The notorious RBG replacement process

I’m going to step away from the Delaware election for an evening and let you know what I think about all this.

We knew it had to happen someday – after all, during the spring there were the rumors floating around that she had already died – but last Friday Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set off to meet her Maker at the age of 87. There’s no question she lived a long life full of accomplishment, but the one thing she apparently failed at was her gamble that she would outlive the term of a Republican president. Thus, the sky fell in on the Left just in time for a glorious late-summer weekend.

I’m not even sure the body had assumed room temperature before the “Biden Rule” caterwauling began. “You can’t select a nominee before the election!” they sputtered. “It would violate Justice Ginsburg’s final wish!” Obviously this hearsay superseded her previous on-the-record statement that a president’s term is four years, not three years and nine months.

Even if not, however, the Constitution dictates that the President in office select a nominee, a person who is appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. And this is where the comparisons to the 2016 replacement of the late Justice Antonin Scalia fall apart. For the Senate did give advice that year to President Obama – you can send anyone you want who shares your judicial temperament, but we will not consent. To turn a phrase, “we won.” Merrick Garland may have been a moderately left-wing judge compared to others nominated by Obama, but the Senate was not looking for moderate and they held the cards.

So now we have all sorts of vows from the Left should Trump nominate a conservative on his way out the door – they’ll be stacking the Supreme Court, adding the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as states, ending the filibuster and the Electoral College – and that’s just for starters. (And this doesn’t count the implied threat of more civil unrest Democrats have made.)

It’s that threat I want to address. Let’s say Kamala Harris wins the election. (And yes, I know Joe Biden is on the ballot but the over/under for his time in office with me is six months.) Knowing that President Trump and Mitch McConnell worked exceptionally hard over the last four years trying to overcome eight years of highly political Obama judicial appointees – with enough success that they got to select 1/3 of the Supreme Court and enough appellate judges to tip the balance in some districts to the conservative side – is it outside the realm of possibility that the organizers of the rioting may become leaders of assassination teams bent on picking off Trump appointees to open judicial seats that they believe our impeached but not convicted 45th President “stole?”

I don’t come to this conclusion lightly. In his column today, The Patriot Post‘s Mark Alexander quoted AOC, who said, “We all need to be more courageous and we all must act in unprecedented ways to make sure that our rights are stabilized. And to Mitch McConnell, we need to tell him that he is playing with fire.” To me, those “unprecedented ways” sound like a serious violent intent.

I am certain these judges already have extra protection, but an attack over the summer on the family of a federal judge pointed out the risks. And while the story writer bent over backwards to blame President Trump and “right-wing news” for these threats, it’s not right-wingers who are rioting, disrupting restaurant goers at dinner, or murdering Trump supporters. It’s not a long step to go from “defund the police” to “overturn the judicial system.”

And even if all elements of the RBG story remained the same except for the date being January 21, 2021 I believe the Left would have reacted the same way, screaming that RBG’s legacy was such that no conservative judge could follow her despite the fact Trump was re-elected with a GOP Senate majority still in place. The TDS is strong with these people and like spoiled children they don’t react well when they are told “no.” Add to that the lack of respect for life and you have the ingredients for what I’m describing.

You know, I really hate to think the worst of people but in my 56 years on this planet those suspicions have come to pass more than I would have liked. So I fervently pray I’m wrong but figure it’s an eventuality for which we may need to prepare.

Odds and ends number 98

I promised this a few weeks ago, but here it is in all its glory or whatever. As always, it’s little items which interest me and take up a few sentences.

So what does my e-mail have for me to share? In a monent I will look, but first allow me to reintroduce you to a classic concept.

Sunday evening reading

Many years ago, back in the days even before Salisbury had its blog wars – or had monoblogue – there was a website called Duvafiles. Its purveyor was a local attorney by the name of Bill Duvall, who has since passed away.

Aside from the sometimes-hilarious skewering of various local political figures and other prominent citizens, one of his regular features was indeed called Sunday evening reading – generally a short list of links Bill found interesting or useful.

In this case, there are many times I bookmark Erick Erickson because of how he intersects religion and politics. Unfortunately, having moved to Substack I can’t just link to his pieces but he does keep a limited free archive. (I’m just not quite willing to pull the trigger on $70 a year.)

Another frequent writer whose work sometimes gets buried behind a paywall is former Louisiana governor and 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal. He’s not really being mentioned as a 2024 contender but with commentary like this, I think he should be.

I’ve known Michigan-based writer Jen Kuznicki online for several years, but I didn’t know she had a more primary gig as a bartender. It gave her an up-close and personal view of a serious effect from the pandemic.

So since today is Sunday, I happened to see it as a perfect time to bring back the old concept. I think I have replicated it a time or two over the years, so it’s back again like the McRib.

Backing the blue

Another blast from my past came onto my radar screen recently. I’ve known Melody Clarke for several years, dating back to her previous moniker Melody Scalley and her unfortunately unsuccessful runs for office on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She may have a sweeter gig now as a Regional Coordinator of the Heritage Foundation.

Melody alerted me to a new Heritage initiative called the Police Pledge, which simply states that the signatory will “pledge to oppose any bill, resolution, or movement to ‘Defund the Police.'” Most notable among local signers thus far is Congressman Andy Harris, but there are two notables in Delaware as well: my District 21 state Senator (and candidate for Governor) Bryant Richardson, who signed it in his Senate capacity, and District 32 House challenger Cheryl Precourt from Kent County. Both are Republicans, although that’s no shock since all current federal officeholders who have signed are also members of the GOP. Nearly 80,000 private citizens have also signed, insuring the Heritage Foundation maintains a healthy e-mail list.

By comparison, it’s interesting to know just what the Left considers “defunding the police.” According to the Indivisible group, it’s where funding intended for police is diverted to “crisis intervention specialists, social workers, behavioral and mental health experts, food assistance and clean water, housing assistance, (and) school budgets.” But don’t we already pay for a welfare state?

By the way, that group of leftists had its “week of action” recently and touted “over 300 events across 37 states.” There was only one event in Delaware, so I guess they must figure they have this state sewn up. Got to work on that.

On the energy front

I already knew wind power was less reliable, more inconvenient, and more expensive, so this piece just reinforces what I already knew. On the other hand, API’s Mark Green describes some of the issues with getting necessary infrastructure in place.

While Delaware seems to be in decent shape with its natural gas supply pipelines, there is still the matter of trying to get an extended route to supply Maryland’s Eastern Shore constructed. As is often the case, short-sighted “progressives” are against real progress but cheer on pie-in-the-sky boondoggles that do nothing but drive up electric bills and ruin viewsheds.

Party over principle?

It’s an argument that dogged the TEA Party – do you work within the existing two-party system or try an alternative? Unfortunately, the Republican Party did not bend to the right nearly as readily as the Democrats have kowtowed to the radical left-wing flank of its numbers over the last two years, which is one reason why we have the predicament we are in now.

But radio host Andy Hooser, a.k.a. the “Voice of Reason”, begs to reignite an argument that seemed to fade away when the TEA Party morphed into the backing for Donald Trump. He writes:

(After the GOP nominated John McCain and Mitt Romney) I considered leaving the Republican party and going independent or Libertarian. I wanted my conservative voice to be accepted, not shunned in a party that is supposed to advocate for the views and ideas I have…not for me to conform to the party…

I then began my radio career by joining the broadcasting school, and interning for one of the great radio legends Mike Rosen of 850 KOA in Denver, CO. During my tenure with Mike, I had heard him advocate for the “Party over Person” argument, explaining third parties do nothing more than ruin any chance of getting someone close to your ideology…but help elect the person farthest from your views.

It hit home with me.

“The Voice of Reason” newsletter, August 2020

But we tried all this, and it didn’t work. I am living proof: is the Maryland Republican Party any more conservative now then when I began with them in 2006? No, they are even more spineless and have an impotent titular head to boot.

We actually now have an opportunity to open things up on both sides as the Democrats are eating their own and Republicans are trying to be more like Trump. There are openings for the progressives, centrists, and conservatives if they can just figure out a way to break up the R-and-D duopoly that saddles us with too many “lesser of two evils” elections. In Delaware I have six ballot-qualified parties to choose from, and while the system could use a little more work it’s an improvement from what Maryland and many other states are saddled with, like the Maryland Libertarians finally getting ballot access after a grueling ordeal.

“I want to thank everyone who helped petition to get back on the ballot, especially under such circumstances where the state of Maryland insisted we had to collect signatures while making it illegal or very difficult to petition in public for much of 2020,” said Maryland LP chair Bob Johnston in a release. But they are only there through 2022 unless they get 1% of the vote for Governor or 1% of the state’s registered voters. (That works out to about 40,000.)

Meanwhile, Delaware Libertarians break their 0.1% of RV hurdle with ease. I just wish they would focus more on candidate recruitment.

Getting to follow up

I didn’t realize that it had been over 18 months since I wrote a piece for The Patriot Post on civil asset forfeiture, but it proved to be a handy precursor to a lengthier treatise on the subject from Robert Stilson of the Capital Research Center on that very topic.

