Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Letter to RNC Chair McDaniel

6 March 2017

Mrs. Ronna McDaniel
Chair, Republican National Committee
310 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Mrs. McDaniel:

I first became a Sustaining Member of the Republican National Committee in 1980, the first Presidential election in which I was eligible to vote. I was then a College Republican, working part-time. Even before that I had been active in Republican groups and campaigns, the highlight of which was to be among the young Californians who traveled to the 1976 (by bus) and 1980 (by rail) Republican National Conventions as volunteers for then-Gov. Ronald Reagan.

I have since contributed annually as an RNC Sustaining Member, but I was increasingly dismayed in the latest years there was both a Republican Congress and Republican President as they further expanded, rather than reduced, the Federal Government’s role in our lives, most dramatically in education and health care, while Republican Congressmen simultaneously used earmarking to escalate, rather than eliminate, Washington’s spendthrift ways. Our Party deserved to lose Congress in 2006 because we weren’t legislating or acting as Republicans.

Nevertheless I continued my RNC Sustaining Membership. Party leaders said they learned their lesson and, once returned to control of Congress because of their firm opposition to ObamaCare, proved it by regularly voting to repeal it. In the 2012 election I gladly voted for, and made a small contribution to, your uncle’s Presidential campaign largely because he clearly articulated that the key difference between RomneyCare and the supposedly “identical” ObamaCare was that the Democratic law federalized a matter properly left to the states.

The morning after the 2016 election, I awoke content that, while he has not yet shown me that he is much of a Republican, a President Trump means Republican principles again have a chance to be enacted. But this can happen only if the President and the Congress act as the Republicans they have been elected to be. Alas, what I’ve seen in news reports ever since the election is discouraging.

After the last Census, I was re-districted from Congressman Shock’s “safe” Republican district to a “safe” Democratic one, and last November Illinois’ Republican Senator lost his bid for re-election. It seems that as a life-long Republican I have only one way to voice how seriously I consider this matter -- for our Republican party and for the Republic itself. Enclosed without payment are my 2017 RNC Sustaining Membership form and card. Please send them back to me when this Congress repeals ObamaCare, as the Party has been promising to do since its enactment, and I will gladly contribute the requested $85 renewal (an increase from last year’s $75, and a further increase from 2015’s $65). But not until then. And please tell this to the other Republican leaders in Washington, D.C.

Yours truly,

(The Rev.) Steven P. Tibbetts

cc: The Hon. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House; The Hon. Darin LaHood, Member of Congress

N.B. To date I have received no response.

Friday, January 20, 2017

President Trump's Inaugural Address

As a statement of principals to launch his administration, President Trump's inaugural address resonates surprisingly well with this American Whig. Of course the Devil is in the details, but the principles he presented both domestic and foreign fit well with those of American Whiggery.

With regard to foreign affairs, I especially liked a section that echoed of the great John Quincy Adams:

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example – we will shine – for everyone to follow.
As for domestic matters, I must confess to some amusement over the pundits' shock tonight over his bleak description of the state of our cities and towns. Do they not pay attention to what they shout every time government social spending is up for discussion? How dare a Republican (or at least someone nominated by that party) President agree with them! Then again they've been busy since the election doing so many of the very things they expressed horror over before it.

Anyway, here is President Trump's inaugural address, as posted by the White House with emendations from his actual delivery. God grant him wisdom and strength as he serves the people of the United States.

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

This is your day. This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.

These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;

Subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;

We've defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own;

And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disipated over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example – we will shine – for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us, "how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. "

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.

We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over.

Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not allow anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

It's time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:

You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Wealthy Again.

We Will Make America Proud Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Thiel on Voting for President

Catch this quote from billionaire Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, addressing the National Press Club last week (on Hallowe'en):
But I don't think the voters pull the lever in order to endorse a candidate's flaws. It's not a lack of judgment that leads Americans to vote for Trump. We're voting for Trump because we judge the leadership of our country to have failed.

Now I have no intention of casting my presidential vote tomorrow for either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, so don't read this as a 21st Century Whig election endorsement. But Thiel's speech (which begins at 2:45 after an introduction) succinctly describes the "crazy" electoral situation in which we Americans find ourselves in 2016.

You can certainly watch the entire program, but Thiel's speech comes in at less than 13 minutes, with the Q&A that follows beginning at about 15:50.

Hat tip to The View from Chaos Manor.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wasted Vote?

Slightly edited from the ALPB Forum Online, November 6, 2012:

I have in the past voted for Libertarians not because they have a chance of winning, and not simply to "send a message."

