The Problem with Third Party Members

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Throughout the history of the United States, with a few minor instances, the country has always been represented by two main parties. Third party/independent candidates usually split the vote of one major party or another, depending on the similartity or difference of campaign, and often force an issue to the table that isn’t being discussed. Often, it is rare to have a third party gain representation in all 50 states and outlying areas in a Presidential election, but it can occur.

What typically occurs when a third party member wants to run for higher office (most often at the federal level, as opposed to local and state), they align with one of the two majority parties – currently either Republican or Democrat. Usually, this works in spades. The independent party member aligns enough with the party they join, and they are able to cross over to the other party to work together when they do not align with their own party.

In essence, this is how government should work.

When government stops functioning in the capacity that it is designed, we most often see third parties, independent candidates, and other ideologies stand up to challenge the system. This is a healthy part of government – when members bring key issues that are being ignored or need more attention to the spotlight and, in effect, force primary candidates to answer to. This is democracy at work, and it’s a wonderful thing to see at times.

However, a third tactic of third party representation has emerged in our federal election process. This is the tactic of the third or independent party running as a majority party candidate, but attempting to fundamentally change the direction of the majority party they are running as.  We’ve seen this with past candidates that identify with a third or independent party. Most recently (and prior to 2016), Libertarian Ron Paul ran as a Republican and attempted this.

Ron Paul was stopped at convention, however.

This year, we have two different Presidential candidates attempting to perform a veritable coup of the respective parties they are running under. On the Republican side, we have Donald Trump. On the Democratic side, we have Bernie Sanders. Both are inserting themselves as a party that does not fit their ideology, and are taking advantage of a system with an already established voting base in order to bring drastic change.

Some may argue that Donald Trump is not a third party candidate – but they are incorrect. He favors big government, restriction of Amendment rights, and at best can be considered a populist, but even that definition does not fit him. He favors strong authorative government, and is intolerent to dissent. He holds a strong sense of nationalism, and has been outright critical of the Republican party and leaders he claims to represent. And I’ve already covered his different party affiliations over  the years.

Donald Trump has even briefly run a campaign as President under a third party.  It ended disastrously, but that brief campaign illustrates best that he is a member of a third party ideology, and not the Republican party. However, instead of opting for a third party bid, he decided to run as a Republican, and instead of aligning with the party, he’s decided he is going to take over the party. And this, guys, is precisely why the GOP establishment is rejecting him and working hard to block his nomination.

Donald Trump is taking advantage of a voter base he did not build. He is using the system to gain popularity. He is changing the definition of the party and insisting that his way is right. He isn’t working together with the party or even trying to unite the party. He’s essentially building his own base and turning that base against their own leaders in order to rise ot the top. This is why the GOP is trying to stop him. There is a process to politics that he’s ignoring. He’s taking advantage of loopholes that exist to do so.

Nobody should really be surprised by this. Trump readily admits he’s done the same in the private sector – he’s taken advantage of loopholes to gain power. He manipulates the system, usually by legal methods, to push his agenda. The same has been done in the past with third party representation in a major election. Ron Paul set out with his own platform, bucking the traditional Republican platform, in order to secure the nomination. The GOP became just as angry and set out to successfully stop it.

They’ll do the same this time, and I don’t blame them.

The reason for each party to have a convention in order to nominate a candidate for the Presidential election exists for this exact purpose, and it’s not illegal, immoral, or unethical for them to do this. It is lawful, and part of the system set up by our founding fathers. The delegates we elect, either directly or indirectly, have the final vote. If those that we choose to represent us ultimately choose a different candidate, then we must respect that.

These delegates at convention have the responsibility, essentially, to choose the most qualified candidate to represent the party. The most qualified candidate aligns with the values of the party. The most qualified candidate has the best opportunity to win a national election. The most qualified candidate has the best chance to motivate voters to support other candidates of the party in running for other offices. These are the factors that delegates must consider at convention. In that, they also must consider the popular vote by their given territory. But that’s just one of many factors.

Convention rules currently dictate that some delegates are bound in the first round of voting. However, designation of delegates can be challenged at convention. We saw this in 2012, when delegates were taken off the first vote because of a loophole that Ron Paul employed to gain a majority of delegates in Maine, despite losing the popular vote. Paul manipulated the system in his favor, and the RNC stepped up and blocked that loophole. A move that Donald Trump, at least existentially, supported by thowing his support behind Mitt Romney, the eventual nominee.

Want to see how easy it was for the RNC to make this decision? Watch.

It was just that easy to block a third party candidate from nomination. Was it legal? Yes. Was it ethical? As ethical as Ron Paul manipulating loopholes to gain delegates – yes. Did the GOP block a third party in order to maintain representation by the Republican party? Yes. Will they do it again? Of course. And they should because they have the same legal rights to do so as Trump has the legal rights to run as a candidate for a party he does not represent.

If the Party heads into a brokered convention, you can rest assured the same will happen. A brokered convention all but guarantees a Republican candidate. Donald Trump has no right to oppose this, as he essentially supported the same move, without objection, and even took part in the 2012 RNC. Surely, had Mr. Trump opposed the moves taken by the RNC to protect the integrity of their party in the national election, he would have skipped out, called for a boycott, and publicly made his opposition known. None of this happened, though.

Big mistake, Donald. Big mistake.

