Thinking the unthinkable

I don’t always agree with pundit Erick Erickson, but I remain a fan of his because he comes at things from a unique but conservative perspective. Erick was one of those #NeverTrump folks who eventually came around about the same time I did, since we both voted for him the second time. So while the conventional wisdom is that Donald Trump will run and win a second term, Erick pumps the brakes a little bit on the idea in two different respects and I think both deserve discussion.

Given that modern American presidents tend to win a second term, it would be silly for Republicans to restore President Trump to office wherein he could only stay four years. Republicans would be giving up the historic default of eight years for one man to serve two separate four year presidencies. The 2028 primary would begin before the 2024 presidential cycle even concluded. He’d be the lamest of ducks.

It would also be silly for the GOP to put in office a man who’d be no younger than Joe Biden is now. The GOP has a remarkable bench with deep experience. Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Doug Ducey, Kristi Noem, Ron DeSantis, and Mike Pence all have tremendous experience and all are younger than either President Trump or President Biden. Regardless of what you think about any of them individually, it would be a bit nuts to give up a potential eight years for any one of them for no more than four years for a second Trump term.

“It’s Only Sensical For the Nonsense,” Erick Erickson, January 18, 2022.

One could have accused the Democrats of the same thing by nominating a President who at one point openly eschewed a second term. Many thought Joe Biden’s job was that of picking a good vice president so she could be in office for ten years, with Biden stepping aside January 21, 2023. Obviously it could still happen but he definitely screwed up in picking the VP, who is reportedly hated by most of the Obama-era staffers in Biden’s White House.

And any of the names Erickson picked out would be good candidates for president, a light year’s improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office. I think the top three for me at a 41,000 foot level, without getting into the nuts and bolts of where they stand on particular pet issues, would be DeSantis, Cruz (who I voted for last time in the primary), and Pompeo. I eventually was won over by the policies of Donald Trump but I can see where people may be thinking supporting him in 2024 is a hard pass, which may be why Trump is trying to clear the field by planning so many events this year.

Erickson goes on to make just this point by citing an interesting poll number. This is a longer blockquote, I believe it’s a radio show transcript from this past Tuesday that he added to his Substack:

If you’re listening to me right now, and you are 50 years or older, particularly 55 and older, then you likely believe Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican party. If you are younger than that, if you’re in your 40’s, your 30’s, your 20’s, you are less likely to be looking forward to the return of Donald Trump. It is a demographic thing.

60% of Republicans say they want Donald Trump to run again. He is the leader of the party. That’s down from 90% in November of last year, or November now of 2020. It’s down from 75% after January of 2021 to 60%, according to the polling averages. Averages are a little better indicator than an individual poll. So slightly less than two thirds of Republicans believe Donald Trump is the leader of the party. That’s actually fallen significantly in a year and a half. The people most likely to still believe it are over 50. Younger people are moving on fairly rapidly within the GOP. Some of you are going to send me hate mail and say, “This is all because I hate Donald Trump.” Not true. Just follow along and listen to me here before you rush to your keyboards.

Donald Trump held a rally in Arizona (last) weekend. I only know about the Donald Trump rally in Arizona over the weekend because the people who hate Donald Trump felt compelled on social media, CNN, and MSNBC, to tell us all what he said. The people who are most likely to talk about Donald Trump at this moment are the diehard Trump supporters.

“The Trump Haters Have Only Trump,” Erick Erickson, January 18, 2022.

I wish I had the numbers to back this up, but I don’t recall there being a whole lot of push to bring Jimmy Carter back in 1984, although they got the next best thing, the sacrificial lamb in Carter VP Walter Mondale, nor did we have a call for another term of George H.W. Bush in 1996. That time we got a different retread in Bob Dole, who lost with Gerald Ford in 1976 to the aforementioned Carter/Mondale team.

Interestingly enough, I think Erick brought up at some point previously that both those incumbents (Carter and Bush 41) lost in part because they had primary challenges: Carter in 1980 from Ted Kennedy and GHWB in 1992 from Pat Buchanan. Even more interesting: those two elections were among the most influenced nationwide by third candidates on the November ballot – liberal Republican John Anderson in 1980 and eventual Reform Party standard-bearer H. Ross Perot in 1992, when he ran as a true independent. I don’t think my memory is completely shot yet on these long-ago campaigns, so obviously this poll cited above is a testament to Donald Trump’s popularity with his base, and certainly the GOP will back him should he be the 2024 nominee. The question is: should he be?

To play a devil’s advocate, there are two key factors that would point to a “anyone but Trump” campaign in 2024. Most obvious is Trump’s age, as he would be 78 on Election Day 2024. Assuming Joe Biden makes it that long, our nation goes into uncharted territory this November 20 as we will have an octogenarian as our President for the first time. Do we really want to go with a second in a row? I tell you, those Boomers just can’t let go of power (although, in truth, Joe Biden is a member of the Silent Generation as he was born after 1928 and before 1946 – he almost certainly will be the only such President. After Ronald Reagan, who was close to 70 when he took the oath of office, and the 64-year-old at his inauguration Bush 41, we then skipped the Depression generation by going young with the Baby Boomer Bill Clinton.)

But the second is personality: Trump can be grating to some as he comes across as narcissistic. There are many who like that take-charge, take no crap aspect in the guy, but Joe Biden won the presidency because he convinced a number of mail-in ballot cards that he would be uniter to succeed the divisive Trump, who had really only divided the nation because the media told us so. And after at least eight years (some may argue we’ve been like this since Bush v. Gore) of divisiveness, surely there are Americans who like the America First, working-class everyman idea of the Trump Republican Party but think it’s time to move on from some of the figures who have divided us. At least in the first week of his term, we got an example from Glenn Youngkin in Virginia; however, the new governor’s bigger tests will be in dealing with what his legislature dishes out since the House of Delegates is Republican but the Senate remains Democrat because no seats were contested last year. (Had that been up for grabs, Virginia may well have switched from a Democrat trifecta to a Republican one overnight.)

Perhaps the Trump strategy is to run again with a young VP he can count on to carry on his legacy for another eight years, since there’s no way we’re repealing the 22nd Amendment anytime soon. (Trump only won 30 states the first time, and such a repeal – which was also discussed during Reagan’s, and to a far lesser extent, Obama’s second term – isn’t going to grab any of the states where Trump lost both elections.)

Someday historians may find out that the 2020 election was our “WTF” moment, the time when all logic seemed to go out the window and Americans voted for a slow national suicide. If we don’t want to fall like Rome, we need to make a course correction and it’s going to have to last at least eight years with a compliant Congress and court system that has restoring our Constitutional system in mind. If Donald Trump is the guy to lead that effort, more power to him – but he can’t be the only one.

Update: If you thought Erick Erickson was bad, you should get a load of what Ann Coulter had to say about Trump’s chances in 2024, comparing him to how Sarah Palin flamed out before the 2012 campaign. Remember when she used to be one of the biggest Trump backers?

Maybe showing up is not enough.

As I promised the other night, this is the second part of my impromptu series that began when I quoted the Delaware state Libertarian Party chair at length. I want to go back and remind you of the portion that was the springboard for this part of my thinking:

The “Patriots of (sic) Delaware” and before them the 9-12 groups and Tea Party groups also showed up and volunteered and did all the things. The result has been an absolute tanking of DEGOP vote totals since Christine O’Donnell knocked out Mike Castle in a primary and now the Republicans do not hold a single statewide office and can’t even block bills requiring a 2/3rds vote in the Delaware Senate. They have been catering to the people who show up instead of the people who don’t and it’s destroying them.

Will McVay, Delaware Libertarian Party Chair, December 5, 2021.

Part of the problem I have with that assertion is finding out that the trend away from Republicans began long before Christine O’Donnell ever ran for anything.

If you look at Delaware now, you would see a state that is solidly blue politically. What Will McVay said made me go back and do some research, using voter registration and election data from the Delaware Department of Elections. With some exceptions, their online database goes back to 1972, so let’s begin there.

