Just Realism

The only ism worth a damn

Trump for President

Well, it took some time, but I’m finally here. I officially support Donald Trump for the Republican nomination and the Presidency of the United States.

I’m told by the MSM that demographically, I shouldn’t. Trump supporters are supposed to be poor and stupid. I am middle class with a post-graduate degree in Political Science. Granted, I didn’t go to an Ivy League school and am nowhere near the elite – and maybe that’s what they really mean when they dismiss Trump supporters. Anyone below the cosmopolitan and establishment elite is a stupid idiot by default.

We’re told Trump supporters are “angry” too, and I suppose a lot of them are. I used to be angry. Then I was cynical. Then I was numb. And now… I don’t even know, really.

So why do I support Trump for president? It has to do with why I don’t think I can call myself a libertarian. Specifically, I’ve gone from believing that the idea of “libertarianism in one country” (a phrase coined by John Derbyshire) is a legitimate branch of libertarianism to believing it is more a form of nationalism. The American idea of liberty, as we find it in the thought of America’s founders, has little in common with the idea of libertarianism today. Oh sure, there are right-wing libertarians like Hans-Hermann Hoppe out there who understand that the purely economic argument for open borders – correct on paper as it may be – is undercut by other ethical and political arguments. There are people who even call themselves anarchists, like Stefan Molyneaux, who are wide-awake to the dangerous realities of unchecked immigration. But these are few and far between. On the whole, the libertarian media establishment favors open or quasi-open borders and derides the very idea of nation-states.

What the right-libertarians understand is that liberty is fragile. It is a delicate flower. Everything about it is desirable and appealing. In full bloom, it is beautiful. But one misstep along the way, from its planting to its daily maintenance, and it will wither and die in short order. Thus in somewhat of a paradox (not a “contradiction”), the maximum amount of liberty we are actually able to enjoy is fenced in by the requirements of maintaining the basic soil in which it grows. Our choices are not between “all the liberty we can imagine” and no liberty at all. They are between all the liberty we can protect, and no liberty at all.

I made these points as a libertarian, and I make them as a non-libertarian. They were the lynch-pin of what I wanted to call “Libertarian Realism”, the title of this blog. When I started it, I fully intended to support Rand Paul. I was more libertarian at that time than realist, I suppose. I was even willing to look the other way on Paul’s spotty history of comments on the immigration issue because I rank foreign policy slightly higher on my list of priorities (apostasy to some on the right like Ann Coulter, but whatever). Rand Paul was for some time the best candidate on foreign policy, and Trump’s positions did not become sufficiently clear to me until recently.

But then Rand Paul’s campaign began to implode, and I would argue is gasping for its final breaths. It wasn’t just bad luck either. Rand Paul is a horrible candidate and a terrible leader. Do libertarians care? Many of them do not. Judging by my Facebook feed and my daily sifting of campaign news, Paul’s remaining supporters are completely delusional. There are also plenty of ultra-sectarian libertarians who never supported Paul, who may or may not support someone like Gary Johnson, or who in general don’t care about political victory.

And that’s why I no longer care about them. Having the “right” ideas (and they’re not all right ideas anyway) is worth absolutely nothing without the will to implement them. I will take a man with some ideas I like and some I don’t who will actually do the things I like than someone who has all the ideas I like but won’t realize a single one of them. There are still a lot of libertarians stuck in the high school version of their ideology: we don’t need “leaders”, man. We’re not sheep, bro. No, you’re not sheep; you’re ants, waiting to be trampled underfoot.

I think Trump would like to take America in a direction that, on the whole, I would also like to go. The few points of major disagreement I have with his policies are nothing compared to my disagreements with the neocons in the GOP or the neoliberals in the Democratic Party – those destroyers of nations, destablizers of regions, and servants of the Likud Party. Trump’s foreign policy orientation is realistic and smart. No more funding the lion’s share of Western Europe’s and East Asia’s defense. No more “world police” as he put it recently. Cooperation with the Russians against ISIS, no matter what Israel, the Turks or the Saudis – who are either indifferent to or indirectly supportive of ISIS – think about it. No more disgusting and shameful paeans to the greatness of “Bibi” Netanyahu. Trump is aware of the disastrous consequences of neocon narcissism, bluster, and blind devotion to Israel – a world now united against the United States and possibly plotting our demise. All of this has been pointed out by paleoconservatives for years, by Pat Buchanan above all. That Trump may actually take this worldview seriously is one of the reasons I think someone may shoot him before he ever takes office.

