Rules for Choosing a President.

The White House

The White House

Knowing my interest in politics, I've had a few people ask me to give them a break down of the different candidates. I've been trying to figure out the best way to do that as I like to inform people of the issues rather than tell them who they should vote for. It's caused me to think through how I choose  presidential candidate to support. 

There are a lot of different theories on choosing a presidential candidates. The establishments of both the Democrat Party and the Republican Party will tell you the what you need to do is choose a centrist candidate who has appeal to win over Independents and even some people in the other party. This has worked in the past, as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were centrists, Bush with his "compassionate conservatism" and Clinton with his "Third Way",  who managed to win presidential elections* (Though, Bush won his first election on a technicality). Party activists will tell you a different story. They say they base of the party need to be inspired by a pure candidate to make activists of them and spread their message. On the right there are two variations of this "purity rule", the first one is from William F. Buckley, dubbed "The Buckley Rule" , "you pick the most conservative [or most liberal] candidate that can win." In other words, there's no point in choosing a very ideological candidate that can't win an election. A more recent rule is from radio host Rush Limbaugh or "The Limbaugh Rule" is "you pick the most conservative [or most liberal] candidate to inspire the base." In other words, candidates personal mannerisms and eccentricities are just superficial, if they've got the right values, that is what's going to make the base get excited, start telling people about their candidates, etc. 

Neither Mr. Buckley or Mr. Limbaugh coined their "rule" names, that was done by the media, and I'm sure they would agree it's more complicated than that. In a series of posts, I'm going to outline my rules for choosing a President. Today, I'm going to give a general overview and in the coming days, I'll be delving deeper into each one. Next week, I will give outlines on each on candidates viability within each of these rules. 

Rule #1: The Candidate Must Share My Values: If the candidate does not share my values, it's a non-starter for me. I'll go deeper into how I came into understanding my political views, but I'll just say from the outset I am a conservative with some libertarian leanings on certain issues. I do not see the government as the solution to every problem Americans face. In fact, more often than not, government tends to mess things up. As it stands now, based on their view that government CAN be and often IS the solution to problems we face, I am not going to vote for most Democrats right off the bat. So that leaves Republicans and Independents I can choose from. But if you think just because someone is apart of the party you generally agree with that means they automatically share your values, think again! Unfortunately there is a culture of establishmantarianism in both parties in Washington, I'll go into more detail as to what that means, but the short definition is people who want to keep things the way they're going.  The one thing committed liberals and committed conservatives agree on is that's not good enough anymore.

Rule #2: The Candidate Must Have the Capacity to Be A Good President. Well, duh. This is a question of temperament more than values. A president has to be a leader, a diplomat, a commander-in-chief, a thinker, they wear a variety of hats and it takes a special kind of person to do all of those things well. When I look at candidates, I ask myself, what kind of person is this? What is, to quote Martin Luther King Jr, "The content of their character"? Were I a liberal, I wouldn't even consider Hillary Clinton as I don't think she's a person of upstanding character and it's not because she's a Democrat, I think that of a Republican candidate too that I will discuss later. But someone who has been caught in lies multiple times, who is constantly trying to obfuscate information to hide whatever it is they're hiding is not worthy of the office of President. We've got to recognize that just because anyone can become President of the United States, doesn't mean everyone should. It takes a very special person to be a successful leader of the free world. 

Rule #3: The Candidate Needs to be Viable in their Primary: This takes understanding who the primary audience is. In my case, I vote in the Republican Primary. I may like a particular candidate, but they may not be able to get through their primary for whatever reason: they took a liberal position on an issue, they don't have money to compete, etc. This cycle, I like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, he's a great candidate and is running a pretty good campaign, but as of now he doesn't have the money to compete at the top. That could change, but right now it's not worth considering Governor Jindal because he's going to have a hard time winning his primary. If the candidate is an independent this point is moot, Independents don't have primaries. If it's a candidate for office to represent us in the state of California (State Assemblyman, State Senator, U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, Governor), this point has a different calculation. In California we have a "Jungle Primary" where all of the candidates from all parties compete for the top 2 positions. It means we could very well have 2 Democrats that end up being the final 2 candidates for Governor or Senator. 

