Lazy Sunday LXXXV: Elections

The fun of Halloween has passed.  Now it’s on to the election, which is just two days away.  The joyful gatherings of Halloween weekend might be the last bit of fun and togetherness for some time, depending on how things shake out this Tuesday.

I am praying fervently for a Trump victory, and for Republicans to maintain their control of the Senate and to retake the House.  Such an outcome would mark a major repudiation of the Democrats’ radicalism.  More importantly, it could save the Republic—or, at the very least, forestall its demise for another few years.

For this Lazy Sunday, then, I decided to look back at posts about elections from years past:

That’s it for this Sunday.  Please, please go out and vote for Trump on Tuesday, especially if you’re in any of the swing States.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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TBT: Election Day 2018

Two days ago I wrote about Election Day 2019, and posted results yesterday.  In selecting this week’s #TBT, then, I thought I would look back to November 2018 to see what I’d cooked up.

Boy, were the pickings slim.  Other than the post below, I reblogged my annual Thanksgiving message, and posted a Veterans’ Day talk I delivered to the local Republican Party.  I’d really let the blog slide as I dove into another busy school year.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies.  Not only did losing the House “stymie” President Trump’s agenda; they’re straight-up impeaching him—their plan all along.  We managed to hold onto the Senate, but by a slimmer margin than I hoped.  I also don’t trust Mitt Romney for a minute, so I think we can slot him in with the Democrats.

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Election Day 2019

It’s Election Day 2019!  I’m sure there are all sorts of interesting elections happening all over the country, but for me, the big election is right in my backyard, in little Lamar, South Carolina (which just got a website!).

Lamar is holding elections for two at-large Town Council seats.  There are two incumbents and two challengers, and the election is non-partisan (for what it’s worth, I cast my two votes for the challengers, in the Jacksonian spirit of rotation in office).

I like to vote early (though not often—that’s a federal crime, and since I’m not a Democrat or an illegal alien, I’d get in trouble for doing so), because I never know if I’ll be home by the time polls close.  Polling in South Carolina always runs from 7 AM to 7 PM, which is a pretty substantial window.  So, I was there right at 7 AM, and was the fifth person from my precinct to cast a ballot.

What was really surprising were the new voting machines, about which I have mixed feelings.

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Sanford Announces Presidential Bid

Former South Carolina Governor and Congressman for SC-1, Mark Sanford, announced Sunday that he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2020 against incumbent President Donald Trump.  When Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Sanford why, he said that “We need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican.”

Sanford’s ostensible desire is to draw attention to America’s massive national debt, and our political unwillingness to address the ever-expanding, elephantine gorilla in the room.  But as local radio personality and former Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard said on his show this morning, Sanford is shining a bright light on himself as much as he is on the national debt.

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Ted Cruz on Ben Shapiro

It was a glorious weekend at Casa de Portly, deep in the heart of Dixie.  It was the kind of weekend that saw a lot of non-blog- and non-work-related productivity; in other words, I loafed a great deal, then did domestic chores around the house.

In case you missed it, on Saturday I released my Summer Reading List 2019.  If you want to read the whole list—and it’s quite good—you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page at the $1 level or higher.  There will be new, subscriber-exclusive content there every Saturday, so your subscription will continually increase in value.

Anyway, all that loafing and cleaning meant that I was unplugged from politics.  I did, however, manage to catch the Ben Shapiro Show “Sunday Special” with Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

I was a big fan of Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, and I voted for him here in South Carolina.  Cruz intuited the populist mood of the electorate the way that President Trump did, and combined it with policy innovation and constitutionalism.

There’s a reason Cruz hung in there as long as he did against Trump:  he’s a canny political operator, but he also knew how to pitch a conservative message that was appealing to many voters.  I sincerely believe that had he clinched the nomination, he would have won the 2016 election (and, perhaps, by an even wider Electoral College margin than did Trump).

Cruz catches a lot of flack because he’s a little dopey and looks odd—a whole meme emerged in 2015-2016 claiming that Cruz was the Zodiac Killer—but he’s been an influential voice in the Senate.  He possesses a supple, clever mind, and has urged Republicans to make some bold, innovative reforms to the Senate (he vocally champions and has proposed a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits).

The hour-long interview with Ben Shapiro—which opens with a question about his alleged identity as the Zodiac Killer—shows how affable and relaxed Cruz really is.  I’ve never seen him appear more relaxed and genuine (and I never took him for a phony—I’ve seen him speak live at least once at a campaign rally in Florence, and spoke very briefly to him afterwards) than in this interview.

Granted, it’s friendly territory—Shapiro was a big supporter of Cruz in the primaries—but Cruz spelled out some important ideas, as well as his projections for 2020.  If you don’t have a full hour, fast forward to about the forty-minute mark for his discussion of Trump’s reelection prospects.

