Sunday, December 11, 2016

Republicans

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Gun Control

The House of Representatives was the site of a sit-in last week where dozens of Democrats sat inside protesting and demanding a change to gun control.

This week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the House will vote on new gun control measures that will help prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns.

Also on the docket, the House will work on a terrorism package that will be aimed at disrupting recruitment and radicalization.

The vote on the gun control measure still isn’t defined very well. There are several bills that could be brought to the floor that will help disrupt terrorists, but the House is divided.

Some like Texas Senator John Cornyn’s bill that requires the Feds to prove that a person is a terrorist to stop the purchase of a firearm. Democrats want the bill to cover “probable cause” instead of “proof” that someone is a terrorist.

The NRA supports Cornyn’s bill but does not support the “probable cause” direction the Democrats want to go.

The Democrats want to take it a step further and ban anyone on any terrorism watch list or even the no-fly list from buying a gun.

The major concern with the “no-fly no-buy” campaign is there are many people on those lists that are not any threat at all. When a person is added to a watch list, they are not told nor do they have a real system to challenge the ruling.

Although Speaker Ryan called the sit-in a “publicity stunt”, it is clear he is trying to bring the House together by calling a vote. What they will vote on next week is up in the air, but they are going to vote.

Do you think that Speaker Ryan should call for a vote? Let us know in the comments below.

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Donald Trump

With his polling numbers, Presidential Candidate Donald Trump appears to be a shoe in for the Republican nomination.

But the thought of Trump winning the nomination has GOP insiders apoplectic.

Last week, a story was leaked of a meeting of top RNC officials regarding their discussion of a brokered convention and the rules during a nomination free-for-all.

A brokered convention is a nomination process where the winner is not locked in with 51% of the vote. Delegates at the convention will be free to choose their candidate regardless of how the millions of voters swing in the primary elections.

The last brokered convention for the GOP was in 1976 where Gerald Ford arrived without enough delegate votes to win against his competitor Ronald Reagan.

Ford was the establishment candidate while Reagan was ironically despised by the establishment as a Washington outsider.

With maneuvering and the power of the establishment, Ford beat Reagan on the first round of votes.

As the convention date moves closer, it’s to the benefit of the Republican establishment to have as many candidates still in the race as possible.

With a split vote, it would be difficult for any candidate to take the necessary majority in convention– leading to a brokered convention where delegates are free to vote for any candidate.

Additionally, the Republicans have “Superdelegates” that are unpledged and allowed to vote for any candidate.

In 2016, 6.8% of votes for the nominee may be cast by Superdelegates.

Who are the Superdelegates? Unelected party insiders.

To make matters worse for Trump, states that hold their primary before or on Super Tuesday are required to allocate the vote for the nominee proportionally on the first ballot.

For instance, if Trump were to win the popular vote with 35% of the vote in South Carolina. Only 35% of delegates are required to vote for him. The remaining delegates would be required to vote proportionally for the other nominees.

This will leave Trump with a clear victory by percentage in the primaries, but without a majority required to win the nomination.

In a four-way+ race, it would be nearly statistically impossible for Trump to get 51% of the vote.

Additionally, given the near 7% advantage of party insiders, the GOP will be able to lock out Trump fairly easily.

A prediction of the convention gives Trump 34% of the vote – a 15-point lead over the closest competitor, but not enough to win the convention.

After the first round of votes, delegates are unleashed to vote for any candidate they choose, and we’ll see several other candidates drop in a scripted move to rally behind an establishment candidate.

On the second ballot, the RNC establishment wins and Trump loses.

Even Jeb Bush, who is only polling at 3% but is the choice of the establishment, could become the nominee.

While using procedural maneuvers and back room politics to oust Trump would be a bold move by the RNC, it’s the realistic move as they will not allow Trump to win.

Those thinking Trump can shift and run as an independent or third party candidate after losing the GOP nomination are incorrect.

Each state controls its own access to the ballot by setting its own rules. Many of those states such as Texas prohibit candidates who lost their primary from being on the general election ballot as an independent or third party candidate.

