Run Howard Run?

The former Starbucks CEO is considering an independent run for the Presidency and while Democrat activists are apoplectic, Shultz could save them from themselves.

But I doubt it.

Normally, an independent candidate comes from the fringes of party politics or outside the system. The most notable in recent memory was Ross Perot’s first run in 1992.  Perot is widely believed to have tilted the election to then Governor Bill Clinton. Perot came from outside the system. He drew pretty evenly from the parties in his run. Another example, Ralph Nader is the example from the parties’ fringe. He is widely blamed for Al Gore’s Florida loss. But again, the numbers never really backed that up. Like Perot, he was more of convenient target.

As a political scientist and he or she will tell you is that third party candidates tend to change the makeup of the electorate more than draw from one side or the other. The people that come out to vote for these independent candidates tend to be people who wouldn’t otherwise vote.  They roughly earn equal amounts of protests votes from members of the two parties.  Remove Perot and Nader from the picture in 1992 and 2000  the likely outcome would have been the same.

So then, who cares… right?

The reason why I would urge caution while enjoying the schadenfreude of Howard Shultz’s candidacy, it should be mentioned that he could do a number of things that would be more of  bug to Republicans boon. First, Shultz is not crazy when you compare him to the current state of the Democratic Party. This may make him more attractive to potential protest voters in 2020. That alone may force some sanity on the Democrats. We already see some of that with the suddenly tempered support for Medicare for All.

While President Trump enjoys strong support among self-identified Republicans, under President Trump the number of self-identified Republicans gets smaller. As we entered the 2018, mid-term elections for example, Republican identifiers had dropped by 5 percentage points. Sure Republican identifiers support Trump upwards of 90 percent, there are just fewer Republicans. A sane, moderate seeming Democrat not hell bent on retribution may be enticed to come out to vote against Trump and President Trump just doesn’t have that kind of margin.

Real damage to Republicans could occur down ballot. An independent candidacy that is moderately left can change the pool of voters. Democrats turned off by their Party’s extreme positions are not going to vote for Republicans down ballot. Instead of fending off the crazies, GOP candidates will have to take time, money and effort to attract the disaffected. This will not help them with the Trump true believers. See the mess?

Shultz is talking about debt and spending issues. He has criticized Medicare for All from the center and has pointed out that no one really wants 70% income tax rates. He referred to these as un-American.  This is the Bill Clinton wing of the Democratic party, not the Sanders/Warren/Cortez wing. With voters who remember the 1990’s as not so bad, this could have some appeal.

In these early stages of the primary, Democrats are racing to the farthest reaches of the left. They are running on not just redistribution as Obama did 2008, but on retribution. Consider the extreme positions being offered.  Democrats in New York passed an abortion law that legalizes  infanticide. The same was offered Virginia only to go down in flames, but not before doing serious damage to the Governor and the bill’s sponsor. Before she was forced to walk it back, Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) endorsed the idea of eliminating private insurance. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has proposed a wealth tax—not to fund anything but to punish “the rich.”  Gun control is not only back, it is now officially gun registration/confiscation.

With media padlocked on President Trump’s reality show, no one has really been paying attention to the Democrats. With the Washington press corps’ cover, the extremists have dominated.  A Shultz candidacy – or any sane candidate running in the Primary for that matter —  has the opportunity to bring the party back from the brink.  While fun to watch, it is ultimately portend bad news Republican party in 2020.

Enjoy Republicans, but be forewarned.

You Don’t have an ‘Unfettered’ Right to Own a Gun, And Gun Owners aren’t Saying You Should

The argument that your access to own a firearm is ‘unfettered’ in this country has become ubiquitous among gun controllers.  Funny though, I have yet to hear a politician or a respectable proponent of the fundamental right to self defense argue that it should be. The reason they don’t argue that, is because . . . well . . . it is untrue.

Here, for example, is a 2015 Washington Post piece, on then GOP Primary candidates stating as much.  No where in the piece does Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) make make the argument that access should be unlimited. Here is former Rep. Dan Glickman of the Aspen Institute writing last week in the Hill: “It’s because the NRA has several million single-issue voters, who only care about protecting their essentially unfettered right to buy and use any type of gun.” And finally, Maryland Institute of College Art Professor Firmin Debradbender writing,  again in The Washington Post that, “The NRA’s logic dictates that we should make our schools look like war zones to accommodate unfettered gun rights.” If you don’t believe me, google the phrase yourself.

Proponents of the Second Amendment to the Constitution as well as gun owners see this line for what it is, mendacious and misleading. College professors and elected Congressmen know better.   And it makes it hard to have a reasoned discussion to find common ground when one side continually, whether willfully or not, mislead. The parties aren’t far apart just because of some culture war or mere politics. We’re far apart because people are lying. Those truly interested, like members of the NRA and supporters of Civil Rights, understand the Constitution and the concept of  Individual Rights. They are limited by their very definition.  Supporters of the Second Amendment live with the hassles and regulations everyday. On top of this there is the blood lible from the gun control advocates. It seems there is no price the gun controllers are unwilling to see gun owners pay.

