What is the Debt Ceiling and Why You Should Care About It.

That’s the title of this ABC News report. I don’t know a lot about this topic, so I sought out some information. Here’s what I learned:

The debt ceiling is a cap on the amount of money the U.S. government can borrow to pay its debts.

Every year, Congress passes a budget that includes government spending on infrastructure, programs such as Social Security and salaries for federal workers. Congress also taxes people to pay for all that spending. But for years, the government has been spending more than it takes in from taxes and other revenue, increasing the federal deficit.

The government needs to borrow money to continue paying out what Congress has already OK’d. The debt ceiling puts a limit on how much money the U.S. government can borrow to pay its bills.

That seems fairly clear, but I’m confused about on the following point:

Continue reading “What is the Debt Ceiling and Why You Should Care About It.”

Advice for Those Frustrated by Congressional Dysfunction

“I don’t care which party you vote for, but please stop voting for people who have no desire or intention to govern.” That’s a tweet I saw today, and wholeheartedly agree with. I assume the tweet primarily refers to the GOP members of Congress who oppose Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House. I would actually broaden this out to any politicians that enabled this group, as well as politicians preferred nothing to making any compromise or those who preferred nothing, rather than giving any political victory to the other side.

These politicians are the problem and primary source of the dysfunction. Here’s a message to those who have a low opinion of Congress because of gridlock:

Continue reading “Advice for Those Frustrated by Congressional Dysfunction”

The GOP Will Control the House of Representatives

I purposely avoided reading about politics for several weeks prior to the election–primarily because it was just causing too much anxiety. When I finally started reading reactions after the election, the overall tone was positive from many Democratic supporters. The reaction seemed based on two things: 1) there was no “red wave”–and the Democrats had a good chance of controlling the Senate; 2) many of the election deniers who ran for positions that could impact elections lost. I was genuinely happy to hear this, especially the latter.

However, who controlled the House was still undecided, and the degree to which the reaction was positive seemed out of place. To me, the GOP winning the House, while maybe not as bad as election deniers gaining control over state and local electoral processes, was almost as bad. What I found most disturbing was their likely use of their power to hold political investigations, and possibly attempt to impeach, Biden and his administration. The idea was nauseating and revolting.

Today, I heard the Republicans held a news conference that they would be investigation Biden and his family (Hunter Biden, most likely), based on disingenuous concerns over corruption. The level of cynicism and bad faith is off the charts.

I’ll have more to say, but I’ll leave with more remark. It is disheartening that so many Americans believed the Republicans deserved their vote–that the GOP is fit to govern.

How Liz Cheney Could Save the Republic and the Republican Party

A day after Liz Cheney lost her congressional seat, Ron Brownstein in theAtlantic speculated on her next moves, including running for president. I want to use one of his remarks as a springboard to discuss the ways she could lead a defense of the republic that not only saves it, but also save the GOP–or gives birth to a new Conservative party that can compete with Democrats.

“The only plausible way to break Trump’s hold on the GOP, these critics believe, is to show that Trump, or Trumpism, cannot win national elections. Even if Cheney cannot deny Trump the nomination, she could still ultimately loosen his hold on the party, this thinking goes, if she persuades enough centrist and white-collar voters to reject him and ensure his defeat in a general election. To save the party, in other words, Cheney might first have to be willing to destroy it.”
(emphasis added)

This last line really resonated with me, and reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago, suggesting the Republicans should consider abandoning the GOP (brand) and start a new conservative party. I felt this way because a) embracing Trump indelibly stained the party, making it a political loser, especially in the long-term (at least, a person like me would not vote for them again); b) by vehemently rejecting Trump–including racism–the new Conservative party could jettison harmful political baggage while building a platform and approach that could widen their tent in a way that could lead them to big political victories in the future. (When Romney lost, I believe one group of advisors recommended making changes to attract more voters–especially, people of color–but with Trump the GOP rejected this approach and decided to focus on whipping up the base, including the use of demagoguery.)

To be clear, this was a very long-term project. In the short-term, the GOP would suffer big losses. This is definitely a tough sell to Republicans and Conservatives, but I would argue the approach is not only a strategically wise, for the long-term, but morally right and patriotic. Trumpism and racism–authoritarianism–should be unequivocally rejected. The fact that this would politically damage the GOP is not a sufficient argument against this approach. If it was, that would mean the party would be more important than core American values (e.g., all people are created equal, the rule of law, etc.). Additionally, the political pain is a consequence from the GOP accepting and embracing Trump. Not taking a big political hit was not an option–not enough the GOP would remain a legitimate liberal-democratic party. Yes, they could abandon liberal-democracy–embrace authoritarianism–as a way to avoid this pain, but then the GOP would cease to be a legitimate American party in my view.