If Trump loses at convention, his name will not even be printed on many state ballots due to state laws. And seven states don’t even allow write-in candidates.

In the event the GOP thwarts the will of their grassroots party members to allow insider delegates to choose an establishment candidate, they will have to face the blowback of a nation.

Likely or not? Comment below.

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mass-shooting

“Never let a crisis go to waste” was the famous credo of Obama’s former chief of staff, and current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.

And it’s advice that the liberal news media is certainly taking to heart–because they’re now blaming the horrific shooting in Oregon squarely on the Republicans to score political points.

Correspondent Nancy Cordes gave a special report on CBS News, where she slammed Republicans and conservative-leaning nonprofits like the NRA.

“Sympathy and best wishes are all about the victims’ families can expect from Congress,” she fumed, “which has not seriously debated strengthening gun laws since 2013, after 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.”

But the media wasn’t alone directing their outrage at Republicans–it was Barack Obama who gave them permission to do so.

In a speech after the shooting on Thursday, Obama called for national outrage and exploited the crisis in order to seek tougher gun laws. He said, “Somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize.”

But while Obama–a politician–might be eager to politicize something, it’s not something Americans should expect from their so-called “unbiased” mainstream media.

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hillary

At a campaign rally in Ohio, Hillary Clinton compared Republicans to terrorists, because of their “extreme” views on women’s rights.

“Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups,” she said. “We expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world. But it’s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the President of the United States. Yet, they espouse out of date and out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We’re going forward. We’re not going back.”

She doesn’t specify which “extreme” views that Republicans apparently hold–though she’s undoubtedly talking about abortion, the foundation of the so-called “war on women.”

Except Republicans are hardly extreme when it comes to abortion–the majority of Americans, according to a Gallup poll released earlier in the summer, believe that abortion should be illegal some or all of the time. And that number has undoubtedly been impacted by the recent Planned Parenthood scandal–which showed top brass from the venerable abortion clinic selling the body parts of aborted fetuses.

Hillary’s fierce words against Republicans come at a time when her campaign is largely seen as flailing.

In several states, she’s already fallen behind fringe liberal candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and she does worse in polling against Republican candidates than Vice President Joe Biden, who is said to be weighing a run for President.

With her numbers tanking, it’s clear that Hillary is playing the only card she has left: over-the-top gender-based attacks on Republicans.

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gay-affair

Here’s a story you don’t see every day: a Republican lawmaker in Michigan faked a gay sex scandal–in order to hide his illicit relationship with a fellow female politician.

Todd Courser, a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, had been having an affair with Michigan State Representative Cindy Gamrat, who is also a Republican. Both were married with children at the time of the affair.

Fearful that fellow Republicans were about to blow the whistle on their extramarital relationship, he decided to go nuclear–by creating a completely different scandal, in order to distract and mislead.

Courser ordered his (now-former) aide, Ben Graham, to blast an email to the possible whistleblowers, “exposing” Courser being caught having sex with a male prostitute at a Lansing, Michigan, nightclub.

Courser gave specific instructions for the email–including making sure he was described as an “alcoholic, drug-addicted bisexual monster.” Graham secretly recorded those planning conversations.

When Graham eventually refused to send the email, Courser fired him–and accused him of being a pawn in the possible exposure of Courser and Gamrat’s actual affair.

Predictably, Republicans in Michigan are angry at both politicians for the damage its done to the reputation of the party and to Michigan’s state government in general.

“If this weren’t so offensive, it might be funny,” said Michigan Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter, also a Republican.

“These two representatives voluntarily engaged in the affair and they need to own up to that. There are 107 other members of the House currently serving. It’s so unfair to this institution as a whole and it’s so unfair that we have this type of distraction.”