To summarize them briefly:  Cruz thinks it all comes out to turnout, and that Democrats will “crawl over broken glass” to vote against Trump.  He even points out that his own race against Democrat Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke was as close as it was because Beto ran against Trump more than he did against Cruz.  He also thinks Joe Biden is going to flame out, and one of the more radical, progressive Dems will clinch the nomination, making the prospect of a truly socialistic administration terrifyingly possible.

That said, Cruz is optimistic.  Discussing his own narrow victory over Beto in 2018, he points out Beto’s massive fundraising and staffing advantages (Cruz had eighteen paid staffers on his campaign; Beto had 805!), but explains that a barn-burning bus tour of the State of Texas pulled out conservative and middle-class voters in a big way for his reelection.

That points to one of Trump’s strengths:  the relentless pace with which he campaigns.  Trump held three and even four rallies a day in key battleground States in the final days of the 2016 election, which likely made the difference in Michigan, Wisconsin, and the Great White Whale of Republican presidential elections since the 1980s, Pennsylvania.  If Trump can get his pro-growth, pro-American message out there as effectively in 2020 as he did in 2016 and can excite voters who want to protect their nation and their prosperity, he could cruise to reelection.

Cruz’s optimism, tempered by practical challenges ahead for Republicans, really came through in the video.  Really, the entire interview reminded me why I liked Ted Cruz so much the first time.  I’d love to see him remain a major presence throughout the next five years, and to see him run for the presidency again in 2024 (him, or Nikki Haley).

Regardless, I encourage you to listen to this interview.  Take Cruz’s warning to heart:  don’t get complacent, because the Democrats aren’t.

TBT: Mark Sanford’s Ideology

Today’s #TBT mines the depths of my 2009 scribblings, during the “TPP 1.0” era of the blog.  Yesterday’s post about the “The State of the Right” got me thinking about how much the state of play has changed in the last decade, particularly since the Trump Ascendancy in 2015-2016.

One example of that change is former Congressman and South Carolina Mark Sanford.  Sanford was the first Republican I ever voted for in a general SC gubernatorial race, and I loved his fiscal conservative grandstanding (he once walked into the General Assembly carrying two piglets under his arms to oppose “pork barrel spending”; he allegedly barbecued the two oinkers later on).

He always took largely principled stands.  He refused to expand Medicare during the worst part of the Great Recession, knowing that once federal dollars were withdrawn, South Carolinians would pick up the tab.  He opposed the seatbelt law (you can now be pulled over specifically for not wearing a seatbelt in South Carolina, whereas before it was only ticketable if you were pulled over for some other infraction), arguing that adults can make their own decisions about their safety, and that traffic officers have enough to deal with already (it has to be difficult to spot through a window).

So, in my youthful naivete, I wrote a letter to my hometown paper, The Aiken Standard, showing my support for Mark Sanford.  He was under intense pressure to accept federal “stimulus” dollars, and when he relented, the opponents who argued he should take the money gleefully noted his inconsistency (a rule here:  the Left will never be satisfied).  Governor Sanford sent me a letter thanking me for the op-ed, which I still have somewhere on my bookshelf.

Then, less than a month or so later, Sanford was caught in a major sexual scandal (and I learned an important lesson about not overly-idealizing political figures).  After disappearing from the State, an aide told the press the governor was “hiking the Appalachian Trail” to clear his head.  A reporter with The State newspaper happened to see Sanford at the Atlanta airport at the time, and within days the whole sleazy story came out:  Governor Sanford had been in Argentina with his mistress (now wife), and his cloyingly sentimental love e-mails to her were blasted all over the news.

Sanford refused to step down as governor—a good call, as snake-in-the-grass, power-hungry, loafer-lightener Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer would have taken over—and finished out his term.  Everyone was sure he was done with politics… until he ran for US Congress for SC-1, his old district during his tenure in the 1990s.

He won against incredible odds.  His opponent, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch (the sister of Comedy Central hack Stephen Colbert), received huge fundraising donations from Democrats all over the country, including from the national party.  Sanford—deprived of his wealthy ex-wife, Jenny Sanford—urged supporters to make homemade yard signs out of plywood, cardboard, or whatever they had around the house.

Outspent 4:1, Sanford won.  He successfully painted his opponent as a hollow stand-in for Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, and his grassroots, DIY campaigning worked.  Of course, as one of my former students put it, “Jesus could run as a Democrat in that district and lose.”