We still need to work on the principle that gains considered ill-gotten by the standard of suspicion are ripe for the taking. Believe it or not, there are legitimate reasons for individuals to carry large sums of cash and it’s none of the government’s business why they do so unless they want to press criminal charges and prove illegal intent in court. It’s not intended to be a slush fund for local law enforcement.

The long march to the left

One other noteworthy item from the CRC is this profile of the Walmart Foundation. Apparently Sam Walton had little use for charity or politics, but his heirs have gone completely overboard from the port side.

I don’t mind companies giving to charity, but it seems to me that many of today’s corporate conglomerates are operating under the “last to be eaten by the alligator” principle. How about just starving the alligator instead?

Uniquely Delaware

When I first moved to this area in 2004, one thing I quickly noticed was the all-number Delaware license plates. (Meanwhile, my Maryland plate was one of the first to have the old 1AA A11 pattern they used for about eight years before adopting the current 1AA1111 pattern.) Being a small state, Delaware is one of the last holdouts that has such numeric tags. (Many do have a standard prefix, though, as I note below.)

Now my car has a regular old random six-digit number beginning way up in the 9’s as its plate, but if I had a lot of coin I could buy the rights to have a number as low as 4 on my car. (I have to be elected governor, lieutenant governor, or secretary of state to get 1, 2, or 3 respectively. But I have seen #4. On the other hand, I also know someone who has a plate in the 9998xx series. Wonder if there’s a market for high number plates, too?)

The plate PC8 (PC, or “passenger carrier,” is a prefix often found on SUVs) just sold for $175,000. This creates an interesting question for me: do you insure the car or the license plate?

Speaking of Delaware, I wonder how this turned out? If for no other reason, the added traffic snarl of our prospective President having a beach house here is a good reason to keep Donald Trump in office.

And last…

Since I got this done in time, tomorrow night I will try my hand at pre-primary wild guesses and analysis for the Delaware primary. We’ll see if my expertise gained over often winning the (ladies and) gentlemen’s bet over Maryland primary and general election results among my fellow Central Committee members transfers across state lines.

And then there were five: a Delaware political update

You know, for a year that’s supposed to be awful for Republicans thanks to the media-driven “unpopularity” and poor polling of President Trump, there seems to be a lot of interest in challenging incumbent Governor John Carney on the GOP side. With 2016 candidate and longtime State Senator Colin Bonini announcing another bid yesterday on WGMD radio, we now have five vying for the nomination on September 15.

In listening to Bonini’s chat with host Mike Bradley, he spent the first third of it encouraging the field to be cleared. Yet we have an intriguing grouping of folks running for the nomination – two are currently elected officials (Bonini and fellow Senator Bryant Richardson), two are businessmen (David Bosco and Neil Shea) and one is an attorney (Julianne Murray.)

But as I discussed the last time I visited the topic a month ago, Bonini was one of the few Republicans who have significant name recognition because of his previous statewide run, and that gives him some advantage. He also has a commendable legislative record, ranking as the top Senator in the five-year Delaware history of the monoblogue Accountability Project. (Richardson is third among Senators; both have been Legislative All-Stars and Bonini was my Legislator of the Year for the 2015-16 term.) But the argument can be made that he’s too “establishment” and he’s already lost a matchup against Carney. (Bonini even ran about three points behind Donald Trump in Delaware, collecting 18,275 fewer votes. That was nearly 10 percent of Trump’s total. Meanwhile, John Carney had the highest number of votes for any candidate, including Hillary Clinton.)

Since this update comes about a month out from my initial foray into the topic – but a few weeks before the filing deadline – I thought it would be an interesting idea to see just how well these selected primary candidates are getting the word out. The one commonality they all have is a Facebook page, so in strict order of “likes” we have the following ranking:

  • Neil Shea – 1,932 likes, page created May 12 (46 days)
  • Bryant Richardson – 976 likes on his Senate page, created in 2012
  • Julianne Murray – 668 likes, page created May 24 (34 days)
  • David Bosco – 466 likes, page created May 26 (32 days)
  • Colin Bonini – 108 likes, page created June 2 (25 days)

Bear in mind Bonini only announced his intentions yesterday. In comparison to Richardson, his Senate Facebook page has 2,303 likes.

And while it seems rather daunting to take on a sitting governor, I was surprised to find Carney’s campaign Facebook page only has 7,191 likes.

Meanwhile, there has only been a little movement in the remaining downballot statewide races. Besides Bonini, the only announced candidate that I’m aware of who has not actually filed for office is U.S. Senate candidate James DeMartino. Independent candidate Catherine Purcell has checked into the race for the House, while previously announced candidates John Carney, Donyale Hall, Julianne Murray, Julia Pillsbury, Bryant Richardson, and Jessica Scarane formally filed.

Just for fun, I’m also checking the social media status of the other primary races:

  • In this Senate primaries, DeMartino has garnered 414 likes since March 25, a total of 94 days. On the other hand, Lauren Witzke is comfortably ahead on that front with 4,499 likes but it’s taken her 172 days to get there. They both trail Chris Coons, who has 22,980 likes on a page created in 2008; however, his progressive opponent Jessica Scarane has only 1,846 likes on a page created last October.
  • Turning to the House race, GOP hopeful Lee Murphy has 1,875 likes on a page he created in June of 2018, while Matthew Morris trails with 1,295 likes but has only had the page active 92 days. Incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester has 6,945 likes on a campaign page created in 2015.

Since no one else has a primary just yet, I’ll leave the social media at that, except for one thing: I joined Parler the other day (@monoblogue) only to find Lauren Witzke is already there, and has been for several weeks. As word spreads about the Twitter alternative, it will be interesting to see who makes the jump. (I haven’t seen a Parler icon on any campaign page yet, including Witzke’s.)

Unless Bonini prevails on some of the hopefuls to drop out or not, this year’s GOP gubernatorial primary could be the most crowded in the state’s history (although primary election results on the state’s website only date back about 30 years.) Bear in mind also that there will be 5 to 7 parties on the ballot this fall depending on registered voter status, and some of those candidates automatically advance to the general election ballot through nomination by convention.

Some of this puzzle will be cleared up by July 17, three days after the filing deadline and the final point hopefuls can drop out (or shift races) without losing their filing fee.

Splitting the opposition: securing the coin and what they do with it

Editor’s note: Back in January I promised a multi-part series of posts based on a book I started on the Indivisible movement that, simply put, just wasn’t coming together as I would have liked. So I decided to serialize that beginning of a book draft – with a little more editing as I see fit – and add more writing to make this into a multi-part series of posts.

This is the (long-awaited, as it turned out) third and final part, which will talk about how aggressively Indivisible is seeking its funding and converting it to radical action. You can start this back up with me here.

Money is the mother’s milk of politics.

Former California state treasurer (and Democrat) Jesse Unruh

It’s an unfortunate fact of American political life that organizations require money to get out their message. Even a candidate who received billions of dollars’ worth of “free” media thanks to a measure of celebrity prior to his run needed $68 million in the waning days of the 2016 campaign to succeed. “What if we hadn’t spent that?” asked Brad Parscale, digital media director for Donald Trump’s campaign. “We might not have won.”

Knowing that, imagine having the lofty goal of disrupting the Trump presidency and winning the first midterm elections against him – but beginning from scratch financially. And while the Indivisible movement had a few built-in advantages, such as a sympathetic media and no shortage of progressive groups willing to pass the hat around in order to get them off the ground, that gravy train wasn’t going to last forever given the number of other left-wing advocacy groups standing in line with outstretched hands, begging to save the whales or secure slavery reparations, among thousands of others. Once the e-mail list was created and the contacts were verified, the pitches began.

Anyone who has spent time in the political world – or even donated a few times to a candidate or cause – knows the tenor of a fundraising letter. It always begins in a conversational style, almost apologetic that there’s a problem which needs to be addressed, but eventually insisting that your contribution of $10 to $100 will be VITAL in getting the candidate elected over his unworthy opponent. (Yes, they liberally use the bold fonts, too.)

For all their insistence that they were different and “had a ‘fundraising second’ approach” which made it a secondary concern – in many instances they insisted that, given one’s choice between activism and donation they’d prefer the activism – as the 2020 campaign began to take shape, the tenor of the average Indivisible e-mail changed significantly. While they generally communicated a weekly “to-do” list of five or six items to those on their e-mail list, by the time the middle of 2019 rolled around these missives also just as frequently had the “ask” for contributions, as did several other e-mails each week. Did you really expect grassroots?

For example, in a July 1, 2019 e-mail to supporters, the curtain was opened for a peek at some of the expenses and dollar amounts Indivisible was expecting to attain in 2019:

  • $275,000 for a mass e-mailing tool
  • $20,000 for the peer-to-peer texting tool
  • $15,000 for September “Day of Action” materials – this was representative of the usual “Day of Action” budget, which would be replicated a few more times in 2019.
  • $20,000 for “bird dogging” materials (“bird dogging” is basically a real live version of online trolling.)
  • $380,000 for in-person training and other organizing events for groups and group leaders
  • $350,000 for access to the voter file and other organizing tools for groups

They don’t fail to note that “this doesn’t even include things like salaries and benefits for organizing staff!” But just this budget for a half-year was $1.06 million.

