Why we abandoned Donald Trump (and why you should, too)

Note: this article was originally published in the Eagle in August. In light of current events, it is more relevant than ever. 

By a staggering margin of 76 percent to 24 percent, the members of American University College Republicans (AUCRs) have voted to withhold an endorsement of Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president. In an even more devastating repudiation of the Trump candidacy, 82% of our members voted to campaign for down ballot races to protect the Republican majority in Congress, as opposed to the 18% of survey respondents that desired to use AUCRs resources to campaign for Trump. I believe that’s what President Obama referred to as a “shellacking” after his party got decimated in the 2010 midterms.

I was elected as President of AUCRs at a contentious moment for the Republican Party. Our primary was still in progress, and Trump was fighting a two-front battle to secure the Republican nomination against Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich. After having worked for Senator Rubio’s campaign, I was a man without a candidate. After much deliberation, I submitted an absentee ballot for Donald Trump in my home state of New York.

I supported Trump for two major reasons. The first was that I earnestly thought Trump would pivot and act more presidential. I was among the conservatives that thought Trump was capable of pivoting to a more traditional candidate that cared about learning policy and campaigning. Foolish, I know, but you can’t blame me for being optimistic. I was excited at the idea of an outsider going in to fundamentally transform the way Washington operates. I thought he would run a smart campaign championing policy initiatives that would truly make America great again.

Furthermore, I thought Trump would unify the party. Going up against the Clinton machine is a formidable task. When the field cleared in the first week of May, I was ecstatic that we would have a chance to rally around Trump to beat Hillary. I thought he would work hard to unify the party around his candidacy. Since then, Trump has lashed out at countless Republican officials, often for the simple sin of not declaring ultimate fealty to his campaign. I had much higher hopes for someone who had a legacy for being a master negotiator and businessman.

Since Trump secured the nomination in early May, his campaign has been in freefall. Trump has failed to accomplish anything I thought he would do. Trump has continued to insult other Republicans, and has failed to focus on the many controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton. Trump shows absolutely no dedication to any of the qualities that makes a president great, much less any dedication to policies that would actually make America great again. You would be hard-pressed to fill a 3×5 index card with what Trump knows about public policy. And worst of all? By his own admission, he doesn’t care about winning the election. Trump seems more energized in attacking his fellow Republicans than attacking the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Trump could have been a Kempian figure, advocating for a better path away from the last eight years. I am dismayed to see that he has embraced a campaign strategy akin to a primal scream steeped in blind rage. Trump’s campaign is built on fear instead of hope, and darkness instead of light.

As AUCRs president, I strive to create an inclusive environment for Republicans of all stripes. No matter what kind of Republican you consider yourself, you are welcome in our community. At the end of the day, we always unite around the common principles that make us conservatives. Since clinching the nomination, I have yet to see Donald Trump attempt to create such an environment for my party or our country, or display loyalty to conservative principles.

It is time to demand the RNC replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. Trump has not shown the willingness or the talent to beat Hillary Clinton, so it is imperative that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus pressures Trump to withdraw, and replaces him with a candidate with the gravitas to unite the party and win this election. We deserve a fighting chance at winning this election, because Hillary Clinton would be a disaster as President.

I’m glad our members voted to dedicate our time and effort to protecting our Congressional majority. I’m looking forward to rallying our dedicated and talented volunteers to campaign for down-ballot races before Election Day. I’m honored to serve as the President of AUCRs, even during this tumultuous time. I will never apologize for taking the concerns of our members into account in any decision that I’ll make this year.

As a club, we’ve abandoned Donald Trump. Unless he miraculously changes course, you should too.

The Fall of Donald Trump: Why His Campaign’s Implosion Will Save the GOP From Itself

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On October 7th, 2016, The Washington Post released a tape in which Donald Trump made aggressive sexual remarks about women. With statements asserting “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” and that because of this he could “grab them by the p***y,” Donald Trump has shown a far darker side to his already sinister image. His disrespect for women and glorification of sexual assault have led to a mass exodus of Republican elected officials, with Reps. Joe Heck (NV-3), Mia Love (UT-4), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), Jason Chaffetz (UT-3), Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Crapo (R-ID), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune (R-SD) all either unendorsing the nominee or asking that he be replaced immediately.

While this may seem like a moment of sheer panic for the GOP, this may actually be the moment where Republicans across the country can unequivocally banish Trumpism from the Party of Lincoln and Reagan. When Trump clinched the nomination in early May, I and many others felt resigned to vote for him in the hope that taking the mantle of those before him would create a campaign turnaround. Controversy after controversy later, I now see this as our chance to save us from ourselves.