My votes for independent or 3rd party candidates increases the chance that their party will be able to appear on the next state-wide ballot without have to meet the onorous and steep cost Democrats and Republican avoid by writing ballot "access" laws to benefit themselves.

It also increases the chance, however slightly, that an out-of-step-with-the-mainstream idea might get some discussion during an election, which will influence the future of the existing maor parties. Without the votes in earlier elections for Populists and Socialists, the Democratic Party of today would be very, very different and Republicans would legislate and govern quite differently than they do. The votes for the various incarnations of the Progressive Party have permanently altered both parties. Republicans (across the board) and Democrats (particularly in local offices) freely borrow ideas that Libertarians champion.

Regularly in many local elections, both partisan and "non-partisan," only one of the major parties actually fields a candidate, while a Libertarian, Green, or other party may appear on the ballot. Once in California I proudly voted (for a non-partisan office) for the Peace and Freedom Party candidate (whom, given her stance on issues, I usually describe as "a Communist") rather than the completely looney left-wing, but famously-named (so of course she would win), Democratic Party candidate. And I didn't have to hold my nose at all on that one.

So I disagree with those who declare such votes "wasted."

For the Republic, Steven

Monday, February 29, 2016

Election 2016: Senator Sasse Gets It

First term U. S. Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, was before his election the President of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska, a school related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the alma mater of the pastor who sent me to seminary. Late yesterday via his Facebook page, Sen. Sasse used the controversy over Donald Trump's initial success in the polls and the earliest Republican caucuses and primaries to remind us of some important principles about our nation to show how Mr. Trump is unfit to be either the Republican nominee for President of the United States or the President.

It's worth reading, especially if you intend to vote in a Republican primary this election.

AN OPEN LETTER TO TRUMP SUPPORTERS

To my friends supporting Donald Trump:

The Trump coalition is broad and complicated, but I believe many Trump fans are well-meaning. I have spoken at length with many of you, both inside and outside Nebraska. You are rightly worried about our national direction. You ache about a crony-capitalist leadership class that is not urgent about tackling our crises. You are right to be angry.

I’m as frustrated and saddened as you are about what’s happening to our country. But I cannot support Donald Trump.

Please understand: I’m not an establishment Republican, and I will never support Hillary Clinton. I’m a movement conservative who was elected over the objections of the GOP establishment. My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.

Mr. Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation. Much like President Obama, he displays essentially no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances, with three separate but co-equal branches of government. And the task of public officials is to be public “servants.” The law is king, and the people are boss. But have you noticed how Mr. Trump uses the word “Reign” – like he thinks he’s running for King? It’s creepy, actually. Nebraskans are not looking for a king. We yearn instead for the recovery of a Constitutional Republic.

At this point in Nebraska discussions, many of you have immediately gotten practical: “Okay, fine, you think there are better choices than Trump. But you would certainly still vote for Trump over Clinton in a general election, right?” Before I explain why my answer is “Neither of them,” let me correct some nonsense you might have heard on the internet of late.

WHY I RAN FOR SENATE

***No, I’m not a career politician. (I had never run for anything until being elected to the U.S. Senate fifteen months ago, and I ran precisely because I actually want to make America great again.)
***No, I’m not a lawyer who has never created a job. (I was a business guy before becoming a college president in my hometown.)
***No, I’m not part of the Establishment. (Sheesh, I had attack ads by the lobbyist class run against me while I was on a bus tour doing 16 months of townhalls across Nebraska. Why? Precisely because I was not the preferred candidate of Washington.)
***No, I’m not concerned about political job security. (The very first thing I did upon being sworn in in January 2015 was to introduce a constitutional amendment for term limits – this didn’t exactly endear me to my new colleagues.)
***No, I’m not for open borders. (The very first official trip I took in the Senate was to observe and condemn how laughably porous the Texas/Mexican border is. See 70 tweets from @bensasse in February 2015.)
***No, I’m not a “squishy,” feel-good, grow-government moderate. (I have the 4th most-conservative voting record in the Senate: https://www.conservativereview.com/members/benjamin-sasse/ http://www.heritageactionscorecard.com/members/member/S001197)

In my very first speech to the Senate, I told my colleagues that “The people despise us all.” This institution needs to get to work, not on the lobbyists’ priorities, but on the people’s: https://youtu.be/zQMoB4aUn04?t=3m8s

Now, to the question at hand: Will I pledge to vote for just any “Republican” nominee over Hillary Clinton?

