No, I Am NOT Obligated To Support Trump

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I recently had the pleasure of engaging in a conversation with an individual who, without a doubt, is a Republican Party loyalist. By that I mean, one who will support the Republican Party no matter how far it drifts away from it’s original values. Throughout our discussion, this individual made it very clear that Republican-leaning conservatives should rally around Donald Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton. I believe the exact words were: “If you’re not going to get on board, then you better get out”.

Now, I’m certain that this individual is someone who cares deeply about our country, and they must be horrified by the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming President of the United States. While I certainly share this concern, it begs a very important question: As a Republican-leaning conservative, do I have the obligation to support Donald Trump during the general election?

My answer, quite frankly, is ABSOLUTELY NOT. I refuse to play the “lesser of two evils” game for any longer. I refuse to be a mindless drone that follows a political party regardless of how far they drift away from their values and principles. Finally, I refuse to buy into the idea that, by not voting for Trump, I am essentially voting for Hillary. These toxic ideas have plagued our political arena for long enough, and I refuse to fall victim to this ego-boosting rhetoric.

Every Presidential election cycle (this one in particular), I am inundated with the idea that we are supposed to vote for “the lesser of two evils”. Sure, Donald Trump may be a bad guy, but hey, Hillary Clinton would be a heck of a lot worse. This argument may have worked when the GOP nominated pseudo-conservatives, such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, but anyone who follows politics can see that Donald Trump is on a whole different level.

If I am limited to only two choices, both of which are highly undesirable, why should I violate my conscience by voting for either one of them? Am I obligated to support the power of a political party, or am I obligated to stand for my principles? Instead of limiting myself to two horrendous choices, I believe it is my duty to vote according to my principles and my values.

This is not to judge anyone who votes for Donald Trump, or even Hillary Clinton for that matter. Your vote belongs to you, and you are entitled to vote for whomever you believe in. My vote, on the other hand, belongs to me and is dictated by a strict adherence to the Constitution. My vote belongs, not to a political party, but to me. I vote for the person that I think will best represent my values, my principles, and the United States Constitution. If neither nominee reflects these characteristics, why should I feel compelled to vote for either one of them?

Part of the problem lies in this “Party-First” mentality, which has been having a destructive impact on American society. In the modern political arena, if you are Republican, you must support every Republican candidate, regardless of whether or not they adhere to conservative principles. The needs of the political party take priority, even if it means electing someone who skews conservative beliefs in a negative way.

The same argument can be made in regards to the Democratic Primary, in which many voters support Bernie Sanders. However, due to the superdelegate system, Hillary Clinton will clinch the nomination because party insiders have determined its in the party’s best interest. Unfortunately, on the Republican side, there has been a decreasing focus on the Constitution, and an increasing focus on who can ensure that the party stays in power. While the Democratic Party has been destroying the Constitution for years, it is disappointing that certain conservative sell outs are willing to compromise principles for party power.

Another theme that party loyalists seem to beat their drum to is the argument that: “If you don’t vote for Trump, you will be, essentially, casting a vote for Hillary”. This argument is a bunch crock, and anyone who uses it needs to take some serious time to reflect upon what is really driving their political decisions. Again, my vote belongs to ME. If I choose to follow my convictions and vote for a third party candidate, that is MY choice. If I choose to write-in a candidate that I believe in, that is MY choice. Neither of these actions are a vote, or an endorsement, for Hillary Clinton, nor are they a vote or an endorsement for Donald Trump.

I assure you, it is possible to be anti-Trump without being pro-Hillary, and vice-versa. We should not allow ourselves to be defined solely by a political party or an individual candidate. This election is not about Donald Trump. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is not even about the Republican or Democratic Parties. It is about bringing America back to its constitutional principles, and supporting the individuals who adhere to these principles.

In conclusion, if my only options are to “get on board, or get out”, then I will have to say, in good conscience, that I will choose the later option. I will continue to support, and vote for, the state and local candidates who reflect the values and principles that I hold. I will continue to support the ideas that I believe in. However, Donald Trump is a man who has spent his life subscribing to liberal ideals, and has defined his character through amoral actions. If I were to throw my support behind Trump, I would be forced to violate my deepest held principles.

