by N. A. Halkides 2/5/15
The 2016 Presidential campaign will feature probably the widest-open Republican field in memory, exceeding even the free-for-all of 2012. The good side of having so many candidates that when they’re assembled on stage they look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is that we may hope to actually find a good one; the bad side is the possibility of losing the best man in the crowd. With so many candidates it was not practical for me to continue my series of “close-ups” (I have written in some detail about Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush here on ST already), and it is quite impossible even to give a comprehensive description of the positions of all fourteen candidates on every major issue. Space and the fact that such complete information isn’t even available at this time prohibit such an approach. More importantly, I don’t think that’s the best way to look for a leader: it’s more important that our man have a coherent theory of limited government than that he believes the capital gains tax rate should equal “r”. Also, there are some issues so important that being on the wrong side of one of them is a complete disqualifier (e.g. for many of us it would immigration, abortion, or both).
Those two considerations mean that it’s easier to look for a basis to disqualify a candidate than to accept him, however negative that may sound. What I have tried to do is present the candidates’ views on a few key issues in the hope that we may either be able to glimpse the candidate’s political philosophy or else rule him out as ipso facto unacceptable. Note that “Limited Government” is one of the “issues” I have included, for to repeat, I think this is the key to finding the right man for the job – if there is one.
For convenience, I have grouped like candidates together into three classes. I could have shortened this review by leaving out the Establishment-men, but I decided not to because a lot of Conservative voters seem to be having trouble distinguishing between Conservative and Establishment, and I hope this summary helps open a few eyes.
1. The Political Outliers, or Odd Men Out
These are men who are difficult to pigeonhole within the generally accepted lexicon of American politics, although the term “Conservative” may be carelessly applied to them.
Mike Huckabee –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Sound on both, but doesn’t seem to understand the harm SSM does to real marriage. Is against SSM primarily because of his religious beliefs, and that’s unlikely to carry the day with the general public.
Economic Policy: I couldn’t find anything currently, but going back to 2008, Huckabee’s positions were an inconsistent hodge-podge. He wanted to make college tuition tax deductible, increase wind power, and eliminate all taxes except for a sales tax (source: About News). While Governor of Arkansas, he increased both spending and taxes, according to the Club for Growth, which is never a good sign.
Gun Rights: Seems solid enough. Huckabee is a hunter and in May 1998 received the Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award.
Limited Government: Not in favor. “’If there are a certain number of kids from single-parent homes who aren’t going to school and don’t have health care, you can say that’s not government’s job,’ Huckabee told me. “Well, sweet and fine! But you know what? If the kid’s sitting outside the door of the hospital choking with asthma, do I sit there and say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t think, philosophically, government should get involved’? I’d much rather the kid get help than I sit around and say I’m so pure in my ideology.” – Profile in The New Yorker. In other words, one man’s need is a claim on another’s life – this is the basis of all socialism, and its acceptance marks Huckabee as a Progressive. Also, he was being disingenuous in using an example involving a child: (1) Where are the parents? (2) Conservatives don’t generally object to funding health care for orphans; the real issue involves adults, and generally able-bodied adults at that; and (3) how melodramatic can you get?
If that weren’t enough to classify Huckabee as a man of the Left, as Arkansas Governor he let a convicted felon out of jail with predictable results:
”Huckabee commuted the sentence of Maurice Clemmons, who went on to shoot four police officers in Washington last year. Given the same information he had then, Huckabee says, he would make the same decision. “When I looked at his case, I looked at a twenty-seven-year-old put away for a non-weapon burglary and an aggravated robbery. He had a sentence of a hundred and eight years,” Huckabee said. (From the same New Yorker profile). “He would make the same decision(!)” – ‘nuff said. Never learning from past mistakes is a hallmark of the Leftist.
Disqualifiers: advocates Common Core (wants to rebrand it in an obvious attempt to mislead voters – Glenn Beck blows the whistle here; advocates high levels of immigration; in Arkansas, wanted to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state college scholarships. He has also defended President Obama’s immigration policy.
Nik’s Summary: Huckabee is basically a Progressive who “got religion” and then failed to apply those teachings toward a coherent political philosophy. He resembles a member of the familiar religious Left: “He is Jeb Bush hiding behind the cross” – Glenn Beck. Has the potential to do great damage in 2016 by siphoning off some social conservatives from a better candidate just as he did in 2008, when his candidacy enabled John McCain to get the nomination.
Rick Santorum –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Solid on both, but sounds like an extremist and may alienate many with his choice of words.
Economic Policy: Good in many ways but with odd exceptions, such as his support for the minimum wage, which are the key to understanding Santorum. While all Conservatives understand the importance of the family, Santorum goes well beyond that and favors the use of state power to enforce certain family norms that go well beyond merely believing that marriage means the union of one man and one woman.
Gun Rights: While Pennsylvania Senator, Santorum voted in favor of the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (Bill S 397), but there are some reasons to question just how deep his support of gun rights goes: he voted in favor of trigger locks on handguns and also in favor of “closing the gun show loophole,” i.e. taking away the basic right of the individual to sell his guns without performing useless background checks on the buyer. My estimation is that Santorum would never support extreme measures like gun registration but might become useful to the gun-grabbers by supporting what they euphemistically call “common-sense regulation”.
Limited Government: It is clear that Santorum does not have a coherent theory of limited government – he is perfectly fine with the use of force to achieve those social purposes he deems beneficial. C.C. Writer has termed him a crypto-progressive, which is probably the best one-word description of his philosophy. His basic problem is to see the family as the basic political unit (thus sacrificing individual rights when convenient) instead of only as a vital social unit. You might call this a very strange form of collectivism in which the family has primacy over the individual. In that, Santorum is unique in American politics.
Disqualifiers: I give a full-length analysis in The Problem with Rick Santorum.
Nik’s Summary: Santorum holds too many positions that are anathema to mainstream American voters, and is a singularly ungifted politician, managing to often sound more extreme than he actually is, for example on the question of pre-marital sex. Santorum is much more open about his views than Huckabee, but like Huckabee he has the potential to siphon off some social conservative votes from a better candidate in 2016.
2. The RINOs and Establishment-Men, or The Inglorious Bastards
Jeb Bush –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: o.k. on abortion. Believes SSM to be a state issue, which is technically correct but evinces a certain lack of passion about the issue.
Economic Policy: Few specifics available. Thinks increased immigration will boost the economy(!).
