The Real Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election is the 21st Century’s Worst Person

Donald Trump just wants to make America great again. It seems simple enough. But critics of Donald Trump and his, for lack of a better word, philosophy have raised a thoughtful question in response: when exactly was America great? And that question seems harder to answer than it should be.

Hillary Clinton, burdened with a presidential platform that stays the course of the Obama administration, politically says America is already great. She must say this or else invite her detractors to inquire as to why she wants to prolong the status quo when things aren’t exactly going swimmingly. When you are the incoming establishment aligned with the outgoing establishment, it is ill-advised to disparage the establishment.

Despite being handcuffed by this dilemma, Hillary Clinton is not wrong in saying that America is already great. While we have many problems as a nation and could be headed for something of a decline, we are still the richest and most powerful nation in the world, and the American Dream lives on regardless of what Bernie Sanders claims. In a world in which billions still live off of a few dollars a day and in which penicillin once did not exist, America is already great.

Many Progressives, particularly those of the Black Lives Matter persuasion, have responded to the question by saying that America was never great. In their minds, America’s flaws, from slavery to internment camps to our modern drone program, outweigh her accomplishments. America was certainly never perfect, but the Progressive claim is shortsighted and overdramatic at best.

In my humble opinion, making America great again would require going back to September 10th, 2001. Before that devastating Tuesday morning in Manhattan, America was greater than it is now.

The way I see it, two occurrences have taken place since Osama Bin Laden’s attack that threaten our stability and culture. The first is a rapidly growing federal government, and the second is the death of intellectual discourse.

From 1984 until 2002, the national debt of the United States grew by $200-400 billion dollars per year. I am no economist and am unable to say whether or not a steady increase in debt is a net negative overall, but the 80s and 90s were mostly prosperous and peaceful times in America. There were booms and busts, as there always are, but it’s hard to pinpoint a period of true instability or distress during that stretch.

From 2003 (the year we invaded Iraq) until 2014, the debt increased by between $500 billion and nearly two trillion dollars per year. This time frame included the worst recession since the Great Depression, which we are still not fully out of. Many in the financial world predict another bubble will burst before our heads are fully above water, and that could be disastrous.

Out of control borrowing, lending, spending, and indebting are obvious signs of an expanding central government. Specific examples of government expansion since the September 11th attacks include the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bombings in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Syria, the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, the Patriot Act, the NSA’s warrantless surveillance, the bank bailouts, the auto bailout, the stimulus package, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, the Affordable Care Act, tens of thousands of various regulations, and so much more.

Our focus seems to be on Washington, a city I imagine remains unvisited by and distant from the vast majority of Americans, now more than ever, and for good reason. With nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps and more and more decisions being made at the federal and executive levels, we’re all clawing for a power position atop the throne. If Washington is going to dictate, no sensible person would sit by and allow the decrees to go against their personal interests.

It is my view (and I don’t think this should come off as outrageous) that 300 million geographically, ethnically, religiously, morally, racially, culturally and linguistically diverse people are unable to come together to agree on how their government should function. And by trying to do so, we have begun to splinter off into tribes that view our would-be compatriots as enemy combatants. Intentions often result in their antithesis.

Deepening this problem is the aforementioned death of intellectual discourse. The current state of affairs includes increasingly obnoxious rhetoric from increasingly polarized media outlets, demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings, monitoring of microaggressions, and disinvitations of controversial speakers on campus, firings and persecutions of individuals who make offensive comments in their private lives, and accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, ableism, and other forms of prejudice and bigotry in response to both benign and provocative comments some people don’t like. To put it simply, we’re forgotten how to agree to disagree.

I believe that the initial cause of our current failure to communicate is the profiling and distrust of Muslim, Arabic, and other brown-skinned people that followed Al-Qaeda’s destruction of the World Trade Center. Whether justifiably or not, the American people were not exactly comfortable around Islamic-looking individuals after losing nearly 3,000 of their countrymen in an ideology-based terrorist attack. By fearing and outright hating Muslims, along with those unfortunate to resemble them in many Americans’ minds, a defense of those being discriminated against was needed. What should have been an addressing of a single circumstance of bigotry  was parlayed into today’s Social Justice Warrior delusion of seeing bias and identity-based injustice in everything. Today’s young people have no recollection of the treatment of Middle-Eastern-looking people immediately following 9/11, but they have also never experienced a world in which cries of intolerance were not every day occurrences. Calling points of view that make them feel bad hateful is the norm among much of our youth along with the adults that inculcated them to think this way.