And this isn’t the only time. In fact, practically all of their e-mail missives now have an “ask” for several ongoing organizing projects. But the Wuhan flu – and yes, I use that phrase just to needle them – made necessary a change in tactics as face-to-face meeting was out and virtual strategizing was in. Take this idea for example:

On May 12, Indivisible groups in Tallahassee, Phoenix, and Austin littered the grounds of their statehouses with body bags, representing the 81,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. Lives that could have been saved if not for President Trump and GOP Governors and Senators’ failure to adequately respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 

These incredible actions generated national media attention for their destructive responses to the virus, the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Americans, and dangerous re-open orders in states around the country.  

“Indivisibles marked National Hospital Day with Body Bag Protests”, May 15, 2020.

Unfortunately, they seemed to forget the biggest concentrations of those deaths were in progressive-run places like New York City, New Orleans, and Seattle. None of those places have a Republican mayor or governor; meanwhile, Florida, Arizona, and Texas combined (as of this writing) have fewer COVID-19 deaths than Democrat strongholds Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York have by themselves. Hopefully those body bags were sent by Indivisible to the progressive areas which truly needed them.

Of course, the Indivisible folks have also jumped on the George Floyd bandwagon with another ludicrous scheme. This is from policy team member Eli Gerber:

We’re unpacking the racist history of policing, the impact policing has on Black communities, and why taking money out of the multi-million dollar budgets of police forces and using it to fund resources and programs that people really need is so urgently necessary – especially during the COVID-19 outbreak, which has revealed how badly we are failing to meet people’s basic needs.

Policing Black communities and inflicting violence on black people can’t fix the problems that centuries of racist policies have created. It’s time to defund the police and invest in things like schools, clean water, food and housing assistance, social workers, and more.

“Police Violence is its Own Pandemic – Tune into Episode 3 of COVID Corruption”, June 6, 2020.

Honestly, I didn’t sit and watch the latest video after I wasted five minutes of my life watching Gerber whine about the Wisconsin primary being held as scheduled back on April 7 in part 2 of this awful series. I guess the logical question is then just who will enforce the laws in these cities if there is no police department?

If these views are mainstream then we don’t live in a Constitutional republic anymore.

In less than two years the Indivisible movement (Indivisible Project and Indivisible Civics) had garnered over $25 million in contributions, according to these summaries of their IRS 990 forms. And that was only through 2018 – they may have doubled their take again in 2019 and 2020. Moreover, there are only a handful of local Indivisible groups with their own 990 forms, which tells me all their action is inside the Beltway.

On the other hand, looking through that same data source and doing a simple search for “tea” provided 200 results, and many of them were local TEA parties reporting little to no assets. The largest TEA party group spent most of its six figure take on website and media consulting, making it sound like a scam PAC from the get-go. (It was not the Tea Party Patriots, who have even more modest fundraising figures.)

It’s a case of claiming to have a “fundraising second” approach like the national Indivisible movement does versus actually scratching out an existence on a shoestring as most TEA Parties do (and have done since their inception.) This disparity may be part of explaining the success of Indivisible, but it also shows that it’s a far more Astroturf entity than the TEA Party ever was, despite all the accusations otherwise.

So where does all this lead?

Americans who still believe in the ideals of their nation as defined by its Constitution are the majority, but it’s one that’s rapidly dwindling because people believe the Indivisible propaganda echoed all across the media and culture.

“The truth shall set you free” is not just part of a Bible verse (John 8:32) but is more important than ever. Take a look beyond the seductive promises of so-called progressives to the essence of individual freedom and self-governance.

Last year I wrote a book about the TEA Party and closed it by explaining how to renew its tree of liberty. We should get involved in the political process at the local grassroots again and propose real solutions that don’t involve overbearing government and that empower all of us, not just a manipulative elite residing far away. It’s past time to divide Indivisible by beating them at their own organizing game.

Guess I really didn’t need a whole book to tell you that, so my initial instincts have been proven correct. But if you want to start this study from its beginning way back in February, here’s part one.

Lowered expectations

Subtitled, kicking the can down the road.

I’ve been blogging now for a decade and a half, with most of that time being spent creating and curating content for this website. In that time I have found my way onto many mailing lists and searches, but few have been as bizarre as something I received the other day.

I had to look up who Sara Croom was, but her story seems legit: She is the Managing Director of a PR firm called Ainsley Shea, which is somewhat unusual because they are headquartered in Minnesota yet keep a branch in the D.C. area where Sara works.

It was a nice enough ask:

As you continue your political coverage, please find the attached memo outlining national popular vote – as well as offering a few of National Popular Vote (NPV) key spokespeople, who are available for interviews. 

If you have any questions, or need anything further, do let me know and I would be happy to help. 

Be well and stay safe. 

E-mail from Sara Croom, April 30, 2020

Even though I am a definite skeptic, I looked up the memo, entitled “National Popular Vote: Media Guidelines” to see if they had any different talking points. There were none, but the one thing I noticed was the end goal: having NPV in effect in time for the 2024 election. (Another thing: a key spokesperson for NPV is former Maryland LG and failed Senate candidate Michael Steele. That tells me a lot.)

This is in contrast to the Democrat Party’s seemingly overt goal for 2020, which is to conduct strictly mail-in balloting so they can more easily manipulate the results in states they control. (Bear in mind that there are four key states which Trump won in 2016 which now have a Democrat governor: Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.)

The method of enacting NPV has been the same since Maryland was the first state to join the proposed compact in 2007: once states representing 270 or more electoral votes sign on, those states will give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote regardless of the results within their state. Given the fact that every state currently in NPV is a reliably Democrat state I’m going to assume this will work only until the time some “racist” Republican carries the overall popular vote, in which case these states will certainly renege on the deal.

Their key argument, however, continues to be that elections are decided in just a few swing states and they get all the attention despite being a small subset of the overall electorate. (Remember, prior to 2016, states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin weren’t considered swing states because they had been solidly Democrat for several cycles in a row.) The election focused on states like Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio – states outside the bicoastal focus of news networks and full of icky “deplorable” voters. If you lived in one of those coastal blue states or the deep red states in the Bible Belt, the campaigns basically ignored you.

Where that argument falls apart is that, under NPV, rural and sparsely-populated states will be ignored even more by campaigns as they would cater to the desires of densely populated urban areas – of course, to pander to those areas the campaigns would have to steer themselves to the left of center. Had 2016 been an NPV election, Hillary would have won in a larger popular vote landslide because Trump’s secret weapon of Rust Belt lunch-pail voters would have been less likely to come out, skipping yet another election thanks to their discouragement at a rigged system. As it turned out, just enough of them turned out to tip the scales in the aforementioned key states heretofore presumed Democrat blue to swing an election decided by less than 80,000 votes in three large states. All because Hillary took them for granted.

Since the founding of our country, the electoral system has functioned as anywhere from 13 to 51 separate state elections leading to one balloting that as of 2020 will feature just 538 voters selected by individual states. Has the will of the people always held sway? No, but it’s not like a tiny majority dictated the tune for the rest of the nation – or is it? Not only did neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump garner a majority of votes cast, but based on voter registration and turnout, the real winner in 2016 was none of the above since only about 55% of eligible voters showed up.

NPV is one of several voting initiatives championed by the Democrat Party, all of which are calculated to bolster “turnout.” Unfortunately, vote-by-mail, automatic registration, compulsory voting, and ballot harvesting create vastly increased potential for mischief that just somehow almost always seems to accrue in the favor of Democrats. (Just ask Norm Coleman, right?)

If we really want to do electoral reform, how about culling the voter rolls to keep those who are serious about voting on them and eliminating duplicates and dead voters, and requiring a photo ID for voting in person on Election Day? I take the time to learn the candidates and issues and show up, so why can’t everyone else?

The clash of the titans

I saw an interesting e-mail and release cross my desk the other day, reminding me of my halcyon days in the Maryland Republican Party. But before I get to that, allow me to explain my extended absence.

Back about two weeks ago, the company which handles my website as part of a shared server had a major problem with said server, which knocked me offline by itself for a couple days. Once the server was restored, however, there was an issue with the database – which is why you may have seen a lot of oddball text where my header photo would go and all of my links and posts were no longer categorized – the links were in an alphabetical jumble. It was really bad on the back end where I do my handiwork.

So finally I got tech support to fix that issue, only to find out I had yet another database error which occurred after I added a plugin which allowed me to back up this website to a remote place. That was what you may have seen yesterday evening when I noticed I couldn’t access my site. I finally repaired the database on my own – I found the instructions on a WordPress help side and lo and behold, it actually worked! So I also took the moment to upgrade to the latest version (now we are up to WordPress 5.4) and update the other plugins and themes. Hopefully I can keep this thing afloat for awhile longer.

