On Ron Paul and 300

Reprinted in it’s entirety, with permission from Sam Moore.

The big surprise coming out of today’s electoral college vote was the one, single vote for Ron Paul. With his permission, I have been given the great honor of publicly sharing the identity of the brave Texas Elector who cast that lone ballot for Ron Paul.

But first, everyone should understand the gumption it takes to stand up for something when the world expects you to play a different role. I’ve been chatting with this particular elector for months, and his decision to vote for Ron Paul never wavered the entire time. Was he nervous? Absolutely. Seeing the stories on the news of death threats, removed electors, etc….you’d be stupid not to be nervous and even a bit afraid.

For that reason, my friend has decided to take a vacation starting tonight, so contacting him will be difficult for the next while. Please don’t hesitate to try and reach out to him, though. He deserves all the thanks you can give him.

So why did he do it? I cannot put words into his mouth, but he didn’t do it because he thought Ron Paul would win. We all know better than that. From what he’s shared with me over the past few months however, he did it out of a profound sense of duty. That duty, as one of only 538 Electors, is to choose the best person for the POTUS/VPOTUS, period. That duty does not include the coronation of someone who may not be the best person for the job or the appointment of what they consider simply the lesser-of evil.

The 12th Amendment of the Constitution mandates that electors choose the POTUS/VPOTUS. The popular vote has no bearing on the selection of the POTUS. According to the Constitution, the popular vote the media is in love with doesn’t even exist. This is not common knowledge to most Americans, but it is an important safeguard given to us by our Founding Fathers.

As a professor, this gentleman is well-aware of this often-overlooked fact. I can personally tell you that regardless of the words he would choose to explain his electoral vote, his love for this country, his love for the Constitution, and his love for freedom and liberty was the basis for his decision.

In fact, immediately after the vote, all he wanted to do was return to relative obscurity. No fame-seeking. No grandstanding. Just doing his job, then returning to his life. As it should be.

One vote for Ron Paul. A mere scratch that the news cycle will forget in a day. A lone vote that they are already ignoring. So why do it? Why fight for years to become an Elector, just to (as some would wrongfully claim) ‘throw your vote away?’ The best way for me to explain is via example:

Have you have seen the movie ‘300’? In the movie, the all-powerful giant/god Xerxes was nicked from a spear thrown by a defiant Leonidas. Leonidas chose to fight for what he thought was right up until the last minute of his life, despite the odds. Did anything of direct consequence happen as a result of Leonidas’s spear? Did Xerxes die, get an infection, or cry like a baby? Nope. Both him and all his troops were utterly slaughtered as a result.

However, the people later heard about what Leonidas had done. That act sparked hope within others. Soon, the returned in greater numbers and eventually defeating the tyrant Xerxes for good, winning back their freedom.

My friend voted today, knowing that he may be in a world of political pain from those who don’t understand such things, from those who don’t understand the Constitution, from those who don’t understand intent of the 12th Amendment, or from those who don’t understand deviations from the mainstream narrative. To stand up and do this anyway makes my friend a hero.

@Bill Greene, thank you for casting your vote for peace, liberty, freedom, fiscal responsibility, and a return to following the Constitution. May your one vote be the spear that fans the flames of freedom across the country in elections yet to come.

–Sam Moore


Undiagnosed Democratic Autopsy

Yesterday, unsurprisingly, the electoral college officially elected Trump President.  Also unsurprising was that the number of faithless electors broke several new records, the most important of which was the greatest amount of faithless electors for President since the passage of the twelfth amendment.  Technically, Horace Greeley was an exception to that, but given that he died after the popular vote and before the electoral college voted, I’m not convinced he’s a valid exception (in fact the votes that did go for him posthumously were labeled invalid by Congress).  What was surprising, however, is where those votes came from.

Recently, I made the case that the so-called Hamilton Electors wouldn’t even come close to preventing Trump’s victory (they didn’t), but that they should try all the same… and that victory would look like new precedents set with record numbers of defections away from Trump.  Part of the reasons I listed were based on showing that Trump doesn’t stand for all Republicans and that much of the party still views him as unacceptable.  As it turns out, over 70% of the defections came from Democratic electors pledged to Hillary, and that number would have been even higher if Maine, Minnesota, and Colorado hadn’t all disallowed and invalidated attempts at faithless votes.