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fox-gop-debate

As America braces for the first official debate of the 2016 Republican primaries, everyone will be on the edge of their seats. With 17 candidates declared, the field is being split into two debates: the top 10 finishers in recent polls will debate at 9 p.m. Eastern Time during primetime on Thursday August 6th, and the remaining candidates will debate earlier in the evening, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

1) Will candidates go after Trump–or join him?

Donald Trump is the elephant in the room. Some candidates will try to attack him as much as possible–and try to show that he isn’t a serious contender. Other candidates will try to agree with him, in order to woo his supporters if the Donald’s campaign were to go unexpectedly south.

Two strategies–and either one might pay off well.

2) Which candidates should have made the top debate? And which candidates shouldn’t have?
Even though the early evening debate features candidates who are polling under 2% of the vote, this field alone would be a very strong one for Republicans. Top 2012 contenders, like former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Philadelphia Senator Rick Santorum, will be featured–alongside former three-term New York Gov. George Pataki, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC.)

If you watch both debates, pay special attention to which of these qualified, largely unknown candidates deserve to be on the top stage next time around–and pay attention to which candidates from the top debate don’t really belong in the top tier.

3) Is Trump actually for real?

Donald Trump has made a name for himself–with the poll numbers to prove it–by making a number of controversial statements that have rallied the Republican base.

But can he sustain his momentum in a debate setting?

Trump has little political experience and, as a billionaire who has been surrounded by fawning assistants for decades, will he be able to handle the pressure? Moreover, will he be able to prove to the electorate that he has more substance than style? Namely, will he be able to talk about the big issues in a thoughtful way–or will he just continue to spell out large talking points?

Moreover, will Trump, the one-time Democrat (and Hillary Clinton donor!), seem more or less palatable to the American people when his actual policy positions are revealed in the context of the debate?

4) Who can hit Hillary hardest?

Hillary Clinton is all but certain to win the Democratic nomination–which means the next GOP nominee is going to have to be able to attack her, hard.

While candidates should be judged on how good of a President they would ultimately be–based on their record and their stances–it’s almost equally important (in terms of winning an election) for that candidate to be able to expose the dark side about Hillary Clinton, her sudden adoption of liberal policies, and her growing scandals.

So far, Carly Fiorina–who will be appearing at the earlier debate–has made a name for herself by refusing to hold punches. Lindsey Graham, also in the earlier debate, also attacked Clinton in Monday’s New Hampshire forum. But will one of the big dogs, on the top stage, be able to nail Hillary to the wall?

5) Who’s the dark horse?

In any election, the so-called “frontrunners” this early in the game rarely make it to the end; at this point in 2007, pundits were predicting a Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani mashup in 2008, which didn’t even come close to happening.

Instead, “dark horse” candidates will emerge–politicians who are virtually unknown at the beginning of the election, but rise to be real contenders. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who only recently declared his candidacy and is virtually unknown outside of Ohio, has shot up to tenth place in the Republican polls–getting him a spot on the top stage. A successful governor from the swingiest swing state in the country, could he make a strong go at the White House?

6) Who makes the biggest mistakes–and who gets the best lines?

Soundbites are critical, this early in the game–and they can make or break a candidacy. In 2012, Rick Perry entered the race with high hopes–only to see him become the butt of jokes when he couldn’t remember the three federal agencies he would cut as President, and simply said, “Oops!” Likewise, Newt Gingrich’s solid debate performances helped (briefly) catapult him into the lead for the 2012 Republican nomination.

Inevitably, some candidates will leave the debate stage deeply bruised–having said something that their Republican opponents and Democrats will pounce on. And some candidates will say something fantastic that gives voters a reason to give them another look.

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out-trump-Trump

In what Rush Limbaugh dubbed the “Trump Strategy,” Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stood by his controversial comments from a Saturday interview with Breitbart. In the interview, Huckabee criticized the Obama administration’s Iran deal, saying “This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. He’s so naïve, he would trust the Iranians and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.”

The explicit Holocaust reference drew immediate fire from his fellow Republican candidates, as well as the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.