For true Conservatives and patriots in the GOP, I didn’t see many options. This is especially true after it was clear Trump wouldn’t change, and he committed multiple acts that deserved impeachment and removal. If true Conservatives didn’t break off to start a new party, at some point, they would have vociferously and rigorously oppose Trump and those who supported him. They would have to fight for the soul of the GOP.

In this process, essentially an internal war within the GOP, the GOP likely would have died–“died” in the sense of suffering huge political defeats. However, in my view, these Conservative insurgents could have laid the groundwork for either a new Conservative party or for a revitalization and strengthening of the GOP.

How does this relate to Liz Cheney and the present moment? Cheney believes (rightly) that America democracy is in peril from Trump and Trumpism, and in defense of American democracy, she is going to vigorously and publicly lead a fight against Trump and Trumpist politicians. I use the word “lead” here to suggest that she needs to be able to bring other people with her in this fight–such as prominent Republicans (e.g., Mitt Romney), Conservative pundits, and even big Republican donors or business leaders. To me, her ability to get people like this to join this public defense is really crucial. But if she’s successful, this group of Americans can successfully defend democracy.

However, in the process, Republicans will suffer some crucial losses–including some prominent Republicans. That is, Cheney and those who follow her will be responsible for defeating some of her former colleagues or damaging GOP leaders and allies. She’s going to be seen as an enemy, and will likely be reviled among the GOP establishment. (Well, she’ll be reviled among Trumpist Republican voters as well.)

At the same time, this will position her and those who follow her as the legitimate leaders of GOP or a new Conservative party. This could help Cheney’s presidential aspirations, but I also think this ultimately could help American Conservatism in the future. And, again, if these efforts succeed, they would have preserved American democracy. (More later.)

An Article That Captures What Inadequate Republican Leadership Looks Like

On this 4th of July, I hope Americans really reflect on the system of government the Founders created, the benefits we’ve enjoyed from it, and all the people who have gave their lives to launch and preserve it. I hope they realize that this system is not guaranteed, and that they heed those who believe it is currently under threat.

Rep. Liz Cheney has been raising alarms about this, and I view these efforts, as well as her work in the 1/6 Committee, as a robust defense of our constitutional system–something that stands in stark contrast with Republicans who have actively supported Trump’s undermining of our system, or those who have largely remained silent. Among the latter, I’m especially disappointed, perplexed, and exasperated by those who know better, who actually care about the country, but have decided to sit on the sidelines

I include Sen. Romney among this group, and his piece in the Atlantic today is not only disappointing, but also exasperating. I’ll expand on this in the next section.

A Speech That Captures What Republican Leadership Looks Like in 2022–Liz Cheney’s Speech at the Reagan Library

Barack Obama gave a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that catapulted him into the national consciousness and eventually lead to him becoming president. Describing a politician’s speech as “presidential” may be overused, but that’s what I thought of when I listened to this speech. She emphasized our most important values, she reminded Americans of the importance to defend the Constitution, putting this above politics, and she used rhetoric to help unify the country (although she had a small political digs in there). In short, she sounded like the type of Republican that I’ve been accustomed to–which was refreshing, but also something that sadly now requires courage. Rep. Cheney certainly has displayed tremendous courage, not just in this speech but her work in the 1/6 Committee and her public criticism of Trump. She has made herself a pariah in her party, and may lose her seat in Congress. And she’s doing this to defend the Constitution–to keep her oath.

I highly recommend listening to this (start around the 14:00 minute mark). I not only found her words inspiring, but also the moments and energy of the crowd’s applause.

Are Congressional Republicans Violating Their Oath of Office?

The January 6 Committee has revealed information that bolsters the case that Trump and several of his associates corruptly and comprehensively attempted to overturn the 2020 election–in spite of being told this was illegal and wrong. My sense is that the upcoming hearings will make this case even stronger. Whether Trump and some of his associates will see jail time has been receiving a lot of attention.

But something, maybe a bigger matter, has received much less attention in my view—namely, did congressional Republicans violate—and are they continuing to violate– their oath of office? To put this more specifically and concretely, are they failing to “defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic,” and in some cases are they undermining and subverting the Constitution, either tacitly or actively? (Would it be fair to designate those who are undermining and subverting the Constitution as the “enemies” in the oath?)

Raising these questions makes me wonder if I’m being irrational, blinded by biases, but let me lay out my thoughts to see if others agree or not.

Some Recent Thoughts on Liberals and Conservatives

Two books I’ve recently encountered (The Captive Mind and To the Finland Station) have got me thinking about the roots of liberalism. I don’t really have thoughts on the roots of conservatism (I wish I did), but I want to write some conclusions I’m arriving at with regard to American conservatism. In this thread, I want to jot these thoughts down, and use this space as a way of working out these ideas.