Debate Forum 09/29


By Tim Walker

Americans no longer trust politicians—as if they ever did.

In April of 2015, the Pew Research Center released the results of a poll, which stated that fewer than one in four Americans trusted the federal government “most of the time.” Similarly, a 2014 Harvard Institute of Politics survey revealed that only 31 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 trusted the federal government overall, while only 32 percent of that same age group trusted the president to “do the right thing most or all of the time.”

This should come as no surprise to most readers—any discussion of Washington politics with your average person on the street reveals a level of distrust, and disgust, usually reserved for rabid dogs and convicted felons. Americans, it seems, have been growing more and more disenchanted with politicians, and with our political process, for the past several decades. In the November 2012 presidential elections, the percentage of the voting age population which actually turned out to their local polling station was a dismal 54.9 percent (down from 2008’s 57.1 percent, but still higher than 1996’s shameful 49 percent turnout). Voter turnout in non-presidential election years, as a rule, is markedly lower.

The reasons behind this sentiment are numerous, of course. While our nightly news is filled with tales of politicians on the take, scandals, gerrymandering, campaigns financed by special interests and lobbyists who seem to have taken over the political process, the average citizen is left to wonder if his or her own needs are too often placed on the back burner by the very people they elected to office.

This disenchantment with our elected officials has found fertile ground on the campaign trail for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination for the 2016 elections. The front-runners in the polls have, up to this point, been non-politicians from the private sector:

Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson. A real estate developer and reality TV star, a former CEO, and a neurosurgeon, respectively, none of whom has held elected office, but who have garnered far more attention in the news media than the career politicians who consistently trail them in the polls.

A TV star and media personality? Big business CEOs? Are these people qualified to run our country, even if they somehow manage to win the support of one of the major political parties? Does the job of President of the United States carry with it the requirement that anyone holding the office must be well versed in playing the political game?

There is some precedence for the current situation. Herman Cain, a business executive and Tea Party activist from Georgia, was a major force in the campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Cain was the front-runner for the nomination in the fall of 2011, even briefly leading Barack Obama in the polls before his campaign was derailed by allegations of sexual misconduct. Ross Perot, a wealthy businessman from Texas remembered for his fervent opposition to the NAFTA agreement, ran for president as an independent in 1992 (receiving 18.9 percent of the popular vote) and as the Reform Party

candidate in 1996. Consumer advocate and author Ralph Nader has also run respectable campaigns for president many times, as both a Green party nominee and an independent candidate.

Too often these non-politicians, lacking the backing of the movers and shakers in the major parties, fail to garner the grass roots support they need to make a run for the land’s highest office, and their campaigns fade and vanish. However, with the field wide open for the Republican presidential nomination, and with the front-runners being non-politicians, the question begs to be asked …

Tim Walker is 50 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their 2 children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz and black t-shirts. Reach him


Right person, right time

By Ben Tomkins

Politicians have, by definition, made careers out of developing a narrative and policy package that relates to the constituency they intend to represent. They have invested themselves in gaining an understanding of the machinations of government and working within its systems to govern effectively. In terms of the presidency, the advantage that existing or former members of Congress have is that they have served on committees dealing with all aspects of the country’s policies, and spend their average working day considering the ramifications of upcoming legislation, negotiating it or directly voting on it.

I won’t belabor the point that being president requires the highest level of capabilities in these and many other regards, as it is sufficient to say this:

The Presidency of the United States of America is not an entry-level position.

It is no surprise then, that with three exceptions, all of our presidents have come from offices that operate on the national scale, whether it be as state governors or members of Congress. Three is a convenient number at this time, as the three frontrunners in the Republican primary also are wholly unelected individuals. As precedent for this exists, it would be worthwhile to examine those three former presidents to find out where they gained their qualifications, and what the quality of their presidency was.

1. George Washington is primarily known for being the first president of the United States. His career highlights include serving as Commander in Chief of the continental army and winning the war that allowed us to exist. He also participated in the Constitutional Convention, and had a monument erected by his successors that eclipsed the Cologne Cathedral as the tallest structure in the world. That belonged to God.

2. Ulysses S. Grant was the Commanding General of the United States Army who was responsible for ending the Civil War and reuniting the country that Washington cobbled together in the first place. He oversaw Reconstruction, the passage of the 15th Amendment giving people the right to vote regardless of race or former condition of servitude, and also drank a lot. He wasn’t that great a president, but given the gene pool available at the time, he was as good a pick as any.

3. Dwight D. Eisenhower, on the other hand, was an excellent president. His name was made saving the United States, and indeed, the world, from a fascist takeover by the Axis powers. To be fair, it can’t really be said that he had no serious political experience, as he was in charge of running a large part of Germany for a period of time. He also began the U.S. space program, which resulted in the first annexation of another part of the universe.

The point I’m trying to make here is that these three individuals didn’t fall out of the sky. All three of them were experienced with the highest levels of government for years before they took office, and spent many, many hours dealing with Congress, presidents and all sorts of interesting foreign and local affairs. This is the sort of standard that we hold our presidents to who are not career senators etc.

So who are the three candidates presented to us today?

1. Carly Fiorina was an executive for Hewlett Packard before she was fired. Her political experience is the greatest of the three candidates in question, as she worked for John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid—one of the greatest campaigns ever run—and ran the fundraising branch of the Republican National Committee’s “Victory” campaign. When asked whether or not she thought Sarah Palin was qualified to run a business like HP, she responded “no, I don’t. But that’s not what she’s running for. Running a corporation is a different set of things.” I’ll let the prism of irony refract the infinitely rich collection of thoughts that sentence entails.