In 2012, Gov. Mitt Romney caught a great deal of flak for describing his hiring process as consisting of “binders full of women”—that is, he had binders full of résumés of qualified, accomplished women—in a soundbite that seemed to torpedo his candidacy. Four years later, the ardently #NeverTrump Romney fired back at Trump’s abhorrent remarks both in a statement, and at a campaign rally for Rep. Joe Heck, in which he offered a stunning rebuttal of Trumpism itself. Governor Romney declared, “We love all the people in this country regardless of gender or ethnicity or religion,” and that he hopes that “we will come together as a nation and stand as firmly as we possibly can for the principles that have made us the shining city on a hill.” These two very different incarnations of Republican Party nominees are exactly why I am hopeful in light of the recent campaign chaos. For me, the time has ultimately come to completely purge Trumpism from the party. The chorus of condemnation from every corner of the Republican Party should now be seen as Donald Trump’s swan song.

With his collapse all but inevitable, this latest mass exodus from the tar pit of Trumpism is only the beginning of the process of reconstruction that may hopefully serve to reignite the principles that Governor Romney and many other reluctant Trump-backing GOPers hold dear. Now that their calls to return to Reaganesque optimism are no longer being drowned out by the primal screams of Trump loyalists, the party must now begin the difficult-but-necessary process of rebuilding. We are a big-tent party that wants to create equality of opportunity for all with an inclusive message, which is why a movement built around one man’s cult of personality never stood a chance against a party of ideas.

The stain of Trumpism is one that will be difficult to expunge, but the growing list of honorable people like Carly Fiorina, Gov. Jeb Bush, and Mike Lee  gives me hope that we will save ourselves from the scourge of Donald Trump.The old saying goes that the night is always darkest just before the dawn, but for the GOP in a post-Trump world, there is cause for celebration that once Trump collapses either at the hands of the RNC or on Nov. 8th, the toxicity of Trumpism will be effaced by the “ideas party” that the GOP has always been.

I am confident that Trump’s campaign implosion will save the GOP from itself, and for all Republicans who have stumbled and held their noses throughout this raucous election season, it is time to show everyone else that in terms of bringing conservative solutions to the real problems facing our nation, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

Overcriminalization is not Conservative: Why Republican Senators Should Support S. 2123

 

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S. 2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA), is inherently conservative because it benefits Americans while significantly reducing federal spending. The current changes to SRCA examined in the Senate aim to address the concerns of some legislators while keeping the substantive reforms to the nation’s broken justice system. If nothing is done, the price of maintaining a sufficient justice system will become far too costly.

Senate support originates from the SRCA sponsor, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and it is cosponsored by notable senators such as John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY).

SRCA is not a revolutionary new approach to the justice system but rather a measured application of years of reform experience onto the federal prison system. Thanks to months of education and study, conservative stalwarts like Senators Grassley and Lee lead efforts to push the issue. This is a major development after the demagoguery and falsehoods peddled by actors who neglect to offer their own proposals.

The new changes would remove any possibility that serious violent criminals will see any sentencing relief.

Costs

The criminal justice system in its current state is extremely costly to the United States budget. According to the Justice Department’s Inspector General, the Bureau of Prison’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 totaled $6.9 billion and represented 25 percent of the DOJ’s discretionary budget.

Comparatively, the BOP’s FY 2000 budget is only $3.8 billion and 18 percent of the DOJ’s discretionary budget. This doubled monetary increase damages the DOJ by preventing it from participating in other critical law enforcement programs.

Plans like SRCA prove to reduce costs as seen in states like Texas. When Texas spent $240 million up front in 2007, they closed 3 prisons and saved an estimated $3 billion with reforms that lowered the prison population while increasing public safety. With this overhaul, Texas lowered its prison population by more than 20%. Also, Texas crime plummeted to its lowest levels since 1968.

Impacts

By proposing a comprehensive plan, SRCA will have a significant impact on improving the justice community and will benefit all Americans. It provides for common-sense reform to prevent cruel and unusual punishment, decrease recidivism rates, and enhance public safety.

Today’s federal system spends significant amounts to imprison non-violent and low-level offenders rather than leaders of organized crime. According to an October 2011 U.S. Sentencing Commission Report to Congress, only 11 percent of those sentenced for drug offenses were “high-level suppliers or importers.” Only 7.1 percent were “organizers, leaders, or manufacturers.” However, 58.6 percent of those sentenced for drug offences were street-level dealers or below, and 27.8 percent were “couriers” or “mules.” These numbers depict the failure of the current system to target high-profile criminals it intended to incarcerate.

