BREAKING: Governors Considering 2020 Unity Ticket

Casual discussions are underway between the camps of governors John Kasich (R-OH) and Hickenlooper (D-CO) to form a unity ticket in 2020, presenting an alternative to the Democrat and Republican nominees for president, according to sources familiar with the conversations.

Recently, the two governors have been working on an alternative healthcare reform plan to present to others, particlarly congress. Both governors were elected around the same time (Kasich in 2010, Hickenlooper in 2011) in mixed-party states, and immediately accepted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Both oppose the repeal of the the Act.

Barring a surprise star in the ranks, Democrats are not expected to field especially strong candidates in the next two years in preparation for 2020, and presumably, Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee for a second time, unless directly challenged by members of his own party. If they choose to join forces, their likely target would be the majority in each party that polls indicated dissatisfaction with their respective candidates.

While third-party candidates struggle for both funding and name recognition, these men have advantages most third-party candidates don’t. National profiles in each party, independent streaks, and media-friendly relationships and donor networks. And presumably, they carry less baggage or idiosyncrasies that the other “Governors squared” campaign with Johnson/Weld in 2016.

Governors tend to work well together, and share camraderie more than most partisan leaders, and these two governors are no exception.

Gov. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has tended toward the centerline and his party, trying to carve out a reputation for working across the aisle. Gov. Kasich of course has been riding the middle line since his first days in the 2016 campaign, and stayed in until the last stretch of the Republican primary. He earned his stripes first years ago, however, not only accepting Obamacare expansion in his state, but traveling to other state capitals to lobby fellow Republicans to do the same.

Some believed that his continued presence helped to split the non-trump crowd in the primaries – roughly 60% until the end – especially toward the end, when it was mathematically impossible for him to win, and Senator Cruz still had a chance to capture remaining delegates.

National Review’s Matthew Continetti observed at the time, “The Ohio governor has won a single state: his own. He has 143 delegates. That puts him fourth in the count behind Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio — who is no longer a candidate. To win the nomination on the first ballot of the Republican convention, Kasich would have to win 138 percent of the remaining delegates. This is impossible. Even a politician should be able to do that math.”

Now, it appears that winning the nomination may not have been his end game.


Is the Filibuster Holding Back Third Parties?

I had an interesting conversation with my father-in-law the other day, during which he posited the question about why third parties have had such a tough time gaining traction in American politics.  Sure, we’ve flirted with them a few times over the years–think of the Reform Party, which brought us the likes of Ross Perot and Jesse “the Body” Ventura–but they haven’t won much, and in Perot’s case may have even cost George H.W. Bush a second term.  Moreover, third parties seem more like sideshows for the political fringe, the destination for loudmouth characters who couldn’t make the cut in the two respectable parties–what might have been Donald Trump’s fate, had the country not been in such a foul mood.

Even so, amongst the electorate there still seems to be a craving for a third way–a party for conservatives who think the GOP jettisoned any semblance of limited government long ago, and another party for liberals who think that Democrats are nothing more than a bunch of sellouts who talk up income inequality while raking the cash in from their Wall Street cronies.  Why haven’t these people been able to channel all that righteous fury and take on the sclerotic two-party system that has been dominant since Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president over 150 years ago?

There are a number of reasons for this, of course, chief among them being that we don’t have the kind of parliamentary system that lends itself to the coalition building that you see in a place like, say, Great Britain.  America has also evolved a campaign finance system that makes it far more difficult for candidates to raise money outside of the two major political parties.  And then there’s the problem of what a third party would even be capable of doing if it somehow managed to get a candidate or two elected to Congress.  Their numbers would be so small, it would be next to impossible to affect any real change.

It’s that last part, I told my father-in-law, that’s probably the hardest to overcome.

To which he asked, “What if you did away with the filibuster?”

He acknowledged that there would certainly be risks with that approach–the filibuster, after all, had stopped a lot of bad legislation over the years–but it’s also hamstrung the Congress from pushing through a lot of needed reforms (as we’re seeing with Obamacare now, and are likely to see with tax reform).  At the same time, though, the filibuster has entrenched the two-party system in the Senate.  For it to work, virtually all of the senators from the minority party are required to band together so as to deny the majority party the 60 votes they need to invoke cloture.  There isn’t a lot of room for defections–and senators know that there is usually a heavy price to pay for defying the party.  Democrats, in particular, have shown a lot of discipline when it comes to mounting a filibuster.