2. Ben Carson is a master brain surgeon. Seriously, he’s one of the best ever. It is infinitely more impressive when he clearly doesn’t think he had any business mucking around in people’s heads anyway given that he’s a proponent of Intelligent Design, which lends the impression that tinkering with God’s plan is a bit hypocritical. He has no experience in politics other than joining the Republican Party in 2014, a move he described as “pragmatic” given that he wanted to run for the presidency in 2016. Also, not a fan of Muslims.

3. Donald Trump is best known to me for putting out Trump the Game: It’s not Whether You Win Or Lose, it’s Whether You Win, which I played about three times as a child and then threw out. It sucked. For everyone else, he’s best known for making billions of dollars, running The Apprentice, bad hair and saying things that are about the least presidential collection of thoughts ever compiled. His foreign policy experience tops out at marrying a woman from Czechoslovakia, a country which has since fallen to pieces.

What I’m trying to say here is that we have choices to make. People from outside the political spectrum can, in fact, be successful presidents. However, there are levels of difference between people, and there are times when particular people have surfaced for particular reasons. This is worth a thought.

Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at


Here’s to the outsider

By Mike Snead

Having a computer freeze—the famed “blue screen of death” for Windows—provides everyone with a common understanding of what becoming dysfunctional means. Our political system has now become dysfunctional. Every American with common sense understands this. What every patriotic American knows is that the path of decline the nation is now on will end badly. The solution is voter activism, starting with the upcoming election of the president. This commentary is aimed squarely at center-right voters deeply concerned about this decline and wondering what they can do.

The starting point is to accept that only engaged center-right voters will stop this decline. Liberal/progressive/socialist voters have brought us to this point and will gleefully push this nation into anarchy and collapse by voting for any Democratic presidential candidate. The only way to prevent this outcome is for engaged center-right voters to be super-rational—to forge a path to election victory for a Republican candidate who will not only defeat the socialist Democratic candidate but also undertake effective actions as president to put this nation back on a path to success.

In the upcoming Republican presidential primary elections, the political adversary for engaged center-right voters is the “establishment” wing of the Republican Party. Most Republican politicians eagerly self-identify as an establishment member because this action most easily advances their political career, provides campaign funding resources and best assures their long-term personal prosperity. In 2010, with the election of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and in 2014, with the election of a Republican majority in the Senate, the self-preservation priority of establishment Republican leaders is plainly on display. During campaigns, they will make whatever “promises” are needed to be elected or reelected only to find excuses why “now” is not the right time to act when the legislative opportunity arises to implement their promises—e.g., repealing Obamacare, stopping the Iran agreement, fixing the VA, etc.

The only way to defeat establishment candidates is to vote in the primary election for an “outsider.” Engaged center-right Republican voters have awakened to this need for the 2016 presidential primaries. Hence, the outsider candidates have surged to the lead in early polling. Voters sense that candidates without any taint of establishment political baggage—unspoken political IOUs placing their private promises superior to any conflicting “elect me” public campaign promises—are the best way to fix our dysfunctional political system.

Within our political system, it is very difficult to find an existing Republican politician that can rightfully be considered an “outsider.” Only those with a clear, consistent and long-term public opposition to establishment Republican self-preservation actions meet this test. Beyond such outsider politicians, engaged center-right voters have decided to look to other accomplished candidates, typically from the business sector, to see if they have “the right stuff” to lead a renewal of America. Given the seriousness of the current political mess and the apparent unwillingness of the establishment wing of the Republican Party to take any steps to fix this mess, such a search for a non-politician outsider is both appropriate and vital.

Engaged center-right Republican primary voters—which should include you—should pay careful attention to the candidates’ demeanor, knowledge, forthrightness with respect to identifying any existing secret political obligations, candor in acknowledging critical domestic and foreign policy issues, details of solutions offered to favorably resolve these issues and respect paid to the process of selecting our Republican nominee. Here, it is important to exercise super-rationality by ignoring the changing polls, the trivia of publicity-seeking attacks and the often intentionally misleading “objective” commentary of TV personalities. All such things are intended to elicit an emotional response from you in order to prevent rational thought. Instead, focus on substance, seeking two to three candidates who intelligently propose solutions you support and have a personal and campaign demeanor you respect.

The final step for super-rational center-right primary voters is to engage directly. At this time, the most important step is to make modest donations to the political campaigns of the candidates you can support. Merely concluding that you like a candidate does nothing to signal to others your support. Making a donation does this while giving the candidate moral encouragement and the financial means to continue.

It is very important for the engaged voter to understand the two primary “rules” of our politics. Rule No. 1: Politics is all about who rules us and how they rule us. Use this rule to filter what you see and hear about American politics to better understand the “why” of the current dysfunctional government. By applying this filter it is apparent that the current dysfunctional state is considered “success” for those now with the political power to rule us. Otherwise, it would be changed, right?

The second rule is even more important. Rule No. 2: Under the U.S. Constitution, “we the People” decide who will rule us. We do this by un-electing establishment Republicans and electing better people during the primary election to represent the grassroots Republican Party. How we know whom to unelect and whom to support comes from our super-rational approach to picking and supporting candidates—starting with supporting non-establishment 2016 Republican presidential candidates. The future of America is now clearly in the hands of grassroots Republican primary voters like you—yes, you!

Mike Snead is a professional aerospace engineer focused on advanced human spaceflight and energy systems. You can reach him at


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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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