Gun Rights: Supports gun rights, but inconsistently. Like Santorum, he seems amenable to extended background checks, one of the methods the gun-grabbers intend to use to chip away gradually at our gun rights. See the summary below for a linked article covering this issue in more detail.
Limited Government: Obviously does not favor limited government – he vastly increased spending while Governor of Florida and favors massive Federal involvement in education. He has spoken of cutting the rate of growth of government, but obviously does not believe that massive true cuts are necessary.
Disqualifiers: Strong support for Common Core and Amnesty.
Nik’s Summary: As with Santorum, I did a full-length piece on Jeb’s numerous deficiencies in Why Jeb Bush is not a Conservative. Jeb is pure Establishment and therefore would most probably lose to any Democrat, and would certainly fail to significantly alter the nation’s course should he somehow be elected President. One favorable sign is that very few Conservatives have been fooled into thinking Jeb is one of them.
Chris Christie –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: is against abortion with exceptions for rape and incest and is against public funding for abortions. Took a stand against SSM but didn’t exactly fight it tooth and nail: “”Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.” (Report on Fox News). One would hope that a true Conservative would fight against having the law “dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court”.
Economic Policy: In his 2015 State of the State speech, Christie (who is Governor of New Jersey) mentioned the drop in the State’s (U3) Unemployment Rate from 9.7 to 6.4 percent. However, those numbers are basically bogus, since the U3 number simply fails to count people who have given up on looking for work because they can’t find a job, and NJ is still behind the national average in terms of employment. In fact, NJ is in very bad shape, with its credit rating being downgraded eight times(!) during his governorship and with huge unfunded pension liabilities for public-sector workers. Christie at least is resisting the predictable efforts of Democrats to raise taxes even higher than they are now, but he shows no particular interest in free-market solutions to economic problems.
Gun Rights: Christie believes in gun control. NJ has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, harassing gun owners in numerous ways. Currently, Christie apparently supports further restrictions: “Among the changes would be a redefining of some semi-automatic shotguns as “assault firearms” should they possess one of more listed features to include a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a folding stock, or a pistol grip. Currently semi-auto shotguns are only classified as such if they have two or more of these features. This would make several popular home defense and 3-gun competition shotguns such as the Benelli M4 and FN SLP the subject of increased regulation.” (as reported on Guns.com). My take: Christie is aware of how his anti-gun views could hurt him in the 2016 Republican Primaries and so is trying to cover them up somewhat. If he were not interested in running for President, I believe he would have given NJ State lawmakers even more of what they wanted in the way of gun control measures. Plainly, Christie does not believe in the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.
Limited Government: Given his support for gun control and his unwillingness to fight Obamacare, it is hard to imagine that Christie truly believes in limited government, although he did say this during his second inaugural address: “I do not believe that New Jerseyans want a bigger, more expensive government that penalizes success and then gives the pittance left to a few in the name of income equity. What New Jerseyans want is an unfettered opportunity to succeed in the way they define success. They want an equal chance at the starting; not a government guaranteed result.” That is clearly a Conservative principle – was it sincere or merely an overture to get Conservative support? In fairness it must be admitted that a Conservative governor would be hard-pressed to bring any Conservative reforms to a state dominated by far-Left Democrats. This is perhaps a good reason to avoid nominating a governor from a Left-leaning state – it’s hard to know whether his policy failures (e.g. Romneycare in Massachusetts) are due to his own shortcomings or to the terrible hindrance posed by a Democratic legislature.
Disqualifiers: Christie supports “immigration reform” i.e. amnesty. In 2008 he said this: “Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime.” Favors gun control. Does not understand the dangers to this country posed by radical Islam (see Chris Christie’s Islam Problem in NRO).
Nik’s Summary: Every time some Establishmentarian has written an article attempting to portray Christie as a Conservative, it has been immediately shot to pieces by dozens of commentators including yours truly, thus there is little chance that Christie is going to fool Republican Primary voters into thinking he’s some kind of Conservative. At the same time, as a RINO he must compete for support with Jeb Bush, who has more backers among the Establishment, more money, and better organization than he does. With those handicaps, it’s hard for me to imagine that Christie will get very far during primary season, and might well decide against running as much as I’m sure he wants to.
John Kasich –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Kasich is pro-life except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger (San Francisco Chronicle, Apr 4, 1999).
Economic Policy: What a President Kasich’s economic policy might be is suggested by a report in Cleveland.com as to what he will probably do next in Ohio: “That policy likely will include more efforts to reduce the state’s income tax and pressing to lure businesses and job growth to the state.”
Reducing taxes and enticing businesses are all well and good as far as they go, but these should be recognized as measure favored by Establishment-men as well as Conservatives – a point which some people are still confused about. Kasich is clearly not a Conservative when certain other of his views (see below) are taken into account.
Gun Rights: Kasich has been inconsistent on gun rights – while in the House in 1994 he voted in favor of the “assault weapons” ban, but as Ohio Governor he partly redeemed himself by signing H234, a very modest bill that slightly strengthened gun rights in the State. He had also voted in favor of background checks to buy guns at a gun show, one of the ways the gun-grabbers intend to nibble away at our gun rights. In the end, I don’t believe that Kasich sincerely supports the Second Amendment; he merely thinks there are enough gun laws on the books already, which is not the same thing at all.
Limited Government: If you listen to Kasich long enough you will find absolute proof of his basically Progressive convictions.
“Economic growth is great, but there’s one thing that people in my political party don’t always understand. Economic growth is not an end unto itself. Economic growth provides the means whereby we can reach out and help those who live in the shadows.”
What this means is that the individual does not have the right to pursue his own happiness; personal success is only good because it allows us to give money to charity. I remember Arnold Schwarzenegger, a total RINO if ever there was one, saying much the same thing. Or:
“Promoting Obamacare in South Dakota, Montana and several national interviews last week, Kasich touted the Bible chapter’s depiction of judgment based on individual charity as a sweeping endorsement of government programs for the poor.”
Kasich thus appears unable to distinguish between private charity and government confiscation of private property for alleged charitable purposes (Godfather Politics explains the difference).
Disqualifiers: While capable of at least mentioning American’s Judeo-Christian heritage, Kasich’s immigration views have evolved, and we all know what that means: he’s moved to the Left. He was the only governor during the Republican Governors Association’s conference last November to express openly a willingness to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. No real surprise there, as back in 1994 Kasich voted to pass a bill to increase the number of temporary visas granted to highly skilled workers from 65,000 to 115,000 by the year 2000. Clearly Kasich is among the many Republicans who only listen to the Chamber of Commerce and not ordinary American workers.
