Earning my presidential vote: intangibles and the endorsement

Back in September 2015, when I made my initial endorsement out of the Republican field, my intangibles consisted of several factors: executive experience, the candidate website (as I admitted at the time, somewhat picayune), and other issues they brought up.

Now I have a smaller field, with just five contenders who I can vote for here in Maryland: Darrell Castle/Scott Bradley of the Constitution Party, James Hedges/Bill Bayes of the Prohibition Party, Tom Hoefling/Steve Schulin of America’s Party, Gary Johnson/William Weld of the Libertarian Party, and independents Evan McMullin/Mindy Finn.

If you want to review the entirety of this series before you read on (so as to get caught up), you can find my initial criteria for selection and my key issues: education, Second Amendment, energy, social issues, trade and job creation, taxation, immigration, foreign policy, entitlements, and role of government. It’s a lot of reading and quite a bit of research – but just think of it as me doing the work for you and you will be okay.

There are five points at stake here, and one feature of this area is that it can be subtractive as well – a candidate can lose points.

Obviously there is only one candidate with executive experience, and that is former governor Gary Johnson. So he receives a point for that.

In the original rendition I awarded (or deducted) up to two points for the candidate’s website, feeling that it’s now the first place voters turn to in order to make their decision. However, I am amending this to a one-point addition or deduction for a reason I’ll explain in a moment.

Darrell Castle has a website that is a little clunky, but once you find the issues page he not only has positions laid out, but links to dozens of his podcasts he’s done over the last few years, which are categorized by topic. It reminds me a lot of Carly Fiorina’s campaign website except much of the content is audio rather than video. He adds the point to his total.

James Hedges has a more rudimentary website that I found to be not all that helpful. I had to do a little more digging to find his positions, which to the average voter means he will be passed by. They have the Prohibition Party platform but only a supplemental link to one issue out of many listed. He loses one point.

With a philosophy of a modern “front porch” campaign, I found the website of Tom Hoefling to be just okay. However, he is very active on social media as well, which is how I learned about a couple of the policy positions I couldn’t glean from the main site – I asked him directly. It can almost be annoying to follow him; then again, if you think of all the e-mail you get from a specific candidate, seeing his name pop up on notifications on an hourly basis or more isn’t too terrible. So he adds the point.

Gary Johnson has a very good website, which reflects his national standing as he has the resources to keep it updated. As you read, the issues page is very comprehensive so I didn’t have to use many other resources. He gets the point.

The same goes for Evan McMullin, although I don’t care quite as much for the website design. He has a very comprehensive issues page, which has probably made up half of the wordage of this series. One thing I didn’t add in my descriptions is that he contrasts himself to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with his policy writings. So he gets the one point, too.

Because of the nature of these candidacies, ballot access isn’t automatic as it is for the Republican/Democrat duopoly. (Since the two parties make the rules, they tend to discourage competition. It’s a symptom of what is wrong with our current political system.) So it’s worthwhile to know just how accessible these candidates are.

  • Darrell Castle/Scott Bradley: on ballot in 24 states, write-in 23 states (and Washington, D.C.), pending write-in access in California. Locally they are a write-in for both Maryland and Delaware.
  • James Hedges/Bill Bayes: on ballot in 3 states, write-in 10 states. Locally only Maryland voters can write Hedges in.
  • Tom Hoefling/Steve Schulin: on ballot in 2 states, write-in 37 states (and Washington, D.C.), pending write-in access in California. Locally they are a write-in for both Maryland and Delaware.
  • Gary Johnson/William Weld: on ballot in all states, including Maryland and Delaware.
  • Evan McMullin/Mindy Finn: on ballot in 11 states, write-in 32 states (and Washington, D.C.). Locally they are a write-in for both Maryland and Delaware; however, they are filed with Nathan Johnson as VP candidate. This was done in order to qualify for access; Finn was selected later by McMullin as his intended VP. If elected, Nathan Johnson will resign as VP in favor of Finn, who is the only woman in this group.

Because all but Hedges can secure enough electoral votes to be president, they get credit for ballot access – 0.5 points for Castle, Hoefling, and McMullin, and 1 point for Johnson.

As part of this section, I also wrote up a short bio detailing the experience for each candidate.

Darrell Castle turned 68 years old on October 11. He served in Vietnam in the Marine Corps, currently a bankruptcy/personal injury lawyer. Ran on the Constitution Party ticket in 2008 as VP under Chuck Baldwin.

Jim Hedges would be the oldest President, currently 78 years old. Once a township assessor in Pennsylvania, the only elected member of the Prohibition Party at the time and first since 1959.

Tom Hoefling will be 56 years old upon inauguration. He previously ran for President on the American Independent Party ticket in 2012, securing three state ballots and eleven write-in positions, picking up over 40,000 votes. He also ran for Governor of Iowa in 2014. Wrote the America’s Party platform in 2012 and is a close political ally of onetime Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes.

Gary Johnson would be 64 years old on inauguration day. He was governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003 and ran as a Republican for President in 2012 before withdrawing and securing the Libertarian nomination, receiving 1,275,951 votes or just under 1 percent. (They were on the ballot in all states but Michigan and Oklahoma, with Michigan access as a write-in.)

Evan McMullin is 40 years old, making his first run for political office. He is a former CIA counterterrorism expert and chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.

Finally, I learned that Darrell Castle opposes an Article V convention, fearing a “runaway convention.” He fears our nation will have a lower standard of living in 25 years thanks to massive debt, a declining birthrate, and foreign entanglements. Favors GMO labeling and decriminalization of marijuana, and believes states have a right to secede, but opposes the military draft and would not draft women if there were one. Given the mixed bag of miscellaneous comments and positions, I will give him another half-point. 2 points.

In his statements, Jim Hedges admitted he was from the “liberal wing” of the Prohibition Party, which allowed him to add some of their more leftist planks. He termed it as the party’s chance to survive by attracting younger voters as it has dwindled in popularity – it’s been around for nearly 150 years, but only received 518 votes nationally in 2012. So his run is as much about keeping the flame burning than winning, and they deserve to be in the process. I will be charitable and return the point I deducted before. 0 points.

One statement from Tom Hoefling can be added to this mix: that private property is a cornerstone of American liberty. I take this to mean that he is a staunch defender of private property rights, which in this age of Kelo and Agenda 21 is a good stance to have. I’ll add two remaining points for that. 3.5 points.

Gary Johnson has a commendable position on veterans that should be considered if that is your key issue. I’ll give him one extra point here. 4 points.

The same regarding veterans can be said of Evan McMullin, so he also gets one extra point. 2.5 points.


I have now considered and awarded appropriate shares of all 100 points, so I have finally reached the end of my process. The candidates will now be assessed in reverse order.

While the Prohibition Party should have a voice in the process - and could be the conscience of the conservative side of the spectrum – the fact they nominated a member of their left wing in James Hedges meant he did not do well in my system, gathering just 36 points out of 100. The only categories they did well in were immigration and social issues; otherwise the nominee was near the bottom.

Evan McMullin reminds me of a typical Republican politician, someone who thinks the system is fine with some improvements. The problem is that I feel the system is broken and we need to start repairing the damage rather than patch it up around the seams - so he only received 39 points out of 100. His best categories were energy and foreign policy, which led to my comment that he would make a solid Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense. But in most areas McMullin wrote a lot but lagged the field.

Having said that, I am rooting for him to win Utah and break up the electoral map from red and blue. Perhaps he can set a trend.

I was a little disappointed that Gary Johnson only scored 50.5 points in this system, especially since he got off to a good start by winning both the education and Second Amendment categories. He also won in trade and job creation, but finishing near the bottom in social issues and last in immigration and foreign policy did him in. However, he is setting the Libertarian Party up for future success in many states where ballot access depends on a particular percentage of the vote. They could also qualify for federal funding, although their party philosophy may make them refuse it.

Once Johnson faded from the front of the race, I came down to two major contenders – Darrell Castle and Tom Hoefling. One of them won a total of four categories worth 36 points while the other won two categories, but they were worth 27 points. Neither ever finished last in a category, and both had only one fourth place finish.

In looking over their point totals, the difference was in just a couple issues: one was far stronger in entitlements than the other, while the reverse was true in foreign policy.

Tom Hoefling is a strident anti-abortionist, but it came down to a point where I was troubled by my understanding of how he felt about it in consideration of the rule of law. Here is the phrase in question, from the platform he wrote:

(E)very officer of the judicial, legislative and executive departments, at every level and in every branch, is required to use all lawful means to protect every innocent life within their jurisdictions; and that we will henceforth deem failure to carry out this supreme sworn duty to be cause for removal from public office via impeachment or recall, or by statutory or electoral means, notwithstanding any law passed by any legislative body within the United States, or the decision of any court, or the decree of any executive officer, at any level of governance, to the contrary. (Emphasis mine.)

Above all, America is a nation of laws, with the Constitution as supreme law of the land. I understand we are given inalienable rights, with life paramount above them, but we must also render unto Caesar what is his and all of us – even the most cold-blooded abortionist – are entitled to live under the law, not the whim of a dictator. If you want to change laws, you must change hearts first because that leads to electoral allies being placed in office. This is why Hoefling only got 3 points in the category and finished with 63 points overall.

And because Darrell Castle got 7 points in the category by understanding the limitations placed on his role by the Constitution, he ended up with 67 points overall – and my vote.

So on November 8 I will walk into my Civic Center polling place and cast my ballot, writing in Darrell Castle for President. I know he won’t win the state, but my goal is twofold: I am voting my conscience, as Ted Cruz advised me to, and perhaps I am planting the seed for an alternative to the two-party system.

I’m sure most of the people I know well will be holding their nose to some degree and voting for Donald Trump. But why reward a party and nominee that has done little to advance the cause of conservative, Constitutional government and is so unpopular in the state the last poll had the GOP nominee trailing by 30 points or more? Democrats have had a field day tying the GOP nominees to Trump, almost as if they selected the Republican nominee themselves to their advantage.

So I encourage you to join me in supporting a Constitutional ticket:


After all this writing, I’m taking tomorrow off (aside from placing Marita Noon’s column) and will return with something for Wednesday.

Earning my presidential vote: role of government

In the final of my issues segments, I get to the most important one to me: how the President understands and addresses the role of government. I’m just going to dispense with the bullet point this time: government must be limited and conducted in accordance with the Constitution. To do otherwise is an abomination and diminishes our standing as a nation – unfortunately, we have endured this status for (depending on the perspective of the observer) anywhere from the last eight years to the last hundred. (Some even trace it back to the War Between the States or even the Marbury v. Madison decision.)

To re-introduce the candidates, we begin with Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, then it’s Jim Hedges of the Prohibition Party, Tom Hoefling of America’s Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, and independent Evan McMullin. Johnson is on the Maryland ballot; the rest are write-ins but their votes will count. And if you want to start this series from the beginning (this is the tenth part) you can go here and I link to each succeeding part in turn. At stake is fourteen points, which is the highest individual total.

So let’s see what the people have to say, shall we? I’m going to warn you: this is the longest part because a lot of elements fell into this category.

Castle: No one wants to limit government because it doesn’t fit the goals of the establishment, which is why there’s little coverage of his campaign.

“Who wants to have limits set on what you can do if you can be emperor of the world? Power corrupts. The Founders knew that. It’s human nature to want more and more power, which the Founders understood very well. The people of the United States have permitted their government to exercise almost absolute power, and that’s a mistake. The system the Founders gave us is not self-policing; the people have to do that, through their representatives. And we seem to have pretty much forgotten that.”

Would end the Federal Reserve and return nation to the gold standard.

“Today I want to speak to you in defense of liberty and against tyranny. I speak for the republic and against the fascism that seems to be enveloping us. The general government was created by the sovereign states for a specific purpose; that purpose was to protect our God-given rights. Anything that runs afoul of that purpose is therefore illegal and unconstitutional. And since virtually everything this government does runs afoul of that purpose, virtually everything it does is illegal and unconstitutional.”

“Private property rights are under assault in communities and rural areas across the nation as state and federal authorities move to enforce new planning development programs, particularly under the labels of Sustainable Development or Local Visioning.

Local elected representatives are being overshadowed by the establishment of non-elected boards, councils, planning commissions and regional governments. These non-elected organizations are taking government further away from the people as they are unseen and unapproachable. While totally unaccountable to the people, they enforce policy that affects property rights, tax rates, etc.

Across the nation communities are being pressured by federal agencies to accept grants for local sustainable projects that affect property rights and destroy local control. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

I would withdraw the federal government from such international, sovereignty destroying legislation. I would stop the federal government from manipulating local communities with handouts, and begin the process of handing control of their lives and property back to the local people.”

“I would end the Federal Reserve’s control of the United States’ monetary system by repealing the Federal Reserve Act. Interest rates would no longer be tampered with, as lenders and borrowers would set their own rates.

I would remind the banks that there would no longer be a Federal Reserve to lend to them in an emergency so if a bank gets in trouble, it’s on its own.

Then I would let the American people know that they are now free to use whatever currency they want. The dollar would again be exchangeable for a fixed quantity of gold and the U.S. Treasury would now accept any major currency, including bitcoin, in payment of taxes. As a result, the country would return to a traditional and sensible money system so people could decide for themselves what kind of money they wanted to use. They could save it, spend it, or put any price they wanted on it if they wanted to lend it out.”

Respects people who favor term limits, but disagrees.

War on Drugs has been a “terrible disaster.” (Facebook) “Tell me something today that has created more crime than the War on Drugs.” It’s time to declare peace. (“Iron Sharpens Iron” internet radio show)

Hedges: Term limits for Supreme Court justices.

“The role the federal government should be to ensure that all citizens are treated equally before the law, that we don’t retreat back to the times when only white, male, land owners were allowed to participate in government.

The states should be allowed to make their own regulations about a lot of things. Now, if there is a spillover two adjacent states, such as air pollution from coal-burning power plants, or alcohol sales adjacent to Indian reservations, then the interstate compacts or national courts need to resolve these conflicts. But, the states can experiment with 50 different solutions to various problems and maybe a few of those experiments will work and be a guide for everyone, while a mandatory national policy has just one chance of getting it right.”

Voodoo economics from Democrats and Republicans – deficit spending. Alarmed by “sustainable level of deficits.”

Key issue: who is in charge, states or D.C.? “Today we have 50 sovereign, independent states that are united under the Constitution. States need to step up, since states created federal government.” (Bayes)

Supreme Court and President cannot make law, Court members who do so should be impeached. (Bayes)

“The Constitution mandates that Congress shall have the sole power to coin money and to regulate its value. We will abolish the Federal Reserve System, establishing in its place a government-owned National Bank. Predatory lending activities and punitive rates of interest will be banned. We will encourage the formation of state banks where qualified entrepreneurs can borrow money for investment in job-creating enterprises at minimal interest.” (party platform)

Party favors balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Hoefling: We seek to restore the intended balance between the three separate branches of our government, and to strictly limit government to the Enumerated Powers granted and expressed by the will of the people of the United States in our Constitution.

All existing functions of the Executive branch that are outside of those Enumerated Powers must be eliminated.

All spending and regulation by the Legislative branch that lies outside the Enumerated Powers must cease.