Recidivism rates in the U.S. are also daunting. 95 percent of federal prisoners will eventually  be released into the general public, but most of them lack  the tools to become rehabilitated members of society. SRCA creates a Recidivism Risk Assessment to determine risk levels for prisoners. Those with lower risk would receive credits to reduce their sentences by completing training programs proven to work in states like Texas.

Working to decrease recidivism enhances public safety. Prisoners return to the community with rehabilitation training and skills to help them contribute to society.  These are not “weak provisions;” they are smarter provisions that increase safety and decrease taxpayer costs.If anything, training requirements mean we are getting tougher, not softer on crime.

Consequences of Doing Nothing

As costs continue to increase exponentially in the federal prison system, less funds are available to assist other programs in DOJ. This increases the national debt and demands higher taxes to provide the average $30,000 per prisoner per year (with more than 215,000 people in federal prison during 2014). Prisoners lacking skills continue to be released into the community each year. Without any formal assistance to gain necessary capabilities to contribute to the community, these ex-prisoners return to prison due to lack of employability.

The vicious cycle of mass incarceration must end, and the conservative proposals within SRCA provide the most effective long-term solutions. These resolutions increase domestic security, decrease costs, and prevent crimes that are being unfairly punished-an inherently “conservative” ideal. I urge the Senate, especially conservatives, to support S.B. 2123 to reform the dysfunctional justice system.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1NmJoOK 

Follow @KristaAChavez on Twitter

The Dead Dogma of Trans Rights Advocates

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Living on a campus where the student body is always brimming with ludicrous outrage, a second-year student should be resigned to the fact of life that a protest is never far away. In recent weeks, the American University (AU) populace has focused its white-hot spotlight of rage onto Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and its upcoming spring speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos.

For the purposes of full disclosure, it’s important for my reader to note that I serve as Treasurer for the YAL chapter here at AU, and I was a part of the decision-making process that led to Yiannopoulos’s speaking arrangement. I’m writing of my own accord and my views do not necessarily reflect those of any other members of the executive board, or YAL as a whole.

Much of the controversy surrounding Yiannopoulos revolves around his various statements concerning the transgender community. He recently penned an article entitled, “I Am So Done With The Trans Outrage Brigade: Why I’m Supporting ‘Drop The T’” and included some admittedly inflammatory statements such as, “If you ask me, when a guy says he needs to cut part of himself off for the world to make sense, we should start with his head.”

Understandably, this has generated a lot of anger from the trans community at AU. They have used this sentence to justify banning Yiannopoulos from appearing on campus, in that he is an advocate for violence against trans people. However, not more than a couple sentences later, Yiannopoulos explains, “I say all this in language designed to provoke the self-appointed arbiters of speech.” The politically correct student base obliged and played right into his hands.

Yiannopoulos does not advocate for violence any more than any person who has hyperbolically said, “I’m gonna kill you” in an argument. The Left’s focus on the extreme nature of his language represents a clear attempt to dismiss him without having to address some of the real arguments he makes. This is a disturbingly popular trend within the community at AU, and is most common when transgenderism is injected into an argument.

One of the most common arguments I have heard when trans people are discussed is that any skepticism directed towards trans people is transphobic and that, as a cisgender person, I cannot possibly understand anything about the decisions trans people make and the issues they face. Any intermediate school debater will notice that this is not, in fact, an argument, but a line of attack.

Even to the most well read Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) major, is it really so incredible to believe that some people might be confused about these theories? They are proposing that sex and gender are completely different and that people can be biologically male, but identify as a female. They also propose that gender is not a question of male or female, but a nebulous cloud, or spectrum, of various options. However, trans advocates will meet skepticism with epithets despite the obvious outlandish nature of the claims.

If I were to ask a trans rights advocate what it meant to “identify” as a woman, and I have numerous times before, I would be met with the claim that I should not deny the experiences of trans people, just because I do not understand them. They will ignore the obvious irony that my question was, in fact, to try and better understand the experience. This is a fairly basic question at the heart of all this, and I have not once received a direct, specific answer.

Another question that should be fairly basic for trans advocates is that if gender is not a binary construct, then what are the other options, and what does it mean to identify as a non-binary option? Again, I will be told that I am narrow-minded for thinking in binaries, without, of course, any concrete argument as to why binaries are inherently wrong. Even if I wanted to think outside of the binary, I have not been given any semblance of a justification for doing otherwise. Claiming that binaries are bad does not answer a single question about why that is so, and conveniently cloaks a fundamental lack of logic.