Now suppose that there is no filibuster.  A lot of the pressure to fall in line is taken off, which frees individual senators to make decisions more independently.  At the same time, though, it could potentially create better opportunities for outsiders to move in and wield some influence.  Two or three senators from a conservative third party, for example, would actually have the power to force changes in legislation on a close vote.  That potential might provide some incentives for backers to begin the hard work of building a viable third party, which could finally compete with Democrats and Republicans.

Granted, it would be a pretty risky move.  With nothing to stop them, a party that held both the Congress and the White House would have carte blanche to do whatever it wanted.  On the other hand, if things get bad and that party gets tossed out of power, it would also be a lot easier to undo legislation.  No matter what, though, doing away with the filibuster would be a serious shakeup of the system.

That’s why Republicans will probably never attempt it.

But if the Democrats take back the Senate and the White House?

Anything goes.

DR Radio

DR Radio: Election Special Edition

In this edition of Dead Reckoning Radio, we go all out on our 2016 Election coverage. We talk about the reasons for voting, “throwing away” your vote, the candidates on the top of the ticket, and the nature of down-ballot voting. Note: We experienced some technical difficulties during the first commercial break but the audio *does* correct after a few minutes.

For full show notes or to subscribe to the podcast, visit our site.

A Third Party Cannot Rise Without Killing the GOP

“Unless we want 20 years or more of single-party, Democrat-socialist rule, any third party movement must set as its first goal to help the GOP along into that good night. The country just may not survive the alternative.”

A year ago, John Boehner stepped down from the second most powerful position in our government, and now he’s lobbying for big tobacco player Reynolds American. In a nutshell, this is what’s wrong with American government, and why something has to die before a real third party effort can take hold.

Boehner joined super lobbyist law firm Squire Patton Boggs and brought two of his aides along with him. He’s also joining the board of Reynolds American, for a cool $400,000 a year. For comparison, that’s what the President of the United States makes. The former speaker’s compensation with his new law firm has not been disclosed. He joins Trent Lott, Jack Kingston, and a raft of other former elected and high level appointed government officials at the lobbying firm.

Government is all about relationships. Parties are organizations, but politics is done in the Members’ Dining Room, on the softball field, and on the putting green. Deals are made, friendships are cultivated, and backs are scratched. Sitting among the legislative clubhouse denizens are think-tanks, issues-oriented lobbying groups, the press and the pundit class.

The money tree is deeply rooted in party politics. When on occasion a group forgets its allegiance, the enforcers become very much in evidence. The latest example of this is the Freedom Caucus of the House’s refusal to transfer cash to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

The dispute, which one chief of staff for a House Republican called a “brewing war,” is another sign that the schism between the activist and establishment wings of the House GOP Conference has spread to the campaign trail. Over the summer, conservative- and establishment-aligned outside groups poured millions into primary showdowns between far-right and center-right candidates.

The Republican National Committee is completely vested in the Trump campaign, and keeps 20 percent of funds raised for Trump as part of their joint fundraising committee. The protectiveness of party relationships over principles was on full display during the Republican National Convention, when any who dared support a roll call vote for a rules package, or any kind of speed bump to potentially derail the Trump train, faced an increasing level of private persuasion, intimidation and even threats.

The time would seem to be ripe for a third party. Aaron Gardner wrote at RedState:

There has been no time in my life when the rise a new major party, or two, seemed plausible … until now. Many people are just no longer represented by either major party. Conservatives are left without a home for our ideology, blue dog democrats have likewise been purged from the left, libertarians are even being taken for somewhat of a ride by their candidates as well.

I see a lot of demand for something better, something that reflects the values both parties have tossed off as cliched aftereffects of a bourgeoisie class of American’s they believe no longer exist, or deserve a voice. Unfortunately, there seems to be no real supply.

To build a third party, it will take an immense amount of cash, and a titanium backbone. It’s not enough to glom onto voter angst, as the Tea Party did, and failed to convert. The Tea Party did, however, make headway into the GOP. Unfortunately, this election cycle threatens to wipe out all those gains.

As Erick wrote, “the Republican establishment will blame people like me for giving rise to Trump and Trump supporters will blame people like me for his loss. I suppose I should say not that I’m in an odd position, but that I am in a no-win position.” This also goes for Ted Cruz, and anyone who would dare to stand up to Trump should he win.

I would guess that many who have offered their weak endorsement to Trump’s candidacy did so in the hopes he would lose and they would be able to claim they did their part, and continue the fight for the soul of the Republican Party. But I’m afraid that soul is already lost.