Let’s begin by rejecting na├»ve purists: Politics has no angels. Politics is not about creating heaven on earth. Politics is simply about preserving a framework for ordered liberty – so that free people can find meaning and happiness not in politics but in their families, their neighborhoods, their work.

POLITICAL PARTIES

Now, let’s talk about political parties: parties are just tools to enact the things that we believe. Political parties are not families; they are not religions; they are not nations – they are often not even on the level of sports loyalties. They are just tools. I was not born Republican. I chose this party, for as long as it is useful.

If our Party is no longer working for the things we believe in – like defending the sanctity of life, stopping ObamaCare, protecting the Second Amendment, etc. – then people of good conscience should stop supporting that party until it is reformed.

VOTING

Now, let’s talk about voting: Voting is usually just about choosing the lesser evil of the most viable candidates.

“Usually...” But not always. Certain moments are larger. They cause us to explicitly ask: Who are we as a people? What does the way we vote here say about our shared identity? What is actually the president’s job?

THE PRESIDENT’S CORE CALLING

The president’s job is not about just mindlessly shouting the word “strong” – as if Vladimir Putin, who has been strongly bombing civilian populations in Syria the last month, is somehow a model for the American presidency. No, the president’s core calling is to “Preserve, Protect, and Defend the Constitution.”

Before we ever get into any technical policy fights – about pipelines, or marginal tax rates, or term limits, or Medicare reimbursement codes – America is first and fundamentally about a shared Constitutional creed. America is exceptional, because she is at her heart a big, bold truth claim about human dignity, natural rights, and self-control – and therefore necessarily about limited rather than limitless government.

THE MEANING OF AMERICA

America is the most exceptional nation in the history of the world because our Constitution is the best political document that’s ever been written. It said something different than almost any other government had said before: Most governments before said that might makes right, that government decides what our rights are and that the people are just dependent subjects. Our Founders said that God gives us rights by nature, and that government is not the author or source of our rights. Government is just our shared project to secure those rights.

Government exists only because the world is fallen, and some people want to take your property, your liberty, and your life. Government is tasked with securing a framework for ordered liberty where “we the people” can in our communities voluntarily build something great together for our kids and grandkids. That’s America. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of speech – the First Amendment is the heartbeat of the American Constitution, of the American idea itself.

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO MR. TRUMP?

So let me ask you: Do you believe the beating heart of Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been a defense of the Constitution? Do you believe it’s been an impassioned defense of the First Amendment – or an attack on it?

Which of the following quotes give you great comfort that he’s in love with the First Amendment, that he is committed to defending the Constitution, that he believes in executive restraint, that he understands servant leadership?

Statements from Trump:
***“We’re going to open up libel laws and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”
***“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak...”
***Putin, who has killed journalists and is pillaging Ukraine, is a great leader.
***The editor of National Review “should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him.”
***On whether he will use executive orders to end-run Congress, as President Obama has illegally done: "I won't refuse it. I'm going to do a lot of things." “I mean, he’s led the way, to be honest with you.”
***“Sixty-eight percent would not leave under any circumstance. I think that means murder. It think it means anything.”
***On the internet: “I would certainly be open to closing areas” of it.
***His lawyers to people selling anti-Trump t-shirts: “Mr. Trump considers this to be a very serious matter and has authorized our legal team to take all necessary and appropriate actions to bring an immediate halt...”
***Similar threatening legal letters to competing campaigns running ads about his record.

And on it goes...

IF MR. TRUMP BECOMES THE NOMINEE...

Given what we know about him today, here’s where I’m at: If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, my expectation is that I will look for some third candidate – a conservative option, a Constitutionalist.

I do not claim to speak for a movement, but I suspect I am far from alone. After listening to Nebraskans in recent weeks, and talking to a great many people who take oaths seriously, I think many are in the same place. I believe a sizable share of Christians – who regard threats against religious liberty as arguably the greatest crisis of our time – are unwilling to support any candidate who does not make a full-throated defense of the First Amendment a first commitment of their candidacy.

Conservatives understand that all men are created equal and made in the image of God, but also that government must be limited so that fallen men do not wield too much power. A presidential candidate who boasts about what he'll do during his "reign" and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America.

TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT

Thank you for listening. While I recognize that we disagree about how to make America great again, we agree that this should be our goal. We need more people engaged in the civic life of our country—not fewer. I genuinely appreciate how much many of you care about this country, and that you are demanding something different from Washington. I’m going to keep doing the same thing.

But I can’t support Donald Trump.

Humbly,

Ben Sasse
Nebraska

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's Election Season!

Illinois' Governor Quinn, who is seeking a third term, has a couple of different YouTube sites. This is not from them.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013