Huckabee stood strongly by his comments – as Limbaugh noted, “doubling down” – tweeting out “Tell Congress to do their constitutional duty & reject the Obama-Kerry #IranDeal,” followed by “Ayatollah Khamenei’s Iranian Martyr Foundation rep: “We have manufactured missiles that allow us…to replace Israel…with a big holocaust”” and “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” – Ayatollah Khamenei

As Limbaugh suggested repeatedly on his Monday show, Huckabee seems to be drawing some inspiration from Donald Trump’s leadership in the polls. Trump, of course, has made repeated headlines for explosive comments directed at illegal immigrants, Hillary Clinton, other Republican candidates, John McCain, and other targets.

Repeated declarations of Trump’s demise following his incendiary rhetoric have been followed by, instead of cratering, huge gains in the primary polls. The most recent polls show Trump as the first choice among likely Republican primary voters by such a wide margin that his totals eclipse the combined numbers of Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, the next leading candidates.

Trump’s appeal is based largely on his willingness to take on the establishment and refusal to back down. The Republican base is, as Ted Cruz made clear in a fiery speech on the floor of the Senate last week, sick and tired of being told that voting Republican will change things for the better, only to see the party capitulate again to Obama and the Democrat party.

Huckabee last week was polling at a mere 3% among likely Republican primary voters. With his massive news coverage, and extensive talk time on Limbaugh’s #1 rated radio show, it would not be a surprise to see a bounce in his numbers this week.

“The fact is when the media, Washington establishment, whoever, starts acting outraged over something a public figure said… They’re doing it now with Huckabee, by the way, over what he said about the Iran deal and Israel and ovens, which is coming up,” Limbaugh said. “The conventional wisdom is that not only are the media who are reporting this to you outraged, but so are the American people en masse, that there is universal outrage — disbelief, shock and dismay — that anybody could say anything so horrible. It’s always implied that a majority of the American people also find it outrageous, and I have always doubted that.”

Proof of the long-time opinion maker’s assertion is in the aforementioned Trump poll numbers. Trump keeps going after people, keeps attacking dearly-held presumptions, keeps not apologizing, and keeps widening his lead in the polls.

Are Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz foreshadowing? Is the “Trump Strategy” about to overtake the entire GOP field?

 

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gop-vs-trump

Donald Trump has changed the game.

In a firestorm of politically incorrect rhetoric, Trump went from “vanity candidate” to “GOP frontrunner,” and only seems to be gaining steam. The Republican establishment, predictably, can’t stand this state of affairs, and the anti-Trump machine seems to be getting started.

“The Donald” first started making waves by referencing the high rates of criminality among illegal aliens, remarks the mainstream media took pains to characterize as intolerant of all Hispanics. In the wake of his remarks, several of Trump’s business associates, including NBC and Macy’s, severed ties with him.

Trump refused to back down on the issue, citing FBI crime stats and advocating tighter border controls and stricter deportation guidelines. Subsequently, he shot to the top of the Republican Party polls, and is also the highest ranked “second choice” among likely voters.

Repeatedly, Trump has refused to back down. Instead, he continues to attack, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. CNN’s Anderson Cooper tried to pin him down on the “birther” controversy, and Trump brushed aside the question and got back on message. He told an MSNBC reporter that she clearly didn’t know what she was talking about. He tweeted that Hillary Clinton couldn’t even satisfy her man, so clearly couldn’t satisfy America. At a press conference, he called out a reporter for misquoting him, and then told the entire assemblage that they are a bunch of liars.

Aside from standing up for his message and refusing to be cowed, Trump has also proven adept at stirring patriotic sentiment. He has said over and over that America can be great again, and he intends to help make it so. In Phoenix, he came out to Hulk Hogan’s (yes, that Hulk Hogan) theme song, “I am a Real American.” During that same speech, he drowned out a heckler by starting a “USA! USA!” chant.

It is not all sunshine and roses for Trump, though.

During just his visit to Arizona, he was snubbed by the Republican governor, and both Republican Senators of the state were decidedly negative about Trump, saying he is “coarse, ill-informed, and inaccurate,” among other unflattering snippets.