How can a third party overcome the billions of dollars that flow through K Street firms (Squire Patton Boggs has revenues of $950 million), the invested interests of Congressional and Senate staffs, the revolving doors of the think-tanks and advocacy groups, and the political press?

They have to kill it. Something has to die. The money tree has to be cut off. That means some good organizations will suffer, but some well known, big name will have to defect. George Will renounced his Republican Party membership. Would someone like him pick up the mantle for a third party? Would the Heritage Foundation sever its relationship with Republican lawmakers to lend gravitas to a new order? Would Club for Growth?

It would take more than simple advocacy for primary candidates in Republican elections. It would take more than choosing among the least-worst option or engaging in nose-holding. A third party effort has to focus on killing the Republican Party, knocking out the incestuous consultancies, quid pro quo arrangements, and featherbedding that has so corrupted it.

There’s a reason that the Constitution Party and other conservative independent parties are marginalized. They are happy to co-exist with the GOP. As Chairman Reince Priebus indicated last week, if anyone isn’t on board with the Trump train, the party is not given to warm welcomes.

I would be joyful to see a third party begin to organize and rise, with some big names in conservative thought behind it. David French and Evan McMullin, the former with the courage to consider an independent run, and the latter just insane enough to do it, come to mind. McMullin has the right idea:

“I believe it may be necessary to start a new political party that rededicates itself to the cause of individual liberty and to tolerance and diversity in this country,” McMullin says. “The most likely scenario for the Republican Party is that it becomes decreasingly relevant in American politics and that it cannot be saved anytime soon, if at all. I believe that it is time for a new conservative movement.”

Unless we want 20 years or more of single-party, Democrat-socialist rule, any third party movement must set as its first goal to help the GOP along into that good night. The country just may not survive the alternative.

If The GOP Won’t Defend Life, Could a Third Party?

The no-compromise issue for any election, for me, has always been defense of life–the abolition of legal abortion in America. For the cause of life, I will abandon any political loyalty to a party or group that forsakes that sacred right.

In January, 2015, Erick predicted a cataclysm for the GOP, breaking RedState’s own posting rules when he wrote “[maybe] it is time for a third party to give the GOP competition.” He called upon the pro-life movement to “stop being the whores of the GOP.”

Well, we know where that ended up. None of the major political parties have proffered a solidly pro-life nominee. It’s not like we didn’t have the chance–and in fact we still do have the chance, because Donald Trump is doing everything he can to open the hatch on his submerged campaign and sink it deep into the sea.

But if the GOP does not avert disaster and reject the vomitous profligate now stitched to the top of its neck like Frankenstein’s head, could there be another option?

Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, thinks there could be.

The agenda of a Party of Life is easy to draw up: it is opposed to the destruction of innocent life, and seeks to make the practice illegal. Agenda items could include the appointment of pro-life judges; ending of state taxpayer funding of abortions via Medicaid; the institution of the Reagan Rule regarding federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood and other organizations; passage of 20 week bans on abortion at the state level; removing the employer funding requirement of Obamacare for IUDs; requiring additional oversight of abortion clinics; and ultimately, the passage of a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution.

On the surface, it would seem Domenech is describing something that already exists: National Right to Life, which operates a PAC, a Victory Fund, and an extensive legislative and candidate endorsement operation. But National Right to Life isn’t a party with its own candidates. Domenech thinks that’s an important distinction, although he doesn’t mention any organization by name. He cites pro-life donors sitting on the sidelines because there are no acceptable options. Therefore pro-life groups have to hold their endorsements, and their cash. This ultimately hurts the cause.

The point of transforming this cause into a single issue party would be to reassert the importance of the pro-life agenda after decades of it being a low priority for politicians. It would also be an attempt to undo the great sort that has led pro-lifers into a monopartisan alliance with Republicans, an alliance that has produced little good in the past three decades.

But the problem we have is that politics is downstream of culture. In order to effect change in politics, we first must energize those who defend life, and find a way to spread that energy to the country, which has prioritized life low on the totem pole this election. Disaffected voters don’t follow parties–they follow candidates. They don’t vote policy, they vote ideas and specific issues.

At this time, although abortion is a huge issue for many Christian voters, and a majority of Americans favor the pro-life argument, it’s not the top of the list that filters down into political choice for mainstream America.

Ultimately, abortion is an issue for God to deal with. He feels every one of those deaths, even if the ghoulish staff doesn’t. Even if some of the soul-seared mothers are proud of their murders, God knows the pain of loss.