It’s my believe that, even if enough delegates are tentatively secured (they’re not official until the convention vote), the GOP will work to align certain delegates differently in the pre-convention, using any legal means necessary. And, in the same fashion that Trump took advantage of loopholes to run as a Republican while being representative in platform of an independent party, the GOP and RNC has every right to explore and utilize these loopholes.

Donald Trump and news media pundits both warn of the “yuge” implications and negative effects this could have on the Republican party and their national ticket, but the Republican party aligned pretty quickly and supported their choice in 2012 coming out of convention when another third party candidate was blocked. The only difference is that Donald Trump is a loudmouth that won’t let it go – so there may be something there. However, don’t look for this nomination to occur without some kind of fight.

Trump is a candidate that claims he doesn’t need money or backing from special interests or PACS. He is “self-funding” (no he’s not). He has democrat and independent support, as well as republican support, to win a national election. In essence, he’s proudly and boldly proclaiming that he doesn’t need the party. Yet, he has usurped their platform and base. Seems kind of contradictory. If this were true, he’d have every obligation to run as a third party candidate – and he should have. What he’s doing currently is nothing more than opportunistic.

In the future, third party candidates have two options: adhere to the principles and platform of the party they seek to represent, or build the third party from the bottom up. It’s not impossible. Third party candidates are gaining ground at state and local level offices, and they can be nurtured. For Donald Trump, well he should have run as a third party candidate. It would have certainly given him more credibility. Instead, he’s given the GOP a good reason to kick him out. And they should.

 

Trump’s Wallace Campaign Revamp

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“If any demonstrator ever lays down in front of my car, it’ll be the last car he’ll ever lay down in front of.”

-George Wallace, during a Presidential campaign rally speech, 1968

“In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very very rough, and when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.” 

-Donald Trump, during a Presidential campaign rally speech, 2016

After being introduced, like the rest of the country, to the footage at various Donald Trump Presidential campaign rallies across the state, a few themes of Trump rallies became rather clear. The first would be Trumps enthusiasm toward pushing a tougher, more violent America. He has urged supporters to punch protesters, has promised legal protection and representation, and calls the violence and anger exciting. He has been traveling the nation, inciting already angry masses, to the point of violence toward protesters on several occasions. He’s used strong rhetoric to push this anger to a breaking point, and makes zero apologies.

Currently, at least one Trump supporter has been arrested for violence against protesters, and his own campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is under investigation for assault of a reporter. Trump has barely acknowledged the supporter incident, while turning around and calling the allegedly assaulted reporter a liar who was making a story up. Never before has a campaign reacted so repugnantly toward accusations against their camp as the Trump campaign has, not only denying the allegations, but set out to launch a massive online assault on the alleged victim in the hours following the allegation. Not even hours after the story broke, before charges were even filed, the Trump campaign went to work to destroy a young female reporter.

All of this anger, protest, and criminal activity in the form of assault is scary enough to be occurring in a Presidential election, but the message coming out of Trump’s rallies should be downright scary and disturbing to people. He paints protest and protesters as the enemy, both of the supporters and the country. He makes statements to clearly divide the protesters from the rest of the country, and labels them as dangerous, low value people. He turns his supporters against protesters, but not just any protesters – a certain kind. Out of all the different quotes encouraging violence and hatred toward those who disagree with him and his campaign, a few stand out as frighteningly disturbing:

” I love the old days. You know what they used to do with guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

“In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very very rough, and when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. But today they walk in and they put their hand up and they put the wrong finger up at everybody, and they get away with murder because we’ve become weak.”

“You know, part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is that nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, and they’re being politically correct with the way they take them out. So it takes a little bit longer. And honestly protesters, they realize it, they realize that there are  no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences, there are none anymore. So that’s it. Our country has to toughen up, folks. It has to toughen up.”

All of these quotes are taken straight from Trump’s mouth, at his speeches. All of these quotes talk about the “old days” when protesters were treated horribly and faced consequences, when protesters were beaten up and taken out on stretchers. Protesters who were practicing their 1st Amendment right, who are allowed that right just as much Trump is allowed to stand up and speak hate. But, Trump is doing more than just targeting protesters here. He’s targeting races. Think about it – think back in the “good old days,” when protesters were treated badly, and roughed up, and were faced with consequences of protesting. When, in our American history, have we seen protests that have led to punishment, poor treatment, and consequence of exercising their right to protest? You don’t have to look back far – and it was a pretty scary time in our American past.

The Civil Rights era in the 60’s had massive protests and demonstrations of African Americans taking to streets, staging sit-ins, and other non-violent forms of protests that yielded horrible treatment. Police forces turned fire hoses on them, sicced dogs on them, sometimes beat them or stood idly by while they were beaten. Opposition to Civil Rights movements kidnapped, killed, and lynched them. Yes, we had a moment in our history – back in the Trump-cited “good old days” where protesters in this country were treated horribly, often with severe consequence. These are the good old days that Trump is referencing, and he’s doing it primarily in the south, and in cities and states that have tense race relations.

In essence, Trump is inciting a race war.

