A Quick Election Postmortem – A Wave by Any Other Name

There is a danger in two things the day after an election: Excessively mourning the results, and excessively celebrating the results. No election, ever, means nearly as much as we want to think it does. Culture trumps politics. For a conservative Republican to believe that America woke up Wednesday morning more personally responsible and interested in limited government than they were a few days ago is insane. Now, the good news there is that America was never as interested in a statist society as the doomsdayers portend either. At our core, we are a center right country, and I am quite confident we will remain such. Only professional fundraisers have a right to say that a given election means the end of the Republic, and only fools believe that with 54 Republican senators we can now get on to the business of fixing all that ails the world. In reality, some very, very good things took place Tuesday night, and a lot of work remains to be done.

I believe NBC, the WaPo, you, me, and anyone else knew that the GOP would take the Senate Tuesday night. I believe we were in danger of losing either KS or GA (probably not both), and that didn’t happen. I believe we could have lost one of CO, AK, or IA on the day of. But the polls were clear as can be (aggregate, composite polls like what RCP offers): Seven states were coming, and eight/nine were a possibility. We got nine. (I am counting Alaska and Louisiana and assuming the Dem, Warner, holds in VA if they recount). So really, the mere sending of Harry Reid to the irrelevant pile where that unpatriotic windbag belongs is not a surprise, though I concur it is a victory. But just like stock prices only respond to good news when it is a surprise, I want to focus on unexpected good news.

The Governor seats were simply extraordinary Tuesday night. Deep blue states going red, and deep blue states ALMOST going red, is a big deal. The wave of people who doubt the efficiency of government, if not its morality or legitimacy, must be converted from the state house to the White House. This election may not have been a rejection of nanny state government (I wish it were), but I do believe the failed ObamaCare website, the VA hospital debacle, the pension crisis countless states face, and the foreign policy miscalculations of this administration all serve up a highly skeptical omelette about the COMPETENCE of big government. I make a moral argument against big government (or rather, for individual freedom), but voters are content to ride along side me with an efficiency argument against big government (right now). The GOP would be wise to message this immutable law into 2016: Big government will always mess it up, always (when the task in question is outside the scope of their legitimate power).

I am mystified why so many on the right are skeptical about what this GOP majority will do. I challenge the haters to name one single malignant law that the post-2010 Republican House has allowed to enter the fray. I get that there are still pouty children in our party wondering why we can’t pound our fist and get everything we want, but from a checks and balances standpoint, this GOP has held the line. We did not elect bad Republican senators on Tuesday night. Gardner, Cotton, Sullivan, Cassidy, Ernst, and Tillis are conservative stars. They are grown-ups. They are ready for the task at hand. Unlike 2002, we scored in both quantity AND quality Tuesday night. For this we should be grateful.

Scott Walker’s re-election is a big deal. The public employee unions are losing their power in much of America (not in California). They are the demon of American politics and they have shown more contempt for the good of the American people than any other force or special interest in American history. This battle is not over but we are making incremental progress (not in California). We have more work to do.

The Virginia Senate seat is the biggest surprise of the election, and obviously us Monday Morning quarterbacks now wish we had supported Gillespie. I’d love to know who is polling that state so I could fire them (right, Eric Cantor?), but I suspect it reinforces the thesis that a lot of purples are just not happy being blue right now.

The Republicans will win the 2016 Presidential election if they nominate a likable and charismatic and competent candidate who can avoid being polarizing (sorry Cruz and Paul) and also hold the line of ideological solidity and political competence. We have folks on the bench who can do that. I’ll address this more as time goes by.

The GOP does not have a mandate now to start acting stupid. The American people want to see action, but they also want to see maturity, poise, and sobriety. We do not need to go along to get along, and we do not need to come off like radicals and flamethrowers jockeying for a plug from Rush Limbaugh. The GOP ought to rule for the next two years the way they got elected two days ago. They nominated sensible and impressive candidates, and they ran disciplined campaigns. Let’s go work for two years with sensibility and discipline. Good things will happen.