Nik’s Summary: Odd as it may sound, I discussed Kasich’s failings in Scott Walker on Close Inspection because he took in Ohio the same approach to public-sector costs that Walker did in Wisconsin – an amoral “We can’t afford this” argument that never mentioned taxpayers’ rights – and got clobbered. Kasich is, however, much more a traditional sort of politician than Walker – in other words, I don’t think he can be trusted.
Kasich betrayed Republicans in the State Legislature by supporting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Red State has the story:
“The Republican-led Ohio House stripped the Obamacare Medicaid expansion from the budget Gov. Kasich, a Republican, introduced last February. In place of the expansion, both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate approved language explicitly forbidding it. Kasich expanded Medicaid unilaterally after issuing a line-item veto of the legislature’s ban.”
I submit that someone who could do that is utterly unacceptable for the Republican nomination.
3. Conservatives and Conservative Poseurs
Ted Cruz –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Cruz is strong on abortion, having actually authored an amicus curiae brief for the Supreme Court in defense of the 13 states that were defending the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. At the state level (in Texas), he defended Rider 8, prohibiting state funding for groups that provide abortions. Cruz also strongly supports traditional marriage.
Economic Policy: Cruz wrote about economic policy in an op-ed for the Washington Post:
“And yet, as Democrats work to move the United States further toward the failed economic policies of European social democracies, our economic mobility has diminished. Without fail, when government controls the economy, opportunity dries up…Free-market policies expand opportunity, produce prosperity and improve lives, especially for those working to climb the economic ladder…Republicans shouldn’t just assail excessive financial and environmental regulations; we should explain how those regulations kill jobs and restrict Americans’ ability to buy their first home.”
I am actually encouraged by the lack of specific policies in these declarations, for what I think we most need is a candidate who knows the importance of abstract ideas like freedom vs. socialism and how social democracy is destroying Europe, and Cruz gives every indication of understanding these things. How many other Republicans even speak of the free market?
Gun Rights: NRA executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said this about Cruz: “Ted Cruz is one of our nation’s leading defenders of the Second Amendment. For over a decade, Ted has fought tirelessly to defend our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and his leadership was absolutely critical to our major victories before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Cruz authored another amicus brief in the famous Heller case, in which Progressive gun-grabbers were dealt one of their more serious blows when the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment did indeed confer an individual right to keep and bear arms. Cruz then looks like no squish on gun control but in fact a principled defender of the Second Amendment.
Limited Government: I couldn’t find anywhere a concise statement of political philosophy from Cruz, but he did make some remarks recently at the Iowa Freedom Summit:
”It is exactly why many of us do what we do. We fear for our children and our grandchildren; we fear they will not grow up in a nation where individual God-given rights, freedom and liberty are protected but instead reviled and stripped away leaving misery in its place. We fear our children and grandchildren will suffer immensely at the hands of those indoctrinated by the government. And, we fear that some of our posterity will succumb and abandon the values we hold dear.“
While not specific, again consider the general tone: how many other Republican candidates even use words like “freedom” and “liberty” or mention the dangers of children being “indoctrinated by the government” – practically an attack on government control of education?
Disqualifiers: I’m not going to get into the question of whether Cruz is a natural-born citizen here – the legal issues are complicated and I have not studied them enough to form an opinion. This might not be an issue unless other Republicans challenge Cruz’s eligibility in various state primaries, but we should all be aware of the possibility of a nightmare situation in which Democrats wait until Cruz gets nominated, then challenge his placement on the November ballot in the Federal courts. Should they prevail, Republicans would probably find themselves with a candidate picked by the RNC, almost certainly Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney. I think this scenario is extremely unlikely, but anyone wishing to support Cruz should at least consider the possibility.
Much more serious is the vital question of immigration. While I don’t doubt that Cruz genuinely favors securing the border as he claims on his website, he does not seem to see the danger of continuing the high levels of immigration that have done so much to transform this country for the worse. Here is his position on immigration as I infer it based on an interview by Byron York in The Washington Examiner:
Cruz offered five amendments to the infamous “Gang of Eight” (Los Bandidos Ochos) amnesty proposal.
“The first was border security, which Cruz said the current bill “leaves to the subjective, amorphous discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.” Cruz offered an amendment that would have created a three-year period, during which security would be increased, before the estimated 11 million currently-illegal immigrants could apply for legal status.”
So this amendment put enforcement first, which is all to the good, but then it allowed for an amnesty (I think any bill that allows people to obtain legal status after breaking our immigration laws to enter the country is an “amnesty” as reasonable people would use the term). So Cruz does not see the problem with these 11-million (or more) illegals becoming legal. It’s true that he apparently wants to deny them citizenship (see below), but how that could be done once they were granted legal status is beyond me (cf. the old Newt Gingrich proposal along these lines).
“Two other Cruz amendments would have increased the number of high-skilled temporary workers and the number of total immigrants allowed into this country legally each year. “I am an unapologetic advocate of legal immigration,” Cruz told me…”
Yes, Cruz has fallen for the industry lie that they can’t fill those STEM jobs with us stupid, unqualified Americans and so they just have to import foreign workers who coincidentally will work for half the American rate of pay. He has also unwittingly joined with Democrats to even further squeeze the American middle class – and hey, fair is fair, so if you’re going to destroy the jobs and wages of the American working poor with immigration, it’s only right that we do the same to a good segment of the middle class. Maybe being in the same welfare lines will bring us closer together as a nation.
“Cruz’s final two amendments dealt with the 11 million who are in the country illegally. The first stated flatly that ‘no person who has previously been willfully present in the United States while not in lawful status shall be eligible for United States citizenship.’”
All well and good, but since Cruz had earlier granted these people legal status (see above), what is to become of them? Inevitably the Democrats will pressure continually for them to get “a path to citizenship” and it’s hard to see Republicans resisting. And of course we’ll be stuck with all their children, also.
“The final amendment said that “aliens who have entered or remained present in the United States while not in lawful status shall not be eligible for means-tested benefits.”
Note that they would still be eligible for non-means-tested benefits, which could add up to a tidy sum – to be paid by the American taxpayer.
Cruz wants to double the level of legal immigration – see the video at the 3:28 mark.
Cruz here says of his amendments that he would have doubled the level of legal immigration and increased H1-B visa holders five-fold! That means 325,000 high-tech jobs taken from American and given to immigrants.
