “pay to play,” cash for political favors set-up of the Clinton Foundation, it’s safe to say the deep politics arrangements of the elite were deemed too vital, and too interdependent on the Queen Authoritarian to sacrifice one of their chief establishment super agents to such a mundane thing as justice.
Acolytes for Hillary are crying “it’s over!” despite the extremely tacky aspects of the entire two affairs (such as the Attorney General Loretta Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton on her plane while the investigation was still in progress), and a lack of basic answers to outstanding questions spanning several years. After nearly four years, and multiple investigations, how is it that we still don’t know who gave the stand down order, that delayed available armed forces from arriving at the Benghazi compound in time to save Ambassador Stevens? Why doesn’t the final report from the Republican led committee even offer a guess? Or offer at least a theory as to how the supposed “terrorists” had the intel to know exactly how to break into the facility, and knew exactly where to go to find the diplomats?
The Just US System
On the email side, it gets even worse, with the FBI Director holding a press conference to outline six different felony violations performed by the Madame Secretary in the mishandling of classified data, only to recommend no criminal referral to the Justice Department. With that action, James Comey, the FBI head and token GOP hand picked by Obama to provide a fig leaf of legitimacy for the Democratic administration in clearing Hillary, has become the new Ken Starr. He was there, just as the man from Pepperdine 20 years ago, to be the “respected Republican” who is titled or poses as being an independent investigator, yet proceeds robotically to complete the cover-up of the Clintons. Sen. Rand Paul, who to his credit was the sole dissenting vote against Comey’s confirmation as Director, looks like a gigantic statesman today. The Obama Administration, by contrast, looks like it is thumbing its finger (or entire arm) at the rule of law, confirming the justice system is indeed broken, or as Richard Pryor originally said, is for “Just US.”
As noted by observers like Judge Andrew Napolitano and many others, this outcome looks like a conspiracy to evade the law, and does not represent the system of a free society where all people are supposed to be protected equally by the law, and equally subject to the law. In fairness, it can be noted that there is a notorious history of the Clintons in terms of “body counts,” and the suspicious deaths of people around them. Judge Nap, unlike Jim Comey, was not facing the prospect of a barbell ‘accidentally’ falling on his neck. But the bad optics of his ‘determination’ remains. Consider the key detail that Comey declared he could not make the criminal referral because he did not conclude there was criminal intent behind Hillary’s actions, when the relevant statutes don’t even require intent to be established in order to indict and convict. Where was this concern about intent considered in the Obama Adminstration’s relentless prosecution of other alleged violators of the Espionage Act? Since whistle blower Edward Snowden had no criminal intent behind his handling of classified material, will the government cut him a break as well? Or does the discretion to not pursue prosecution in the face of tons of evidence only extend to “just us” elite club members like Hillary?
The Fix, of Course, Was In–Until It Wasn’t
Let’s backtrack to the politics for a moment, to discuss what’s really going on. Trump can beat Hillary, and that’s why the GOP leadership was working hand over fist for months to try to deny him the nomination. Those leaders serve The Powers That Be elite (who control both parties), not the rank and file. The ENTIRE ESTABLISHMENT’S plan this year was to have another weak Republican milquetoast robohawk guy throw the election to her, just like in 2008. Only in that year, she proved to be such an overrated candidate that the elite’s Democrat plan B—the black guy with the Arab name and very questionable records—got past her in the primaries.
This year the establishment sacrificial lamb to Hillary was supposed to be Jeb, with Rubio or Christie serving as plan B. The party leadership knew this was supposed to lead to conservative voters being de-energized and largely staying home, as in ’08 and ’12—that was the very point, the whole key to getting Hillary elected. With all the focusing on Trump, people are missing that this is where the fix was in. Repeat, with or without Trump allegedly being a plant or stalking horse, TPTB intended for Hillary to win. So if Trump is somehow still betrayed at the GOP convention and replaced by a weak tea guy, we were still supposed to be stuck with a GOP milquetoast shill blowing it to Hillary in November.
The only escape plans from this outcome were a) Hillary getting indicted (which Obarry would never do), b) Rand Paul winning (which didn’t work out at all), and c) the unexpected, which is what the Trump ascendancy appears to be. NO ONE expected Trump to dominate the race as he has, including Trump, including the Clintons, including the media. Which means the impact he has had in decimating Jeb and the mega-donors behind the other puppets was not anticipated. The elite took care of the first two obstacles, but still can’t figure out Trump. Which also means, the would-be Hillary queenmakers didn’t think somebody else (outside the club) might win, and perhaps follow-through on the corruption investigations upon their taking office. As in, really following up on evidence that supports indictments, with actual indictments.
In light of this, the heart of the current matter is evident: Hillary Inc., was hellbent on dodging a legal bullet, no matter how ugly it looked politically in the short term. The optics of the FBI formally advising “we recommend Clinton be charged with X felony counts of negligent mishandling of classified data, criminal intent to misuse classified data, violating the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, lying to prosecutors, lying to Congress, etc” would be devastating to Hillary’s election quest, regardless of what DOJ did with the referral. The fear was not over getting indicted by this Administration, which she knew Obama would never allow, but over what the next Administration would do. That prospect is probably what led to the desperation meeting on the plane this past week. There may have been a growing realization on the part of Clinton that, once the referral was publicly on record, if the Democrats lost in November, a President Trump (or Johnson) might actually follow through with the indictment upon taking over DOJ in January.
So the answer was clear: make sure there would be no criminal referral. The prospect of that referral probably was on the table at some point in the last year. But the way it has worked with the Clintons and the FBI for 25-30 years is, the Clintonistas push back, and pressure all investigators involved to moving to a “no foul play/no charges” conclusion, while pressuring anybody not onboard out of the investigation. For example, go ask Ken Starr’s lead prosecutor, Miguel Rodriguez, who was pushed out of the Vince Foster “suicide” case for pursuing a different line of inquiry that suggested foul play, such as the second bullet wound he found on Foster’s body. So through slyly disguised bribes (“Hillary invites Lynch to stay on as Attorney General in her first term”), blackmail, extortion or other hardball, Hillary has probably delayed the current overlong process from reaching the point of the FBI recommending indictment for months. The intimidation of Comey and other FBI staff to cave must have been immense. The result? Grandma skates, and is still on the lam.
The Prosperity of the Wicked
Well, at least for now. Under the current establishment, yes, certain high powered crooks don’t get indicted. But all the non-Hillary candidates have to do is say, “that WILL change in six months, if you elect me.” The key issue, as always, is how to defeat the rigged game. The contentious rationalizing away of clear-cut wrongdoing that attends many scandals is a main reason why most crooked lawyers/politicians get away with things. They know 1) almost everything can be turned into fine-point legaleze, which destroys interest in the matter over time (because most people don’t want to sweat the details), and 2) while misdirection and other faulty reasoning can be quickly spotted, objected to and thrown out in a courtroom, such techniques are readily used in speeches or media coverage to spin “crimes were committed” into “mistakes were made,” to exonerate the hoods in the court of public opinion.
That’s why it seems the only scandals that tend to stick are sex scandals. A sex scandal can’t be blamed on a low-level flunky, a gray area in the law, a partisan witch hunt, or turned into something too complicated for the public to understand. Either person X did something with person Y, or sent naughty communications to Z, or not. This is a prime reason for the Spitzers and Weiners being out of office, and why the Clinton sex flaps have had a much longer shelf life than the financial ones, which were much more serious and numerous.
So as much as we may prefer to focus on the Clinton scandals that are “respectable” to discuss, those were always fool’s gold. Perhaps the big picture is, given their control over the system, the Clintons were never going down over “mishandled emails,” which is how most regular people (who don’t sweat the details) summarize the whole matter, as there were always too many lawyer escape routes around the issue. It’s more likely we can stop the Clintonistas over Mr. Epstein and Orgy Island. If that happens, the prosperity train the wicked Clintons have been riding may finally hit the end of the line.
On the other hand, a strategy of triangulation is being employed by LP candidate Gary Johnson that may also help. Instead of focusing on her scandals, Johnson is making no attempts at this time to be negative about either Clinton or Trump, as evident in his upbeat ads, and interview comments that deny Hillary is guilty of any wrongdoing. “Is Gary denying reality?” rings the cry coming from my fellow Libertarians—to which I suggest, no, just sidestepping it temporarily, for a greater cause. Cynically speaking, it might be that he is aware that one of the people on the Clinton body count list was named Gary Johnson, and he doesn’t want to be the second one.
