GOP Debate – South Carolina (Feb. 13th, 2016)

Just logged on to WordPress and saw this staring at me from my dashboard:

“It’s been 6 months since Trump and the Dearth (and ultimate Death) of Traditional Conservatism was published”…


So, my last post was 6 months ago and very likely, everything I said in it still rings true. That Donald J. Trump is still in the running (and, presumably towards the top of the pack) to be the GOP Presidential nominee in 2016 is… disheartening but, perhaps sadly, not shocking.

The 9th GOP Debate of this cycle happened last night in South Carolina, and I thought I would share a few of my thoughts from it.



The big story, of course, was the absolute implosion of Donald Trump. The utter destruction of the idea that he was a rational, sane person worthy of the title POTUS.

Let’s be honest… when you come to a GOP Primary Debate in SOUTH CAROLINA and you come out swinging from the left of Michael Moore… this is not ‘telling it like it is’ or ‘authentic’. Rather, it is madness with no method. It is one thing to make a candid assessment of the past 15 years and suggest that hindsight requires us to wonder if there were some better options and paths we could/should have taken. That is broad introspection and should be a requirement for every civilized person if they want to have an opinion on something.

However, to launch into a conspiracy theorist tirade (that would have had Alex ‘n’ Jones shaking his head in consternation) is not truth-telling. “Bush is responsible for 9/11”. “Bush lied, people died”. Really? I mean… really, Mr. Trump??!?


In addition, Trump also repeated the Left-wing falsehood that Planned Parenthood does a lot of ‘other good things’ for women (no, they perform abortions and offer referrals for other procedures).

And, bizarrely, Trump even brought up Eminent Domain… on his own… when no one else was talking about it. Trump’s abuse of that governmental power is well documented and so for him to try and defend himself on it when no one was attacking him for it that night was a huge unforced error.


Add everything that Trump has said or done over the past 7/8 months, sprinkle in what we know of his past positions, and then filter all that through the lens of where his support seems to be the strongest and you get a pretty workable theory about Trump-a-mania.

Here is is in a nutshell:

Trump is running a 3rd Party Campaign within the Republican Party Primary system. His native-centric focus and populist “us vs them” demagoguery appeals (strongest) to blue-collar whites. These folks have some fears and frustrations with the nation’s changing demographics and economic shiftings. Some complaints are valid … some are truly not. But, these folks have generally always voted Democrat.


Trump is using the ignorance of younger “conservatives” and tying that to his base of left-leaning white working class folks in order to carve out a kind of Pat Buchanan-esque coalition. Buchanan had a clear ceiling of support…and Trump does too, even if his is slightly higher.

So… on paper then, Trump is doing exactly what I suggested could be a course of action here (and going with option 2, namely – go after the 4 million ‘whiteys’ who stayed home in 2012). If you don’t feel like reading that whole thing, let me sum up… based on exit polls from 2012 there were two things that would have flipped the election to Romney.

  1. ~ 4 million “non-white” votes switched from O to R in strategic areas
  2.  ~ 4 million white voters (former O voters) who stayed home in 2012 voting for R instead

(He must have read the data analysis parts and just skipped my conclusions and suggestions)


Problem is even if you take the cynical  new “Southern Strategy”-esque route of getting those 4 million working class white voters to vote for you, you still have to maintain the existing and historical Republican coalition.

That seems to be the area where Trump bet the farm on and will prove his undoing. It truly doesn’t matter if he reaches these 4 million disaffected folks if he loses 10’s of millions of Traditional Conservative votes. In essence, Trump is not “broadening the base” of the GOP. He is trying to shift it. (And, in so doing, truly creating a 3rd Party within the GOP itself, as mentioned).

The goal of Republican office seekers should be to broaden the base by holding fast to a few timeless conservative principles, while being flexible and adaptable on the ‘negotiables’, ALL THE WHILE explaining and presenting Conservatism in ways that reach people who had shut it out before.


So, I am apparently at nearly 800 words and have been stuck on Trump. That perhaps is part of the reason he has been successful that far. In order to convince people that he is wrong for the country, you have to talk about him ad nauseum. His campaign has simply coasted on free publicity – good and bad, doesn’t matter. It’s salemanship and “carnival barkery” at its finest… but a poor excuse for statesmanship and leadership.


Enough Trump, allow me to (briefly now) talk about the other candidates from the debate (in no significant order)…


Similar problem to Trump, in that, he seems to be acceptable to non-traditional Republican voters (in his case, flat out Liberals and “Extreme Moderates”) but he has little chance of winning over “the base”.