The trans advocates on this campus have risen to the epitome of arrogance with their tactics. Their refusal to directly address the claims of their political opponents echoes the warning that English philosopher John Stuart Mill issued in his book, On Liberty, where he proclaims that refusing to hear out a “devil’s advocate” is to mistake one’s personal certainty for absolute certainty. This is arrogance in its purest form.

However, the social tyranny stretches beyond mere dismissal. Not only is not believing what trans advocates believe incorrect and bigoted, it is also, in their minds, akin to promoting violence. They say that standing idly by to allow people like Yiannopoulos to express his opinion is to condone the murder of trans individuals. Opponents of trans rights advocates cannot merely be wrong. They have to be accomplices to murder. Otherwise, trans advocates would have to address the arguments point by point, and they know they simply cannot do it.

Let’s say, however, for the sake of argument (because America is built on dialogue and argument) that there may be some merit to this argument that trans skeptics condone murder. After all, there were a record number of trans people murdered in 2015. How many, you might ask? Twenty-one. For perspective, more people were killed by being bitten by ants, and over twenty times as many people dies from rolling out of bed. There is simply no epidemic of trans murders, and the assertion is both ridiculous and lazy.

The assertion, unfortunately, was furthered by the presence of a group called Dark Matter on campus a few short weeks ago. They are a South Asian transgender duo of poets, and they made much the same claim in their performance. They also ridiculed the white, cisgender community for “stealing the gay movement from non conforming Black and Brown people.” They also asked that people interested in being allies to their cause “get the hell out of their way.”

The arrogance to think you solely own a movement, unrelated to race, because of your race rivals that of claiming dissidence is complicity in murder. However, no one publicly took issue with their arrival out of fear of being labeled any number of bigoted terms by the leftist thought police that set up the event. Their sentiment also echoes some of Yiannopoulos’s claims that the transgender community is attempting to phase out members it does not deem fit from their movement, (as Yiannopoulos is a gay man) and is why he advocated “dropping the T” from the LGBT acronym. Dark Matter continued their arrogant tirade by asking, “What the hell are you going to do to fight to make sure that trans people are no longer murdered?” While, the truth is, there is not much anyone can do, because they’re not actually being murdered very much at all. These claims that that they fear constantly for their safety are utterly ridiculous and meant to intimidate others from voicing opposition.

An aside, once again, for full disclosure: I am currently romantically involved with the author of the article I hyperlinked concerning Dark Matter’s performance at AU.

The suggestion that trans people may suffer from some sort of mental illness is met with the same vitriolic attitudes. The argument I have heard most commonly is that transgenderism is real, because these people kill themselves because they aren’t accepted for who they truly are and it is not because of a mental illness, but because of a deeply held identity. To be frank, regardless of whether or not the suggestion of mental illness has any merit, to offer mass suicide as proof that mental illness is not in play would be laughed out of almost any other discussion on mental illness.

The Leftists who like to claim they are the side of science rebuff renowned psychiatrists like Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Dr. Joseph Berger, a life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, who both suggest that trans people suffer from a form of mental illness and are removed, in part, from reality. I suppose, though, that they too must be transphobic, and must not know anything about psychiatry. Again, regardless of the merits of the claim, there is a substantive discussion to be had, that trans rights advocates don’t want to have.

Trans advocates turn their hatred not only to the cisgender community, but to members of their own movement as well. I have heard various assertions that Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) has internalized transphobia for her endorsement of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the presidential race. The same claims have been made about Yiannopoulos, that he must be internally homophobic to believe what he does as a gay man.

I am hard pressed to think of anything more conceited than believing that anyone who disagrees with your perspective must hate themselves inside. Of course, if you confront the Left and challenge their claim on principle, and ask them about members of the Jewish community who support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction measures against Israel, the Left will rail against you. They will put down your experience and hastily, lazily, and incorrectly redefine Zionism to fit their narrative, even though it conflicts with the principle of their previous arguments.

The argument over Israel and Palestine is one better left for another time, but it illustrates a key point that has been demonstrated throughout this article. Trans advocates have no principles. Their attacks drip with arrogance and are caked with vitriol. When they do try to make an argument, they often lack substance and will quickly and undoubtedly resort to personal attacks to divert from the real point.

