In the run up to the Iowa caucuses in a few weeks, which would also mark the beginning of an important election year, I felt now would be a good time to scribble some notes on current thoughts. This post is part of a series of posts and follows up from Part 1.
Part 2: The “Ideal” Nominee
Following up from Part 1 of this series, I will lay out what I am looking for in a conservative nominee to hopefully become the 45th President of the United States. No nominee will be perfect but a close match is desired. Thoughts described are personal opinions and not necessarily exhaustive; so for example, as I’m primarily a ‘fiscal conservative’ I will not be going into any particular depth regarding social conservative values.
(A) Overview and “Guiding Principles”
Before going into details, what in a big picture sense do we want the 45th president to achieve in office, ideally as a two-term president? The main caption of my blog is a good starting place: “restoration of liberty, common sense, and free market conservatism”. So we are looking to:
- continue to keep the nation and its people safe (the #1 role of any government)
- reinforce that this is a nation of laws (includes nominating judges at all levels who are driven to uphold the Constitution, as opposed to legislating from the bench)
- restore a consistent common sense foreign policy that strengthens relations with allies and ensures that any foes fear and respect us.
- rein in big government
- restore more power and accountability to “we the people”
- reinforce capitalist fundamentals (as opposed to state socialism)
- resist ‘special interests’ inside Washington D.C., and avoid picking ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, either directly or indirectly (through unintended consequences)
- ‘check’ the ever-increasing power of trial lawyers from launching frivolous lawsuits which end up overloading our judicial system and also overburden the state (e.g. healthcare costs)
- attract and sustain private investment by being more competitive globally in terms of regulations (less red tape), wholesale energy prices, and tax rates
- attract the smartest minds from around the globe by reinforcing legal immigration procedures whilst addressing illegal immigration (and securing our borders)
- enable economic growth (consistently >3% GDP growth year-on-year, ideally somewhere closer to 5%)
- restore the true “American Dream”, where entrepreneurs can flourish, where people can aspire to their dreams through hard work and merit (and where dependency on the state is reduced).
The above bullet points are high level targets of a presidency that would ideally be for two terms. To achieve these goals, a nominee must be sought that has: (i) the right guiding principles, (ii) the right character (to lead an administration and to lead the nation), and (iii) the right ‘manifesto’. The first of these three points has largely been covered via. the bullet points above, so I will move onto discussing the latter two points in more detail.
(B) Character and Leadership
The character of a president is primarily a vehicle for achieving goals when in office. A president must start by surrounding themselves with the right people, enabling them to achieve results through their administration as well as working with both Houses of Congress. Furthermore, a president is a figurehead for the nation, so their leadership and character traits will filter down and affect the nation as a whole. Charisma is important, both in terms of effective leadership, as well as maintaining the faith of the people through inevitable challenging periods.
A president must obviously be smart and exude confidence, in order to lead and also to maintain respect. However, with ‘smartness’, there are some necessary subtle traits that are required to provide balance. A president must not be so arrogant to think that they always know best and assume that they can lead as a ‘totalitarian’. A president should have good people around them to provide advice and guidance when required. Often there will be multiple lines of thought and opinion within an administration. At the end of the day, decisions lie with the president, but leadership is required to ensure the whole ‘team’ can move forwards once a decision has been made without any ‘bad blood’ (e.g. history is littered with vignettes that come to light of internal power struggles between ‘hawks’ and ‘doves’ within cabinets). Although being smart and being confident are important traits, inward humility and self-deprecation is important, to be kept hidden except for rare occasions when a president may have to apologise for a bad decision or two, as opposed to constantly looking for everyone else to blame but themselves.
Courage and strength of mind are exceedingly important traits required in a president, esp. for one that will serve for two terms. A president should stick to their guiding principles regardless of headwinds that may occur due to a hostile media or unfavourable polls. Integrity is important, as well as a strong track record of dependability. For me, this requirement really elevates the importance of prior leadership experience of the individual from where we can observe what decisions and policies they have enacted through executive leadership and/or through working with a legislature. This also unfortunately downgrades individuals who have simply risen in their profile through ‘opposition’; as being in opposition is one thing, but leading is totally another. Consistency is important, in that the public will trust and be reassured in a president that doesn’t always do what they would have done, but they can understand the president’s underlying guiding principles and values, and that he/she is not just someone that vacillates on issues depending on polls and which way the winds are blowing.
I did briefly explain above that I am primarily a fiscal conservative and not a social conservative, and hence social values are not high on my radar. Whilst social values are important, we have to be realistic, both based on ‘liberty’ where we do not impose on others, and also to avoid embarrassing cases where individuals who ‘preach’ leave themselves wide open to charges of hypocrisy. This is also important in minimising unnecessary distractions from potential invented stories from the activist liberal mainstream media, as well as individuals potentially left wide open to being coerced by blackmail. However, having said all of this, ethics and morals are very important to myself in terms of enabling an administration that is not corrupted and coerced by special interests within Washington D.C.
