Does the GOP understand that HOW you win matters?

Robert Robb’s most recent article in the AZ Republic sums up a lot of my frustration over the past several months (The smart money’s on Gary Johnson, so why are donors sitting out?). My friends in GOP donor and pundit circles throw around the word “can’t” about the Johnson campaign constantly but then give no reasoning for it. The fact is, they are embarrassed to admit that it’s only their choice to withhold support and promotion of Johnson and Weld, that makes it possible that they won’t win.

Robb’s right… Those out there who talk a big limited government game are missing a huge opportunity. The willfulness of this failure should undermine trust that those talkers ever really believed what they were saying in the first place.

I came to believe a long time ago that the GOP (at the Federal level) carried the flag of principles in which they didn’t really believe… The era of Bush-Style Big Government put the final nail in for me… But for those who still clung to hope that the national GOP still represents a constitutional / limited government vision, what does the almost total silence of support from serious pundits and credible endorsers, and the tepid investment by donors, for Gary Johnson and Bill Weld (two, 2-term, Republican governors, from blue states, with impeccable records of fiscal responsibility, and on the ballot in all 50 states) say to you?

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Interview on KVOI, “DeSimone Daily Double”, 08/19/2016

Chris and I confer on the Best Carne Seca in Tucson, then we discuss the popular talking point that Trump is “just a jerk”, the coalition that he compiled in order to win the Republican nomination, the myth of the spoiler, the electoral opportunities and difficulties for the Libertarian Party, and the dangers of perfectionism in economics and national security.

Defend Trump, But Stop Saying “He’s Just A Jerk”

Currently a major talking point of the pro-Trump Right is that everyone is ignoring Hillary’s egregious faults because Trump “says mean things”. Or you will hear, “He isn’t a totalitarian… He is simply a jerk.”

While it’s certainly an effective media message (as is seen by its rapid proliferation through the social media posts and political cartoons of Trump sympathizers) is it reality?

To say Trump is “simply a jerk” seems to illustrate a deep confusion or ignorance about who Trump is: Continue reading

With Trump, GOP Loses the Battle and the War

We should not forget that elections are both tactical and strategic. In other words, you are always balancing the best you can get this cycle with correct long-term directional momentum.

Unfortunately for the GOP, Trump is bad on both counts… He probably loses this cycle (bad tactics), and he will likely put a stake through the heart of any remnant of the idea that Republicans represent a principled classical liberal belief system (bad strategy). The American Right will thus be left with a Hillary presidency, represented by a major national party which no longer holds any credibility as the standard bearer for limited, rights-based governance.

Donald Trump is running an Anglo-centric nationalist campaign, in which his policy touchstones are reactionary militarism, economic isolationism, and racial/religious division. These are the shoulders on which we are hanging the conservative mantle? Continue reading

Please Read, Before You Go All In For The Donald

For my conservative friends who have not yet sold their political souls to El Trumpo, please read this article by David Brooks (Trump’s Enablers Will Finally Have To Take A Stand):

Over the past few days, Trump has destroyed this middle ground. He’s exposed the wet noodle Republicans as suckers, or worse. Trump has shown that he is not a normal candidate. He is a political rampage charging ever more wildly out of control. And no, he cannot be changed.

Then maybe check out for an optimistic, rational alternative.

Conversations With My “TrumpFriends”

Me: I just can’t bring myself to vote for Trump… He’s really pretty crazy.

TrumpFriend: What? You don’t BELIEVE all that crazy campaign rhetoric do you?

Me: Well, he’s pretty consistent.

TrumpFriend: Oh Taylor, so naive. You just don’t UNDERSTAND how this works… Remember we’re dealing with a MASTER negotiator here. He wrote the “Art of the Deal”…

Me: Didn’t his ghost writer AND publisher say he didn’t actually write the book?

TrumpFriend: [Ignoring that] When he says he wants to forcibly deport 11 million people that’s just an “opening bid”… You know, like offering half in order to end up at 80%-90% of the sticker price.

Me: That seems like a strange perspective on rounding people up…

TrumpFriend: Or his threats over NAFTA and the TPP… He’s just gonna go in there and get us a BETTER deal, not actually walk away.

Me: Okay, so he’s not as crazy as he seems? Well, I guess his SCOTUS appointment list is just another “opening bid” right? Playing to the conservative crowd during the campaign? That’s too bad…

TrumpFriend: Oh no, SCOTUS appointments are THE reason to vote for Trump, and he is totally committed to doing EXACTLY what he’s said.

Me: …

Don’t be the jerk who ignores call requests… or the wimp who can’t make a call request.

In two recent cases (one with a business partner, another with a client), in email after email, I could not impress upon the other party how important getting on the phone was to getting an issue resolved. Even though each message I sent implored them to call me, or tell me when I could call them, they ignored the request and continued to try to go back and forth on quite complicated topics. No matter how carefully I responded, this repeatedly caused misunderstandings. In the end, both conversations were resolved with a short phone call but only after hours of typing. This was a massive waste of time and more importantly, in both cases, entailed possibly damaging confusion.

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Everyday First Principles

I had lunch with a friend on Thursday who is a very successful business owner, well connected and active in local politics. We had an interesting time talking about particular political efforts in Pima County right now, and specifically a meeting he had the week before with 4 other individuals similar to himself (entrepreneurs, politically engaged, etc). At that point I asked, “It’s fascinating discussing tactics and maneuvers, but in that meeting is there a guiding political philosophy at which you are aiming?”

I thought he might blow off the question as he is not nearly the “rabbit hole” enthusiast that I am, but he thought for a moment and then replied simply, “How do we get a city and county where our kids can stay and raise their families?”

Now some of my poli-phil friends might quibble with that as a FIRST PRINCIPLE of a personal political philosophy, but I think for most people it’s an understandable foundation and, for many on the conservative end of the spectrum, describes well their personal political framework.

We can learn a lot by asking each other not just what action we are taking today or what policy opinion we hold, but to what goals is that action or opinion directed. I am delightfully surprised at the wisdom I find all around me when I can convince someone (often more difficult than you might think) to slow down for a moment and tell me “Why?”