Sunday, April 24, 2016

The political-party "establishment"

When a GOP official (or an official of any other party) says conventions pick nominees -- not primaries, they are correct. And that's the way our nation -- a republic -- was deliberately designed to work. It is not an "image problem" for anyone who understands the way a republic works.

Definition of republic: "A form of government in which power is explicitly vested in the people, who in turn exercise their power through elected representatives."

Too many Americans, even Republicans, fail to understand that the United States are multiple layers of republics within a republic. Even the Democrat Party is a republic! People who whine about the Republican "establishment" need to understand that the "establishment" got there through a grassroots republican process. The following applies to Democrats, Republicans, and less-known political parties:

In Utah, we begin by forming a mini-republic in our neighborhoods where, on caucus night, we make rules for the operation of our precinct meeting, then elect leaders and representatives (delegates).

A few weeks later, those delegates meet with delegates from other precincts in another mini-republic (county convention) where they make rules for the party in that county and elect county-level party officers as well as nominees for local public office.

Others of those delegates elected at the precinct level meet with other neighborhood-elected delegates in a state convention (another mini-republic). Delegates at the state convention make rules for the operation of the party at the state level and nominate candidates for multi-county, state, and national public office. They also elect representatives from among themselves to be delegates to the national party convention. The process then repeats itself at a national convention.

The result is a party "establishment" at all levels that got where it is by common people getting elected as precinct delegates by neighborhood elections. Ultimately, a few of them get elected to top-level positions in their political party.

Bottom line: If you don't like where the nation or your political party are taking you, show up for your local political meetings. Get to know the people who want to represent you. Run as a delegate yourself. The only people who have a voice are those who show up when it's time to take a vote. If you don't show up, you have no voice. If you see corruption in the "establishment", show up on caucus night and election day to help start the cleanup.

And that is probably the root of Donald Trump's complaints about the Republican "establishment". Few of his fans have likely ever been involved in local politics. They don't know how a republic works from the grassroots level to the top. They don't know that the "establishment" consists of their own neighbors who simply took an interest and the responsibility in making the political system work to the advantage of their neighbors and themselves.

If, like Trump, you don't know the rules of the game, it's really convenient to say that the game is rigged every time the game doesn't go your way or to blame it on an "image problem".

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cynicism and politics

A friend recently referred me to an essay from Lew Rockwell's website, then wrote, "Kind of bothers me that I've become cynical enough that I don't see what is talked about in this essay as such a bad thing. Because, we really have become the disunited states, sadly."

It is extremely easy to become cynical and defeatist when one sees the state of politics and society these days. But, I believe that cynicism and pessimism are a denial of the power and roles of the Comforter.

Here is what I wrote in return to my friend:

Common themes I hear from LDS leadership in general conferences and read in church magazines are:

• Be prepared. Being prepared means having basic resources on hand for rough times and being debt-free. It means having one's life in step with God's counsel. It means paying tithing and other offerings. It does not mean preparing to live in tent cities -- something that has never come from LDS leadership but which is a religious hobby among many.

• Be involved. I am consistently dismayed by the turnout at caucus meetings, political candidate meet-and-greets, city-council/school-board/county-commission meetings, etc. I am no longer shocked but the percentage of fellow Americans who can't name even one elected official other than the president of the US. Yet, they feel free to criticize government and to vote for the very people they can't name. Involvement also includes doing volunteer work. The Church does what it can to get us to do "volunteer" work through various callings. But, if one doesn't put his/her heart into a calling, I don't think it really counts as being involved. We also need to be involved in non-church volunteerism so we can touch the lives of people we don't see every Sunday.

• Be optimistic. I don't think Libertarians (such any pundit on Lew Rockwell's show and website, including the author of this article) are very good at being optimistic. Pessimism is contrary to what I see in church magazines and to what I hear in general conference. I never hear or read church leaders talk about what this author writes about. The Church has taken steps (including excommunication) to distance itself from pessimists who are predicting imminent apocalypse, societal collapse, and tent cities. Yes, there are prophecies about future calamities, but LDS leaders don't seem to be worried about them -- possibly because they are confident that prepared, involved, and optimistic people will do just fine and they will see that their neighbors do fine as well.

As Dennis Miller says, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

On Republicans who think they are too pure to vote for the Republican nominee

Who are Hillary fans going to vote for if Bernie gets the Democrat nomination? Bernie!

Who are Bernie fans going to vote for if Hillary gets the nomination? Hillary!

The secret to Democrat wins is they consistently unite behind the nominee.

Who are Cruz fans going to vote for if Trump gets the Republican nomination? Nobody!

Who are Trump fans going to vote for if Cruz gets the nomination? Nobody!

Who are Rand Paul fans going to vote for since he didn't get the Republican nomination? The same as with his father 4 years ago -- nobody!

Many Republicans myopically withhold their votes because their favorite isn't the nominee and forfeit the advantage that Conservatives outnumber Liberals as much as two to one.

That, folks, is how we got Bill Clinton -- twice. That is how we got Obama -- twice. That is how we got Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

The fools who stay home (or vote for a third-party candidate with absolutely no chance of winning) simply because their favorite isn't in the race are harming us all. The same goes for the fools who don't vote because they think their votes don't matter. (They're right -- votes don't matter if they don't exist.)

The argument against voting for the lesser of two evils (ie the person who do the least damage to the Constitution) presumes that there is a perfect alternative. The reason evil wins is the refusal to vote if perfection isn't on the ballot.

Remember this: We crucified the last person who was perfect. There will be no perfect person on the ballot in this year's primary election or in the general election. Your best choice is to vote for the candidate you think will do the least damage to the Constitution. Anything else gives the rest of us the person you know darned well will do the most damage.

They won't say it, but Democrats thank you.