During the 2016 General Election, I urge all voters to vote based on their convictions. If you strongly believe that Donald Trump’s divisive and derogatory approach will “Make America Great Again”, then vote for him. If you believe that Hillary Clinton’s progressive-minded, politically-correct propaganda will reignite what makes American great, then vote for her. I refuse to be a pawn for either candidate, and no, I will not support Bernie Sanders either. If you are, like me, unsatisfied with both of these options, I encourage you to find a candidate who you can conscientiously throw your support behind. Don’t continue to let egotistical grabs for party power influence how you vote.

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Poor Service Isn’t a Reason for a Lawsuit 

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Well folks, it’s another day, and with it comes another lawsuit. In this episode of “Ridiculous Lawsuits”, we will be taking a look at a class-action lawsuit that has been filed against Starbuck’s, seeking financial reparations for dissatisfactions with the company’s cold beverages. By now, this trend should not be surprising to anyone, however, it provides excellent context for a lesson in free market incentives.

On April 27th, 2016, an individual named Stacy Pincus, filed a class-action lawsuit against Starbucks. According to the Washington Post, Pincus (plaintiff of the suit) is arguing that “those who purchase cold beverages at Starbucks receive far less coffee than advertised”. While it is true that certain people are boorish without their coffee (myself included), I think it’s safe to say that this is another unfortunate example of our lawsuit-happy society.

Let’s examine the case. According to Ms. Pincus’ allegations, Starbucks has been using too much ice when preparing its iced-coffee beverages (ironic, I know).  Pincus complains that this excessive use of ice has led customers to receive less coffee than expected. The lawsuit states: “In essence, Starbucks is advertising the size of its Cold Drink cups on its menu, rather than the amount of fluid that a customer will receive when they purchase a Cold Drink – and deceiving its customers in the process”.

Now, I will not judge Ms. Pincus on how she wishes to spend her time and her money. If the allegations are true, it would certainly illustrate poor business practices on behalf of Starbucks. However, the problem lies in the precedent that lawsuits like this create.

For example, let’s take a look at a product that most people can related to. Let’s say that I’m in the market for an iPhone and, upon doing my research, I determine that the 16 GB model will be perfect for me. I proceed to pay Apple $600 for the iPhone with the expectation that the phone will have 16 GB of available memory. Upon starting up my new phone, I realize that only 12 of the 16 GB are available for use. The reason for this being Apple has used some of the space to install its OS and default applications. Although the phone technically has 16 GB of data, am I entitled to sue Apple for false advertising?

While that example may sound ridiculous, it is a valid example of how this lawsuit could potentially be imitated in the future. Now, the purpose of this post isn’t to say that Starbucks is right and Ms. Pincus is wrong. Instead, the purpose of this post is to examine the simple, free-market approach to this situation.

In short, no one is forcing Ms. Pincus to buy coffee at Starbucks. It is safe to assume that she previously purchased coffee at Starbucks because she liked the product. Free Market principles would suggest the following solution to her current dilemma: if you are unhappy with Starbuck’s service, don’t continue to buy their product. Instead, find another coffee shop that provides the product or service you desire.

Now, I know that this mind-blowing approach will inevitably attract criticism from those who hold complete disdain for capitalism and business. Such individuals are inclined to start a lawsuit against a paper company for getting a paper cut. Nonetheless, it is true that a respectable company should stick to their word and ensure that the customer leaves happy. The question is, should we resort to lawsuits over matters like this? Or should we let the free market run its course?

If Ms. Pincus  feels that she has been wronged by Starbucks, she could choose to never set foot inside a Starbucks again. She could spread the word about her dissatisfaction with Starbucks’ service which would, inevitably, result in Starbucks losing business. If the complaint against Starbucks was felt by a majority of Starbucks’ consumer base, the company would have to choose either to change their strategy or face losing profits.

As simplistic as this approach may seem, it is highly effective. Businesses in the service industry, such as Starbucks, have the goal of maximizing profit. Profit maximization is reached by selling goods and service to consumers who find value in what you have to offer. Therefore, the goal of any business should be to maximize the consumer value of their product or service. This is often done by engaging in honest business practice, being attentive to consumer needs and, above all, offering a stellar product.

While there are certainly valid claims concerning fraudulent business practices in our day in age, this lawsuit against Starbucks is not one of them. Starbucks is more than willing to remake any beverage that doesn’t meet customer expectations, as is any restaurant. Remember, the goal is to keep the customer happy and ensure that they return.