Judges who attempt to legislate from the bench, or who abandon the clear principles of our Constitution, must be checked if liberty and justice are to prevail in our society once again.

We demand a return to adherence to the provisions of the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

We also call for the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. Its enactment greatly reduced the power of our state legislatures and state governments – which are much closer to the people – and damaged our system of federalism. (party platform)

“Just as ‘good fences make for good neighbors,’ good government is mainly about knowing where the legitimate boundaries are, and having the courage to defend those borders forcefully. This is true in terms of the defense of our territory, our security, and our national sovereignty, but it also applies to the sworn duty of all of those in government to equally protect the God-given, unalienable rights of each individual person, from their creation onward, their sacred obligation to stay well within the enumerated powers of our constitutions, and of the role legitimate government must play in balancing the competing rights and interests of the people, in order to establish justice.” (personal website)

Johnson: No excuses. No games. A REAL balanced budget.

By 2017, the national debt will be $20 TRILLION. That is not just obscene, it is unsustainable — and arguably the single greatest threat to our national security.

Responsibility for the years of deficit spending that has created our debt crisis rests squarely with BOTH the Republicans and the Democrats. The debt doubled under President George W. Bush — and doubled again under President Obama. During that time, both parties enjoyed control of Congress, and the deficit spending just kept piling up.

It doesn’t have to be that way, despite what the politicians say. But the idea that we can somehow balance the federal budget without cutting military spending and reforming entitlements is fantasy. What is required is leadership and political courage. As Governor of a state with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, Gary Johnson stood up to excess spending, vetoed 750 bills and literally thousands of budget line items … and balanced the state’s budget.

Governor Johnson has pledged that his first major act as President will be to submit to Congress a truly balanced budget. No gimmicks, no imaginary cuts in the distant future. Real reductions to bring spending in line with revenues, without tax increases. No line in the budget will be immune from scrutiny and reduction. And he pledges to veto any legislation that will result in deficit spending, forcing Congress to override his veto in order to spend money we don’t have.

Limit terms. Increase accountability. Bring back representation.

Under a republican form of government, representatives should be accountable to all people, not institutional forces like lobbyists, special interests, and partisan gamesmanship. Yet today, politicians are often unable to do their job because they are incentivized to do what it takes to get re-elected, not to do what is right for the American people. This doesn’t make them bad people. But it does make for bad representation.

This is why we adopted the 22nd Amendment in 1947, to limit the number of terms a President can hold office to two terms. We did this because we recognized that a President should focus on representing the people instead of playing politics.

Yet today, we have a perpetual election cycle that incentivizes politicians to speak along carefully crafted campaign talking points, constantly ask special interests for campaign donations, and rely on their political party campaign machines for election support. And we wonder why we have such extreme partisanship in Washington?

Can a Republican support gay marriage? Not if his or her first priority is to get re-elected.

Can a Democrat vote for a tax cut? Not if his or her first priority is to get re-elected.

And that is where we are at today. Whether it’s foreign policy, taxes, civil rights, or any other issue — Democrats and Republicans alike cannot take positions on behalf of their constituency because partisan campaign rhetoric trumps the pursuit of practical policy.

As the spending continues unchecked. As the wars continue. And as Government keeps taking away more freedoms, the dangerous dedication that politicians have to getting re-elected keeps representatives from doing the job they were elected to do in the first place.

That’s why Gary Johnson is a strong advocate of term limits. And that’s why Governor Bill Weld served as national co-chairman of U.S. Term Limits.

Run for office, spend a few years doing the job at hand, and then return to private life. That’s what Gary Johnson and Bill Weld did as governors, and that’s what all our representatives should do too.

Our founding fathers established the 4th Amendment, for example, to prevent the government from snooping into our private lives without a warrant.

Yet today, we have a national government that spies on private communications, monitors your financial transactions, photographs your license plates, and even will track everything you do at a public library — all without warrants or due process of law.

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld want to get the government out of your life. Out of your cell phone. Out of your bedroom. And back into the business of protecting your freedoms, not restricting them.

End the War on Drugs. Reduce Recidivism. Support Law Enforcement.

The failed War on Drugs is, of course, the greatest example. Well over 100 million Americans have, at one time or another, used marijuana. Yet, today, simple possession and use of marijuana remains a crime — despite the fact that a majority of Americans now favor its legalization.

And who is most harmed by the War on Drugs? Minorities, the poor, and anyone else without access to high-priced attorneys.

More generally, mandatory minimum sentences for a wide range of offenses and other efforts by politicians to be “tough” have removed far too much common-sense discretion from judges and prosecutors.

These factors, combined with the simple fact that we have too many unnecessary laws, have produced a society with too many people in our prisons and jails, too many undeserving individuals saddled with criminal records, and a seriously frayed relationship between law enforcement and those they serve.

Fortunately, a growing number of state and local governments are taking steps toward meaningful criminal justice reform. The federal government must do the same, and Gary Johnson is committed to bringing real leadership to this long-overdue effort.

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are committed to meaningful criminal justice reform. (campaign website)

McMullin: Evan McMullin is a constitutional conservative who will reverse the unaccountable expansion of federal power at the expense of state and local government. He will restore the constitutional system of checks and balances, which designates Congress—not the president, the courts, or the bureaucracy—as the only body capable of making laws. Evan will appoint judges committed to upholding the Constitution as originally written and understood, instead of imposing their social agendas or legislating from the bench. These reforms will help to ensure that our country continues to have government by the people, of the people, and for the people.

In defiance of the Constitution, President Obama has relied on executive action to force through controversial proposals that failed to win support in Congress. When Congress refused to pass the immigration reforms that Obama wanted, he issued a de facto amnesty that would cover as many as 5 million illegal immigrants. When Obama failed to persuade Congress to restrict carbon dioxide emissions, Obama had the EPA issue a Clean Power Plan that would achieve his goals. Federal courts eventually blocked both Obama’s amnesty and the Clean Power Plan.

Even when Congress does what Obama wants, he has taken new powers for himself that go far beyond legal limits. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”), the president repeatedly made substantial changes to the program without congressional authorization. He suspended requirements, issued waivers, and even appropriated federal dollars without permission from Congress.

Under Obama, independent agencies have also begun to exceed the bounds of their authority. In 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sought to block Boeing from operating an aircraft plant in South Carolina, not because Boeing broke any laws, but because South Carolina laws are less favorable to unions.

The volume of regulation has also increased substantially under Obama. As of mid-2016, the Obama administration has issued 600 major regulations, defined as those with a cost of at least $100 million each. The total cost of these regulations is $743 billion and they will require 194 million hours of paperwork to implement. In his remaining months in office, Obama may issue another 50 major regulations with a cost of $70 billion.

For constitutional conservatives, neither of the leading candidates in this election provides much hope for a return to limited government and an effective system of checks and balances.

Evan McMullin believes in the wisdom of the Tenth Amendment, which reserves for state governments and for individuals all the powers that the Constitution doesn’t explicitly give to the federal government. The framers of the Constitution understood that what works best for Massachusetts might not work as well for Virginia. In addition, a government that is closer to the people is more accountable to the people.

By embracing a one-size-fits-all approach, numerous federal programs have become far more burdensome and less efficient than they ought to be. Even though Medicaid is in desperate need of reform, a thicket of federal regulations stands in the way of state-led innovation. While the federal government should encourage high standards for public education, Washington’s heavy-handed promotion of Common Core has set back the cause of reforming education.

As president, Evan would support House Joint Resolution 100, a proposed constitutional amendment for the re-empowerment of the states. This amendment would enable a two-thirds majority of the states to repeal any Executive Order, regulation, or administrative ruling issued by the executive branch.

Evan would also oppose new regulations unless there is a clear definition of the problem to be solved and compelling evidence that the cost of regulations would be less than their benefits. Evan also supports the REINS Act, which would require up or down votes by Congress on the most significant regulations that the executive branch introduces each year.

In addition, Evan would sharply reduce the number of unfunded mandates, which compel state governments to shoulder the cost of implementing federal regulations. He would also oppose legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Act that delegates unlimited lawmaking powers to federal agencies.

Finally, Evan will appoint exceptionally qualified judges with a proven record of interpreting the Constitution as it was originally written. While the world today is much different than it was 1789, the Constitution embodies timeless principles that remain the foundation of limited government.

Today, after decades of federal expansion and executive overreach, there is a need to return to these foundational principles. Only Evan is committed to restoring our Founders’ vision and rebalancing our government to put power back in the hands of the people.

Our national debt stands at an astonishing $19.5 trillion, an increase of $9 trillion since President Obama took office. This reckless growth represents not just a threat to our prosperity, but also to our national security. Out-of-control spending on entitlements is the most important reason for the national debt’s staggering growth. The annual cost of entitlements is now $2.3 trillion per year, which amounts to 60 cents out of every dollar spent by the federal government.

Evan McMullin believes that the only way to preserve Social Security and Medicare is to enact reforms that make these essential programs more efficient while fighting pervasive fraud and abuse.

While preserving Medicare and Social Security is an important objective in its own right, entitlement reform is also necessary to ensure that the federal government can afford other priorities, including scientific research, infrastructure repair, and national defense. An important side effect of uncontrollable spending on entitlements is the lack of funding for every other government program. Fifty years ago, entitlements consumed 26 percent of federal spending; today, they consume 60 percent. Over that same period, defense spending has fallen from 43 to 15 percent of the federal budget.

The strength of our nation depends at least as much on a robust economy as it does on our armed forces, however. Without funding for scientific research and infrastructure repairs, the economy suffers. Furthermore, a sharp increase in our debt raises the likelihood of an economic meltdown as bad or worse than the one we endured in 2008. Under President Obama, our debt has risen from 39 to 77 percent of our country’s annual income, which economists call Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. This percentage will keep on growing until we elect a president who understands the simple truth that you can’t keep spending money you never had.

There is an urgent need to restore the bonds of trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they are sworn to protect, especially African-American communities. Over the past 20 years, police departments have played an indispensable role in bringing down crime rates across the nation. To preserve these gains, we must ensure respect for every citizen’s right to fair and equitable treatment under the law. The time has also come to reform our courts and prisons, so that we rely less on incarceration, which can break apart both families and communities.

Improved training and community outreach can help to prevent the kind of encounters that have escalated into violence. When police officers patrol the same community year after year, they have the opportunity to build relationships with local residents. Trust is built as police engage with members of the community in positive settings—such as schools, parks, and public forums—not just when confronting potential lawbreakers.

Additional training in communication skills and de-escalation strategies can help police officers to prevent conflict even when confronting potential lawbreakers. The office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) at the Department of Justice is an important resource for local police departments that can provide advice, best practices, and resources for new initiatives.

Evan believes that ‘stop and frisk’ policies are a form of unreasonable search and seizure, and therefore inconsistent with our Fourth Amendment rights. He also believes strongly that body cameras help to bring transparency to encounters with the police. Camera footage can help to ensure accountability for officers who behave recklessly, while verifying that responsible officers followed all appropriate procedures. Police departments must ensure that these cameras are in good working order and have a clear and enforceable policy for when the cameras must be on.

Violent felons should remain in prison for as long as necessary to prevent them from causing additional harm. However, the American justice system has resorted to incarceration for a wide range of low-risk, non-violent offenders, leading us to have the highest incarceration rate in the world—four to five times higher than England, which is second. We could save tens of billions of dollars per year by making greater use of alternatives to prison as well as emphasizing rehabilitation in order to reduce the rate of recidivism.

Evan believes that responsible sentencing reform is the first step toward lower incarceration rates. First, far too many crimes have become federal offenses, particularly routine drug crimes. Even the late Justice Antonin Scalia lamented this trend. Second, judges should have greater discretion rather than having their hands tied by mandatory minimum sentences, which worsen racial and income-based sentencing disparities. Third, judges should be empowered to enroll offenders in diversion programs that emphasize community service, treatment for addiction, and other approaches to rehabilitation. Already, Texas and other states have implemented similar reforms without compromising public safety.

The size and cost of the federal prison system have grown by leaps and bounds, a trend that will only continue without reform. Since 1980, the number of federal prison inmates has grown from 20,000 to more than 200,000. The cost per prisoner rose 50 percent, from $20,000 to $30,000 per year, between 2000-2010. Prison costs now take up one quarter of the Department of Justice’s budget, and the proportion is rising. If this approach prevented crime, it might be worth it. However, experience shows that the relationship between building prisons and reducing crime is unclear. For example, the state of New York lowered incarceration rates by 24% from 1994-2012 while leading the nation in progress against crime.

To maximize effectiveness, sentencing reform should be paired with new programs to reduce recidivism and set non-violent offenders on a path to reintegration. A study by the Pew Center found that more than 40 percent of state prisoners return to jail within three years. To prevent crime as well as further incarceration, prisons should expand job training and educational programs that can help released prisoners find work. Outside of prison, there are too many barriers to employment for those who have served their sentences. Low-risk offenders should not face a blanket denial for all professional licenses or certifications. People who have paid their debt to society must have a pathway back.

The biggest beneficiaries of all these changes will be families and communities. Today, about 1 in 30 children has a parent behind bars, a four-fold increase since 1985. For African-American children, the figure is closer to 1 in 10. The children of inmates often struggle in school, have higher teen pregnancy rates, earn less as adults, and are more likely to commit crimes and wind up in prison themselves. Evan McMullin believes in responsible reforms that will break the cycle of poverty and give these children the opportunities in life they deserve while preventing crime and saving taxpayer dollars. (campaign website)


I liked a lot of what Darrell Castle had to say. I must say that this campaign has really opened my eyes to the effect of the duopoly we languish under, as neither major-party candidate is liked by a lot of the people, but those in charge of the media and the establishment seem to prefer them – so they won. Imagine a true debate with all the candidates who have campaigns sufficient to win 270 electoral votes – the two dominant parties would have a conniption when they saw the polls afterward.

To be honest, I’m not really up on the economic effects of the gold standard but it makes some sense to have our legal tender pegged to something of value rather than our credit, which has to be shot with $20 trillion in debt and climbing. He also refers to an issue that I haven’t heard a lot about, which falls under the banner of the UN’s Agenda 21. In a battle between so-called “sustainable development” and private property rights, I will come down on the side of the latter and so will Castle. He’s also correct in his assessment on the War on Drugs. Perhaps the only thing I disagree with him on is term limits, but overall I think Castle gets it pretty well. 11.5 points.

The Prohibition Party and Jim Hedges has been a mixed bag all along, as I thought it would be. I’m not sure I agree with the idea of SCOTUS term limits since those judges are appointed; however, I could see an age restriction as several states already have. On the other hand, he is correct regarding the idea of the state governments being able to make their own way and being able to judge success.

But I observed in the few minutes I had to listen to Hedges’ VP candidate that Bill Bayes should have been the top of the ticket, as he appears to represent the more right-wing side of the Prohibition Party. He made the good points about states creating the federal government in the first place. Finally, I like the BBA but am cold to the idea of a National Bank. 6 points.