This, then, is a short and abridged history of the downfall of Delaware’s two-party system.

1972: At that point fifty years ago, Democrats only outregistered Republicans by just over six points (41.2% to 34.9%.) That was as close as the GOP has come to the Democrats over the period I’m covering, and in that year’s election the results were bipartisan: Richard Nixon carried Delaware in his re-election bid, bringing along House member Pierre duPont. Sherman Tribbitt was elected governor as a Democrat, and he had a mate in some young unknown to the U.S. Senate seat named Joe Biden.

1976: Perhaps the shift toward Democrats began with Watergate, as the Democrats picked up four points among the electorate in four years, expanding to a 43.3% to 32.9% registration lead. Jimmy Carter won Delaware as he did nationally, but the Delaware Republicans bucked an otherwise dismal trend by keeping GOP Senator William Roth in office and buttressing him with newly-elected House member Thomas Evans, Jr. The House seat opened up because fellow Republican Pierre duPont won the governorship, defeating incumbent Sherman Tribbett.

1982: While Republicans held at 32.9%, Democrats continued to increase by rising to a new high of 44.6%. (I’m using 1982 registration data because the 1980 set is missing.) In that 1980 election, Ronald Reagan carried Delaware for the GOP, bringing with him Thomas Evans Jr. and Pierre duPont for another term apiece. Two years later, Evans would be replaced by Democrat Tom Carper, which brings us to…

1984: As part of his 49-state stomping of Walter Mondale, Ronaldus Maximus carried Delaware. He also began a restoration of Republican fortunes in Delaware as their registration total rebounded to 33.6% while the Democrats held practically steady at 44.7%. The Reagan revolution also kept the governorship in GOP hands as Mike Castle won the job. Delaware, though, retained Democrat Joe Biden in office and kept his party-mate Tom Carper in the House. (You’ll notice a lot of these names begin to sound familiar.)

1989: Don’t ask me why, but the state has 1989 registration totals under their 1988 file. Regardless, the GOP continued to eat into the Democrats’ lead, trailing just 43.6% to 36.1%. The 1988 election, though, would be the last time the GOP won Delaware’s electoral votes as George H.W. Bush carried the state, along with William Roth maintaining his Senate seat for the GOP and Castle winning a second term as governor – the last GOP governor to be elected. Tom Carper was the one successful Democrat, keeping his House seat.

1992: This was the year of the big switch in more ways than one. The Republicans were at their peak, garnering 36.8% of registered voters compared to 43.4% for the Democrats. Bill Clinton won the Presidential election, but the controversy was in Mike Castle and Tom Carper trading jobs, with Castle relocating from Dover to Washington as Delaware’s newest member of Congress while Carper came home to become Governor. Neither Senator was on the ballot.

So in the first twenty years of this study, the Republicans lost ground for awhile in the post-Nixon Watergate era but steadily gained it back under Reagan/Bush to return pretty much to where they were when this began.

1996: Whether it was the Perot factor, or reaction to the Gingrich-era Contract with America, both parties lost ground in the mid-90s. Democrats fell to 42.4% – a low they have since continued to recover from – while the GOP slipped to 35.5%. And aside from Castle keeping his House seat for the Republicans, it was a disaster for them as Bill Clinton still won the state and Joe Biden and Tom Carper retained office.

2000: Republicans fell to just 34% of the voters in Delaware, while Democrats moved up to 42.6%. Al Gore carried the state, while Tom Carper returned to Washington to become Senator and his former LG, Ruth Ann Minner, advanced to become Governor. Mike Castle continued in the House for the GOP.

2004: Still slipping, the GOP fell to 32.9% of the voter share, while Democrats continued to increase as they recovered to 43.7%. John Kerry carried the state, while Castle and Minner stayed in their positions. (No Senate race.)

2008: The GOP registration decline accelerated in the mid-aughts, as they slipped close to the 30% mark for the first time (30.2%) while the Democrats established a modern high of 46.4%. Needless to say, they carried the state with Barack Obama as president, Joe Biden (winning a Senate seat he would have to resign weeks later to become vice-president), and Jack Markell as Governor. Mike Castle remained in the House for what would become his last term.

2010: The O’Donnell-Castle election. This was the first election for the TEA Party, and when they came on board the GOP was in its most dire straits yet. The GOP was now down to 29.3% of registered voters, while the Democrats finished a decade of domination by reaching another new high of 47.1%. In a decade, the margin between the parties had grown by nearly 10 points. Democrat Chris Coons won the special Senate election to finish the term Joe Biden began, while John Carney took the House seat Mike Castle abandoned in his unsuccessful Senate bid. The Republicans held on to just one statewide seat, losing in the AG and Treasurer race but retaining the Auditor’s seat.

In the decade since, the GOP has only one statewide election win (Ken Simpler for Treasurer in 2014) and has seen further erosion of their statewide share of voters from 29.3% to its current low of 27.5%; meanwhile, the Democrats have gone up from 47.1% to a new high of 47.7%. Compared to the 2000s blowout, the 2010s were a slow leak, even with the whole controversial Trump term.

So now that I’ve taken 1100 words to set this up, the question is what has caused this long decline? What was different about the two parties in 1972 (or even 1992) that voters were relatively evenly distributed and both parties could win a statewide election?

I think what McVay would argue that the Republican Party has become too conservative, catering to the populist bent of Donald Trump’s supporters and losing its tolerance of what used to make it a “big tent.” At the same time, Delaware Democrats have been more reserved in their march leftward, rebuffing challengers from the left of the incumbents in their two most recent primary elections for Governor and U.S. Senate. (Much of that, though, is probably name recognition or lack thereof for the upstarts.)

Yet the popularity of the party in the Reagan-Bush years belies that assertion. There’s no question Ronald Reagan was a conservative Republican, but he also had a certain amount of appeal to the working class and built a wildly successful coalition of Republicans, independents, and so-called “Reagan Democrats,” bridging the gap between white- and blue-collar workers to dominate electoral politics for a decade. (If he weren’t Reagan’s VP, do you really think George H.W. Bush would have won in 1988?)

In my estimation Donald Trump tried to rebuild the Reagan coalition, but despite his television experience Trump wasn’t really the “Great Communicator” Reagan was. But he also faced a Democrat Party establishment that was radically different than the one in Reagan’s day – while it happened a couple times under Reagan, the George H.W. Bush term was when we really saw that, when Republicans reached across the aisle, the Democrats would rip off their arm and beat them with it. Remember, “read my lips” was supposed to come with spending cuts, too. Guess which part of the bargain wasn’t held up?

So we have had a hardening of the sides and a coarsening of political discourse. More importantly, though, we have to ask the question: when was the last time you heard anything good about the Republican Party?

People tend to operate in an information silo, so when most of these outlets say nothing good about the GOP people tend to shy away from their party and, by extension, their ideas. To a small extent, Donald Trump had pulled back that curtain but he still lost the House at his midterm election, ruining the trifecta built up with takeovers of the House in 2010, Senate in 2014, and Trump himself in 2016. (Delaware had nothing to do with any of that, though. Those red waves bypassed the state.)

The message the Democrats have managed to sell to the state of Delaware is that they are business-friendly moderates – but they’re generally only a step or two behind California, Massachusetts, and Maryland in enacting liberal policies. We have to get enough people fed up with the way things are going to enact change, but you can bet your bottom dollar the Democrats and the press (but I repeat myself) will do their best to maintain the status quo by deriding Republicans as racist, radical, and uncaring – never mind they are none of the three.

Now you would think that the thousands who have arrived in Sussex County over the last decades would help turn the state toward the Republicans but it’s obvious enough of them have maintained the voting habits that made their former states uninhabitable to them that they’re fouling this nest.

Maybe what’s needed is a Contract with Delaware. Something is needed to shake up the lethargy in the Delaware Republican Party before it falls further into irrelevancy. There are good, conservative candidates out there who need to tell us what they are for, not what they’re against.

