It’s Time to Choose

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I am a mess.

I am a terrible father, a crappy husband (ask my ex-wives), and a difficult employee. I do a lot of things poorly. Most things, in fact. Especially the things I “have” to do. Authority irritates me.

While I’m terrible at following plans, I write a week’s worth of blogs on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The pattern keeps me sane. Or semi-sane. I supplement those when events warrant. Which isn’t very often.

And I’m irritated when it is.

I’m more irritated when I have to blog about being wrong. Or admitting I  pre-judged something. So I’m writing now with a lot of irritation coursing through my Irish veins, along with some whiskey. (Excuse the typos.)

An email received tonight threw me for a loop.

Phyllis Schlafly has been one of my heroes since . . . I can remember. I disagree with Mrs. Schlafly on exactly one issue, which will remain between us. Like William F. Buckley, Phyllis is a conservative touchstone to whom we can turn with confidence that she will point us in the right direction.

As someone who’s doubted Donald Trump’s conservative bonafides, I was shocked to read this:

Phyllis Schlafly, an icon of the conservative movement who has been active for half a century, is warning the nation: Donald Trump is the last hope for America.

Donald Trump donated lots of money to the Clintons. He said nice things about Barack Obama. He promoted socialized medicine. He built his real estate business with crony capitalism. And Phyllis Schlafly is endorsing him?

I can’t question Mrs. Schlafly’s judgment. So I have to ponder the message.

Trump is the “last hope for America.”

Last hope. Last hope. Last hope.

The phrase ricochets around my brain like a ping pong ball shot into a Pringles can. “Last hope.”

How screwed are we? 

My first real political moment was 1974 when Nixon resigned. Nixon was a rotten president who used the power of his office to destroy political opponents, take America off the gold standard, back out of Bretton Woods, and impose wage and price controls. The anti-conservative.

Yet Richard Nixon campaigned for Barry Goldwater at least as enthusiastically as Ronald Reagan did. As Patrick J. Buchanan recently wrote (and PJ was there):

Nixon pivoted swiftly to repair the damage, offered to introduce Goldwater to the convention, did so in a brilliant speech, then campaigned harder for Mr. Conservative than did Barry himself.

As a Gen X conservative, I like to throw Nixon under the bus. But Nixon and I had a remarkable correspondence in the late 1980s. The Dickster even sent me an autographed copy of In The Arena. He wasn’t all bad.

The true story of Nixon comes to mind as I read Mrs. Schlafly’s interview. I’m reminded of the other hero of Goldwater’s campaign: Ronald Reagan.

Most Americans were shocked to learn Reagan was a Republican in 1964. The insiders knew it, but the general population did not. Reagan was a lifelong union man and a Roosevelt fan. And a Hollywood actor. 

Even Republican insiders wondered whether Reagan’s Goldwater speech was sincere or theatrics. (I heard from a woman who was at the 1976 convention in Kansas City that Reagan lost the delegate fight to Gerald Ford because people doubted his party allegiance. He’d been a Democrat for so long.)

After four years of Jimmy Carter’s ineptitude, conservatives from three factions took a gamble. The foreign policy hawks, the fiscal conservatives, and the moral majority said, “Reagan is close enough.” The three factions pointed their spears at the Democrats, united behind Reagan, won 49-state landslides, defeated the Soviet Union, ended the Cold War, reduced the influence of government, and proved that one man could handle the job of Leader of the Free World.

Tonight we face another seminal moment in history. For all intents and purposes, the Republican primary is down to two men: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz is the Robert Taft of 2015. Cruz’s ideology is pure. He makes Reagan look like a squish. Cruz is brilliant. He sold our philosophy to the Supreme Court nine times. (Ted Olsen envies Cruz.)

If I alone chose the next president, I would choose Ted Cruz. 

But I don’t choose alone. I choose along with 320 million other Americans. I hope they choose Cruz–in their homes, in their congressional districts, in their states.

The Republican primary system is messy and difficult to measure. In some states, a primary winner gets all the state’s delegates. In other states, delegates are apportioned according to the relative distribution of votes. And in some states, like Missouri, delegates are awarded by US Congressional district results. If Ted Cruz wins the primary in MO CD2, he gets MO CD2’s delegates.

The point is, Bill Hennessy doesn’t choose the GOP nominee for president.  So I have to deal with the reality of politics.

And the reality is that Donald Trump connects with more voters than anyone alive right now. He does. Arguing otherwise is just stupid.

I have a lot of problems with Trump, not the least of which is that my wife and at least one of my sons hate him. Even writing this post risks a week  of sleeping on the couch. But I type on. I type on.

Phyllis Schlafly speaks for many millions of Americans when she says:

“He [Trump] does look like he’s the last hope [for America],” Schlafly said. “We don’t hear anybody saying what he’s saying. In fact, most of the people who ought to be lining up with him are attacking him. They’re probably jealous of the amount of press coverage he gets. But the reason he gets so much press coverage is the grassroots are fed up with people who are running things, and they do want a change. They do want people to stand up for America. It really resonates when he says he wants to ‘Make America Great Again.’”


I hate to think America is down to its last hope. I have two boys in the US Navy. I want them standing as guardians of freedom, not as warriors in a last battle for a dying republic. So this is personal.

I’m not quite ready to declare my allegiance to Donald Trump. I am totally prepared to declare my alienation from the Republican establishment. And if Trump is the only man who can destroy that tumor on American greatness, I will become a Trump man.