Rule #4: The Candidate Needs to be Viable in the General Election: A candidate can share my values, they could potentially be a good president, a candidate can win their primary, but if they can't win a general election there's no point in supporting them. Unlike the establishmentarians in both parties, I don't believe moderation is a good way to win a general election, look at the establishment moderates that have been presidential candidates: Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John Kerry, John McCain, Mitt Romney. At the same time though, there are two glaring examples of "purity" that have lost too: Barry Goldwater for the Republicans and George McGovern for the Democrats. I think the best type of candidate is someone who is committed to their values, but is able to communicate them in a way that inspires people: Ronald Reagan did this, Barack Obama did this. Reagan was a committed conservative who was able to inspire a large segment of the American people by presenting them in a simple, positive, optimistic way. Likewise, Obama was able to project a simple positive optimistic message while remaining true to his values (He campaigned on a tax increase, something that killed Democrat campaigns in the past if it was even suggested.)

So, those are my rules for choosing a president! In my next post, I'll delve deeper into the question of values and give an overview of the main political philosophies that dominate the American system today. 

Posted on November 4, 2015 .

The candidates worth writing off.

Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz are the only candidates that need to be considered for the Republican nomination at this point. People can support whomever they'd like, but with all due respect to the Washington DC Republican establishment, Jeb Bush will never be president. However silly and buffoonish Donald Trump can be, he is right in this instance, there is absolutely no energy driving Bush's campaign. Like his father, Jeb's a little but of a wonk and a stiff, it's time he and his Bushworld staff recognize that and step aside. The two things driving Jeb!'s campaign are entitlement, it's "his turn" to be president, and his last name. It would be good for Marco Rubio, the man who should be the establishment's standard bearer, if Bush didn't endorse him.

As for Carly Fiorina, she had a real opportunity to seize momentum following her magnificent debate performance, but like Trump she has a glaring problem: she can't apologize. Rather than admit some of her past positions when running for office were incorrect and politically calculated, she has tried justifying them. She has also gotten into the weeds of her business career and tried justifying every move there too. She needs to be honest, "I was too bold for HP," should be her answer, "And business values safe, they value prudent, but sometimes in order to fix something, you need to go big and in the short term that's going to look bad, but over the long haul it's going to bring health and vitality, look at HP today, computers are the biggest part of their business, I made the decisions to make that possible and it cost me personally in the short run, but it benefitted the company in the long run." That's admirable and a take on her tenure that several analysts have. As for sending jobs overseas, rather than saying in effect, "that's just business." She could have come up with a much better answer, "I hated and dreaded every lay off I had to approve and cringed watching the accounting department prepare final checks, unfortunately, government with their pals in big labor have made manufacturing the in the United States extraordinarily difficult, it's too bad because we have the best workforce on planet earth. As a CEO, I had a responsibility to the shareholders of the cooperation to make it as cost effective as possible. As president, I will have a responsibility entrusted to me by the American people, and I promise, I will propose reforms that will make manufacturing more simple, and less expensive so no CEO has to face the kind of choices I had to make when I was at HP." Fiorina, with the gift of the gab could have delivered all of this masterfully and believable, unfortunately, she squandered her boost. She will not be president. 

And then we've got Rand Paul, the man who threw in with the establishment while trying to hold on to the libertarian element of the party. The people who supported his father in 2012 and 2008 have mostly gone to Ted Cruz leaving Paul with no chance of becoming president. His chief mistake was befriending Mitch McConnell and campaigning for him in Kentucky. This alliance has left the impression that Paul will do and say anything to be a more palatable candidate to the establishment Republicans than his father was. Rand Paul, was of course, a top tier candidate just a few months ago, when he tried taking on Donald Trump, he sunk even further in the polls. Paul is headed nowhere near the White House and would be better off focusing on his Senate bid. 

Who could forget about Chris Christie the man with no compass, who's chief qualification was apparently he was "outspoken", "brash", and "Jeresy". But who needs Jersey when you've got an outspoken, brash, genuine article Manhattanite in the race? The truth is Chris Christie should have ran in the 2012 race, even if he had lost, he would have been in a much better position this time around. It kind of seems like his moment has passed. He can only hope that if Rudy Giuliani decides to pass on being the next Republican attorney general, he'll be second choice. 