Unfortunately, our legal system has gotten out-of-hand when it comes to consumer protection. There are certainly legitimate scenarios in which consumers have been fraudulently taken or physically harmed by the actions of a company. The purpose of this post is not say their is no place for consumer protection lawsuits. I simply maintain that our current system of loose lawsuits is a waste of time and money that could be used in a more productive manner that would benefit the economy.

While I am certain that Ms. Pincus is simply a coffee enthusiast who wants to get the most for her money, it is completely ridiculous that she is dedicating time and money towards suing Starbucks over this matter. If the product doesn’t meet her expectations she can certainly choose to bring her business somewhere else. While false advertising isn’t an acceptable business practice, the snoody attitudes of the self-entitled class aren’t much better.

It’s NOT About Beyoncé. It’s About the Double-Standard.

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While many Americans were enjoying a traditional American past time, there was, inevitably perhaps, a group of individuals who felt the need to be offended by something they don’t agree with. That’s right, I’m talking about Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance. 

Contradictory to the stereotypical view that conservatives are greedy, rich and racist, I was not at all offended by the performance. Although I am not a big fan of her music,  I applaud Beyoncé for excercising her right to free speech. Free speech and music go hand-in-hand and, oftentimes, the most controversial issues provide the best substance for good music. 

Now, before I get my conservative friends all riled up, I will be clear that I DO NOT support the message that was being conveyed during Beyoncé’s performance. Personally, I think that the Black Lives Matter movement is severely flawed, but that is a topic for another post. However, I strongly believe that free speech is a cornerstone of American society and it is essential that we apply it without a double-standard. 

So, before we get all up in arms about Beyoncé’s performance let’s make one thing very clear: it’s NOT about Beyoncé’s message. What matters here is the double-standard that exists between both sides of the political correctness debate. We live in a society where freedom of speech is only tolerated if it coincides with a specific agenda. Unfortunately, such attitudes exist on both sides of the aisle. 

I’ll be the first to admit that conservatives who are distressed over Beyoncé’s performance are a prime example of such a double-standard. Those who lambast political correctness are hypocritical if they choose to make an issue out of Beyoncé’s performance. True liberty-loving conservatives, whether they were offended by the performance or not, would let the issue die. In other words, if you consistently denounce political correctness, it is counter-productive to demonize Beyoncé’s performance.

The discussion over the double-standard does not end with hypocritical conservatives. Consider an alternative scenario. Imagine if, instead of Beyoncé’s performance, there was a performance that involved the display of a Confederate flag. Oh just imagine how the progressives would rally in protest. If such a tragedy were to occur, in the eyes of progressives, the Super Bowl would be nothing more than a competition that promotes a racist agenda. However, since Beyoncé’s performance promotes the progressive agenda, all is well in utopia. 

Unfortunately, we live in a society where disdain for political correctness automatically classifies one as a racist, homophobe or xenophobe. Individuals choose not to speak their minds in fear that they will be ostracized by society. Saying that you disagree with Black Lives Matter does not make you a racist. Campaigning against Hillary Clinton does not make you a sexist. If you believe in traditional marriage, it doesn’t make you homophobic. Anyone who believes such nonsense is not a true supporter of free speech. 

At the end of the day, I neither condone nor condemn Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance. Why? Because I simply do not care. Beyoncé has the right to promote any message in which she believes. Just as I have the right to promote any message in which I believe. The beauty of free speech is this: no one is forced to agree with it. 

Both sides of the political spectrum must realize that double-standards do not promote free speech. Accusing individuals of traits that they do not possess is not only insulting, but it is also divisive. Instead of being offended by everything little thing we disagree with, why not celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we are free to speak in favor for what we believe. 

The Flawed Economics of Bernie Sanders

  

For those who don’t follow politics, the entire campaign of Bernie Sanders is built off of his contempt for “the millionaires and billionaires” who (in his view) are the cause of America’s economic woes. 

The self-proclaimed “Democratic-Socialist” from Vermont has gained nation-wide popularity for his crusade against the corruption between Wall Street and the political elite. Although fighting corruption is not a bad thing, there are many flaws in Sanders’ approach to economics.