But to answer the contention: how can you cater to the people who show up when no one shows up? As I said in part one, at least having the 9/12 Delaware Patriots and Patriots for Delaware means we have a bit of a force to counter the waves the other side can bring from the union ranks. It’s a start, so once our side learns which hills are best to attack and which ones aren’t worth dying on, we can begin to make real progress in this state.

Was Delaware gerrymandered?

Earlier this week the state of Delaware had new legislative districts come into effect. They had to be in place by one year before next year’s election so, after the usual suspects blamed Donald Trump for the late Census data – which had to be finagled to account for the last known address of the prison population – the Democrats got their maps through.

Over the next week or so, I’m planning on digging deeper into these numbers and districts. I don’t know where pockets of R or D voters live specifically, but just based on the population and registration numbers there are a few things which merit a second glance. I know my districts didn’t change, so there is that.

Since the candidates may now file in their new districts, I was hoping the state would update their website accordingly so we could see who was already running in 2022. Alas, it was not to be.

However, I did find an interesting calendar of municipal elections for next year. Our friends in Laurel are one of just a handful of towns in the state with no election next year – however, they were one of those that didn’t cancel their balloting this year. (Just one Delaware town remains yet to decide this year, although I happen to know that just across the border in Delmar, Maryland they vote next Tuesday in a hotly-contested mayoral race, among other things.) Maybe next year there will be interest in the tiny town of Bethel, which is just up the road a piece from me.

In looking at this year’s list, I noticed most of the spring elections were bagged, probably due to a lack of candidates. But more of the fall elections took place, which to me shows a newfound interest from the grassroots. It’s something to follow once the calendar flips over to 2022.

So I didn’t want you all to think I forgot about you. This is the month I start getting together my compilations and update some of my pages – hard to believe we are two weeks from Thanksgiving, 20 days from sweet sixteen for my site, and three weeks from inducting the Class of 2021 into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. It’s a busy month behind the scenes here.

And yes, I will delve into this data.

Beggars and hangers-on with both sides

Over my last (infrequent) series of posts, I’ve taken time on a couple occasions to pick on grifters from the left so in order to be equal opportunity I decided to take on a right-leaning outfit looking to part the gullible and their money.

To set up the story, I heard from an old friend of sorts the other day. Over the years I’ve blogged quite a bit about the Tea Party Express (TPX) on my site, but that wasn’t many pixels compared to when I wrote Rise and Fall. (It’s scary to remember that just about five years have now passed since I first embarked on that project, which came out almost 2 1/2 years ago now.) As part of that book I wrote a much more comprehensive history of the TPX, covering its evolution from being the Our Country Deserves Better PAC in the 2008 election through its chance encounter with a TEA Party rally in Sacramento to being a Presidential debate co-sponsor three years later. After that peak, the TPX slowly declined as they laid off the bus tours they were most famous for after the 2014 primaries and became just another political insider organization subsisting on handouts.

So it almost hurt to read the well-worn script imploring donors to help the TPX “ensure conservatives take back the House in 2022” and promising “we ensure donations ONLY go to proven conservatives, NO RINOS.” What they’re not counting on you recalling is that some of those RINOs were surely people they backed in the first place.

Of course, they mention how “Nancy Pelosi and her lap dog Adam Schiff disgracefully assaulted President Trump,” and that the Left’s goal was not just silencing Donald Trump, but our voice as well. Yeah, yeah, I get all that.

But, you see, the blogger of 2021 is not the gung-ho TPX backer he was back in 2009-10 when he pined for the TPX to make a stop on the Delmarva. Perhaps I saw the light when onetime TPX chair Amy Kremer decided to drop it like a bad habit due to a strategy disagreement and eventually latched onto the Trump phenomenon as her grift. They definitely lost their luster with me as time went on and they moved on from what made them great.

Speaking of the TEA Party, it’s funny that this TPX appeal came a day or two before I listened to a new podcast from an old conservative blogging friend I know, Jen Kuznicki. I think she may be a little more bullish about the TEA Party than I am, but I learned that she was once again in the belly of the beast as a county GOP chair. Yet she points out the difficulty of working behind enemy lines, as it were, in a rural part of Michigan analogous to the situation we here in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland face. (The part about having four votes for her little rural county vs. dozens for the big cities – hey, that sounds vaguely familiar! Just the numbers are a little different.)

I know Jen’s been writing for awhile, so I also know she was a participant in the TEA Party’s attempt to take over the GOP (much like I was, several states away) just as she now advocates the Trump backers to do the same. Yet there always seems to be an issue with getting “establishment” people out of the power positions, regardless of how well you try and take over the local groups. Those in control are not above spreading rumors and innuendo or inserting stalking horses into the race to maintain their hold.

So if it’s true that insanity is believing that you can do the same thing and get different results then the same is true with handing money to the Tea Party Express. It’s money that would be far more useful to the conservative cause if it were donated to a local conservative candidate or traditionalist slate running for school board. That goal amount of $50,000 donated to the TPX will, if they indeed entice the sum from the unwashed, likely fatten the coffers of chosen consultants who will work on the periphery with messaging spots against the Democrats that get tuned out by the electorate instead of going to the candidates who wear away their shoe leather and burn their gas seeking votes where they can find them.

With my sincere apologies to Jen, it’s all a movie I’ve seen before and I really want a different script this time. Maybe the initial organizers of the TEA Party were right in wanting to stay away from the two-party system – after all, once a side assumes they have a group in its pocket (such as the black vote for Democrats or the evangelical vote for Republicans) that’s when they know they only have to provide lip service to your issues. And the TEA Party got a LOT of lip service over the decade it was prominent.

So it was easy to give a hard pass to the TPX. My local patriot group isn’t begging me for money but I bet they’ll work harder for their chosen candidates.

Editor’s note 8-21-21: Jen has promised me she will address this in her next podcast, so keep your ear to the ground.

If at first you don’t succeed, run, run again

Apparently it’s tough being a Republican in Delaware, because it’s not easy to find good candidates who want to spend months on the road all over the state only to lose by 20 points, give or take, on Election Day. Last year that was the fate of every statewide candidate the GOP put up, although three of the six (including Donald Trump) won the machine voting only to be swamped by the mail-in ballots.

Aside from LG candidate Donyale Hall, the other winner of machine votes was Lee Murphy. Of the sextet, Murphy came the closest to winning – that is, if you consider 17.41% close. (Lauren Witzke had the largest margin of defeat at 21.54%, which tells me people voted pretty much straight ticket. Even the Delaware House and Senate results fairly resembled that 60-40 ratio.)

He’s trying it again. The question is who will go with him.

Given that modest success – and the fact that 2022 will be a midterm election and won’t have Joe Biden on the ballot – Lee Murphy announced today on social media that he is giving a Congressional run yet another go. It will be his third straight Congressional run, having lost in the 2018 GOP primary to Scott Walker before winning the Republican vote over Matthew Morris last year. (Morris has since moved out of state, likely eliminating a second try for him unless he gets homesick.)

It’s hard to believe we are a little over 16 months away from the 2022 midterms, but no one knows what the state of the nation and electorate will be. Obviously any Republican in Delaware has an uphill battle, and surely Murphy knows that. But will voters clamor for a guy who’s become something of a perennial candidate since he’s basically run continuously for the last four-plus years and has already lost one race to the incumbent?

Because there is no Senate race and the only other statewide elections are for the more minor positions in state government – not saying AG and Treasurer are unimportant, but they aren’t a gubernatorial race – the House race may be the highest profile contest this time around for the first time in a long time. The last time this confluence of events occurred was 1998, since 2016 and 2004 were gubernatorial elections and in 2010 there was a special election for the Senate. (We all know what happened on that one. By the way, in 1998 the GOP won all three positions up for grabs, telling me that the DEGOP has changed for the worse.) So it would seem to me we would get more of an All-Star cast for the election, except that no one will be running from cover this time around because all 62 General Assembly districts will be new and no one will get a pass.

No disrespect to Lee Murphy, but here’s hoping he’s not the only one eyeing the seat. The Republicans have some good candidates (like the aforementioned Donyale Hall) who I think may give LBR more of the challenge she deserves for running solely on the basis of her melanin content and gender.