In gaining confidence in a nominee that they will achieve the high level goals outlined in section (A) above, it is important to look into the details of what they are proposing to get a good handle. Ideally there would be good continuation in their ideology from a strong track record at an executive level, within the private and/or public sector.
Whilst details are important, I will not necessarily be clinging to every word of a candidate, as it is still over a year until a nominee can take office (Jan-2013); things may change in the meantime; and they need to have full access to the ‘books’ prior to locking down on any ‘Acts’. The best aspect of the last few years and the next year has been a ‘reboot’ of fiscal conservatism where there is a lively ongoing ‘melting pot’ of ideas. The list below covers the type of policy commitments I am looking for, but is far from exhaustive.
- Repeal Obamacare
- Repeal Frank-Dodd
- Remove the shackles of Sarbanes-Oxley
- Address the Federal Reserve, restoring accountability and transparency of monetary policies and to reverse inflationary currency devaluation via. the printing presses. Restore confidence in the Dollar as the world’s currency reserve
- Sunset Fannie/Freddie (but via. a ‘soft landing’ approach)
- Shut down the federal Education department (return control to state level)
- Shut down the federal Energy and EPA departments (moving any remaining necessary functions into other departments or a pared down combined department)
- Pare down the federal Health and Human Services department and transfer funding and decision-making back to the state level
- Overhaul campaign finance laws; outlaw collective bargaining and campaign funding at the federal level. This will also override “Citizen’s United”, which was simply a stopgap ‘fix’ to redress the balance that was stacked in the favour of Dems through McCain-Feingold (McCain was/is a wishy-washy fool and ‘tool’, as this was a law that was designed and influenced by Soros and chums).
- Simplify the tax code (e.g. ‘flat tax’). Make capital gains rates and corporate tax rates globally competitive
- Provide a window for corporations to repatriate profits from abroad and also provide a window of a holiday from ‘capital depreciation’ costs, thereby promoting a return of investment and manufacturing back to the United States
- Reform entitlements, e.g. include an ‘opt-out’ option for social security, enabling the individual to choose between private and public options
- Review federal government red tape and overlaps
- Introduce Tort reform to redress the balance wrt. frivolous law suits (unsure on this, maybe this can be left in the hands of state level governments)
- Allow health insurance companies to operate across state lines
- Introduce cut-cap-balance, capping federal government spending at 18% of annual GDP and introducing a watertight balanced budget amendment
- “Drill-Baby-Drill” (and “Frack-Baby-Frack”). If anyone is not convinced on this they should have a look at the success story in North Dakota (~3% unemployment rate). Stop crony capitalism and the picking of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the energy sector and wasteful subsidies of renewable technologies. Shale gas and nuclear/thorium are the immediate answers to enable cheap competitive energy prices, and renewables can be left to mature and compete within an unfettered ‘free market’
- Secure borders, increasing patrols at ground level in tandem with air reconnaissance. Strategic implementation of border fences where effective
- Associated with securing the borders, review the legal immigration process to ensure top talent around the globe continues to be attracted to the United States
- Enable a route to legality for illegal immigrants via. military service (not via. education as this takes resources away from taxpaying families that have followed the law)
- Introduce ‘term limits’ for both Houses of Congress
- Introduce caps on increases in tuition rates of colleges and universities, encouraging them to be more efficient
- Transfer as many federal powers as possible back to the states as per the 10th amendment, allowing 50 ‘experiments’ in competition with each other
- Seek to pare down both Houses of Congress in Washington once a lot of the above have been addressed. This is valuable in ensuring elected representatives remain in touch with the electorate and also physically experience federal laws that have been enacted. However, this must be performed in a manner that adheres to the Constitution
The above list is not exhaustive, but gives an idea of policy ideas that I am looking for from candidates. As I have mentioned, I will not hang on every last detail of a nominee’s manifesto, and will also appreciate that the ‘melting pot’ of ideas is still ongoing (i.e. there is more than one way to skin a cat). Additionally, most of the policy ideas above are orientated at getting federal government out of the way of the free market and entrepreneurialism, and transferring a lot of political oversight back to state level, where decisions are more accountable and transparent to the taxpaying electorate. State level policy ideas are another matter altogether, and may be addressed in a separate post sometime in the future.
Finally, just to re-emphasise that I am not looking for a ‘perfect’ candidate, as that is impossible. However, in the next post (Part 3) of this series I will ‘endorse’ my preferred candidate based on the principles laid out in this post. Part 4 will seek to ‘rank’ all the candidates according to my *current* opinion, as it would be unrealistic to expect that my preferred candidate will necessarily end up being the nominated candidate.