But more likely, it’s a tactical move. Johnson is polling roughly at 10% whenever his name is included, and believes he is drawing from both the major party candidates. Johnson is playing politics, to attract whatever Democrats he can who are uneasy with Hillary’s baggage. There are Democrats who quietly don’t want to vote for her, but don’t want to appear to be “converting to the GOP” or to Trump (especially on cultural issues) by openly opposing her. So Gary is triangulating Hillary and her critics, so as to look like a reasonable social left alternative. He is aware of recent polls that show he is already attracting more votes from Hillary than from Trump, so he and running mate William Weld have been emphasizing their social liberalism, and general positivity, to welcome voters to personal liberty and fiscal restraint concepts. While this is not the most accurate or principled way to promote liberty, it is (so far) paying off very well in positioning the party this year for an historic vote outcome in the Presidential race. Grandma may still be on the lam, but 2016 may be the year the LP arrives.
As Barry Soetoro, AKA Barack Obama prepares to exit the White House in a few months, it’s appropriate to summarize what he has done that can conceivably be said to to reduce authoritarian force and aid in furthering the success of peace and freedom. IT IS AN EXTREMELY SHORT LIST, compared to the much longer tally of awful firsts he has piled up, but I will try to remain entirely positive about his presidency for this one commentary.
I. Criminal Justice Reform
By late into his tenure, it was not clear if Obama would ever get to concrete actions on this front, but he delivered in his second term by commuting the sentences of hundreds of people harshly dealt with by the so-called “justice system.” This action shows more compassion than displayed by the last seven Presidents combined (Republican or Democrat, see related graphic below), thus rebounds greatly to his credit. By putting the unprecedented weight of the presidency behind the issue, Obama has joined a bi-partisan movement to undo the injustices of that system, that includes figures ranging from civil libertarians, to right wing sites, to Supreme Court Justices. Among the onerous issues needing reform is the incarceration-happy structure of American law and its courts, which has applied robotically punitive sentences (like mandatory minimums) to the point where over 2 million citizens are behind bars, while 7 million total are in prison, under parole or probation at any given time. While the US has 5% of the world’s population, it has 25% of the world’s prison population. Even on the initial “engagement of suspects” end of the justice spectrum, abusive treatment and excessive force dominates the institution—stats show there is one police brutality incident every eight hours in the US, and more people have been killed by police in the US since 9/11 than soldiers have been killed in war. This brilliant summary video of the issue by Abby Martin lays out the incredible extent of the problem:
The documentary touches on vastly more territory than Obama has acted on, but he has started the process of turning this around. While Congress is still thrashing out major details holding up a reform bill in this area, Obama’s commuting of sentences has provided some immediate relief for the most egregious cases of punitive sentencing. It’s a bandaid, but an act of decency well within the powers of any President to perform, to show good faith in addressing the issue. As he has stated: “The power to grant pardons and commutations… embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws.”
One of the two core aspects of the damage wrought by the injustice system has been the disproportionate representation of the black or minority population engulfed by the corrections industry, as stated in this overview: “Our nation’s laws should be focused on imprisoning the most dangerous and violent members of our society. Instead, our criminal justice system too frequently traps non-violent offenders, who are disproportionately African American men, in a cycle of poverty, unemployment and incarceration. The unfortunate consequence of this type of system is an entire group of people facing almost insurmountable odds of ever rejoining society. The injustices within our system are potentially sentencing an entire generation of those who committed youthful mistakes to a future without the opportunity for rehabilitation.”
The other heart of the matter, of course, concerns the drug laws, which have needlessly driven more non-violent offenders into the cages of the incarceration industrial complex than any other factor. The zeal by which the War on Drugs has been waged can be measured by everything from the decades old classification of a mild substance like marijuana as a Schedule I drug, to more recently, the insistence of the DEA that it can pillage all private medical records without probable cause, in its never ending hunt to find more drug law violators it can turn into inmates. Obama has not indicated he will move on either point in his time remaining, given the current drug warrior political climate (mostly fomented by Republican hacks in the pocket of the prison industry), but he has at least lightened up on medical marijuana, in line with the now 25 states that have formally legalized its use. To the extent this is cautiously moving the subject in the general direction of decriminalizing pot (which comprises 80% of recreational drug use), it will lead to less incarceration, thereby fewer non-violent offenders languishing in cages, and more personal liberty—so let’s call it an accomplishment.
II. The Iran Deal
In foreign policy, Obama was saddled in his first term by the war happy, blood soaked battle axe Hillary, with whom he apparently had to appoint as Secretary of State (with a lot of autonomy, judging by her email and private server set-up) as part of a deal to settle their 2008 primary battle. This sent his policy off in a likely far more relentlessly interventionist, hyper-belligerent, more-militarism tangent than he ever intended. In the second term much of this continued, having been set in motion and pushed forward by the neo-con war maniacs in Congress, but Obama managed a swerve in the case of handling the matter of Iran. Instead of manipulating “concerns” over the country’s nuclear “program” (i.e., its reactor technology, that the US hawks and Israel kept conflating with it developing nuclear weapons) into another pretext for bombing another Muslim country, Obama collaborated with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in taking the negotiation track. This resulted in the brilliant de-fanging of the war party via the device of the P5+1 multi-national agreement, AKA the Iran deal.
We should remember that 1) controlling Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon is a phony issue, since US intelligence (all its agencies) has confirmed it’s not trying to do so, and 2) the P5+1 Iran deal is a multilateral positioning tool, that deflates Israel’s and the US fomenting of the phony issue. To the US Empire, the actual issue is, Iran is a significant regional power that is independent of US control, so it must be reeled back in, by pushing it as being a ‘threat.’ The neocons want to undo the Iranian revolution of 1979 (when it toppled the US puppet ruler the Shah) and “re-acquire” the country as a client state of the West. The war hawk’s real goal has been to (as usual) perform regime change and co-opt another country by unilaterally fostering a pretext to justify military action (invasion, occupation, bombing) or isolation of the nation (sanctions, propaganda or belligerent “diplomacy”). To the war party, when it comes to the 23,000 bombs the US drops on Muslim countries each year, or the millions of Muslim civilians killed abroad since 9/11, too much is never enough.
This tactic has previously allowed the US to unilaterally define the issues being negotiated, and then unilaterally define if the target country is ‘breaking’ the agreements. Surprise, surprise, the targeted nation is always painted as violating a deal, so the process merely serves as a vehicle to justify furthering a military or ‘isolative’ response. The P5+1 has monkey-wrenched the neocon march to war, as it involves 5 other nations plus the UN monitoring Iran’s compliance. This takes away the war hawk argument that “Iran couldn’t negotiate,” and the US/Israeli propaganda ability to unilaterally determine that Iran was violating the deal. Well, Iran did negotiate, did agree to a deal, and is abiding by it, as per clear criteria verified by multiple monitors. This cuts off the disingenuous or weaponized use of the diplomacy to create a pretext for militarism.
So devising and supporting the Iran agreement has been a defacto method of neutralizing the war machine. It’s not a perfect liberty or non-interventionist approach, as our government should not even be in the business of interfering with Iran’s (or other nation’s) sovereign right to make technological advances, especially a nation who (as per being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty) the US is supposed to be helping, not impeding in its development. But through setting one form of intervention against another (agreements, versus bombs) it has cleverly disabled the hawks from fomenting war. The monitoring process, which Iran is demonstrating compliance with in severely limiting its uranium enrichment, while intrusive, robs neocons of the key propaganda meme “they’re building the bomb!” needed to get the public behind escalating the conflict. Call it “meddling as a form of harm reduction,” to head off yet another round of military adventurism. This hardly makes Obama an anti-war President, but it does qualify as an anti-war, pro-peace accomplishment in this instance.
Small wonder that the war party has intensified their rhetoric against Putin since the Iran deal, such that as a political matter Obama could not be seen to collaborate with him again, be it on Syria or other fronts, so as to reach similar agreements to resolve or stabilize those conflicts. After a year in place, it appears that Iran is substantially complying with all aspects of the deal, as monitored by the P5+1 and IAEA. Bottom line substance: The agreement prevents or greatly dampens the prospect of war, Iran remains independent and maintains its sovereignty, and Obama can be credited with formulating a defacto anti-war outcome in at least one major Mideast conflict.
