The 2016 Presidential Election will be the sixth election of its kind in of my lifetime, the fourth while mildly conscious of the world around me and the second while I identified as a conservative Republican. I believe that it is safe to say that I don’t have a clue what I am talking about. However, I cannot shake the creeping feeling that We The People are hiring for the wrong position.
As constitutional conservatives, we talk about jobs and the economy. We talk about how our way of life is impossible to sustain, to conserve if we cannot maintain superior economic growth. We attack our opposition on the left when the unemployment rate goes up. We attack them when the unemployment rate goes down and point out the epidemic of underemployment and people who have given up altogether. We champion tax reform, and to a lesser degree, regulatory reform in an attempt to create a climate in this country where business thrives, wages rise, and wealth is created. Through these changes in policy, we hope to maximize the freedom and choice of the free while benefiting from the nearly universal prosperity that only it can produce. The fact that this topic was not touched on enough is one of the top complaints I have heard about the CNN debate.
As constitutional conservatives, we talk about the budget. We talk about the importance of balancing the budget and shrinking the size of government. We talk about the practical benefit of spending less than or equal to what we bring in. We talk about how it is impossible to sustain, to conserve our republic if we find ourselves completely beholden to foreign powers, with a worthless currency due to hyperinflation, or lose the ability to respond in times of crisis due to a lack of credit. We talk about the moral dilemma that we face when we sell futures of our posterity for comfort today. We call out the cowardice of those who would take the easy way out and kick the can down. We warn our countrymen that we will pay sooner or later. We are disappointed when candidates bicker about the finer points of decreasing the rate of increase in discretionary spending. We cheer for their plans to attack legitimate entitlement reform.
As constitutional conservatives, we talk about the opposition. We call them socialists. We call them incompetent. We call them evil. We call them death-merchants. We call them stupid. We call them race-baiters. We call them weak-willed cowards, thin-skinned whiners and entitled babies. We call them unpatriotic, anti-american traitors. We also call the sky blue and say many things that are plainly visible to the casual observer. We consistently get upset if they are not aggressive enough in their opposition to the lack-of-a-standard bearers on the left.
We do not ask our candidates nearly enough about the actual job they are interviewing for. We pay lip service to foreign policy, but ultimately accept killing terrorists and naming the enemy as good enough. What does having Candidate X as commander in chief actually mean? Does rebuild our military mean writing a blank check to a DOD that is infamously bad at avoiding gold-plated death traps? How many closed bases does being a “cheap hawk” mean? Does “every option is on the table” mean they will commit to long term occupation? Does “no nation building” mean going back to fight the same fight every decade? Do they have an actual foreign policy outside of “peace through strength?” I know they will trust their generals, but what about when they disagree? What is their doctrine? There is a line between delegation and abdication.
We pay lip service to the Supreme Court and call birthright citizenship a distraction. We ignore other appointments altogether. Shouldn’t we understand the way they interpret law as a clue to the types of judges they will appoint. Saying you will have a litmus test is not enough. Saying you will combat judicial activism is not enough. What are the metrics by which they will choose nominees? If they are going to recruit the best people, what does best mean to them?
As head of the executive branch, they would run countless agencies. They would not need congress to make the vast majority of changes. What makes a Cruz DOJ different than a Carson DOJ? I have no idea. What EPA regulation would Trump look to change? Everything Obama did is not an acceptable answer. Has anyone other than Ron Paul actually had a monetary policy on their platform the last few times around? Is a secure boarder a by-any-means necessary proposition? Do they want law enforcement or military? Both? How many more law enforcement officers? How much lower are they willing to make the standards when they cannot fill the positions?
We are conducting an interview for the most powerful position in the world and we focus disproportionately on the “other tasks as assigned” part of the job description.