Tom Hoefling makes a solid case for himself regarding what government should and should not do, although it doesn’t go into the specifics I would prefer. And that could be a problem going forward since we went from a series of chief executives who completely understood how government was supposed to work to a next generation that thought they understood but also thought they needed to modernize a timeless concept. Ten generations later the concept is completely lost except when it is convenient for political reasons. News flash: you cannot pick and choose which provisions of the Constitution you want to enforce. If you don’t enforce all, you enforce nothing.

And a bonus point for calling for the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, which was a mistake that blots our Constitution. Maryland should also have a Senate based on pre-Seventeenth Amendment concepts, with each county legislature appointing two Senators to represent them (meaning 48 instead of 47.) 12 points.

It’s interesting that Gary Johnson takes the most libertarian point he has and leads with it. In order to submit a balanced budget, Johnson would have to take out roughly $600 billion, or about 1/6 of it. I have no doubt he could do it, but the problems he has with this approach are a) Congress actually does the appropriation, and b) they are elected in the pay-for-play system Johnson rails against so his budget will be DOA (like Reagan’s were.) He would have to secure the bully pulpit to explain to America the advantages of smaller government.

Unlike Castle (or many Libertarians) Johnson is for term limits, which is the correct stance in this day and age. He also opposes the War on Drugs.

But I do question his admonition about the government being in the bedroom, which is derisive shorthand for having traditional, religious-based opposition to abortion and same-sex “marriage.” What two adults do in the privacy of that room is none of their business, but claiming rights that don’t exist as a byproduct of that relationship is a problem.

I would expect the Libertarians to do well in this category, but they could have done better. 10 points.

In practically every case, Evan McMullin has written the longest description of how he would reform government. But there is little in the way of suggesting how he would reduce it. Indeed, appointing judges steeped in original intent would help, as would a renewed emphasis on the Tenth Amendment and state’s rights – although he doesn’t advocate for the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, nor is he willing to jettison the entitlement programs that would best serve to rightsize government.

It’s also worth noting much of his treatise regards criminal justice reform and police-community relations where it should be local authorities taking the mantle, not the federal government and their penchant for micromanagement. All in all, he is sort of the Beltway-type Republican that seeks a more efficient big government rather than limited government. 6 points.

We have just about reached the end. Tomorrow will bring intangibles that apply to the various candidates and my final decision.

Earning my presidential vote: entitlements

Social Security was once considered the “third rail” of American politics: touch it and you die. But I would contend that we have added Medicare, Medicaid, and perhaps Obamacare to that description. Republicans talked tough about repealing Obamacare through defunding it, but chickened out when the threat of being blamed for a government shutdown became the price to pay. But knowing the toll these programs take on our budget and idea of limiting government, I only need one bullet point for this one.

  • The next president should set in motion the eventual sunsetting of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. If states are dumb enough to try this stuff, that’s their problem. But “promote the general Welfare” did not mean cradle-to-grave dependence on the federal government for support.

To re-introduce the candidates, we begin with Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, then it’s Jim Hedges of the Prohibition Party, Tom Hoefling of America’s Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, and independent Evan McMullin. Johnson is on the Maryland ballot; the rest are write-ins but their votes will count. And if you want to start this series from the beginning (this is the ninth part) you can go here and I link to each succeeding part in turn. At stake is thirteen points, which is the second-highest individual total.

Castle: Would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a “free market solution.”

Poor would be best helped on a voluntary basis. No provision for it in Constitution – money is not ours to give. (“Iron Sharpens Iron” radio show)

Hedges: “A financial foundation must be provided to those who cannot work.” There must be affordable housing, basic medical care, and convenient public transportation for all.

“We advocate an actuarially sound federal Social Security System.” (party platform)

Health care should be a state-level concern, but will address “inefficiency” from insurance company overhead and profits. (party platform)

Hoefling: All of the “entitlements” you list are unconstitutional. James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution: “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

We have a moral obligation to care for our older folks, and any who cannot care for themselves. But it is immoral to usurp power, and to rob our children and grandchildren in order to keep the socialist Ponzi scheme going.

We survived and thrived for 300 years in this country without socialism, by acting as Christians. We’re going to have to learn to do that again, one way or another. Because, within the space of the next eight or nine years, we’re going to see our government go completely insolvent trying to pay for “entitlements” and interest on the debt. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has said that by 2025 the ENTIRE budget will have to go to those two things, with nothing left over for anything else. That is bankruptcy, on a Biblical scale. (response to question on Facebook)

Johnson: Johnson has personally endorsed privatizing Social Security, too — an idea favored by some Republicans (but not Donald Trump). This arrangement would let Americans self-direct their Social Security retirement funds through personal investment accounts, allowing them to buy stocks, for instance.

Johnson also favors raising Social Security’s Full Retirement Age from the current maximum of 67 to either 70 or 72. “Look, it’s [the Social Security Trust Fund] insolvent in the future. It’s going to be insolvent. It has to be addressed,” he told The Washington Examiner in July. Whether Americans could afford to hold off claiming until 70 or 72 to receive full benefits, however, is a real question, considering the majority of beneficiaries today start taking their Social Security money at the earliest age they can, age 62.

And Johnson would like to see Social Security begin “means testing that’s very fair.” Translation: The amount people receive in Social Security retirement benefits would be based on their financial well-being at the time they apply. Today, your benefit is based purely on your previous earnings.

Johnson would repeal Obamacare “in a heartbeat” if given the opportunity, he has said. “If the GOP bill lowers costs and improves care, I’ll sign it,” Johnson proclaimed in a CNN Libertarian Town Hall in June. On Joe Rogan’s podcast in May, Johnson blamed Obamacare for his health insurance premiums quadrupling “and I have not seen a doctor in three years,” he added. “I wish I didn’t have to have health insurance to cover myself for ongoing medical need.”

He wouldn’t have to under his main health care proposal.

Johnson would like to get rid of health insurance as we know it. Instead, Americans would buy health insurance only for catastrophic events and illness.

He believes a free-market system would lead to more affordable health care with price transparency and open competition. This system, Johnson told Rogan, “would probably cost about one-fifth of what it currently costs. We would have Gallbladders ‘R’ Us. We’d have gallbladder surgery for thousands of dollars as opposed to tens of thousands of dollars. We’d have Stitches ‘R’ Us, we’d have X-Rays ‘R’ Us. We’d have the radiologists next to X-Rays ‘R’ Us to read those X-rays.”

As for Medicare, Johnson told 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, “We’re not looking to eliminate Medicare. We do believe in a safety net.” But, he said to The Washington Examiner, “Medicaid and Medicare both need to be devolved to the states.” Johnson has referred to those programs as “the worst runaway expenditure in the federal government today.”

When he was governor, Johnson has said, “I oversaw the reform of Medicaid in New Mexico. Changed it from a fee-for-service model to a managed care model. Improved on the delivery of health care in New Mexico and saved hundreds of millions of dollars.” Johnson has maintained that if the federal government had given New Mexico 43% less money for Medicaid and put him in charge of the delivery of health care to the poor there without “all the strings and mandates that went along with their Medicaid money,” he could have done it.

As president, Johnson has said, he’d balance the federal budget partly by letting states restrict eligibility for Medicaid. (excerpts from Forbes article by Richard Eisenberg)

McMullin: Obamacare has failed American families, driving up costs and reducing access to quality healthcare. With costs running into the trillions, Obamacare is also sinking America further into debt while imposing hundreds of billions of dollars of new taxes. By emphasizing competition and innovation instead of government controls, we can build a modern health care system that delivers accessible, affordable, and high-quality care. We can also protect vulnerable populations, including patients with preexisting conditions. Real healthcare reform means putting patients, families, and doctors first.

Obamacare has proven incapable of controlling the growth of healthcare costs, which take an increasing cut out of workers’ paychecks or even force them to give up insurance. Major insurers are pulling out of Obamacare exchanges because the program is so poorly designed and so full of complex regulations that the insurance companies are losing money despite vast federal subsidies. The cost of those subsidies will be $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, or an average of $120 billion per year. The program will also impose more than $200 billion in penalties on workers and employers – and still 33 million Americans won’t have health insurance.

We must repeal Obamacare as soon as possible, replacing it with a more streamlined, pro-market approach to insurance. The few positive elements of Obamacare, such as guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, could easily be incorporated into a new program in a much more efficient manner.

The heart of any Obamacare replacement should be a tax credit for every household that does not have insurance through an employer. Instead of the government defining a long list of benefits every insurance plan must have, customers should be able to tell insurance companies what they want. This will spur competition and ensure that the tax credit is sufficient to purchase any number of different plans. Allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines would also increase competition and bring down costs. Finally, encouraging the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) will help create more educated consumers who seek treatment from efficient and high quality providers.

Medicare plays an indispensable role in providing health care for America’s senior citizens; it must be put on a sound financial footing so that all Americans have access to high-quality care in their retirement years. The only way to preserve Medicare for the next generation is to get hold of the runaway costs that threaten the program’s viability while spurring massive growth of the federal debt and deficit.

Established 50 years ago, Medicare hasn’t adapted to an aging population with a rising life expectancy. Instead of covering 1 in 10 Americans, the program now covers 1 in every 6—or 50 million men and women—who spend close to 20 years as Medicare patients, up from just 15. At the same time, relentless inflation in medical costs has led the cost of coverage to triple. Whereas payroll taxes and premiums once covered 70 percent of costs, the government now spends $700 billion per year while collecting only $100 billion from Medicare payroll taxes.

Without reform, Medicare and other entitlements will push our government to the edge of bankruptcy. Evan McMullin is not afraid to challenge the status quo in order to put Medicare on a sound footing for the future.

The way to reform Medicare is encourage competition and innovation by putting patients, families, and doctors for first. The key to reform is premium support, a system in which all beneficiaries would receive a uniform subsidy toward the purchase of coverage from competing health plans, including the option of traditional Medicare. This approach would give seniors greater freedom to choose the plan that best suits their needs, while spurring competition among plans to provide the best quality care at the most efficient price.

To promote informed decision-making by beneficiaries, the federal government must develop and distribute user-friendly publications that enable beneficiaries to compare plans, estimate out-of-pocket costs, and assess the quality of competing providers. By making informed decisions, beneficiaries can encourage a cycle of competition and innovation that leads to better outcomes for all.

Medicaid’s purpose is to provide lower-income Americans with the health care they need but can rarely afford. Despite its tremendous cost, there is little evidence that Medicaid is actually improving the overall health of the citizens it insures. The program should be reformed substantially, so that it continues to fulfill its critical mission without pushing our national debt past the breaking point.

When first established in 1966, Medicaid covered just 2 percent of the population. Today it covers more than 20 percent—almost 70 million men, women, and children. Obamacare alone has pushed 12 million individuals onto Medicaid. The annual cost of the program has risen to $550 billion, an increase of $200 billion under President Obama. The cost per beneficiary has also risen sharply to more than $7,000 per year.

Along with other entitlements, Medicaid is pushing our government to the edge of bankruptcy. Evan McMullin is prepared to demand accountability from Medicaid, in order to bring costs under control while delivering better health outcomes for Medicaid patients.

Despite having a different purpose than Medicare, Medicaid would also benefit from reforms that emphasize competition and innovation while putting patients, families, and doctors first. Currently, individual states rely on federal matching funds for Medicaid. This leads to inefficiency because the system rewards states for spending more instead of spending more wisely.

Instead, there should be a cap on federal support. This can be accomplished by giving states block grants instead of federal matching funds, or by giving states a fixed dollar amount for each individual enrolled in Medicaid. The advantage of the latter is that in the event of an unexpected increase in enrollment—because of a recession, for example—states will be able to handle the change.

This would be complemented by paring back the extensive restrictions that Washington places on state Medicaid programs, which discourage innovation and prevent states from taking full responsibility for outcomes. Medicaid could also become far more responsive to patient needs by creating a separate program for disabled and elderly recipients, whose needs are far different from able-bodied adults and their children.

Together, these changes provide a promising way to increase the accessibility of healthcare to Medicaid participants. Right now, many doctors refuse to accept Medicaid patients because reimbursements rates are so low. These reforms point the way toward ensuring that Medicaid patients become valued customers, not second-class citizens. (campaign website)


If I could have gotten more depth out of Darrell Castle, I would have likely scored him higher. Philosophically he’s correct that we should be our brother’s keeper, but I would like to know how he gets from point A to point B. 5 points.

The statist tendencies of Prohibition candidate Jim Hedges come through in this answer. It is not the government’s job to provide the items he specifies, at least not according to my Constitution. No points.

Tom Hoefling has a great answer, and it’s the honest truth: the system as is will be unsustainable. More detail on how he would address the issue would be good, but he also has a correct philosophy. 10 points.

Gary Johnson wisely takes the first baby steps toward some of my goals: privatizing Social Security, devolving Medicare and Medicaid to the states, and repealing Obamacare. I would expect this from a Libertarian, although in the case of Social Security it’s tempered somewhat with changes in retirement age and the gimmick of means testing. It’s a good policy overview rather than a philosophical one. 9.5 points.

This topic is another example of a “tinker around the edges” philosophy of Evan McMullin. Instead of reforming the programs and slapping yet another Band-Aid on a gaping wound, the idea should be one of addressing the very function of a program that the government shouldn’t be involved with. He would unnecessarily consign yet another generation to the slavery of governmental dependence because eventually the reforms will need reforms of their own. 3 points.

I have just two more categories to go. Tonight I will discuss the role of government and tomorrow will be the intangibles and final decision.

Earning my presidential vote: foreign policy

One of the most important functions for a President is that of spearheading our foreign policy. So what would I think a sound foreign policy consists of?

Well, in five bullet points or less, here you go:

  • America is the world leader, or perhaps one can call it a first among equals. So act like it rather than “leading from behind.”
  • By that same token, though, we don’t have to be involved everywhere. There are certain places where it is our national interest to intercede (such as the threat from radical Islam) and others we have no business dealing with.
  • Nations that are our friends and have been for decades should be treated as such. No returning Churchill’s bust or snubbing Israel.
  • If we are to go to war, let Congress declare it. To me, boots on the ground engaging an enemy in anything aside from isolated incidents equals war.
  • We should leave the UN and they can go over to Switzerland for all I care. If we are to be united with other nations, it should be our peer group of industrialized republics which have governmental styles similar to ours. Tinhorn dictatorships and nations with missiles pointed our way need not apply.

This, though, is one of my more flexible issues because there are good arguments to be made for several approaches outside of strict isolationism and continual intervention in dozens of nations to spread our military resources too thin without the declaration of war or compelling national interest.

As always, if you wish to follow the series from the beginning start here. This particular category is worth 12 points.

Update: It occurred to me just now that I should re-introduce the candidates: Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, Jim Hedges of the Prohibition Party, Tom Hoefling of America’s Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, and independent Evan McMullin. Johnson is on the Maryland ballot; the rest are write-ins but their votes will count.

Castle: He firmly believes in upholding Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which makes it clear that only Congress can declare war, and that those powers are not granted to the president. He left the Marine Corps a very different person than when he went in. (website)

“We need to secure our borders before we talk about going after the terrorists overseas…In general, I favor the policy of nonintervention in foreign affairs, just as the Founders did.”

“I believe that the United States (U.S.) should regain its sovereignty and chart its own course. This is not isolationism. The U.S. cannot remain isolated from the forces agitating today’s world, which is so interrelated in trade, finance, instantaneous communications, etc.