You must understand, abortion is like the last great abolition movement, slavery, was in the mid-19th century. The Republican Party was not birthed as a political knife to lead the abolition movement. It was birthed as a vessel to hold a movement which had already been birthed in the culture by God.

For there to be a Party of Life, there needs to be a predicate revival of the Cause of Life. That is God’s business, and He is working (always).

Our options in 2016 are rather limited. Either the GOP will reject Trump in favor of a more pro-life candidate, in which case I will vote Republican, or there will be no acceptable candidate for me and millions of other pro-life voters. If there is to be a third party, it will follow, not precede, the spiritual death of the GOP.


P.S. Here’s a synopsis of how I believe God might energize a pro-life cultural revival in America.

I don’t have enough space to make all the connections here (read this piece I wrote in 2014 for the full story) but God raised up revival preacher George Whitefield, who influenced businessman John Thornton, whose sister was the aunt of William Wilberforce. Wilberforce joined John Newton (who wrote Amazing Grace) and they spent their lives dedicated to ending slavery in England, which they eventually did.

Amazing Grace became the most famous hymn in America in the early 19th century–today they’d call it a top ten hit, a chartbuster. It sparked a revival, in fact. Meanwhile, the politicians made deals and equivocated, using the abolitionist movement as their leverage as they needed it for other priorities (like westward expansion into Kansas).

Then the preacher Henry Ward Beecher pastored a church in New York, and in 1847 his sister Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or Life Among the Lowly). It was the most popular book in America by 1855. The abolition movement had pierced the hearts of the culture of America, and the result was Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy in the newly-minted Republican Party.

This is how God words, in hearts, not voting booths. Candidates and parties are the outworking of cultural trends, not the cause of them.

Producers of The Gosnell Movie raised $2.3 million on Indiegogo in 2014 to film a drama based on the despicable life of abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell. That movie is now nearly completed and may soon be released. When it happens, I am praying that God moves mightily in people’s hearts. While our culture may reject the actual horrors of Planned Parenthood, just like it rejected the actual horrors of slavery, those horrors may find a blade to piece the heart through art, as they did 161 years ago.

Yes, Punish Them

i understand that David French or any other third party independent candidate has asymptotic-to-zero chance of winning the White House. I agree that voting for someone other than the totally unfit and terrible candidates produced by the major parties is a matter of conscience.

But assuaging my conscience is not the reason to vote for French or any other acceptable conservative  independent choice. If assuaging my conscience was the sole reason for throwing my vote away, I’d simply stay home.

The reason to vote for a conservative is to punish the GOP for its whoredom and Trump for being the John. They must be punished and in a way everyone will recognize.

Trump must not simply lose but he must lose in the worst, most humiliating landslide in presidential election history. I would prefer all 50 states if possible. Swaying just 4 to 7 percent of the vote away from Trump is all it will take in many states.

The polls show that the country is begging for this to happen. The sycophants, cowards and prostitites in the GOP need to wear their scarlet letter. And future proto-despot party rapists need to be dissuaded from attempted rape.

What the GOP has wrought does not represent the will of the people. It’s at best an illusion and at worst a cult. (I favor the worst.)

I hope French (or someone) runs so I can support him and vote for him. Not for my conscience, but yes, to punish those who forced this upon us.

Bill Kristol’s Third Party Rumors and What Matters Most

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard has been one of the leaders amongst conservatives in trying to field a third-party or independent Presidential candidate so conservatives have someone to support in November.

Yesterday he tweeted this cryptic update:

On the other hand, my friend and mentor Hugh Hewitt offered this word about Dr. Larry Arnn, also a respected voice amongst conservatives, arguing against the #NeverTrump movement and a third-party offering.

I will be very interested in seeing what comes of Kristol’s comment as I think many conservatives are becoming resigned to having no one to vote for with a clear conscience. However, a word of caution. For too long conservatives in general, and Christians in particular, have placed their hope in the next Presidential candidate.

If only we can get the right person in the White House…. If only we can get the right justices on the Supreme Court…. If only we can pass an an amendment protecting prayer in schools…. Meanwhile the culture has gone to hell.

As Andrew Breitbart was fond of saying, “Politics is downstream from culture.” And culture is not ultimately decided by who occupies the Oval Office–although there is no doubt it can be shaped by the behavior of that person. Our natural tendency is to focus on the easy button–just get that person elected or stop that person from being elected– and all will be well. But it doesn’t work that way.