This is an eerily similar platform used by 1964/68 Presidential candidate George Wallace, a strong segregationis Democrat. He used hateful rhetoric to turn his supporters against protests occurring during that time. He spoke out about severely hurting protesters – once making a threat to run over them in his car, and made zero apology about it. He pushed this strong rhetoric in the deep, segregation friendly south. And, not surprisingly, he had strong support and following in the same southern states that Trump is currently striking gold in. Here, take a look:

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I know these are strong words to compare Trump’s current campaign to a racist segregationist Democrat’s campaign in the 60’s, but you don’t have to take my word for it. You can take the word of his former staff during his Presidential campaigns, or his own family members. Here are a few comparisons:

“There are a great deal of similarities as it relates to their style and political strategies,” said Wallace’s daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy. “The two of them, they have adopted the notion that fear and hate are the two greatest motivators of voters. Those voters that feel alienated from the government. Those voters tend to make decisions based on an emotional level rather than intellectual.”

“They both can draw a crowd and work up a crowd,” she said. “My father was a very fiery and emotional speaker and was able to tap into the fears of the poor and working-class white people. American voters are looking for a leader who can fight first, rather fight first then seek rational solutions.”

“One of my father’s presidential campaign themes was ‘Stand up for America’, and Trump’s is ‘Make America Great Again.’ Well the message does not suggest how you do that. It just reminds us that the average Joe who thinks America is in the dumpster, which I feel it is not. But they make you think that it is,” she said.

“He’s very similar to George Wallace in a lot of ways,” said Wallace’s 1968 campaign executive director Tom Turnipseed. “Both of them use a lot of the same kind of scare tactics and fear.”

“Their style is a lot alike,” (Wallace’s wife) said. “They’re both very charismatic. Their rhetoric is really powerful, and they don’t really talk that much about solutions, but the fear and anxiety.”

“And when he was in California, a group of anarchists lay down in front of his automobile and threatened his personal safety. The president of the United States,” he said of another protester. “Well I wanna tell you, if you elect me president of the United States and I go to California, or I come to Arkansas, and some of them lie down in front of my automobile it’ll be the last one they ever want to lie down in front of.”

“I don’t know that Wallace ever had much to say what he was gonna do about things,” she continued. “Just, ‘the federal government,’ ‘the pointy headed liberals’ were trying to tell us what to do, and we were gonna stand up for ourselves and stand up for America. That kind of thing.”

“Another thing that I think is similar is that, a lot of people are saying that Trump is saying out loud what people are thinking,” she added. “They really said that about Wallace. That he articulated what people were thinking. And a lot of people are saying that’s what they like about Trump. That Trump says out loud what lots of people are thinking and don’t have enough courage to say. I’ve heard that a lot of times and that’s one of the common things that people said about Wallace.”

Ironically, his daughter could point out one stark difference between her horridly racist, segregationist father and Trump, which actually makes Trump look bad.

“I think my father had more self-restraint and respect for the institutions of government than Trump does,” she said. “I think my father understood the limitation of the executive branch of government, where I don’t think Trump does. And I think Daddy, even though he used coded language to use racial themes, he never attacked a culture based on their religion and race. He used coded language to suggest the racial themes. But he never specifically attacked a group of people based on their religion and their race. And I think Daddy had a respect for the process and the candidates. A great respect for the process and especially the process. He would have never leveled vicious attacks on the other candidates, especially those have been so personal. Daddy never would have done that.”

Mr. George Wallace, who left a terrible, hateful legacy in his political tenure, and later spoke up to apologize about the part he played in being harmful for America, was more restrained in his hatred. He respected the process of government. Two things Trump clearly has no respect for, as shown with his labeling of minorites and Muslims as terrible groups, as well as his clear disrespect for political debates and candidates. Imagine that, guys. George Wallace wasn’t as bad as Trump, in his inciteful and prejudice mannerisms. I wonder if Donald Trump has had the opportunity to read some of his comparisons to Wallace, and has seen that he’s deemed as a person with worse character than a man who left a legacy of racism.

 

Trump, Media, and Equal Time

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The Presidential election cycle has long held Federal Laws and codes to regulate air time of official candidates,  the Equal Time Act, allowing fair and equal coverage time from any broadcasting stations, whether it be radio or television. These quite archaic codes, implemented in the early 20th century, are never discussed in the modern political platform, as they’ve become vastly outdated with the advent of cable networks and internet communications. These codes, as defined in the Communications act of 1934, code 315(b), create the requirement for every political candidate to get an equal time allotment of coverage on broadcast stations if another candidate is given time.

What makes these codes of equal time for candidates on broadcast so defunct and out of date are the exclusions of the codes and how they’ve been applied to modern news networks. The full code and exclusions are as follows:

(a)Equal opportunities requirement; censorship prohibition; allowance of station use; news appearances exception; public interest; public issues discussion opportunitiesIf any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station: Provided, That such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provisions of this section. No obligation is imposed under this subsection upon any licensee to allow the use of its station by any such candidate. Appearance by a legally qualified candidate on any—

(1)

bona fide newscast,
(2)

bona fide news interview,
(3)

bona fide news documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary), or
(4)

on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including but not limited to political conventions and activities incidental thereto),
shall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection. Nothing in the foregoing sentence shall be construed as relieving broadcasters, in connection with the presentation of newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot coverage of news events, from the obligation imposed upon them under this chapter to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.
(b)Charges

(1)In generalThe charges made for the use of any broadcasting station by any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office in connection with his campaign for nomination for election, or election, to such office shall not exceed—

(A)

subject to paragraph (2), during the forty-five days preceding the date of a primary or primary runoff election and during the sixty days preceding the date of a general or special election in which such person is a candidate, the lowest unit charge of the station for the same class and amount of time for the same period; and
(B)

at any other time, the charges made for comparable use of such station by other users thereof.
(2)Content of broadcasts

(A)In general

In the case of a candidate for Federal office, such candidate shall not be entitled to receive the rate under paragraph (1)(A) for the use of any broadcasting station unless the candidate provides written certification to the broadcast station that the candidate (and any authorized committee of the candidate) shall not make any direct reference to another candidate for the same office, in any broadcast using the rights and conditions of access under this chapter, unless such reference meets the requirements of subparagraph (C) or (D).