I can’t think of a single way she can blame this on the Russians, the system, James Comey, fake news, or any of the boogeymen that Democrats have used to blame anyone other than Hillary or themselves for her loss.

In 2012, after Romney’s loss, the RNC announced the “Growth and Opportunity Project“, commonly known as the ‘Republican Autopsy’.  Using interviews with over 2,600 people, focus groups, polling, and all the analytics and metadata they could muster, the GOP tried to figure out just what they did wrong to lose an election they believed they should have won.  This hundred page report explored how they might improve their messaging, how they might reach out better to other demographics, how they viewed data, fundraising efforts… you name it.  It was cold and calculating (which was, ironically, one of the problems Republicans had), and comprehensive.  It was an honest assessment aimed at self-reflection, with the intent of improving what the party was and how it operated.

In 2016, the Libertarian Party is anything but short on definitive (though differing) opinions on why Gary Johnson wasn’t able to capitalize more on two of the most hated major party candidates to have ever run.  Whether it’s a lack of party principle purity, a lack of knowledge about foreign affairs, a deficiency in public speaking, his pick of Bill Weld, his attempts not to scare off the Bernie-type disaffected Dems by talking too much about economics, the perception that he just represented Libertarians as the party of pot… there is no lack of accusations or suggestions within the party about what should be done next go around.  The infighting was apparent before election day even came, which was probably part of the problem.

In 2016, the Democratic party and it’s activists have been pretty persistent in labeling or implying that half of voters are simply racist, even in the 194 of 207 counties that were won by Obama once which went to Trump (not to mention Trump taking a third of the counties which voted for Obama twice).  Reports have shown they have been much more likely to “unfriend”, both online and in real life, people who disagree with their political opinions.  They have clamped down even harder on their insistence on what language is even allowable when having conversations to prevent deviation from the groupspeak.  Their insistence has merely grown on expanding safe spaces in order to protect themselves from free speech.  They have resurrected blaming “right wing conspiracies” from the 90s, the Russians from the 80s, and the rich from the 70s.

In other words, while Republicans and Libertarians have been working on self-improvement, Democrats have been avoiding self reflection and lashing out at everything but themselves.

Whether Hillary was sunk by her untrustworthiness, her corruption, her pandering, her warmongering, her hypocrisy, her secrecy, or something else entirely, and what order these things should go in in terms of importance, I don’t know.  Neither, apparently, do Democrats, many of whom might even find an issue with one of these characterizations of their candidate.  I’m not preaching catastrophe– they’ll survive as a national party whether they consider their mistakes or not.  But to simply ignore them, retreating back into an echo chamber, and to refuse to allow their supposed tolerance to motivate themselves reach out past their circles to understand people who don’t think like they do or pause to consider that the problem might be their candidate or themselves?  They won’t remain an effective party in any years that the Republicans aren’t simply worse, they’ll be unable to expand their base, and they will shrivel.  It’s not terminal, I assume it’s treatable… but without diagnosing the problem, there simply is no solution.

Smug self-righteousness is always easier than self-reflection, and Democrats are nothing if not easy.

–Gary Doan

When Democrats <3 the CIA

According to Politico, about a quarter of Democrat electors in the electoral college are demanding that James Clapper have the CIA give a briefing on foreign interference in the US election, based on the CIA’s public assessment that the Russians did it.

It’s hard to pack so many absurdities into one sentence, and there’s so much to work with from that alone that I’m not sure where to begin.

Of course the CIA is upset enough to leak that Russia, a foreign power, interfered with a domestic election to get the right-wing candidate it wanted. That’s like when somebody gets a tattoo that matches yours without asking or even being your friend, cheats off your test, names their ugly child the unique name you had picked for yours, or tells your joke right in front of you without giving you credit.  Because Democrats believe that Russia was trying to interfere in our election, they want the CIA to interfere in our election instead to address it.