The biggest potential hurdle for Trump, though, comes from Jeb Bush. Bush has been the “beltway leader” in the Republican primary seemingly since the 2012 elections ended. Trump has targeted the former Florida governor early and often, calling him “weak” and “a total disaster” during the aforementioned Cooper interview.

In his campaign kickoff speech, Trump asked the crowd of Bush “how the hell can you vote for this guy?”

Perhaps most provocatively, Trump’s official Twitter account retweeted “#JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.”

Bush took the bait, telling a New Hampshire crowd “You can love the Mexican culture, you can love your Mexican-American wife and also believe that we need to control the border.” Later in the same speech, he attacked Trump’s immigration ideas more specifically. “I honestly think we need to provide a path to legalize status, not citizenship,” he said. “The idea that we’re going to round up 11 million people and send them back — it’s not real. It’s not grounded in reality.”

Bush also pooh-poohed Trump’s current ascendancy, saying he wanted to focus on his campaign and what’s best for the country, and not “someone who I doubt will be president and is not a constructive force for our party.”

Other Republicans have evidenced clear retreat from Trump, with most sounding a refrain along the lines of Ted Cruz on Meet The Press: “I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration. The Washington cartel doesn’t want to address that… And I salute Donald Trump for focusing on it. He has a colorful way of speaking. It’s not the way I speak. But I’m not gonna engage in the media’s game of throwing rocks and attacking other Republicans. I’m just not gonna do it.”

Former Texas governor Rick Perry had no qualms about engaging in that game. “I’ve said very clearly that Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party,” he said. “I was offended by his remarks. Listen, Hispanics in America and Hispanics in Texas, from the Alamo to Afghanistan, have been extraordinary people, citizens of our country and of our state. They have served nobly. And to paint with that broad a brush that Donald Trump did is — I mean he’s going to have to defend those remarks. I never will.”

With all the furor he has caused, Trump’s signature issue continues to gain traction in conservative media and with voters. Breitbart reports that 347,000 convicted illegal aliens remain at large, and these illegals accounted for 37% of all federal sentences in 2014. Immigration went from a non-issue six months ago to front and center, and message boards are lighting up with pro-Trump posts.

Clearly, the establishment GOP has a Trump problem. So far, Donald has played the best cards.

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no-guns-sign

For decades, there has been a level of suspicion among gun owners at the grassroots level in the country that establishment Republicans run neither hot nor cold on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Rather, they will champion whichever position wins them the most political power on Election Day.

Now it seems that one of the highest ranking Republican strategists – Karl Rove, the “architect” who ran President George W. Bush’s two campaigns for president – has shed much welcomed light on the stand that senior party strategists take on the gun rights of law-abiding citizens.

In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” this past weekend, Rove made a major concession to the gun control lobby’s narrative when he said that banning guns would be the only way to stop gun violence.

Rove’s comment was said against backdrop of the kind of violence that occurred last week when a deranged lone-wolf gunman gunned down nine worshipers at the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

When Chris Wallace asked Rove how we can “stop the violence”, Rove, a long-time gun-rights advocate, said that we have made great strides as a nation in empathizing with gun violence v victims but the only guaranteed way to stop murder sprees like the church shootings would be to “remove guns from society.” Quoting the exchange:

WALLACE: How do we stop the violence?

ROVE: I wish I had an easy answer for that, but I don’t think there’s an easy answer.

We saw an act of evil. Racist, bigoted evil, and to me the amazing thing is that it was met with grief and love. Think about how far we’ve come since 1963. The whole weight of the government throughout the South was to impede finding and holding and bringing to justice the men who perpetrated the [Birmingham] bombing.

And here, we saw an entire state, an entire community, an entire nation come together, grieving as one and united in the belief that this was an evil act, so we’ve come a long way.

Now maybe there’s some magic law that will keep us from having more of these. I mean basically the only way to guarantee that we will dramatically reduce acts of violence involving guns is to basically remove guns from society, and until somebody gets enough “oomph” to repeal the Second Amendment, that’s not going to happen.”