It has been suggested that Cruz proposed these amendments as so many “poison pills” to the bill so that it would never pass the Senate, but Cruz has never said so himself and he sounds sincere on the video above. Therefore, I am inclined to take these amendments at face value, that is, as a genuine statement of his position on the immigration issue.
Nik’s Summary: Cruz’s web site provides more details on his positions than most of the other candidates’ websites do, and is certainly worth visiting for anyone wanting to know more about him. Cruz is plainly a full-spectrum Conservative, very capable of formulating a moral argument against the Left. He is practically alone among the candidates in having an actual philosophy of limited government, and I firmly believe that we need a highly intellectual candidate to hit the Democrats where they’re weakest – their bankrupt ideology of statism. So it just about broke my heart to hear Cruz speak about the “need” for more H1-B visas and express a desire to double the level of legal immigration. Why such an intelligent man can’t see that this amounts to further economic problems followed by social unrest and finally national destruction as the Democrats win every national election is a frustrating mystery to me. I can only think that like Establishment Republicans, Cruz has spent too much time listening to the country club/Chamber of Commerce set and not enough listening to the problems of the ordinary citizen. I don’t like to get personal, but the background of Cruz’s wife Heidi raises my suspicions: she received an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and served as a Vice-President of Goldman-Sachs. But even that doesn’t explain why Cruz, along with every open-borders Republican, cannot see that continued high levels of legal or illegal immigration mean the end of the GOP as anything like an opposition party.
Rand Paul –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Paul is against both. His views on SSM seem partly traditional and partly to stem from Federalism, for he sees marriage as a state issue. There is little for the Conservative to quarrel with there.
Economic Policy: Paul supports balancing the Federal Budget. Like his father Ron Paul, he is opposed to the Federal Reserve. I couldn’t find too many other specifics, perhaps because Paul has been so outspoken on other issues.
Gun Rights: Paul mentions his support for the Second Amendment on his website, and seems quite sincere although he does digress slightly by tying it to the Fourth Amendment.
Limited Government: I think we have to admit that Rand Paul is certainly in favor of limited government. Whether he actually has a coherent theory of such a government is another matter. It becomes apparent when looking at Paul’s views on national security and foreign policy that like his father, he is a Libertarian and not a Conservative, and Libertarian theory is anything but coherent. It’s a great pity because on a number of individual issues Paul winds up on the right side even if ultimately for the wrong reasons.
Disqualifiers: Does not see the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran(!), seems willing to support cuts to defense spending, and favors open borders. Those stances are clearly the product of Paul’s basic Libertarianism.
Nik’s Summary: Rand Paul is right on a number of issues, but then so are some of the Establishment-men, and this does not make any of them true Conservatives. (The old joke, dating from the pre-digital era: even a broken clock is right twice a day.) Paul is basically a Libertarian pretending to be a Conservative, although some of his views (e.g. on abortion and SSM) are unorthodox to the extent there is or can be a Libertarian Orthodoxy. Paul may have an appeal to some confused young people and will definitely appeal to Libertarians and some Conservatives. Given his views on foreign policy and national defense, though, I can’t see how he could possibly assemble a winning coalition from among Republican primary voters.
Marco Rubio –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Rubio seems to be a staunch opponent of abortion. He opposed Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court because of her support for Roe v. Wade and because of her mistaken ideas about the Second Amendment. Rubio has strongly disagreed with court decisions making SSM the law of the land by fiat, and believes the question should be in the hands of the states.
Economic Policy: Rubio has spoken about education, advocating some kind of independent accrediting process for colleges and an alternative to student loans, “Student Investment Plans”.
Gun Rights: Rubio seems solid enough here. Here is what he said during a CNN interview: “My position on guns is pretty clear. I believe law-abiding people have a fundamental constitutional right to bear arms. And I believe criminals and dangerous people should not have access to guns. There are laws that protect those two things–but many of these [additional] gun laws are ineffective. They don’t do those things. They either infringe on the rights of law-abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And I’m troubled this debate is about guns. It should be about violence. Violence is the problem, guns are what they’re using.”
Limited Government: Rubio knows how to sound Conservative, but a careful examination leads me to doubt he has a coherent theory of limited government. Consider this statement to NPR, which sounds ambiguous about government programs:
“The success sequence in America says you get an education, you get a good job, you get married, you have children,” Rubio says. “People who do those four things have an incredible level of economic stability.
“But there are millions of people who aren’t going to have one or any of those things,” he says. “They are not going to have an equal opportunity to succeed unless something happens to equalize the situation.
“The question for those of us in public policy is: What can a limited government do to become a part of that solution — not the exclusive solution — but a part of that solution?” Rubio contends.
Rubio, significantly, doesn’t answer his own question. It really sounds as though he wants to be on both sides, in favor of government programs aimed at increasing “opportunity” while at the same time being careful to use the phrase “limited government”.
Disqualifiers: Favors amnesty. It was his co-sponsorship of the notorious “Gang of Eight” Senate Amnesty bill that caused many Conservatives to take another look at Rubio’s supposed Conservative bona fides.
Nik’s Summary: Rubio has taken a number of Conservative positions, yet his claims to Conservatism somehow ring hollow. He may be merely a clever man who knows how to sound like a Conservative to get the crucial support of the Republican Party’s base but whose own views are strictly in accord with the Establishment’s. His position on immigration supports this theory: as mentioned above, he was one of the “Gang of Eight” (whom I refer to as Los Bandidos Ochos, The Eight Bandits) that sponsored the infamous Senate Amnesty bill last year. This indicates one of three things: (1) he cares more about Latino immigrants than current Americans; or (2) he thinks he can ride into the White House carried on a tide of grateful Latino voters should he deliver Amnesty, and is too ambitious to care about how such a project will destroy this country; or (3) he doesn’t understand that Latino voters overwhelmingly love socialism and will always vote for the party of big government, and really believes Karl Rove’s nonsense about them being “natural Republicans”.
Whatever the case, Rubio’s push for amnesty has probably (and fortunately) damaged him beyond repair with the Conservative base, and it’s hard to see him lasting past the first few primaries.
Carly Fiorina –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: From her web site (link below): “Carly believes that life begins at conception; she is pro-life.” And: “Carly believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and she supported California’s Proposition 8.” So Fiorina is sound on both issues.