The state of a non-state, 2021 edition

Four years ago, thanks to a rant by Delaware writer friend of mine by the name of Chris Slavens, I had the idea come to me of figuring out just how a state of Delmarva would have voted. It turned out we would be perhaps the most purple state in the country based on the 2016 election and how the legislature would stack up.

But because the 2020 election had a home state nominee in Joe Biden, the state of Delmarva (or you could call it New Delaware) would have been a more bluish shade this time around – that was expected. But that trend carried over in other portions of the ballot, too.

There are a few caveats with this, of course: because the three states which share Delmarva have their local elections at different times, the results downballot aren’t necessarily congruent to a real election. But having kept my 2016 spreadsheet around I could pick out some interesting trends.

Still, if Delmarva had a statewide election, the “native son” (even though he was born in Pennsylvania) Joe Biden would have carried the state, although perhaps not as convincingly as one may think:

  • Joe Biden (Democrat) 402,229 – 53.00%
  • Donald Trump (incumbent Republican) 343,352 – 45.24%
  • Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 8,155 – 1.07%
  • Howie Hawkins (Green Party) 3,280* – 0.43%
  • all others 1,950 – 0.26%

*Hawkins was not on the Virginia ballot, which may have lost him about 140 votes based on how he ran elsewhere.

Despite picking up about 23,000 more votes in the twelve counties that make up Delmarva, Donald Trump was swamped by a candidate in Joe Biden who found nearly 80,000 more votes in the heretofore tri-state area – including a hefty 32,000 in New Castle County alone (where Trump gained less than 3,000 votes.) Sussex County chipped in another 17,000 or so extra toward Biden’s total as he outpolled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 effort in all 12 counties. Donald Trump beat his 2016 performance as well in each county, but in some cases it was an improvement of less than 1,000 votes.

If you recall my 2017 article, the only two counties Hillary carried were the largest, northernmost (New Castle County, Delaware) and the smallest, southernmost (Northampton County, Virginia.) Biden kept those in his column but also flipped three that were more in the middle: Kent County, Delaware, Kent County, Maryland, and Talbot County, Maryland.

Because there was no Senate race in Maryland last year, I used the three Congressional races on the Shore as a surrogate for that race as well as the one House race that Delmarva would have. When I wrote this in 2017, I figured Delmarva would have a second seat with the extra population Delaware does not have, but a closer examination of population reveals the 12 counties have 1,474,465 people (per 2019 estimates) and the average Congressional district has just over 750,000. So Delmarva is roughly 50,000, give or take, short of qualifying.

However, if the math did happen to favor the state of Delmarva and there could be two members of Congress, the most logical district split would put New Castle, Cecil, all of Kent County, Maryland, and the northern fringes of Kent County, Delaware into one district (that would be a fairly safe Democrat district despite the heavily Republican pocket of Cecil County) while the rest would be a pretty strong Republican district notwithstanding some sag on the mid-Shore, in Wicomico County, and at the southern end of Delmarva in Virginia.

As for a statewide Delmarva Senate seat, that contest would also go to the Democrats:

  • D total 380,827 – 51.64%
  • R total 345,305 – 46.82%
  • L total 3,814* – 0.52%
  • all others 7,551 – 1.02%

*The Libertarian Party only had a Congressional candidate in Delaware.

In reality, having a much larger than average Congressional district in Delaware with a Democrat incumbent easily outweighed the similar victory Andy Harris picked up in Maryland (in the Eastern Shore half of his district.) Meanwhile, Virginia’s numbers were too small to matter and as a matter of fact had a margin of just 69 votes favoring the Republican. The Democrats only carried three counties of the twelve, but flipping Kent County, Delaware helped put them over the top.

We also elected a governor here in Delaware, which gave the state an advantage in a mythical Delmarva governor’s race that combined the 2020 results in Delaware, the 2018 balloting in Maryland, and 2017 race in Virginia to get the following results:

  • D total 340,257 – 49.94%
  • R total 329,552 – 48.37%
  • L total 4,583 – 0.67%
  • Green total 686* – 0.1%
  • Others total 6,258* – 0.92%

*There was no Green Party candidate in Virginia or Delaware. As for Others, the vast majority of that came from the Independent Party of Delaware candidate.

This was a turnout election, so the advantage went to the Democrats who won Delaware in the 2020 Presidential election over the Republicans who took Maryland in the lower turnout 2018 midterm.

Yet the Democrat success should not come as a surprise: voter registration still favors them by 11 1/2 points:

  • Democrat RV: 468,180 – 42.94% (down 0.3% from 2016)
  • Republican RV: 342,597 – 31.42% (up 0.32% from 2016)
  • All other RV: 279,645 – 25.65% (down o.01% from 2016)

Bear in mind that non-affiliated number includes the 34,281 voters in Virginia who don’t declare a party. But the interesting factoid here is that Somerset County flipped from Democrat to Republican insofar as plurality of voter registration is concerned over the last four years – the only county of the twelve to switch.

The other big change in the last four years would have been a shift in the mythical Delmarva Senate, which would have gone from a 13-13 tie to a 15-11 Democrat control thanks (most recently) to the loss of two Republican seats in Delaware. The ersatz Delmarva House would slide from a 28-26 GOP edge to a 27-27 tie thanks to a Delaware loss in 2018. Talk about swing votes!

But what if there were another way? The one weakness with my method is that I have a lot of small districts in Delaware (less than 25,000 for House and 50,000 for Senate) but much larger districts in Maryland (about 50,000 for House and 150,000 for Senate) and Virginia, where the Eastern Shore is less than half a House district, let alone their Senate. So the state of Delaware is way overrepresented in this model.

Since this is my fantasy, I decided to use a federal model and give each of the counties two state Senators (screw the incorrect SCOTUS decision of Reynolds v. Sims), which means the 28 Senators would likely work out to be a sizeable Republican majority (on the order of 18-10) because New Castle County only gets two. Using a model like Delaware’s, with about two House members per Senator, the House count would be about 29-27 Republican but with a lot of potential flipping in several areas, making local elections become greatly important. This divided government would mean ideas from the GOP legislature would have to be appealing enough for the Democrat governor to become law (since there’s not a vetoproof majority in the House and perhaps not the Senate.)

Either way, it’s a fairly safe bet that, having a state of Delmarva, you would not see the radical left-wing nonsense that seems to be ruining both the state of Maryland (over the Eastern Shore’s objections) and Delaware (because there’s outsized influence from one liberal county that has over half the state’s population.) Even with the slight trend to the left based on 2016-20 results, this state would perhaps have the most interesting politics on the East Coast.

Let’s make a deal: Maryland gets the retrocession of Washington, D.C. while they give up the Eastern Shore to become part of Delaware. (Virginia just forgets about its Eastern Shore half the time, anyway, so if we grabbed that, too, they wouldn’t miss it until it was too late.) We could make the new Delaware into a great state – all without messing up the American flag.

Misdirection

Once again, I will caution readers that the reason I never had a big desire to run for high political office was that I hate asking strangers for money. But I was alerted to an investigation into the financial windfall a company servicing GOP Congressional candidate Kim Klacik received.

Granted, this investigation was done by the Washington Post, and they’re not going to shine a favorable light on any Republican, especially an overtly Trump-supporting minority GOP member like Klacik. But I’ll play along because it leads to another point.

As you may recall from last summer, Klacik became the “it girl” among Republican House candidates thanks to a viral ad she had shot on location in the slums of Baltimore, blaming the decades of Democrat leadership for the decrepit and hopeless conditions. It was a turn of Donald Trump’s “what the hell do you have to lose?” question to black voters, which make up the majority in Klacik’s district thanks to much of it being in Baltimore City.

Yet according to the Post:

By the end of Klacik’s campaign, she would raise a staggering $8.3 million and pay nearly $3.7 million of it to Olympic Media, according to campaign finance filings and her campaign manager. Klacik, now a frequent Fox News and Newsmax commentator, lost to Mfume in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District by more than 40 percentage points.