Now that I have begged your indulgence and you (hopefully) stuck with me, allow me to speak my little piece.

I know I’m trying to focus on Delaware, but I have a lot of Maryland friends and a few days ago I received word that Nicolee Ambrose, who has been Maryland’s RNC National Committeewoman for the past eight years (elected in a convention that may have been one of my all-time favorites for the drama and successes, but one which – alas! – the post’s photos haven’t yet been restored which destroys my narrative) is trying for term number three. That’s not a surprise, as she seems to enjoy the job.

In fact, the surprise came from a blog for which I’m an “erstwhile” contributor, Red Maryland. This deeply slanted piece came from Brian Griffiths, who has no love lost for Ambrose, and announced that former party Chair Diana Waterman has decided to seek the position. It’s rather funny to me because politics makes strange bedfellows – Griffiths’ dislike of Ambrose led him to support “party over everything” matron Audrey Scott during that fateful 2012 convention. He may have one more vote than I do on the matter, though.

Truth be told, I think Nicolee has done a reasonably good job, but the argument that eight years is long enough in office is a compelling one, too. Unfortunately, I think the idea is that of getting new blood into the office, not using the position to be a cushy golden parachute because life gets boring when you’re not the leader. (I think that was Audrey Scott’s intent.) I’m not going to lose any sleep over it should Diana prevail, but I don’t see it as a vast improvement.

At the time she was elected, Nicolee was exciting and new while Audrey Scott represented the old guard that seemed to be happy with the Republicans being a perpetual (and not very principled) minority party in Maryland, save for the more rural parts of the state. (In that respect it reminds me of the current Delaware GOP.) I’m not going to paint Diana Waterman with that same brush I used for Audrey Scott, but what I will say is that she’s not exactly going to take things in a new direction, either. Diana reminds me a lot of Larry Hogan, and not just in the fact both of them took on cancer and won.

Speaking of the governor: as I see it, the Ambrose-Waterman race is interesting enough for me to write about as a horserace, but what I want to know is what they would do about the real problem with the Maryland GOP: its titular head, Governor Larry Hogan.

What we saw in the 2018 elections was embarrassing: Larry Hogan lost what mojo he had as the opposition leader to Martin O’Malley with Change Maryland because he decided not to change the state that much from how it was the several terms before him. First he sold out the Eastern Shore farmers, then he sold out the people of Western Maryland, and finally he sold out two good conservative Republicans with the singular focus of a “drive for five” that fizzled badly. Given Larry’s distaste for Trump, I’m sure that Maryland has already been written off by the national GOP for 2020 so the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives isn’t going to be addressed in this state.

To be quite honest, if John Delaney had opted out of his quixotic bid for President and opted in to the 2018 governor’s race, we would be talking about Governor Delaney’s prospects for re-election two years hence. Despite Hogan’s poll-based popularity, I’m sure 30 percent of Democrats would not have crossed party lines to vote for Hogan because they were repelled by the far-left Ben Jealous if the more moderate Delaney were the 2018 standardbearer. (The Democrats may learn their lesson as the 2022 frontrunner seems to be Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is a progressive wolf in moderates’ clothing. He talks a good centrist game.)

Maryland as a state, though, faces a unique problem. Notwithstanding the recent Wuhan virus and government-caused economic meltdown, a Donald Trump who is more successful in draining the swamp leads to economic pain to certain regions of the state – regions which contain about 40 percent of the state’s voters. It’s become a statewide company town, and that company is the federal government. I’d love it, sitting here in Delaware as I do, if the federal government cut its budget in half, but those who toil for Uncle Sam would be staring at a financial pit not unlike the one workers at suddenly-shuttered businesses face at this very moment. It’s a case where the 60 percent in Maryland need to feel a little less empathy for their brethren at the ballot box but a little more at the collection box to help those who would be in need.

So it really doesn’t matter which Titanic deck chairs go where, because in my humble opinion the problem is more than either Ambrose or Waterman can address by themselves. They’re just there to pick up the pieces when the Maryland GOP game is up in 2022.

The state of the TEA Party: spring 2020

Subtitled, the Wuhan coronavirus edition.

I originally intended for this piece to have a completely different look and feel than it will have, not to mention it was moved up in time about two to three weeks from its original intention of coinciding with the anniversary of my book release last year. (Yes, it’s been 12 months since I wrapped up that labor of love.) But the question of just how the TEA Party is reacting to a government stimulus that is over twice again the one it was initially formed in response to was on my heart, so this post is brooming the original concept of answers to a rhetorical question that, frankly, was never asked anyway. Life gets in the way.

This is going to sound completely hypocritical to many, but I sort of expected the one response I found in a local Florida newspaper – the Sunshine State being one of the remaining hotbeds for the movement. One I didn’t expect but am not surprised by is the reaction to a New Mexico businessman apparently best known as a TEA Party leader suing his state government, claiming the disease “is not serious enough for emergency orders, enforcement of restrictions on socializing is impossible, and the orders deny him the right to free assembly and worship.” Aside from the lack of certainty that a mix of commonly available drugs presents a cure (the research on that is promising but ongoing) the complaint is very truthful. Yet it’s going to go nowhere.

(It’s sort of like the Rick Santelli approach that was blown way out of proportion by the Left and media – but I repeat myself.)

On the other hand, while I have been critical at times of the personally opportunistic leadership of Jenny Beth Martin and the Tea Party Patriots, I have to commend both her and the organization for the tone they have struck in their response to this ordeal. Citing Scripture (in this case, 2 Timothy 1:7). Martin writes in part:

(T)he best advice I can give is to take this virus seriously, but don’t panic. Don’t let the bloodthirsty media panic you. But, at the same time, please take appropriate precautions. Follow the recommended guidelines about washing your hands, don’t touch your face, sanitize surfaces, and stay home more. And, if possible, support your local businesses and restaurants – you can order food to go so you aren’t eating in, but still helping them keep their doors open.

Also, please if you are not in an at-risk category and you are able, help your friends, acquaintances or neighbors that are over 60 or already ill. Call them up and find out if they need anything from the store that you could pick up for them, so that they don’t need to risk going out. You can even drop it off on their doorstep so that they can avoid human contact.

“My thoughts regarding the Coronavirus,” Jenny Beth Martin, March 19, 2020.

The TPP also has a nice coronavirus portal on their website, with an editable form letter that’s honestly full of good advice for individual initiative.

But there are a couple questions going forward that those interested in fiscal conservatism and limited government should point out, particularly since those on the Left had their own wishlist that could come in yet another Wuhan virus relief bill. Aside from the non-virus related pork in the bill, another thing to watch for is whether this new, vastly increased amount of spending becomes a new artificial baseline from which the Left will scream about “cuts” if we even level-fund in the next budget year.

And when they are not wailing in their best shrill girly scream about how Donald Trump is “a president who will bear responsibility for the death of many of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones, and for an economic nightmare… an outcome of the right-wing project to undermine and vilify government,” they’re certainly scheming on how to not let this crisis go to waste:

At the end of this pandemic, more Americans will view the government as capable of solving big societal problems, progressives argue. New emergency-aid legislation dramatically expands paid sick and family leave for millions of workers and suspends work requirements for food assistance, two agenda items progressives have long supported. And the $2 trillion stimulus package that the president just signed into law would provide a $1,200 direct payment to most American adults—similar to the Freedom Dividend championed by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang—and another $250 billion in unemployment-insurance benefits. “There’s going to be an amazing shift where we recognize the impact government can have on our lives for the better,” says Charles Chamberlain, the executive director at Democracy for America, a progressive political-action committee.

“What Do Progressives Do Now?”, Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic, March 28, 2020.

Unfortunately, that “amazing shift” isn’t going to come with the economic activity required to create the value to come anywhere close to repaying the debt or preventing a return to rampant Carter-era inflation.

Finally, it’s interesting to me that both of these stimulus programs come in response to government actions perhaps the opposite of what would be expected from the party in charge. The Obama stimulus came after the months of uncertainty that spanned from the tail end of the George W. Bush administration (when he had to destroy the free market to save it, and which briefly took GOP candidate John McCain off the campaign trail) whereas this stimulus came from the unprecedented government action of ordering certain businesses to close to prevent the spread of a virus unknown just six months ago. It’s worth pointing out, though, that the decentralization of the federal response is more or less in line with the philosophy of the Trump administration (hence the whining from the Left.)

Whether I’ll come back to my originally scheduled summer TEA Party update or change up again may depend on circumstances both national and personal. I’m definitely hoping we return to something approaching normal by then, but there’s always the prospect that we are in a new normal – and that’s what’s scary.

I’d love some thoughts from my TEA Party friends on this theory, either here or the places I’ll share.

A business state of emergency

It’s amazing in a way to think that we’ve only gone a week and change since the NBA suspended its season in an effort to stifle the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. Since then we have endured a week of drastic bad news the likes of which we haven’t seen since 9/11 and perhaps longer. What was shaping up to be a pleasant spring routine has now been destroyed, along with the hopes and dreams of anyone who wanted to participate in the NCAA basketball tournament, their senior proms, and graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020, among countless other annual and special events.