Economic Policy: From her 2010 Senate candidate web site, we see that she understands the importance of reducing taxes and regulation: “California workers and entrepreneurs will reach their greatest economic potential when we reduce taxes and unnecessary regulatory burdens.” Her specific positions were in favor of extending the Bush Tax Cuts, lowering marginal income tax rates, and eliminating the Death Tax. Given her background, it is perhaps unsurprising that Fiorina seems exceptionally strong on purely economic issue.
Gun Rights: “Carly believes the rights outlined in the Second Amendment are a critical part of our country’s founding principles and that it is the responsibility of our leaders in Sacramento and in Washington to uphold and defend these fundamental rights.” This is good enough as far as it goes; it would be good if we knew for sure that Fiorina would not support “common-sense gun control” which always means an incremental infringement upon gun rights.
Limited Government: I could not find any general statement about this, so we cannot know what Fiorina’s view of government is, or if she even has a coherent philosophy. On all basic issues other than immigration, however, Fiorina looks pretty solid.
Disqualifiers: Here is her position on immigration: “Carly believes that the solution to our nation’s illegal immigration problem must begin with securing our borders. Without secure borders, we cannot begin to have a rational discussion about immigration policy. Technology holds great potential to help in our nation’s security efforts, and Carly believes we should use every tool at our disposal to ensure our borders are secure. At the same time, Carly is also committed to developing an effective visa program and temporary worker program to support legal immigrants who fulfill important roles in our nation’s economy. An effective temporary worker program for seasonal agricultural employees and visa programs for workers in other high-skill, high-demand industries can help us fill what are often dire employment needs.”
This is of course the standard Establishment line: “secure the borders” and then allow millions of uneducated, low-skilled workers to cross it, while also increasing high-skilled unemployment among Americans by allowing more high-tech aliens to enter the country and take their jobs away.
Nik’s Summary: It actually may come as a surprise to many to see Fiorina here, but it is clear that she is considering a run for the White House. I’m guessing here, but I think her calculation is that the Democratic nominee in 2016 will be a woman, either Elizabeth Warren or more likely Hillary Clinton, and that she looks very good compared to either of these two (an underlying assumption being it is easier for voters to understand her differences with another woman than it would be with a man, which is an interesting, if highly debatable, hypothesis). Another hypothesis is that she’s only hoping to do well enough to be considered for the VP slot on the ticket.
Fiorina lost a bid to unseat Senator Barbara Boxer, which is unsurprising in loony-Left California, and for six years was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Now, wealthy businesspeople tend to be Establishment rather than Conservative (this is overwhelmingly the case), and Fiorina’s position on immigration, detailed above, bears this out: Fiorina sees the world basically the same way every other wealthy Establishmentarian businessperson does. She does have what I call “Conservative instincts” but as we have seen with George W. Bush, that isn’t sufficient to make a good President. I believe that as yet another wealthy businessperson, Fiorina would be too vulnerable to the Democratic attack machine to win the general election should she be nominated. During primary season, her greatest handicap might be that not many Republicans outside of California know who she is.
Mike Pence –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Pence’s attack on Planned Parenthood and his support for a law (HB 1123) protecting Indiana residents from being forced to fund abortions through their health insurance plans strongly suggest he is extremely solid on abortion.
In this year’s State of the State message, Pence called for a ban on same-sex “marriage”. Clearly, Pence is not going weak in the knees on SSM the way some Republicans have.
Economic Policy: Indiana’s economy has been doing well relative to the rest of the Midwest under Pence. From his website we read that Pence favors reducing regulation, and he has taken specific steps in this direction including an executive order placing a moratorium on new regulations and ordering a review of existing ones.
Indiana also seems to be in better shape financially than other Midwestern states. Its 2014 credit rating (Standard & Poor’s) is AAA, making it better than those of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, or Wisconsin (Scott Walker fans take note).
Gun Rights: Pence signed HB229, which makes it legal to bring firearms onto school property as long as they remain secured in a vehicle out of sight. This is a welcome step against those idiotic “gun free zones” which do nothing to protect the innocent but can snare good people into technical violations of unreasoning laws. Because there is a certain amount of controversy in doing this, it suggests that Pence is a sincere defender of gun rights.
Limited Government: Pence’s inconsistencies (see “Disqualifiers” below) make it impossible to tell if he truly believes in limited government. He sounds good on the economy and gun rights, then turns around and accepts the Medicaid Expansion and the equivalent of Common Core, and to top it off he now seems intent on establishing a state-run news outlet! Some further criticism of Pence’s record may be found at The Federalist in an article by Joy Pullmann.
Disqualifiers: Pence has given in to the Medicaid Expansion through Obamacare (see Mike Pence gives in and Philip Klein’s story in the Washington Examiner. Klein sums it up this way (and very well, too):
“Myopic Republican governors think they can fool conservatives by gaining token concessions on what remains a government-run healthcare program and calling it “free market reform.” But the Obama administration is playing the long game, realizing that if it keeps adding beneficiaries to the books, big government liberalism wins.”
That is exactly right. The danger of leaving Obamacare in place, or going along with it in any way, is not that the people will learn to like it as the Left preposterously claims, but that too many will become dependent on it while losing their good-quality private insurance, making the Act that much more difficult to repeal. Perhaps those Republican Governors who, when presented with a choice between accepting more largesse from the Federal taxpayer and maintaining any limited-government principles they might have held, have cynically calculated that as state officials they can “take the money and run” while leaving the fight against Obamacare to Republicans holding office at the Federal level, but if so they are derelict in their duty and certainly unworthy of election to Federal office. Obamacare is the most socialistic program in the history of the United States, transforming citizen into subject, and no one who collaborates with its evil can claim to be attempting to conserve traditional American freedom, that is, to be a true Conservative.
Pence’s about-face is particularly troubling when we recall how solid he used to be on this issue. Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to then-Governor Mitch Daniels:
“The Affordable Care Act raised taxes on every Hoosier taxpayer and business (see Table 1), doubled down on an already broken and unaffordable Medicaid system, and, left unchecked, it will destroy all the progress we have made on health care access, not to mention our economic competitiveness and fiscal solvency for our state and country.”
Then there’s Common Core, an educational travesty mostly associated with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. It was brought to Indiana by Pence’s predecessor as Governor, Mitch Daniels, but there as in other states ran into strong Conservative opposition as outraged parents and others found out more about what it really was. In early 2014, Pence signed a bill making Indiana the first state to formally opt out of the Common Core standards. The problem is that Pence has not given any indication he understands why Common Core is anathema to so many people, nor does the law prevent Common Core from being written into the state’s educational standards. Of course, one may question how fair it is to hold Pence responsible for the actions of the two agencies responsible for writing new state standards, the Department of Education and the Center for Education & Career Innovation, but he is the Governor and this issue arouses a lot of passion among Conservatives. (More specifics on the standards themselves may be found in the Indy Star.
