Election

Trump’s Nomination Doesn’t Mean Libertarians’ Involvement in the GOP Has Been Misplaced

[Editor’s Note: This commentary by former Federal Election Commission Chairman, Center for Competitive Politics Chairman and Founder, and Capital University Josiah H. Blackmore/Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law Bradley A. Smith is reprinted here with his permission.]


A libertarian professor friend of mine took the opportunity of Trump’s nomination to write on Facebook:

The fact that the GOP appears to be nominating Trump, and the fact that libertarian-leaning conservative intellectuals in the GOP are (rightly) frothing at the mouth the most about it, only provides more evidence for my long-standing view that libertarian intellectuals who thought their (our?) home was in the GOP were making a very risky “pact with the devil.”

He went on a bit but that gets the mood and core message of the piece.

My response, which I’ll reprint here with light edits, was this:

Trump Fears A Brokered Convention, With Good Reason

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“Somebody said, ‘Well, there’s a rule and another rule.’ I don’t care about rules, folks… We win, we get the delegates.” ~ Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump

That, in a nutshell, summarizes the Trump campaign’s approach to winning the 2016 Republican nomination for the presidency; defying and discarding conventional rules of politics, refusing to abide by the traditional rules of decorum which provide a patina of civility to an often bitter political process, choosing instead to resort to character assassination and open mockery of his opponents (accusing Ben Carson of being a child molester, branding Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”, labeling Rubio “Little Marco”, and mocking Carly Fiorina’s looks, just to name a few).

Trump, with virtually no traditional political organization to start, relied on sheer force of will and a larger-than-life personality to rise in the polls. Trump’s faux pas and unapologetic coarseness seemed only to increase his popularity. Trump has been the front-runner in the race almost from the day he announced.

His non-traditional strategy has worked well thus far, but in recently, like Achilles’ heel, Trump’s lack of grassroots political organization has proven a serious liability. Long before Trump announced his candidacy; indeed, long before he announced his own candidacy, Ted Cruz was working in the political ditches, recruiting grassroots activists and local elected officials at the county and district level to serve as campaign chairs, and eventually, as delegates during the Republican convention cycle. It has paid off well for him. The race has come down to the strength of Trump’s cult of personality, versus the breadth and depth of Cruz’s grassroots campaign organization.

Stossel’s Libertarian debate highlights the good…and bad of the third party option

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A stoner, an outlaw, and a teenager walk into a television studio. Not the start of a terrible joke, but the latest Libertarian Party debate, hosted by John Stossel on Fox Business, the first half of a two-hour forum. The second half airs next Friday, April 8.

Participating in the debate were former New Mexico governor and previous Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, software entreprenuer John McAfee, and Libertarian Republic founder Austin Petersen. Each demonstrated plenty of knowledge about liberty issues, but also plenty of idiosyncracies that, while largely unnoticable among the Libertarian faithful, might hinder their appeal in a general election.

Helpfully, Stossel himself pointed out some of these issues and had the candidates address them.

Petersen is only 35 years old and inexperienced in the campaign and television world. He was very animated and forceful in his answers, but has a very freshman debate club tone that would need to be refined over the campaign.

It’s time to start including another name in polls and campaign coverage

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Twice in the last week I’ve had to personally update candidate comparison articles or memes that left out perhaps the most important name on the ballot. It’s time the professional media did their job up front instead.

As we’ve discussed, a Trump-Clinton election will likely be a historic low in terms of turnout and enthusiasm. It also opens a unique opportunity for another party candidate to make inroads in the national political landscape. So why are people ignoring that there are other candidates available?

You may have seen this candidate issue flow chart on social media in the last couple weeks.

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I noticed that it was missing something, so I updated it.

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Similarly, Vox’s income tax calculator showing how each candidate’s plans will affect your wallet only has four results.

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LOL @ “mostly on the rich”.

Definitely-Not-Super Tuesday 2016: The night the GOP tapestry was torn in two

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I was going to write a detailed post comparing the final polling averages of the Super Tuesday primary states with the final election results. Decision Desk HQ is a brilliant grassroots resource for live updated results at a glance, and Real Clear Politics’ polling data is second to none. But then I realized, as we all have at some visceral level this year, that lol nothing matters.

But Rubio won a state! lol nothing matters. But my candidate can unite the party at the convention! lol nothing matters. But Trump dramatically underperformed in several states! lol nothing matters. But thresholds were reached and delegates split, keeping Trump from sweeping! lol nothing matters.

The polling data has been decoded, analyzed, spun, and compared to primary and caucus results in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada to try to justify various candidates’ continued viability in the wake of the Trump juggernaut. It’s beyond apparent that it all amounts to slightly less than Ben Carson’s chance of being elected to anything ever.

As of this writing, Marco Rubio has won a single caucus state (not just tonight - ever), Ted Cruz has added Texas and Oklahoma to his previous Iowa victory, and Donald Trump has won literally everything else. Every debate, every candidate exit, every Twitter campaign, every attack ad, every PAC strategy has failed to slow the budding fascist’s momentum.