I also look forward to a President Trump emboldening legions on the right to go on the offensive against the totalitarian PC/SJW movement, which has infected every pore of our culture and society. Just as the Obama years emboldened left-wing totalitarianism, the Trump years will embolden right-wing resistance. The Obama machine – the myriad of institutions and sub-institutions and initiatives and sub-initiatives our nudger-in-Chief has established to further the PC agenda – will be gone. The Trump administration won’t be looking for thought crime in every nook and cranny. There won’t be any obnoxious and fraudulent “civil rights” investigations into cases already resolved by the criminal justice system. No one can expect President Trump to back their absurd SJW complaint or cause of the week. President Trump will never Tweet out “cool clock, Ahmed.” Frankly we don’t need a Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum to lead the culture war; we need a Trump, whose personal resistance to PC is mostly pragmatic and secular, but which religious conservatives can also cash in on.

As for the economy, I’m not a great fan of tariffs. I would prefer it if Trump focused on ways to make America attractive for business rather than making other countries unattractive for American companies. But whatever. You can’t have it all.

Trump will be different, if nothing else. With American politics so stale, boring and dull, who else could I support?

The Political is not Sacred

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. — Ps. 145:3-4 (in the Catholic Douay-Rheims)

It’s been a while since I had time to write, and weekends may be the only time I can realistically do so given my two jobs. However I do think it is time for a new comment on the Trump campaign.

Some might be thinking that the Psalm I quoted above is directed against Trump and his supporters. In a way it is (I’ll get to that at the end), but it is actually more directed towards his detractors. Does this seem puzzling to you? Let me explain.

Trump’s detractors speak about his campaign as if it is the harbinger of America’s destruction. They bemoan the desecration of what appears to be for them a semi-sacred arena. Trump has defiled the holy temple of politics! He’s an act, a sideshow, a clown! He’s rude and crude and vulgar! He has no policies, he isn’t serious! And so on.

These sort of comments would seem to imply the opposite as well: that what is needed, and perhaps what exists in another preferred candidate, is a more reverent and respectful approach to politics. Whomever that may be, well, that’s the guy we want to support. Someone who has not only composed but also memorized detailed policy proposals, an encyclopedic knowledge of current global affairs, a wonk’s wonk, and a perfect gentleman too.

America has had a mild-mannered professorial president for seven years. I say this as a small-time professor myself: I don’t want another one running this nation. I am not a crude “anti-intellectualist”, but the place of the intellectual is not in the seat of power or the vanguard of the army. It is in the role of adviser, confidant, consigliere, etc. When intellectuals try to rule, one of three things happens. This. This. Or this. Impractical foolishness, wimpyness, or genocidal megalomania respectively. As William F. Buckley put it, “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” Here here.

More importantly, I look to no politician as a savior. The inverse of this is that I look to no politician as the ultimate doom of the nation or of humanity. Jimmy Carter came and went. Obama came and is on his way out. Hillary may still become president. We lived, we live now, we will live even then. Of course some leaders are worse than others. Some leaders may even seek to deprive us of our most basic liberties. But no leader is going to make everything better. At this point in our history, the best politician we could elect could only offer a slower rate of social and moral decay than his rivals. Regeneration is not something I see in the works, anymore than I see the possibility for an 80 year-old man nearing the end of his life to suddenly revert to the age of 18.

So I am not saying the coming election is unimportant, nor do I wish to be totally fatalistic here. But all things come to an end. I am not inclined to support Trump because I believe that he is really going to “make America great again.” What he might do, though, is see to it that America is no longer despised throughout the world. I don’t know if I was the first to notice his Machiavellian qualities, but others have taken note as well. Trump is the bold man of virtu, who seizes fortuna, treats her roughly and is rewarded for his effort. Trump also understands that the most contemptible vice of all, at least in politics, is to be despised. Of course many people hate him, but this hate comes from a place of fear or contempt for what he represents – he is not despised as a coward or a weakling in the way that Obama or the typical American politician is. Those politicians still think that apologizing to the speech Nazis will make the speech Nazis like them. Nor is he despised in the way that America is on the world stage, as a provocateur and a hypocrite.

Trump’s nomination seems inevitable, and he is clearly superior to his nearest rivals: Bush, Carson, Cruz and Fiorina (looking at the latest polls). He would also be preferable to any Democratic candidate. He will not be the messiah that many of his supporters seem to laud him as, nor will he blow up the United States as many of his opponents think he might. He will not be a virtuous Christian ruler as many social conservatives would like, but I also do not believe he will do anything to impede the rights of Christians in private or in public (as all the Democrats most assuredly would). He understands the value of at least appearing to be religious (another Machiavellian lesson), and while some see this possible “pretending” as wicked, I choose to take a more optimistic view. Trump’s religiosity may well be an act, but by choosing that particular act, he binds his political mandate to his public support for persecuted Christians. Whether he cares in his heart about us or not is secondary to what he does, or what he doesn’t do.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter much to me. If Hillary gets elected, we will all suffer. Best we adopt a worldview and a way of life that brings meaning to suffering, then. If Trump gets elected, the country won’t suffer quite as much, but there will still be plenty of suffering to go around. Best we adopt a worldview and a way of life that brings meaning to suffering in either case. There is no political messiah, we will not bring heaven down to Earth, we will not “make America great again”, none of it. So maybe I am a fatalist after all. In the meantime, Trump has made politics entertaining at least. And I am entertained.