The combination of an impossible goal of Americans working together for the common good and the inability to talk to each other without carelessly launched assertions of prejudice is a toxic combination whose volatility I hope to be overestimating.

The culmination of all of this was witnessed at the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The surreal event was a dishonest, sensationalizing mudslinging contest that makes me wonder if America can ever be great again with one of those two talking heads in charge for the next four or eight years. In the end, one will win, and his or her detractors plus the other’s supporters, more than half of the country either way, will be displeased.

Some on the winning side will taunt their foes in a petty expression of our flawed human nature, and some on the losing side will cynically laugh at what they believe to be America’s prospective doom.

But the only genuine warmth of the heart will be felt by the ghost of the monster who incited it all: Osama bin Laden.

The Real Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election is the 21st Century’s Worst Person

How Hillary Could Bridge the Gap and Win the White House

Donald Trump is looking good in the latest national and battleground state polls. He’s not exactly poised for victory just yet, but he is undeniably within striking distance at the very least.

It appears to me that Hillary Clinton, fresh off a poor showing at the commander-in-chief forum, a divisive and ill-advised jab at Trump’s “deplorable” supporters, and a scary “health episode” that’s sure to hurt her already weak image, is attempting to run out the clock until election day. The more she speaks and appears on camera, the more damage she seems to do to herself. So staying out of the spotlight for health and PR recovery is a wise political strategy the way I see it.

Not that I want to see Hillary Clinton win, but if I were her political advisor, I would offer a few suggestions to help her secure the nomination.

The first and most powerful move I’d advise Clinton to make is to wave the white flag on gun control. Barack Obama’s consistent pursuit of so-called common sense gun control has resulted in record-breaking annual gun sales nearly every year of his time in office. Obama is selling over 46,000 guns per day. This suggests that the American people (or at least a substantial portion of them) are terrified of our government and its perceived Second-Amendment-violating intentions (not to mention a perceived increase in the threat of Islamic terrorism). Donald Trump has taken advantage of this concern by consistently saying Hillary Clinton would seek to abolish the Second Amendment altogether if elected president, his “Second Amendment people” comments being the paradigm example.

To fight back against Trump and to attempt to reconcile with those Americans that fear her, Clinton should come out and say the following:

“While it is my personal view that common sense gun laws would reduce gun violence in our country, I admit that it is no guarantee. At the same time, I realize the value of self-defense and independence that lies within so many Americans’ hearts and souls, and I understand that our Constitution protects the rights of these and all citizens to keep and bear arms. I do not want to cause distress for these patriotic Americans, and I want them to take part in making America stronger, safer, and more prosperous for all of us and our posterity. Because of this, I swear, that if I am elected president of the United States of America, I will not pursue gun control legislation of any kind. My ambitions on gun control are not in line with the will of too many Americans, and I promise you that your firearms will remain yours. My time as president will instead be spent embarking on endeavors to assist hard-working Americans through these tough economic times and keeping America safe.”

It is likely the case that most gun owning Americans would laugh at this olive branch in disbelief. But I bet many would take her word for it, and even more would grow less hostile towards Clinton in general. Overall, this would release much of the tension boiling within big-government-hating Americans, and would be a fine step towards uniting the country on the whole.

Besides, if Obama is unable to get any gun legislation passed, what makes Hillary think she can? Effectively, all Clinton would be doing is quitting a losing battle before it even begins.

Next, I would recommend the former first lady backtrack on her plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 nationwide. This could draw in some Conservatives, Libertarians, and other free marketeers who are currently being forced to vote for Trump as the only semi-Capitalist candidate.

When the Democratic debates started last year, Clinton was proposing a minimum wage hike to $10 per hour while competitor Bernie Sanders was outbidding her at $15. Due to the raucous, idealistic following of Sanders, Clinton had no choice but to meet him another leap left down the line. She promptly made a $15 minimum wage a key component of her platform.