Sanford returned to Congress for a few terms, then lost in a primary battle against Trumpist Katie Arrington.  Sanford always had one foot firmly planted in the Never Trumper wing of the GOP, and Arrington gobbled up his support in the primary.  She would, unfortunately, end up temporarily wheelchair bound due to a bad car wreck, and lost a very tight race to her Democratic opponent in 2018, a loss that still stings.

That’s enough history lesson for today.  Here is 2009’s “Mark Sanford’s Ideology“:

There has been much discussion lately about Governor Mark Sanford’s resistance to accepting federal stimulus money.  In the face of enormous public and political pressure, the governor has accepted these funds but will exercise considerable authority in determining who gets it.  For the purposes of this letter, I am not interested in whether or not this was the right thing to do.

I am more concerned with how the governor’s opponents have characterized his decisions.  Sanford’s rivals have accused him of political posturing.  Ignoring the vehement protestation against the governor’s actions, I find this interpretation lacking.  While the cynic in me is willing to acknowledge that there might have been an element of posturing to Sanford’s resistance, it seems highly unlikely that this was his only, or even a major, motivator.

His month-long battle against the federal stimulus, however, is much more readily explained by taking a look at his ideology and his record both as governor and as a congressional representative.  Sanford is perhaps the most ideologically consistent politician in contemporary American politics.  Since entering the political arena in 1994, Sanford has been the quintessential Republican; at least, he has been what the quintessential Republican should be.  By this I mean Sanford has sustained an unwavering faith in free enterprise and the free market while also endorsing socially conservative measures.  He is not quite a libertarian, but he has the general ideological bent of Ron Paul when it comes to the economy without the gold standard baggage.

A cursory glance at a website like ontheissues.org demonstrates how consistent Sanford’s ideology is.  In fact, the only inconsistency in his voting over the past 15 years is on affirmative action in college admissions.  While in Congress in 1998, Sanford voted against ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions, but in 2002 he said that affirmative action was acceptable in state contracts but not in colleges.  A closer examination of his voting history in Congress might reveal a few more inconsistencies, but I would wager any additional irregularities would still be far less than the typical congressman.

Regardless, Sanford’s commitment to fiscal conservatism and government accountability is astounding.  Sanford has repeatedly supported term limits (for example, he imposed one on himself while a representative to Congress), a balanced budget, and lower taxes, as well as pushing for choices for citizens in education.  Therefore, if we view Sanford’s struggle against the federal stimulus through the lens of his voting record and his statements as a congressman and governor, it is clear that his position derives from his sincere belief in his ideals.

Whether or not the governor is right is another matter.  That is not the point I want to make.  Agree or disagree, Governor Sanford is not taking a stand for political attention.  He is taking a stand because he believes it is right.  And, after all, isn’t that the important thing?

2018’s Top Ten Posts

2018 was a good year for The Portly Politico.  I relaunched the blog back over the summer, when I had more time to write multiple pieces a week.  With the South Carolina primary elections, it’s not surprising that some of the most traffic hit during June.

Just like the 2016 election, I was unable to dedicate the time necessary to covering the 2018 midterm elections; perhaps my greatest deficiency as a blogger is the inability to post regularly during the school year, a function of both a lack of time and focus (and, very likely, a lack of discipline).  While the blog has not gained the traction I’d hoped for six months ago, it’s been an entertaining way to put some of my thoughts to “paper,” as it were, and get some interesting feedback from you, my small coterie of loyal readers.

All navel-gazing aside, here are 2018’s Top Ten Posts, as determined by the number of views:

10.) SC Primary Run-Off Election Results – the title says it all!  I think some wayward Googlers boosted this one into the top ten.

9.) #MAGAWeek2018 – George Washington – during the Fourth of July week, I kicked off what will become an annual observance:  MAGA Week.  Each day featured an essay about some figure or idea that had made America great in his or its own way.  While I’m most proud of my lengthy overview of the career of John Quincy Adams, the post on George Washington gained the most traction with readers—a deserved victory for America’s most influential Founding Father.

8.) A Discourse on Disclaimers – I got so sick of endlessly qualifying every statement, I wrote this protesting post.  One thing the Trump presidency has taught us is that you’re never going to appease the progressives, so you’ve gotta fight back.  You’re never going to able to mollify an emotional, inherently violent beast with an appeal to decency and reason, so why bother?

7.) SCOTUS D&D – one of the lighter works of the Brett Kavanaugh character assassination, this post linked to another author’s attempt to place the Supreme Court justices on the legendary Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.  Very fun.

6.) Progressivism and Political Violence – one of my best pieces, I would argue.  This post detailed the strong link between the progressive ideology and violence, be it the official use of state violence to enforce its way, or street-level thuggery when it’s been systematically denied the levers of power.  If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kicks the bucket in 2019 and President Trump and the Republican Senate successfully appoint and confirm a conservative justice to replace her, I shudder to contemplate the hysterical bloodshed that will result as masked Antifa goons and hipster black boots take to the streets.