On Tuesday night we resumed our bowling season under different rules, splitting the league squads into two shifts to keep the number in the bowling alley below 50. Unfortunately, that change was short-lived as Governor Carney expanded his previous State of Emergency order the next day to demand the closing of bowling alleys, among other businesses.

While I get the necessity of the closings to “flatten the curve” my problem is the open-endedness of such an order. While there is CDC guidance suggesting this will last about eight weeks, the reality is that many people and businesses can’t survive an eight-week shutdown, at least not without some sort of mitigation. I love how the private sector has moved into action in a lot of cases.

Now let me make a confession: I was sort of stuck as to how to continue this post, at least until I got a comment to Wednesday’s Patriot Post commentary that I shared by Mark Alexander. This response is from a person I’ve known for awhile who is well over on the other side of the political fence, and is quoted verbatim:

Jesus christ ppl are losing jobs, dying, mass hysteria, and hoarding of vital medical supplies. I am working as so many other low paid workers in constant contact with people of high and low risk of severe illness. This is not political. The facts are this we are not prepared and a clown is running the circus. I dont want people to lose their homes, jobs, lives. Or leader need to put their big girl panties on and do what’s right for the millions of Americans and not ask first what party or income bracket they belong in.

Reaction to social media post

This whole situation has been a balancing act I wouldn’t wish on anyone because you have two bad choices: go about normal life, leave the disease essentially unchecked, and overwhelm our health system, OR, shut down everything and place people out of work. President Trump has advised for the latter course but has left enforcement up to state and local officials. To me that’s the proper way to address this because they are more familiar with conditions on the ground, and besides: you can’t completely shut everything down because people have to eat.

And I have to ask: how do you prepare for something like this, a once-in-a-century disease? If we had somehow stocked up on respirators, medicine, and so forth ten years ago, say, as part of the stimulus, wouldn’t someone have complained that we were spending money to store supplies that might have deteriorated to the point of being useless by now anyway? It’s one thing to fill an oil reserve but quite another to stock up on testing kits for a disease that doesn’t exist at the time. Leaders can be prescient but I don’t think they’re often psychic.

So I will grant that we weren’t prepared, but then again that’s the nature of a crisis. We can only prepare ourselves so much for any particular risk so we go with what we know about risks we have experienced at the expense of other ones. (Cases in point: terrorist attacks begat the PATRIOT Act and Department of Homeland Security, both of which have survived nearly two decades now, and school shootings have necessitated upgrades to school buildings which do not necessarily improve the educational process.) After this Chinese virus has run its course we will probably go overboard with products and procedures that will be infringements on our wallets and liberty. (If it brings pharmaceutical manufacturing back from China, though, that would be a benefit.)

On the other hand, I don’t think we have a clown running the circus. A President Hillary Clinton would have dictated a more bureaucratic and more politically correct solution – in my opinion it would have paralleled Italy’s and sadly, that’s been a disaster for the Italian people who are sharing their misery with a huge Chinese national contingent within their nation. The experts have agreed that clamping down on travel from China when President Trump did may have saved thousands from getting the virus and overwhelming the American health care system. And, unfortunately, I don’t think slow Joe Biden would have fared any better than Hillary had this crisis occurred next year after his election. To a greater extent than we are already saddled with, the folks in a Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden administration would have seen this as a crisis they could have used to permanently secure more federal government power.

(That’s not to say those under Trump are immune – I’m somewhat leery of how we will address the financial end by setting a precedent of government payments. One can argue, however, that this direct payment would be compensation for the taking of one’s livelihood since many places of business were forced to close. Perhaps a complementary way to address this, though, would be to bolster state unemployment accounts.)

So thanks to my friend for giving me the inspiration to revise and extend these remarks – I started this on Wednesday but hadn’t felt the need to return to it until that response.

Is it hype or reality?

If I were to categorize my state of health, I would argue that it’s relatively good. Yes, I weigh more than I should but the blood work always seems to come back fine. It’s a blessing that I’m glad to have considering how many others suffer.

In the last few weeks, we’ve been reminded what suffering is thanks to the spread of the coronavirus, or, more appropriately, Wuhan virus. It took a few weeks to learn what virulent effects it was having on the people around the Chinese city of Wuhan, but as it spreads around the world we hear fears of a pandemic on the scale of the Spanish flu a century ago, where millions in a war-ravaged global population perished. (Reports suggest its effects casualty-wise were worse than the First World War, which was coming to an end just as the influenza was beginning to spread.)

Because of that fear, we are treated to breathless accounts of rapidly dwindling supplies of surgical masks, disinfectant, and toilet paper. The Dow Jones and other markets have plunged, major events cancelled, entire countries are being placed into lockdown over the Wuhan virus, and even our church has played into this paranoia as shaking hands has been discouraged at the greeting time built into the service.

If you know me well enough, you know I’m something of a born skeptic about certain things, and Wuhan virus is quickly falling into that category. There are just too many reasons to believe that there’s much more sizzle than steak when it comes to our seemingly biannual dread disease that’s going to wipe us all out. (If we survived SARS, which is more easily spread, we can handle Wuhan virus.)

Now the conspiracy buffs among us could speculate that the whole thing is a Chinese plot to try and crash our economy, paving the way for a President more to their liking than Donald Trump, who has been a difficult adversary when it comes to trade. It is interesting to note, though, how the federal reaction once thought to be too strict is now being portrayed as an albatross around Trump’s neck worse than Hurricane Katrina was for President George W. Bush. And as I noted above, the media has been complicit in stoking up fear.

After the topic came up for discussion at our small group tonight, I had another thought on the way home. Now it’s nothing completely out of the ordinary for schools to close because of the flu, as it happens from time to time when a school finds a significant percentage of its kids are sick. But the measures being taken such as cancelling in-person classes in favor of online lessons for the foreseeable future or keeping workers at home, as well as the talk of scrubbing pro sports games (as of about 30 minutes after I posted this, it’s no longer talk) or, more likely, holding them in closed stadiums – go beyond the pale into uncharted territory.

What this all reminds me of was the time period immediately after 9/11, and we have some eerie parallels. You may recall that both MLB and the NFL postponed an entire week’s worth of games (which, by the way, was how we got November baseball for the first time. I remember seeing the “Welcome to November Baseball” sign at old Yankee Stadium as the October 31 World Series Game 4 dragged past midnight into November.) But it’s also worth pointing out schools remained closed for several days after the terrorist attack, and life wasn’t really something close to normal for weeks – or months, in the case of the New York and D.C. regions. (Or so I presume since I was still in Ohio back then.)

And it could be much the same type of situation here, except the impacts are in different areas, such as the global supply chain, financial markets, and perhaps oil industry – has the sudden, unexpected drop in demand from a moribund China led to a schism in the market as Russia and Saudi Arabia could not agree to supply cuts to re-establish $60 a barrel oil? Tonight I even saw the “r” word being mentioned in the same story that noted the latest decline in the Dow Jones makes it official: the post-Great Recession bull market is officially over after 11 years. Stocks have fallen 20 percent off their peak of just a few weeks ago.

Long story short: Wuhan virus is a reality and chances are it will spread to a point where some areas are hard hit, just like any flu season. But there’s a lot more hype on this one because there’s a larger agenda being held by some people. Right now the news deserves a little larger grain of salt.

Splitting the opposition: the power couple

Editor’s note: Back in January I promised a multi-part series of posts based on a book I started on the Indivisible movement that, simply put, just wasn’t coming together as I would have liked. So I decided to serialize that beginning of a book draft – with a little more editing as I see fit – and add more writing to make this into a multi-part series of posts.

This is the second part, which will talk about the two primary leaders of Indivisible, the husband-and-wife team of Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg. To pick this series up from the beginning, go here.

It’s not just any out-of-town wedding that makes the New York Times, but among families of a certain social class and structure nuptials become part of all the news that’s fit to print regardless of their location. That station in life was where Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg fit in, thus their March 28, 2015 wedding was a short feature in the following day’s Gray Lady. As described at the time:

Greenberg works in Washington for Humanity United, a philanthropic foundation dedicated to peace and freedom. She manages grants and projects to combat human trafficking and slavery. She graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and received a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from Tufts.

Her father is the acting assistant secretary at the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, for which the bride’s mother, now retired, was a lawyer.

(…)

Mr. Levin, 29, is an associate director in Washington, specializing in the advocacy and research of tax and asset-building policies, for the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a nonprofit organization that fights poverty. He also graduated from Carleton College and received a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton.

“Friends, First And Always”, New York Times, March 29, 2015.

Perhaps the only thing unusual about the event was the fact Levin was a Washington outsider by upbringing, as his parents were residents of Austin, Texas. Regardless, the wedding united two prototypical Beltway progressives and insiders in matrimony, and their future seemed bright in 2015: a Quinnipiac Poll earlier that month had Hillary Clinton with a vast lead for the Democratic nomination and, more importantly, an edge over leading GOP contenders former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. While it was a precarious 3-point edge over Jeb, Clinton led Walker by 9 points and all other prospective Republicans by 5 points or more.

