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


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.

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. 

Wait, Climate Change is Real?


Our favorite GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump is quite the social media mogul. Sometimes he posts short, stoic Instagram videos where he usually ends with, “WHAT ARE THEY DOING/THINKING?” His most recent video caught my eye more than his usual shenanigans. He ‘calls’ out President Obama for being in France to discuss climate change while he apparently should be focused on illegal immigrants and Syrian refugees crossing our borders. Lovely. While I feel it goes without saying, Mr. Trump needs to put his priorities in order. Climate change has not been the fastest process ever, future generations will bear the burden of its effects, but guess what? Temperatures are rising everybody. Our generation has inherited the task of lowering temperatures or future generations will feel climate woes tenfold.

Whether Donald Trump thinks it is important or not, the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (or COP 21) seeks to establish new climate treaties and at the very least, promote discussion on this extremely overlooked issue. I am usually very quick to bash the UN system, but the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which hosts the conference, at least has a realistic set of goals in mind. Sure the UNFCCC lacks enforcement mechanisms and has not met said goals, but that does not mean it never will. Many countries (including the entirety of the EU) reduced their carbon footprint while others fell short. The United States, for example, signed the Kyoto Protocol but never ratified it. While all of this sounds incredibly ineffective and useless, it at leasts brings UN powers together to talk about climate change. The UN and its systems have always been effective for promoting conversation, and every so often something tangible sticks.

So now let me ask you, Donald Trump, what are YOU thinking? Illegal immigration is on the decline and temperatures are on the rise. Global temperatures are rising in a scientifically quantifiable manner. The other issue, immigration, is immeasurable noise. The “big beautiful wall with a big beautiful door in the middle” is not the answer because illegal immigrants will still attempt to cross the border. It’s inevitable. We currently have phenomenal technology in place to put a halt to border hopping. Sure, it slows down illegal immigration. We will never stop it entirely though. But what about the case of global climate? This is something we could visibly slow down by changing energy and consumption policies. Temperatures are going up and Congress refuses to accept it. Instead, they bring snowballs into congress and say it’s all fine. The rising temperatures are not a significant change over a short time, because it is a long term gradual rise that will eventually become much more of a problem than it is now. It’s still snowing in DC, but the ice caps are melting and seas are rising. So sure, the UNFCCC may not be the answer. However, at some point in the future there will finally be an answer. So don’t listen to Trump. President Obama is not wasting his time in France. Fixing the planet require global coordination. Earth needs the help.

Misconceptions about Capitalism

From presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to Pope Francis to social activists like the Black Lives Matter group, capitalism is under fire. Capitalism is criticized more than usual in recent years, as a rising number of people, particularly among the American left, have unfavorable opinions of the system that created the unprecedented rise in economic prosperity that humans have enjoyed the last few hundred years. What misconceptions have caused people to become so disillusioned with capitalism?

Misconception #1: Pure capitalism exists in the world today

Most systems that are generally considered to be ‘capitalist’ like the rich democracies of Western Europe and North America, are not pure capitalism, and instead can be more accurately described as mixed economies. These countries are generally among the most economically free nations of the world, but most suffer from inherently anticapitalistic government regulation and cronyism. Take for example the sugar subsidies that Marco Rubio loves so much. A true capitalist system would not tolerate the government using other people’s money to artificially prop up certain industries. So when you see tax dollars being spent to support the sugar oligopolists, cronyism is the culprit, not capitalism. The unwanted and unpopular side effects of cronyism and government intervention cause some people to jump up and say “Hey look how horrible capitalism is, it’s causing (insert strawman criticism here.)”

Misconception #2: Capitalism is an imposed system

Capitalism is not centrally planned, but instead relies on spontaneous order, or things organizing themselves in the absence of a central planner. Biological evolution, language, the internet, and even the creation of the entire universe rely on this same principle. Capitalism is not defined by many things, other than the protection of the economic autonomy of all individuals. History shows that capitalism has developed as a result of people’s desire for and/or exercise of economic freedom. The rise of capitalism didn’t come about because of a group of people united, decided that it is the best economic system, and then forcefully implemented it. There is the sense among particular groups of people that capitalism is artificial, and that it is engineered to work in particular ways. The reason that the economy is ‘rigged’ to work in the favor of some and not others intentionally is because of governments with overbearing and dominating powers that companies bribe through lobbying.