(B)Limitation on charges

If a candidate for Federal office (or any authorized committee of such candidate) makes a reference described in subparagraph (A) in any broadcast that does not meet the requirements of subparagraph (C) or (D), such candidate shall not be entitled to receive the rate under paragraph (1)(A) for such broadcast or any other broadcast during any portion of the 45-day and 60-day periods described in paragraph (1)(A), that occur on or after the date of such broadcast, for election to such office.

(C)Television broadcastsA candidate meets the requirements of this subparagraph if, in the case of a television broadcast, at the end of such broadcast there appears simultaneously, for a period no less than 4 seconds—

(i)

a clearly identifiable photographic or similar image of the candidate; and
(ii)

a clearly readable printed statement, identifying the candidate and stating that the candidate has approved the broadcast and that the candidate’s authorized committee paid for the broadcast.
(D)Radio broadcasts

A candidate meets the requirements of this subparagraph if, in the case of a radio broadcast, the broadcast includes a personal audio statement by the candidate that identifies the candidate, the office the candidate is seeking, and indicates that the candidate has approved the broadcast.

(E)Certification

Certifications under this section shall be provided and certified as accurate by the candidate (or any authorized committee of the candidate) at the time of purchase.

(F)Definitions

For purposes of this paragraph, the terms “authorized committee” and “Federal office” have the meanings given such terms by section 30101 of title 52.

(c)DefinitionsFor purposes of this section—

(1)

the term “broadcasting station” includes a community antenna television system; and
(2)

the terms “licensee” and “station licensee” when used with respect to a community antenna television system mean the operator of such system.
(d)Rules and regulations

The Commission shall prescribe appropriate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section.

(e)Political record

(1)In generalA licensee shall maintain, and make available for public inspection, a complete record of a request to purchase broadcast time that—

(A)

is made by or on behalf of a legally qualified candidate for public office; or
(B)communicates a message relating to any political matter of national importance, including—

(i)

a legally qualified candidate;
(ii)

any election to Federal office; or
(iii)

a national legislative issue of public importance.
(2)Contents of recordA record maintained under paragraph (1) shall contain information regarding—

(A)

whether the request to purchase broadcast time is accepted or rejected by the licensee;
(B)

the rate charged for the broadcast time;
(C)

the date and time on which the communication is aired;
(D)

the class of time that is purchased;
(E)

the name of the candidate to which the communication refers and the office to which the candidate is seeking election, the election to which the communication refers, or the issue to which the communication refers (as applicable);
(F)

in the case of a request made by, or on behalf of, a candidate, the name of the candidate, the authorized committee of the candidate, and the treasurer of such committee; and
(G)in the case of any other request, the name of the person purchasing the time, the name, address, and phone number of a contact person for such person, and a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or of the board of directors of such person.
The problem with these archaic rules of equal coverage is that, in a 2011 ruling on the matter, cable television 24 hour news networks were all essentially exempted from this code, allowing them the exact right to manipulate political candidacy through coverage – which was exactly the reason this code was put in place.
So, how much does this affect the campaigning of candidates during election cycles? Well, considering the growing audience of such 24 hour news networks,  this loophole in equal time allows 38% of Americans to get unequal coverage of news events and campaign issues. In the 2016 election in particular, 24% of Americans tune into these biased news stations  in order to get their election news. And, how much extra time do these stations give to Donald Trump, versus other candidates? A lot. A vast majority, in fact. The numbers have been shown to reflect as much as 10 times the coverage of other GOP candidates, and a lion’s share of coverage versus the Democratic party.
And these, as well as social media and other online news sources, are 100% exempted from the Equal Time Act. Now, monitoring social media sites would be an impossible challenge, as well as monitoring unofficial news syndicates. However, for broadcasting networks – which is still the top supplier of news events to the public, modifications can be, and certainly should be, applied. And they should be, when a candidate is running who brags of self-funding his campaign, and claiming to need no money from “outsiders,” while receiving free press and campaigning from such news networks. I mean, how equal is that for such news media outlets to campaign for a Presidential candidate?
I feel it’s time for these news media outlets to step up their ethics and morals. They need to stop campaigning for a candidate, and stop chasing ratings. If they can’t or won’t, then perhaps better regulations need to be put in place to keep the Equal Time act from becoming completely defunct. Only one thing can be amended within this current election cycle, however, and that is the biased news coverage of one particular candidate, which has given him more publicity, support, and airtime than any other candidate not only in this race, but likely in the history of Presidential campaigns. If these  are truly credible news agencies, they need to step up and start acting the part.