How does America deal with other nations while keeping our sovereignty, our freedom, and our independence intact? Can the U.S. keep its own laws and Constitution, set its own policies, or do we surrender to the decisions and dictates of an international collective of nations?

Many people, including many in our own government, would love to see American nationhood fade into history. They fear not only the power of America, but also the ideas that still make us the most powerful nation on earth. Those ideas serve as a contradiction to the way the rest of the world operates, and would serve us even more if we were once again an independent nation.”

“The ideas of America are not compatible with membership in the United Nations (U.N.). The U.N. is world headquarters for the church of unbelieving humanism. The fundamental doctrine of the U.N. is that the world should be a global collective, redistributing shares of material prosperity to every human on earth. That is a religious and not a political idea. Faith in God is replaced by faith in Humanity. The U.N. is the sanctuary of the idolatry of Man.”

Would not intervene in Syria, it’s their business who runs the country. (YouTube)

Opposed to foreign aid, but supports Israel. (YouTube)

Don’t go sticking our noses into every rattlesnake nest. Absence of war is not isolationism, but he would not shrink from a battle when our interests are threatened.

Brexit was “one of happiest days of my recent life.”

President has authority to make war, though. Grenada was an example – wrapped up well within 60 day authorization. May not be Syria situation without Iraq/Afghanistan. (Iron Sharpens Iron radio show)

Hedges: opposes Democratic policy of giving away sovereignty to the United Nations. Would not give aid to nations which mistreat women as slaves or concubines.

“We will conduct foreign affairs with the preservation of American liberty and independence as our chief objective. We are jealous of American sovereignty; we are opposed to the interference of America in the like sovereignty of other nations. American garrisons in foreign countries should not exceed the level required to protect American diplomatic missions unless specifically authorized by Congress. We support volunteer armed forces, well trained and highly motivated; we oppose conscription except in time of Congressionally declared war.” (party platform)

Hoefling: We believe in a supremely strong, prepared, and well-equipped civilian-controlled United States military, and a bold, visionary and intelligent program of principled constructive engagement with the rest of the world. For us, “peace through strength” is not a mere slogan. It is the means of survival for our country in a very dangerous and often hostile world. Our friendship should be a sought-after possession of all men and women of good will everywhere in the world. Our enmity should be something that all rightfully fear.

As Ronald Reagan opposed and defeated the designs and desire of the Soviet Union to dominate the world and place it under the tyranny of their Evil Empire, we stand unalterably opposed to all who approve of, plan or commit terrorist acts. Since the first principle of America is the protection of innocent human life, any who would use acts of terrorism targeted at innocent civilians to forward their political, ideological or religious aims incur our effective and determined enmity. (party platform)

We completely oppose any action that surrenders the moral, political or economic sovereignty of the United States and its people, and demand the immediate restoration of that sovereignty wherever it has been eroded. (party platform)

Johnson: No Nation Building. No Policing the World. More Security Here at Home.

The objective of both our foreign policy and our military should be straightforward: To protect us from harm and to allow us to exercise our freedoms.

Looking back over the past couple of decades, it is difficult to see how the wars we have waged, the interventions we have conducted, the lives sacrificed, and the trillions of tax dollars we have spent on the other side of the globe have made us safer. If anything, our meddling in the affairs of other nations has made us less safe.

Many senior military and foreign policy analysts have concluded that the rise of ISIS can actually be traced back to instability created by our meddling in the affairs of others. This is because the last several administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have used our military resources to pursue undemocratic regime changes, embark on impossible nation-building exercises, and to establish the United States as the policeman of the world.

This imperialistic foreign policy makes it easier for ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other violent extremists to recruit new members. We need to build a strong military. But we should not use our military strength to try to solve the world’s problems. Doing so creates new enemies and perpetual war.

Besides, we have enough problems to solve right here at home.

As President, Gary Johnson will move quickly and decisively to cut off the funding on which violent extremist armies depend. He will repair relationships with our allies. And he will only send our brave soldiers to war when clearly authorized by Congress after meaningful, transparent deliberation and debate.

The idea that we can defeat terrorism by simply putting more boots on the ground or dropping more bombs ignores the reality that this expensive tactic simply hasn’t worked. In fact, it’s made the situation worse. (campaign website)

McMullin: Before World War II, many Americans fell prey to the delusion that if we pull back to our own shores that the world’s troubles will pass us by. After the war, Americans came together in agreement that only our leadership could prevent another catastrophic conflict, while promoting liberty and economic growth as well.

Thanks to our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, there has been no great war for 70 years, and prosperity and freedom have spread around the globe. Americans have served and sacrificed to maintain our security in those decades, but the horrors of a global conflict have been avoided.

Evan McMullin will continue this tradition of leadership that has made America the world’s indispensable nation.

Alliances with other free nations have long been one of the most important sources of American power in the world. Real leadership is not a protection racket or a mercenary army where the United States charges others for providing security. Rather, it is about building long-term partnerships with nations that share our values.

In these security partnerships, the U.S. has and will continue to speak candidly about the need for allies to shoulder their share of the burden. In contrast, suggestions that the United States may abandon its allies in the face of foreign threats is an open invitation for China, Russia, Iran and others to expand their spheres of influence, and to provoke dangerous conflicts that may drag us into war.

Opposing brutal dictatorships and speaking out on behalf of democracy and human rights are also essential to American leadership. Other nations follow our lead because they understand that we pursue the collective good, not just our own narrow self-interest. While American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and intelligence officers have borne the cost of this leadership, the pursuit of common interests has enabled us to build a network of democratic allies across the globe.

After eight years of weak leadership under President Obama, we deserve a President who knows what it’s like to fight terrorists on the front lines, rather than making excuses for his failures.

Evan McMullin will provide the leadership America needs in the world. He will pursue the defeat and destruction of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, rather than dismissing such threats as “the jayvee team” or saying they are “already contained.” He will punish Iran for violating the nuclear deal, rather than ransoming American hostages with stacks of foreign currency. He will stand with Israel, rather than blaming a loyal and democratic ally for instability in the region.

Evan will impose tougher sanctions on Russia and increase America’s military presence in the Baltics in order to deter and reverse Putin’s aggression, rather than pretending that he is a partner for peace in Syria. Evan will stand up for the rights of American and allied ships to sail freely in international waters, rather than letting China dominate the Western Pacific.

Finally, he will reverse the reckless cuts that have brought the size, strength, and readiness of the U.S. military to a dangerous and historic low.

When America ignores rising threats to peace and stability, they don’t go away—they just get worse. “Leading from behind” isn’t leading at all; it only ensures that by the time we need to get involved, the situation is worse, the risks and costs are higher, and the world is on the brink of a crisis.

America can and must do better. We must strengthen our alliances and put our friends, not our enemies, first. We must renew our focus on human rights, including the genocidal persecution of civilians in Syria and elsewhere.

Americans never shy away from a challenge, and we have stood and sacrificed for our ideals in the face of Nazism, Communism and Islamic terrorism. The failed leadership of Barack Obama has left the world on fire, and (his) disastrous judgment has fanned the flames. We need a president who has the integrity, the wisdom, and the courage to lead.

Evan McMullin will be that President.

America’s men and women in uniform are the pride of our nation. Their sacrifices and hard work keep us safe day in and day out. Yet increasingly, we are failing in our obligation to provide them with the training and equipment they need. The number of planes, ships, and soldiers in the Armed Forces is falling toward levels not seen since before World War II, even as the world grows more dangerous. President Obama’s reckless leadership, aided and abetted by Congress, has put the military on a path to almost $1 trillion in cuts compared to projected needs.

The consequences of this neglect are all too real for American service members. Both the Marine Corps and the Air Force have stripped spare parts from museum planes to keep their aircraft flying. Last year, the Air Force’s top general told Congress, if his airplanes were cars, there would be “twelve fleets of airplanes that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia.” Meanwhile, only one third of active Army combat brigades are ready to fight. The Navy is wearing down its sailors and ships with extended deployments, because the fleet is too small to carry out its missions.

There are strong advocates for the Armed Forces on both sides of the aisle, yet President Obama insists that he will only spend more on defense if every dollar for the Pentagon is matched by a dollar for domestic programs. In short, he is holding the military hostage to his domestic priorities.

Our troops deserve better. Evan McMullin believes that what we spend on the military should reflect our country’s strategy and the threats to our security, not domestic political goals. He will never ask our men and women in uniform to compromise their honor, and he most certainly will never dismiss the expertise and advice of our senior military leaders. Rather, when Evan is President, American service members will know they have a friend and advocate in the White House.

The Department of Defense must be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Far too often, the cost of major weapons programs has greatly exceeded projections, while the programs fall years behind schedule, depriving the troops of the cutting edge equipment they deserve. Evan McMullin supports bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform and rethink the weapons development and acquisition process. Above all, there is a need to establish clear lines of responsibility so that senior officials can no longer pass the buck when explaining what went wrong.

The Pentagon also needs to bring the ratio of troops to civilians —or “tooth to tail”—back into balance. The number of troops has fallen by more than 100,000 since 9/11, yet the number of civilians has risen by 50,000. While DOD civilians serve with commitment and pride, the Pentagon does not even have the ability to fully track its manpower requirements and decide which positions are necessary and which are duplicative. No profitable business would run this way, and we should expect and demand more from our government.

Similarly, the Pentagon has a poor understanding of its contractor workforce, whose size is comparable to its civil servant workforce of about 750,000. While focusing on the challenges to efficient weapons buying, the Pentagon has made far too little effort to monitor spending on everyday goods and services, on which it spends tens of billions of dollars every year.

Finally, the Pentagon must complete its efforts to trim the excess facilities that still remain from the Cold War era, when the force was 50 percent larger. Many of these facilities are partially shuttered, so they serve little purpose while consuming maintenance dollars.

A President’s most solemn responsibility is to the men and women under his command. Evan is the only candidate in this election who will take their needs seriously. Under Evan’s leadership, we will rebuild the military and give our service members the tools they need to defend our freedoms and our way of life—while also protecting Americans’ hard-earned dollars. (campaign website)


I tend to agree with practically everything Darrell Castle says. If this is a Constitution Party foreign policy, you can count me in. 12 points.

Jim Hedges and his Prohibition Party are fairly similar to Castle, but not quite to the degree of detail. 10 points.

My one question of Tom Hoefling regarding that statement: how far do you take protection of innocent human life? One could interpret that as passing up the opportunity to engage the enemy at the risk of civilian casualties, while another argument would have this statement be our justification for being the world’s policeman. Neither of those is helpful to our aims. 7 points.

The overarching question about Gary Johnson‘s foreign policy is that of abandoning those fights we have stepped into. We have no true way of knowing if we are not safer than we would have been had we not intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan because there’s no guarantee that the Taliban or Saddam Hussein would not have facilitated a 9/11-style attack. After all, what was the motivation for the first WTC bombing in 1993? We are dealing with people who aren’t forgetting the Crusades hundreds of years ago.

So as tempting as it may sound, I’m not into an isolationist foreign policy. Unfortunately, we need to subdue our enemies, not give them free reign. Other candidates seem to understand this distinction rather than throw shade on preceding presidents. 4 points.

Evan McMullin has a very good background for this aspect of the presidency - if he doesn’t win, he could certainly make a valid case for being Secretary of State or perhaps Secretary of Defense in a conservative administration. Obviously there will be a group who considers him a neo-con but since we have put ourselves into these conflicts, there is an argument that we should play to win. He also pays a great deal of attention to the military, more so than any other candidate. This is his strongest category by far, and he hits on a lot of good aspects - just hold back on the world policeman tendencies as human rights enforcer and deal with the more pressing national threats first.  10.5 points.

We are getting down to the final two categories as well as the intangibles. Next I tackle the ticking time bomb of entitlements.

Earning my presidential vote: immigration

Last week the Center for Immigration Studies came out with a claim that the number of those living in our country who speak a foreign language at home has tripled since 1980, now numbering almost 65 million. We also fret about the terrorism risk from those who would claim to be refugees or simply sneak across our border. In short, immigration is the hot-button issue that propelled Donald Trump to the GOP nomination – unfortunately, he’s since radically backpedaled on the issue to the advocacy of “touchback amnesty” that will likely lose its “touchback” provisions.

So the question is: are we a nation of laws or not? Illegal to me is illegal, not “undocumented.” So here’s my stance in five bullet points or less:

  • We are told that you can’t deport 11 million illegals. But you can create the conditions where they will leave on their own through stricter law enforcement.
  • We need border security. If the “virtual wall” doesn’t work, then we need to build a physical barrier.
  • There also needs to be a reform of the visa system. A large and growing part of the illegal immigration problem is visa overstays, so it’s time to crack down.
  • An end to “birthright citizenship.”
  • While testing for religious beliefs is illegal and quite impractical – since certain religions permit lying to advance them - one has to ask why we accept immigrants and grant visas to those from countries who are our enemies.

As always, if you want to back up and review this series on earning my vote from the start feel free to. But here is where my contenders stand on the immigration issue, for eleven points.

Castle: “I believe that immigration in all its forms should be stopped until we can vet immigrants properly and our borders are under control. We can’t be allowing people with terrorist ties, or who are carrying dangerous communicable diseases, to enter our country unchecked. But once we have regained control of our borders and the flow of immigrants, we can admit as many as we choose, in a controlled and lawful manner.

I do not favor asylum for those here illegally nor do I favor a path to citizenship. Welfare or entitlement programs, if you choose to call them that, should be strictly for American citizens. I have said that I would not deport wholesale but I would not hesitate individually if the need arose.”

Should not take in refugees, “I’m all for secure borders.”

Hedges: “We would deploy sufficient resources to stop all illegal traffic in people and drugs across America’s land and sea borders. We would not provide driver’s licenses, educational subsidies, or welfare benefits to illegal aliens, except that the medical conditions of gravely ill illegals would be stabilized before they are deported. We strongly oppose granting citizenship to ‘anchor babies’ born to illegal alien mothers.” (party platform)

Hoefling: We demand the immediate securing and continuous vigilant maintenance of our sovereign territory and borders. We oppose any private or governmental action that rewards illegal entry into the United States in any way, and demand speedy and full enforcement of our laws concerning all such activities. (party platform)

Johnson: Practical Reform. No Walls. Incentivize Assimilation.

Having served as Governor of a border state, Gary Johnson knows the complex issues associated with immigration reform first hand. Solving immigration problems is not as easy as building a wall or simply offering amnesty.

We should appreciate and respect the diversity of immigrants that come to the United States to be productive members of society. But we also need to recognize that everyone who comes here is not so well-intentioned.

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld don’t want to build an expensive and useless wall. The only thing a big wall will do is increase the size of the ladders, the depth of the tunnels, and the width of the divisions between us.

Candidates who say they want to militarize the border, build fences, and impose punitive measures on good people, ground their position in popular rhetoric, not practical solutions.

Governors Johnson and Weld believe that, instead of appealing to emotions and demonizing immigrants, we should focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas, conducting background checks, and incentivizing non-citizens to pay their taxes, obtain proof of employment, and otherwise assimilate with our diverse society.