6 Objections to Trump: They’re Not So Great

I’m not quite ready to put a “Trump 2016” sign on my lawn, but I’m getting there.

I had planned on supporting Rand Paul, but as I said in my last post, Rand Paul now sucks. He lied about the Ayatollah of Iran’s statement regarding the nuclear deal in a shameless and despicable way, and there’s really nothing he can say or do that will restore my trust in him again. To be clear: this isn’t about defending the Ayatollah. It’s about rejecting a blatant lie that could easily lead to World War III.

On top of that, Trump recently stated that he believes Russia is “Europe’s problem”, indicating that unless he were directly asked for aid by the EU, the US would no longer interfere with Russia’s defense of its interests along its border. This was music to my ears, and it has brought me right up to the line. One more step and I will be a Trump supporter, but I’m not quite there yet. I am waiting for the debates to make any sort of decision about who to support and vote for.

Most of the objections to Trump I hear from libertarians and conservatives are either explicitly or implicitly rooted in very idealistic assumptions about what is possible through the American political process. I’ll run through a few:

*Trump is not a libertarian!

Trump isn’t an anything ian or ist. He is anti-ideological, and to be honest, that’s pretty damned refreshing. As for libertarians, no one in the race is at this point. You think Rand Paul is a libertarian? If he is, he’s no different than the Beltway libertarians promoting wars of aggression along with the neocon establishment. Trump, on the other hand, is clearly more interested in making money than he is in making war. Not only that, he thought the Iraq war was a terrible idea and laughed out loud – as did all anti-war libertarians – at the stupid neocon rhetoric used to justify it:

“These characters, like Rubio, made a total fool of himself on Chris Wallace’s program, talking about ‘We’re better off without Saddam Hussein.’ Give me a break,” Trump said. “Right now we have ISIS, which is worse than Saddam Hussein. At least Saddam Hussein did one thing: he killed terrorists. He was very good at killing terrorists.”

My thoughts exactly. 

Add to that his recent statements on Russia, and I see a man whose foreign policy thinking is very much aligned with my own.

*Trump is not a Constitutionalist! 

I don’t think Trump has any particular hostility to the Constitution. I mean, there are people who just hate the Constitution, like Supreme Court justices Ginsburg, Kagan, et. al. Then there are politicians who probably haven’t read it, i.e. just about everyone running for office. I’ll grant that Rand Paul has a working knowledge of the US Constitution, but he is a weak liar who will never win the White House so it hardly matters. Maybe Trump is a liar too – they’re all liars – but Rand’s lie was abominable. If Trump were to lie in the same way, I’d forget about supporting him too.

The Supreme Court ruling of June 26th pretty much demonstrated that the Constitution is a dead letter anyway. The Constitution’s value isn’t objective, written into the fabric of the universe. It depends entirely upon our acknowledgement and faithfulness to it. I have no doubt that Trump would simply ignore the Constitution when it suited him. At this point, however, I think whomever we get is going to do that. Whoever sits in the Oval Office is going to do what he or she damned well pleases. That being so, I’d rather it be Trump than Jeb or Hillary.

*Trump is a protectionist!

Look, I’m just going to come out of the closet on this one: I don’t think protectionism is the worst thing in the world. Yes, in an ideal world, we would have 100% free trade. I can’t argue with the theoretical libertarian argument for free trade because it is correct. But we simply don’t live in that world.

Murray Rothbard once argued against “free trade” deals like NAFTA because they were essentially big government power grabs in disguise. But his solution, which was simply for the US to remove all tariffs, quotas, etc. wouldn’t make sense unless everyone else was willing to do the same. Much in the same way, for instance, it wouldn’t help for us to completely dismantle our military while other countries maintained their own.

Thus I get the sense that Trump’s protectionism is “defensive” and not rooted in some firm ideological commitment. He wants America to win at the game everyone else is playing and will continue to play regardless of libertarian objections. I can’t say I see the fault in that. Apparently in 2000 he wrote:

You only have to look at our trade deficit to see that we are being taken to the cleaners by our trading partners. We need tougher negotiations, not protectionist walls around America. We need to ensure that foreign markets are as open to our products as our country is to theirs. Our long-term interests require that we cut better deals with our world trading partners.

Meanwhile he has in the past proposed to eliminate the “death tax” and all corporate taxes to promote job growth. Sounds good to me.

*Trump is a social liberal!

People who know me know that I am a culture warrior. I would definitely love to have a president who is on our side of the culture war. I will settle for a president, however, who proposes not to harm my side. Trump is not ideological. It is the progressive leftist that poses the greatest threat to the culture I defend, of Christian virtue and morality, of the importance of faith and family.

On the major issues, Trump is pretty much mainline Republican. His comments on abortion in 2011 satisfy me as a pro-lifer.