Trump’s Tariff Plan

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The Great Depression. Unemployed men queued outside a soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. The storefront sign reads ‘Free Soup, Coffee and Doughnuts for the Unemployed.’ Chicago, 1930s (Newscom TagID: evhistorypix027753.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]
I began to take a look at Donald Trump’s positions and discuss each of them individually, but the fact is, his positions change so much it’s hard to keep track. Additionally, every time I read and re-read his platform on his campaign page, he adds more and more rhetoric that is literally lifted from his opponents – stances and objectives that he never dreamed up, and have sometimes contradicted him. Legitimately word-for-word on issues he was previously ignorant of in previous debates and speeches.

His online presence is certainly not in step with his persona in public, and I’m really not sure what we would get, ever. However, on tonight’s debate, he discussed his 45% tariff plan on imports and for foreign trade. What he doesn’t seem to understand, and what Senator Ted Cruz quickly and adeptly (as an experience government official would be able to) pointed out was that tariffs are passed on to the people. I mean, as a businessman, Trump should understand this – it’s exactly what businesses do to taxes. It’s simple economics.

As a businessman who exploits loopholes and puts people last and himself first, as he readily admitted to in tonight’s debate, Trump should understand the basic failure of this system, and how it would not work outside of his fuzzy land of making very, very great deals, and having many, many smart negotiations to make America great again. I am actually beginning to question his business acumen, really, for the complete ignorance he expresses on basic economics. Who really runs his show? It’s not him, clearly.

Anyway, back ot the tariff thing. I’m no economist either (although I do recall some basic social studies and civics classes trom middle school on through college that discuss the history of this country, both socially, militarily, and economically), but Trump’s trade “protectionism” has been tried before in the U.S – and it failed miserably. It didn’t cause the great depression, but it certainly may have extended it. Being, though, I am not an economist, I’ll let the experts explain precisely what will happen with Trump’s tariff plan:

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of June 1930 raised U.S. tariffs to historically high levels. The original intention behind the legislation was to increase the protection afforded domestic farmers against foreign agricultural imports. Massive expansion in the agricultural production sector outside of Europe during World War I led, with the post-war recovery of European producers, to massive agricultural overproduction during the 1920s. This in turn led to declining farm prices during the second half of the decade. During the 1928 election campaign, Republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover pledged to help the beleaguered farmer by, among other things, raising tariff levels on agricultural products. But once the tariff schedule revision process got started, it proved impossible to stop. Calls for increased protection flooded in from industrial sector special interest groups, and soon a bill meant to provide relief for farmers became a means to raise tariffs in all sectors of the economy. When the dust had settled, Congress had agreed to tariff levels that exceeded the already high rates established by the 1922 Fordney-McCumber Act and represented among the most protectionist tariffs in U.S. history.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was more a consequence of the onset of the Great Depression than an initial cause. But while the tariff might not have caused the Depression, it certainly did not make it any better. It provoked a storm of foreign retaliatory measures and came to stand as a symbol of the “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies (policies designed to improve one’s own lot at the expense of that of others) of the 1930s. Such policies contributed to a drastic decline in international trade. For example, U.S. imports from Europe declined from a 1929 high of $1,334 million to just $390 million in 1932, while U.S. exports to Europe fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932. Overall, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934. More generally, Smoot-Hawley did nothing to foster trust and cooperation among nations in either the political or economic realm during a perilous era in international relations.

The Smoot-Hawley tariff represents the high-water mark of U.S. protectionism in the 20th century. Thereafter, beginning with the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, American commercial policy generally emphasized trade liberalization over protectionism. The United States generally assumed the mantle of champion of freer international trade, as evidenced by its support for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Additional Reading:
Barry Eichengreen. “The Political Economy of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff,” Research in Economic History, 12 (1989), pp. 1-43.
Douglas A. Irwin. “From Smoot-Hawley to Reciprocal Trade Agreements: Changing the Course of U.S. Trade Policy in the 1930s,” in Michael D. Bordo, Claudia Goldin, and Eugene N. White, Editors, The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
Charles P. Kindleberger. The World in Depression, 1929-1939 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973).
Peter Temin. Lessons from the Great Depression: The Lionel Robbins Lectures for 1989 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1989).

I remember this from middle school. Trump is discussing plans that, historically, have led to failure. I am seriously beginning to question his grasp on basic governmental function – clearly he has no understanding of it. Clearly he has no understanding of how this country is built (and I did take offense to his flippant regard to this “random” number that someone decided as far as how many delegates are needed – the GOD-DAMN FOUNDING FATHERS DECIDED THAT, DICK). Sorry – but seriously, don’t attack our basic form of government.

This man is literally the most out-of-touch Presidential candidate that we’ve ever seen. Out of touch with general society, out of touch with American people, and out of touch with the basic functions of government. That’s dangerous. He has never lived in a world where common realities exist. I honestly don’t know that he understands basic business principle or economics, and he clearly doesn’t understand American Civics. The best he can do is yell loudly and act like, basically – and I’m sorry if Trump supporters are reading this, but the truth hurts at times – the lowest common denominator in this country.

And they’re getting out in droves to vote for him.

Anyway, angryish/annoyed rant over. Just recognize that Trump’s big talk is rarely backed by nothing substantial, and the plans he actually lays out are either stolen from other candidates, or things that have already been tried and have failed. Because the country isn’t a business, Mr. Trump. It’s much more than that, and it will ALWAYS be much more than that.