“Donors gave a House candidate more than $8 million. A single firm took nearly half of it.” Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer, Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The fact that she raised $8.3 million for the race based on a viral ad may be scary enough, but then considering nearly half of it went to a consultant made it worse. This reaches back to a subject for which I sometimes kick myself for not devoting more pages to it in The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and that is the effect of scam PACs, particularly in the later years of the movement. This comes from the chapter of my book called “The TEA Party Is Dead”:

The incessant fundraising off TEA Party regulars, who skewed heavily toward those 60 and over and who had the disposable income to use for political causes, made consultants – a group of characters who often countered that doing mass e-mail appeals wasn’t as cheap as those on the outside of the business thought – fabulously wealthy for next to no effort, while achieving little to assist actual candidates who could have used the funds if they were given directly. Oftentimes less than 10% of the money raised by a PAC would go toward candidates, with much larger amounts used to pay for more fundraising.

The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, p.129.

I gave the subject about a page and a half, but in retrospect it probably deserved at least twice as much. This is particularly true because Klacik, as revealed in the Post story, is another failed candidate who has began a PAC of her own, called the Red Renaissance PAC. (Just like Lauren Witzke here in Delaware.) So she will be yet another grifter taking her cut instead of moving the money where it belongs, and I think that greed is what stunted the growth of the TEA Party. Imagine if that scam PAC money had instead assisted local candidates, who may have won races they lost had they had the additional funding that instead found its way into some consultant’s bank account. Instead of paying for 100 yard signs, donors to scam PACs paid for Mr. Consultant’s yard work to be done.

There was another reason this came to mind: many Delaware school districts have at least one seat on their board of education coming up for election this spring. In my little school district, the one open seat has attracted four candidates as the incumbent decided to forgo another term. What do you think a couple dozen people of like mind donating $100 apiece could do to a candidate in a race like this where winners seldom spend more than a few thousand dollars as opposed to a Congressional election where that group of 24 is outspent by some corporate PAC that donates the maximum?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to donate to a candidate, skip the middleman of a PAC and send it directly. (Or, even better, be a volunteer for them.) It will do the most good for the people who really need it.

The prospects of Trump fatigue

Like a lot of political observers on the right, I was interested enough in what Donald Trump had to say at CPAC on Sunday afternoon to tune in. Because of the social media bans placed on our erstwhile President, we (and the media) haven’t had our daily fix of blurbs, barbs, and braggadocio from old number 45, so those who believed in the man were sure to be checking out what he would have to say about the election and the job his successor is doing.

Sure enough, he had plenty of red meat for the CPAC audience with his criticism of Joe Biden and hints he dropped about making another run for the White House (which wouldn’t really be his third, but his fifth since he briefly sought the Oval Office via the Reform Party ticket in 2000 and had another quick run at it in 2012.) But it’s interesting that Trump only received 55% of the open straw poll vote when everyone at CPAC knew he would be the featured speaker – then again, once we have actual contenders who announce their intentions that 55% would be more than good enough to win (and it’s still a formidable base.)

However, I have become a bit of a Trump skeptic over the last few weeks. It’s certainly not because I approve of Joe Biden’s performance, as the Commander-in-Thief has taken us backwards in so many ways. And you could certainly accuse me here of looking at things through a lens of conventional wisdom when we all know Donald Trump shattered that sucker multiple times from 2016 on, in more ways than one. But there are several reasons I think this way.

First and foremost, having Biden as president right now and watching him stumble through his limited media opportunities reminds us that he is 78 years old – which, as fate would have it, is the age Donald Trump would be should he decide to run in 2024. Trump may look to be the picture of mental acuity right now, but we need only look at the late Rush Limbaugh to know that the guy who looks healthy at a point in time (his 69th birthday last year) could be gone in less than 13 months.

The second issue is what happens to the crowd that considers Trump to be Superman. Indeed, he overcame a lot to stay President for four years – two partisan impeachments, domestic spying on his campaign, a slanted press that rarely said a kind word about him and wouldn’t give him credit for his accomplishments, and the CCP virus that actually infected him. But the combination of these factors and a lot of funny business in the 2020 election (brought on by that same CCP virus) finally put him out of office despite the vain hope of millions who believed in a miracle that did not come.

It’s very possible we saw this effect in the Georgia Senate runoff elections, as those who believed the system was rigged (because Trump and his supporters stated so, on numerous occasions all over conservative media) may have decided not to turn out. As it stands at the moment, 19-plus months out, the betting money believes the GOP takes the House back from the Democrats given the slim margin the Democrats have to work with and the nearly-traditional loss the party in the White House endures during its first midterm. But if the GOP snatches that defeat from the jaws of victory, it’s going to be blamed on Trump supporters who didn’t support the overall Republican party when the need was great.

Still, Donald Trump was the outsider and he’s managed to keep that perception despite the fact he was the incumbent by running against the “Swamp.” It’s not going to get any less murky but there are other candidates who can tout their renegade status thanks to the pandemic response.

And finally, I just think people are ready for something new. Part of Bill Clinton’s charm back in 1992 was his youth, with people believing it was finally time for a Baby Boomer president – a term that describes the quartet of Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. (Three of the four were born within a couple months of each other in 1946.) On a generational scale, Joe Biden actually hearkens back to the Silent Generation as their first (and probably only) President as no other President was born between 1924 and 1946.

By the time we get to the next election, the top end of Generation X will be sixty years old. (By that same token, Baby Boomers will almost all be retirement age and above.) There are a number of great Republican candidates who were born in that era and it should finally get its due next time around. (Assuming Kamala Harris takes over sometime in the next four years, she will actually be the first Generation X president, born in 1964 a month after I was.) Donald Trump is a very popular man, but the generation he’s most popular among is the one that beginning to pass from the scene. That’s not so much Trump fatigue as it is the march of history.

But the American people may be ready for a new flavor in 2024, so don’t assume that Donald Trump will be this century’s Grover Cleveland just yet.

Odds and ends number 102

I’m bringing back those chunks of blogging goodness that take anywhere from a couple sentences to a handful of paragraphs.

A surplus? Give it back!

It’s been a tough year for state governments around the nation, and Delaware was no exception. But there was a surprise when the First State beancounters came up with the numbers at the end of the year – we had a $347 million surplus thanks to record real estate transfer taxes and very successful IPOs.

Of course, just because we have an extra $347 million doesn’t mean the state won’t have plans for the money that don’t involve returning it to the hard-working taxpayers of Delaware. But I also noticed this nugget: “At one time, far more people came into Delaware to work, but it’s been closer to 50-50 recently, officials said Monday. And many of those who leave Delaware, but are now working at home, have higher paying jobs than those coming from out of state to work in Delaware.” I’m one of those 65,000 who leave Delaware to work, which was the reverse of where we were before we moved when my wife was one of the 65,000 who came into Delaware to work. Neither of us have a typical “work from home” job (although mine is a more likely candidate – not counting the side hustles I actually do from the comfort of my rocking chair) so the gig economy hasn’t hit us yet.

If they are taxing us too much, give it back. If they’re not taxing us enough; well, we don’t need everything the state spends its money on.

A little help from their friends

We had some issues in Texas a couple weeks back, and in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, the left-leaners at the Alliance for American Manufacturing are now demanding a “Made in America” infrastructure bill. As Texas resident Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch wrote at the group’s behest:

It didn’t have to be like this. While we are seeing unusual weather in Texas, the electric grid here also hasn’t received updates it has needed for years. As one expert put it, the grid “limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

And it’s not just Texas. States like Oregon, Kentucky and Louisiana also are seeing power outages right now. California faced similar struggles last year.

These are the real world consequences of America’s failure to modernize its infrastructure. Now it’s time to learn from our mistakes and get to work.

“TAKE ACTION: What Happened in Texas Could Happen Anywhere”, Alliance for American Manufacturing, February 18, 2021

In fact, in the e-mail, Brotherton-Bunch actually says, “The crisis in Texas this week once again is highlighting the consequences of inaction. But every crisis also yields opportunity.”