By returning to a $10 an hour proposal, Clinton could soothe the fretting of small business owners unable to meet the new requirements and could make her seem more reasonable to laissez-faire folks who are turned off by Trump.

And as far as a $10 minimum wage goes, while it would certainly hurt the poor and unskilled in terms of finding work, so few Americans work for under $10 an hour that I imagine the overall economic effect would be minimal.

Lastly, Clinton should make a statement condemning political correctness on campus during her first debate with Trump. Clinton can show the world, and especially young Progressives and Feminists being taught that feelings are as important as facts, that she can go toe-to-toe with the brashest man in America without getting offended by his bluntness and bravado. She can simultaneously express her contention with Trump’s policies and views while explicitly communicating that these opinions must be heard in all their glory and debated rationally in order for America to advance politically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Because I am sure that Hillary Clinton knows deep down in her heart the importance of the free exchange of ideas in a civilized society, this would be of great benefit to all who witness the debates. Clinton could also point out the difference between being politically incorrect or controversial and being ridiculous or rude. She could make herself seem more thick-skinned than Trump too.

I don’t anticipate Hillary Clinton following any of this advice. She’ll likely skirt the gun control issue as much as possible, appeal to working class Trump supporters with her fight for $15, and call Trump racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, and islamaphobic every chance she gets.

But a guy can dream, can’t he?

How Hillary Could Bridge the Gap and Win the White House

The Dakota Access Pipeline Exposes the Phony Secularism of Progressives

Contrary to popular belief, Progressives don’t all think alike. Much in the way that Conservatives and Libertarians are rife with infighting, Progressives have a fair share of contention within their ranks too. A few questions various Progressives would have various responses to are:

  • Does free speech include hate speech?
  • Is Islam compatible with Democracy?
  • Is Obamacare working?
  • Would getting government out of marriage be better than marriage equality?
  • Should recreational drug use be completely decriminalized?

What one would be hard-pressed to find a variety of Progressive opinions on is the separation of church and state, otherwise known as Secularism. Keeping religion out of the public sphere is a cornerstone of Progressive ideology held in higher regards than nearly all other Progressive principles. Manifestations include:

  • Calls to remove references to God from currency and public facilities
  • Disapproving of the right of a private business owner (who, in their view, is able to operate mostly because of public police forces and roads) to refuse to provide a service due to religious convictions (such as a Muslim baker refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding)
  • Demanding private companies (again, due to benefits from public works) provide birth control to employees regardless of the company’s religious underpinnings
  • Undermining private education in large part because certain schools may decide to bypass evolution in favor of creationism
  • Disregarding the religious convictions of taxpayers who do not want their government to subsidize organizations that perform abortions
  • Seeking to eliminate tax exempt status from churches and other religious institutions

While I, as a Libertarian, am also a fervent proponent of keeping our nation Secular, I strongly support religious Liberty too. Because of this, I disagree with several Progressive conceptions of separation of church and state (particularly the ones involving private citizens and businesses). However, I generally respect the consistency of Progressives on their Secular positions despite our differences.

At a certain juncture, though, this Progressive consistency disappears.

A prime example of this is occurring as I write. Right now in North Dakota, a group of Indigenous people are protesting and disrupting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to their website, the pipeline is:

…a new approximate 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that will connect the rapidly expanding Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline will enable domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner. The pipeline will also reduce the current use of rail and truck transportation to move Bakken crude oil to major U.S. markets to support domestic demand.

The project has been green-lighted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but was recently halted by a federal judge after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issued an emergency motion. The motion states:

In the afternoon of Friday, September 2, 2016, the [Standing Rock Sioux Tribe] further submitted recently discovered evidence of an astonishing archaeological find. This find concerned historically, culturally, and religiously important stone features and grave markings to the successors of the Great Sioux Nation, including graves of chiefs, warriors and Bear Medicine healers. These formations and grave sites are adjacent to and in the pipeline’s proposed right-of-way approximately 1 to 2 miles away from the Lake Oahe crossing site. Less than 24 hours after SRST’s filing, Dakota Access desecrated and destroyed the sites described in SRST’s declaration.