III. Opening Cuba, Closing Gitmo
Somebody had to do it, after nearly sixty years and nine Presidents perpetuating a failed policy of embargo and isolation of the Castro regime. Somebody had to say “enough, already” and try a new approach. As noted by the Daily Caller, “Since December 2014 Obama has chipped away at the restrictions on U.S.-Cuba relations with executive orders that get around the Trade Embargo enacted by Congress, which only it can repeal. Meanwhile a bipartisan effort has set out to repeal the embargo itself.”
While the FOX/neocon camp has complained the liberalization of relations comes without a movement by Cuba towards removing its tyrannical practices, or cooperating in turning over criminal exiles to the US, that can be equally said about the six decades of embargo policy, that also failed to produce those changes. The only thing the “isolation” accomplished was make sure the Castros forged trade and diplomatic relations with nations that were independent of US influence. A change to a more open or collaborative business model will probably create economic and logistical links that will foster incentives for Cuba to reform itself that the embargo could not. Already, the change in policy, or at least atmosphere, has already led to excitement among journalists who want to explore the forbidden country, agents of the travel industry, and investors who ponder the potential of supporting businesses and property purchases on the island. In other words, trade and commerce encourages peace, as the money factor creates leverage for each country to work with each other.
Obama has also upset the Cuba-baiters with his continued appeals (from the start of his Presidency, to present) for closing down the torture center on the Gulf Coast known as the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, or ‘Gitmo,’ and even turning over the base territory back to the Cuban government. HORRORS, cry the war party, which never believes the Empire should shut down bases anywhere, nor admit any of its actions were ever wrong, or ever disclose what it is doing in those clandestine facilities, or ever “give in to the terrorists” of 9/11 or after. All those dogmas are challenged by Obama’s initiative to take Gitmo out of the equation, and moving remaining inmates to non-military prisons and courts. What were they doing being tried in military courts in the first place, since the Constitution demands that such courts can only be used if civilian courts are not in session?
What The Powers That Be are hiding is that most all of the detainees at Gitmo were not guilty of terrorism, were and are being horribly tortured (going way beyond stray instances of waterboarding), and that the real architects of 9-11 are elements of the US government and cooperating foreign intelligence agencies. The whole point of keeping everything under military control or other cover-up was, and is, to keep the above truths secret from most of the public. Obama is not leading a charge to undo all of this, but these simple strides he has proposed for Cuba do amount to an accomplishment, towards more transparency, more constitutional procedure, and less belligerence.
The Bernie Moment
The departure of Obama leads one to wonder what Democratic Party majority will emerge to nominate candidates going forward. The 2016 primary season just ended has put Sen. Bernie Sanders, the emerged leader of the incoming ‘millenial’ generation of more full-left Democrats, in an awkward position: cede the nomination race to the horrid Hillary Clinton, or stay loyal to the millenials and progressives who were cheated out of defeating her, and who represent the increasingly dominant voice of the party. But why would the ‘Bernites’ feel that the system was rigged against them? Well, aside from the hack “superdelegates” who all declared for Hillary at the beginning of the year, or the myriad election “irregularities” that kept happening throughout the primaries (yet always to the benefit of Hillary), they point to outrages like this:
Notice that this Associated Press announcement about Hillary clinching the nomination, which was reported on June 6, the Monday evening before the California primary, was prepared by the campaign on June 4, two to three days prior—suggesting open collusion between the campaign and AP to optimally time the story to damage voter turnout for Sanders.
And they wonder why Bernie “refuses” to concede? If the GOP had conducted the same lowdown dirty tricks, or the same frontloaded, massive “superdelegates” scheme in place giving the elite chosen frontrunner a 20% head start, Jeb Bush would have been the Republican nominee. Those “day one,” Clinton-declared superdelegates colored primary voter behavior and media coverage throughout the race, giving Hillary an “inevitable” aura and edge she would never have maintained without it against Bernie.
Why should Sanders give up, given the above, and the reality that Hillary has offered him nothing of substance, that he doesn’t already have? His delegate totals already guarantee his name can be placed into nomination at the convention, thus giving him his prime time speech. His delegate strength also already gives him the ability to influence changing some party planks and rules, the main one of concern being ending the scheme where hundreds of superdelegates can announce their bias at the start of the primaries.
The fundraising and email/mailing list Sanders has developed gives him the ability to go anywhere—run as a socialist, run again in 2020, turn his resources over to, say, Elizabeth Warren or other selected younger progressive, etc. He has the ability to unilaterally tank the Hillary campaign via not vigorously endorsing it, or outright telling millennials to go elsewhere (stay home, vote Green).
Bernie should be demanding the same exact deal Hillary got in 2008—a major cabinet post, substantial autonomy in that position, and the inside track for a clear shot at the nomination in 2020 or 24 for a real progressive of his choosing. He should also demand a change in the party rules going forward so that there are far fewer superdelegates (say 5-10% of delegates), who cannot all declare their choice at the start of the primaries, thereby skewing the media coverage and voting behavior of the rank and file.
To guarantee the party leadership complies, he should hold out from suspending his campaign and get his name placed into nomination at the convention, thus guaranteeing him an independent nomination speech (i.e., not one cleared by Hillary Inc.). He should also not turn over his magic lists until his terms are substantially met—or maybe not even then. If they welsh on his demands, he can call them out on it in his prime time speech. Only by negotiating with backbone this way, will Sanders get anything meaningful out of the Hillary coronation. Either way, over the long term, Bernie’s holding most of the cards right now. This is a tipping point cycle for the Democratic Party, because if Hillary loses, it may be the last time a candidate positioned as a “centrist” can prevail against the increasingly dominant progressive wing of the party for its nomination.
While I previously resolved to cease talking about the 2016 major party primary race, the broader phenomenon of the fate of the “Ron Paul Revolution” (sometimes past stylized as the love ‘R3volution’) in light of this year’s election warrants one more set of reflections. From the looks of it, Paul supporters have gone into a frenzy of acrimony over their next direction, in the wake of failure of the Rand Paul candidacy, compared to the success of the “outsiders” in attracting voters disaffected by the statist establishment controlled political system.
Some liberty activists are downright in shock over the support given by many paleo libertarians like Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo and even others in the grassroots in supporting Donald Trump following the Rand fiasco. They have declared such libertarians as “the enemy,” who never understood liberty, and are thus taking what’s left of the R3volution in exactly the wrong direction. Allow me to bottom line what has been happening, as I speak critically of the movement as one who was and is in it, converses with the community regularly, and who started one of the first five Paul meet-up groups in the country.
Circa 2007, the emerging Ron Paul candidacy coalesced around the grassroots liberty movement, and performed an amicable takeover in leading it while Ron was an available mainstream Presidential candidate. The movement had existed long before that, seeding the liberty and truth message for decades through the educational campaigns of the LP, CP, and the alternative or patriot media. Virtually all agreed upon Ron Paul as a unifying candidate based on his consistent voting record, distinguished image and credentials, as well as his ability to grow the base of liberty supporters (producing the harvest from the liberty seeding that had occurred prior). But, truth be said, we didn’t win a single primary in three tries, with either Paul. In football terms, we never got a single first down.
The Ron Paul movement is fragmenting because Ron (and Rand) Paul is no longer a candidate, not because paleolibs, the LP and other grassroots folks “never really understood” liberty. The truth is, Pauls are not the center of the liberty movement, they were simply the best vehicles the movement adopted for attempting to run a real liberty candidate for President within the major party system. It has also become evident that much of the support given to Paul was personality-cult driven, instead of being based on a long-term strategic commitment. In the wake of three failed national campaigns, two major dynamics driving those defeats have been identified: 1) the Pauls’ inability or unwillingness to build winning voting coalitions beyond the 5-10% liberty base, and 2) the institutional barriers set up by the special interest run establishment, who control the major parties and media.