Trump Policy Issues, part 2

Donald Trump has stated some very distinct views when it comes to immigration. At his rallies and in debates, he has made declarations to deport every single illegal immigrant in the United States, reportedly at over 11 million. He used that rhetoric to gain his backing, continuing to make promises of deporting every single person. He later softened his stance, alluding to deporting every person, then letting them come back in legally. His mass-deportation policy earned him a mass following of people echoing the same sentiment, but that’s not what Trump really believes.

Here is a quote from a 2012 interview with Fox News on deportation:

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But still, he repeats his “deportation” rhetoric. Then he laid out his “comprehensive plan,” as follows:

IMMIGRATION REFORM THAT WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

The three core principles of Donald J. Trump’s immigration plan

When politicians talk about “immigration reform” they mean: amnesty, cheap labor and open borders. The Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run both parties.

Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change. Here are the three core principles of real immigration reform:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

Make Mexico Pay For The Wall

For many years, Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well as in other Latin American countries). They have even published pamphletson how to illegally immigrate to the United States. The costs for the United States have been extraordinary: U.S. taxpayers have been asked to pick up hundreds of billions in healthcare costs, housing costs, education costs, welfare costs, etc. Indeed, the annual cost of free tax credits alone paid to illegal immigrants quadrupled to $4.2 billion in 2011. The effects on jobseekers have also been disastrous, and black Americans have been particularly harmed.

The impact in terms of crime has been tragic. In recent weeks, the headlines have been covered with cases of criminals who crossed our border illegally only to go on to commit horrific crimes against Americans. Most recently, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, with a long arrest record, is charged with breaking into a 64 year-old woman’s home, crushing her skull and eye sockets with a hammer, raping her, and murdering her. The Police Chief in Santa Maria says the “blood trail” leads straight to Washington.

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office found that there were a shocking 3 million arrests attached to the incarcerated alien population, including tens of thousands of violent beatings, rapes and murders.

Meanwhile, Mexico continues to make billions on not only our bad trade deals but also relies heavily on the billions of dollars in remittances sent from illegal immigrants in the United States back to Mexico ($22 billion in 2013 alone).

In short, the Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners. They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up.

The cost of building a permanent border wall pales mightily in comparison to what American taxpayers spend every single year on dealing with the fallout of illegal immigration on their communities, schools and unemployment offices.

Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards – of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].  We will not be taken advantage of anymore.

Defend The Laws And Constitution Of The United States

America will only be great as long as America remains a nation of laws that lives according to the Constitution. No one is above the law. The following steps will return to the American people the safety of their laws, which politicians have stolen from them:

Triple the number of ICE officers. As the President of the ICE Officers’ Council explained in Congressional testimony: “Only approximately 5,000 officers and agents within ICE perform the lion’s share of ICE’s immigration mission…Compare that to the Los Angeles Police Department at approximately 10,000 officers. Approximately 5,000 officers in ICE cover 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam, and are attempting to enforce immigration law against 11 million illegal aliens already in the interior of the United States. Since 9-11, the U.S. Border Patrol has tripled in size, while ICE’s immigration enforcement arm, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), has remained at relatively the same size.” This will be funded by accepting the recommendation of the Inspector General for Tax Administration and eliminating tax credit payments to illegal immigrants.

Nationwide e-verify. This simple measure will protect jobs for unemployed Americans.

Mandatory return of all criminal aliens. The Obama Administration has released 76,000 aliens from its custody with criminal convictions since 2013 alone. All criminal aliens must be returned to their home countries, a process which can be aided by canceling any visas to foreign countries which will not accept their own criminals, and making it a separate and additional crime to commit an offense while here illegally.

Detention—not catch-and-release. Illegal aliens apprehended crossing the border must be detained until they are sent home, no more catch-and-release.

Defund sanctuary cities. Cut-off federal grants to any city which refuses to cooperate with federal law enforcement.

Enhanced penalties for overstaying a visa. Millions of people come to the United States on temporary visas but refuse to leave, without consequence. This is a threat to national security. Individuals who refuse to leave at the time their visa expires should be subject to criminal penalties; this will also help give local jurisdictions the power to hold visa overstays until federal authorities arrive. Completion of a visa tracking system – required by law but blocked by lobbyists – will be necessary as well.

Cooperate with local gang task forces. ICE officers should accompany local police departments conducting raids of violent street gangs like MS-13 and the 18th street gang, which have terrorized the country. All illegal aliens in gangs should be apprehended and deported. Again, quoting Chris Crane: “ICE Officers and Agents are forced to apply the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Directive, not to children in schools, but to adult inmates in jails. If an illegal-alien inmate simply claims eligibility, ICE is forced to release the alien back into the community. This includes serious criminals who have committed felonies, who have assaulted officers, and who prey on children…ICE officers should be required to place detainers on every illegal alien they encounter in jails and prisons, since these aliens not only violated immigration laws, but then went on to engage in activities that led to their arrest by police; ICE officers should be required to issue Notices to Appear to all illegal aliens with criminal convictions, DUI convictions, or a gang affiliation; ICE should be working with any state or local drug or gang task force that asks for such assistance.”

End birthright citizenship. This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration. By a 2:1 margin, voters say it’s the wrong policy, including Harry Reid who said “no sane country” would give automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.

