Politics is a Team Sport: Rand Paul’s Destiny

adfa7100cb2d163a27ee88a1965a4c19_400x400Rick Perlstein said it best, “I believe politics is a team sport. That, for awful and unfortunate reasons beyond any of our control, the American system only allows, effectively, for two teams.”

Is politics a team sport? The question resurfaced recently when Senator Rand Paul referred to the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Plan as — “Amnesty for Obamacare.”

When I saw this, I immediately fired off a tweet to Senator Paul stating, “Not again! It’s a team sport. Time is up. If you are not Republican, then get off the team and go join the Democrats.”

An unidentified third party then replied, “Wrong – it’s absolutely NOT a team sport. Members must represent their constituents’ wishes – not follow some pigheaded slogan.”

In reality, it’s Senator Paul who’s following a self-contrived “pigheaded slogan”, while most Republicans in the House, 90%+ of those in the Senate, and the Trump Administration are in support of a “bill”, which repeals the main provisions of Obamacare, and takes power away from the District of Columbia, handing it back to the states.

If politics isn’t a team sport, then why do political parties exist? And, what is the purpose of winning the majority in both houses and the White House if the party in control isn’t going to stick together on major legislation? Of course, politics is a team sport.

Yet there always seems to be at least one grandstanding maverick, almost always a Republican, who wants to make a name for himself rather than play his position. Face it, Rand Paul doesn’t represent any constituents. Like John McCain and a few others, he merely represents himself.

If Senator Paul represents anyone, it should be the party he belongs to, whichever that may be. At this point, he represents constituents of the Democratic Party, who oppose the bill at all costs, and cares nothing for Republicans, the majority of whom favor some measure of victory.

Under the Graham-Cassidy plan a Federal block grant is given annually to states to help individuals pay for health care, Planned Parenthood is defunded, and the individual mandate, employer mandate, and medical device tax are completely repealed, to name a few. But even better, it’s supported by most Republicans in the House, 90%+ of those in the Senate, and the Trump Administration. So, what’s Rand Paul’s problem?

If Senator Paul can’t get 90%+ of Republican Senators to go along with his proposal, which he can’t, then perhaps he should dismount from his high horse and support the 90%+ of his party who see merit in Graham-Cassidy. If that’s not good enough for Senator Paul, then only one choice remains.

Stop calling yourself a Republican, and go team up with those more in line with your views. At this point in time that would be none other than the Democratic Party, which stands firm, in unison, against every proposal favored by the President and the majority of Republicans.

Political Racism

Ending Identity Politics

Eradicating Identity Politics

:: By: Larry Walker II ::

Those who say that Republican’s don’t like President Obama’s policies, solely because of the color of his skin, tend to forget that he’s also a member of the Democratic Party. In the United States, we basically have a two-party system comprised of Republicans (25%) and Democrats (31%). Even though the majority of us are independents (42%), who may at times be persuaded either way, we essentially have a two-party system with each side on opposite poles on just about every issue, foreign and domestic.

Generally, Republican voters stand for lower taxes, limited government, and a strong national defense; while Democratic voters slant towards higher taxes, an immense government, and a feeble defense. Both parties generally lean towards the preservation of individual liberties, except when it comes to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act and an assortment of overbearing government regulations, but overall one would be correct in concluding that Republican voters disapprove of the Democratic Party’s policies period.

When it comes to President Obama, and the majority of Republicans feelings toward him, once this forgotten variable (the fact that he’s a Democrat) is added to the mix, one would be correct in stating that Republican voters don’t like President Obama because he adheres to Democratic Party policies. Say this and you’ve got it right. Say anything else and you’re a moron. When we are honest, and free of the poison of identity politics, we know this is the truth, but conflating differences in political ideology with racism is so far from reality that it borders on absurdity.

Political Racism

In short, racism is the belief that one race is superior to another. Formally defined, racism is, “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” But is there such a thing as political racism? If so, let us clearly describe what it would look like.