Nik’s Summary: Pence looked pretty good to me until, as with Scott Walker, I took a much closer look at him (in this case I was aided by a timely article in NRO linked to above). What I found was deeply disturbing: Pence sold out on the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, taking the money and abandoning the fight against the most liberty-reducing domestic enactment of the entire Obama administration. I personally see this as more serious than the Common Core issue, which could perhaps be explained away as benign neglect on Pence’s part, but many Conservative voters will not be too forgiving a mood come primary season (if I read them right) and I think these issues mean big trouble for Pence.
If I were to hazard a guess about Pence’s transformation, it would be that political ambition – the desire to be President – has led him into a more Establishment-type stance in preparation for managing (not reducing or eliminating) the Federal welfare state.
Rick Perry –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: In 2013, Perry signed a Texas bill restricting abortions (it banned the procedure after 20 weeks, requires abortion clinics to become ambulatory surgical centers, and requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of any clinic at which they provide abortions.
When a Federal judge struck down Texas’ ban on same-sex “marriage” in 2014, Perry criticized the decision, so he seems to be good on both issues.
Economic Policy: The fact that Texas has done much better than most other states during the recent recession and non-recovery (comparisons with California are especially bad for Progressive theory) had given Perry a perhaps-outsized reputation for success in state government. The fact is that Texas, by its Constitution, has a very weak governor, who in consequence probably deserves less praise or blame than he gets depending on whether things are going well or badly. Where Perry deserves great credit is as a salesman for the State of Texas: he relentlessly advertised the state’s favorable business climate to out-of-state industries and organizations and enjoyed considerable success in bringing them to Texas.
Perry does sound the right note on the economy in a vague sort of way, advocating construction of the Keystone pipeline and generally opening up energy resources, reform the tax code, and reduce regulation.
Gun Rights: Texas has an exaggerated reputation as a gun-friendly state (mainly among overheated Leftists who see it, absurdly, as a kind of “wild west” place where rootin’-tootin’ Republican-votin’ yahoos shoot up the town. As a matter of fact, Texas’s gun laws have generally been rather moderate – until recently, it was illegal to carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle there. Still, it’s no surprise that Perry attacked Obama in 2013 for cynically using the Sandy Hook incident as an excuse for more Federal restriction on gun rights. Perry did put his foot in it in 2012 when he said this:
“When it gets back to this issue of taking guns away from law abiding citizens and somehow know this will make our country safer, I don’t agree with that. I think most people in Texas don’t agree with that, and that is a state by state issue frankly that should be decided in the states and not again a rush to Washington, D.C. to centralize the decision making, and them to decide what is in the best interest for the citizens and the people of Florida and Texas. That’s for the people of these states to decide.”
The obvious problem with this is that it sees gun ownership as a privilege to be regulated by the states and implies that gun control at the state level is acceptable, and Perry by saying so gave momentary aid and comfort to the gun-grabbers.
Perry at least lost no time in inviting gun manufacturers to relocate to Texas, in line with the salesmanship I mentioned earlier.
Limited Government: As the above issue discussion suggests, Perry does not seem to have anything resembling a coherent theory of limited government. His approach to different issues is decidedly ad hoc, not proceeding from firmly-held principles. About the best that can be said is that Perry has come to hold a number of sound positions either by a sort of “instinct” (traditional values) or by trial and error.
Disqualifiers: Perry’s great weakness has always been immigration. In 2001, he signed a law that gave in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who met Texas’ residency requirements. Obama’s lawless amnesty has given Perry the opportunity to pose as an immigration hawk, but to me a pose is all it is. Here is Perry on Fox News Sunday by way of On The Issues:
“Well, here’s what I think is very important for Washington to understand: You’re not going to have comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secure. The American people do not trust Washington to do these two things at the same time. They expect the border to be safe & secured. They want to be able to live in their communities and feel like they’re safe.”
In other words, there’s nothing wrong with “comprehensive immigration reform” (i.e. a total Amnesty of millions of illegal aliens) as long as it occurs after the border is “secure”. This is the first dodge of the Republican who favors amnesty but knows it’s poison to the Conservative base of the party.
Nik’s Summary: In 2012, sensing that the weakness of the Republican field had left him an opening, Perry entered the race, gaining support from Conservative Republicans who by then were desperate to find a remotely acceptable candidate. But Perry’s opportunism was obvious, as was his lack of preparedness to discuss the issues. There is no doubt that Perry is a somewhat more polished performer this time around, but for my money he’s still a salesman who has boned up on a product catalog prepared by the company’s more-knowledgeable technical personnel. Is he slick enough to sell himself to Republican primary voters? That for the moment remains an unanswered question. Of course his views on immigration should disqualify him in the eyes of many voters once they learn about them.
Jeff Sessions –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Having voted in favor of bills prohibiting minors from crossing state lines to get abortions without having to notify parents and barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions, Sessions seems reliable enough here. He also voted in favor of an amendment to ban same-sex “marriages” and has stated his belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.
Economic Policy: I couldn’t find much in the way of details, but Sessions does appear to understand the need for lower taxes and less spending.
Gun Rights: Sessions is rated A+ by the NRA, and I can’t find anything in his voting record that contradicts that. He voted against expanding background checks at gun shows, in favor of prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers where their products were misused by others, and in favor of allowing guns in checked baggage on AMTRAK trains.
Limited Government: As with so many others, there is little in the record concerning broad philosophical statements. I can find nothing objectionable in his Senate voting record, however – he voted against the bank bailouts in 2008, when many other Republicans deserted whatever free-market principles they might have had, believes in drilling in ANWAR, and joined Ted Cruz and 17 others in trying to stop funding for Obamacare.
Disqualifiers: Has shown no interest in running and would be a long shot against any Democratic nominee.
Nik’s Summary: Sessions has not announced any intention to run for President, and in fact is only here for one reason: he has shown time and again that he “gets it” on the crucial issue of immigration, and not one of the other candidates has done so.
Sessions is very likely the best candidate we could find this year, which probably means he’s not electable. Democrats would certainly dredge up old allegations of racism, all of which appear to be unfounded, dating back to Sessions’ days as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.