The Paul movement has become divided because, post Paul, there is no agreement over, or ability to acknowledge, how to address the other, above two dynamics. And without a Paul being in the picture, there is no reasonable basis for continuing to center the liberty movement around the Paul movement, which was just a subset of it. So some voters we could have reached or retained have gravitated toward other elements, from the Tea Party to Occupy, to the outsider trend, that they perceive are engaging their concerns, and are confronting the elite establishment. To succeed going forward, we need candidates who stand for liberty, and who can/will put voting blocs together to win something, and who will confront the elite. Fixating on liberty positions alone, is not enough. We need to pursue a fuller or more correct strategic direction, not just the correct policy direction.
One of the surest lessons learned from the last three election cycles (for those willing to receive the message) is the institutional resistance to the liberty message has become well adapted to the threat posed by either Paul. As coldly stated well by the Architect establishment figure in the Matrix movies, “rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have destroyed it, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.” The elite already knows how to rig the primary process of the regime to contain and defeat the Pauls, while installing their approved puppet as the nominee, as they demonstrated in 2008 and 2012. And they were already doing the same to Rand in the 2016 cycle, apart from Trump, via the tried and true methods—limiting media mentions of Rand, giving him the least debate time, subtly suppressing his poll numbers, etc.
The Unexpected, the Opportunity, and Denial
But something unexpected happened this time—the overcrowded GOP field caused people to seek out a different kind of candidate who stood out, as a matter of establishing a unique marketing position, that the media could not marginalize. The elite was so busy trying to crowd Rand out, that they overlooked that this situation might create an opening for another independent candidate. Meanwhile, on the undercrowded Democratic side, progressives actively sought (and found, in Sanders) a fresher message than that provided by the over-controlled press releases issued by Queen Hillary. Trump et al outsiders have come along, and totally defeated the elite’s attempt to get traction for this year’s approved puppets, namely Bush, Rubio and Walker, with Hillary getting past Sanders mainly because of a super delegate overloaded, or rigged system. The plan was obviously for Bush, Walker, or Rubio to throw the election to her, not for a loose cannon egotistic billionaire to knock all three of those stooges out of the race.
The resistance of many Paul supporters to welcoming this basic breakthrough confirms everything I and others have said, about the Revolution being fraught with cultism, and people being in denial. There has been an unfortunate tendency by admirers of Ron and Rand Paul to credit them, and only them for things achieved by the broader liberty movement, or for positive developments outside the movement. Accordingly, while Trump has specifically performed a lot of establishment disruption this past year, that Rand simply did not accomplish, the Revolution’s response has largely been, nah, “he didn’t do any of that.” So, was it Rand who drove Jeb and Marco out of the race? Was it Rand (not Trump) who got the elites to waste over $200 million trying to stop him? Rand who challenged PC for the last 9 months straight? Rand who disabled the Donors? Rand who connected with, and embraced the anti-establishment voters? This inability to give even partial credit to anybody unless their name is Paul, has helped kill the Paul movement. Strategic gains need to be recognized, no matter who helped bring them about.
Was the Movement Hijacked?
The Paul cultists nonetheless maintain that the voters who were attracted to the outsiders were ‘stolen’ from Paul, and that ‘the FrankenTrump Monster’ is opportunistically leading them down an anti-liberty path, as his method of hijacking the movement. But how can something be taken from you that you never owned? While candidates like Ted Cruz did try to cynically triangulate the liberty vote, it’s not as if it was unfair for him to try to engage it, in order to win more votes. If Rand doesn’t even own his base vote, that would go double for claiming the liberty side has exclusive dibs on the rest of the reachable GOP vote as well. So in fact, these blocs were not hijacked, they are voting groups the Pauls did not pursue, thus were abandoned or orphaned. We never had most of them to begin with, in order for them to be hijacked. The position that these voters cannot pursue other candidates without ‘abandoning’ liberty, is Paul-centric, and exclusively oriented around the issues, at a time when we are past the Paul candidacies, and now understand that emphasizing our core issues can grow the liberty base, but it cannot by itself create voting coalitions that win elections, nor displace the statist establishment.
The movement has been splintering because many are failing to move towards incorporating those other two dynamics. They remain stuck at being exclusively Paul and issue-centered, having learned nothing from the last three failed campaigns. Engaging coalition building and the anti-establishment voters is not going in the opposite direction, it’s about going in a liberty-building direction by not staying stuck in 2007, and acting like the 2008, 2012, and 2016 defeats didn’t happen. The three campaigns done by the Pauls suggest they are only capable of doing overly cautious, educative efforts that fail at or avoid engaging major voting blocs to build a winning coalition. They, and others following that model, will not be able to win and get in the White House. The only way I see Rand getting in the White House is by accepting the GOP nominee’s offer to be his running mate.
Why is this movement the only place in politics that thinks we can get into the White House, by avoiding gaining the confidence or support of most voters? Rand couldn’t ever become President based only on the liberty base, even if he hadn’t lost part of the base vote, due his compromising approach. He or whomever an eventual successful national liberty candidate turns out to be, has to build a winning coalition. Rand becoming Vice President, or put in a large position in the next Administration, would be helpful towards that end. If engaging or creating alliances with trends, demographics and voting blocs that aren’t libertarian is something the liberty base can’t live with, it simply means that base is not serious about winning, ever.
It’s not about our 5% base and beating up the other candidates, it’s about attracting more voters to us. It’s about connecting with them, not insulting them by bashing everything about the candidates who do connect with them. It’s not about the Rand following, or about viewing either Paul as the perpetual center of the liberty universe, it’s about reaching beyond the following to show the liberty approach engages the concerns of most voters. The inability of Rand (or much of the following) to do that is why his candidacy did not get a winning coalition of voters on his side.
So no, the outsiders of this election cycle are not hijackers, they are suppliers meeting the demand of the “liberty for all” marketplace. After three Paul defeats, that market ideally wants 1) progress in moving the country on “the direction of liberty,” not just more educational campaigns, 2) candidates who try to win, not just more educational campaigns, and 3) progress in busting up the establishment barriers to liberty, not just more educational campaigns.
Beyond the Base
The TP, OWS and the outsiders have actually had some success on points 2 and 3, whereas the Pauls did not. Moving the country in the direction of liberty requires addressing the strategic aspect, not just the liberty positions. If a person only wants to fixate on the latter, and ignore achieving anything on the strategic front, I invite people to join or rejoin the Libertarian Party. The LP runs educational campaigns all the time, to ensure it provides a real liberty option on the ballot, without regard for anything other than representing the true “direction of liberty,” position wise.
But the point behind the Paul movement was supposed to be getting such a candidate elected President, not just representing the 5-10% liberty base. That was the point behind supporting the candidate running within the major parties. But if the candidates could not succeed on both the position and strategic fronts (in building the coalition, and effectively taking on the elite), that didn’t eliminate the demand for somebody to succeed on those fronts. Demonizing everybody who has recognized the strategic progress being made by candidates and movements in those areas, is not productive. We can’t sell liberty for all if we don’t do outreach beyond the choir. Yet many Paulites have actually scolded me for “going in the wrong direction” for emphasizing anything other than conformity with the liberty agenda, when evaluating candidates.
Exactly how is talking about the liberty side winning elections and overcoming establishment barriers to liberty, going in the opposite direction? Only if one believes any consideration of advancing liberty that goes beyond its positions, is going “in the opposite direction of liberty.” That is, many think “the right direction” is to go on preaching to the choir, while demonizing anything else as being “anti-liberty.” That’s not merely disagreeing about strategy, that is having no strategy. It’s another manifestation of the binary mindset that refuses to to acknowledge the usefulness of strategic campaigns or trends for the movement. Instead, we should stay on target about the three things the liberty movement must do to make advances, (promote liberty positions, win elections, confront the establishment). Many people are stuck at just the first part.
Strategic candidacies who are not in our camp ideologically, but did reach out to voting blocs as we should have done, indirectly help the movement by showing us how to do likewise. Where they have successfully taken on the elite and MSM while we have not, they have set the stage for us to benefit in later cycles. Adding those strategic aspects is what will advance liberty politically, whereas only dwelling on our positions while calling that “a direction,” will not.