Bernie Sanders’ following seems to come from a utopian-esque world in which everyone gets something for nothing. Producers of goods should WANT to give away goods at a price below profit. The wealthy should WANT to give a large chunk of their money to the poor. In Bernie’s ideal world, fairness is synonymous with forced charity. 

As I highlight in the following article, Bernie Sanders isn’t all bad. The man has stuck to his principles (albeit principles that I disagree with) for almost 40 years. If there is one thing I admire in a politician it is consistency over opportunism. Sanders has also made it his goal to break the relationship between Wall Street and Washington D.C., which is a link that should have been broken long ago. However, neither of these are an excuse for bad economics.  

Although Sanders is slipping in the polls, his ideology will continue to live on, especially amongst millennials. Therefore, it is important to discuss the economic fallacies that surround Sanders’ ideas in order to ensure that the U.S. doesn’t slip into welfare statism. 

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The Syrian Refugee Dilemma

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Following the horrific terrorist attacks that took place in Paris on November 13th, 2015, social media has been abuzz with strong opinions concerning the status of the Syrian refugee crisis. After reading strong opinions from both ends of the spectrum, I feel that it is time for me to voice my own thoughts on the issue.

There are, of course, those who claim that the malicious perpetrators of the Paris attacks are representative of the entire Muslim population. Such a belief is not only ignorant, but also, divisive. However, there is something to be said about exercising caution where the refugee crisis is concerned. There are common sense approaches that can be taken to ensure that the United States remains secure.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the individuals who feel inclined to be bleeding-heart humanitarians without considering the unintended consequences of their actions. In the eyes of these individuals, those who oppose President Obama’s Syrian refugee plan are bigots and xenophobes. However, there is something to be said about providing humanitarian relief to those who are truly in need. Following the atrocities of The Holocaust, the United States swore to stand by the phrase “Never Again”.

So what exactly is my opinion on the matter? With both sides providing valid arguments, it becomes difficult to discern the truth from propaganda. It becomes even more difficult when an election year is concerned. My approach is to look at the situation through the lenses of compassion, as well as, reality. All it takes is simple Google search to understand that the situation in Syria is dire. Innocent individuals of various backgrounds are being mercilessly slaughtered because they refuse to adhere to a radical interpretation of Islam. To not act is to deny the innocent from receiving mercy.

As important as it is to show mercy to those who are persecuted, we must ensure that the well-being of the United States and its citizens are the first priority. With that said, it would be ridiculous for the United States to allow Syrian refugees to enter the country without proper security precautions. As of this writing, President Obama has vowed to veto a bill that would ensure extra scrutiny for the refugees who wish to enter the United States.The President, and his supporters on the left, claim that such measures will over-complicate the process of allowing the refugees to enter the United States. After reading the bill (H.R. 4038, available on the U.S. Congress website) I came to the conclusion that the illustrated measures are common sense guidelines to guarantee a secure transition. Why should we let those in who wish to do us harm?

Wait a minute! This is where many on the left would begin to refer to me as a bigoted xenophobe. They would then make claims that I am holding the entire Muslim population responsible for the actions of radical factions. They would overlook the fact that, in reality, I believe that all individuals should be treated with respect regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. They would overlook the fact that my heart aches for the innocent lives that are being mercilessly massacred on a daily basis. Unfortunately, in many cases, so-called “compassion” on behalf of the government seems to earn more merit than individual-led efforts of compassion.

Correct me if I’m wrong but, I think that an intense vetting process is a small price to pay to ensure that individuals who are hostile to the United States and Western values are not permitted to enter the country. It is common knowledge that there are those throughout the Middle-East who wish to do us harm. Allowing thousands of Syrian refugees to enter the country without going through the strictest of security procedures would be idiotic at best. For those who might be wondering, my stance on this issue was the same before the news of the attacks in Paris.

In conclusion, I truly do pray for the innocent individuals who are trying to escape persecution. I have no problem with taking in individuals with whom we are 100% certain pose no security threat. I am a strong supporter of helping those who are truly in desperate need of our assistance. In fact, I would encourage everyone to visit the websites of the various organizations that are dedicated to aiding the Syrians who need our help. However, as far as the refugee debate is concerned, we must proceed with caution. As we move forward, we must balance security with compassion and look at this issue objectively, without invoking political correctness.