So what happened, and what is alleged to have happened?  Pro-Trump propaganda outlets like Breitbart are already labeling this as “fake news” to spin around the left’s allegations elsewhere, dismissing it as a conspiracy.  Many Democrats are alleging this is grounds for an electoral college revolt, The View is asking for Trump to literally step down before he even assumes office over it, Congress is pursuing investigations, and the Hamilton Electors seem to be more motivated by Putin’s influence than anything else, judging by their Facebook.  The CIA is alleging this was the Russians, and the FBI is saying there’s not enough evidence to make that claim.

The CIA has released no evidence to back up their claim.  This would be expected, given that they need to protect sources and methods… if this was a hard hack of the DNC or Clinton’s emails.  However, the Podesta incident wasn’t a hack, it was a phishing scheme.  He received an unverified email claiming to be from google, which asked him to send his password, and he did… he sent back “p@ssw0rd”, which is what he was using.  He believed this email was genuine because one of his IT aides had wrote that it was “legitimate” when they meant to type “illegitimate”.  This wasn’t a hard hack, this was rank stupidity on the part of Podesta, Delavan (the IT guy who made one of the most consequential two letter typos in American history), and the DNC.  This was so amateurish that the stereotype Republicans have about the Democrats being idiots seems to understate things.  Meaning, further… any evidence the CIA has, isn’t based on some kind of hack that required the kind of sophistication which requires state sponsorship.  So what the CIA is asking of the American public, is to trust them.  Let me pause a moment so you can take that in.

The CIA is asking us to trust them.

Specifically, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, is asking us to trust him, and Democrats are asking him to give briefings to the electors in the electoral college.  You know… James Clapper.  Best known for lying, under oath, to Congress about the existence of the NSA program Snowden revealed.  His actions were more than just perjury, they were meant to conceal from both the American public at large and even Congress, the existence of an unconstitutional program which spies on hundreds of millions of Americans not even suspected of a crime.  This is a felony that he committed, provably, that is obviously prison-worthy and is an action that had lead to the first official impeachment of an American President.  So which prison is he in?  Nope… he wasn’t prosecuted, wasn’t charged, didn’t lose his job, and his current position has him in charge of 17 “intelligence” agencies.

It’s still quite possible that it was the Russians.  After all, as untrustworthy as the source of the allegations is, they’re still combined the largest and most effective spying apparatus in the world.  There’s not a doubt in my mind that Putin is both capable of something so rudimentary and willing to act how he’s accused of acting.  So if Russia is guilty, what are they guilty of?

The answer?  Providing the American public with truthful information about their candidates and the campaigns that they would not otherwise have had, with the intent of either causing chaos in the election and distrust among the American public about our democratic institutions, or to help decide the actual results of the election and help Trump win.  Separate out what I just said they did, and what I just said their motivations might be… and ask whether those motivations are the important part.  Although we shouldn’t take lightly foreign interference in our domestic elections, and Putin himself is one of the most dangerous geopolitical challenges that America faces, some perspective is appropriate.

“That which can be destroyed by the truth, should be.” absolutely applies here.  Nobody is seriously arguing that the information was untruthful, and transparency is a cornerstone of democracy, not an enemy of it.  There is an argument to be made that it’s a selective form of truth, because the information released was on one major candidate and not the other, but keep in mind this is undisputed truth all the same.  Just because I’d prefer as much information as possible on all candidates rather than one, doesn’t make the information unworthy of consideration by the American public.

–Gary Doan

Lost causes worth pursuing

Negan is the ultimate anti-Libertarian government.  Excessive use of force and aggression used to enforce a set of rules that aren’t based upon rights.  A tax rate of “half your shit”.  A modus operandi that institutes gun control as the first policy decree to achieve total control.  The insisting that “we are all Negan” that mirrors the statist substitution of “we”, not for “us”, but for government.  The insisting that the system is necessary for society and security while directly harming both.