Put American Workers First

Decades of disastrous trade deals and immigration policies have destroyed our middle class. Today, nearly 40% of black teenagers are unemployed. Nearly 30% of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out: more than 70% were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40% in 2000. Across the economy, the percentage of adults in the labor force has collapsed to a level not experienced in generations. As CBS news wrote in a piece entitled “America’s incredible shrinking middle class”: “If the middle-class is the economic backbone of America, then the country is developing osteoporosis.”

The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans – including immigrants themselves and their children – to earn a middle class wage. Nearly half of all immigrants and their US-born children currently live in or near poverty, including more than 60 percent of Hispanic immigrants. Every year, we voluntarily admit another 2 million new immigrants, guest workers, refugees, and dependents, growing our existing all-time historic record population of 42 million immigrants. We need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to: help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.

Additionally, we need to stop giving legal immigrant visas to people bent on causing us harm. From the 9/11 hijackers, to the Boston Bombers, and many others, our immigration system is being used to attack us. The President of the immigration caseworkers union declared in a statement on ISIS: “We’ve become the visa clearinghouse for the world.”

Here are some additional specific policy proposals for long-term reform:

Increase prevailing wage for H-1Bs. We graduate two times more Americans with STEM degrees each year than find STEM jobs, yet as much as two-thirds of entry-level hiring for IT jobs is accomplished through the H-1B program. More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.

Requirement to hire American workers first. Too many visas, like the H-1B, have no such requirement. In the year 2015, with 92 million Americans outside the workforce and incomes collapsing, we need companies to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed. Petitions for workers should be mailed to the unemployment office, not USCIS.

End welfare abuse. Applicants for entry to the United States should be required to certify that they can pay for their own housing, healthcare and other needs before coming to the U.S.

Jobs program for inner city youth. The J-1 visa jobs program for foreign youth will be terminated and replaced with a resume bank for inner city youth provided to all corporate subscribers to the J-1 visa program.

Refugee program for American children. Increase standards for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers to crack down on abuses. Use the monies saved on expensive refugee programs to help place American children without parents in safer homes and communities, and to improve community safety in high crime neighborhoods in the United States.

Immigration moderation. Before any new green cards are issued to foreign workers abroad, there will be a pause where employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers. This will help reverse women’s plummeting workplace participation rate, grow wages, and allow record immigration levels to subside to more moderate historical averages.

This is a contrast of what he keeps stating at rallies, in speeches, and at debates, but  a much softer, moderate tone that echoes the sentiments of his republican rivals as well as many directives in Obama’s own executive orders. But, let’s take a look at some of his key points, as mentioned above. First, let’s get to the border nonsense.

While having a continuous border would detract from some illegal immigration, it would hardly put a dent in the masses coming over. Construction of border fencing is already in place in our country, at high-density border crossings and locations. This does little more than send people further east and west, creating a humanitarian crisis that often sends people to their death. So, what if we plug in those holes? We’d see the same thing that Europe is seeing with migrants entering by boat. Mexico and the US are both bordered by two oceans, and a wall would send immigrants into the seas. And you can’t build a wall to separate land and ocean.

And Mexico will not pay for a wall. That will not happen.

Defending the laws of the country and enforcing the laws already in place is rhetoric taken directly from the Obama Administration. Most of this is taken from and expanded on from Obama’s directive, to be honest. Strengthening the border, increasing tax dollars to hire more agents. Enforcing better border security checks, and interior government enforcement of everything on the books already – which has plateaued illegal immigration over the past decade. Trump may as well ALMOST refer to his plan as the Obama Executive Order plan.

But let’s look at Trump’s views on putting American workers first (something he obviously didn’t do with all of his construction projects and workforce hiring of hotel staff) and blaming illegal immigration on unemployment rates in the U.S.:

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Wouldn’t it be nice for Trump to make up his mind for once?

I’m not going to knock every bit of Trump’s immigration policy, because some of it makes sense – as defined by Obama in some of his directives. However, I find it hypocritical that Trump himself has abused many of these programs he intends to punish other businesses for, and also find it disturbing that he’s made such contradicting statements on immigration and reform. He can’t claim that he wants to deport everyone when he’s said the exact opposite 4 years prior. He can’t claim that immigrants cause unemployment rates to skyrocket when he makes the statement that immigrants take jobs Americans don’t want.

His constantly shifting and wavering viewpoint should tell Americans one thing: he’s not sincere – and that translate into nothing more than another talking head that cannot be trusted.

Trump Policy Issues, Part 1

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There is some ‘real talk’ that is presently occurring, as it should be, in the Republican Presidential primary season. Hopefully the country is going to see calming forces beginning to prevail, which allows each candidate to dive into his platform and discuss how said platform will be the best option for America. In other words, Donald Trump’s campaign needs to grow up, stop calling people names, and tell the American people what he honestly stands for. Thus far, the mud-slinging has done nothing but help Trump, because the mud-slinging distracts from his platform. But, as the field narrows down and people begin to talk shop, candidates are going to have to turn to their platforms.

The first we’re taking up is healthcare.