Bobby Jindal –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: As Governor of Louisiana, Jindal signed two bills similar to the Texas enactment (see the section on Rick Perry) which have had the effect of closing abortion clinics because they can’t meet the standards.
Very recently, Jindal has said that the states should be able to define marriage as they see fit (The Washington Times).
Economic Policy: I can find virtually nothing specific about Jindal’s economic policies. One report stated that he would be more popular if he could explain his policies better, but gave no details. Louisiana’s business climate does have a higher ranking than it did in 2008 when Jindal became governor, but again the details are sketchy. Forbes mentions lower business costs and an improved regulatory environment. The Governor’s official web site mentions tax cuts but once again provides no details.
Gun Rights: In 2013, Jindal signed 6 gun-related bills (SB 135, HB 717, HB 6, HB 8, HB 98, and SB 178). While this looks impressive, the bills did little to enhance the gun rights of ordinary citizens. The first two required increased background checks, the third allows off-duty law-enforcement officers (but no one else) to carry firearms on school property, the 4th is really a privacy law preventing the release of information from concealed-carry permit applications, the 5th allows sheriffs to enter into reciprocity agreements (apparently gun permits are not valid across Parish lines), and the last makes voter registration forms available at firearms retailers, a kind of Conservative answer to “motor voter” laws. Therefore, Jindal cannot be regarded as a staunch supporter of the right to bear arms based on this record, although it is unlikely he would support any outrageous gun-grabbing attempts.
Limited Government: I can’t find any indication that Jindal has a truly coherent theory of limited government. From a 2009 speech, we have this:
“To strengthen our economy, we also need to address the crisis in health care. Republicans believe in a simple principle: No American should have to worry about losing their health coverage – period. We stand for universal access to affordable health care coverage. We oppose universal government-run health care. Health care decisions should be made by doctors and patients – not by government bureaucrats. We believe Americans can do anything – and if we put aside partisan politics and work together, we can make our system of private medicine affordable and accessible for every one of our citizens.”
Most of this is standard boilerplate – fine as far as it goes, but it’s still a kind of laundry list, and one might question what “universal access” without “universal government-run health care” means in practice.
And I am very troubled by something he said to Politico: “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.” Got that – what people earn are “toys” that the rich get to keep only so long as someone doesn’t decide to use a legal gun to rob them? Perish forbid that the government protect private property if it happens to belong to a wealthy person! It may well be latent Progressivism that has so often led Jindal to make disappointing speeches after seeming moments of promise.
Disqualifiers: Although Jindal seems to understand the dangers of specifically Muslim immigration, he along with just about every Republican office-holder is laboring under the delusion that a misguided “compassion” for people who want to come to American should guide our immigration policy:
“What I mean by that is we make it very difficult for people to come here legally. We make it very easy for people to come here illegally. As the son of immigrants, I think that, certainly, a lot of people think we should let more people come in to our country because it’s compassionate for them, and it certainly is,” said the 42-year-old Republican leader whose parents were immigrants from Punjab.
“I think we should also let more people come into our country legally because it’s good for us. When people want to come here, work hard, get an education, play by the rules, that’s good for America.“
This is strikingly similar in content although not in language to Scott Walker’s view. There is the same unthinking assessment that somehow immigration is an automatic good, never to be questioned, and that somehow the we’re not letting in enough immigrants (“we make it very difficult for people to come here legally”) at a time when 1,000,000 third-world immigrants are allowed in every year! If I had to hazard a guess, it may be that Jindal is familiar with the horrific slaughter of Hindus by Muslims in his ancestral country of India (a slaughter which of course continues to this day at a slower pace with acts of Islamic terrorism). Would that he were as familiar with the economic effects of flooding the American labor pool with millions of low-skilled workers, and the political effects when these lovers of socialism begin voting Democratic.
Nik’s Summary: Jindal has a habit of disappointing Conservatives after raising their expectations. And we must ask why, if he’s a successful governor, is his approval rating so low? (As of 1/23/2015, he stands at 46% approve, 45% disapprove, and that’s an improvement over two years ago when he was down at 38%). Of course it might simply be that Louisiana isn’t doing well economically due mainly to Obama’s policies and falling oil prices (this last is definitely a factor). In a colloquy on NRO with an anti-Jindal partisan from Louisiana (his post has since been removed) I asked for specifics as to what he didn’t like about the Governor. His objections were:
- Budget shortfalls leading to cuts in education and health care. My take: the shortfalls are due to falling oil receipts, and cutting services rather than raising taxes is the correct response.
- The State University system is under financial distress. Lacking the time to investigate this thoroughly, I’m not willing to assume this is Jindal’s fault. Many state university systems are in financial difficulties.
- Hospital Privatization alleged not to be saving money: My take, after consulting Becker’s Hospital Review, is that while privatization is saving less money than projected ($100 million instead of $140 million) it is still saving money. This makes more sense than the idea that the government can run something (anything) more efficiently than private business.
- Cutting hospice benefits for Medicaid patients: this undoubtedly took place, but the reason was falling revenues. I will repeat that when tax revenues go down because of economic conditions, the correct response is to cut spending, not increase taxes, and I can’t fault Jindal for doing at the state level what we’re going to have to do at the Federal level if we want to avoid fiscal collapse.
- School Vouchers: This looks like a mixed bag: taxpayers have saved some money, but voucher students are getting lower scores than their peers in public schools. However, it should be remembered that to qualify for the vouchers, the public school the student is enrolled in must be failing; thus some of these students may be bringing with them the cause of their former school’s failure. It does appear that the vast majority of parents are happy with their voucher schools, and while school vouchers are not the ideal solution (a system of private education is), they may be a step in the right direction.
So it could be that many of the Democratic Left are unhappy merely because their preferred approach, which is wrong, is not being followed. But it is also possible that in the end Jindal is a mediocrity, another conventional politician with the ability to occasionally sound interesting but no more. In any case, his desire for increased third-world immigration is enough to disqualify him completely.
Addendum: Just before this article “went to press,” Jindal wrote a very good op ed in Politico on the necessity of Republicans being more than Democrats-lite on health care. It sounded genuinely Conservative themes and was distinctly anti-Establishment GOP – if this is the real Jindal and not a ghost writer then he deserves some further consideration.
Scott Walker –
Abortion and Same-Sex “Marriage”: Walker has been consistent in his opposition to abortion. In 2013 he signed a bill requiring doctors to have hospital admitting privileges (cf. Rick Perry in Texas).