No matter the outcome of this election, I was reminded of what matters most yesterday as our family gathered with several other families from church for an afternoon of fellowship and community. Relationships matter. Children matter. Faith-focused community matters.   Friendships matter. Healthy marriages matter–not just marriage in general, but your marriage in particular.

Now is not the time to pull back in fear and hide in isolation because of our poor choices for Commander-in-Chief. Now is the time to rebuild our families, our faith, and the communities and institutions that truly can make America great again. Such efforts are not made-for-tv events. They take time and plenty of persistence, but the alternative is  unthinkable.

As we pause to remember the fallen today who sacrificed so greatly, let us determine to do what matters most in cultivating healthy families and communities, even as we do what we can in the world of politics. As Erick and I write in You Will Be Made to Care:

The resurgence required to defend our freedom to believe must begin from the ground up, not the top down.

For far too long, Christians in America have looked to Washington and put their trust not “in name of the Lord our God,” but in horses, chariots and Justice Antonin Scalia. That needs to change if we are going to be good and faithful stewards of the Gospel.

That being said, focusing on building local community, growing individual faith, and strengthening the institutions of family and the church does not mean that we run from political involvement. God instituted and ordained human government. He gave ample guidance to those in authority.

As Christian citizens of a democratic republic, we have a responsibility to engage in the political process and influence it for good to the extent we are able. Nevertheless, we cannot lose our eternal perspective.

5 Reasons #NeverTrump Must Run a Conservative Third-Party Candidate


As conservatives come to the end of sitting shiva over Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party, many in the #NeverTrump movement are wondering: what next? After all, honorary American citizen Winston Churchill had a little something to say about surrender. A third-party conservative candidate can accomplish something positive this election cycle even if winning the White House remains the remotest of wild dreams.

  1. A conservative third party will lay out the principles of the conservative movement of the future – a new Sharon Statement of non-negotiables. 

Not only would a third party give us a candidate to rally around, but it would also give us a platform. With the virtual implosion of the “establishment,” this is the opportunity for conservatives to decide what principles and policies are truly important to the cause, and build a constitutional restorationist party platform. Additionally, like the Against Trump issue of National Review, it would provide a line in the sand for future historians, when liberals begin the inevitable attempt to sling the albatross of Trump’s misdeeds around conservatives’ necks.

  1. It will deny Trump the White House.

The pundits who assured us that Trump could never secure the nomination are the same ones assuring us that he’ll never get to hang his gold-lettered nameplate on the White House gates. Conservatives should prefer divided government to President Trump, for the reasons detailed here. Recent polls have shown toss-ups in key states.

A reasonable goal for a conservative third party would be to aim for 15 to 20 percent of the popular vote and victories in a state or two. Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas – states that have shown real resistance to Trump’s nomination, but have low Democrat registration numbers – could be potential targets for a conservative candidate.

  1. It will give conservatives a reason to turn out and vote down ticket, when many might otherwise stay home and create a disastrous year for state and Congressional races.

Practically speaking, staying home in protest dooms Republicans down ticket – Republicans conservatives will desperately need to oppose either a Trump or Clinton administration. The new Trump voters are unlikely to vote a straight Republican ticket, since many are crossover Democrats themselves. Having an exciting third party candidate to rally around will bring conservatives out to polling stations in November, many of whom may not bother to vote at all when the Presidential choices are so unappealing.

  1. It will get a conservative on stage to communicate the conservative message to the country.

The presidential election every four years provides an opportunity for millions of Americans who do not normally follow politics very closely. If no conservative third-party candidate emerges to communicate that message, the next six months will be a conservative message-free zone. A candidate with high enough name ID to break through the polling barriers to get onto the debate stage would ensure that Americans hear conservative ideas while they’re tuned in to hear them.

  1. It will make it more difficult for Trump to ignore conservatives as a voting bloc.

Quietly staying home will not give Trump much incentive to placate conservative voters, something he’s proven he’s disinclined to do anyway. There are thousands of Republican voters preparing to hold their noses and vote for Trump who will think twice when presented with an even minimally-viable alternative. The threat of losing these voters will restrain Trump’s inevitable liberal pivot for the general election.

This year, Tea Party conservatives have learned the hard lesson that we are not just the minority of the electorate, we’re a minority even within the Republican Party. But a determined minority can do a great deal to sway the path the country; self-described liberals have never broken 25 percent in polls, yet they’ve undeniably deeply influenced the history and culture of the United States. An organized conservative third party bid has real, tangible benefits, and declares us as what we ought to strive to be – a vocal, organized remnant standing athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’”