Although the judge eventually rejected the motion, the Obama administration has wielded their might and decreed that construction will be temporarily halted.

The Progressive response to this situation has been predictable. Social media is being flooded with carefully edited videos attempting to show protesters being attacked by dogs, manhandled by police, and tormented further.

I have yet to see the dissenting view expressed in any of these clips.

The way I see it, Progressives are standing in solidarity with the Sioux for one of three reasons (or a combination of several): (a) minority groups, such as Indigenous people, must be made to feel good instead of treated as equals, (b) Secularism only applies to Judeo-Christian religions, or (c) building the pipeline violates Environmentalism, which we must legally classify as a religion.

Progressives are often called Cultural Marxists. This refers to their insistence that all cultures are equal, their treating of minorities with kid-gloves, and their obsession with equal representation in spite of individual merit. Due to this mindset, Progressives are more likely to believe and respect the claims of a minority group (such as the Sioux) than the claims of a privileged group (the company trying to construct the pipeline). They set the bar as low as possible for the former, and raise it to impossible heights for the latter. The Sioux need only consult themselves and their preconceived notions for their opinions to be legitimized while scientists and engineers are undemocratically assumed guilty until they can prove their innocence, an impossible task. As a result, Progressives, who are typically incessant about their adherence to science, accept the Sioux’s notion that constructing the pipeline would cause environmental harm over the findings of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is clearly unscientific, but so are Progressives when facts get in their way.

On the religious side, imagine for a moment that the Sioux were a Christian or Jewish group. Imagine if the Christian or Jewish group demanded construction be stopped on so-called hallowed ground near their property. Progressives would laugh in their faces and cheer as the construction went underway. They would argue that religion is irrational or worse and dismiss notions of holiness. Juxtaposed with their empathetic response to the Sioux’s religious perspective, this illustrates how Secularism, as conceived by Progressives, is a reaction to Western religions, not faith itself. The Judeo-Christian religions preach objective morality, the value of the individual, the sanctity of human life, and personal responsibility. These values are incompatible with the Progressive movement. Religions that view nature as a God rather than a challenge and humanity as a collective rather than a collection of individuals correspond nicely with Progressivism, so Secular arguments are not made against them.

Lastly, enacting public policy with the sole ends of conserving a hunk of the environment in its current state is unjustifiable. The simple idea that the environment should not be changed because the environment should not be changed is circular reasoning caused by an abandonment of logic in favor of sentimental gratification. This is no different from arguing that electricity must not be used on certain days of the week because God said so. If one wishes to refrain from using electricity, one has the Right to do so, but not the Right to impose the mandate upon others. If one wishes to preserve a piece of land, one must own the piece of land. One cannot tell others what to do with property that is not his.

Of course, there are neighborhood effects that can result from one party’s irresponsible use of his property. If I’m barbequing in my backyard, and the smoke’s residue stains your siding, I am responsible and can be barred from allowing this to happen in the first place. But the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. And since the Dakota Access Pipeline has been cleared by the highest authority on such issues, it requires a leap of faith or an admission of the fallibility of science to argue against the safety of the operation.

Appealing to faith and dismissing science are regularly associated with religion, and this situation should be no different. Environmentalism is a religion and should be legally classified as one as a means of preserving our First Amendment Rights. The government has no more Right to pass laws respecting Environmentalism than it does Mormonism or Scientology. Classifying Environmentalism as a religion would save us countless headaches and finally get our economy kick-started again. 3% GDP growth cannot become the new norm for the sake of Environmentalists’ feelings and faith.

I do not mean to imply that Environmentalism is evil or worse than other religions, and I do not intend to express my views on Environmentalism (or any other religion for that matter) in this piece. My personal views are irrelevant to my argument. All I mean to say is that Environmentalism should not be given preferential treatment in our society. It should be a private institution like all other establishments of religion.

And more importantly, Progressives are no more Secular or scientific than any other group in America. Bible bashing is fine in this country, and preferring religions and philosophies that go against the status quo is welcome too. But it is time we recognize Progressive inconsistency on Secular, as well as scientific, matters, so they lose their claim of the moral high-ground on separation of church and state.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Exposes the Phony Secularism of Progressives