Even as the Greenberg-Levin ceremony became a pleasant memory later that fall, there was still a feeling that the same formula which worked for the Left in 2008 and 2012 in electing and re-electing Barack Obama would be more than enough to defeat a Republican candidate who had either alienated enough of the moderate electorate to already be a loser (GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who had announced his bid a few months earlier in June) or the rest of the field that would invariably place themselves at a disadvantage by not calling out the subtly-biased political commentary of a reporting establishment that would be in the Democratic nominee’s corner. And while the Democrats in Washington were still laboring under a TEA Party Republican-controlled Congress, there seemed to be a confidence among the Beltway insiders that, if he were able to remain the frontrunner through the nominating process, Donald Trump’s abrasive personality and tendency to spout off on Twitter could drag the GOP ticket down enough to perhaps allow Democrats to regain control of Congress after two to six years in the minority wilderness for the Senate and House, respectively.

On the Democrat side, since Vice-President Joe Biden eventually begged off the race because of the untimely illness and death of his son Beau from a brain tumor, the “next-in-line” mantle fell squarely on the 2008 runner-up Hillary Clinton. Hillary, who eight years earlier ran against eventual nominee Barack Obama as more or less of a continuation of her husband’s triangulated policies – which worked best when enacted hand-in-hand with a Republican-controlled Congress – was now the 2016 version who believed she was entitled to the opportunity to be the first woman to be president. In her quest to win a primary campaign where its skids were already being greased for her through the Democrats’ superdelegate process, Hillary had already “evolved” leftward on some issues, such as immigration, and was being pushed even farther that way by the skunk at the coronation garden party named Bernie Sanders. Yet behind the scenes as the 2016 campaign evolved and the Clinton election looked more and more likely, progressive groups of every stripe began plotting how they could get Hillary to enact their dreamed-about policies given the reputation and expectation (cemented by her husband) that she would govern as a new type of centrist Democrat.

For politicos like Levin and Greenberg, another four or more years of Democratic dominance would perhaps enable the couple to move up the food chain into quasi-government positions with more power and prestige, while a victory by Jeb! or some other establishment Republican not named Donald Trump would just place the lovebirds in a four- or eight-year holding pattern. Of course, we all know who beat the odds and defied the so-called experts.

Just as it did for millions of others in the progressive ranks, the ascent of Donald Trump to become our 45th President threw the couple for a loop. But instead of flailing around or complaining just as soon as it was apparent that Trump would prevail, Levin and Greenberg established a goal: disrupt the new administration by any means possible. It began with the Indivisible Guide, which melted its distribution channels upon its release, and turned into a full-fledged group just weeks later.

Yet while Levin and Greenberg got the credit for Indivisible’s birthing process, they were just the public face of a cadre of “about 30 staffers from Congress and non-profit groups” who participated in shaping the initial Indivisible Guide. Since its origin, though, the couple’s stewardship has evolved the group from a small protest to a left-wing juggernaut, and in doing so has provided Indivisible with something the TEA Party really never had: clearly identifiable leaders.

In that respect Indivisible was quite unlike the TEA Party, where two major national groups (Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots) traded on the TEA Party name and local groups splintered in a number of different directions: many fiercely guarded their independence while others morphed into subsets of already-existing organizations such as Americans for Prosperity or the Campaign for Liberty. Add in various state and national TEA Party umbrella groups with overlapping but different agendas and it was clear not all of them were pulling in the same direction. But that was the beauty of a grassroots group.

On the other hand, while there are local Indivisible chapters who may deal with local issues as a sideline, their job 1 is to encourage resistance to Donald Trump and his Congressional allies while promoting a far left wing agenda chock full of socialized medicine, unfettered immigration, steeply progressive taxation, promotion of gender-bending policy, and overall government control.

One aside that I was contemplating for inclusion within the book: from time to time on Facebook I have commented on what I call the “traveling roadshow:” a group of maybe 20 to 30 malcontents and cranks who make it their life’s work to troll the social media of Congressman Andy Harris – who used to be my Congressman before I moved to Delaware – and show up at one of his regular town hall meetings around the sprawling district that spans nearly half the length of the state of Maryland thanks to Democrat gerrymandering. If I wanted to be a Facebook stalker, I imagine that I would find most of these fine folks are members of some Indivisible group within the district or pretty close by: according to their group roster Maryland is home to 56 member or partner organizations.

Over on this side of the Transpeninsular Line here in Delaware I counted 16 Indivisible and affiliated groups; most of those are in New Castle County, which is the Wilmington area. Since all three of the federal representatives from Delaware are Democrats, the job of Indivisibles (at least on social media) seems to be that of an amen chorus, with the sidebar of dismissing any conservative who speaks up as a Putin-paid troll. Since my representatives don’t seem to have the mostly rural western part of Sussex County on their GPS I haven’t yet been to a townhall-style meeting to see them in action to know how our version of Indivisible receives them. (It’s telling, though, that Senator Chris Coons – most famous for having Christine O’Donnell lose to him – has a primary opponent taking him on from his left, which is already pretty far over.)

Returning to point: another key and important distinction between Indivisible and your average TEA Party is in the backgrounds of its leaders. Just take the few dozen initial leaders of the TEA Party and you’ll find only a handful with any sort of government experience – while they often were local political organizers, they did so from outside the system. Conversely, Levin and Greenberg, as the Times profile shows, made their living in the belly of the Beltway beast. As Congressional staffers for Democrats, they were often on the receiving end of TEA Party anger so they had a pretty good idea how the other side lived. Whether it was perceived to be revenge or whether they admired the success of the tactics, even before the Trump administration began Greenberg and Levin were plotting out strategy to thwart the GOP’s best-laid plans of building a border wall with Mexico, securing a significant tax cut, and repealing the atrocity of Obamacare. Hence, the Indivisible Guide.

And you have to admit, looking back at these events from our hindsight of three-plus years later, that Indivisible’s method of defense was very successful. While the border wall is slowly being erected, Americans (with the exception of many well-to-do folks living in Democrat strongholds) received their tax cut, and Obamacare is being deconstructed piece by piece, one can just imagine how much more could have been accomplished if not for the misguided resistance and constant investigation by the not-so-loyal opposition. Every bit of success Donald Trump has had was either through his own initiative or took so much political capital that it cost the GOP its federal trifecta – they lost the House in 2018 and, had the Senate not been so heavily stacked against the Democrats, who had to defend the majority of their seats (26 of 35 seats up in 2018 were held by Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents) they may have taken the Senate as well.

(Just as a means of comparison, the 2010 TEA Party wave was bigger in terms of net gain of seats by the GOP, but the Senate landscape was considerably different: they needed to add ten seats to gain a majority in an election cycle where the seats being contested were almost evenly split. Had a situation analogous to 2018, with Democrats defending a vast majority of seats, been present in 2010, the GOP may have pulled off the coup of winning both houses of Congress; conversely, in a landscape where seats up for election were about evenly split on a partisan basis as it was in 2010 the Democrats may well have prevailed in taking the Senate back in 2018.)

Leah Goldberg and Ezra Levin look the part of a personable young couple; one who you probably would love to have move in next door. Personally I hope they get all they want out of life, with the one exception of stopping what little progress we are making on rightsizing the federal government. There’s no denying that they have played the political game in a masterful way, and it indeed proves a point that motivated people can make a difference, even if it’s not the change you want to see.

But there is a legitimate question one must ask about just how organic this call for change was. Granted, there were nearly 3 million more votes for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump, but – based on overall voter registration and turnout – the true winner was “none of the above.” So was it really a groundswell of support for continuing the Obama agenda or did Indivisible get a little push along the way?

I have quite a bit of research to do for what will be the third part, so I’m thinking it will take me until the latter part of March or early April to finish. There I look at how Indivisible got so wealthy so fast and how its priorities on that front have changed over time.

Splitting the opposition: the upset

Editor’s note: Back in January I promised a multi-part series of posts based on a book I started on the Indivisible movement that, simply put, just wasn’t coming together as I would have liked. So I decided to serialize that beginning of a book draft – with a little more editing as I see fit – and add more writing to make this into a multi-part series of posts.

This first post begins with the introduction I had wrote, which covered “the biggest upset in U.S. history.”

For (Hillary) Clinton, the loss is especially brutal. She had meticulously planned her victory party at the Javits Center in Manhattan, symbolically under an enormous glass ceiling that she hoped to break through. Instead, it was the dreams and aspirations of her supporters that were shattered.

Trump pulls off biggest upset in U.S. history“, Shane Goldmacher and Ben Schreckinger, Politico, November 9, 2016

If you had done a “man on the street” interview in the days before the 2016 Presidential election and asked about its potential outcome, most respondents would likely have followed the conventional wisdom that the election was going to be, at long last, the second consecutive rectification of a long-standing wrong in American history: after electing (and re-electing) the first African-American president in Barack Obama, the fairer sex would get its first opportunity at the Oval Office by the election of a woman with a familiarity to the premises in Hillary Clinton, the long-suffering wife of our 42nd President, Bill Clinton.