Making it simpler and more efficient to enter the United States legally will provide greater security than a wall by allowing law enforcement to focus on those who threaten our country, not those who want to be a part of it. (campaign website)

McMullin: The story of America is the story of immigration. Evan McMullin’s family left Ireland in the 1600s to seek a better life in the New World. Part of his mother’s family fled Poland because of the Nazi menace.

The country we love was built by immigrants. Yet while we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. We must preserve our sovereignty, our security, and the rule of law.

We also need a president who will enforce the law instead of forcing through an illegal amnesty by executive order. Nor should “sanctuary cities” be able to refuse cooperation with the federal enforcement efforts.

The path to reform begins with securing our borders. Once they are secured, there should be a process of earned legalization for the illegal immigrants who are already here. There is simply no efficient way to deport 11 million individuals; doing so would break apart families and likely cost $100 billion. Furthermore, legalization is not amnesty.

While addressing illegal immigration, it is vital to remember that legal immigration is one of America’s greatest strengths. Immigrants and their children have a long record of hard work, starting businesses, and creating jobs. Still, we need to reform the legal immigration system so that it prioritizes American interests and security, including the protection of workers from low-wage, low-skill competition.

There should be a robust debate about immigration, but there should be no place for the kind of hateful and divisive rhetoric frequently on display in this campaign.

To secure the border, we need more manpower, better technology, and—in some places—walls. First, the government should hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents. Second, the government should invest in advanced sensing and surveillance technologies, including cameras. Finally, there are several hundred miles of the southern border where walls are being built and must be completed. However, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to build a wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The incentive that attracts illegal immigrants to the United States is the opportunity to work. To reduce that incentive, employers should be required to use the eVerify system, which was designed to help them determine if job applicants are in the country legally. “Sanctuary cities” must follow the law as well, or face the cut off of federal funding.

Above all, the president must obey the law. President Obama’s executive amnesties in 2012 and 2014 sought to place more than five million illegal immigrants beyond the reach of law enforcement. This year, however, a federal judge struck down the amnesties and the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue.

A president who respects the Constitution knows that only Congress can make the law; executive amnesties violate this principle.

Deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is simply not practical. It would likely cost more than $100 billion and force the federal government to act in an intrusive manner that would violate the privacy of both citizens and legal residents. Deportation would also break up families, hurting children who are not responsible for their parents’ actions. Criminals, however, would still be subject to deportation.

The first step toward earning legal status is for all those who are here illegally to come forward and register themselves. Next they would pay an application fee and a fine, undergo a background check, and demonstrate competence in English. If they do those things, they would get a temporary work and residence permit, but would not be eligible for welfare or entitlement programs. If they obey the law and pay their taxes for several years, they could apply for permanent residency.

This is not amnesty; amnesty is when lawbreakers get something for nothing. Evan’s approach requires every illegal immigrant to earn the right to stay here.

Our country’s immigration policy should serve its economic interests. The best and brightest from all over the world want to live and work in America, yet the current immigration system mistakenly prioritizes the reunification of extended families.

Immigrants founded forty percent of the American companies in the Fortune 500. They also founded one half of Silicon Valley’s most successful start-ups. In other words, they help create high-quality jobs for all Americans.

The effect of current policy, which focuses on family reunification, is to encourage the arrival of those with less education, fewer skills, and little savings. This creates competition for American workers who don’t have the advantage of a college education and already face the greatest challenges in today’s high-tech economy.

Another problem is the misuse of programs, such as the H-1B visa, that are designed to attract the best and brightest. Instead, companies may use these programs to find cheaper replacements for skilled American workers. We need to make sure that all our immigration programs are being used in good faith.

The way that we deal with immigration will have a profound impact on our identity as Americans. We must be careful to preserve our nation’s unity and commitment to fairness. At the same time, our debates and our policies should reflect the civility and tolerance that helped forge a nation out of immigrants from every nation on earth. By replacing divisive rhetoric with genuine action to secure the border, we can work towards immigration reform that makes America safer, fairer, and more prosperous. (campaign website)


I like the idea Darrell Castle has regarding an immigration pause, but there is a legitimate argument that stopping immigration entirely will just convince people to try other methods. such as overstaying their visas or sneaking across the border until they are secure. One question is whether he would use the military to do so, risking violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Generally his is a solid approach, though. 7 points.

The approach from Jim Hedges (or at least his party) is very good, although as I study the candidate I question if he would follow through. It does provide necessary disincentives, although it doesn’t have an exit strategy. 7.5 points.

Secure the border and enforce the laws. The America’s Party approach from Tom Hoefling is beautiful in its simplicity, although it leaves some gaps as to detail. 7 points.

Gary Johnson criticizes the approach of his opponents as impractical, but what he comes up with is impotent for solving the issue. As I noted above, more Americans than ever speak a foreign language at home so the assimilation approach does not seem to be working. Those who come here legally and wish to assimilate aren’t the problem because they follow the rule of law, and to provide for those who do not follow the rules is a slap to those who do. No points.

Similarly, Evan McMullin argues “legalization is not amnesty” but paying a fine isn’t much of a punishment. He has some good thoughts in a number of areas, but I do not believe in amnesty such as he proposes. I may consider the immigrant who goes back and does things the right way after a significant period of time (measured in multiple years) has elapsed, but what McMullin proposes will simply be a magnet for more illegal immigration. 3 points.

I’m more inclined to hear arguments on both sides of foreign policy, which is my next topic.

Earning my presidential vote: taxation

As I noted yesterday, the economic portion of my study began with how people can better get more money in their pockets, but this morning I’m going to discuss how best people can keep what they earned. (To start from the beginning, go here. I’m linking to each succeeding part at the end.)

Regarding taxation, the next president should (in five bullet points or less):

  • Strive for a consumption-based taxation system to replace the income-based system.
  • Work to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, as that is a key element in accomplishing the first point above.
  • Corporate taxes should be lowered to be competitive with other nations.
  • Do away with the estate tax while we’re at it.
  • Stop using the tax code to reward behavior, aside from the reward for saving and investing a consumption-based tax would produce.

So how do our candidates look regarding these points? Honestly, some look pretty good – and this is one of the shorter parts. This is the first of our double-digit point categories; 10 points are available.

Castle: I have proposed a taxing system whereby taxes would be apportioned to the states as the census dictates. If my state of Tennessee had two percent of the nation’s population, for example, it would be liable for two percent of the budget. It would be incumbent upon the representatives from Tennessee to help hold down Federal spending. The Federal Government would be encouraged to spend less not more. The states would be empowered and Washington would be dis-empowered. Washington’s hold over the states would be broken and the states would be sovereign again – Washington would have to ask the states for money. States would be free to collect their revenue as they see fit. Alaska might tax its natural resources and Florida might tax tourism. In Nevada, it would obviously be gambling. Since people could keep their income the economy would explode with growth.

Prefers FairTax to income tax, but has less control by states. “I would like to see (the Sixteeneth Amendment) repealed, if possible.” (Facebook page)

Hedges: Until renewed Volstead Act (Prohibition), higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco.

“There is no way to cut back income and at the same time deliver more services. Things that taxpayers want, the taxpayers must pay for.”

Hoefling: We consider the federal income tax to be destructive of our liberty, privacy, and prosperity. Therefore, we are working to bring about its complete elimination and the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We recommend that the current system be replaced by an equitable, simple, noninvasive, visible, efficient tax, one that does not destroy or even infringe upon our economic privacy and liberty. (party platform)

Johnson: Stop special interest loopholes. Reward responsibility. And simplify our tax code.

Today’s federal tax code does all the wrong things. It penalizes productivity, savings and investment, while rewarding inefficiency and designating winners and losers according to political whim.

For far too long, tax laws have been used not just as a means to collect needed revenues, but as a way for special interests to penalize their competitors while subsidizing themselves. The result is a tax code that is more than 70,000 pages long, enforced by a government agency with almost 100,000 employees. As a result, our tax code has created a nightmare for the average American, while providing shelter for those with the means to manipulate it.

Governor Johnson advocates for the elimination of special interest tax loopholes, to get rid of the double-taxation on small businesses, and ultimately, the replacement of all income and payroll taxes with a single consumption tax that determines your tax burden by how much you spend, not how much you earn. Such a tax would be structured to ensure that no one’s tax burden for the purchase of basic family necessities would be increased. To the contrary, costs of necessities would likely decrease with the elimination of taxes already included in the price of virtually everything we buy.

Many leading economists have long advocated such a shift in the way we are taxed, and Gary Johnson believes the time has come to replace our current tax code, which penalizes the savings, productivity and investment we so desperately need. (campaign website)

McMullin: Evan McMullin will…make the tax code fairer and simpler, helping to spur business innovation, especially the growth of small businesses, which are the country’s most important job creators. Small businesses should pay closer to 25 percent of their profits in taxes, whereas now there are many that must pay almost 40 percent. Right now America also has the highest corporate tax rate – 35 percent – of any advanced economy. Even Barack Obama has said that it should be substantially lower. Income tax rates also need to come down, especially for the middle-class; once the economy starts growing again at an acceptable rate, high-earners should also get a break.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one program that shows how we can fight poverty while encouraging work—it provides a tax refund for those who have jobs but don’t earn enough to be self-sufficient. One shortcoming of the EITC is that tax refunds may not arrive until someone has been working for more than a year. To provide a stronger incentive to work, there should be immediate benefits for those who have jobs. This can happen by transitioning from tax refunds to wage supplements, which add money to every paycheck, starting from day one. Wage supplements also create a strong incentive to spend more time at work, since the benefit rises with each hour spent on the job.

By adding to the paychecks of low-income workers, EITC and wage supplements accomplish the same goal as an increase in the minimum wage, but without reducing the number of jobs available or punishing job creators. If the federal minimum wage rose from $7.25 to $15 per hour, many jobs that pay $9 or $10 per hour would disappear, because employers could not afford the cost. When such jobs disappear, the primary victims are the poor and unemployed, who depend on such jobs to acquire skills and get a foot in the door so they can eventually rise up. (campaign website)

With the exception of a slightly higher corporate tax rate, McMullin’s tax proposal is largely in line with the tax reform plan put forth by House Republicans over the summer. Individual income taxes would be reduced to three brackets from seven at rates of 12%, 25% and 33%. Small business taxes would be reduced to 25%, and the corporate tax rate would also be reduced to 25% (the House GOP plan pegs the corporate tax rate at 20%). (TheStreet.com)


I think Darrell Castle‘s idea is very intriguing because it would certainly rein in the federal government. Let’s say the federal budget is $4 trillion. Castle uses 2% as an example; it so happens Maryland is roughly 2% of the national population. That would mean the state would be liable for $80 billion, which is about twice our state’s annual budget – but certainly is doable when you figure the state’s GDP is about $365 billion. If a state didn’t want to come up with its share, well, maybe its Congressional delegation would become serious about rightsizing government. To me, that’s the beauty of the idea. He also gets the point regarding the Sixteenth Amendment. 8.5 points.

I question the wisdom of Jim Hedges and his ideas about taxation. It’s understandable that he wants higher sin taxes given the nature of his party (albeit these are consumption taxes, which doesn’t make them completely bad), but the implication that taxpayers want more services is the part I am at odds with. I think taxpayers want more efficient services, but if you ask almost anyone they can point out something they feel the government is wasting money on. This is another area where Hedges’ more leftward tendencies step away from what I think his party really stands for. 1 point.

Tom Hoefling and his America’s Party platform is spot on, except for not specifying the types of taxation which would qualify as “equitable, simple…” and so forth. He has the basics down cold, though. 8 points.

In so many words, Gary Johnson is for a consumption-based tax, too. His misstep is not calling for repealing the Sixteenth Amendment because everyone knows that when the government wants to spend more money they will immediately return to soaking us with the income tax as double taxation. 5.5 points.

The problem with Evan McMullin is that his tax platform tinkers around the edges of a terrible system; in fact, he makes it worse and more progressive to the extent that high-income earners will have to wait for their break until the economy improves. (But who really drives the economy with investment as opposed to consumption?) I think the EITC was intended as a tool to help the working class but now it’s become just another government handout – yet McMullin wants to double down with wage supplements? We do not need another entitlement program. Stick with the lower rates for all, mmmmkay? 2 points.

Well, that spread the field out some. We will see how much more of that occurs tomorrow when I resume the series with immigration.

Earning my presidential vote: trade and job creation

I am finally approaching the halfway point in this quest, and pocketbook issues have considerable importance. This section is the first of two consecutive segments dealing with the economic end of government. Trade and job creation, to me, are the areas of government which most directly affect your income. (The next section, taxation, is the other end of the pocketbook equation.)

As I have noted throughout, you can work your way through the series by starting here and working forward as issues gain in weighting my decision.

In five bullet points or less, our next President should:

  • Revisit the Trans-Pacific Partnership (and other deals) to see if they can be salvaged as a good deal for the United States – which provides the majority of the GDP in each deal and should have the most favorable terms while maintaining our sovereignty. Otherwise, I believe in free trade that is fair, so we should work to isolate countries who don’t play by the rules.
  • Get government out of the way! According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, regulations cost business $1.885 trillion in 2015. That has to stop.
  • Rather than knuckle under to the knuckleheads who think we should have a “living wage,” the federal minimum wage should be abolished entirely. States are free to continue the lunacy and watch their businesses suffer the consequences when minimum wages get too high for the market.
  • Be an advocate and cheerleader for the right-to-work movement.
  • Invest in necessary federal infrastructure, particularly highways – the “post roads” of the modern era. Not only does this benefit job creation but it would assist in getting goods from place to place more quickly.

So where do my contenders stand? Let’s find out how many of the nine points they will receive.

Castle: Opposed to TPP as “the worst of our free-trade agreements.” Should freely trade with all nations but formal agreements cost us sovereignty. (Facebook)

Hedges: Opposes Republican policy of giving away our jobs through free trade.

Supports “appropriate employment at a living wage available to all citizens who are able to work.”

“The importing of goods from and the offshoring of services to other nations are the primary causes of lost jobs and impoverished communities in America. We favor free trade only on a reciprocal basis among equals. We will impose balancing tariffs on all goods imported from countries whose wage scales, labor benefits, and environmental protections are not similar to our own. No nation which fails to protect the civil rights of its citizens may be accorded ‘most favored nation.’” (party platform)

As a party they also support right-to-work states and would index Congressional pay to the minimum wage.

Hoefling: “Politicians constantly talk about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,’ even though they don’t have any jobs to offer that aren’t government jobs, or jobs that are subsidized by the taxpayers, and by debt shoved off on our grandchildren. As if we don’t already have more than enough of those kinds of jobs, right?

Here’s another thing: while working for a paycheck is certainly an honorable thing, it is not the American ideal. The ideal is for YOU to OWN your own piece of this country.

My goal, should I become the governor, is not to offer jobs to my fellow Iowans, or to use your money to bribe some company to provide you with a job. My goal is to secure your rights, and to then create an economic environment of FREEDOM, low taxes, reasonable, minimal regulation, and OWNERSHIP, an environment that will quite naturally lead to productivity and prosperity for all.

And, of course, the bonus is, companies will line up to do business in a state like that. You know it’s true.

‘Jobs, jobs, jobs’?