Before we get into Trump’s policy, I want to talk about realistic avenues to take, regarding Obamacare. First off, there is no candidate that can effectively guarantee that he will repeal Obamacare. The Executive Branch of the government only executes law. They don’t write law – even though they can influence Congress, they can only sign or veto legislation. Currently, Congress has a Republican majority in both House and Senate, and they have tried to push legislation through to reform the act – but all legislation has been vetoed. However, every House seat and 34 Senate seats are up for election. There’s no guarantee that a Republican President is going to walk in the oval office with Congress on his side.

I also want to talk a little bit about Obamacare, in general. I’m on the team that felt that a massive overhaul of our healthcare industry was needed, but feel that the Administration failed everyone with this passage. The Affordable Care Act was hastily draw and pushed through, with every single representative knowing this Act would have to be revised in the future to be effective. I would argue the hastiness of it was somewhat necessary, and I don’t find issue with passing an act that will have to be modified, as long as a legitimate backbone is put in place to grow off of. I do believe that the backbone of the ACA is strong, and further revisions can be made to strengthen it. However, the principle of the matter is what is wrong with the passage of the ACA.

The bill was hastily drawn up and passed because Democrats had the opportunity to do this. There is no denying this. The problem with that is that it creates a wave where the government looks to be partisan in order to pass their platform, when it should sell the platform to both sides. It was a mistake for Congress and Obama to sign in a bill that had zero Republican support. This is why Republicans are angry, and they should be. This was a massive overhaul of the healthcare industry. Both sides have to be included when it comes to massive legislation like this. Otherwise, you’re ignoring half of your population. Legislation like this is irresponsible and dangerous – it causes more partisan divide, it has a domino effect in budget planning and the passage of other bills, and it creates chaos.

The ACA had some Republican support and some Republican modification. The bill wasn’t 100% Democratic written and supported. However, when it came down to the final hours, Democrats chose to march forward instead of crossing the line and working toward a bipartisan effort. This, in part, is irresponsible. Congress often has a difficult job, but we should expect them to be able to do it, or they should be voted out of office. Part of that job is to find a middle ground, and the Democrats in Congress failed. Voters responded to this loudly, and some of them lost their jobs. That’s fair. However, moving forward, the country needs to get over the division and start working together to responsibily modify the ACA, and get bipartisan support. Afterall, if principle matters, then principle needs to be set by example.

That being said, Donald Trump released a 7-point plan for healthcare reform. It is as follows:

Congress must act. Our elected representatives in the House and Senate must:

  1. Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.
  2. Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.
  3. Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.
  4. Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. The flexibility and security provided by HSAs will be of great benefit to all who participate.
  5. Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.
  6. Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.
  7. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.

The first thing I want to point out is, as with many of Trump’s plans for change, this grows government and takes away from state rights and regulation. The first order (after repealing – which has already been covered) takes state regulatory measures out of the picture, and expands the federal government. This just creates a mess, as stated, because it takes away a state right to regulate commerce, and it gives that job to the Feds. As explained, no-go. Trump needs to break this down to show that state rights of regulation are not removed.

With the tax refund issue, what it would do would replace the tax credit system already in place with the ACA, and the sytem that’s been in place and works. What this means is that your relief depends on your income, not on your health needs. This would help upper and middle class, but would still cheat the lower class, which is the class that is consistently hurt the most when it comes to healthcare reform. The tax credit system already in place grants exemptions that are equal, regardless of income bracket. This falls under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category.

Health savings accounts already exist. Trump proposes something that can be easily exploitable and is not realistic, and is vague at best. Will HCAs have yearly limits? Will multiple family members be allowed to contribute? Will interest be tax free? Will there be regulations on usage? This, to me, feels like Trump is putting a pretty bow on something already sold to us. Trump’s plan seems easily exploitable and wouldn’t exist as laid out here. There’s too much potential to hide income and transfer it, tax free. Congress wouldn’t allow it or propose it.

Price transparency is a great idea and theory. It’s also not been attainable by any healthcare reform to date. What Trump is selling here is a pipe dream he can’t accomplish. Period. Its success depends on the success of his other point plans, as well, which some aren’t as promising as written out and summarized on his webpage.

Block-grant medicaid is one of the only factors that would be greatly beneficial with no real risk. It puts states in more control of medicaid spending, and requires adherence to a realistic budget that would cut costs and wasteful spending. It actually puts states in control and in responsibility of budget shortfalls.

The last point basically undercuts U.S. pharmaceutical and healthcare innovation. Straight up. It’s basically opening up international free trade in the pharmaceutical sales. Goodbye regulation and investiment into the U.S. industry. This move is completely counter to Trump’s own platform of U.S. first. While I understand that reform is needed in the pharmaceutical industry, you don’t make that reform by cutting off your nose to spite your face. This is what worldwide/free market competition would do in the United States.

All in all, Trump’s plan kind of begs, borrows, and steals from platforms already in existence in the Republican party, but it’s a lot more vague and general. A lot of these provisions have already been, and continue to be fought out in Congress. The answer isn’t to regurgitate the same ideas already brought forth – it is to demand bipartisan support for further healthcare reform and improvements. His plan is vague and sketchy in its implementation, and does not address some of the most basic, primary concerns about healthcare reform that have been expanded and included in the ACA. It doesn’t address mandates and pre-existing coverage, which are not mutually exclusive, and are the biggest issue with healthcare reform.

But, we’ve come to expect general dodgy behavior from Trump when it comes to addressing specific issues, haven’t we?