That’s not to say, however, that the Clinton campaign didn’t endure some bumps in the road in the process: specifically, her coronation as the favored Democratic candidate was all but interrupted by the insurgent bid of Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, who temporarily dropped his independent moniker in order to seek the Democratic nomination. Old-style machine politics coupled with rules that made the party anything but democratic, such as the significant roles played by the superdelegates and the thumb placed on the scale by Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, made sure that a large slice of the left-wing electorate was going to have hard feelings regarding Clinton’s nomination. However, looking at the election from an early-November perspective, all that funny business with Sanders was going to become a mere footnote in the poorhouse-to-penthouse political success story that Hillary was putting the finishing touches on.

Yet believing the conventional wisdom may have been the mistake that unraveled Clinton’s campaign – a going-through of motions that ignored several Rust Belt states assumed to be in the Democratic column. Perhaps the Clinton camp felt safe in believing she would win because Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin had a heavy union influence and, with the exception of Ohio, had voted Democratic blue in every Presidential election since 1988 – a trend first made possible by Hillary’s husband. Moreover, placed against a divisive candidate who had alienated a large cross-section of the Republican Party – a group called the #NeverTrump Republicans – it was thought that GOP turnout could be depressed in swing states like Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia, further securing the Clinton victory. One week out, polling showed that Clinton was indeed winning in her “firewall” states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and within the margin of error in Florida. Ohio was not in as good of shape, but historians could assure Hillary’s backers that, while no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, there have been a handful of GOP stalwarts who won the state but lost the overall race – the last being Richard Nixon in 1960.

The factor no one ever considered in handicapping the 2016 race, though, was the amount of pent-up frustration churning in the residents of America’s heartland. Going into Election Day, Hillary’s campaign probably knew she was in a bit of trouble in Florida and Ohio, but all that would do was temper her Electoral College victory to something below 300 votes. In assuming that Hillary would win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, they believed she would have squeaked out a 278-260 Electoral College win even while losing Florida and Ohio. But for want of 77,747 votes combined in the three “firewall” states Hillary lost – far fewer than Green Party candidate Jill Stein received in the trio – Donald Trump won the Electoral College and the Presidential election despite drawing nearly 3 million fewer votes nationwide. No amount of cajoling or laying on of guilt by certain members of the public could convince members of the Electoral College to switch their Trump votes to Hillary, although a half-dozen changed their votes to others. On January 6, 2017 Congress counted the votes and it became official: January 20, 2017 would mark the beginning of the Trump administration.

It was an administration I didn’t vote for, but these events gave birth to a fascinating political movement and eventually inspired this series I’m writing as a way to document its unique history and effects and to present a proposal on how right-thinking Americans can split up this supposedly unbreakable entity.

You may ask, then: what piqued my interest in the Indivisible movement?

In 2019, a decade after it came into being as a protest against the billions of dollars being proposed as economic stimulus by then-President Obama, I released a book called The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, a historical and analytical book that featured several of its early leaders. As I learned in researching that book, it turned out the ragtag irregular rear-guard regiments of the loosely-organized TEA Party were the ones who didn’t get polled (or couldn’t bring themselves to admit backing Donald Trump, or flat-out lied to the pollsters) but came out in droves in those aforementioned heartland states to cast their ballot against Hillary. They were a voter bloc left for dead in American politics, in large part because these initial supporters now viewed the national organizations claiming that TEA Party mantle as just another set of inside-the-Beltway interest groups. Combine that with the percentage of voters who “felt the Bern” and were disgruntled enough with the Democratic Party and their gaming of the system to push them into supporting someone like Jill Stein over Hillary, and you get the result we received: Donald Trump pulling the “biggest upset in U.S. history.”

However, once the shock of Hillary’s loss wore off, those who believed she was the better candidate decided not to get mad – they vowed to get even. In writing the Indivisible Guide – more formally known as Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda, but I’ll just call it the Indivisible Guide or simply Guide – the authors made it clear their movement was borrowing heavily from the tactics and techniques of the TEA Party but doing so in order to oppose Donald Trump and advocate for the progressive agenda they believed would have been both an extension of Barack Obama’s policies and the starting point for a Hillary Clinton presidency. Quoting from its introduction:

Donald Trump is the biggest popular-vote loser in history to ever call himself President. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the Members of Congress (MoCs) who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist – and we have the power to win.

We know this because we’ve seen it before. The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism – and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda – but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party could stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

Opening statement to Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.

Having the direct comparison available between Indivisible and the TEA Party may have led readers to believe this will be a short summary, but it’s made much more complex by the nature of the opposition. Unlike the TEA Party, which I found to be percolating beneath the political surface for over a year before it was galvanized by random early morning remarks by a TV pundit by the name of Rick Santelli in February, 2009, Indivisible was put together almost overnight – yet it gathered the momentum it needed in a few short weeks thanks to the backing of large organizations which make Indivisible much more of an Astroturf group than it may appear to be from the outside.

In the understatement of the decade, it’s fair to say that the prospect of a Trump presidency didn’t sit well with a lot of people, and their anger was intense. At the same time Indivisible was being planned out, social media organizers were putting together the Women’s March on Washington. Held the day after Trump was sworn in, their event outdrew the inauguration, according to news reports. Quoted in The Atlantic, an “expert on nonviolent protest” by the name of Erica Chenowith gushed that the Women’s March “has some of the hallmarks of the beginning of a successful movement. The ability to mobilize large numbers of people is often associated with the creation of an effective campaign.” Yet, charges of anti-Semitism against its leadership and its embrace of political values far outside the mainstream have led the March on a downward spiral, with the 2020 event drawing a mere fraction of the 2017 crowd. It’s even taken a back seat to the annual March for Life put on by abortion opponents, which continues to draw hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital year after year and was buoyed this year with President Trump’s personal appearance – the first time a sitting President has addressed the gathering. (Let’s pray it’s the pro-life support that becomes the “effective campaign.”) Whether it was because the Women’s March had folded most of its support into other aspects of progressive politics, such as Indivisible, or if the anti-Semitism repelled prospective marchers, the Women’s March as an organized group doesn’t appear to have the staying power that Indivisible has maintained.

Given that Indivisible has presented itself as inspired by the TEA Party, having the experience of writing and researching on that particular political caprice provided me with a number of questions about Indivisible and its place in the progressive movement which needed to be looked at to provide a complete accounting. And, to borrow from the Rules for Radicals penned by progressive icon Saul Alinsky, it’s an effort to make Indivisible conform to the rules they themselves set by making such a comparison. By far, that aspect of this series will be the most fun to write because, frankly, the Indivisible narrative has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese.

Naturally, the comparison can’t be an exact one. Setting aside the difference in policy prescriptions the respective winners ran on in 2008 and 2016, the situation that gave birth to Indivisible was far different than the circumstance that led to the formation of the TEA Party. Unlike his predecessor, President Trump did not come in facing a nation amidst the direst economic circumstances since the Great Depression, one simultaneously troubled by ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Instead, what Donald Trump inherited was a sense of unfinished business felt by the populace: as 2017 dawned, America was in a dawdling, “jobless” economic recovery while its foreign policy wrestled with the rise of the al-Qaeda successor Islamic State – Barack Obama’s idea of the “JV team.” Donald Trump’s blueprint for fundamental change, then, was the idea of reversing what he saw as the excesses of big government, such as eliminating Obamacare, providing tax relief, and securing the border with Mexico. Those three agenda items formed Trump’s appeal to the TEA Party’s political diaspora.

But Trump didn’t go as far as the initial TEA Party leaders would have. While they shared much of the platform of thwarting Obama’s initiatives, Trump wasn’t as keen during his campaign about returning the federal government to what TEA Party believers deemed a more proper, Constitutional role by limiting its size and scope. For example, early on Trump took entitlement reform off the table, believing a more robust economy would work the problem out for us.

Conversely, Indivisible was about one thing and one thing only: stopping Donald Trump. Yet the most important consideration when talking about Indivisible’s origins is knowing its organizers are products of a political culture. Instead of outsiders tilting at the windmills of the political field like most of the original TEA Party leaders were, Indivisible’s two key founders, the husband-and-wife team of Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg, were already well-placed inside the castle because they were both Congressional staffers at some point during their careers and continually worked inside the Beltway swamp. Knowing all the inside baseball allowed them to dictate an anti-Trump agenda, pull the proper levers, and implement their agenda in the stealthiest manner possible, with minimum fingerprints thanks to a bureaucracy (the Swamp, or “deep state”) that also loathed Trump from the get-go.

Thus, at the time of its inception, Indivisible was only interested in what they termed “playing defense” and settling in for a waiting game until progressive reinforcements could arrive in the 2018 midterm elections. Once the changing of the House guard came, thanks to the 2018 midterms, Indivisible began advocating for a number of policy changes their supporters could originate in the House as its way of going on offense.