As absolutely miserable as it has been trying to deal with all this butchering of civilized debate and free speech, I am oddly okay with this. As Mill warns in On Liberty, a point must be held up for debate or “it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.” The repeated attempts to dodge discussion on this issue will render the Left’s position worthless, if it has not already, and I very much look forward to that day, so I can focus on more important issues like the future of our economy or the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

However, in the interest of civility and dialogue, I invite each and every reader who has hated everything I have had to say to this point to come to hear Yiannopoulos speak on April 21st when he comes to campus. Don’t try to drown him out with screams or fake blood. Listen, and come prepared with substantive, challenging questions to preserve the continued discussion of this issue you apparently hold so dearly. Only then, will you have proven me wrong.

 

 

The author can be contacted by email at ds1383a@student.american.edu and for comments related directly to this article, please title the subject line, “Milo Article”.

Syria- Five Years Into the War, The US Needs to Stay Out

I have to give Bashar al-Assad some respect for doing something that nobody else could: He managed to unite Rand Paul, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Vladimir Putin on a serious issue. Those who watched the fourth GOP Presidential debate witnessed what is best described as a foreign-policy shotgun wedding between Rand and Trump, sparked by a mutual disdain for the interventionist views of Marco Rubio and his fellow Reagan-era neoconservatives, like Hillary Clinton.

How can America possibly justify allowing Assad, a dictator known for using chemical weapons against his own people, to remain in power? Doesn’t the world’s most powerful nation have a responsibility to ensure the Geneva Conventions are upheld? Given the Syrian refugee crisis, is it in our national interest to force a regime change and engage in state building? These are the questions at the heart of the debate on American foreign policy, and Syria in particular.

In the five years since the Syrian Civil War began, a quarter of a million people have been killed and nine million more displaced. Without delving too deeply into the politics of accommodating the refugees, a separate but related issue, it is clear that this has already become a humanitarian crisis which cannot be resolved until one party emerges victorious and implements a stable, functioning government. From a neoconservative perspective, this new government would ideally be a democracy that adheres to the rule of law with broad public support. This was also their goal when the United States armed an Afghan rebel group, which we now know as the Taliban, to fight against Soviet forces. With no reliable contingency plan in place, it is likely that Assad’s downfall would either force America to leave military security forces, as we did in Iraq, or lead to infighting amongst rebel factions in a similar way that the power struggle after the fall of the Iranian Pahlavi Shah eventually ceded power to the radical Ayatollah Khomeini. Ending this conflict quickly, as well as the Syrian refugee crisis, means there cannot be a second Syrian Civil War between rebel factions or a proxy war with Russia and Iran. The only way to do this is to allow Assad, with the backing of Russia and Iran, to win quickly and begin rebuilding the nation to help in the fight against ISIS, which is responsible for even more gruesome human rights violations, and which poses a greater risk to American security.

The “moderate” rebels that our neocons are so eager to arm have their own history of human rights violations severe enough to have the UN Security Council condemn the actions of both parties in February of 2014. The Human Rights Watch found that rebel opposition groups have targeted civilian areas with large concentrations of Christians and religious minorities. And any remaining doubt about just how “moderate” these rebels are should be put to rest by the UN investigation which, on December 13, 2013, found that opposition rebels used homemade chemical weapons against government forces. While neoconservatives refuse to tolerate Assad because of his use of chemical weapons, the great irony is that Assad’s systematic dismantling of its chemical arsenal may leave the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda linked opposition group, as the only force in the region with the ability to employ chemical weapons, granting them a major strategic advantage over Assad and other rebel factions.

The “moderate” rebels have even gone so far as to wage terror attacks on schools. Yes, that’s right: even after arming the Taliban in the 1980s had the disastrous consequence of those same weapons being turned on Americans, GOP frontrunners like Rubio want to repeat history with a group actively engaging in terrorism. And for what? Arming the Taliban at least made the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan so difficult that it essentially became the USSR’s version of Vietnam, which helped cripple the USSR. Little would be accomplished by arming rebel factions to fight Assad other than toppling one dictator who never posed much of a risk to America and rolling the dice for his replacement.

Forcing regime change cannot be done half-heartedly. If overthrowing Assad is in our national interest, America should send ground troops, occupy Syrian land, and maintain security forces while attempting to rebuild the nation, much like we did in Iraq. Another ground war in the Middle East would be a terrible idea, but anything short of that will be worse. Distributing more weapons in an already volatile region would leave the US vulnerable to having those same weapons used against us in the future if and when history repeats itself.