I agreed with leadership’s decision to not attempt a Contract with America II in advance of this election. This was a referendum on the failed Presidency of Barack Obama and the American people’s dissatisfaction with governmental incompetence. But now, it is imperative that we proactively lead with issues. We may not override Presidential vetoes, but corporate tax reform, the Keystone pipeline, energy export allowances, school choice, and a host of pro-growth, pro-jobs issues exist that we can and should push, promote, and fertilize. As Thatcher said to Bush Sr., now is not the time to get wobbly.

State of the Senate

It is fascinating to me how these Senate races have turned. RCP now has the Senate going GOP even giving Georgia to Nunn (the Dems) and NOT counting Kansas at all (so if KS goes Dem it would be 51-49 Repub). This also assumes NC stays with Hagan, where most do believe Tillis has a CHANCE to pull that off for the Republicans. So how is this math even possible? Colorado, Iowa, and Alaska all going Repub (along with, of course, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the obvious ones).

Bottom line: We can still fail to cross the finish line. And if we do need Louisiana to do it (vs. having it regardless) we probably are going to need until December to know. Pat Roberts should be utterly ashamed of himself for leaving us in this position in Kansas. I would rather talk about age limits than term limits, but I don’t really mean that. Kansas. Can you believe this? Kansas. Of all states, Kansas might keep us from a GOP Senate majority. Dear Lord.

Iowa is not out of the woods (could go against us) and Georgia is not a lost cause (I still believe Perdue could protect that seat). I’m optimistic enough to say we could win with 53 and I’m pessimistic enough to say we could be stuck at 49. This is going to be a wild ride for the next ten days. At stake is the role of Harry Reid in the governance of this country. No intelligent or decent human being could be comfortable with that kind of implication.

2014 Comprehensive Bahnsen Viewpoint Voting Guide

Mid-term elections can often be more fun than Presidential elections, mainly because more interested and informed voters participate and often there are more consequential things to be voted on (both in the candidate and proposition category). 2014 is no exception. What I have done here is dig into my personal ballot in its entirety, and then spread the research a little outside my ballot to cover various other races I think folks may care about. Should I miss a congressional, ballot, or statewide race you have on your ballot that I don’t cover here please feel free to send my way if you can’t figure it out on your own and I suspect I will be able to uncover some points for your consideration. As much as possible below I have tried to partner my recommendation with a rationale but in some situations for the sake of time it is in a mere list format. Please vote (if you are informed and will be voting with principle, vs. voting like a whore hoping someone will give you something). The latter crude parenthetical is at the heart of all plaguing our democracy: the idea that elections are to deliver us toys instead of more principled and effective governance. Sermon over. Off we go.

California Governor - it is, of course, irrelevant. Jerry will win and win big. The only reason I hope you will vote for Neel Kashkari is that the lower Jerry’s margin of victory proves to be, the theoretical case exists for more restraint from the Governor in a second term. We are a ways off from the GOP playing competitively in a CA Gubernatorial race.

On the Lt. Governor front, the same thing is true (Gavin Newsom will handily beat Ron Nehring). But vote for Ron Nehring, who is articulate, capable, competent, and should have been our guy to lose on the top of the ticket. We do not want a tool like Gavin Newsom going into 2018 with claims of a 20-point win on his resume.

Pete Peterson is our best bet for a statewide GOP win in the Secretary of State race. He is a strong candidate and has a solid shot to win believe it or not based on a lot of complexities in that race and the utter corruption the Dems have brought to that fray. This race means more to me than any of the other statewide races.

I certainly recommend Fresno Mayor, Ashley Swearengin, for statewide controller, but Ashley is not a perfect candidate (who is?). Her support for the High Speed Rail debacle is most unfortunate, but she would be nice to have in that board of equalization spot (likely a tiebreaker).

Ted Gaines as Insurance Commissioner would be the most intelligent GOP member to be in statewide office in over a decade, though he has a tough battle to win this race.

In the Treasurer and Attorney General races, vote for the Republican (who will lose in both cases). Pray that Kamala Harris gets caught in a sex scandal as most abusive Democrat attorney generals do before 2018, because if this person is ever my Governor, I may have to re-visit my Scottsdale real estate agent’s office once again.