First of all, each major political party is comprised of members of each and every race. So is it possible for White Republicans to believe their race superior to that of Black Democrats? No, but isn’t that what the hucksters are saying? If this were true, then wouldn’t White Republicans also have to believe themselves superior to Black Republicans, as well as to White Democrats? Assuming all of this was true, it would follow that Black Republicans must believe their race is superior to that of Black Democrats. Wait, isn’t this all just foolishness? Here’s a newsflash for you: White Republicans are not a race, neither are White Democrats, Black Republicans nor Black Democrats.

To have any validity whatsoever, such political racism would have to arise between members of the same political party. For example, if there were a Black male Democrat who believed in essentially the same things as, let’s say, a White female Democrat, and one chose to pull the race card in order to discredit and belittle the other, perhaps then you could make a case for racism. But to be viable, you must begin with members of the same political party, who agree 100% on everything, par for par, apples to apples, where the only difference between them is race. But even then, their disagreements may not be due to racism.

It may just be that only one member can hold the office up for grabs, and there are essentially no differences between them, other than race. Who do you vote for when this arises? Will it be that every time a Black candidate faces off against a White candidate, we must all goose step to the drumbeat of the Black candidate, regardless of his or her moral character, political affiliation or beliefs? Must the Black candidate win 100% to 0%, in order to dispel any allegation of racism? Following such an election, must the public then agree 100% with whatever policies the Black officeholder dictates, without question? Is this how we are to correct the racial injustices of centuries past?

Identity Politics

It turns out that what 21st century Democrats are slobbering about isn’t racism at all, but rather a form of identity politics. Through identity politics, social pressure is applied in an attempt to influence the majority to accept the beliefs or behavior of a minority. But, we should never confuse beliefs and behavior with race. I am a Black Conservative, and entitled to my own opinions. Thank you! If I don’t like your brand of politics, and your policies have negatively influenced my life, why in the world would you expect me to convert to your position?

What did you think would happen when the first Black President was spawned from the Democratic Party? Did you expect Republicans to change their ideology? Did you think a light would dawn in the minds of Republicans, wherein they would realize they had been wrong about low taxes, limited government, and a strong national defense, altogether? Did you expect the entire party to repent, and join ranks with the Democratic Party? Is that how you thought it was supposed to work?

Did all Democratic Party members suddenly drop their party allegiance and join ranks with Republicans when George W. Bush was elected to the presidency? No, they didn’t. Rather, they screamed, hollered, whined and protested constantly about almost everything the man did or said. So now that the shoe is on the other foot, the same bunch is crying racism. Those that didn’t bother to vote in the 2014 mid-term elections did us all a favor. They know better. Here’s another newsflash: Abstention is a vote.

Repealing Obamacare

It would not matter whether President Obama was White, Hispanic, Asian, straight, gay, male or female; Republicans would disagree with his, and the Democratic Party’s policies period. My personal feelings about Mr. Obama are thus: I despise the man and everything he stands for. I have nothing against his wife and children, and if he wasn’t the President, I wouldn’t have an opinion either way. In fact, before he ran for President, I kind of enjoyed hearing what he and his fellow left-wingers had to say. But my personal animosity towards him began on the day he started campaigning for the office. For me it’s not personal, it’s all about his brand and style of politics.

Here’s the crux: I don’t like anyone telling me I have to do something, or if I refuse I’m going to be punished. Here’s a prime example: “You have to join our religion, or else we’re going to cut your head off.” Well, come on and take your best shot. You see, it’s one thing to make improvements to our national health care system, which actually improve our health and lower costs, but entirely another when it boils down to the government commanding me to buy one of its prescribed insurance plans, or else I will be forced to pay a tax. Pardon my French, but eff that!

The fact is if Mr. Obama’s health insurance plans were so great, and so affordable, then no one would have to force me to buy one, I would happily do so. However, as things stand today, in my opinion, his plans suck, and I can’t afford either available combination of premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. But what sucks even more is this notion that the federal government will impose an additional tax on me, for not complying with Mr. Obama’s individual mandate. The employer mandate is equally bad for America. Both should be repealed.