OWN, OWN, OWN!” (as Iowa gubernatorial candidate, 2014)

Johnson: Reduce the administrative burden. Level the playing field. Incentivize job growth.

As governors, both Gary Johnson and Bill Weld supported policies that incentivized job growth. In 2012, Gov. Johnson was praised as having the best “job creation” record of all presidential candidates. And Weld transformed Massachusetts from having the highest to the lowest unemployment rate of any industrialized state in less than 8 years.

Yet, Johnson has said that, “As Governor, I didn’t create a single job.” His point, of course, being that government doesn’t “create” jobs. Entrepreneurs, businesses, and economic prosperity are the building blocks for job growth.

Governors Johnson and Weld believe that we must allow a regulatory and tax environment that incentivizes fairness. Not one that picks winners and losers. The purpose of government regulation is to protect citizens from bad actors and the harm they might do to health, safety, and property. But regulation should not be used to manipulate the economy, to manage private lives and businesses, or to place unnecessary burdens on those who make our economy work.

Today, the reason so much corruption and power thrive in Washington, D.C., is that powerful corporate interests actually benefit from over-regulation. After all, they have the resources to comply with onerous laws. But for the average American, entrepreneur, or small businessperson, they don’t have teams of high-priced attorneys to help them navigate the bureaucracy.

We simply need to apply common sense to regulatory policy. Let’s get rid of the unnecessary laws and taxes that siphon the resources businesses use to create the jobs we need.

Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld helped create the conditions for job growth in their states. In the White House, they will create the conditions for massive job growth across the entire country. (campaign website)

McMullin: American businesses export more than $2.2 trillion per year of goods and services. The demand for American exports supported 11.5 million jobs, an increase of more than 50 percent over the past 20 years. On average, these jobs pay 18 percent more than jobs that are unrelated to exports. For all these reasons, Evan believes that trade is an engine of prosperity and that well-designed trade agreements can help our economy grow even more.

At the same time, we can do more to help American workers adjust and thrive in the 21st century. Since 2000, the U.S. economy has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs, although more than 12 million Americans still work at factories. The main driver of this trend is advanced technology, especially advances in robotics and computing. Today, U.S. automakers produce just as many cars as they did 20 years ago, yet the auto industry employs 300,000 fewer workers, a reduction of almost 25 percent.

Therefore, Evan believes that one of the most important ways to help American workers is to make education more affordable while supporting the growth of technical schools, online education, and work-based training programs. It is essential to support these alternatives to the typical full-time four-year degree program, which may not be a good fit for older students who need to work and support their families while studying. While U.S. factories have cut millions of jobs for those with a high school education or less, hiring of college graduates remains stable, while hiring of those with graduate degrees continues to demonstrate strong growth.

Around the globe—even in China—manufacturing employment is shrinking rapidly as factories rely more and more on advanced technology. Thus, using tariffs to raise the cost of Chinese imports won’t bring those jobs back to the United States. In fact, it will kill American jobs, because China and others will block U.S. exports, which now support more than 11 million jobs.

In addition, raising the cost of imports will force hard-pressed American families to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more each year for basic necessities, from clothing to pots and pans and diapers.

Evan supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement recently signed by 12 countries, including Japan, Australia, and Vietnam. The TPP will eliminate tariffs for all the countries that sign, but it will not go into effect until ratified by Congress, which must vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without making any changes to the agreement.

One of the biggest advantages of the TPP is that reducing tariffs to zero favors American companies. Right now, America has low tariffs, not far above zero. In contrast, other countries’ tariffs will plunge when the TPP goes into effect, opening up their markets to U.S. exports. TPP is still a good deal for those countries, because it gives them better access to the biggest market in the world (ours) and the third biggest (Japan).

TPP also helps create a level playing field between U.S. workers and their counterparts overseas. If foreign companies lower their costs by mistreating workers and polluting the environment, then its puts American companies at an unfair disadvantage. However, TPP has the strongest protections for labor and the environment of any major trade deal.

Finally, TPP is important for national security reasons. Our allies in Asia are watching to see whether the U.S. still has the ability to set the rules of the road, or whether their security depends on submitting to China. That is why the secretary of defense has said, “TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier.” If the U.S. abandons TPP, China is likely to intensify its campaign of intimidation in the South China Sea. Thus, support for TPP is a win-win proposition; it enhances our security and reinforces the growth of job-creating American export industries.

Americans are ready to work hard to provide for their families, but fewer and fewer are capable of finding the good jobs necessary to support a middle-class standard of living and help them to pursue their dreams. If we accept the slow growth of the Obama years this won’t change. Only if the economy begins to grow faster—at a rate of more than 3 percent year instead of less than 2—will good jobs become more widely available.

Right now, there are three major roadblocks standing in the way of a stronger economy: a tax code that rewards special interests while hurting small businesses, excessive regulations that cost businesses almost $2 trillion per year, and runaway entitlement spending that multiplies the national debt.

Evan McMullin will dismantle these roadblocks. (Editor’s note: see my next part, taxation, for point 1).

Federal regulations play an essential role in making sure that Americans have clean air, clean water, and safe food. Yet the blizzard of intrusive regulations issued by the Obama administration have gone far beyond what is necessary to protect our health and the natural environment. Instead, these regulations serve as an invisible tax that raises the cost of doing business and prevents firms from creating jobs. As president, Evan McMullin would direct federal agencies to identify a clear problem that needs to be fixed before resorting to further regulation. If an agency believes regulation is necessary, it would still have to prove that the benefits of a proposed regulation are greater than its costs. The same test would also be applied to existing regulations, which would be lifted if they were not achieving their goals.

If the United States can’t get its national debt under control, the government will eventually have to impose harsh taxes or pursue other policies that would drive the economy into a deep recession, destroying millions of jobs. The number one cause of runaway debt—now more than $19 trillion—is the cost of entitlements. Our country needs Social Security and Medicare to ensure the health of senior citizens and prevent them from falling into poverty. We also need Medicaid to provide health care to the needy. Yet these programs are so inefficient, wasteful, and susceptible to fraud that their costs are out of control. The result is that the government must borrow vast sums to keep the programs going. The Obama administration has already added $9 trillion to the debt, almost as much as every previous administration combined.

With a smarter tax code, streamlined regulations, and entitlement reform, the U.S. economy can begin to grow again at the rates it did in the 1980s and 1990s.

Evan McMullin believes that America should be the best place in the world for innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity. We must reform a system that too often benefits the politically connected and the corporate elite, while leaving too many Americans without good jobs. By running for president, Evan McMullin is giving voters the opportunity to get the economy moving again instead of doubling down on the status quo. (campaign website)


I wish Darrell Castle had been more specific and forthcoming on his economic policy. I’m sort of stuck here – on the one hand, the fealty to the Constitution he advocates would mean he would properly address most of my issues, but there are always the provisos and conditions to watch out for. I consider this a wasted opportunity for him. 3 points.

Jim Hedges has somewhat of a right idea on free trade, but the rub comes in dictating what policies other nations may have – particularly when we are so overregulated. Moreover, his stance on jobs at a “living wage” is troubling, and suggests he may not be as strongly in favor of the right-to-work platform plank. I can only give him 1.5 points.

I suspect Tom Hoefling is speaking of entrepreneurship, which is indeed sorely lacking in this country. Even better, it is a philosophy that is scalable to a national level, although the details could really be fleshed out more. He has the same problem as Castle insofar as the specifics aren’t being put out there and easily available. I give him more credit since he addressed the more important aspect of job creation. 4 points.

Gary Johnson gets it insofar as the philosophy goes, and he makes an extremely salient point regarding how the regulatory climate stifles competition. Big corporations become big donors, and then they move into the realm of lobbying for regulations designed to keep small players from gaining market share. But the question is how much will he do to promote “fairness” vs. to promote “opportunity.” There is a subtle but important difference, because fairness implies equality of outcome and that isn’t the way a free market works. Maybe I’m being picky with the term, but generally these campaign issue statements are thought through to make a certain point. 5.5 points.

Evan McMullin is much more sold on TPP than I am, particularly because China is not a party to it. One has to ask what we are giving up if other nations are suddenly going to reduce their tariffs to our level. I don’t think not having access to economies in Chile, Brunei, and several other signatories will break us.

And there’s the idea of justifying regulations – well, any idiot will tell you that of course the government agency that writes and enforces regulations will say they are justified. This needs to be determined independently of the government because job one for a bureaucrat is preserving his job, not solving problems. It’s also telling to me that Evan really didn’t discuss these educational alternatives in workforce training in his general education segment. Here he seems to want more government involvement, not less.

Note that I moved the taxation part of job creation to the next installment, but left the part about entitlements in because he also makes those same points there. I’ll discuss that subject in due course. Anyhow, Evan doesn’t do that well in this category with his political-speak. 2.5 points.

As I noted above, it’s certain my next part is taxation.

Earning my presidential vote: social issues

The next step in my journey to determining my vote is a discussion of those dreaded social issues; you know, the ones that a group in the Republican Party keep trying to sweep under the rug because they fret about losing moderate voters. Well, if voters are moderate they are most likely going to vote for Democrats anyway because to be moderate is to be unprincipled – and Democrats seem to lack principle except in one instance: acquiring political power at the expense of liberty.

(By the way, if you are joining me here, this is the fourth part of the series. You’d be well-served to work through from the first part. I can wait.)

So here are the parameters I’m looking for, in five or fewer bullet points:

  • Abortion should not be the law of the land despite what the Supreme Court says – a proper reading of the Constitution would maintain states retain the right to restrict it as they wish. The next President should work to overturn the incorrectly decided Roe v. Wade decision, which hopefully will be looked at by future generations with the disdain the Dred Scott decision is today. No funding for Planned Parenthood and preservation of the Hyde Amendment. Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for abortions, nor should insurers be compelled to cover them.
  • The same goes for so-called same-sex “marriage.” I’m fine with the legality of civil unions, but once again the SCOTUS whiffed on Obergefell. It’s properly a state-level issue, too.
  • By the same token, religious conscience should be protected. Just because 2 Timothy 3:12 advises Christians that they will face persecution doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a President who fights on our side.
  • Guys use the guys room, ladies use the ladies. God gave us a particular set of plumbing and that should be the guide. However, I will say that a truly transgender person really isn’t the problem because they have to use a private stall wherever they go – so no one would ever really know. Maybe “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be the guide for that group.
  • I don’t have a problem with a state legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. It’s their right.

This category is worth eight points – not quite to the deal-breaker stage yet, but it may begin to separate the field. And no apologies.

Castle: “Well, I’m a Christian, so I’m opposed to (same-sex ‘marriage.’) I don’t think it exists, because it violates God’s law. But as president, I don’t think it’s any of government’s business. I want to see the government out of the marriage business altogether.”

As for same sex marriage, I have said that I do not believe in it or that it even exists. If I were President and two members of the same sex came to me and said we’re married and here’s a priest, a minister, and a civil magistrate who will attest to that, I would say you are not married because God defines marriage quite clearly in his holy word and you do not meet that definition. However, as President it is irrelevant to me because your relationship is none of my business. It is an abuse of political power to require people to buy a license from the government for permission to engage in whatever relationship they choose. Since there would be no governmental financial advantage to this relationship it is not a governmental concern. (interview with Peter Gemma)

Gender-neutral bathrooms “violate every sense of privacy and decency.”

“Unlike Hillary Clinton who recently said, ‘unborn persons have no constitutional rights’, I know that all ‘persons’ have the right to life and both the 5th and 14th amendments confirm that position. I also know, as does Mrs. Clinton in the deep recesses of her heart, that those waiting in their mother’s womb to be born are in fact persons.

There are many things that a Constitutional President could do about abortion but I will give you a couple.

1. Veto and refuse to spend every penny of funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

2. Recommend to Congress, and work to convince Congress, to take away the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over such matters.”

Would not prosecute mothers who abort child, but would prosecute the abortionists.

Would not tell a baker to bake a cake for a same-sex ceremony if their views conflict. (Iron Sharpens Iron radio show)

Hedges: Those who distribute alcohol/drugs should be responsible for effects on those served (dram shop laws). But don’t prosecute individual drug users. Would allow medical marijuana, although many party members would disagree.

A prohibition on gambling, including state lotteries as they are a regressive tax.

Not all religions should be equally prohibited. ACLU is backward: U.S. is nation of all religions, not no religion.

Family is basis for society.

“I believe all lives matter.” Abortions since 1973 are “absolute travesty.” (VP candidate Bill Bayes)

“We deplore the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage as an abomination to God. We call for a constitutional amendment, which shall read as follows: ‘Marriage is, historically, an Institution and Sacrament of the Church. Only the Church shall decide what qualifies as a ‘marriage.’ For the purpose of two individuals who need only legal protection, such as for inheritance and for power of attorney one for the other, the state may license Civil Unions.’” (party platform)

Voluntary prayer and other religious activities shall not be prohibited in schools and public spaces. (party platform)

“We consider abortion to be morally repugnant. We will implement policies to minimize the number of abortions without infringing on the doctor/patient relationship and without thrusting government into family decisions about child rearing. Abortion procedures should not be funded by government.” (party platform)

Hoefling: (T)he God-given, unalienable right to life of every innocent person, from biological inception or creation to natural death, be protected everywhere within every state, territory and jurisdiction of the United States of America; that every officer of the judicial, legislative and executive departments, at every level and in every branch, is required to use all lawful means to protect every innocent life within their jurisdictions; and that we will henceforth deem failure to carry out this supreme sworn duty to be cause for removal from public office via impeachment or recall, or by statutory or electoral means, notwithstanding any law passed by any legislative body within the United States, or the decision of any court, or the decree of any executive officer, at any level of governance, to the contrary. (party platform)

We seek the passage of a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and oppose all attempts everywhere to redefine marriage as being anything but what it has always been: the union of one man and one woman. Since the natural family is the basic God-given institution of our civilization, and the nursery of our future, it must be protected from all who would destroy it. (party platform)

Johnson: Protect Religious Freedom. Enforce Common Sense Non-discrimiation Laws.

Gov. Gary Johnson will zealously defend the Constitution of the United States and all of its amendments, including religious freedom. The right to practice one’s religion is a fundamental part of being an American and must be preserved. Johnson personally credits his own religious upbringing as a Lutheran in the definition of his own beliefs and character.

Yet there have been times in our history when religion has been invoked to justify serious harm. In years past, opponents of interracial marriage, desegregation and other efforts to protect civil rights have too often cited scripture and religion in making their arguments.

To be blunt, certain politicians have twisted religious liberty and used it as a tool to discriminate. That’s just wrong, and the overwhelming majority of religious leaders agree.

Gary Johnson believes we can, and must, strike a balance between our shared American values of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination. Today, in some states, politically-driven legislation which claims to promote religious liberty but instead rolls back the legal protections held by LGBT Americans is failing that test of balance.

When it comes to civil rights and the rights of the LGBT community, states are best served when they take an inclusive approach of “fairness to all.”

Conversely, divisive and thinly-veiled legislation clearly aimed at LGBT individuals serves no one, and is not the American way.