Whoever the Board of Equalization candidate is in your district, vote for the Republican. I can see a possible 3-2 win for the GOP here but at worst case a 2-3 minority which is better than 1-4.

As for U.S. congressional seats, Mimi Walters will be a great replacement to John Campbell for those living there, and if you are in the 48th just pray that Dana retires in two years and someone else runs. It is sad that the 48th is in this position, but Dana will win, and that’s that with that. One day it will be different. If you are in north county Ed Royce is one of the best representatives the Congress has.

For my Orange County friends, few races have people more fired up than State Assembly DIstrict #74. A Republican vs. Republican race features Keith Curry (Newport Beach two-time mayor and sitting city councilman and retired business owner) vs. Matt Harper (HB mayor; various local govt staff jobs over the years). This seat is as safely Republican in any year as any district in the country, but because I LOATHE cronyism in local and state politics – loathe it, especially from Republicans – and because I believe we need credible, serious, experienced, mature candidates to represent us in Sacramento, I urge you to vote for Keith Curry. I have barely heard a single honest thing said against Keith Curry throughout this campaign. What I know is that he has not lived at the trough of government paychecks throughout his life, and has absolutely no motive in seeking this seat other than making some difference in Sacramento. He is a Reagan Republican, which means he is both principled and pragmatic. Keith and I do not agree on every single issue, but I fear what happens statewide if we send less-than-credible candidates to Sacramento in the few seats we actually win. Matt has chosen for whatever reason to prosecute an entirely disingenuous campaign against Keith. Keith Curry will serve in statewide office in a manner that pleases conservatives, and doesn’t make liberals laugh at his antics.

Other statewide assembly or senate races outside my own district:

Mario Guerra in the 32nd (this would be a huge pick-up)
Pat Bates in the 36th
Young Kim in the 65th (for assembly); this too would be huge
Bill Brough in the 73rd
Ling Ling Chang in the 55th

I hope you will vote for Janet Nguyen in the 34th State Senate District, but I would be voting for the “Republican” after her name, not for her. It is a chance to take the super-majority level of the legislature from the Democrats, though I remain mystified that this was the best candidate the GOP could come up with to pursue this seat. It is a tight race, and we really would be better off with Janet than Solorio who is pretty much unbearable.

I have never voted for a Superintendent of Public Instruction my entire life as my kids are all in private school and always will be. However, Marshall Tuck is an absolutely special candidate (and I would add, a Democrat), fighting the oppressive evils of the state teacher’s unions day in and day out. He is an innovator, a fresh and principled thinker, and he could make a difference – albeit a small one – in that corrosive rot of a culture that is state education bureaucracy.

I am voting for Allan Mansoor over Michelle Steel in my County Supervisor race, though Michelle appears ready to win with a sizable margin. BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANT is the 5th District County Supervisor race, where the Republicans have a chance to elect the most intelligent, principled, capable, honest, competent candidate to the county board we will have elected to ANY office in this county in twenty years: Robert Ming. Can I say that with any more force?

Newport Beach City Council races: For the love of everything you care about, vote for Mayor Rush Hill in the district 3 race. Diane Dixon is unopposed but will be a strong presence on the council. Tim Brown gets my vote in the 4th. Mike Toerge is a NO-BRAINER in the 6th district. I would be happy to entertain any private emails about why I feel so strongly about these races. None are more important than Rush Hill …

Judges:
Kevin Haskins in Superior Court #14

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 1
Alex C. McDonald– 9 (JI: 8, Q: 10) YES
Gilbert Nares– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 8) YES
Terry B. O’Rourke– 7 (JI: 6, Q: 8) YES
James A. McIntyre– 7 (JI: 5, Q: 9) YES

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 2
Thomas E. Hollenhorst– 6 (JI: 5, Q: 8) YES

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 3
David A. Thompson– 8 (JI: 6, Q: 9) YES
Richard M. Aronson– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 9) YES
Richard D. Fybel– 5 (JI: 3, Q: 7) NO
William F. Rylaarsdam– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 9) YES
Kathleen E. O’Leary– 5 (JI: 3, Q: 7) NO
Superior Court Judge; County of Orange; Office 14

I am voting for Webster Guillroy for Assessor behind the recommendation of the always-reliable John Moorlach. I hear good things about Claude Parrish too.