We still do not know what the full effects of such a war would be, how many lives would be lost, or if military intervention would lead to more anti-American sentiment. Not to mention, if our military were to get involved over human rights issues, we would also have to fight other nations in region, such as Qatar, which has enslaved millions of migrant immigrants in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. But as an American ally, Qatar does not face the same pressure to improve its human rights record, even from human rights activists. So yes, as the most powerful nation in the world, it would be nice if America could put an end to all human rights violations. But being the most powerful country doesn’t mean that it is all-powerful, and that is an important distinction for neoconservatives to remember, particularly as American dominance declines while power is diffused throughout the world. And the right time to impose our own morality on the rest of the world is certainly not when intervention will lengthen a bloody civil war that creates the chaos ISIS and extremism thrive on.

Even if it became clear that Assad could not provide stability in Syria, which would be the only pragmatic reason to justify removing him, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and the rest of the neoconservative movement must understand that the costs of intervening far outweigh the benefits. As long as Russia and Iran continue to support Assad, backing the rebels would essentially be fighting another Cold War style battle which would probably not have any respect for the lives of the Syrian people, and we have yet to see a realistic, detailed contingency plan from anyone, so toppling Assad could still have disastrous consequences.

The lack of a well-developed long-term plan for any American intervention in Syria should not be overlooked. While the Kurds in northern Iraq and Syria are often viewed as one of America’s top allies for providing ground troops in the fight against ISIS, their desire to develop an autonomous state of Kurdistan is at odds with the interests of other American allies in the region, including the governments of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, which all have large Kurdish populations, and which could both be further destabilized by the creation of an independent Kurdistan. Additionally, American support of the Kurds may test our alliance with the Turks and weaken their resolve in the fight against ISIS.

America can and should be a force for good in the world, but that does not mean choosing sides in another country’s civil war between two factions that are each guilty of war crimes. Even if the Syrian rebels proved to be a significantly better alternative to Assad, America’s foreign policy should still first be based on acting in its own national interests. In a region filled with anti-American sentiment, where instability and religious divisions have allowed radical groups to seize power, America’s top interest should be national security. Syrian refugees pose a relatively small risk to Americans’ safety, but even if they are banned from entering the country, that is at most a footnote in history books, and while dealing with the Central American refugee crisis, the US can take a more passive role with Syrian immigrants. In the short term, radical Islamic terrorism has proven that it thrives in politically unstable areas and failed states. Allowing Assad to maintain power, at least for now, will be the fastest way to end the civil war and the refugee crisis, and therefore to create more stability in the region to fight against ISIS; accomplishing this without using excessive American resources is an added bonus of this policy. In the long term, getting involved in another country’s civil war has the potential to create more anti-American sentiment by strengthening our reputation as an overbearing hegemon if our intervention does not result in a good outcome.

Republican neoconservatives may be quick to point to the Cold War success of the Reagan Doctrine, which essentially said that America’s mission was to promote freedom and democracy throughout the world. However, Reagan also made clear that the ultimate goal of this mission was to deter Soviet aggression, and ultimately to promote American interests. In Syria, democratization and American interests are at odds with each other, so the different sides of the debate on foreign policy are beginning to transcend party lines. Conservative politics has historically been built on the principle that the government should act in the best interest of its own people. Applying this to foreign policy means not attempting to democratize every country where there is an opportunity, but acknowledging that there are limits to American power and supporting Rand, Trump, and Cruz in promoting a foreign policy consistent with American interests.

Christopher Abbott

The Environment: A Conservative Cause

With the start of the new semester come new classes, some familiar and unfamiliar faces, learning about our new professors and loads of tedious readings. But wait! Let’s not forget the same ugly anti-capitalistic and anti-private property rhetoric thrown around each and every semester at AU. You hear this rhetoric even in classes not directly concerned with politics and policy— in one of my first classes this semester, I witnessed this rhetoric. While conservatives across campus are exceptional at defending our values in the classroom, we stumble with questions regarding the environment. And of course, Liberals use our falter to rail against capitalism. Honesty, I give credit to my liberal classmates for their vigorous environmental passion, an area where the energy lacks for conservatives. To be fair, the environment hasn’t always been a top issue for conservatives, and many often dismiss it altogether. However, that shouldn’t discourage conservatives from having a passion for the environment and demanding sustainable solutions.

Although I agree with my left-leaning peers on the necessity of protecting the environment, I disagree vehemently with them on is the perception that the solutions to environmental issues are restricted to ever increasing big government programs. We can make a conservative case for environmental concerns, and it begins with shrinking—not expanding—government programs.