Whether you got a better deal through the Affordable Care Act, or nothing changed, you should realize that thousands upon thousands of your fellow Americans got screwed. My life was already tough enough without the government threatening to take more out of my pocket than it already takes, under the guise of this misnamed piece of legislation. They should rename it the “Either You Will Buy One of the Health Insurance Plans We Prescribe, or Else Hand Over a Percentage of Your Income to the Government Act”. The concept of play or pay doesn’t mesh with the ideal of liberty in my book. I should have enough freedom to say, “No thank you”.

The bottom line: Those of us who have adopted Conservative-Republican ideals will likely never join ranks with Democrats, no matter the identity of the Democratic Party leader du jour. Democrats can nominate anyone of their choosing next time, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, mixed, feminist, gay or lesbian, Christian or Muslim, but it won’t alter Conservative-Republican political beliefs one iota. Masking unpopular and unjust political policies behind the aura of anyone’s personal identity is akin to identity theft. President Obama’s policies aren’t Black or White; they belong to the Democratic Party, and are thus mostly defective outside the realm of a classroom. It’s time we end this errant notion of identity politics, and resume arguing our ideological differences at face value.

Image Via: The Pittsfield Police Department

Voting Without Passion | 2012 Election

Thoughts from an Independent Fiscal Conservative –

– By: Larry Walker, Jr. –

“What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind?” ~ Mathew 11:7 [New Living Translation]

You either live in a red state, or a blue state. You are either black, or you are white. You are either a millionaire, or you’re in the middle-class. You are either a Republican, or you’re a Democrat. You will either cast your vote for the Republican nominee, or for the Democratic nominee. There is no in-between; there are no other alternatives. So make your choice today. And if you have to hold your nose while voting, then hold your nose and choose between Red and Blue, because that is your patriotic duty. That’s pretty much the way things are, or at least the way some candidates, and propagandist media outlets would have us believe.

Now, back to earth – The truth is you can vote for anyone you want. You are not confined to choosing between the classic Red and Blue. There are literally dozens of people running for president, from Libertarians to Communists. Also, many have forgotten that having a legal right to vote, doesn’t mean one must vote. You have a legal right to drive a car, if you are of age, and secure the appropriate license and insurance, yet not everyone chooses to drive. Some people rely on taxis, limousines or public transportation. No one is forced to drive a car, but everyone has the right to drive. You also have God-given rights to get married, to have children, to buy a home or other property, but not everyone exercises these rights. Thus no person may compel another to vote. Neither are we limited to crawling into those little boxes that politicians and media propagandists have so allotted.

Passion – Each and every vote for a presidential candidate, for which there is no passion, is a waste of one’s legal right. If you are not passionate about a candidate, or a political party, and merely follow the dictates of a third-person, you have not really exercised your right. You might as well have stayed home. Last time I checked, refusing to vote isn’t a sin, but rather a vote against the establishment. I haven’t voted in every single presidential race, or in every single primary. For example, I didn’t vote in the 2008 presidential primary, because I felt no passion toward any of the candidates. I certainly felt nothing for John McCain (and still don’t), and although I felt a little something for Mike Huckabee, the bond wasn’t strong enough to compel me to the local precinct to show my support (although I nearly did).

I did vote in the 2008 presidential race, but my vote was cast more against one candidate than for the other. In other words, I wanted to send a message that I was against the blue party, but I wasn’t really for the red party. Then as today, I feel as though my 2008 presidential vote was merely thrown away. In retrospect, I wish I would have turned my back on the status quo, and supported a third-party candidate. But that was then, and this is now.

“Pathos (Greek for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience’) is often associated with emotional appeal. But a better equivalent might be ‘appeal to the audience’s sympathies and imagination.’ An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with the [candidate’s] point of view–to feel what the [candidate] feels. In this sense, pathos evokes a meaning implicit in the verb ‘to suffer’–to feel pain imaginatively….

Perhaps the most common way of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the [candidate] are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the [voter]. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the [candidate’s] message moves the audience to decision or action.” ~ Derived from: Ramage, John D. and John C. Bean. Writing Arguments. 4th Edition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1998, 81-82.