From Here to Victory, Eventually
Rand got just a third of the votes in Iowa, compared to Ron in 2012. The candidate and the strategy must be held at least somewhat accountable in light of those results. The truth is, both Pauls made mistakes that limited their appeal and ability to get the public to embrace liberty, so after three campaigns, it has been reasonable for supporters to notice this. Clearly the attempt to rhetorically finesse foreign policy issues needed to be tried, but having now been tried, it is also clear that it made no difference, as the base vote has not been expanded, by way of building winning coalitions. Future national liberty candidacies should proceed on a “back to principle” basis of presenting the views as clearly and openly as Ron did it in 2008 and 2012.
The failure of the Paul Revolution, again, has much to do with the personality cult surrounding the Pauls displayed by many of its supporters, which may have been more important to them in the end, than advancing liberty. Frankly, those supporters are only “pro-liberty” if it looks like, talks like, or behaves exactly like the Pauls—genteel, dryly rational, professorial. If progress towards the cause comes in any other form, like a brassy sounding talk show host, or a blue collar sounding, confident business leader, they call it “the enemy.”
Donald Trump is not libertarian, but his candidacy (as I have previously said) represents progress towards the cause of liberty by scuttling the elite’s kingmaker system that has prevented alternative candidates from getting the Presidential nomination of a major party for at least 36 years. Liberty candidates cannot get into the White House until that elite-controlled, approved insider puppets system is disrupted. In Star Wars terms, we have to disable the tractor beam, to escape the Death Star. Voters are leaning towards Trump not because his views are vague or even coherent, but because his resolve is convincing, and not controlled by mega-donors.
The GOP rank and file and public is frustrated with campaigns that have had the right positions for decades, but then caved or utterly failed to enact them once elected. The anti-establishment trend that Trump rode to first place with is thematically pro-liberty, as it confronts the statist/PC mainstream, shows resolve or backbone against it under pressure, and prioritizes American cultural or domestic issues, over war issues and internationalism. This outsider dynamic can serve as a battering ram to knock down the establishment-dominated primary racket, and once knocked down will bring more liberty candidates into office over the long term.
Poll Projections, vs Voter Data Based Projections
With that said, here’s my 2016 election prediction. First, let’s dispose of the obsession with early polling (the preponderance of which currently show Trump losing to Hillary). Polls done during the primary season, covering opinion 5-15 months prior to the fall election race, are historically meaningless. The preponderance of polls at this point or earlier in the 2012 cycle had Obama losing to Romney or the other GOP front runners. Most polls had Reagan losing to Carter at this point in the ’80 election year, and even had GHW Bush trailing Dukakis by double digits during the summer of ’88, etc.
Here is a forgotten point lost in all the fretting about polling data. Front runners are typically being protected and bolstered at this point in the primary season, such that their popularity in the later primaries creates a falsely inflated impression about their strength as candidates. Trump has been getting votes, by contrast, despite an ongoing massive negative campaign against him by party donors and leaders. Primary turnout may be smaller than the election turnout, but is a much more reliable index of voter intent and turnout than polls, since it provides actual voter behavior data, not poll projections about voter behavior. The BIG trend about this cycle is:
Republican turnout is UP by 60%, Democratic turnout is DOWN by 20%.
Note that the higher GOP turnout is largely being driven by the Trump phenomenon, despite his negatives, and despite active elite opposition to him. Lower Democratic turnout is largely being driven by tepid support for Hillary due to her negatives, despite widespread protection of her by the establishment. Obama (65.9 million) beat Romney (60.9 million) by 5 million votes in 2012. Using the 2012 election result numbers as a baseline, if we conservatively project from the actual primary voting data that the primary turnout trend will be at least 20% reflected in the election results, pro-GOP turnout should be up by 12%, and pro-Democratic turnout will be down by 4%. Do the math:
Republican/Trump: 60,933,500 votes, plus 12% (7,312,020) = 68,245,520 votes in 2016
Democrat/Hillary: 65,915,706 votes, minus 4% (2,636,632) = 63,278,960 votes in 2016
By this actual voter behavior data driven estimate, Trump will beat Hillary by 5 million votes.
The key to this being the most accurate projection, is having the ability to critically compare or counter interpret data. When I was at the Harris poll, it was emphasized that collecting or compiling the data was just one aspect of determining public sentiment–you have weigh it, and note what NET outcome it is driving as well. There is no such thing as a monolithic “higher turnout,” it is usually higher for one party than another depending on the year or the state.
The record rally crowds and voter waiting lines for Trump have largely been in competitive states, suggesting a net vote gain for Trump, not for Hillary. There is no voter data suggesting a comparable vote energized for Hillary in those states. Hillary’s turnout problem is compounded by several polls that indicate 33% of Sanders supporters will not vote for Clinton if she wins the nomination. Even if the residual turnout effect was reduced to 15% (resulting in a 9% higher turnout for the GOP candidate and 3% reduced turnout for the Democratic candidate), Trump still wins the popular vote over Hillary by 2.5 million votes.
Far more people are energized to vote for Trump than against him, from the actual voter behavior demonstrated this year. Most of the Latino vote and strongest anti-Trump sentiment is in well established Democratic states, or else states firmly locked in the red or blue column regardless, thus is mostly not a factor. From all this, I expect a strong enough popular vote for Trump to result in a electoral vote victory (e.g., via the GOP re-acquiring Florida, Virginia, and Ohio). That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
With the Republican and Democratic Parties seemingly headed for a crack up this Presidential year, and headed for a battle between two candidates with historic unfavorable poll numbers, is this the opening needed for the Libertarian Party to attain a foothold on the main stage of American politics? With the anti-establishment trend wrecking the GOP’s ‘kingmaker’ or donor-driven nomination racket (but delivering us with Trump as an alternative), and millions of progressive Millenials in rear guard mutiny over Hillary’s pending coronation as Democratic nominee, many voters will be looking for an option more agreeable to them. Will they see it in the LP in 2016?
The stakes for the Party of Liberty are enormous, as it appears pro-liberty people finally have an angle to disalign many average voters from the stranglehold of the two-party statist beast. It appears a sizeable fraction of regular rank and file members of both sides consistently advise pollsters that they will never vote for Trump, and will never vote for Hillary. This means their basic choices are to either stay home, or to consider a third candidate. If the LP contender becomes that choice, we could be in for a breakthrough moment for Libertarians to make their case before an electorate that is finally ready for them.
The Ballot Factor
If the LP can get 5% or more of the Presidential vote around the country in 2016, it would qualify for regular or permanent ballot status in about half of the states for several years (i.e., those states that give such status based on getting a minimum vote level in the Presidential race). This would vastly lessen the burden of the party in running and funding independent petition drives they would otherwise have to conduct across the US.
With that burden cut in half nationally, the party could then concentrate on earning regular status in the other states. Overall, a uniform 5%+ national performance by the LP would lead to improving the party’s ability to maintain regular ballot status (once obtained) across the country. This was one of the practical reasons why many in the party would have welcomed Ron Paul running on the LP line in 2008 and 2012, after his GOP bid was stalled.
The LP Field: Too Stale, Too Weird, Too Young?
The big question is whether the current LP field is compelling enough to capitalize on what could be an historic opening to solidify the party’s standing across the nation. The main contenders for the nomination at the May 27-30 LP convention in Orlando are former NM Governor Gary Johnson, anti-virus software creator John McAfee, and Austin Peterson, a former Ron Paul activist and LP national staffer. McAfee has given many the impression he is personally too “odd,” despite being likable, and Peterson way too green to be running for President, so my discussion will dwell on the LP front runner. As I noted last time, Johnson has the most serious resume, the most organization, the most experience (having already run as the LP candidate in 2012), and through his lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates, may create a pathway for leveling the campaign playing field such that “minor” parties can get the same prime time as the majors to debate the issues. As of this writing, in fact, Johnson is polling at 11%, according to a Monmouth survey that includes him in a three way race between Johnson, Trump and Clinton.
“If this isn’t an opportunity for the Libertarian nominee — and I hope to be the Libertarian nominee — there will never be an opportunity, in my opinion,” said Johnson, in an interview with the Daily Caller. “There’s no way that a third party wins the presidency without being in the presidential debates.” While his total package and being at the center of the CPB suit gives him the nominee-apparent edge as the most solid choice, partisans for the other candidates say he already had his chance in the last election, and should step aside for a ‘fresher’ face. Some are also wary of the recent spate of former GOP candidates floating over to the Libertarian universe (Bob Barr, in ’08, Johnson in ’12) to take its nomination, even as their commitment to or understanding of the party’s principles remains an open question.