First and foremost, I believe our country is the most beautiful country in the world. “From sea to shining sea” America has the most bountiful gifts that nature has bestowed. Our forests bustle with sprawling trees, our rivers gush with crystal clear water, our mountains glisten with shining snow, our beaches are full of sand that glows with the likeness of gold, and our hills and valleys are filled with diverse wildlife. I am so fortunate to have seen much of this beautiful country in my lifetime already; everywhere from the Shenandoah Valley, the Badlands, and the Black Hills of South Dakota, to Cape Cod, Yellowstone National Park, and the Redwood Forests of California. I cannot think of the spirit of America without imagining the blissfulness of these lands—and that’s why everyone should care about the future of the environment, for our generation and the generations to come.

To keep our beautiful nation environmentally sound, we must allow the greatest aspect of our government to strengthen: that which promotes prosperity of all kinds; one that governs least and yields to liberty—the protection of our natural rights. To truly facilitate this, the priority must be promoting conservative principles of private property, free markets and self-responsibility in the direction of environmental issues.

To the contrary of much left-wing thought, the protection of private property rights helps the environment. Private property rights are everyone’s individual and exclusive right to own land, resources and the fruits of their labors in the peaceful enjoyment of their possession. This causes an incentive to maintain one’s property and therefore create and retain value in that property. In a system that protects private property rights, environmental problems such as resource management, animal extinction and pollution can and have been greatly reduced.

The environmental problem at the root of resource management and animal extinction is the tragedy of commons, or the unrestricted collective usage of a common resource until its destruction. In tragedy of the commons, individuals attempt to maximize utility from a resource by consuming more, effectively diminishing competitor utility. In other words, no individual has incentive to retain the value, in a collective property or its continual usage, because while they receive a great benefit, they only have to pay for the fraction of the cost for that resource’s exploitation. Ultimately, the community pays for the destruction of a resource when it’s completely gone, not those who destroyed it. Individuals, who own these resources as private property can manage their resources and sell these resources for a market price that produces a valuation, thus profit from resource usage. Individuals seek to retain and create value—or money—they have acquired from that property.

There are numerous examples of this, specifically when it comes to timber companies or livestock such as chickens or cows. If a timber company just cuts down trees in a national forest, they would seek to cut as many down as possible, thus depleting the resource. However, if the company can own some of the land, they seek to cut down trees in a sustainable manner to continue to create value from that land, likely by planting more trees.

Furthermore, the protection of private property reduces or eliminates pollution. Now, you may be thinking, “Alex, companies who have the protection of their property have polluted the environment!” Hold on, that’s not entirely accurate, let’s go back to an important distinction of our definition of private property: “everyone’s right.” A great failure during the industrial revolution was the lack of an attempt to protect everyone’s property. As a great many factories sprung up, businesses polluted rivers and ecosystems in ways that harmed people’s private homes, businesses and water sources. In order to protect everyone’s property, a company cannot just pollute others’ private property!

However, the EPA doesn’t uphold property rights. Instead, they have pollution permits that allow levels of pollutants to enter the environment. These pollution permits essentially prevent property owners from suing these companies in civil litigations. By retaining power back to the people and eliminating inept big government programs like this, individuals can protect their property and the environment via the common law system.

The free market system is optimal for the environment, and it should be noted that the most free-market and affluent nations have the greatest protection of the environment. When economies are allowed to break free from government intervention, the total wealth of the nation increases and creates the conditions to afford luxury goods such as clean environments.

When we cut red tape, lower taxes and allow private enterprises to function in a free market, clean energy companies can compete. In doing so, they may start developing better energy technology that flows from a free market’s goal: efficient usage of resources. This leads to a process of innovation and economic efficiency, producing more value from fewer resources for consumers. By producing efficiently, we lower our carbon footprints. For example, with the amount of information we produce each year, we could not sustain safe environmental standards with inferior technology like fax machines, paper mail and print sources. The inventions of the Internet and the computer have saved millions of trees and have allowed us to expand our information reach.

One of the great features of free markets is the accumulation of capital, which promotes production unintended for direct consumption linking to economic growth. Capital accumulation allows investments in both human capital and social capital. For example, many capitalists such as Rockefeller, Ted Turner, and Bill Gates have donated and preserved many millions of acres of land. In fact, Acadia National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Shenandoah National Park are all lands donated by the Rockefeller foundation. Unlike these capitalists, command economies have national schemes to exploit large amounts of land in “five year plans” and usually overuse resources in inefficient ways leading to fewer innovations and a less beautiful land. After all, when was the last time you visited China for the poor air quality or Russia for their radioactive forest and even both of their natural parks and sightseeing?