If the Houston debate doesn’t stop Trump, nothing will

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After Nevada, the depression set in.

Trump blew his rivals out of the water in the Silver State caucuses. Rubio, who briefly lived in Nevada and attended a Mormon church, was expected to do well in the sparsely populated state. He didn’t. While he did come in second, Trump still beat him 2-to-1 and got twice as many delegates.

In three of the first four primary states, Trump has either met or exceeded polling expectations. While his delegate lead is already large, it’s still very early, with 46 states and hundreds of delegates left to go. Theoretically, anything could happen. Bill Clinton lost nine the first ten primaries in 1992, but still went on to win the Democratic nomination after surprising in mid-March.

And although Rubio has a very similar political talent to Clinton, this is not 1992.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies, Unleashing an Election Year Earthquake

Supreme Court associate justice and giant of US politics and constutional law, Antonin Scalia, 79, has died of apparent natural causes in Texas.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Widely considered to be an “originalist”, Scalia actually used a “textual” interpretation of the Constitution, relying on the plain reading of the text as written to rule on cases. This interpretation placed him as one of the most conservative justices on the Court, and his intellect and integrity will make him impossible to replace.

It is no exaggeration to say that Justice Scalia was the most consequential jurist of the past 35 years. A persistent, pugnacious and persuasive advocate for textualist statutory interpretation and originalist constitutional interpretation, he had an outsize effect on his colleagues, the court and the course of the law. More than anyone else, Justice Scalia is responsible for the renaissance of these interpretive methodologies and the displacement of “living constitutionalism” and reliance upon legislative history.

He certainly won’t be replaced by President Obama.

Trump rallies the stormtroopers in Louisiana

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After driving two hours, standing in line for two hours, and catching most of Donald Trump’s hour and a half long sales pitch to a packed Baton Rouge River Center, I have a new, less charitable understanding of the phenomenon he has unleashed on the country.

I am not a Trump supporter, of course. I actually went to the event with the intention of holding up an anti-Trump sign and making my dissent known in person. But as the line nearly reached the door, I witnessed two gentlemen with similar, but more harshly worded signs than mine wrestled out of the building, to the ground, then one of the two tased by Baton Rouge PD after not going peacefully. After hauling away the protesters, the dozen remaining officers at the entrance were on high alert for any shenaningans, and I had a wife and children waiting at home for me. So I quietly tossed my sign in the trash on my way in. I decided to protest silently, then online instead.

The crowd was about what you would expect - almost exclusively white, conservative, polite but cocked and ready for action. When the scuffle ensued with the protesters, many got their phones out and scurried over to record and jeer the detainees. They stopped just short of calling for blood.

Trump was already speaking when I got inside, and the crowd was eating up every word. They weren’t transfixed in silence; there was lots of murmuring between friends and neighbors, going in and out from the bathroom and concession stand. After all, thousands of people were still getting inside as he spoke.

New Hampshire Polls Have Created a Political Narrative Perfect Storm

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Election polling is always wrong. Except when it’s not. And even then sometimes. But especially in New Hampshire this year. Confused yet? You should be.

Every single poll that’s come out in the last week has said something completely different is happening in the first primary, and not even in a linear trending way, with certain candidates ascending or descending. They’re literally all over the place.

The following is a list of all the polls currently included in the Real Clear Politics average for New Hampshire.

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From this data we can tell only three things:

  1. Trump is leading in New Hampshire.
  2. There is a fight for second place between Rubio, Kasich, Cruz, and Bush.
  3. Christie, Fiorina, and Carson should probably have dropped out yesterday.

Second is where the real mystery is. Every poll shows a different person (or tie) in second place behind Trump [highlighted above in yellow]. Rubio comes in second place in one poll and ties for second in two others, but so does Bush in one, Cruz in one and ties in another, and Kasich in two and ties in another.

Some of these individual polls even show trends from earlier data, which usually signal a real change in support. But even here those trends are contradictory. In the CNN poll, Rubio has gained 6 points from the same poll taken a little over a week ago, while the other candidates have only gained 1 point. But in other polls, like the UMass daily tracking poll, Rubio has lost 2 points over the last week.

Does Rachel Maddow think Hillary or Bernie would be a mistake?

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During Thursday’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders traded insults, complements, innuendo, and big government solutions to problems created by big government. Although there were plenty of absurd ideas tossed back and forth, perhaps the strangest comment came not from a candidate, but from a moderator.

After the debate had concluded, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow wrapped up with a salutation and a supplication.

We also want to thank our host, the University of New Hampshire, and the people of New Hampshire. You guys get to vote in just five days. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Don’t screw up.

“Don’t screw up”? Huh?

Maddow seems to be implying that New Hampshire voters could “screw up” by selecting the wrong candidate when they go to the polls on Tuesday. But how?


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