“If you look at it, I said, ‘It really, really troubles me, and it really, really bothers me, the whole concept of abortion.’ This was years ago, and even then it really bothered me, but I went on the other side of the line,” Trump said. “But in thinking about it over the years, I’ve had instances, and one instance in particular, a friend had a child who they were going to abort, and now they have it, and the child is incredible. And the man, he changed his views also because of that.”

“As I’ve grown older, as I’ve seen things happen in life, I’ve changed my views

I don’t agree with his, or the mainstream GOP view, that there ought to be “exceptions” for prohibitions on killing unborn children. But no one holds the view I prefer, except maybe Rick Santorum – a guy who has no chance and who is a raving neocon on foreign policy. Trump has also stated that he supports traditional marriage. After the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Constitution on that issue, however, it is a non-issue. At least he won’t do more damage to it as President.

As for his three marriages, yeah. His personal behavior has contributed to the destruction of marriage. Three marriages, two divorces – I do not condone this. But is it a deal breaker? No.

*Trump will cost the GOP the election!

Maybe. But only if they force his hand. If the GOP refuses to let the voters decide, and decides to take direct action against Trump, it will suffer the electoral loss it deserves. It simply won’t do to claim that Trump isn’t a viable candidate, and then proceed to destroy him as if he were a viable candidate. Everyone knows that GOP attacks on Trump are premised on the idea that he might actually win the nomination.

So if Trump really sucks, if he isn’t the man to lead the party, the voters will eventually reject him. And if they reject him, he will go home and I don’t think he will muck up the general election with an independent run. If on the other hand the GOP goes out of its way to sabotage his campaign, Trump has indicated that he may well run as an independent out of spite. This would cost the GOP the 2016 election in the same way Ross Perot cost it the 1992 election.

*Trump is a racist!

Trump’s comments about the border were not racist, though he clearly could have chosen his words more wisely. No, I don’t believe that he believes that every Mexican immigrant is a rapist.

I have never been an open-borders libertarian. This is because I do not view liberty as an abstract ideal. It is rooted in a culture, and that culture will not survive open borders. Trump has repeatedly spoken in favor of legal immigration, and that’s fine with me. But our sovereignty is threatened by the openness of the southern border. This is not about punishing people looking for work. The Mexican drug cartels are de facto sovereign entities: they control large areas of Mexico with their own monopolies of violence, having fought the Mexican military to a standstill. They ought to be, if they aren’t already, classified as terrorist organizations and the might of the US military ought to be deployed against them instead of people 10,000 miles away who are no real threat to us. We need control of our border for reasons of security. If the state exists for any reason, it is to protect our lives and property from aggressors, which the Mexican criminal terrorist organizations certainly are.

It is also a fact that Mexico is dependent upon remittances from illegal immigrants working in the US, to the tune tens of billions of dollars annually. Libertarian arguments for open borders that presume only economic gains and no economic drawbacks don’t really seem to take this into account. That is money that isn’t being spent here. One can argue that one is free to work, live, and send money wherever they like – but one should at least admit at that point that they are no longer making a purely rational economic argument. One should also acknowledge that Mexican dependence upon remittances – and this is true of many other countries whose people come here illegally – provides a massive incentive for them to, as Trump has suggested, “send” their people here. That is, to tacitly approve their blatant disregard for our border and our laws. When Trump says “they’re killing us at the border” he has a point, even if he hasn’t really brought up the remittance issue. This leftist at the Daily Beast, while hostile to Trump, was also willing to attack the Mexican elites on this point:

Mexico gets the better end of the immigration deal since millions of people who probably couldn’t be absorbed by a fragile Mexican economy instead work in the United States and send home about $25 billion a year in remittances. That’s all gravy, with the only costs being whatever minimal amount the Mexican government spends to maintain a few dozen consulates in the United States.

Mexican drug lords aren’t threatening any of the other candidates. They’re threatening Trump, because they believe he will actually do what he says.

Conclusion: Trump is looking more and more like the sort of leader I think America needs. But he has one major weakness: his favorability ratings and how they play for the general election. Right now Trump’s numbers against Hillary are bad. I think he has been improving in this regard; he was down 17 points against Hillary in mid-July but now as we enter August he trails her by 12, if I am reading the polls correctly. Still, that’s a much larger gap than Bush, Walker, or Paul.

On the plus side, Hillary’s favorability ratings are in the toilet and only appear to be getting worse.

For the GOP nomination, electability is key – not policies, substance, rhetoric, money, or anything else. Electability. That’s how we wound up with McCain and Romney, and it didn’t turn out so well. Now, however, after 8 years of Obama and with Hillary floundering, I think it is a pretty important factor. Trump needs to improve his electability, which will be reflected in a closing gap in the polls between he and Hillary in the coming months. If this happens, I will have no problem supporting Trump. If it doesn’t, well…

I can’t stomach the idea of four or even eight years of Hillary. So I don’t think I can support a candidate who has no chance against her. So, we’ll see.