For example, Johnson holds to an oft-repeated, but misleading summary of libertarianism, meant to keep the message simple to the masses, but at the cost of confusing the ideology with that of being a “moderate” (read: social liberal) politician: “I really believe that the majority of people in this country are libertarians, that we’re classically liberal at the end of the day, we’re fiscally conservative…but also we’re socially liberal. Who cares how you live your life as long as it doesn’t adversely affect mine?” On this basis, he describes Rand and even Ron Paul as not “really” libertarian, because they have socially right views. In reality, libertarians are fiscally libertarian, and socially libertarian, or first and foremost committed to the non-aggression principle (stated within the LP in terms of the non-initiation of force pledge). Libertarians are committed to not introducing force to solve problems, but reasonably disagree on the application of that principle on social matters. Social liberalism commonly goes far beyond tolerating personal freedom, towards a left authoritarian use of force (laws, regulations, suits) to demand everybody approve and support the behaviors under dispute.
This is not a minute distinction, as this aggression doesn’t let the other side of the country live their life (most typically in terms of expressing their free exercise of religion, or to express historic cultural beliefs). So Johnson’s conflation of liberty principle into being just a form of being a moderate is fatally flawed, and ends up miseducating voters as to what it means to be a libertarian. Indeed, the recent Pew study confirmed that only 11% of the public identified as “libertarian” by this understanding, meaning the “social liberalism” version of the concept is not catching on. By contrast, the three Paul liberty campaigns within the Republican universe have shown more support exists for libertarian candidates when they are aligned with the cultural right, not the left. Johnson is nonetheless strong enough on credentials, and sound enough on liberty issues in general to represent the party again, and may very well carry the LP to the much needed 5% threshold, or even the 15% needed to be in the fall debates.
Last Minute Surprises?
Other rumors are swarming about other last minute celebrities possibly parachuting in to the Orlando convention to seek the nomination, including populist Jesse Ventura, or even libertarian actors like Kurt Russell. The significance of the LP in creating this interest (or speculation) is that other than the major parties, it is the only (limited-government friendly) entity has an already up and running, ready-to-go structure for being on the ballot in virtually all 50 states (the Constitution Party has only managed to get on the ballot in 40 states, among other problems it has faced). All the talk of an independent candidacy by anybody (including most recently, Bloomberg) crashes against the reality that the barriers to getting on the ballot in all the states from scratch are odiously difficult under the current election laws. The famous “establishment” is responsible for this, as well as many other structural barriers the special interest elite have erected to frustrate alternative political voices from getting anywhere near the White House.
There is a possibility for another late entrant in the LP Presidential sweepstakes—Rand Paul. The Senator has returned to the Senate since his shockingly disappointing showing in the GOP’s Iowa caucuses, and has indicated he will now focus on legislation, BUT, if he has the stomach to do it, there is a window for him to reassert himself into the race over the next month. The “Never Trump” GOP elite plotters have made it clear they either want a contested Republican convention, or a third party option if Trump gets nominated—but the window for a viable independent candidacy is vanishing, and the path to a contested con is not established at this point. Most significantly, by the establishment itself floating both ideas, it removes the negative stigma associated with a Republican undoing their prospective nominee.
The LP race is perceived to lack a more exciting candidate than the Johnson/McAffee/Peterson choices on hand. If the GOP primary outcomes show the “deprive Trump of needed delegates” plot is actually working, Rand could announce he is running for the LP nomination, while offering the GOP the chance to avoid a splitting of the ‘limited government” vote in the election, by nominating him instead of Trump at the contested GOP convention. This move would give Rand the leverage to be the alternative candidate, cover the “independent deadline has past” issue, push out Trump, and ensure a Paul is on the ballot in November. The elite couldn’t talk down or demonize the idea of Paul “being a spoiler,” because they already have been talking up the notion, in order to stop Trump. This would be a way for Rand to become the anti-Trump in a third party manner that couldn’t be held against him.
The key to this ‘long shot’ idea is, Rand is the only candidate from the 2016 Republican field who could feasibly win the LP nomination, thus the only GOP candidate who could pose a third party challenge this year if he chose to do so. The other GOP candidates would have to go the full independent line route across 50 states, the deadlines for which are passing. If Rand does so in May, he basically calls the establishment’s bluff to support an alternative to Trump, either at the convention or in the election.
If he makes himself that option, the elite can’t demonize him for doing so, since they advocated for somebody to be that alternative. With his presence as the nominated LP candidate in place by the time of a contested GOP convention, delegates will have to choose to vote for Trump, or a different nominee and certainly lose in November due to Paul splitting the vote, OR vote for Rand. This is a way for Rand to take advantage of the GOP elite trying to reinvent the nomination process, and end up as both the Republican and Libertarian Party candidate on Election Day.
Advice to the Freedom Forlorn
Whether the above scenario happens or not, my advice for the ideal LP candidate to succeed in 2016 is the same as it was for Rand Paul, given the dynamics of this election cycle, in order to crack 5% or higher of the November vote. Namely:
Build beyond the liberty base, by appealing to their point of concern. In light of the huge negatives Hillary and Trump have, emphasize the positives about the liberty approach to reachable voting blocs, from the point of view of what do they get out of supporting the liberty candidate. Instead of just preaching to the choir, or shoving ‘our’ issues down other people’s throats, talk about their issues in liberty terms.
Discuss with evangelicals how to achieve their cultural goals in a pro-liberty way, talk to people consumed with the jobs crisis about the liberty approach to job creation, explain to those who prioritize national security how a non-intervention and non-empire approach makes America safer, etc. This way you are not ignoring peoples’ issues, since you are engaging them at the very point of their concern, while not fudging on your own principles.
Triangulate the anti-establishment vote. Don’t pummel Trump, instead attack the excesses of critics of the trend he has represented, then assert how the liberty approach will best address or solve the issues Trump etc ‘outsiders’ have raised. Avoiding addressing those issues and attacking their messenger will alienate those voters, whereas this approach will co-opt many of them. Focusing on this election dynamic and voting group, not the particular candidates who reached this bloc, is the best path to attracting them.
Show a spine, confront the mainstream. Be willing to say patently non-PC things, and not back down, as a way of introducing a unique dimension to issues that is left out of the two-party paradigm coverage of the campaign. The LP candidate should, as it is not representing as being a “mainstream” party, be able and willing to say some red meat things to pull a fragment of the mass audiences the liberty way, issue per issue. In this way libertarians can bring up “our” issues in a way that resets the table in our favor.
Talk plainly about the covert-op driven foreign policy (including false flags) that keeps the country engulfed in foreign wars. Tell the Democrats concerned about income inequality that the monetary policy of the Fed is the overwhelming cause of the issue, as it has served to crucify the middle class with zero interest rates (as James Bovard put it, “folks who relied on their savings have been devastated at the same time the Federal Reserve artificially inflates stock values to benefit the richest Americans.”); and so on.
Engaging the Future
The best national liberty candidate (speaking without names attached) would be someone with consistently pro-liberty positions, who can and will seek out and engage reachable voting blocs beyond the liberty base. Regarding the latter, on the GOP side, Ron and Rand Paul did not do this. I don’t see Justin Amash or Thomas Massie doing this. On the LP side, I don’t see the current announced field doing this either, but I’m welcome to be proven wrong.
Maybe Andrew Napolitano can, Adam Kokesh more possibly can. Alex Jones could. So could the late Aaron Russo, but he’s not among us now. Kurt Russell? I have no idea—though if he ran like one of his characters, say, Snake Pliskin, or Wyatt Earp, anything’s possible. “We’ve had it with tyranny, the tyrants are finished! We’re going to take our country back to liberty. You tell ’em we’re coming. You tell ’em I’m coming! And hell’s coming with me!”
Based on the 2016 experience, we need a Paul-minded candidate with a William Wallace alpha vibe. Someone who will really go after getting the Tea Party, cultural right, and outsider voting blocs in the GOP universe. This same candidate should also appeal to the Millenials on the Democratic side by bringing up the “1%” of Wall Street issues in a libertarian context (i.e., objecting to corporate welfare, the Federal Reserve’s destruction of middle class savings to the benefit of the banksters and globalists). The LP also uniquely can speak to protecting youth from any attempts to reinstate the military draft, that certain demonic Beltway figures of both major pro-war parties have not only advocated, but suggested should be expanded to conscript young women as well as men (ain’t equality grand?).