In Costa Mesa I pray you will vote for Jim Righeimer and Tony Capitelli

Measure Y in Newport Beach – yes, yes, yes, yes

State Ballots:
1 – Hardest one to vote on. I loathe everything about general obligation state bond borrowing. I have talked with a plethora of similarly anti-bond, pro-fiscal responsibility conservatives who support this bond, believing it to be one of the truly rare times a GO bond is for a legitimate public infrastructure project, vitally needed, with proper checks and balances in place. I am voting yes.

2 – NO
45 – NO !!!!!!!
46 – NO
47 – YES (may Republicans disagree)
48 – NO
E – No
G – Yes

For all others not on my ballot feel free to email me. I recommend a NO vote on every single school bond you see no matter what. They are killing our children as they delay the need for fiscal sensibility and a renewed commitment to quality and values. They are a drug. Just say no. This also includes the woeful community college bonds.

I recommend a YES on Measure L in Anaheim. I certainly recommend a vote FOR Tom Tait, the fine mayor there who is leading a righteous cause against piggish cronyism …

In Irvine, of course I support the Great Park transparency measure. I also support Larry Agran being indicted.

Around the country, there are no races that I suspect will matter more than Ernst in Iowa and Tillis in North Carolina. I feel good about Cassidy in Louisiana, Cotton in Arkansas, Sullivan in Alaska, and even Gardner in Colorado. Anything can happen. Never forget: Cheaters usually win, and Harry Reid cheats better than anyone. We need a big enough margin everywhere, and period.

Gubernatorially, if the voters in Florida elect Charlie Crist that will pretty much ruin my plans to spend my retirement smacking mosquitoes off of my body, making hurricane preparation plans, and talking about the 4:30pm dinner special. Seriously, if that guy is elected, Floridians get what they deserve. Please don’t do it.

I think I have covered my bases here. I love the United States of America, I love the golden state of California that the unions have ruined, and I love the city of Newport Beach. I believe we are never too far gone to throw in the towel and never too far ahead to run a victory lap. And most importantly, I believe culture trumps politics. All my political friends are wasting their time as long as they believe these races will secure the societal improvement we want. They are but one piece of the puzzle – just one. The rest is where the low hanging fruit lies. Vote early, vote right, and vote with principle.

Five Questions to Civilly Pose to Your Liberal Friends

If I were being totally honest, I would say that it has not been my experience that very many left-leaning folks in this country want to have an honest dialogue on the key issues that separate left from right. This is particularly true amongst the academically credentialed leftists I have encountered who presumably know they have nothing to gain by exposing their worldview or ability to defend it. However, the vast majority of us know some in our rolodex of friends and co-workers who are naturally inclined towards a more left-wing, pro-Democratic party stance/platform, and yet are willing to engage and discuss the various issues that separate us. This article is intended for your discussions with THESE people, for whom I believe these questions may be useful in their attempts to think through their political worldview, or your attempts to engage them in such. This article is NOT intended as a device to make an argument in and of itself – these are real QUESTIONS – not answers. Hopefully, they are thought-provoking as I intended them. I could have used twenty questions but I kept it simple with five. I would not bother with that crowd of closed-minded smugsters who don’t warrant your time; but maybe just one person may challenge their own understanding of the real socio-political and socio-economic environment we find ourselves in today.

(1) Do you believe public employee unions have been a constructive force in American society or a destructive one? If the latter, do you acknowledge the relationship between public employee unions and the Democratic party/agenda, and how do you feel about that? If you believe they’ve been a constructive force in American society, could you elaborate?