Rand Paul Sucks

Justin Raimondo, whose opinion I have always respected, delivers the coup de grace to Rand Paul in his latest column for antiwar.com. The short version: Paul has joined the neocons in brazenly and shamelessly lying about the remarks of the Ayatollah of Iran. The Ayatollah disparaged the recent nuclear deal for the specific reason that his fatwa already forbade nuclear weapons. He was saying, essentially, that the deal wouldn’t prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon – the fatwa would. The deal, from his perspective, was superfluous. Rand Paul with the neocons quote him out of context to suggest that the Ayatollah was saying Iran would go ahead and produce a nuclear weapon in spite of the deal.

It’s not just the lie: its the openness of it, the bravado of it. Anyone can see what the Ayatollah was really saying. So you have to just be morally putrid to take someone’s easily verifiable words and intent and just make up a new one for them. This isn’t tactical dishonesty. It’s so open and easily debunked that it makes the people who utter it look to be as evil as they are stupid. Rand Paul’s participation in this lie brings total disgrace upon him.

I can hardly improve on Raimondo’s analysis of the whole disintegrating Rand Paul enterprise, from the campaign to his standing as a representative of libertarianism.

Raimondo highlights Rand’s departure from his father’s libertarian ideals, but Rand Paul was like his father in one respect: he clearly doesn’t want to win. He who will not lead, cannot expect to be followed. Donald Trump acts like a leader, and so people follow him. A man with no ideas, running on sheer bravado, is leading in the polls.

To obtain honor, one can act like the elder Paul, and remain true to one’s ideals, never wavering, though never achieving the power to implement them.

To obtain glory, one can act like Trump, and in spite of having few if any ideals, leading from the front, going on the offensive, refusing to cower, and roaring like a lion.

And what does Rand Paul obtain? Who waffled and wavered on foreign policy among other issues, who refused to court liberty-leaning donors in the tech industries, who was unable to consistently distinguish himself (the filibusters were great, but you have to keep it coming)? Plunging poll numbers that have flatlined at around 5%, a campaign warchest smaller than any of his major opponents, campaign staff openly discussing desertion, and with Raimondo’s column, leading libertarians openly denouncing him and some of his former youthful supporters burning his merchandise in lieu of an effigy, I suppose.

He still polls best against Hillary, and yeah, I’d definitely vote for him over her. But that ain’t saying much.

I’m not that disappointed because I’m not that surprised. Neither was Raimondo. We all sort of saw this coming. We hoped it wouldn’t, but we knew it might, and it did. So that’s that. Rand Paul’s campaign has collapsed. It could recover. If it does, though, it won’t be because of anything I do.

The Donald and The Paul

I don’t want to like Donald Trump. He has no clear or specific policy positions, his personal life is a sideshow, he seems to be emblematic of all that is wrong with popular American culture. We all know that he’s supported – or rather, simply ran off at the mouth about – various positions that are repugnant to the GOP base and leadership. And yet there’s something about his presidential bid so far that I find intoxicating. I wouldn’t call myself a Trump supporter. And yet…

When I think of Trump, I actually think of Machiavelli. All of the GOP pundits, analysts and thinkers cannot see it, but Trump’s style, rhetorically crude as it may be, is actually what the father of political realism prescribed.

For my part I consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly. — The Prince, Ch. 24

I can hear the feminists screeching now, but put the imagery aside and use a different analogy if you like. The point is that the GOP lost two previous national elections doing more or less the opposite of what Trump is doing: playing it safe, playing it nice, playing it cool. One might even say, playing it beta.

The primary reason it doesn’t work is that it leaves everyone hating you. This is why Machiavelli identified half-measures and indecision, possibly more often than any other vice, as one of the worst things a person in pursuit of power could possibly do. As much as it pains me to admit it, Rand Paul has more or less traveled this middling course, and it hasn’t been helping him. He has plunged to an average of 6% in the polls throughout the month of July, by my reading, while Trump has soared to parity with Jeb Bush at around 15%.

If you try to play it nice and safe, the left-wing media will still call you a right-wing extremist. I guarantee you that each and every bespectacled and bearded leftist at Salon and MSNBC believes that Jeb Bush is a right-wing radical extremist, a racist, a sexist, an imperialist, a homophobe, a fascist, etc., as does anyone who is a part of the social justice social networking online empire which drives so much of the narrative today.  I would be surprised if there were a single Republican candidate they wouldn’t smear in that fashion. CNN and the other major news outlets who are center-left won’t be doing him any favors either.The point is, they can’t be pleased. No Republican has ever pleased them, because they hate conservatism and everything it stands for, whether you serve it in a box or with a fox or in a house or with a mouse.

And yet every attempt to appease the left, or the centrists who are afraid of their own shadows, causes one to be reviled by the base. It is seen as a cowardly act of selling out, and often rightfully so.