5.) #TBT: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle – the only “Throwback Thursday” post to make the top ten, this was a reposting of the old blog’s 2017 Thanksgiving post, which I wrote with a freshly broken left wrist.  We all have a great deal to thank God for this year.

4.) America Should Expand into Space – one of my early pieces during the 2018 relaunch argued that the United States should make a concerted effort to continue expanding into outer space.  Why get our precious rare-earth metals from China when we can mine them from asteroids?  Speaking of…

3.) Breaking: President Trump Creates Space Force – I whooped with joy when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  Apparently, many readers were excited about it, too.  It’s a commonsense move:  space is the next, and final, frontier.  Why cede dominance—military, economic, cultural, or otherwise—to the ChiComs?  Make America Space Again!

2.) 4.8% Economic Growth?! – one of the first posts upon relaunching the blog, this little piece drew a good bit of attention (and probably benefited from the initial curiosity traffic).  Let the good times roll!

1.) Run-Off Elections in SC Primaries Today – this post blew all others away, with (at the time of this writing) 101 more views than its next competitor.  I was shocked, but the blog showed up in several online search results as South Carolinians sought out information about the primary run-off elections this past summer.

So there you have it!  My personal favorites didn’t always gain the traction I hoped—and some of my better essays were nowhere near the top ten—but that’s the fun of blogging:  you never know what’s going to catch readers’ attention.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2018.  Here’s looking forward to bigger and better things in 2019!

God Bless, and Happy New Year!

–The Portly Politico

Election Day 2018

This blog has fallen dormant—has it often seems to do—during the height of election season.  A savvy, dedicated blogger would churn out the bulk of his content when the news comes fast and fresh, and folks are seeking out information about candidates—not during the middle of summer, the deadest time for political news, outside of some primary elections.

But, hey, that’s what makes The Portly Politico unique.

What won’t make it unique is this admonition:  VOTE.  Ideally—and if you’re a reader of this blog, this might go without saying—vote for Republicans.

I went out to vote this morning—the last time at my current precinct, as I’ve recently moved to the countryside (after two floods, it was time)—and it was hoppin’.  I arrived around 7:05 AM EST, and there was a line out the door.  I finished voting around 7:40 AM EST—that’s how many people were there to vote.

I’ve never experienced a midterm election this year.  Both sides are highly energized.  It feels like a presidential election.

I’ll refrain from offering detailed analysis at this point (I think Republicans will pick up some Senate seats, but the House is a complete toss-up), but this election—to recycle another cliché, but only because it’s true—is of the utmost importance.

If Republicans lose the House (which, I’ll confess, seems likely, albeit by a narrow margin), it will certainly stymie President Trump and the GOP’s conservative agenda.  The prospect of returning Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker position is also terrifying.

If Republicans lose the Senate, it will be utterly catastrophic.  You can kiss conservative Supreme Court nominees goodbye.  If you’re the most anti-Trumpist #NeverTrumper neocon that ever lived, you’ve gotta hold your nose and vote Republican for that reason alone.

If we lose both… well, I shudder to contemplate the kangaroo court of baseless investigations and accusations that Democratic Congress will unleash.  Impeachment might not result in removal, but the fraying fabric of our political system would be rent asunder as Democratic knives stab any opposition.

This election is a referendum on Trump and Trumpism, yes, but it’s also a series of choices:  the Constitution, or lawlessnessCapitalism, or communism.  Rule by the people, or rule by an entrenched, technocratic elite.

Get out there and vote, folks—especially Republicans!

Democrats Favor Socialism

Republicans and conservatives have long understood that many Democrats [not-so?] secretly harbor a love for socialism, and that socialistic policies are their end-goal.  As I wrote in “Democrats Show Their True Colors,” “democratic” socialism has been growing in popularity in the Democratic Party, and the party has tapped into its progressive roots and lurched violently to the Left.

Scott Rasmussen’s #Number of the Day today backs this trend up with hard numbers.  He writes that 57% of Democrats have a positive view of socialism, while only 47% have a positive view of capitalism.  That 47% figure is down from 56% just two years ago.

71% of Republicans, on the other hand, view capitalism positively, while 16% of RINOs view socialism favorably.  I don’t understand how any Republican can view socialism favorably; I suspect they view “socialism” as “limited government-run enterprises,” like the Tennessee Valley Authority or the Department of Motor Vehicles.  I can’t imagine many of them support true, complete government ownership of property and the means of production.

These trends toward socialism on the Left make Republican victory—as unlikely as it might be—in the 2018 midterm elections all-the-more crucial.