Whatever the case, the candidate has to do more than just embody the liberty base. More to the point, running an education-only style candidacy does not create a winning coalition. You don’t just speak core things to a core audience, you have to actively reach out to energize a mass audience, or enough segments of that audience to win. Fortunately for the LP, that ‘win’ only needs to be a uniform 5% or higher finish across the country, in order to get the freedom bells to start ringing.
The past month has seen the end, or the beginning of the end of several political monoliths. Barry Soetoro, AKA lifetime CIA-sheperded-asset-turned NWO puppet Barack Obama entered into his final year of tyranny as a constitutionally unqualified US President. As foreshadowed by seven months of campaign mistakes, Rand Paul crashed and burned in the latest unsuccessful national liberty movement campaign within the Republican primaries. Antonin Scalia, longest serving Supreme Court Justice of the modern era, unjustly “passed away” under the usual highly suspicious circumstances, setting off a Super Bowl blitzkrieg of acrimony over how, or if the vacancy created on the court will be filled in Obarry’s lame duck year.
More will be said about the Puppet-in-Chief and his actual pro-liberty accomplishments in a future discussion (yes, somehow, there are actually a couple of them). Of more pressing relevance to libertarians hoping to breakthrough to electoral success via the major parties, has been the push back against the liberty movement within the GOP, and Rand’s failing campaign. Instead of adding to the growth of the liberty base started by his father Ron in 2008 and 2012, and building primary-winning majorities in the 2016 cycle, Rand’s campaign seemed to result in that base getting cut in half, with no gains made in attracting larger voting blocs needed to win. Nor could he attract the kind of mega-donations his campaign rivals could (since he would not sell his soul to the “pro-war and spy on everybody 24-7” crowd showering money upon neocon robots like Mr. Roboto-Rubio).
Rand on the Run
Ted Cruz has taken millions from the Adelsons, and other elite sources, so he will intervene, and unconditionally bow to Israel as ordered. His posturing as an outsider is a pretense, but he did a better job selling being anti-establishment than Rand did. If Rand had made even a partial attempt to act like a real deal outsider, he would have enjoyed success similar to Trump’s, Cruz’s and Carson’s. The ‘real deal,’ in this context, is demonstrating you will confront the party leadership, elites and media, not whether you hold the best positions. In fact, Rand’s decision to attack the outsider trend, instead of triangulate it and Donald Trump, as Cruz did, was the crucial body blow to his campaign. Cruz also triangulated Rand by adopting his liberty positions, which eliminated the reason to go with Rand to begin with. Cruz and the others all had to deal with Trump’s domination, but clearly some (Cruz, and for a while Carson) navigated it much better than Rand.
If Rand had not positioned himself as a compromising libertarian, he would not have been vulnerable (or as vulnerable) to somebody else posturing as a compromising libertarian stealing his views. Not having the foresight to see his finessing of liberty issues could be matched by somebody counter-finessing them turned out to be a fatal mistake. Some suggest Rand could have simply tried new methods to finesse communicating the issues (e.g., by leaving most of his beliefs unsaid, or confining himself to speaking on tax and fiscal matters). The problem, though, is that we’ve already been through a campaign where Rand finessed communicating the issues. We found out that doesn’t work, in terms of building a winning coalition. And the candidates who did do better talked mainly about issues other than taxes and fiscal restraint of government—they spoke about immigration, protecting the national interest from trade to refugee policy, and cultural issues.
Our next liberty candidate needs to talk about the issues the voters actually want to talk about (not the stereotypical ones we think they want to talk about), BUT to talk straightforwardly to them with pro-liberty answers, NOT finesse them. If they want to talk about jobs, talk about liberty approach to job creation and a growth economy. If they want to talk about health care, talk about the liberty approach to health care and health freedom. And so on—talk plainly about what issue comes up, and when it does, things are not to be left unsaid.
Nor are we to think that a candidacy can be sustained based on a single age demographic. Rand spent much of his time, and credibility, talking up the youth vote he had behind him, that ultimately did not materialize. in essence, Rand was trying to come in on one engine, and kept selling us on that one engine, and the engine failed. Stepping back in hindsight, we can see that basing a campaign strategy on the one voting demographic that is the least reliable to turn out, was a dicey losing proposition. Young people know how to date, and know how to party, and that’s about it. They are not reliable about turning out to vote, and unless you conduct an aggressive absentee or early voting campaign that takes care of most of the steps for them, or literally drive them to the precinct center, they just won’t vote.
Which points out the real issue. Whether the original liberty base was cut in half by Rand, or was too soft to begin with, it needed to be built on, but Rand (and perhaps Ron as well) was unable to. And you can’t win the nomination unless you attract a major voting bloc. The opportunity was there to engage the evangelicals, the anti-establishment folks, the Tea Party, etc, but it wasn’t taken. Perhaps the issue is that both Pauls are stellar liberty statesmen who managed to get elected in their states, but were not, and are not great national liberty candidates. Perhaps we should field someone from our ranks with full-fledged liberty views who happens to be an evangelical, Tea Party friendly, and overtly anti-establishment, in the cycles going forward.
The main issue hindering that building remains not the personalities, but the (until now) establishment-driven outcome of the primary regime. Our movement has tried to get an ideal candidate nominated across three election cycles, without dismantling or confronting the elite-controlled racket that is firmly in place to keep alternatives from winning. Naturally, the Pauls could not win, as the racket stopped them. That kingmaker system has pre-decided which insider will get to be the nominee for decades, and this year it was supposed to be Jeb or Rubio.
Trump has been riding the wave of an outsider trend that (should he get nominated) will have broken down that system for the first time in 36 years. That will be progress, which can make it easier for us in the years going forward. In the meanwhile, we’ve tried to crack the “getting a liberty guy elected” problem three cycles in a row, and we need to retreat to figure out a better way to proceed. To use the Star Wars analogy once more, our Jedis need to vanish, to work up a plan that will get us over the top in a future sequel. I’ll be focusing more on the Libertarian Party front the rest of this year, to review its ongoing effort to seed a liberty mindset within the public through educational campaigns.
Speaking of the LP race, in a year that has delivered us Trump and Sanders on the major party scene, maybe a Libertarian who presents as “nuts” like anti-virus software creator John McAfee will succeed. Gary Johnson, running a repeat of his 2012 campaign, is the most organized all around. Austin Peterson has been active in the LP, Paul, and FOX universes (having worked for Judge Napolitano). Peterson’s ambitions might be better served by raising money to run for Congress in MO instead on a fusion basis (LP/GOP), where he could wait for an open seat situation and win it. From there, he could be a potential future ‘favorite son’ pro-liberty GOP candidate for President, as his state is adjacent to Iowa.
The Pelican Brief 2.0—Scalia R.I.P.
Those seeking a proper summary tribute to the Justice may go here. For the rest of us, the urgent issue is indeed justice. So, who bumped off the conservative Justice? I mean, the body being found with a pillow over his head suggests something other than natural causes, doesn’t it? Scalia, though 79, was not known to be in bad health, so it is odd that a loss of this political importance is not receiving an autopsy. In many states, an unattended death automatically triggers an autopsy (yet in this case, the Justice of the Peace did not even look at the body before declaring the death to be from “natural causes”). The big rumor is that fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has already informed the White House of her intent to retire at the end of the 2016 term in July. In response, could they (i.e., a black ops team) have had Scalia bumped off (e.g., induced a heart attack using a modern variation of the “poison frozen dart” gun demonstrated at the Church hearings, or pumped CO2 into his hotel room), so Obarry could pack the court with not one but two more liberals in his final year?
That could have played into US Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to immediately declare there will be no hearings to confirm anymore Justices in the lame duck year of this President. Whereas, if he had green lighted a hearing for Scalia’s replacement, he would not have been able to credibly raise the lame duck issue later in the year, when Ginsburg retired. Whether the Senate will have the backbone to hang tough on this, has now become the big question of this election. If McConnell doesn’t give in, will the party lose enough seats over it to turn control of Congress back to the Democrats?