One state who “got it right” is Utah. In a compromise worked out among religious leaders, lawmakers and members of the LGBT community, Utah enacted a law making clear that discrimination in employment, housing, and government services is illegal. At the same time, the law granted common sense protections to insure that the legitimate First Amendment rights of individuals and religious organizations cannot be put at risk.

In short, Utah found a way to protect religious freedom without creating a “right to discriminate”.

America is big enough to accommodate differences of opinion and practice in religious and social beliefs. As a nation and as a society, we must reject discrimination, forcefully and without asterisks while at the same time we must protect our important religious freedoms. (campaign website)

Appreciate Life. Respect Choice. Stay Out of Personal Decisions.

Gary Johnson has the utmost respect for the deeply-held convictions of those on both sides of the abortion issue. It is an intensely personal question, and one that government is ill-equipped to answer.

On a personal level, Gary Johnson believes in the sanctity of the life of the unborn. As Governor, he supported efforts to ban late-term abortions.

However, Gov. Johnson recognizes that the right of a woman to choose is the law of the land, and has been for several decades. That right must be respected and despite his personal aversion to abortion, he believes that such a very personal and individual decision is best left to women and families, not the government. He feels that each woman must be allowed to make decisions about her own health and well-being and that the government should not be in the business of second guessing these difficult decisions.

Gov. Johnson feels strongly that women seeking to exercise their legal right must not be subjected to prosecution or denied access to health services by politicians in Washington, or anywhere else. (campaign website)

Save money. Change lives. Protect families.

The Federal government should not stand in the way of states that choose to legalize marijuana. Governors Johnson and Weld would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which will allow individual states to make their own decisions about both recreational and medical marijuana — just as they have done for decades with alcohol. Eliminating the Federal government as an obstacle to state legalization decisions is not only constitutionally sound, but would allow much-needed testing of marijuana for medical purposes, as well as regulation that reflects individual states’ values and needs.

The health benefits of cannabis in pain treatment has already proven to be safer and less addictive than current pain medications such as opioids. Pharmaceutical companies need to be allowed to conduct medical testing on cannabis. This is better for all Americans. A President that is not afraid to tackle the tough issues would understand that de-scheduling cannabis and allowing medical research is the right thing to do.

The marijuana black market has created a non-stop crime epidemic. Thousands of lives are lost each year in trafficking along the Mexican boarder alone. The War on Drugs has been an expensive failure. We spend money to police it. We spend money to incarcerate nonviolent offenders. And what do we get in return? A society that kicks our troubled mothers, fathers, and young adults while they’re down, instead of giving them the tools to be healthier and more productive members of society. Crime and wasted lives has produced a circle of failure….and it needs to stop.

We can save thousands of lives and billions of dollars by simply changing our approach to drug abuse. That is why Gary Johnson came out as an early proponent on the national stage in 1999 while Governor of New Mexico, and publicly stated his support of marijuana legalization.

Governors Johnson and Weld do not support the legalization of other recreational drugs that are currently illegal. It is, however, their belief that drug rehabilitation and harm-reduction programs result in a more productive society than incarceration and arrests for drug use. (campaign website)

This is why Gary Johnson embraced marriage equality before many current Democratic leaders joined the parade. He was also the highest ranking official to call for an end to the drug war and start treating drug abuse like a disease instead of a crime.

His vice presidential running mate, Governor Bill Weld, was not only an early proponent of civil rights for gays and lesbians, he actually appointed the judge who wrote the opinion that established marriage equality as a matter of constitutional right. He is also an outspoken defender of a woman’s right to choose, rather than allow the government to make such an important and personal decision for them.

Unlike Governors Johnson and Weld, those in power today are steadily eroding the personal freedoms that our government was established to protect.

Gary Johnson believes that people, not politicians, should make choices in their personal lives. Responsible adults should be free to marry whom they want, arm themselves if they want, and lead their personal lives as they see fit — as long as they aren’t harming anyone else in doing so. (campaign website)

McMullin: Our respect for life is the most important measure of our humanity. From conception to death – and any time in between – life is precious and we have a responsibility to protect it. A culture that subsidizes abortion on demand runs counter to the fundamental American belief in the potential of every person – it undermines the dignity of mother and child alike. Americans can and should work together to increase support and resources to reduce unintended pregnancies and encourage adoption, even if they may have different opinions on abortion rights.

Religious liberty is freedom of conscience, inherently connected to actions and expression; it’s the grace to let others pursue their convictions and the willingness to welcome a marketplace of diverse ideas. This freedom is central to the American experiment, and it should be protected, not disparaged. At a time when global religious persecution is at record highs, America must prioritize the defense of this core human right in our diplomatic efforts. Our moral authority to defend religious freedom abroad relies on the vitality of religious freedom here at home. Our government should not target religious groups for discrimination or marginalization based on the obligations of their faith, but instead recognize that religious diversity and robust pluralism are foundational sources of strength for our nation. (campaign website)

Evan McMullin told Mark Halperin he is personally opposed to redefining marriage but that he would do nothing to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Bloomberg News webcast, “With All Due Respect.”

“As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but I respect the decision of the Court, and I think it’s time to move on,” McMullin said, echoing moderate Republican presidential hopefuls.

When pressed, McMullin said he would have “ideally” liked to see the issue decided by the states, “but it’s been handled by the Supreme Court, and that’s where it is.”

McMullin said he bases his definition of marriage on his Mormon faith, but “my faith isn’t everybody else’s faith. I make my decisions for me [based] on those kinds of things.”

When Halperin asked if a President McMullin would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the case nullifying state marriage protection laws nationwide, Obergefell v. Hodges, he replied, “I wouldn’t.” (LifeSite News)


I like Darrell Castle‘s thought process, as he posits an argument that has merit when it comes to marriage as a whole, because it is a legitimate option states could take if they so chose. He’s also very sound on the abortion issue since indeed Congress could remove that area of jurisdiction – in fact, they could very easily rein in the SCOTUS if they had the desire to do so. Overall he does extremely well in this category. 7 points.

Jim Hedges is a little weak on abortion, but on the other hand he gives the other legitimate counter-argument with regard to marriage: since it would take 38 states to ratify a Federal Marriage Amendment, it would occur in a situation where the vast majority of states were already on board. I’m not sure a federal ban on gambling would be enforceable, but I could see this as being a benefit overall since lotteries are indeed regressive taxes. I also agree with him on voluntary prayer. 6 points.

I appreciate Tom Hoefling‘s passion for life. But I’m curious how all that shakes out with the rule of law as it currently exists. Indeed, as an inalienable right life comes before liberty for a reason - for without life there is no liberty. Yet this nation lives under a Constitution that prohibits “notwithstanding any law passed…to the contrary.” It makes me question where he feels the extent of his executive power would lie, and that is troubling too. I don’t want to trade one Trump (or Obama) for another, no matter how well-intentioned. 3 points.

When a woman’s liberty is deemed to trump the unborn’s right to life, that is a non-starter with me. But Gary Johnson goes there. Johnson also cites Utah’s anti-discrimination law as a model to follow, even though the head of Equality Utah noted the law Johnson cites has, “among the broadest religious exemptions in the country, and you would never want to cut and paste (their law.)” He called the bill “a milestone for Utah, but not a model for the country.” So it wasn’t the grand compromise Johnson makes it out to be.

Johnson and Weld seem to turn their back on Judeo-Christian values in the name of liberty – but I contend America needs the guardrails for its system of government is intended “only for a moral and religious people.” Only because they are relatively permissive on marijuana do they score at all here. 1 point.

Evan McMullin may be a decent and pious man, but in his statement he shows that he does not have the gumption to stand up for what is right. Whether it’s in the name of “pragmatic” political expediency or the belief that people need to be left alone and to “move on,” he forgoes the use of his bully pulpit at a time when it’s more necessary than ever. Shameful. No points.

It is on that sour note that I inform you the next part will deal with pocketbook issues, specifically trade and job creation.

Earning my presidential vote: energy

The author really didn’t plan it out that way, but I think it worked out well that my usual Tuesday morning column from Marita Noon preceded this particular post, since we share a very similar philosophy insofar as energy issues are concerned. In five bullet points or less, the next President should:

  • Dismantle to the fullest extent possible the Environmental Protection Agency, which was created in 1970. Governmental functions that predated the EPA can be reverted to their original department after a review of their current usefulness.
  • The same goes for the Department of Energy, which was a waste of same since President Carter created it.
  • Eliminate the federal subsidies and carveouts for so-called “green” energy. If wind, solar, and so forth are viable they should be able to stand in the market.
  • On a related note, dispatch with the Renewable Fuel Standard (ethanol mandate), CAFE standards (anti-market regulation), and (coal-industry killing) Clean Power Plan.
  • Finally, walk away from the Paris Climate Agreement. Make the (correct) statement that mankind has little impact on the climate.

This was one for which I could have made about fifteen bullet points. But let’s see what candidates have to say, bearing in mind this category is worth seven valuable points. If you want to see the first parts of this overall exercise before continuing on, feel free to begin here.

Castle: Does not believe in man-made climate change, believes it is a “hoax.”

“I’m for the United States becoming energy independent as quickly as possible, using all of the resources that we have. Coal miners would be very happy with me, I think.” We seem to worry more about our environment than that of the places we get energy from. (Facebook)

Hedges: “We advocate increased research on and development of non-fossil fuel resources, tax breaks for companies engaging in such, and subsidies for consumers wishing to change from fossil fuels to renewable domestic sources of energy.” (party platform)

“(P)ollution abatement projects must balance costs with benefits. We believe that climatic change is an existential threat to civilization, and we will co-operate with other nations in mitigating its effects.” (party platform)

Hoefling: Energy independence is a given if we will simply get government out of the way. We have vast resources, just waiting for us to rein in the radical environmentalists and the out-of-control judges who have empowered them. (Facebook conversation)

Johnson: Protect the Environment. Promote Competition. Incentivize Innovation.

We need to stand firm to protect our environment for our future generations, especially those designated areas of protection like our National Parks. Consistent with that responsibility, the proper role of government is to enforce reasonable environmental protections. Governor Johnson did that as Governor, and would do so as President.

Governor Johnson believes the Environmental Protection Agency, when focused on its true mission, plays an important role in keeping the environment and citizens safe.

Johnson does not, however, believe the government should be engaging in social and economic engineering for the purpose of creating winners and losers in what should be a robust free market. Preventing a polluter from harming our water or air is one thing. Having politicians in Washington, D.C., acting on behalf of high powered lobbyists, determine the future of clean energy innovation is another.

In a healthy economy that allows the market to function unimpeded, consumers, innovators, and personal choices will do more to bring about environmental protection and restoration than will government regulations driven by special interests. Too often, when Washington, D.C. gets involved, the winners are those with the political clout to write the rules of the game, and the losers are the people and businesses actually trying to innovate.

When it comes to global climate change, Johnson and Weld believe that the politicians in Washington, D.C. are having the wrong debate.

Is the climate changing? Probably so.

Is man contributing to that change? Probably so.

But the critical question is whether the politicians’ efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the private sector are cost-effective – or effective at all. The debate should be about how we can protect our resources and environment for future generations. Governors Johnson and Weld strongly believe that the federal government should prevent future harm by focusing on regulations that protect us from real harm, rather than needlessly costing American jobs and freedom in order to pursue a political agenda. (campaign website)

McMullin: Affordable gas and electricity are important for every American family. From the cost of commuting to the price of groceries, energy expenses are built into every part of our economy. Energy companies have made remarkable advances that create jobs and benefit consumers, yet interference from Washington has prevented American families from reaping the benefits they should. Evan McMullin will roll back the heavy-handed regulations that are hurting consumers while ensuring that we protect the natural environment.

Over the past ten years, there has been a revolution in American energy production; transforming the U.S. into an energy superpower. We are now the world’s leading producer of oil, even ahead of Saudi Arabia. With more oil being produced, prices have come down at the pump. Natural gas prices have also fallen dramatically because of booming American production. Meanwhile, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen because natural gas burns more cleanly than other fuels.

Evan McMullin will make sure that there is a level playing field for all types of energy producers, so American families have lower electricity bills and pay less at the pump. Right now, renewable energy producers receive more than $13 billion per year in subsidies, while fossil fuel producers receive $3.5 billion. Evan would put an end to all of these subsidies, which benefit politically connected corporations rather than American consumers. Evan also opposes state-level renewable energy mandates, which force consumers to purchase expensive electricity from renewable sources, adding to the burden of families who are already dealing with a long-term increase in electricity prices.

Our natural environment is a divine gift and each of us has the responsibility to serve as its steward. There is an important role for the government to play in ensuring that our children and our children’s children have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean parks and forests to play in.

We should also be concerned about the direction of global temperatures, which have risen about 1 degree Celsius over the past 50 years. President Obama’s response to climate change has been to rely on expensive, heavy-handed regulations that put Americans out of work.

Evan McMullin believes that promoting innovation is the most promising way to deal with climate change without placing a heavy burden on the backs of American taxpayers and workers. The right way to promote innovation is to invest in basic research, not to provide loans and grants to politically connected corporations. Our environment will be best preserved when America’s leading minds are focused on the problem, not when government is dictating the answers.

The centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate change policy is the Clean Power Plan, whose implementation has been blocked by the Supreme Court. The plan will force dozens of power plants to close and destroy tens of thousands of jobs. The annual cost of implementation will be more than $8 billion. The administration also signed the Paris Climate Agreement, whose implementation would lead to annual economic losses of $40 billion per year if its goals were accomplished via regulation.

Evan opposes the Clean Power Plan because he believes we can protect the environment without causing so much economic devastation. He would reject a regulatory approach to pursuing the goals of the Paris accord, focusing instead on innovation.

The natural gas boom in the United States has already shown how innovation can benefit both the environment and the economy. Since the beginning of the gas boom, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have fallen back to the levels they were at in the mid-1990s. This happened not because of government planning or regulation, but because the private sector made technological breakthroughs that increased our access to cleaner natural gas.

Together, we have an opportunity to create jobs, save money for hard working families, and protect the environment. (campaign website)


I’m relatively disappointed that Darrell Castle hasn’t seemed to pay a lot of attention to this issue, as it certainly is influenced with a proper reading of the Constitution. On the surface he does well, but not to the extent where he would get a high score. 3 points.

In listening to and reading about Jim Hedges, he noted there were places where the Prohibition Party was far more “progressive” in an attempt (misguided, in my opinion) to draw younger voters. This is one area where that philosophy certainly applies, and “more of the same” is not good for our nation when it comes to energy policy. No points.

I feel the same way about Tom Hoefling as I do Castle: a nice approach on a broad scale, but more specifics would be nice. 3 points.

Gary Johnson gets it, sort of. But the problem is that he is conceding key points of the argument to the other side by leaving open-ended the contention that government is essential to provide “reasonable” environmental protection. Given that, one could make the case that everything we have adopted over the 46 years since the EPA came into being is “reasonable” because some bureaucrat thought it so. I think the government should get out of the free market, too – but I have outlined a number of concrete steps on my bullet point list above. Where are his? 2.5 points.

Despite his misplaced “concern” about global temperatures, I actually believe Evan McMullin has the best overall approach and philosophy. No, it’s not perfect, but on balance I think he would certainly consider addressing much of what I would like to see done. In this category he shines compared to the competition. 5.5 points.