There are also candidates who want to appease the GOP party bureaucracy by appearing “electable.” But that party bureaucracy decided on its candidate a long time ago, and we all know it. There’s no way anyone who isn’t Jeb Bush is going to get the support of that machine. Cultivating an air of respectability or electability is pointless. Rand Paul is in fact the most electable candidate out of the entire lot, consistently – for months now – topping all other GOP candidates in head-to-head polls with Hillary. Does he get any party support? No. Bush is their man. And yet still Paul, by and large, plays by the rules established by both the left-wing media and the GOP party bureaucracy. All of them do, to varying degrees and extents. The only way they could ever get the party support that is pledged to Bush by default would be to destroy him in the polls, consistently; but because they want that support, they don’t do anything that might actually get them there. This is because in order to get there, you quite obviously have to defy the rules preferred by the two party system and the media.

Trump, on the other hand, is like a madman with a match, standing in a puddle of gasoline. He will burn the whole thing down. And maybe it is time. Ron Paul recently expressed fears that Trump was too authoritatian. And yet clearly the Obama years have left not only Republicans, but I believe many independents and probably conservative Democrats as well, starved for leadership. All it is going to take is for people outside the GOP base to make the connection that many of our problems do indeed stem from indecisive authority and gridlock, and it will ignite the electorate all around Trump.

I watch, for now, as an outsider with fascination and wonder. After the Obama years, and the Bush years, and the Clinton years, and the Bush Sr. years (those are all the years I remember), how much worse a job could Trump possibly do? I honestly don’t think he would start a world war. He wants America to be wealthy, not righteous – which is fine with me, when the particular vision of geopolitical righteousness both the Democrats and the Republican neocons have held for the last 25 years or so has been pretty toxic and putrid. He speaks of his ability to “negotiate” and “make deals”, and I can’t believe he’d do any worse than what we’ve had. A recent article in The American Conservative made the persuasive case that American self-righteousness has prevented her from having any sort of meaningful diplomacy for decades. A guy who just wants to make money could be the antidote to that. Meanwhile I doubt he would seriously work to undermine my right to practice my faith and righteousness. Finally, he is independently wealthy. He doesn’t need to kneel before Goldman-Sachs and obey its dictates.

The US presidency was never about salvation for libertarians. All we can do is keep the Hillarys and the Bernies out. If you want a libertarian society, you need a culture of liberty, not a libertarian president.

Rand Paul would do a better job overall in my view, and yet his road to the nomination is going to be rough. Then again, Trump may find it impossible to win the general election, if he even stays in the primaries, if he even makes it to the first presidential debate. I’m skeptical that he’ll even make it that far.

But if he does, well, we’ll see.

What You Don’t Get, Doesn’t Matter: Pluralism & Liberty

I focus on the culture war more than other issues now because I feel it is truly a war for our hearts, minds and souls. So much of the rest of politics seems beyond our reach: foreign policy and economics can take whatever twists and turns they will, and we can do little about it other than support the least aggressive and utopian candidate (Rand Paul). But the culture warriors are reaching for our innermost being. So while I would love to worry about what skeptics, cynics, and wiseacres refer to as “more important problems”, I can’t. Not while this horde of freedom-hating collectivists and egalitarians approaches and demands that I bend the knee, kiss the ring, salute its flag, and acknowledge the lie.

A truce in the culture war would be nice, but it seems impossible now. The Supreme Court has decided that pluralism, and thus diversity in more than name, is a dead letter in the United States. It has used the 14th amendment, dishonestly, to destroy the 10th. And we are fast approaching the point at which religions that the state doesn’t like, above all, traditional versions of Christianity, can expect no freedom or existence outside of the four walls of the church – and maybe not even there. I see no reason to believe that LGBT radicals and their “allies” in the corporate and political establishment will honor whatever vague pledges they’ve made to not press for gay church weddings. I see no reason to believe that the 1st amendment will prove eternally resilient when other amendments, such as the 4th, the 5th and the 10th have been hollowed out. Cultural revolutions don’t stop because a piece of paper tells them to. As long as the majority of the people still think that piece of paper matters, they find away to pervert its meaning or ignore the limits it prescribes. And when that majority fades away, there is no longer a need to maneuver.

I see the totalitarian attitude even in normal people who aren’t associated with the radicals. It expresses itself not only in an inability to understand religious liberty and objections rising thereof; but also an unwillingness to even try. Increasing numbers of ordinary citizens are simply weary of liberty. What they cannot understand, they are less willing to tolerate. And even among the tolerant, there are many whose tolerance is threadbare and reluctant. “Let the stupid religious fanatics have their stupid freedom.” This does not inspire confidence in the durability of either tolerance as a cultural value or as Constitutional principle. Perhaps Rousseau was right: we cannot expect to peacefully co-exist with neighbors we believe are damned to hell. The average bearded, tight-jeaned, MSNBC-watching social justice millennial hipster doesn’t believe in hell, but if he did, that’s where he would consign his political enemies: those deemed racists, sexists, homophobes, religious reactionaries, etc.