If Trump’s good enough for Phyllis Schlafly, well, maybe Trump is good enough for me.

I think we should reflect on the Reagan of 1976.

In America, there’s always a second chance.

Unless we’re down to our last hope. 

Choose wisely, voters. Choose wisely.



The GOP Establishment Is a Cancer on America

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, appearing Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” said that “of course” he would back Trump, should he emerge triumphant at next year’s GOP convention in Cleveland. “We need to be unified, we need to win,” Bush said.

The Washington Post, September 3, 2015

The Republican Establishment has exposed itself as a political disease willing to kill its host. Unless we seek treatment and remove the tumor first. Some ideas below.

Here are three symptoms of disease:

1. Uncontrollable Bleeding from Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush is flirting with breaking his pledge to support the Republican nominee for president. And the only consequences he’s worried about are the consequences to Jeb Bush. America can go to hell as far as Jeb’s concerned.

Let that sink in. The man who demanded Trump sign a pledge to support the Republican nominee will break the very same pledge if Trump is the nominee.  Unless breaking the pledge hurts Jeb.

Got that, Republicans? “If you nominate Trump, we’ll destroy our own party.” Ace of Spades points out the blatant hypocrisy:

Thus the double-standard so many complain about: The Establishment tells the grassroots not to make demands, and to remain loyal to the party no matter how little of its agenda is pressed for, while the Establishment and the pampered corporate wing feel pretty damn comfortable serving up ultimatums and splitting from the party if their agenda isn’t eagerly serviced.

For weeks, Jeb Bush has shouted, “Donald Trump is not a serious candidate.” Really, Jeb? If Trump is not serious with 30 percent support, what does that make you with 3 percent?

Readers know that I have issues with Trump, but The Donald is at least 10 times more serious a candidate than Jeb Bush.

Trump and Bush signed the same loyalty oath to the GOP. Now, Bush says he might break it.


Jeb Bush has lost his mind.

2. The National Committee Suddenly Turned Dark

In a similar way, the Republican National Committee held secret meetings a few weeks ago in which the committee reportedly worked up plans to steal the convention away from Trump should he win the most delegates.

Mitch McConnell was present at the meeting, but he said nothing. He’ll let the committee members do his dirty work.

The Republican National Committee has been radicalized for the establishment.

3. A Budget Deal to Eat Out Your Substance

And last we come to the Paul Ryan budget–a bloated, politically correct travesty designed to win favor with King Obama and Princess Pelosi. [Update: The GOP Budget drove conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly to endorse Donald Trump. And I’m not far behind.]

Conservatives complain that the Congressional Republicans refuse to stand up to Obama. They’re wrong, of course. House and Senate Republicans will gladly fight the White House. They will risk a government shutdown. And they just proved it with this budget.

Establishment Republicans will shut down the government to protect their corporate overlords. They just won’t risk any political capital for their hoi polloi constituents.

Corporatists wanted increased immigration and a lift on oil export ban. They got both.

Obama threatened to veto the oil export ban lift, but your friendly neighborhood Republican leaders stood up to the White House. If they hadn’t, their sponsors might skip a $25,000 super PAC contribution or two, and no Establishment power-freak would risk that.

In the end, the Democrats got just about everything they wanted in the budget, as shown in this tweet:

The GOP also funded Planned Parenthood, stripped funding for the border fence, and fully funded Obamacare.

And every Missouri Republican voted for the budget or the rule or both. Every single one of them.

What To Do About It

Unlike the GOP candidates for president, none of us signed a loyalty pledge. So let’s begin by refusing to support or vote for any member of Congress who voted for the Omnibus Budget. (You can see how they voted here.)

That means actively supporting a third-party candidate in the general election election next year if the incumbent wins the primary. Are you willing to do that?

It also means using leverage and making your leverage known.

In Navy bootcamp, our company commanders (now called Recruit Division Commanders) used leverage well. They put the burden on the recruits themselves. If one recruit screwed up, the whole company (or division) was punished.

The system worked. Fellow recruits could punish screw-ups in ways RDCs could not. And recruits had more eyes and ears looking for potential screw-ups than the RDCs had. Thus, many screw-ups were prevented.

One way for grassroots conservatives to apply leverage is to make a formal pledge and stick to it. Last year, I pledged to cast zero Republican votes in any race if Jeb Bush is the nominee.

My lone act of defiance means nothing. But one thousand people in Ann Wagner’s district would. Ten thousand such pledges would cost several Republicans elections.

Loyalty Is Killing Us

Any conservative loyal to the GOP is disloyal to conservatism because the GOP is disloyal to conservatism. The GOP is loyal only to its sponsors: Wall Street, huge multi-national corporations, and large individual donors. Their sponsors have loyalty only to their own wealth. They are not ideological, but they pay for a lot of phony research designed to stimulate ideological passions.

For instance, three corporations–General Electric, Philips, and Sylvania– stimulated the passions of environmentalists by sponsoring pseudo-science claiming compact fluorescent bulbs are better for the environment than incandescent bulbs. In fact, CFLs do up to 26 percent more damage to the environment (and to people) than incandescents, but CFLS were more profitable for GE. Environmentalists were stimulated by research to work against the planet to support GE’s stockholders.  Since GE does not pay federal taxes, profits are wonderful things.

So, I’ll renew my pledge: if Jeb Bush is the GOP nominee, I will cast no Republican votes in November 2016. None. My little act of defiance may not do much, but I won’t be feeding the Republican tumor.


You can have your say in the comments.