Suppose, however, that the federal infrastructure bill did away with Davis-Bacon laws that add labor costs to the project unnecessarily. Sure, the leftist groups that back prevailing wage will tell you that the increased wage brings an increase in productivity, but to me that claim is rather dubious. Surely the reason the AAM really wants the infrastructure bill is to prop up their union backers – just like the push for an overall $15 minimum wage most benefits Big Labor in general and the SEIU in particular – moreover, if it goes to things the federal government may want that may not be what the locality needs.

Infrastructure in most cases should be more of a state priority. We’ve spent enough federal money for three lifetimes in mine, but those in power now want to put drunken sailors to shame. I guess the AAM just wants their cut.

The hopeful tone didn’t age well

Just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Bobby Jindal – the two-term governor of Louisiana and 2016 Republican presidential candidate (the one I endorsed initially) placed an op-ed at the Fox News site that sounded conciliatory toward the incoming administration, pointing out areas of common ground between the perceived moderate Biden and populist Republicans that backed Trump. In part, this was because President Trump…

…modified the traditional conservative argument that the problem was government was doing too much for too many — and instead argued it was not doing enough for the right people.

Trump expanded the definition of the deserving poor to include everyday working families whose wages had stagnated for years. Democrats have long used similar arguments to enact universal social welfare programs. President Obama cited the plight of working Americans to include both Medicaid expansion for the poor and exchange subsidies under ObamaCare for families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level.

And Trump tapped into working-class anxiety by promising to pursue policies, like tighter immigration controls, tariffs, farm aid, and renegotiated trade deals, that would protect their jobs and incomes from unfair foreign competition.

Trump further promised to protect entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that benefited his base supporters, while railing against a corrupt Washington establishment that conspired to enrich the coastal elites and expand wasteful redistribution programs for favored liberal constituencies.

But Trump seemed more interested in adding spending he liked — such as military spending, his border wall, his long-promised infrastructure bill, and direct pandemic assistance — than in eliminating spending he did not like.

“Bobby Jindal: Biden may find support for some proposals among populist Republicans in Congress,” FoxNews.com, January 17, 2021.

This big-government populism was the philosophy candidates like Lauren Witzke ran on last year.

I would agree with Jindal except for the fact that Democrats inside the Beltway seldom backed Trump’s initiatives despite the fact that a significant number of rank-and-file Democrats in the Rust Belt and other areas of flyover country eschewed the 2016 Democrat standardbearer Hillary Clinton to vote for Trump.

However, it should be said that the trajectory of history pre-pandemic was favoring Trump’s contention we could grow our way out of a deficit, as the annual shortages were coming down until trillions of dollars of stimulus and transfer payments were supposedly made necessary thanks to the “15 days to stop the spread” that are now closing in on a year in many places. Had Trump not been denied a second term he may have been proven correct.

But it was disappointing to read this from a man who was a successful budget-cutter in his home state, making the tough choices to save taxpayer dollars. And as an aside, one of those “common ground” issues Jindal cited was infrastructure.

First it was RGGI, now it’s TCI

It’s been percolating under the surface for quite awhile now, but when you start talking about a potential gas tax increase, people begin to listen.

It wasn’t enough to address so-called manmade climate change by developing a way for public utilities to transfer protection money to state governments (also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or as the subtitle suggests, RGGI) – nope, they decided to attack the internal combustion engine in the same way. As Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort explained at Delaware Online back in December 2020:

As Delaware faces a significant drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) can offer needed funding for communities along Routes 13 and 40 and other pollution burdened areas across Delaware, including Route 9, Northeast Wilmington, Belvedere Newport and Sussex County. TCI is a collaboration between eleven northeast and mid-Atlantic governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C., who have been working to develop a regional cap and invest program that would significantly cut tailpipe pollution while building a fair and just zero-emission transportation system.

“Building a transportation and climate initiative that works for Delaware,” Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort, Delaware Online, December 17, 2020.

Never mind I put the lie to the tax revenue claim a few paragraphs ago, but the duo are only following what was laid out a couple years earlier as goals for the TCI:

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders and expert analysis, the participating TCI jurisdictions will design a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each TCI jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure. This proposed program, when combined with existing programs and complementary policies, will be designed to achieve substantial reductions in transportation sector emissions and provide net economic and social benefits for participating states.

“Transportation and Climate Initiative Statement,” December 18, 2018.

Welcome to wealth transfer program part two, where rural folks and those who drive for business or pleasure will be transferring their wealth and freedom into more government largesse that will go to boondoggles they pick because the public won’t. In an Open Letter on the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a number of groups advocating the rightsizing of government in these affected states and beyond called TCI “the wrong idea at the wrong time.” And in case you haven’t noticed, gas that was around $2.19 a gallon back in November has gone up 50 cents a gallon since – granted, some of that is normal (it seems like gas prices annually peak in the late spring) but the recent 20 cent surge blamed on Texas refineries being kicked offline thanks to the massive snowstorm there will take its sweet time to work itself out. Yet to someone who drives a 20 MPG truck 20,000 miles a year such as a rural worker, that per-gallon increase works out to $500 a year they can’t spend on food, clothing, or other necessities. A 27-cent gas tax increase such as the one the Caesar Rodney Institute has worried could be proposed for Delaware would cost that Sussex County worker $270 a year on top of the 50-cent increase.

Something on a favored flag

I suppose that since I wrote a book with it on the cover, one would consider my flag of choice the Gadsden flag. That yellow-and-black symbol of our colonial days became the icon of the TEA Party, and it got a little bit of its due recently thanks to my Ammo.com friend Sam Jacobs pushing an article on it.

Every so often I see a Gadsden flag adorning a pole under an American flag or see a Virginia Gadsden license plate – surprised those haven’t been banned from the state yet. (I just checked and they are still available, shockingly enough. But I doubt there’s any in the D.C. suburbs.) It’s comforting to know there are still people like me out there.

And since I now have an open space on the front of my car because Delaware only requires one license plate, maybe I can find a Gadsden plate to increase my old car’s value. (15 years old, almost 200,000 miles that would have been a lot of gas tax for greedy governments around the nation.)

Programming note

I have one more item in my e-mail box that will graduate to a full-length article, I believe. Be advised, though: writing may be a little sparse for a bit as I seem to be the snake that swallowed the goat and that big lump of various side hustles is making its way through my workload these days.

And speaking of the TEA Party, I believe I noted that I deactivated my old Rise and Fall website a couple months back. I think the Facebook page for it will be next to go. Last year I abandoned a book project that became a series of posts here on the Indivisible movement, and I started on another idea I had for an e-book before pulling the plug because I didn’t like how I thought I had to frame it – too unworkable. To be honest, right now is not the time in my life for a book.

So I guess I will stay in this little forum for now.

What is truth?

Originally I was going to have this post as part of an odds and ends post, but as I collected items and ideas I decided it needed to stand alone, as did a couple of the other pieces initially deemed an odd or end. I just need to write some longer pieces anyway and devote a little more space to them.

As you probably know, I enjoy reading Erick Erickson’s commentary when he combines religion and politics. A recent piece is a case in point.

Over the last several years, great harm has been done to the truth by President Trump, but also by a media that made everything about him and by partisans on both sides. It is not a one way street. It is the collapse of post-modern America into tribalism where all sides are more interested in narratives than facts or truth.

That collapse of truth has allowed conspiracists to fester and created a dangerous time for the church as both pastor and congregants leave the truth of Christ for the lies of the world. Gnosticism is on the rise wherein people believe if you read certain websites or listen to certain voices, you can get an insight into the world and a deeper knowledge of its surrounding than others. This is where Q comes from — a gnostic heresy whose adherents believe they have the inside scoop or a deeper knowledge. Churches need to focus on the Word and the gospel, not politics. Pastors who think Donald Trump will be President after tomorrow need to repent and probably need to leave their pulpits. Congregants who think this need to repent and leave politics and the news and spend time in the Word.