But the American Revolution was founded on different ideas than Rousseau’s, which led to the French Revolution. Here, it was not supposed to matter whether the public or government officials or even private citizens understood, let alone approved of, another person’s beliefs. There was to be “space”, both theoretical and literal, for people of radically different views to peacefully co-exist. We would all recognize each other’s rights to exist. We might find our neighbors’ views bizarre or even offensive, but as long as we respected each other’s life, liberty and property, all would be well.

This is why the courts, for the most part, have judged themselves incompetent to judge the merits of religious objections to various laws and statutes. No plaintiff has ever had to rationally justify his religious beliefs or practices before the court. In the case that religious practices might infringe upon the basic social contract of mutual respect for rights, the courts have reserved the power of judgement, as is necessary for social order. Otherwise the courts have only sought to establish that a religious objection is sincerely held. If it is, then it is to be determined if obedience to the law would impose a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion. Finally, the courts look to see if the “least restrictive means” are being employed by the state in the pursuit of its aims – and if they are not, then the exemption is granted. So it works, at least, in disputes between an individual and the state.

This is how a fair and rational society settles disputes. But this is not what is happening in Oregon. Instead, an apparatchik with personal ties to the LGBT political movement has ordered a business to pay 135,000 dollars in damages to a lesbian couple who claimed to suffer all kinds of emotional calamities as a result of being told by a Christian baker that she could not participate in their wedding. Of course the baker’s objection – just like the photographer, the florist, and others – is that while they do not object to serving individuals who identify as gay and always have, they do object to participating in a ceremony.

Rather than trying to judge the relevance of this distinction, and it is real, and it does exist, the judge in this case said that there was no distinction. He was not interested in trying to understand it. Neither are the legions in social media who think essentially the same thing. They don’t understand the objection, and therefore, the objection is meaningless. The criteria used in countless other religious exemption cases wasn’t even employed. If this ruling is allowed to stand, then we have witnessed the death of the state as an impartial arbiter of disputes and its transformation into the enforcement agency of the LGBT movement.

In a just society, there would be no contest. The plaintiffs can choose another bakery with ease; the defendants, under any sane understanding of religious liberty, must not be compelled to abandon their religion. And here’s the rub: you don’t get it. You don’t understand how participation does this. But here’s how freedom works: your inability to understand how participating in a gay wedding constitutes a betrayal of the Christian faith is meaningless and irrelevant in a free society. No one gets to dictate to me the terms on which I live my faith. All that matters is whether or not what I propose to do deprives someone else of a fundamental right. There is no right to not be offended or saddened by another person’s behavior. There is no right to punish people for holding views that cause you pain.

Anyone who thinks there is, or who does not understand that this is the issue, is a willing accomplish in the death of liberty and the construction of a totalitarian state. For that is exactly what brute force, state violence, and totalitarian control are all about: removing the necessity of even trying to understand those with different views. Why understand when you can threaten, imprison, and destroy?

Interracial Marriage: For The Record

Without a doubt the most common rebuttal I hear after any attempt to defend the Constitution against the lawlessness of the Supreme Court is “what about Loving v. Virginia?”

The argument of the knee-jerk propagandists is that because both interracial marriage and same-sex marriage bans were struck down on the basis of the 14th amendment, they must be substantively identical, while supporting the latter necessarily puts one in the same category as a racist. Nothing has been more powerful for the gay political lobby than the comparison of their own movement to the black civil rights movement. This is because no movement in recent American history has enjoyed greater moral legitimacy.

Four things must be said in response: 1) these issues are not identical; 2) the same fraudulent argument applied in two different cases doesn’t make those cases substantively identical; 3) one can be opposed to something without approving of the method used to eliminate it; and 4) because the issues aren’t identical, one can be in favor of one – say, interracial marriage – and be opposed to the other, i.e. gay marriage.

1. Two separate issues

Interracial marriage in no way contradicts the historical, natural, and universal understanding of marriage. As we are often told by the left, race does not exist. I am not sure if I would use that exact phrasing, but if race does exist, differences between races in no way impede the natural compliment of male and female. They in no way impede the creation and education of children. Thus it is no surprise that most societies have neither recognized “race” as we do, as series of rigid categories, nor have they gone out of their way to prevent people belonging to categories they did not even recognize from marrying.

Zooming in on the Western world, there are no Magisterial statements opposing interracial marriage for Catholics, no councils that oppose it for the Orthodox, and few if any major Protestant groups that oppose it. Opposition to interracial marriage only became an issue in societies that became hyper-conscious of race for various reasons – above all slavery and the need to justify it – in the modern era, typically in the 19th century though earlier in some cases. At that point various religious interpretations, detaching from their own ancient traditions, began rationalizing the practice. Even then, no one proposed that a man and a woman of different races could not, in actual fact, be married; it was because they obviously could that racists sought to prevent it by law with actual punishments and prohibitions. In short: we defenders of traditional marriage understand that it is an ancient and universal institution, while obsession with racial mixing is a rather recent novelty that is in no way essential to our worldview.

