U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- How did Donald Trump become our next President, despite ceaseless ridicule by mainstream media and wholesale rejection by Republican leaders? Why did New Hampshire Republicans do so well in our state races, holding our majorities and recapturing the corner office, yet losing all of our national races?
Donald Trump won because he gave voters their first vehicle in decades to reject the self-dealing, parasite Washington establishment. These smug and insulated insiders have betrayed everyday Americans and use their $1,000 per hour lobbyists and mega-donors to bend and muzzle career politicians. Hillary Clinton lost because, unlike Republicans, the Democrat façade of the bi-partisan Washington machine had the tools to crush the Bernie Sanders wing of the voter rebellion that gave us President Trump.
The election is over, but we remain a closely-divided, 50-50 nation, with New Hampshire more on the bubble than any other state. In our diseased political system, candidates from the two parties fight increasingly costly and bitter campaigns, avoiding as many issues as possible to win over the last marginal voter. This is a recipe for continuing gridlock and failure by either party to resolve our great nation’s longstanding challenges.
But this failure is also a grand opportunity for the GOP, an opportunity for us to get uncomfortable and really listen to voters. It’s time to cut the Washington parasites loose and address the big issues with solutions that will realign politics for decades and give us a sustained governing majority.
GOP REALIGNMENT OPPORTUNITY
Realignment for Republicans does not mean abandoning conservative values or running to the center to blur ideological differences. This approach has failed repeatedly in recent elections — even here in bubble-state New Hampshire – and will hasten national shipwreck on the rocks of big government and bankruptcy. And conservatives did well in our state-level races. Realignment for Republicans means expanding our coalition by winning over voters who are passionately motivated by their concerns about declining household incomes, crony capitalism, endless war, eroding civil liberties, debt and pay-to-play corruption.
Like Donald Trump, Republicans must stand unequivocally with working Americans on trade and immigration. This means boosting incomes for American citizens by securing our borders, ending illegal immigration, and reducing (but not eliminating) legal immigration. This means trade deals that benefit working Americans and do not bleed us dry with trade deficits that strengthen our enemies.
Realignment means re-establishing a level-playing-field free market so that small business and entrepreneurs can once again flourish. This means that Republicans must break with the crony capitalists who own Washington. We must follow through on decades of broken promises and simplify the tax code and reduce the deadweight burden of hyper-complex regulation. It’s time to enforce anti-trust law and bust up the bank, healthcare and communications oligopolies that have driven up consumer prices and stifled choice, competition and innovation. Congressional Republicans can earn big voter points by breaking with Washington’s 1,300 pharmaceutical industry lobbyists and allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs.
Realignment means breaking with the military-industrial-Congressional complex on matters of war and peace. Congress cloaks the flag around tens of billions in weapons procurement pork for campaign contributors. With respect to use of military force, Republicans must again become the conservative party. We must reject the doctrine of liberal interventionism used to justify the string of failed nation building and proxy wars that have spread terrorism, caused a global refugee catastrophe, increased the risk of nuclear war, and made Americans distinctly less safe. Congress must stop giving lip service to our vets and soldiers and obey the Constitution by declaring war when necessary to defend national security.
Realignment for Republicans means taking leadership on civil liberties. We must reduce imprisonment and shift to restitution as punishment for non-violent crimes. Let’s repeal laws that create victimless crimes such as marijuana use, shifting funding from the failed drug war to on-demand addiction treatment. We must respect innocent citizens’ rights under the Fourth Amendment and halt government dragnet spying. We must remove disparagement of gays from our party platform. However, conflict with the left on some civil liberties issues will not go away, because Republicans will remain the pro-religious liberty, pro-life, pro-gun party.
Breaking with both Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, Republicans must once again become champions for fiscal responsibility. The bi-partisan Washington establishment is drunk on money printing and debt to pay off donors with spending on the bloated welfare-warfare state. National debt is now stifling growth, investment and income gains and is the single greatest threat to U.S. national security. Dealing with our projected $1 trillion per year federal deficit will require brave and honest politicians in far greater numbers. It will require citizens voting with the understanding that shared sacrifice and a humane, pro-work safety net will be necessary.
Because of his unique fame and ability to self-fund, Donald Trump was free to hear and to voice public pain and frustration. But President Trump will not be a monarch and cannot drain the Washington swamp of endemic pay-to-play corruption without cooperation from Congress. To tackle our big challenges, we must break the hammerlock big money interests have on politicians.
Red state voters in South Dakota showed the way on Tuesday, giving Trump 62 percent of their votes and adopting the nation’s most sweeping anti-corruption referendum. South Dakota Initiative 22 curbs the politician-lobbyist revolving door, requires full donor disclosure, sets limits on state campaign contributions, and gives every voter a $100 voucher which may be contributed to qualified candidates who voluntarily limit their big-money receipts.
This voucher system is similar to one I’ve been advocating since serving in the state senate. A national $100 voter voucher would give us many more viable Congressional candidates not wearing the golden handcuffs of Washington’s big-money donors. The cost would be about $5 billion per year. This is a small fraction of the cost of the current pay-to-play system of corruption where taxpayers pick up the tab for corporate crony tax breaks, regulatory favors, and special interest carve-outs from laws applying to the rest of us.
MEDIA AND CITIZENSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES
Tuesday’s earthquake will have little long-term impact without the objective journalism that enables self-government by informed citizens. A September Gallup poll found that a record low 26 percent of voters under age fifty and 14 percent of Republicans now trust mass media. For Republicans, the problem is compounded by the media’s clear partisan bias.
Campaign reporting rarely extends beyond polls, process and personality and, even then, only to candidates with the millions to buy ads. Network TV coverage over the entire duration of the 2016 presidential campaign provided only 32 minutes on issues and policy. Voters got a staggering zero minutes on trade, healthcare, drugs, poverty, and budget deficits. Here in New Hampshire, objective campaign issues coverage is almost non-existent, given the collapse of advertiser-supported print media. Though it has the mission and the resources to go deeper, New Hampshire Public Radio has not filled the gap.
As a Trump endorser, I attended several Trump rallies. I was amazed by the massive turnouts of energized Americans making time for politics, many for the first time in their lives. As a candidate, I pitched and mingled at dozens of pre-primary party events. Other than for Trump, few but party activists and campaign staff turned out to hear and question candidates, even at events featuring most of the top GOP candidates.
Many people do not recognize the influence they can have by engaging personally in our party primaries. After Q&A at a North Country town hall event in my 2014 race, a veteran missing a leg and using crutches approached me, asking to speak privately. Outside in the dark and through his quiet tears, he told me about his PTSD, estrangement from his family, the degradation of his homelessness. But this anonymous hero’s point was not his suffering. He told me that our nation had no purpose and gained nothing from his time fighting in Afghanistan. That vet is why I decided to run again this year against stiff odds.
Benjamin Franklin, leaving the just concluded 1787 constitutional convention, was asked what kind of government our framers had fashioned. Franklin replied, “a republic, if you can keep it.” Today, our republic is imperiled by systemic corruption and a forgotten, angry public. It will be restored only when many more of us engage in our duties as informed and active citizens.
About Jim Rubens
I’m a small businessman from Hanover. I have served as state senator and NH Republican party platform committee chair and ran underfinanced primary campaigns in both 2014 and 2016 for US Senate, capturing in the 20-25 percent range of votes. I reply personally and reasonably promptly to all emails.