(2) Are you for MORE government in American lives, or LESS government? The confusion lies in the left’s pretty consistent opposition to things like school choice and health care freedom, but pretty consistent support for things like abortion rights and gay marriage. Should we want more government for some things and less for others, and if so, how do you draw those lines?

(3) Would you consider the “war on poverty” of the last fifty years to have been a success? If so, by what basis do you see it as such? If not, what do you think was done wrongly and by what basis do you think even greater federal government intervention would succeed in defeating poverty?

(4) Do you like big money in politics or dislike it? If you dislike it, do you believe it should be demonized when the last name is Soros and Steyer or only Koch? At what economic point does one lose their right to participate in elections and regardless of what that point is do you believe it applies to both parties or just one?

(5) Does the economy function better with greater regulation or less regulation? If the former, can you think of an industry or company or product or innovation that has thrived with more regulation? If the latter, do you believe the current Democratic party is committed to freer markets or more restrictive markets? Which one is better for middle class people?

The Great GOP Debate: Immigration

This last week I moderated a debate on the subject of immigration in Newport Beach, California. What made this debate unique is that it featured two folks quite to the right in their politics, Jon Fleischman of Breitbart.com and Flashreport.org fame, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Orange County Republican), VS. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, and Teresa Hernandez of the Lincoln Club (where I also serve in club leadership). Four people who probably feel the same about 80-90% of various issues in the socio-political spectrum, yet two on one side of the immigration topic and two on the polar opposite side.

I behaved impartially for the purpose of this debate but I most certainly am not neutral on the subject. I am an ardent supporter of the club’s position on the topic and I frankly take an even more accommodating position than the statement reflects. Nevertheless, this topic invokes some of the most bizarre venom and toxicity of any issue I have seen in my political life, and it has extraordinary economic, demographical, and humane implications. Nothing would have pleased me more than for my friend, Jon Fleischman, or my Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, to illuminate the error of my ways.

The format of the debate worked well as questions were posed to the participants and each side given time to reply, and then rebut the other side’s reply. The questions ranged from what was right with present immigration policy (Nowrasteh had it right: “not much”), what is wrong with present policy, where the welfare state fits into the shaping of future policy, thoughts on E-verify, where multi-culturalism fits into the discussion, and even the economics of immigration and labor. A few things stood out to me from our afternoon affair …

First and foremost, Alex Nowrasteh is extremely well-versed in this topic and left his opponents unprepared for his vast knowledge of the data and history involved in this subject. Rohrabacher made the mistake of trying to invoke President Eisenhower’s deportation of some illegal immigrants in the 1950’s and was apparently unaware of the millions of illegal immigrants he first gave legal status to. Nowrasteh’s work on this subject is impressive (as was the slide he displayed showing the utter mayhem of current immigration policy should someone seek to enter the country legally). There were no moments where Nowrasteh seemed caught off guard and none where he was unprepared.

Fleischman is right to believe the welfare state is a tremendous problem but didn’t seem to evolve his argument beyond the idea that “we can’t have folks coming here and then give them free stuff off the backs of hard working Americans”. I suspect he would agree with me that we shouldn’t have ANYONE receiving free stuff off the backs of hard working Americans (legal immigrants, natural born citizens, etc.). The welfare state is a parasite across the board, not merely for immigrants coming from south of the border. Rohrabacher seemed to consent that 50% of the disagreement with the other side was satisfied since they as well affirmed that welfare benefits ought not be given to immigrants.

This discussion, as is essentially always the case in every discussion of this issue I have ever seen, was impaired by the basic inability to separate what is from what ought to be. In other words, the debate was to discuss what OUGHT to be our policy as a nation in the subject of immigration (with the Alex/Teresa side favoring an easier and more accommodative path for legal immigration). But if one received a nickel for every time the Fleischman/Rohrabacher side said “but it is illegal”, or “these people are breaking the law”, etc, etc. one would have received a lot of nickels. A debate is needed on this subject where both sides stay reminded that we already know what the law is and has been; we are debating what the law OUGHT to be. If I ask you, “do you support legalization of marijuana” (for example), and you reply, “well no, because it is illegal”, I assume you would catch yourself in the fallacious error of your ways. Yet people stay in this circular nonsense with immigration over and over again. Begging the question on legal vs. illegal is unhelpful and prevents an evolved discourse. Nowrasteh tried to stay on point regarding the subject of what to do about the current bad policy. Rohrabacher felt that the law is what it is and needs to be enforced, but Alex pointed out that we are a nation with a long history of changing bad laws, and not militantly enforcing the bad laws we have while we process towards change (federal highway speed limit laws and alcohol prohibition both come to mind).