I guess he did OK in the debate last night, I honestly forgot he was there. He looked good by giving the appearance of “staying above the fray”… but he had shown in previous debates he wasn’t afraid to fight with other candidates (I remember him being extremely annoying and disruptive and off-putting in one of the earlier debates). So, he unveiled his grown-up in the room character at a good time… but… there’s just nothing about him or his positions that seem to be broadly appealing. He tends to fall back into hectoring when defending some of his more liberal decisions and that is unhelpful, to say the least.


BEN CARSON (if you don’t get the hyperlink, check out Carson’s Closing Remarks from this debate)


By now, it is almost mean to pile on the good doctor about his debate performances. They have largely been… underwhelming. This is due to a combination of two factors: One he is unfairly criticized for (his laid-back, soft demeanor and presence) and the Second something that deserves discussion (his lack of expertise on national matters or even the indication that he has done some diverse studying and had meaningful discussion with actual experts).

There is a part of me that wishes the second factor were not a factor… that we lived in a time when a President could truly come from any profession and just hop onto the national stage one day and exit just as silently 4 or 8 years later, having admirably performed his duty of service to the country.

However, with how the world is…how dangerous, and how complex our own national matters are… there simply has to be a bar of experience in some form of government. Either Governors or U.S. Senators are probably the best fits right now. And that goes completely against the “anti-establishment” mood of the country (which may be why Carson peaked pretty high at one point). But, sooner or later, reality sets in and most folks realize they aren’t ready to hand the reigns over to someone who has not yet had to deal with the cesspool of Washington D.C. It will chew you up and spit you out. And that may be the fear about Carson.



I just can’t get behind the idea of a third member of the immediate Bush Family serving as President. Just.Too.Dynastic.

That said, I have always liked Jeb. I think he would have made a fine President (if he had come from a different family). I think his “conservative apostasies” are vastly exaggerated. BUT… the guy truly does come from money and is almost a perfect caricature of what many people are calling the “Establishment”. Well-connected, ruling-class type person.

He did happen to have the debate of his career last night though. It was almost as if Trump was trying to help him.



I have gone back and forth about how I feel about Ted Cruz. His temperament and approach to “conservative governance” is all wrong, in my opinion. But… policy-wise, he used to be pretty good. Then he took a self-aggrandizing ride on the Trump Train and mistook vile populism for conservatism. Now, a lot of his positions are not much better than Trump’s.

He (rather unfortunately for us actual “Christian Conservatives”) has shown a kind of nasty side to his campaign tactics. He seems nearly as ruthless as Huckabee (whose machinations in the 2008 race turned me off to him forever). It almost seems he has turned over his campaign to Lee Atwater acolytes. Unfortunate.

His presence was inconsistent in this debate.

Furthermore, he talks at you rather than with you. His “debate face” reads as disingenuous. None of the candidates are very good at this…but Cruz is second only to Trump in the absolute refusal to answer the questions that are actually asked. His presence is just intangibly grating. I know that is surface stuff and ostensibly unimportant. But… beyond him abandoning conservatism in favor of nationalism and populism, there is still something about him that is just…off.



Well, my mask is slipping. I have talked well of him since the beginning. I may as well announce it officially.


Marco Rubio is the (unwitting) recipient of the (never sought after) RightWay79 Endorsement!


Great debate (proving that his NH slip-up was an exception and probably do more to the grueling schedule he was keeping rather than to some inherent flaw about him). Anyone who has been paying attention to him over the years would agree that he is simply the most talented and naturally gifted politician and communicator of his generation.

Beyond that, the message he is communicating is vastly conservative. His exact positions may not be everyone’s cup of tea… but he has the ability to explain them in a way that makes it clear he has thought through them.

His pro-family agenda would be popular across many disparate groups. He also does have the ability to unite. He’s not middle of the road at all. He is far more conservative than “the Establishment” would be comfortable with. But he is the only candidate who can gain the support of both the conservative wing as well as the more moderate voters in the GOP.

And, head to head with Clinton, he would clean her clock.

His is the best position on illegal immigration. He has looked at it from every possible angle. His transformation from an unrepentant hardliner to a more reasoned “big picture” guy basically mirrors my own. Secure the border first…stop the influx of illegal immigration. THEN, we can sit down as a country as figure out the most humane, most reasonable way to deal with the illegal population already here.

<On a side note… the illegal immigrant population is supposedly decreasing according to several different studies…down even below the “11 million” number that has been thrown around for a decade>

He’s the right man for the job…not only the best messenger out there…but also the guy with the best messages.




How about you?

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