I’m relishing the chance to share my conclusions, but my next part will begin with a look at the couple that’s the public face of Indivisible.

On the duopoly

One facet of the early TEA Party which fascinated me was the debate on whether to try to form a political TEA Party or work through the existing two-party system, or, as I call it, the duopoly. In Rise and Fall I devoted a significant part of the early chapters to the TEA Party’s impact on two political campaigns: the 2009 Doug Hoffman Congressional race in New York’s 23rd Congressional District and the Scott Brown Senate race for the “Kennedy seat” in Massachusetts in 2009-10.

In the Hoffman case, you may recall that the Republican nominee was selected by local party officials rather than the electorate at large, resulting in a candidate, state Assembly member Dede Scozzafava, who was deemed most electable as a moderate as opposed to necessarily espousing Republican principles. Hoffman, who had also interviewed for the seat and had originally pledged his support for Scozzafava, eventually prevailed upon New York’s Conservative Party to give him his own ballot line.

Although Hoffman was in a close second place by the time late October rolled around – thanks to the sudden interest of the TEA Party in a rather obscure, backwater Congressional district special election race – the eventual withdrawal by the Republican and her endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens, along with a disadvantageous ballot position, pulled defeat from the jaws of victory. (Owens had the advantage of two ballot lines as well, as a far-left party endorsed him rather than run a candidate on their own.)

Stung by that loss, the TEA Party tried things the other way. Fast-forward about six weeks and once Scott Brown made it official by winning the Republican nomination for the Massachusetts special election it was (practically) all hands on deck – never mind he was arguably to the left of Scozzafava overall and there was an independent libertarian candidate in the race (ironically by the name of Joseph Kennedy, but no relation to the Camelot clan) who may have been more suitable philosophically. Aside from the small percentage who argued the Kennedy case on TEA Party principles, the national focus was on Brown winning, and as we now know, he did – and was soon rather disappointing for two reasons: one, his moderate stances, and secondly, he’s the one who gave us Elizabeth Warren because he got his doors blown off in the 2012 general, when his wasn’t the only race of national concern.

In short, this brief few months sealed a key decision (and perhaps error) by those who were the leaders of the TEA Party: they chose to try and reform the Republican Party from within. Convinced that someplace within the GOP were candidates and officeholders receptive to the conservative message of the TEA Party, the effort in the first half of last decade was to take over the GOP from within, through gaining seats in local precincts and working their way up the ranks. By now you would think this policy of percolating through from the grassroots would be bearing sizable fruit – but it doesn’t seem to be working that way.

This long prelude has finally brought me to my main point and inspiration. One of those who I made acquaintance with in promoting my book over the summer was Andy Hooser, whose radio show “The Voice of Reason” was the seventh stop on my radio tour. (I remember doing his show pacing around my backyard on what I called “Triple Dip Friday” – three shows in one day!)

Since then I’ve signed up for updates and the other day Andy introduced the current two-party system as a topic of discussion, noting in part:

We have been the ones, as members of the parties, that have allowed the parties to get out of hand. Our nation was built on strong, hard individuals who were leaders, not followers. The founding fathers that did promote a two party system, did so with the idea that the informed, active member of society could listen to an argument, contribute to the cause, and help the party accomplish it’s goals. Now…the party creates fear in the hearts of ill-informed followers to create an agenda. With our lack of involvement in politics…with our lack of engagement in the system…and our lack of understanding of issues as a society, the parties are no longer run by us…but for for self preservation with us as the follower to keep the lifeline going. 

So how do we fix this? A third party? HA. Third parties are no more relevant than Vermin Supreme running for President. The only thing third parties do, is potentially swing an election to the side lest in line with your views. 

Our job is to fix the parties from within. We cannot destroy them (unless they destroy themselves…Hello socialist Democrats?), we cannot leave them. At the end of the day, the money, they power, and the influence is within the parties. Our chance to change things…is the fix the party internally. Run for office locally. Set a standard of what you will tolerate as a platform for the party and the candidates. Hold you local, statewide, and national elected officials accountable. Don’t let them say one thing, yet vote another way. Work within your party. And bring it back to the platform it says it promotes. That’s the reason you joined it in the first place. 

“To be a two party system…or not to be!” – Voice of Reason website, January 29, 2020.

A common definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and it seems to me we in the TEA Party tried this approach a decade ago. Nor would it surprise me if the Moral Majority crowd didn’t try it in the early 1980s, to name another somewhat failed attempt to mold and shape politics to their will. Everything old is new again.

This assertion also begs the question: are the two parties really that popular? Since I was a Maryland resident at the time, this is where the party registration totals stood the day after the initial set of TEA Parties, February 28, 2009:

  • Democrat: 1,953,650 (56.9%)
  • Republican: 919,500 (26.8%)
  • unaffiliated: 482,806 (14.1%)
  • all others: 76,486 (2.2%)

It was a D+30 state. Now let’s see where we are at as of the end of 2019:

  • Democrat: 2,204,017 (54.7%)
  • Republican: 1,009,635 (25.0%)
  • unaffiliated: 757,953 (18.8%)
  • all others: 60,536 (1.5%)

Of the four major groups, the only one which is growing in rate are the unaffiliated. But it is still a D+30 state.

Turning to my adopted home state of Delaware, the online numbers only go back to 2010. In Delaware at that time (January 2010) there were 25 (!) registered parties but only four had ballot access: Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and the Independent Party of Delaware (or IPOD).

  • Democrat: 287,821 (47.1%)
  • Republican: 180,479 (29.5%)
  • unaffiliated: 137,072 (22.4%)
  • all others: 6,095 (1.0%)

That would make it a D+18 state, which was a little more promising for conservatives. So where do we stand now, a decade later? Well, we are down to 17 parties listed but the top dogs are still on top:

  • Democrat: 338,586 (47.4%)
  • Republican: 198,018 (27.7%)
  • unaffiliated: 163,150 (22.8%)
  • all others: 14,365 (2.0%)

The Delaware GOP has seen their previous support splinter in every direction: their 1.8% loss has gone slightly to the Democrats (0.4%) and unaffiliated groups (also 0.4%) but mainly to minor parties, which doubled to 2% of the electorate. Now it’s a D+20 state.

What does this all mean? Well, at least in this small area of the country, it means that if the TEA Party took over the Republican Party, it didn’t do a very good job of making it thrive. (Given the Delaware GOP’s treatment of their Senate primary winner Christine O’Donnell in 2010, it wouldn’t surprise me if a significant part of their registration loss came from that incident.) Of course, there are other areas of the nation where the GOP is probably growing but I suspect these types of declining numbers are prevalent in many areas.

So why not a third party? Well, if you look at our history as a whole our political system went through a number of party upheavals in its first century, but the last major shift came in the 1850s as the Republican Party ascended over the ruins of the old Whig Party. I tend to believe that as time went on the two dominant parties entered into a gentleman’s agreement to divvy the political spoils among themselves, making it more difficult for competing parties to grow and prosper.

Imagine the time and effort wasted by the Libertarians, Green Party, Constitution Party, Reform Party, and others in having to gain ballot access again and again in some states, such as Maryland – a state that required parties secure 1% of the vote in certain races or go through a process of collecting thousands of signatures just to qualify for another cycle. Of course, the Republicans and Democrats don’t have to do this, and they are the ones who prefer the duopoly because it cuts off competition.

On the other hand, the reason Delaware has so many parties is fairly lax rules on party formation. Their biggest hurdle is getting and maintaining 1% of registered voters for ballot access, but it’s been done by the Libertarians, Green Party, and IPOD, so there are possibly five choices all across the political spectrum. (They are very close to six, if the American Delta Party can pick up a handful of voters.) Granted, none of these parties fill a ballot all the way down to state representative, but I believe the reason is a self-fulfilling prophecy (created by the duopoly, echoed by the media) that only a D or R can win.

Over the years, there has become a “lesser of two evils” approach to voting: people voted for Donald Trump not because they were enamored with him but because they were really afraid of what Hillary Clinton would do to us. We were all told that “a vote for Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, etc. is a vote for Hillary.” So they were scared into voting for Trump. (On the other hand, having disgruntled Bernie Sanders backers and conventional wisdom that Hillary would easily win may have freed those on the Left to vote for who they really wanted, to Hillary’s detriment.)

That was the approach by enough people in enough states (including her so-called “firewall” across the Midwest) to give Donald Trump the upset victory despite the fact more Republicans voted against him than in his favor during the primary season, although Trump had the plurality by the time it was over. (As Democrats did against Barack Obama in 2008 – Hillary Clinton won that popular vote, too.)

But what if people had something to vote for? If you’re on the far left, maybe you like the Green Party or Socialist Workers Party, while those on the conservative side may prefer my political home, the Constitution Party. There’s nothing hurt by giving the electorate more choices, but the key is getting states to loosen up balloting requirements.

And if we want a real TEA Party, it would become possible and easier to build one from the bottom up. Why take over a party which is set in its ways when you can build to suit? Let’s make that easier to do.