Lastly, one must contemplate their ideas, as a typical AU student might say: “Corporations and capitalism are the source of environmental degradation.” While this may sound appealing and logical, it isn’t accurate. We need to realize everyone contributes to the environment’s wellbeing. In a pure economic sense, supply equals demand when in equilibrium; therefore you cannot have the supply for goods without the demand for them. We the consumers, which includes everyone, have the power to help make our environment cleaner. Corporations don’t control what we demand, we do! Self responsibility is the course of action, and if that means we need to look at the trash containers and pick the right ones, buy products which have low carbon foot prints or chose better ways of living-then we must take the initiative. We all have a part to play, even this writer.

Conservatism holds the answer to solving our environmental crises: Smaller government, freer markets and the protection of private property. These conservative ideals have lead to great prosperities in these lands and can help make America clean again!

GOP Debate Grades: Rubio Under Fire, Cruz Kisses Sir Donald’s Ring, and Jeb! Earns His Exclamation Point

December 15 debate.jpg

Without further ado, here are my rankings for both the undercard and the main stage debates:

Main Debate

Donald Trump: B. Coming fresh off an admittedly impressive 41% in the latest national poll from Monmouth University, Trump certainly had a lot at stake tonight. For the most part, this debate will neither be a boon to Trump’s candidacy, nor will it be the silver bullet that finally brings him and his numbers down to Earth. It is worth noting that Trump is starting to look more and more unserious against an increasingly serious primary field. Worst moment: not knowing what the nuclear triad is. Best moment: thoughtful and humble answer about committing to GOP and not running as an independent.

Ben Carson: C. Carson barely has a pulse on his most energetic days, but tonight he seemed especially absent from the dais. Turned in a listless and lackluster performance, but had a few good asides here and there. Carson had the best suit on the stage, but I wasn’t impressed with the tie selection.

Ted Cruz: A-. Another good debate performance from Senator Cruz, whose debate and lawyer chops are shining with full intensity. Cruz is running as a thoroughbred, straight down the line conservative, and outlined his positions with a bold and bellicose speaking style. Cruz pulled a Kasich by talking over the moderators at one point in the middle of the debate, which is why he gets an A-, but all in all he turned in a pretty good performance tonight.

Marco Rubio: A-. Let’s be honest, the deck was stacked against Rubio from the moment he stepped on stage. The media establishment has been gearing up for a Rubio/Cruz showdown this entire week, and CNN obliged by providing as many avenues for the clash to happen as possible. The moderators goaded Cruz and Rubio with pointed questions to attack each other, and there was a substantive and thoughtful debate about NSA surveillance between Cruz and Rubio. Rubio certainly kept composure and looked presidential, but didn’t make a huge splash on stage.*

Jeb Bush: B+. We finally saw some fire from Jeb tonight! With 3% in the polls, a massive war chest and nothing to lose, Jeb finally came alive. Jeb never quite landed a knockout punch on Trump, or any of the opponents, but he will get there if he makes it to the next debate. Jeb is increasingly positioning himself to be the serious, “adult in the room” candidate that is so far lacking from this field. We are seeing Jeb become more and more comfortable with hardball politics to claw his way to the top. Remember, the Bush family is characteristically competitive, and Jeb is no exception.

Carly Fiorina: D. An irrelevant, shrill, non-existent waste of time that always wanted to insert herself into the substantive debates that other candidates were having. Carly never offers anything worthwhile to say. Carly’s an impressive speaker, but she is devoid of substance and has never matched her first two debate performances.

Chris Christie: B+. The “what they’re talking about is irrelevant, but what I’M talking about is important” shtick is getting old really fast. Christie had a decent night, but lacked the breakout moment characteristic of his previous debates. He’s doing well in NH, but will this debate be enough to maintain that momentum?

John Kasich: C-. Wielded his arms around like a karate student and failed to offer even the least memorable statement. Why the hell is this guy still around?

Rand Paul: C-. It was painfully clear by the end of this debate that the only reason that Rand Paul is still around is to be a lap dog for Ted Cruz. It seems as if Rand is on a one-man kamikaze mission to bring down Marco Rubio, and it doesn’t seem to be working. After whining to get the rules changed so he would appear on the main stage, Rand delivered ANOTHER underwhelming performance, apart from his contributions to the NSA debate.

Undercard Debate

Lindsey Graham: A. He will make a great Secretary of Defense.

Mike Huckabee: B

Santorum, Pataki: Wait, you guys are still here?

*Full disclosure: I work for the Rubio campaign.