Hernandez was unrelenting in her reminders of present labor realities and the empirical facts that demand for immigrant labor far exceed the supply. Rohrabacher’s retort was that these jobs were “impeding the just interests of the United States”. On this point it seems fair to point out that Rohrabacher and Fleischman themselves may be divided. I asked the Congressman afterwards if he truly felt that Hispanic labor being cheaper (and therefore undercutting American access to a higher paying job) was really an argument against immigration? I fully expected him to say, “of course not, that would be rank protectionism”. He did not bite whatsoever. He reiterated that he opposes imports on Chinese manufactured products and he opposes the importing of cheaper Hispanic labor as well. Fleischman is perhaps too economically sensible (or familiar with the most elementary realities of free market economics) to make this dubious argument (at least dubious for one claiming to be a conservative). It is, of course, not the duty of the state to make laws geared towards protecting one free economic actor from another (the debate always comes down to producer vs. consumer). Immigration may or may not be a good thing and there may be good ways and bad ways for dealing with illegal immigration, but saying that wages of the American worker must be protected via government fiat is statist and economically discriminatory. Fleischman should be commended for not joining the protectionist brigade here.

Dealing with the present 10-20 million illegal immigrants (depending on which study you believe) is perhaps the weakest part of the Fleischman/Rohrabacher argument. I did my best as moderator to force an honest answer to the subject but the best I got was the Congressman saying that Gov. Romney had this right on the campaign, presumably meaning that he is in agreement with the idea of “voluntary deportation”. He claimed he was not for “forced deportation”, but of course some comprehensive and rational policy position on what exactly should be done was not forthcoming. On this issue the militant anti-immigration folks see their argument fall down, for only one in the most incredible levels of delusion would suggest that 16 million people are going to be found, lined up, and transported out of the country (presumably to be dropped at the border?). The heated rhetoric and shouts of “amnesty” have poisoned the well on this subject for years and will continue to do so until both sides admit the obvious: some form of creating a legal guest worker status is going to be required to get our illegal immigrants out of the shadows and into the light of American society. The Lincoln Club’s position stops short of calling for a path to citizenship (though I personally have no aversion to such), but when the choices are clearly limited to one unpopular decision and one impossible decision, unpopularity needs to win.

Finally, and this was highlighted in our debate but also represents the underlying challenge this issue always presents: Conservatives need to come to grips with the fact that it is the preposterous and infantile love affair with multi-culturalism which has become our real enemy, not the mere immigration of those from another race. Fleischman articulated his concerns four times in the debate (concerns that I fully share) regarding the difference between Ellis Island immigration and modern Hispanic immigration (where immigrants were formerly coming to understand and embrace the American way of life, and to assimilate into her land, language, and culture, as opposed to the current system where our own history, heritage, and uniqueness are diminished or ignored). The success the left has had in disparaging American exceptionalism has created the modern controversy over immigration. There should be no fear for “first things” conservatives in foreigners coming to America to pursue a better life – it is the backbone of American history, and it presupposes that there is something better about our country to want to come to (because there is). Our problem is the cultural adoption of the egalitarian notion that all cultures are equal, and no group has right to claim bragging rights over another. The American culture has every right (and responsibility) to defend its way of life, its Constitution, its founding principles, its creeds, its liberties, and language, and its historical civics. Our national failure to do so has ignited opposition to Hispanic immigration, and I am not sure that either side can even see that this is the real source of the angst.

I join Mark Steyn in his classic paradigm formation of a decade ago: Immmigration, Democracy, Multi-Culturalism – pick any two. I pick the first two. So should you.