Misconception #3: Capitalism is colonialism

Most discussions of imperialism and colonialism end up criticizing capitalism at some point, with a participant saying something like “Those capitalist Europeans did horrible things to native populations just to make a profit.” Pretty much everything that happened in the colonial era, at its roots, is the exact opposite of what a pure capitalist society would do. Capitalism at a sub-national level means respecting the autonomy of each individual, so it follows that capitalism at an international level means respecting the sovereignty of every nation, state, tribe, political system, or group of people, which discredits the idea of colonialism in the first place. A first main criticism of colonialism is that it allowed the colonizers to steal resources from indigenous people. In a capitalist system, everyone has a right to his or her own private property, and nobody has the right to coerce groups of people into forfeiting their resources. Another obvious result is the twisted labor systems imposed on indigenous peoples. Capitalism says that people have the right to make their own decisions about the allocation of their labor and their capital. The systems established under colonialism, like the Spanish encomienda system, were much closer to forced feudalism, and of course, employed the most blatant plundering of economic rights: outright slavery. When a system condones the absence of enforced economic rights of the people, it ceases to be capitalism.

Misconception #4: Capitalism is racist

Out of all the bewildering allegations leftists make against capitalism, this is one of the most misguided, and it comes from a deeply flawed idea that pure economic liberalism (in the classical sense) and social authoritarianism are compatible in the long run. This is because social rights and economic rights are not substantively different from a moral perspective. There are only human rights, and a system either complies with them or it does not. Therefore, any system that does not sufficiently protect the economic rights of its citizens based on race does not protect the overall rights of its citizens; such a system is both racist and non-capitalist. The main argument saying that capitalism is racist concerns the traditionally despicable treatment of non-white people in the United States. Native Americans lost land and resources to European theft, and Africans were brought here to work as slaves which are both non-capitalist actions. Still, people point to disparities between blacks and whites in modern America as evidence that capitalism is racist because the US is a capitalist nation. The economic hardships faced by blacks today come about from slavery, the already established non-capitalist institution. This may seem contradictory as I earlier stated that the United States was capitalist and that is why it is rich, and I am now saying that it was not because of slavery. The US was capitalist for most white men, and some capitalism creates wealth better than no capitalism. If women and people of color had the full economic rights they would have under a true capitalist system, the United States would be even richer than it is. The antebellum Southern United States, obsessed with slavery, practiced it at an economic disadvantage. Profits would have been better served by paying slaves through wage labor instead of owning them as property. Also, slave owning Southern states faced technological and economic stagnation before the civil war. I’m sure most people remember middle school American history class when we learned that the north won the war because they industrialized and the south did not. The teachers neglect to mention that the south’s stagnation derived from slavery. In other words, racism has no economic function.

Misconception #5: Capitalism causes inequality

This one is not entirely untrue, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Capitalism does cause inequality. All people have different natural abilities, different circumstances and different starting points, which does create a system in which some people have more than others. Following the Pareto rule, 20% of people will naturally earn 80% of the income. But increasing inequality is not a synonym for increasing poverty. If everyone is getting richer, but some are getting richer faster than others, inequality is increasing, yes, but who would really object to this? Everyone is getting richer. This is part of the answer to the question of why “the middle class is disappearing.” Demagogues like Bernie Sanders talk about the “disappearance” of the middle class, which somehow carries the assumption that all of these people are getting poorer, a claim which is demonstrably false. Less people are earning incomes in the typically middle class interval, but their incomes are not falling, they’re growing. Capitalism does cause inequality, but everyone will be richer than they would be with government intervention.

Misconception #6: Capitalism is perfect

Although capitalism is the best system that we know of, it is not perfect. Let’s face it, there are going to be poor people. Not everybody can get everything. Ideally everybody would have as much as they want of whatever they want. But this is obviously not possible because Earth has finite resources. Capitalism is imperfect only because the world is imperfect. When we get caught up trying to come up with the answers for how to eliminate poverty, we forget that poverty is the natural state, that humans create only prosperity. The Big Bang caused poverty, capitalism caused prosperity.  The fundamental economic problem is scarcity. This won’t go away if we simply let the government take the reins and let it decide how to allocate resources efficiently (which it can’t). Although we will always have poor people, capitalism has historically proven that it is the best way for everybody to get richer, to make what would be considered rich 100 years ago, seem relatively poor today. The way forward has been, and always will be, not to cut up wealth like a pie and divide it artificially, but to build something, and grow the whole.