Walker had been against SSM going back to his days as Milwaukee Country executive, but when a Federal judge struck down the Wisconsin State Constitution’s ban on SSM in 2014 Walker suddenly became reticent: he refused to state his position (see the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). It’s not as if the point is moot, either – the State Attorney General has appealed the decision. I have to think Walker has decided to waffle on the issue because public opinion has been shifting in favor of SSM (that’s what happens when you fail, as Republicans have, to make a principled case against it, and this is one of my long-standing criticisms of Walker and the Republican Establishment generally).
Economic Policy: So much attention has been lavished on Walker’s battle with public-sector unions that few have any idea what his other economic policies might be (if requiring public-sector workers to make a small contribution to their own benefits can be called an economic policy), and after searching through a number articles, I still don’t know. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate isn’t that bad compared to other Midwestern states, but other metrics, such as job creation and creditworthiness are far less favorable – Indiana is in much better shape, as I mentioned when discussing Mike Pence.
Gun Rights: Walker signed concealed carry and “castle doctrine” bills into law. He would seem therefore to be “safe” on gun control, although interestingly one commentator noted that Walker favors open borders, which means millions of new Democratic voters supporting a rabidly anti-gun Democratic Party.
Limited Government: Walker has absolutely no coherent theory of limited government, and typically approaches every question from a purely fiscal standpoint – what I have termed the “green eyeshade approach”. This is most apparent in his fight with the public-sector unions over their benefit costs, which I detailed in Scott Walker on Close Inspection. At no time did he speak of the rights to taxpayers to have their government cost as little as possible; instead, realizing that the state couldn’t come up with the money to pay for the public sector’s lavish benefits, he supported Act 10 to make public employees contribute more to them.
Disqualifiers: Walker claims not to support amnesty, but in the end favors the same thing without the hated (by most Americans) word “amnesty”: he has stated that anyone should be able to come to America (see the long article linked to above).
Nik’s Summary: To his credit, Walker has rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin. I wish I could say definitively that he did so as part of an effort to resist Obamacare’s implementation, but the possibility exists that he has simply calculated the long-term costs will outweigh the Federal loot on the table at the moment – in other words, costs will go up faster than subsidies, a reasonable assessment but a less-principled reason to resist the expansion. He also has tenacity, refusing to give ground on Act 10. He has partially defunded the unions, whose membership is down. Upon this, and the supposed balancing of the State Budget (which, by the way, never happened), does his supposed Conservatism rest.
I maintain that merely supporting such relatively small measures as Act 10 (and they were small measures, despite the “nuclear” response of the Democrats and their unions) does very little to actually move government to the Right (make it smaller and less powerful) because the unions can still engage in collective bargaining and the Democrats can still buy as many votes as ever – a point that perhaps deserves a separate article. Nothing that Walker and Wisconsin Republicans have done cannot be undone within minutes the moment Democrats retake control of the State, and more to the point, nothing they have done makes a future Democratic victory less likely with the single exception of reducing forced contributions to the Party from public-sector workers. Furthermore, they haven’t solved the State’s budget problems – they’re facing a reported $2.2 billion shortfall, which is another reason I maintain Act 10 was small potatoes and not some great Conservative triumph justifying the enthusiasm of Walker fanboys.
As this was being written, Walker unveiled his 2015-2017 State Budget. Should Walker actually succeed in cutting Wisconsin’s bloated budget, he will have achieved something more substantial than Act 10 ever was: an actual cut in the size (and therefore the power) of government. If he does that, he will have more of a claim to the “Conservative” mantle than he does at the moment, but that’s a bit “If”: So far, it appears Walker’s savings come principally from reducing funding for the University of Wisconsin system. Now there is nothing wrong, in principle, with cutting education spending, but it means (1) Act 10’s reforms weren’t sufficient to balance the Wisconsin budget (a point which cannot be repeated too often, at least until it begins to penetrate the minds of Walker fanboys), and (2) social spending (welfare programs) apparently won’t be touched, and that’s where the money is. If Walker can’t cut social spending in Wisconsin, what makes anyone think he could do so as President?
Furthermore, at $70 billion, this will be the largest budget in state history. That hardly suggests Walker has spending under control. It also appears a gas tax hike is on the table, although Walker has not signaled his approval.
Walker’s approach to politics seems to me decidedly un-intellectual and amoral – the hallmark of the Establishment-man – and I consider him the most dangerous of the Establishment candidates because so many Conservatives believe that he’s one of us (it is only out of a perhaps misplaced concern for their feelings that I have listed Walker here rather than under the “Establishment” sections). A Walker nomination would, in my opinion, result in probable and predictable defeat against almost any Democrat; a Walker Presidency would without doubt be a colossal disappointment.
Researching this summary has been an extremely discouraging experience. Not the RINOs and Establishment-men, except for their sheer number and their dominance within the GOP – I expected nothing of them – but the ostensible or self-proclaimed “Conservatives”. Is there no man among them whose honor is greater than his ambition? Who has not swallowed the poisonous idea that immigration is always a good thing, no matter the numbers, the skills, or the political beliefs of the immigrants, who will one day become “citizens”? Who aren’t in reality either Establishment-men or Libertarians pretending to be Conservatives?
To repeat their deficiencies: Jeb Bush, Walker, Rubio, Fiorina, and Perry are basically Establishment-men; Rand Paul is a Libertarian; Cruz is in favor of increasing immigration, Sessions isn’t running, Jindal appears unreliable and believes we’re making it too hard for more immigrants to enter this country, and Pence seems to have fallen prey to personal ambition.
It isn’t necessary in a survey such as this that the author provide any recommendations – “we research, you decide” is good enough – but the sad thing is I couldn’t make any whole-hearted recommendations in any case. I will say that intellectually, Cruz stands at the head of the pack, but is infected with “immigration-itis” while Sessions is the best man on immigration but apparently has no interest in running. That leaves us Conservatives on the horns of a dilemma: do we once again support the least-terrible option among the candidates (much as most of us came around to Mitt Romney in 2012), or do we try to draft Sessions or perhaps someone else? Do we go with Cruz and hope we can dampen his enthusiasm for invading hordes of immigrants, or with Pence and hope he remembers his (former?) Conservative principles? Whatever we do, we have to make sure we block the RINOs and Establishment-men from getting the nomination.
Nik is a freelance writer, former professor, and has written for FrontPage Magazine.
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