We will see if the candidates recover when it comes to the next category, social issues.

Earning my presidential vote: Second Amendment

This is the second of my series on the five candidates I am considering for President. (Feel free to work back from the beginning if you join midstream.)

Regarding the Second Amendment these are the actions and philosophies I am looking for, in five bullet points or less:

  • A philosophy that remembers the words “shall not be infringed.”
  • Selecting Supreme Court justices that will consistently uphold the original intent, and forcefully advocating for their confirmation.
  • Vetoing any attempt to restore the so-called “assault weapons ban” or any other leftwing-sponsored infringements.

Here are what the candidates think on the subject. Most often the information is gleaned from their website, but I tried to cite when it came from another source. As a reminder, the Second Amendment is worth a maximum of six points on my 100-point scale.

Castle: “The Constitution Party opposes what the government usually refers to as ‘gun control’ – and that is gun or ammunition confiscation, gun or ammunition registration and the restriction of semi-automatic firearms with high-capacity magazines. We in the Constitution Party understand that armed people are free while disarmed people are slaves.” (party platform)

“I don’t believe in restrictions on the Second Amendment.” – except for convicted felons. (“Iron Sharpens Iron” radio program, 9-12-16.)

Hedges: “We support the right of citizens to own and to carry firearms for personal defense and for sport; we encourage instruction in gun safety.” (party platform)

Hoefling: The right of self-preservation and self-protection is inherent in all persons, communities and societies, which is why we fiercely defend the indispensable provisions of our Second Amendment. Liberty cannot be protected if the people have been stripped of the physical means of doing so. (party platform)

Johnson: On guns, Johnson described his record as New Mexico’s governor, where he championed concealed carry legislation that he eventually signed into law. He also vowed to veto any attempted reinstatement of the so-called “assault weapons” ban, arguing that it’s something of a false category, and that such efforts would create a new class of criminal comprised almost entirely of law-abiding gun owners. (interview with Guy Benson, Townhall)

McMullin: The right to bear arms is at the heart of the American experience. Patriots armed themselves to win our independence, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that the Second Amendment confers this individual right to all Americans. As a CIA officer, Evan has carried arms to protect himself in warzones, and he supports the rights of all Americans to protect their homes, families and freedoms and to use firearms for sport, hunting and all other lawful purposes.

As president, Evan McMullin will never infringe upon the rights of law-abiding gun-owners. Instead, he will respect the founding spirit of our country by ensuring that Americans have the ability to defend their families and enjoy their sporting traditions without government interference.

While defending the Second Amendment, we must also keep weapons out of the hands of those who would do us harm. The FBI’s terrorist watch list is an important tool for homeland security professionals, but it lacks transparency and due process protections. On its own, it is an insufficient basis to deprive Americans of their right to purchase and possess firearms.

There is also a compelling need to improve treatment for those with severe mental illness and to screen them more effectively. Improved mental health treatment is also essential because a majority of gun deaths are the result of suicide. Before an individual makes the decision to end his or her life, we must encourage a broader national effort to identify and treat mental illness, including depression and other conditions.

Despite the contentiousness of this issue, there are practical ways forward. With NRA support, Senator John Cornyn proposed a plan that would give the attorney general three days to determine if there is probable cause to prevent an individual on the watch list from purchasing a gun. Combined with an increased focus on getting the mentally ill the help they need, this is the kind of common sense solution politicians should be seeking.

Unfortunately, many in Congress prefer to grandstand rather govern. Sit-ins on the House floor are no substitute for leadership. In fact, this kind of stunt is precisely why Americans are so fed up with politics as usual.

Evan will reform the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and turn its purpose to assisting law enforcement in the solution of gun-related crimes rather than serving as a regulatory agency and back-door gun control organization embedded inside the Federal government. Evan will also seek 50-state reciprocity for concealed carry permits.

Ultimately, our nation is safest when weapons are out of the hands of terrorists and in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Under Evan’s leadership, the Second Amendment will be stronger and American citizens will be more secure. (campaign website)


Darrell Castle has a pretty good philosophy, although I think restrictions on convicted felons are somewhat too broad. If he meant violent felons, then that is more logical since such criminals forfeit those rights for a prescribed period as part of their punishment. 5 points.

The Prohibition Party platform (which Jim Hedges is not on record as disagreeing with) is solid, but doesn’t address the excesses of the modern era. 4 points.

Tom Hoefling has a good statement as well, particularly when it comes to the philosophy of the Second Amendment. There just needs to be more meat; still it’s a tick better than the above. 4.5 points.

I don’t have any objection to what Gary Johnson said, but it’s interesting to note this was not one of the many issues Johnson discusses on his website – perhaps because his running mate is weaker on 2A issues. 5 points.

I have issues with anyone who claims they support “common-sense” gun control like Evan McMullin. I don’t see him as a change agent, particularly as he speaks of several areas of federal involvement. Will he truly stand up for the law-abiding gun owner? 3 points.

Next on tap is a discussion of our energy policy.

Earning my presidential vote: education

This is the first of what will be about a weeklong series on the five candidates I am considering for President.

Regarding education (and the other subjects henceforth) these are the actions and philosophies I am looking for, in five bullet points or less:

  • The sunsetting of the Department of Education by the end of the first term. Education is not a federal concern, but properly decided at the state and local levels.
  • Returning the college student loan program to individual banks, allowing the student a broader array of choices for paying for education.
  • Taking the bully pulpit on vocational education, homeschooling, and other non-traditional paths to success. College is not for everyone.
  • Encouraging states to drop the Common Core program in favor of tried and true methods of teaching, with fewer days of testing.
  • Being an advocate for school choice and “money follows the child.”

Here are what the candidates think on the subject. Most often the information is gleaned from their website, but I tried to cite when it came from another source. As a reminder, education is worth a maximum of five points on my 100-point scale.

Castle: “Education is a big problem. If I were president, the Federal Government would not be using the education system to corrupt our children. I want education to be local.

Every year we spend more money, and every year our kids seem to get dumber. Third World countries are beating us in math and science education, and it just gets worse and worse. We aren’t going to be able to change much if we don’t change how we educate our children.”

Constitution is silent on education, so it should be a state and local issue per Tenth Amendment. Would disband the Department of Education.

Would be in favor of Constitutional education in state and local schools.

Hedges: Free college for all, supported by taxpayers. “The Hedges/Bayes administration would assist each state in providing free higher education to all of its qualified citizens.”

10th Amendment makes states responsible for education. Schools should emphasize science, math, citizenship, history, and English. (party platform)

Would fund retraining for displaced workers, paid for via tariff. (party platform)

Hoefling: “The government schools have become God-free and gun-free. So, they are now, quite predictably, spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical free-fire zones. If you have children there, find a way, make any sacrifice necessary, to get them out of there before they are led to the slaughter. What could possibly be more important?”

“What do children need? Before anything else, they need love. They need truth. They need protection from the evil that is in this world. Can government bureaucrats give them any of those things? Not really. As George Washington rightfully said, ‘government is FORCE.’ It’s not love. It’s not caring. Only parents, the ones who were entrusted by God with the duty to raise up their children to be good, decent human beings and honest, patriotic citizens, can provide that, with the help of a responsible, caring community, in cooperation with good teachers. That’s the primary reason I continue to advocate for T.L.C., which is True Local Control, of our schools. The financial, governmental reasons for these reforms are very real as well, but the primary motivator for me is the restoration of the love, the nurture, and the protection of our posterity.” (from Iowa governor campaign, 2014)

Johnson: Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld believe nothing is more important to our future as a country than educating our next generations.

Governor Gary Johnson worked tirelessly as governor to have a more substantive discussion about the best way to provide a good education for our children.

He did so while working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature and despite fierce opposition from powerful special interests. Knowing full well that the establishment would resist calls for change, he nevertheless advocated a universally available program for school choice. Competition, he believes, will make our public and private educational institutions better.

Most importantly, Governor Johnson believes that state and local governments should have more control over education policy. Decisions that affect our children should be made closer to home, not by bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C. That is why he believes we should eliminate the federal Department of Education. Common Core and other attempts to impose national standards and requirements on local schools are costly, overly bureaucratic, and actually compromise our ability to provide our children with a good education.

Johnson and Weld believe that the key to restoring education excellence in the U.S. lies in innovation, freedom, and flexibility that Washington, D.C. cannot provide. (campaign website)

McMullin: The strength of the economy tomorrow depends on the strength of education today. In our high-tech economy, finding a good job depends more and more on having a good education. While our country has some of the world’s greatest universities, millions of students finish school with weak reading and math skills. Going to college keeps getting more and more expensive, while drop out rates are rising.

Evan McMullin believes that by empowering families and communities we can make sure that every child in America has access to a high-quality education. Mandates from Washington are not the way to reform education. The Obama administration’s heavy-handed effort to impose Common Core standards has demonstrated the need for a different approach. Meanwhile, federal loan programs are driving up the cost of a college education while poorly designed regulations prevent the emergence of new options for students.

American students have benefited greatly from a tradition of local control and decentralization for schools. However, there continue to be many poorly performing schools even in cities with very high levels of per-student funding. For example, New York City spends more than $20,000 per student, while Boston and Baltimore spend $15,000.

In struggling school systems, charter schools have become a powerful engine of innovation because they are not weighed down by the intrusive regulations that burden so many traditional public schools. Not every charter school succeeds, but charters as a whole are finally giving meaningful choices to parents whose children were once condemned to failing institutions. Still, access to charter schools is insufficient; right now, there are more than one million children on charter school waiting lists.

Students who do not have access to charters should have the option of vouchers that enable them to attend schools further away. By showing that schools cannot afford to take their students for granted, these alternatives should foster a healthy competition between schools to provide the best education.

Without great teachers, there can be no great schools. The teaching profession continues to attract hundreds of thousands of the most committed, caring, and talented college graduates. Schools should not hesitate to reward teachers on the basis of merit, in order to ensure that they stay in public schools. There also needs to be greater accountability for the small number of teachers who fail in the classroom or even abuse their students. Regrettably, teachers unions continue to protect these few failures instead of focusing on what is best for students.

Schools also need high standards to ensure that every student gets a first-class education. Common Core began as a state-driven effort raise the bar for K-12 education, yet the Obama administration used to federal funds to compel implementation. Rather than accept criticism, the administration sought to brand Common Core opponents as ignorant or worse. A believer in empowering both local and state government, Evan opposes Common Core and the heavy-handed effort to force it on hesitant communities.

Finally, Evan is a strong supporter of the right to educate one’s children at home. He would encourage states to make sure that home-schooled students are able to participate in school sports and electives so that all students are able to benefit from these activities.

Going to college or getting advanced training after high school is the surest path to a good job and a middle-class lifestyle. However, misguided federal policies are only increasing the number of students who leave college without a degree while being saddled with heavy debts.

By handing out more loans, grants, and credits in response to rising tuition, the federal government signals to universities that Washington will pick up the tab for runaway cost growth. Even worse, the government doesn’t hold universities accountable for students’ graduation rates or ability to repay their loans. To make sure that universities have skin in the game, they should have to repay a portion of the debt incurred by students who fail to graduate or default on their loans. To ensure that interests rates remain reasonable, the government has tied them to the yield of 10-year Treasury notes while capping the maximum possible rate at 8.25 percent, a policy that Evan supports.

Prospective students also deserve to know more about the institutions to which they apply; however, a 2008 law prohibits the federal government from collecting the information these students need. For example, students should be able to compare the graduation rates, post-college earnings, and loan default rates for different programs at a wide range of universities.

Prospective students also deserve more and better choices in the field of post-secondary education. In addition to two- and four-year colleges, students should have access to high-quality technical schools, online programs, and work-based learning in the private sector. However, the current model of accreditation makes it extremely difficult for students at non-traditional programs to qualify for federal aid. This prevents competition, which means that traditional colleges and universities don’t face any consequences for cost growth or poor student outcomes.

The principles of education reform are the same for K-12 and higher education. Students and families should have more choices. Schools should have high standards and be accountable for students’ performance. State and local governments should lead the way, while intrusive and misguided federal interventions should be rolled back. That is Evan McMullin’s vision for an education system that prepares American students to succeed in the economy of the future. (campaign website)


Darrell Castle seems to have the right idea; however, I don’t have as many specifics as I would like to get from him. I think I can trust him to do much of what I would like to see being done, but until it’s in writing I think I can only give him partial credit. 3 points.

There is a direct contradiction with Jim Hedges, who advocates free college while his overall party platform dictates a return to the states. For that reason, I cannot give him any points. 0 points.

As time goes on and I hear more from Tom Hoefling, I think I would have more to go on than I have to date. One problem is that most of the educational philosophy I’ve found is from his run for Iowa governor, which is a completely different scope. I think he would be similar to Castle, but for now I can only give him partial credit compared to Darrell. 2 points.

Gary Johnson has a very good philosophy on education insofar as eliminating federal involvement, and adds the school choice element. I will give him 3.5 points.

While he brings up a lot of good points, the problem I have with Evan McMullin is that he still advocates for federal-based solutions. Regardless of how you reform things at the federal level, the fact that a federal level remains means we will be combating the same issues in 20 years once bureaucracy grows back. 1 point.

Next topic will be the Second Amendment.

Earning my presidential vote (redux)

A week ago I promised you an update on my progress, so here it is.

Over the last seven days I have done quite a bit of research on the candidates, and have found out that some are easier to work with than others. I have more bare-bones information regarding the lesser-known candidates (Darrell Castle, James Hedges, Tom Hoefling) but on the other hand Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin made my job far easier with fairly concise information on their positions. Overall I have copied and pasted nearly 20,000 words and the majority of them are from the latter two.

But because I have so much material – not to mention my analysis – it appears I will spend much of this week on the topic and may break it down into eleven parts. The beauty of WordPress is that I can space them out easily enough so I can maintain the audience. So I may do two or even three posts a day for much of the next week, as I want to have this in the can before early voting begins. (Luckily a late Election Day also pushes early voting back, too. It will begin October 27.)

I also wanted to take some time and point out a couple things.

First of all, I had a nice comment from candidate Tony Valdivia regarding my last post. He now has a website up, and although it’s not as comprehensive on issues as others you can start to get a flavor of his candidacy. He seems like a good guy, although he and I probably disagree on the extent we need to move in a conservative direction.

Secondly, having “liked” the candidacy of America’s Party stalwart Tom Hoefling, I’ve found he’s extremely active on social media and constantly updates his Facebook page. Considering he and his party are not soliciting donations, the free media is about all he can get.

So just as a refresher, the candidates who are in my “Fab Five” are:

  • Darrell Castle/Scott Bradley (Constitution Party)
  • Jim Hedges/Bill Bayes (Prohibition Party)
  • Tom Hoefling/Steve Schulin (America’s Party)
  • Gary Johnson/William Weld (Libertarian Party)
  • Evan McMullin/Mindy Finn (independent)

The issues I will cover will be education, Second Amendment, energy, social issues, trade and job creation, taxation, immigration, foreign policy, entitlements, the role of government, and other intangibles. I look forward to fleshing this out and revealing my preferred candidate.

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