One of my favorite quotes about the limited scope of rights comes in Russel Kirk’s discussion of Edmund Burke in, “The Conservative Mind from Burke to Eliot,  “A man has always a right to self defense; but he does not have, in all times and places, a right to carry a drawn sword.” The drawn sword for no reason, in this sense, is the unfettered right.  And in the case of the Second Amendment, it is certainly ‘fettered.’ What constrains the right is the appropriate time and place for its execution. It isn’t a license to use as one wishes; a Right exists in context. And there are already plenty of limitations on that context.

To begin with, there are age limits on the ability to purchase a firearm.  You cannot purchase across state lines.  You cannot purchase one if you are a felon or have been deemed mentally incompetent.  Some states, such as Illinois, have additional waiting periods on weapons plus other onerous burdens.  California has its infamous “bullet button,” regulation and a plethora of others that don’t make much sense and don’t work.  The Heller Decision itself states the right is limited and makes room for the above and more:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.

We do the background checks, the waiting periods, pay the extra taxes, take the mandated and un-mandated training courses, pay for the right to carry, pay for the regulations and carry the burden and responsibility for our rights and we put up with it willingly. We also live with the responsibility if God forbid we do have to exercise our right to self defense. Yet, we are told we are ‘unfettered.’ This is akin to urinating on my leg and telling me it is raining. If you want an honest dialogue on guns; if you want to discuss what may actually prevent the next massacre, then we’re here.  We’re willing and we’re waiting. All that were waiting for is a little honesty from the other side.

Being a Gun Owner/Soldier Doesn’t Make You an Expert on Gun Policy

As a gun owner, I’m not an expert on guns.  I can freely admit that. However, this is hard for some.  Usually, as in the example linked, they know less about guns than I do. They want their kids to be safe but they don’t like the NRA. They fail to realize that the National Rifle Association (NRA)  pretty much wrote the book on gun safety education.  Here’s a link to that site.

Next, is GI Joe (or Jane or both, I guess).  He carried a gun the military but doesn’t believe the rest of us should — even though a lot of us who were in the military own and still train with firearms.  Here is Army veteran and transgender (I’m not sure why that matters here) Charlotte Clymer:

The problem with this narrative (besides a lack of research or data suggesting more guns does indeed prevent violence broadly) is that killing another human being, even a “bad” one, is not easy. This is not “Call of Duty”: Despite the damage that modern weaponry can inflict, there is a reason that soldiers and law enforcement officers receive thousands of hours of training in firearms and tactics. This training is physical, mechanical and, most importantly, psychological, because in order to efficiently and effectively kill other human beings in high-stress situations, one must be conditioned to negotiate that stress.

I should know, because I went through it. As an U.S. Army infantryman, I spent thousands of hours, beginning in basic training and continuing throughout my service, becoming comfortable with killing and learning how to do so in a responsible manner. The psychological strength required to act quickly and effectively in a mass shooting comes from the kind of monotonous training that over several years builds up muscle memory. It is tedious and often boring, and that’s the point: it enables soldiers to respond in stressful situations as though it’s second nature.

The U.S. Army’s basic marksmanship training — just learning how to care for a rifle and shoot it — is three weeks long. That’s 18 full days (Sundays are usually semi-restful) spent getting comfortable with your rifle, learning how to dissemble and reassemble it, clean it, perform a functions check, correct malfunctions, load and unload it, conduct peer training with fellow privates, adjust its sights and, finally, how to actually aim and fire it.

It took him/her — again why does this matter– years of rigorous training and “thousands of hours” over an 18 day period.  Clymer’s argument, not mine.

How does this stuff get published?

These people are not experts. They do not know the history of guns, the law, the policy, or even, probably, how guns work. Fun fact, there is not a center fire rifle or handgun out there that at one time was not the latest, most deadly weapon in the hands of soldiers.  That bolt action Remington/Winchester rifle was based on a German infantry rifle.  The lever action rifle was a calvary weapon. Colt pistols were built for the military as well (revolvers).  The AR-15 (M4 clone) and it’s variants are just the latest in a long, long line of American soldiers bringing home their rifles.  It’s the same with modern handguns.  So, please, spare me the weapons of war… They all have military applications; they all come from the military.

Being a hunter or soldier does not make you an expert.  Just like being a driver doesn’t make you a Formula 1 racer.  Firearms policy is complex. It deals with trade-offs and is filled with misinformation, misnomers and plain old prejudice. Even the experts get things wrong.  But it is more so for that soldier who had years of training over three weeks. Being a soldier doesn’t make one a military historian or an arms expert.  It doesn’t make them an expert on the use of force nor on training. I’m sorry, but that you can point and shoot doesn’t give you any particular insight. In fact, it may even hinder your perspective.

Weigh that in mind the next time you read or hear, “As a gun owner.”