“Some Things Some of You Need to Hear,” Erick Erickson, January 20, 2021.

I have listened to a few of these preachers because their sermons were shared by various people I knew, and to a man they were certain that Donald Trump would somehow remain as President, with the congregation lapping these proclamations up. And while I believed there was a slim possibility the states would revisit their Electoral College results and toss out the fraudulent mail-in ballots, I also knew that opportunity withered away and dried out as the days of December dwindled and the Kraken remained bottled up. I still don’t believe Joe Biden won in a legitimate fashion, but unfortunately there’s no way to conclusively prove that since a lot of the evidence was destroyed.

But more importantly to this post, I believe Erickson has described the Qanon phenomenon to a T. On its surface, given our longstanding mistrust of politicians and the press, the whole preteen human trafficking angle they’ve pushed upon is somewhat believable. Every so often we hear about children freed from a human trafficking ring (here’s one case in point) and that feeds the narrative given our previous conditioning to believe all politicians on the opposing side are corrupt. Throw in the whole Jeffrey Epstein case and it fuels the fire.

When I first heard about Qanon, the story was it was a select few patriots in government who opposed the Deep State that came to Donald Trump as their chosen candidate to clean up the mess, so they engineered his election in 2016. (Which begs the question: why not 2012 when he considered running? Did they have someone else in mind at the time?) Speaking in cryptic riddles and open-ended questions, Qanon became a cottage industry for a select few pundits who purported to have their inside information for a rapt audience who thought they were smarter than the rest of us, I guess. To be quite honest, it was right on the edge of belief, like something that sounded crazy but that I couldn’t put past the powers that be.

But then the Qanon folks got sort of greedy. One story I heard was that this effort traced back to the days of JFK, which led me to ask myself just how this could have been kept from the public for a half-century until Donald Trump came along. Heck, Watergate got out and so did Monica’s blue dress so I don’t think a secret like that would be safe that long inside the Beltway. More importantly, though, everything they predicted never came to pass. We were supposed to have the Insurrection Act, followed by media blackouts, martial law, and mass arrests on a global scale, leading to the revelation of the “true” election results and Donald Trump sworn in for a second term. Guess what? None of that occurred – well, except for the media blackout, which I suppose falls into the blind squirrel category. (I’m sure the real hardcore Qanon believers blame Donald Trump for the cold feet when all this was supposed to occur.)

Yet millions of people believed it, including a lot of men of the cloth. That’s the part that bothers me, too, when you think about it. Let’s review what Erickson said:

Pastors who think Donald Trump will be President after tomorrow need to repent and probably need to leave their pulpits. Congregants who think this need to repent and leave politics and the news and spend time in the Word.

“Some Things Some of You Need to Hear,” Erick Erickson, January 20, 2021.

I will grant that there are some questions regarding religious freedom under Joe Biden. (Someone just happened to write on that for The Patriot Post, oddly enough.) But come tomorrow their church will still be open, congregants will still be coming in, and certain pastors will have some ‘splainin to do.

Donald Trump was (and may well be again in 2025) a very good president – I’d rank him second behind Reagan in my lifetime. But he should have never become a cult leader.

Becoming the loyal opposition

As the days of the Trump administration dwindle down to a precious few and the world is attempting to hoist him up on the petard of (so-called) insurrection, it’s clear that there are over 70 million Americans who are angry with the situation.

But let’s dispense with a few things first: the claims that Trump will return for another term after he declares martial law then drains the Swamp with thousands of arrests – ain’t gonna happen. Even if he uses the military, the size and scope of the necessary operation is such that SOMEONE would have leaked it out by now.

And it’s not just that: Trump doesn’t figure in the line of succession, even if you arrested Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi. It’s the same logic that said Hillary would be president if Trump was impeached and convicted. There’s just no Constitutional precedent for this – even in the midst of a civil war we held a Presidential election in 1864. We’ll never know, but would Abraham Lincoln have ceded power in March of 1865 had he lost?

There were originally going to be three main points to this post, but two of them have been taken care of in a different fashion. I liked Erick Erickson’s take on all the fake news that I alluded to above, so I encourage you to read it via The Patriot Post. My other writing home is also where the second part of this discourse ended up, regarding the fate of the Republican Party going forward. One key point:

Donald Trump was the candidate whose boldness on hot-button issues such as immigration and tax reform brought back those who became disillusioned when the Tea Party devolved to just another group of inside-the-Beltway grifters, and the Republican establishment cooled the fiery spirits of those the Tea Party helped to place in Congress.

“The Road Ahead for the GOP,” The Patriot Post, January 15, 2021

This was one of the longest pieces I’ve ever written for them because it’s a subject I am passionate about.

But in the wake of the purloined Presidential election and the catastrophe at the Capitol, people are probably shrugging their shoulders and resigning themselves to the end of our Republic, keeping their anger and passion inside to eat at them. Now I don’t have the overall surefire way to make you feel better, but perhaps it’s time to revisit what happened the last time we were in this situation.

Granted, the political landscape in 2021 is not really the same chessboard we were looking at in the dark winter of 2009. Back then we didn’t have the pervasiveness of social media to squelch the voices of conservatives nor did we have the upstream economic swimming made necessary by the ongoing CCP virus. (Of course, that will improve soon as Democrat governors finally decide that maybe, just maybe, they need to open up their state economies.) And that’s okay because perhaps this time we need to shift the focus to a smaller stage rather than try and play in a arena we’re not as familiar with. Complaining about federal spending and what would become Obamacare only delayed the inevitable twelve years ago because Tip O’Neill was right: all politics is local.

To that end, there is a trinity of issues which can be positively influenced at the local level in the near term, and in my opinion these are places the passion for Donald Trump can be well applied (or at least I think he would approve.) In at least one respect – the one I’m going to begin with – it’s not even necessarily political.

Support local small businesses.

This can be a lot easier said than done, particularly if you live in a rural area like I do. I have to admit we get a LOT of Amazon and Walmart boxes delivered to us, and the UPS truck is a regular sight around this area. On the flip side, though, we have a lot of small businesses that we can support in our town, particularly the restaurants. (I have my local favorite, and you should too. Patronize them often and leave good tips.)

The thing that is holding back businesses the most are the pandemic-inspired restrictions. I’m sure my local pizzeria would love to be able to open up all their seating despite their solid carry-out business. Initial mandates that favored big-box retailers as “essential” when their smaller counterparts – which often sold the same merchandise – were shut down led to the loss of millions of jobs and the perceived need to send out stimulus checks that are simply the gateway drug to the cherished regressive dream of a universal basic income. (Or, as Dire Straits once sang, Money for Nothing. I suppose it’s good the government hasn’t tried the chicks for free yet, because I could only imagine that disaster.)

I think if you asked the business owner who had to shut down whether they’d prefer the check or the business, 99% would be back in business. Seeing that the ice is beginning to break with some of these Democrats, perhaps it’s time to apply more pressure to Governor Carnage to end this so-called emergency and let businesses try to pick up the pieces.

Action items:

  • Patronize local, small businesses wherever possible.
  • Pressure local legislators and officials to advocate for the opening up of your state’s businesses as applicable. (Obviously people reading this from certain states can skip this part.)
  • If a business decides to go against a state’s forced closing mandate – don’t be a Karen, be a customer.
  • And it’s not just businesses: having open schools and resuming their activities would be a great help to employment as well. It brings me to my next part.

Reforming our schools.

One thing I loved about the Trump administration was the fresh perspective he brought to the Department of Education with Betsy DeVos. Unfortunately, her tenure was cut a bit short because she bought the media narrative about the January 6 protest, but her time at the DoE was the next best thing to it not being there.

Sadly, under Harris/Biden there will likely be some other NEA-approved hack running that show and undoing all the good DeVos did, so we need to do what we can to re-establish local control of our public schools as much as possible and push the envelope where required. If that can’t be done, then it’s time to support the alternatives such as homeschooling or non-public schools.