Same-sex unions on the other hand are by their very essence opposed to the traditional, natural, and universal understanding of marriage. Whether or not you “care” about this point, is besides my point – that because of this, one cannot say that same-sex unions and interracial unions are substantively similar. From our point of view, considering what we believe marriage to be, they are not.

2. Constitutional fraud

I feel about various cases invoking the 14th amendment the same way Jefferson felt about John Marshall’s abuse of the “Necessary and Proper” Clause of the Constitution. Here is the text:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The fact remains that in both the case of interracial marriage laws and the case of same-sex marriage bans, it is not possible to argue with any semantic or philosophical integrity that “any person” was denied “equal protection” of the laws. In the case of interracial marriage, no one was allowed to marry a person outside of their race. As Pace v. Alabama (1883) found:

On further appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the court ruled that the criminalization of interracial sex did not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because whites and non-whites were punished in equal measure for the offense of engaging in interracial sex.

This ruling was absolutely correct, and what was true in this case was also true in the case of same-sex marriage bans. No one could marry someone of the same sex; anyone could marry someone of the opposite sex. There was no “gay” litmus test for a marriage license. The word “gay” does not appear in same-sex prohibitions (to my knowledge). As I have mentioned before, there is no consensus – except, it seems, when it is immediately and politically necessary – regarding what “being gay” even means.

In Loving the court declared:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.

How is it “directly subversive of the principle of equality” when in fact the laws applied equally to all? Who was exempt from the law? Who was singled out by it? The answer is no one. The court’s assertion was factually false then, just as the assertions of gay rights activists and today’s court are also factually false. But it is clear that this semantic devilry does not impart to either phenomenon, interracial marriage or same-sex unions, any sort of substantive similarity.

At this point one can impudently insist that the only reason one would find fault in these rulings is naked bigotry. This brings me to the next point.

3. The ends do not justify the means

As the product of a union that is technically if not legally interracial*, as an adherent of the natural law, and as a person, I do not oppose interracial marriage. I’m so ok with it that I would never base my objection to prohibitions on it upon blatant falsehoods and specious logic the way the court did in Loving. 

These prohibitions should have been challenged through the methods of a democratic republic: through the popular initiative, the referendum, and/or the state legislature. There are two reasons for this: first, because this is the lawful established method, the same that was used to acknowledge and protect he right of female citizens to vote. Second, because social change obtained in this way, as opposed to judicial fiat, is more definitive. No one is arguing today over the right of women to vote. We are still fighting battles the Supreme Court thought to “settle” through the imposition of ideology and the deliberate obfuscation of the facts. If the left is to believed, America is now as racist as it ever was. I don’t share that assessment, but to hold this as true is to admit that judicial dictatorship is not the solution to social injustice – unless, and it is terrifying to contemplate how many likely believe this – the dictatorship must become more comprehensive and severe in order to finally achieve its aims.

[* Lebanese and Syrian people lobbied to be recognized as white for official purposes. Some of us do look white and share genetic similarities with Europeans. Some of us don’t.]

4. Our opposition is consistent! 

As an adherent of the natural law, I do morally oppose the equivalence of same-sex unions with traditional, natural and universal marriage. But as a Constitutionalist, I was prepared to accept the results of legitimate democratic processes that were consistent with the letter and the spirit of our Constitution. To counter what I believe to be the falsehood of this equivalence, I proposed only to use the same political process along with the political liberties protected in the Bill of Rights. I was also prepared to advocate for either the replacement of marriage with civil unions for legal purposes, or its abolition altogether, both of which would have satisfied all of the practical and legitimate demands of the LGBT movement. I believe I speak for many similarly located on the political spectrum between conservative and libertarian.

Now, however, I feel I must agree with those who made similar warnings about the EU bullying the member states who voted “no” in various elections on the question of EU membership or on the ratification of various treaties: when the central authority tramples upon the democratic process and the republican system of checks and balances, it leaves the people with no other option but to resort to increasingly extreme methods to be heard. We hear the call in various European countries not only for quitting the EU, but also within many of those countries to separate from centuries-old political entities. Secession is the watchword in Europe, and it was once the watchword in the United States and could become again.

We did not, contrary to a ceaseless stream of lies, seek to impose our views by force, or to preserve them by illegitimate means. We believed in and trusted in the process. Once again, that process has been undermined by the Supreme Court, which may be subject to checks in its composition but not in its operation. This cannot be endured forever. Legal positivism is a fiction that the victors in this contest comfort themselves with and hammer the rest of us with. The court has spoken, and there are only two appropriate responses: jubilation or silence. We are here to remind them that might does not make right, and that they rule only at our pleasure.