Independent – Since I come from a family of left-leaning independents, having been reared as a free-thinker meant I had to find my own way in the political arena. My parents never attempted to influence my political views. At the age of 20, my very first vote in a presidential race was for Ronald Reagan. I didn’t vote for Reagan because he represented a particular political party (I could have cared less about all that at the time), but rather because I heard the man speak, and I was touched by the emotional and the imaginative impact of his message. In fact, I was inspired enough to change my college major to political science (although it would later change), which led to my interviewing local politicians and working as a volunteer at a local voting precinct.

So how in the world was Ronald Wilson Reagan ever able to reach out and touch a 20-year old black male, from North-Central California, who was dropping in and out of Junior College, and on his way to a life of despair? For me, pathos is the critical element, and it trumps the old red or blue, black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democratic rhetoric in any era. If your message isn’t transcending political ideology, or if you’re still trying to convince the public as to why you’re qualified to hold office, you really don’t have a message, so perhaps you should do us all a favor and just drop out.

Since I officially quit the Republican Party in 2007, I have been a free-agent when it comes to politics. I can vote for whomever I please. I am not bound by the strings of media propagandists. I can vote for anyone who is on the ballot, or any qualified write-in candidate. Nobody will tell me who to vote for, and no one will constrain me from casting my vote for the candidate or party of my choosing. I am free, I am independent, and I will vote, or not vote, according to my conscience. I hope you will do the same.

Clueless? – For the political class, passion is achieved through persuasion, by appealing to voter’s emotions. It’s not just about ethos, and logos. So you are credible. So you can make a logical argument. Big deal! Yet you have not persuaded independents, such as me, because you have failed to connect with my sympathies and imagination. What we have today is a president who lacks logic and credibility, but who can win on passion, versus a group of candidates, strong in the former, but woefully lacking in the latter. Thus I may vote in the 2012 presidential race, or I may sit this one out, or perhaps I will send a message this time, by throwing my support to a third-party candidate. I’m not sure about that yet, but one thing that I am sure of is that until I hear a message which fires on all three cylinders, I will not enter into the wilderness, but will rather work to expose every weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind.

Empowering Patients First Act – H.R. 3400

Putting Patients First!

RSC Chairman Tom Price has introduced the Empowering Patients First Act. This is another positive solution from the Republican Study Committee that grants access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans, and is centered around the patient. By increasing patients’ control over their health decisions, we will make coverage more affordable, accessible and responsive, while offering more choices and the highest-quality care.

This solution is centered around four main principles:

#1: Access to Coverage for All Americans

  • The Empowering Patients First Act makes the purchase of health care financially feasible for all Americans, covers pre-existing conditions, protects employer-sponsored insurance, and shines light on existing health care plans.

#2: Coverage is Truly Owned by the Patient

  • This legislation grants greater choice and portability to the patient, and also gives employers more flexibility in the benefits offered. It also expands the individual market by creating several pooling mechanisms.

#3: Improve the Health Care Delivery Structure

  • Physicians know the best care for their patient. That’s why this legislation establishes doctor-led quality measures, ensuring that you get the quality care you need. It also reimburses physicians to ensure the stability of your care, and encourages healthier lifestyles by allowing employers to offer discounts for healthy habits through wellness and prevention programs.

#4: Rein in Out-of-Control Costs

  • A key concern in positive reform is reining in out-of control costs. This legislation does this by reforming the medical liability system. Also, the cost of the plan is completely offset through decreasing defensive medicine, savings from health care efficiencies, sifting out waste, fraud and abuse, plus an annual one-percent non defense discretionary spending step down.

Additional Information:

Short Summary

Detailed Summary

Section by Section Summary

Full Bill Text

RSC Press Release

Steny Shivers, Shakes at Patient-Centered Health Care Solution

Side-by-Side Comparison with the House Democrat Government Takeover (H.R. 3200)

POLITICO – “How the GOP Wants to Fix Health Care”

Chairman Price Accepts Obama’s Invitation to Examine Health Care Proposals Line-by-Line

Letters of Support:

From Americans for Tax Reform

:: http://rsc.tomprice.house.gov/Solutions/EmpoweringPatientsFirstAct.htm