That’s what the MSM said when the Tea Party pushed for threatening a government shutdown, to get the leverage needed to really fight against Obamacare and debt ceiling increases. Next thing you know, the GOP picked up seats and now control the Senate. Unlike the shutdown, which the public perceives could have an immediate impact on them in terms of getting benefit checks and such, a Supreme Court vacancy does not impress that kind of personal urgency on voters. Thus, no pressure on the GOP to cave. So it may be possible for the GOP run Senate to ride out rejecting an appointment, yet still retain their majority. If Obarry makes a recess appointment, however, forcing the Senate to have to deal with it, that’s when the cave will almost certainly happen.
On No Longer Waiting for Godot
Regardless of the cave-in question, the “pack the court with true constitutionalists” strategy has been failing for 35 years. Statists were better at packing it the other way, as half the GOP picks turned out to be disasters, while aging Democrat justices always made sure to stay on the bench until a Democrat won the office before retiring. It was only a matter of time before a Republican appointed justice passed away on a Democratic President’s watch, and there goes the ball game.
There was an opening on the issue to outreach to social/cultural conservatives that Rand (and even Ron) Paul did not exploit, namely, that the fixation of the Republican Party with foreign policy (or more bluntly, with starting wars) over the last twenty-odd years has cost it several Presidential elections, and thus the ability to make more appointments to the Court. Many won’t dare vote GOP as a consequence, knowing that it almost certainly means still more hyper expensive, no-win wars based on lies in the Middle East, while de-prioritizing doing anything on abortion and other cultural matters. This point could have been raised to drive a wedge between the pro-war side, and many on the religious right who want to see action on their issues, and are willing to consider a new solution.
With the repacking the Supreme Court path now blocked off, liberty activists and candidates should persuade the social right to hold Congressional conservatives’ feet to the fire, by demanding that they vote (as per the Constitution) to remove the jurisdiction of the federal courts to rule on issues like abortion and gay marriage, which would de-facto return these issues to the states. This would get the federal government out of the issue and overturn the toxic social left authoritarian case law over hanging these issues, and get us out of the “waiting for the magic five pro-life or constitutional justices” rut we’ve been in for decades.
If the Ryan/McConnell axis does weasel out and puts another Obama appointee on the court (to make it effectively a 6-3 left-authoritarian fortress on all major decisions), this might finally wake the right up, to finally vote the milquetoast set out. They bought into the passive “waiting for Godot” constitutionalist court majority strategem Republicans were supposed to deliver on, for decades. What has it gotten them, except still more decisions reinforcing the bad case law?
No more passive strategies, it’s time for an active approach, without cave-ins. In a year where anti-establishment anger is already expressing itself, this last betrayal could act as a rocket booster for fostering change. Tea-partiers within the Republican universe should primary any GOP incumbent who caves, and move the battle to overturn the liberal precedents to Congress, where it belongs.
The End of Reforming the GOP
These developments, from the Rand failure in engaging Republican rank and filers, to a potential monumental cave by the leadership on giving the Supreme Court away for another generation, signals the complete refutation of the “save the GOP” model for being “relevant,” or advancing the liberty cause. To those who would bash the third party universe and the grassroots as being “incompetent losers,” despite losing three straight times trying things through the majors, I say: less derision, more relevance. To somebody outside the Paul movement or the LP universe, there is no functional difference between a minor party that is structurally suppressed or marginalized away from winning, and an alternative liberty candidate running in a major party that is structurally suppressed or marginalized away from winning. The outcome is the same either way—we haven’t gotten anywhere, so our vote was ‘thrown away’ in both directions. It’s just taken us longer to notice that the Pauls also had 0% chance of winning.
Lots of changes have to happen, to realistically change that 0% outcome on either end. Indeed one can argue case by case, depending on the campaign, that several national LP candidates made fewer mistakes, and exercised more competence in their campaigns than Rand just did in his campaign. And clearly, the fact that all the other minor parties have had similar struggles, no matter who they ran, or how they ran, indicates the issue is the power elite that dominates the American electoral system.
If there were 100 districts that were specifically gerrymandered for libertarians, and the LP failed to win most of them, yes, perhaps we could concede the main issue was party incompetence. But of course, there are no such gerrymandered districts. The US political order is hardwired for ‘them,’ not for us, and that’s why we keep losing. Until we have a better handle on how to dismantle that order, the fix will still be in against liberty, whether pursued via the minor or the major parties. The entire liberty movement needs to cooperate to foster that end, not wax superior over our pot supposedly being less black than the other side’s frying pan.
“As far as politics are concerned, more than anything else in this world, it is imperative that the establishment elite in Washington, D.C., are dethroned.” —Chuck Baldwin
“The Kingmakers have picked our last bunch of losers. And there’s one loser after another because they were more interested in maintaining their flow of money from the big donors and their cooperation with the Democrats…” —Phyllis Schafly
I stress over and over the factor of disrupting (or at least confronting) the current system, because it really is the overriding factor blocking change. Many liberty activists are hard headed diehards, who still think trying to accomplish things by winning within the GOP is the only realistic path to gaining political influence, respect and unity for the movement. In fact, it was the adopting of that strategy that led to the co-opting and neutering of the movement, as immediately evidenced by Rand’s compromising approach to even stating a liberty position in the 2016 cycle. The temporary ‘influence’ the liberty side gained was not respected at all by the party leadership, who immediately yanked back control of most of the positions the Paulites gained circa 2012. In the end, the GOP is controlled by $25 billion special interest people like Adelson, every bit as much as the Democrats are by $25 billion special interest people like Soros. The takeover has to be of the whole rigged kingmaker process, not one of Hydra’s heads, in order to work and in order to keep the movement united.
By focusing on reforming one party, the movement abandoned the Democrats and Independents who were first attracted to Ron Paul in 2007-8. It also needlessly divided a grassroots that was based on liberty issues, by the top-down edicts that tried change the mission into ‘saving’ the Adelson/Koch controlled party system. Naturally, the liberty base was cut in half, not expanded by the time Rand tried to run, with many of its voters ultimately being co-opted by Cruz or Trump. Through such devices, the current system is designed to marginalize and defeat alternatives, be they operating inside or outside of the major parties. The current system has to be displaced, not worked within, in order for us to get anywhere.
Liberty Solutions: Our Own Cable News Network?
For now, one of the most helpful ways to build a national libertarian infrastructure that can engage mainstream audiences, would be to get a real alternative network on the cable dial (or through syndication), call it “Liberty TV” and promote it as the true remedy to pro-government, pro-war, pro-PC news and commentary stations. BUT FOR IT TO HAPPEN, AND FOR IT TO WORK, AND FOR IT TO NOT GET CO-OPTED:
Cooperation: The entire grassroots liberty movement needs to work with each other, by which I mean both the libertarian or constitutionalist wing, and the patriot or populist wing. Meaning, no sniping at, or put downs of libertarians over being too ‘pure’ or the minor parties as being ‘irrelevant,’ and no sniping at, or put downs of populists over conspiracy or truth advocacy. Programming of both types should be on the channel, possibly from using material already being independently produced (say internet talk show simulcasts, from Ben Swann to Infowars Nightly News, to Michael Rivero’s What Really Happened, to Abby Martin’s Empire Files, and so on). Respectability Napoleons need not apply.
Funding: A consortium or board of mutually agreed upon, grassroots-trusted independent voices should set up the network as a cooperative venture, and control both editorial and financial decisions. This is important to keep the network from being infiltrated by Republican, corporate or neocon operatives who will want to rope the content back within the two-party paradigm and turn it into FOX2. If most of the programming is reused from independent, but existing material, that should minimize costs enough for the channel to be sustained by grassroots donations or (case by case) selected big donors (e.g., Peter Thiel). The board should be committed to NEVER letting folks like the Kochs in as funders, or any advertiser who demands the channel “stop talking about X” as a condition for advertising on the network.
What would the ratings be for such a network, at least at first? Probably abysmal, but it could build from there. The point would not be to be ‘popular,’ but to be there at all. It would not be a for-profit entity, but a cooperative that made sure the average cable viewer had a reliable place to see news from the alternative, liberty perspective. MSNBC gets by with what, 200,000 viewers daily nationwide? Given that an internet based liberty-friendly network like Infowars has an audience of 3 million a day by itself, a cable channel running with re-used Internet show material will be popular enough.