 

 

 

You Only Support Liberty When it’s Convenient for You!

I get weary from hearing the following rhetoric from modern-day politicians: “I support liberty……unless (fill in your favorite qualifier).

It seems to me that, far too often, we are inundated with politicians who claim to support liberty unless it interferes with their personal interests. Such individuals are not only a threat to individual liberties, but also illustrate the consequences of failing to live by principles.

Politicians who quote the Constitution and invoke liberty only when it is convenient for them, create a bad name for those who strive to adhere to Libertarian concepts. These individuals use the concept of liberty as a tool to gain a following, but end up exploiting the main objective of the cause.

Take the case of gay marriage for instance. A true Libertarian who opposes gay marriage would say: “While I disagree with the concept of gay marriage, I fully support your right to enter into a contract with whomever so you please”. This mentality allows for freedom of conscience, as well as, guarantees equal rights to all individuals.

A false prophet of liberty, on the other hand, would utilize the following approach in a similar situation: “I’m a supporter of liberty, however, gay marriage conflicts with my personal opinion. Therefore, as long as my liberties are protected, we should ensure that gay marriage is illegal”.  Such an approach not only goes against the foundations of liberty, but also gives certain individuals preference over others.

Now, I want to make it clear that the above example is not insinuating that those against gay marriage are inherently intolerant. The same concept could be applied to homosexuals that expect everyone to agree with and accept their lifestyle. Instead, it is purely an example of what happens when personal interests trump the concept of individual liberty.

Unfortunately, there will always be individuals who claim to support liberty but fail to act if their personal interests are not involved. On a regular basis, we are exposed to politicians who claim to support freedom of choice and individual liberties but end up supporting regulations that cut deeper and deeper into the liberties of a select few.

My call to action is to encourage those who support liberty not to fall victim to this trap. If you choose to be selective with whom deserves liberty, you are no true lover of freedom. In this coming election season, it is more important than ever to support candidates who are not selective where liberty is concerned. Let’s be sure to elect politicians who continue to support liberty, even when it conflicts with their personal interests.

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

10513891_872297119496327_2054023484_nI want to take a moment to write about the difference between tolerance and acceptance/endorsement. In the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision legalizing gay marriage nation-wide, I feel as though such a discussion would be quite appropriate. This post is neither for, nor against, gay marriage. My stance is, and will always be, that government should remove itself from the marriage business altogether. However, this post is not about my stance on marriage, but instead, a common-sense look at what tolerance means.

In modern society, there is much emphasis that is placed on the importance of tolerance. We are taught to tolerate those who anger us, tolerate those who disagree with us, tolerate those who come from different cultures and tolerate those who live lifestyles that conflict with our own. When it comes down to it, this mentality is absolutely correct. As a society, however, we run into issues when the definition of “tolerance” becomes ill-defined or misconstrued.

The biggest mistake that an individual can make is confusing tolerance with acceptance. Far too often, individuals are under the impression that, in order to tolerate, you must also accept. On the flip side, there are those who believe that, by choosing to tolerate, they are also displaying a personal endorsement. Neither of these scenarios is the case.

Tolerance, in its simplest form, is acknowledging differences, understanding that differences are inevitable and, finally, having the ability to discuss these differences in a civil manner. Tolerance does not mean conforming to an opposing viewpoint. Tolerance does not even mean endorsing an opposing viewpoint. Tolerance does, however, mean finding a general understanding and having a general respect for all human beings.

Am I “intolerant” because I disagree with the the actions of others? Absolutely not! Am I “intolerant” because I refuse to conform to and endorse lifestyles that conflict with my personal beliefs? Absolutely not! Am a conformist if I am willing to acknowledge personal differences and continue to treat those with whom I disagree with respect? Of course not!

Ultimately, we need to take a different look at what “tolerance” really means. Too often we allow the PC police to use tolerance as a means to force certain viewpoints upon the population. After all, who wants to be labeled as “intolerant”?

In conclusion, if society wishes to be truly “tolerant” we must accept the fact that human beings will have differences. We must not force others to see or accept our point of view. Finally, we must not let such differences prevent us from being civil individuals. The next time you hear someone preach “tolerance” ask yourself this question: “Is this true tolerance or is this an effort to force a certain viewpoint upon others?”

– The Objective Independent