While Rove has a long career of advising candidates running for public office that supporting the Second Amendment – or at least staying silent on the issue – is an essential part of winning, conceding so much rhetorical ground to the gun ban lobby by linking gun ownership to gun violence will do nothing more than make pro-gun voters wary as the 2016 elections approach.

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jeb-bush-status-quo

Rodney King, whose beating at the hands of the LAPD in 1991 sparked several days of bloody rioting, is perhaps best remembered for his oft-quoted plea for everyone to just “get along” with each other. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in all but name only, has taken King’s plea to heart.

During a question and answer session last week in New Hampshire, Bush burnished his credentials as the status quo candidate, when he lamented the fact that his colleagues currently in the Senate were failing to just get along with their Democratic counterparts, by holding up the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General for purely “partisan” reasons. He then joined with President Barack Obama in urging the Senate to quickly confirm Lynch, notwithstanding that she is a clone of Eric Holder in terms of outlook, priorities and policies. Such a move is desirable, Bush lectured, because the President – any president – is entitled to have “his team” in place, no matter how good or bad its members may be.

The world view that Bush exhibited in this exchange reflects the typical, go-along-to-get-along attitude with which many Republican lawmakers and presidents approach tough political issues. It is this perspective –which values the maintenance of the status quo and the avoidance of confrontation above all else — that accounts largely for the decades-long growth of big government regardless of which major party wields the levers of power.

Apparently, the fact that at least some GOP senators might be opposing Lynch for substantive – as opposed to “partisan” – reasons, escaped Bush’s analysis of the situation; that, or he simply chose to overlook the possibility in order to make his political point. Either way, his comments reflect an important but not unanticipated blind spot in the credentials of a candidate who, on paper at least, is well-qualified to be considered a front-runner in the Republican presidential field.

Bush’s unquestioning support of the President’s “right” to select his own team was his most recent endorsement of Establishment Rule in the campaign thus far, but hardly the only such signal. For example, Bush glibly dismisses the concerns of conservatives about the overreach of federal bureaucrats through Common Core, as “conspiracy theories.” Bush criticizes opponents of Common Core even as he heaps praise on the Obama Administration for “providing carrots and sticks” to pressure states to adopt the standards; a tactic he finds “appropriate.” Even on the issue of climate change, where every day more data suggests it is little more than a left-wing fraud, Bush echoed Obama when, also last week in the Granite State, he suggested, “we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions.”

While these moderate-to-left policy positions of Bush are concerning, even more so is the mounting evidence of why and how Jeb would simply continue the status quo in Washington. The ideas espoused by this third Bush appear less like sincerely-held beliefs than a general “deference,” as he calls it, to the Establishment in Washington. It is a constant refrain to trust in the solutions provided via the “system,” in which we, as mere citizens, only need to be along for the ride regardless of individual concerns. Fundamentally, it is an attitude indicative of a politician driven more by the prevailing “wisdom” of the elitist collective, than a sincere dedication to the Constitution and individual liberty.

If we are to break the stagnation of new ideas in Washington, and finally realize the true potential for economic and personal freedom in this country (as envisioned centuries ago by our Founding Fathers), we must seize 2016 as an opportunity to find and elevate the same disruptors in politics, as those who have transformed today’s consumer and technology marketplaces. In other words, seek out and support politicians unafraid to rock the boat, cast aside the broken system of partisan “deference,” and for once, listen to political consumers — that is, the voters — who have legitimate concerns about the direction America has taken in recent decades, especially during these past, sorry six years.

Jeb Bush is no Tesla, Uber, or Netflix. He is the bailed-out auto manufacturer; the taxi cartel; the cable company. He is the champion of the status quo – a symbol not of what can be, but of what has been. Republican voters and contributors in particular ought to remind Bush that opposing Barack Obama is something we do not because of partisanship, but because of principle. The 2016 GOP nominee must be wrought of that mettle.

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