While watching the Walking Dead the other night, I started thinking about how there are plenty of losing, unwinnable battles that are still worth fighting all the same.  This extends past a world that has one questioning whether the life offered is even worth living or preferable to death, because in our place in our world, it’s simply not that bad.  My belief that there are some battles worth fighting despite lacking a realistic shot at success shouldn’t come a a huge surprise–after all, I supported the Libertarian candidate for President in the last three elections.  In terms of an electoral victory, there was roughly zero chance of success.  In terms of whether or not enough third party votes would equal positive change in the major parties is a dubious position that can never fully be proven, even if that route is a success.  Was Perot a reason for Republican majorities that offered the “Contract with America” to get his voters back in the fold?  Was Nader a reason for the hard left turn of the modern Democrat Party and it’s adoption of his pet issues into their party’s platform?  Who knows.  It’s too hard to quantify, but I choose to believe the answer is “yes”.

Faithless electors have never, in the history of our nation, changed the result of the Presidential election.  The closest they’ve ever gotten was in 1836, when they changed the result of the vice presidential selection enough to throw the decision to the Senate… which chose the original winner anyway.  The Hamilton Electors, who are hoping to be the first, need to sway 37 electors to prevent Trump from winning outright, and at last count there were about 20 expected to even be entertaining the idea.  If they were to get to 37, they would then have to convince the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to choose someone other than the Republican candidate for President.

Stranger things have happened.  You could make the case that stranger things have happened… this year.  I was among those convinced that Trump would never become the Republican nominee.  I was among those convinced, once he was, that Trump would never become the President.  I was far from alone on this, and all the statisticians and predictive modeling based on polling data… was all wrong.  Given that recent track record, if you choose not to believe my assessment that the Hamilton Electors’ strategy is a lost cause, I’ll understand why.

But assuming they won’t succeed isn’t sufficient enough reason for them not to try.

First off, despite over half the states in the country having laws “binding” electors and having legal penalties for those who don’t comply, there has never been a single attempted prosecution of those who break such laws.  Some states have laws that would make such a break in vote automatically void, but again, they’ve never actually enforced that.  The Supreme Court has never actually ruled on whether these laws that punish these voters or invalidate their votes are constitutional, and can’t until it actually happens.  There is, simply, little to fear from a legal perspective from voting your conscience or for a consensus candidate.

The only real fear is retaliation from the party that such electors are, by their position, in good standing with.  However, the last Republican to be a faithless elector was Mike Padden, who voted for Reagan rather than Ford in 1976… and he’s currently a sitting member of the Washington State Senate.  The one before that was Roger MacBride, who voted Libertarian in 1972.  He became the Libertarian nominee for President in 1976, and rejoined the Republican Party after, helping to establish the Republican Liberty Caucus.  These aren’t men who were cast out or harmed by their faithless votes in the slightest.

So what can actually be accomplished by these votes?  Well, for one, I believe that a vote of conscience is never wasted, regardless of what immediate change it does or doesn’t produce.  Voting based upon principles is, when done en masse, the only kind of voting that can produce change, and it can’t wait to start until the election where it actually matters.  One of the rationales that people use for not voting third party, for instance, is that a third party can’t win.  This is true, but only because it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy.  If people stopped believing that, it would stop actually being true in short order.  Faithless electors have never switched the final results, but there’s a first time for everything that happens.  If, in 2016, they get close but not enough to switch the results, it can boost the belief that it actually can in the future.

Outside of that, this kind of action is meant to send a message.  The message being, as I understand it… Trump does not represent the entire Republican Party.  There are still Republicans attempting to resist Trump, and more importantly, there are still Republicans attempting to resist the integration of Trump’s ideas into mainstream of Republican thought.  This message is meant for several recipients.  It’s meant to embolden a Republican Congress to resist actions Trump might take by decreasing the perceived mandate he has.  It’s meant to tell future voters that Trump does not equal what Republican is, and that whatever candidate they choose to run once Trump is out is unlikely to be Trump 2.0.  And it’s meant to tell Democrats that there are areas both opposed to Trump’s actions and available for bipartisan cooperation simultaneously.

At the end of the day, the Hamilton Electors aren’t going to change the results of this one election, but that doesn’t mean they are wasting their time or energy.  Voting for Trump is a wasted vote, and their votes are not.

–Gary Doan