Of course, the best way to guide public schools is to become a member of their school board, but not everyone has that sort of time commitment nor do they want to go through the anal exam known as an election. (Furthermore, in the case of my local school district, reform would be slow: they elect one member of the five-member body every year, meaning it would take at least three years to install a like-thinking majority.) But it is a good idea to know about your local school board and see who the friendlies to the cause are. (If they have a BLM banner, it’s not too likely they’re conservative.) The ideal here is to revamp curriculum to bring it back to classical education as opposed to indoctrination, encouraging a variety of viewpoints and critical thinking. Public school students don’t have to be mindless robots; after all, I’m a case in point since I went to public school and a public university. I think I turned out okay.

On a state level, there are two priorities and this means you have to make some enemies in the teachers’ union: school choice and (corollary to that) money following the child. It’s your child and the state should be doing its level best to assist you in training up the child in the way he should go.

Action items:

  • Demand schools open up fully. The lack of in-person learning and activities has cost students a year of development.
  • Research your local school board and its candidates, even if you don’t have kids there. They are taking a lot of your tax money so you should be aware how it’s spent.
  • Advocate with your state legislators for school choice and money following the child.

And now for the biggie, the one which should be job one among all right-thinking Americans:

Restoring free and fair elections.

I’m going to begin with a quote. You may be surprised at the source.

Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner. The list includes the 2000 presidential election, in which problems with absentee ballots in Florida were a little-noticed footnote to other issues.

In the last presidential election, 35.5 million voters requested absentee ballots, but only 27.9 million absentee votes were counted, according to a study by Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He calculated that 3.9 million ballots requested by voters never reached them; that another 2.9 million ballots received by voters did not make it back to election officials; and that election officials rejected 800,000 ballots. That suggests an overall failure rate of as much as 21 percent.

“Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Balloting Rises,” Adam Liptak, New York Times, October 6, 2012.

It’s funny because that story concludes, “You could steal some absentee ballots or stuff a ballot box or bribe an election administrator or fiddle with an electronic voting machine,” (Yale law professor Heather Gerken) said. That explains, she said, “why all the evidence of stolen elections involves absentee ballots and the like.”

It didn’t get any better in 2020, as hastily-passed (or decreed) election law led to the chaotic scenes we saw played out in several big-city vote counting venues. Combine that with the molasses-like pace of mail sent through the USPS – I received a Christmas card sent by a friend in Kansas December 18 on January 4 – and we got an election result that millions are skeptical about.

I know there are some who swear these practices are on the up and up, but this is the question we should be asking these officials: If you support election practices we can’t trust, how can you be a public servant we can trust?

At a minimum, we should be demanding that changes made for the 2020 election should be scrapped entirely. This was no way to run an election, and it will always be fishy how Donald Trump (and a host of other Republicans) led in their election in certain states until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before suddenly being overtaken in a barrage of votes for Democrats. I will give kudos to the election officials here in Delaware who demanded all mail-in ballots be delivered by 8 p.m. on election night because the counting was pretty much done by the late local news.

I don’t care if you call it the TEA Party again – with the acronym now standing for Trump’s Election Avengers – but here are the action items, as the beginning of a list of demands for real election reform:

  1. The voter rolls should be purged of inactive voters (no voting in the last four years) and those who use fake addresses such as P.O. boxes. Big-city election boards should be made to use some of their ill-gotten largess to investigate these places.
  2. Absentee balloting should no longer be shall-issue. There has to be a legitimate excuse, although advanced age should remain a legitimate excuse. Deadline for absentee ballot return is Election Day, no postmark exceptions.
  3. Ballot-harvesting should be outlawed or curtailed to leave only family members allowed to return a limited number of ballots.
  4. Early voting should be eliminated, or at the very least cut back to the weekend just prior to the election.
  5. There should be more election observers, and not just Democrat and Republican. We should add two independent or minor party voters who are also allowed to observe and object.

This isn’t to say that we should ignore the excesses of the Harris/Biden administration and speak out when necessary. But in making these more easily attainable changes at the local level, we make it more difficult to enact change on a national scale.

If we want to make the necessary changes, we have to borrow the “think globally, act locally” mantra from the environmentalist wackos for a bit and ride out the next four years as the real shadow government. It’s only through us that a government for and by the people not perish from the earth.

Reviewing the stand

After all that went down Wednesday afternoon, I needed a few days to clear my head from the information overload. (The odds and ends post that came up Thursday was actually written last weekend.)

What blew me away initially was the number of people attending – some accounts stated there were a million people there. Could be true, might not. Let’s say for the sake of my next few paragraphs there were a half-million.

I also want to preface those paragraphs by referencing a memory. Back in November 2009 I went to a Capitol Hill rally dubbed the “Emergency House Call” and as part of that I (and hundreds of others) traipsed through the various House office buildings – many of them visiting my representative at the time, the “blue dog” Democrat Frank Kratovil. But we didn’t visit inside the Capitol. (I’ve actually been in that building once, but as one of those “smelly tourists” Harry Reid used to complain about. It was back in the summer of 2009, as it turned out – that was a big year in my political activism.)

That “Emergency House Call” was probably the closest I’ve come to something like what some of the people did on Wednesday (minus the property damage, of course.) Yet let’s say 5,000 people ransacked the Capitol building – first of all, there were over 50 arrests (and counting, that I’m aware of) so even that subset of 1% of all protestors had its own violent subset of less than 2 percent.

(As an aside, I can’t deny that Richard Barrett, the grandfatherly protestor photographed sitting with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, reminds me of a old-aged Calvin. Maybe Hobbes was somewhere off camera.)

I certainly don’t want to say that these 0.2% of protestors were in the right, and certainly it seems that the most hardcore Trump backers have learned their lessons from the black bloc protestors that ran wild this summer. (Then again, the Capitol is still standing.) And while there are people who swear that Antifa was all over the violent part, the bios of those arrested seem to indicate otherwise. They represented the white supremacist side of incidents like the one we had in Charlottesville a few years ago.

I’m all for letting the long arm of the law deal with them; unfortunately it’s going to cost many of those people who were arrested their careers, even if they weren’t in the white supremacist category. (In particular, the legislator from West Virginia that resigned after livestreaming himself there.) It also cost Ashli Babbitt and Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick their lives. (I don’t know if the other three who died in the overall protest died inside the Capitol or not.)

And it turned out to be for naught – in fact, any traction the cause may have received was reversed by the riot.

In the aftermath, it would seem that the era of Trump is going to be remembered for this and the pandemic as opposed to the strong economy and significant efforts at world peace it achieved with the Abraham Accords, and that’s a shame. Then again, that’s what a somewhat volatile New York personality and 90-plus percent negative coverage by the media will get you, I suppose.

Yet what worries me even more is the overreaction by Democrats and Big Tech. Impeachment with less than two weeks left in his term? Yeah, I get that impeachment and conviction would preclude Trump from running in 2024 but the Democrats have already figured out ways to rig the election so why worry? After all, the reason we got Trump in the first place was because the media could use him to gather eyeballs and he was going to be the candidate that would take the entire GOP down with him when Hillary was crowned empress in 2016. The media and Democrats (but I repeat myself) were happy to promote Donald Trump then because they thought he was the weakest GOP link. Guess again.

On the other hand, I have to admit the social media giants have the perfect right to yank whoever they want from their platform. It doesn’t mean they should on some trumped-up charge of encouraging an insurrection – people, if there really was an insurrection you would have had hot and cold bleeding politicians. Let’s just say their standard of enforcing terms of service seem a little arbitrary and capricious and leave it at that.

Finally, the wars and rumors of wars are getting intense. Has the Insurrection Act been implemented? How about that Executive Order? Anything out of the mainstream is now being micro-analyzed as evidence the Deep State is either beginning its takeover or being dismantled by the heroic Donald Trump, depending on who you talk to.

We still have 10 days until Donald Trump’s term comes to an end. Why do I believe it’s going to be a bumpy ride? Aside from that, I’m still not quite sure what to think about the events of the last two-plus months (yes, it has been that long since the election.) I guess I will just prepare as best I can for the worst and pray for the best.