There's no point in mentioning John KasichBobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki,  or Jim Gilmore as they never had a shot. 

Posted on October 21, 2015 .

Senator Rubio's advantage: Sincerity.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R - FL)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R - FL)

Two candidates announced their campaigns for president the last two days, one was an experienced former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State who has run for president before. The other was another first term senator. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made official what has been painfully obvious for quite some time: she's running for president again. Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio launched his first bid and the contrast goes beyond their experience. 

Young and old

Male and Female

Latino and White

Policy heavy and Policy light. 

But I would argue there's another contrast at play here between these two candidates: sincere and insincere. Hillary's announcement sounded like a bunch of her advisors got together, took some of Obama's greatest hits and mixed them with some rhetoric more familiar from Elizabeth Warren and gave it to Hillary a few minutes before to read off a computer screen: “Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion,” she says unconvincingly in her announcement video. Washington Post's Ruth Marcus called the video "insultingly vapid"  she continues in the text saying it's "a Verizon commercial without the substance." 

Hillary for America 2016 Announcement Video

Meanwhile on Monday, Senator Marco Rubio made a passionate pitch to voters about the future of America, assuring potential voters "Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday, Yesterday is over, And we’re never going back." He proceeded to go over some of his policy proposals and if you go to his website, you can see everything he's written on some of the particular issues facing our country. 

This is going to be a powerful asset for Sen. Rubio and it's why I believe even though he's currently polling in the single digit, he is going to be a top contender for the Republican nomination. His policies don't alienate the right or the establishment. He's someone both groups could conceivably get behind. His candidacy would give the Republicans an opportunity to make history: electing the first Hispanic president (to be fair, Ted Cruz would also be the first Hispanic president.) But above all of that, Rubio's got something that will be extra potent in early primary states: he is 100% sincere. He believes everything he is saying in his speech. And that can go a long way when you're connecting with voters doing the hard yards in smaller settings, high school, gyms and living rooms in Iowa. 

Posted on April 14, 2015 .

Scattershot: Experience is Overrated.

So, Sen. Ted Cruz made it official today with a brilliant speech (I'll cover it more later) at Liberty University in Virigina designed to be a big pitch for Evangelical Christians.

The response has been widely what you would expect from the left: cries of extremism, the "they want a government small enough to fit in my bedroom or uterus" argument, questions about his intellegence (although it should be noted, Senator Cruz gave his entire speech in complete sentences without a Teleprompter nearly flawlessly)

But one response stood out to me more than others: Ted Cruz needs more experience before running for President. They say we through out the accusation that Obama didn't have enough experience, so why are we supportive of Cruz.

That was an argument made by the McCain and Romney camps who refused to attack Obama's liberalism for whatever reason (it may have been that they secretly liked some of it), it's not an argument that I agree with.

President Obama's problem isn't his experience; it's his ideology. He is committed to statist leftism. That would not have changed if he was a two term governor or a one term senator. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have a lot of experience, but they have the wrong ideology, which disqualifies them in my mind.

Now, in comparing GOP conservative candidates, yes, that does make a little bit of a difference, especially when they have conservative achievements. It's why I like Scott Walker just a little better than Ted Cruz. But a lack of experience does not disqualify the Senator In my mind.

Posted on March 24, 2015 .

Ted Cruz

Cruz will reportedly be the first candidate on either side of the isle to officially jump into the 2016 Presidential Race next week. How will he fair? Better than you probably think. 

Well, it's Sunday morning, so I guess now is as good a time as ever to talk domestic politics. 

From CNN: 

"Ted Cruz is first out the gate. 

The first-term senator from Texas will announce that he's running for the Republican presidential nomination, according to the Houston Chronicle. He will make his official declaration Monday in Lynchburg, Virginia at Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world.

Cruz, 44, will be the first candidate to formally throw his hat in the ring for what's expected to be a crowded GOP primary, with more than a dozen high-profile Republicans expressing serious interest in a White House run. 

The Chronicle reports that Cruz will go straight to announcing his candidacy without first forming an exploratory committee, according to advisers with direct knowledge of his plans."

So, it looks like Senator Ted Cruz will be the first candidate on either side of the isle to formally announce his candidacy for the Presidency in 2016. 

The first term senator looks to follow the path of President Obama, who had as many years under his belt when he announced his presidential bid. Cruz also has a similar profile to Obama: he's young (he was born in 1970), he's a minority, he has an Ivy league background and he also appeals to the base of his party. 

Ted Cruz is, currently, not my guy. I like Walker and Rubio better because while they are committed conservatives, they're able to project a positivity naturally that Cruz has to work hard at (Cruz has a more serious personality.) But let's touch briefly on things that will work for Cruz:

His conservatism: Just like being a liberal in a Democrat primary is a very helpful thing, being a conservative in the Republican primary is a very helpful thing. Cruz has the ability to rally the base and he's unafraid to deliver the red meat the base is desperate to hear from it's candidates. Cruz will not be the only conservative in the primary - Scott Walker, Rand Paul, and, to a certain extent, Marco Rubio will also vie for the conservatives vote, but he will likely be seen as the "most authentic" conservative of the bunch. 

His inexperience: I don't mean this as a knock, look what it did for President Obama! Simply put, Cruz has only ever been a US Senator while in opposition to President Obama, which means he has a slim record and will be able to run on ideals and deflect accusations of extremism by saying, "I have never attempted to do anything of the sort." Don't underestimate this strategy, it worked out well for President Obama. 

His ethnicity: Let me be clear about this one: I don't think Senator Cruz will run as a Latino, especially in the primary. In fact, I predict that if he does secure the nomination, there will be columns written about how "aloof" Cruz seems around Latinos, especially with another Latino, Senator Marco Rubio in the face that connects better with the Hispanic community. Senator Cruz's ethnicity will be the consolation prize for the GOP establishment, while they would dread having him on the ticket, they would say "at least we nominated the first Latino candidate." And indeed, if Senator Cruz secures the nomination, expect him to shift into high gear, praising his Cuban father, and talking about how proud he is to be Hispanic, even if that isn't the main crux of his campaign.

His smarts: Senator Cruz is no dummy, he is a very smart man and an incredibly skilled speaker and debtor. Expect him to do extremely well and get lots of attention from the media who will describe him as "smart", "precise", "tough", and "unrelenting"

The money: Senator Cruz has the potential to secure a lot of money from grassroots donors, expect the floodgates to open for him in a way that Jeb Bush could only ever really dream of, the base loves 

So there it is folks, Senator Cruz will be the first out the gate, and he isn't someone I would under estimate.

Posted on March 22, 2015 .


I was trying to figure out how to map out all the complexities of this issue in a relatively short blog post, then I came across this speech by Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He perfectly summizes everything I have been feeling today:

Well done, Senator, well done. 

Posted on March 19, 2015 .

Scattershot: Later, Aaron.

Later Aaron Schock! The Republican Congressman from IL with unusual spending habits (he decorated his office to look like a Downton Abby set, I'm not kidding.) has announced he will resign effective March 31. 

Hey Conservatives, let's make sure we're nominating people who are living the message we're trying to deliver to voters.

And my fellow millennials, as we start to win seats in Congress and participate more and more with active roles in government, no matter what party we're apart of, let's refrain from the douchery....


... And make sure we do our best not to emarrass ourselves. 

Posted on March 17, 2015 .

Scattershot: Israel

I seriously hope the people of Israel choose to keep Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party in election taking place right now. Netanyahu reminded me of Winston Churchill in his address before Congress, sounding the alarm on the intent of the Iranians once they receive nuclear weapons. 

It seems the rest of the world, lead by President Obama, is content making deals with tyrants. If the lessons of history have taught us anything, it is that negotiating with unreasonable people never ends well. 

Neville Chamberlain went to Nazi Germany and got "a piece of paper" promising peace and Britain was bombed repeatedly just months later. We are giving Iran 10 years, 10 years! This is a big mistake. 

What is a Scattershot? Because the blog is new, I will add an explanation as to what a post is. A "Scattershot" is like an extended social media post. It's my immediate thoughts on something with limited editing. Full blog posts will be labeled as such. 

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under scattershots.