Oh Say, Can You Stand?

Colin Kaepernick has every right not to stand during the singing of our national anthem. That is a freedom guaranteed to him by our Constitution and protected by the military and law enforcement officers whom he is choosing to disparage.

Fans across the country also have the right to agree with him, or to express their outrage at Mr. Kaepernick’s generalizations and mal-informed commentary. If they want to burn his jersey in protest, that is also their right. If they want to boycott the 49ers, or boycott any product that he has endorsed, they can go ahead and more power to them. That is how the marketplace works.

I hope the NFL doesn’t take punitive action against Kaepernick. That might have a chilling effect on his First Amendment rights. I hope the NFL remembers said rights when the Dallas Cowboys want to display pro-police decals on their uniforms, or when some closet white supremacist screams, “Make America great again!” as he runs through the goal posts. The NFL should stay out of politics and stick to policing quarterbacks who suck the air out of their balls, or slapping the wrists of wife-beaters.

My minimal research indicates that Mr. Kaepernick is a man of considerable wealth. If he wanted to have a meaningful impact on race relations, there were other, far less petulant methods he might have employed to do so. But given the recent climate of symbolism over substance that permeates our politics and our culture in this country, I’m not surprised he chose this route; a route that might very well backfire on him. He probably should analyze the career trajectory of The Dixie Chicks before he pulls more stunts such as this one.

Or, maybe I’m just over-thinking the whole thing. My minimal research also indicates that Mr. Kaepernick has spent a lot of time on the bench of late. Maybe he just got to like sitting down so much that he didn’t feel that the flag was worth stretching his legs.

My final thought…thank God Denver didn’t acquire him! In the aftermath of Von Miller and The Great QB Question, we don’t need any more drama. Thank you, Marty.

Waiter! There’s a Fly in My Vinegar!

This will be my last blog post about the current election until November 9.

You cannot rationalize with irrational people.

A therapist once told me that and, as I grow older, I find that this little maxim becomes more and more true.

It applies to the current political landscape. A gulf has emerged, as symbolized by the feud between pro-Trump pundits like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and #NeverTrumpers like Bret Stephens and Jonah Goldberg. These folks were once on the same side, bound together by common principles and political enemies, but the invasion of Trump into this election has thrown everything and everyone asunder.

It’s one thing for the left and the right to come into conflicts of personalities. This is the natural outcome of a system that was designed to be adversarial. The left excels at name-calling and dirty attacks. But when Republicans start doing it to each other, it’s time to withdraw. There is nothing to be gained by below-the-belt fighting. These tactics may suit Donald Trump, but I thought Hannity was better than that. Obviously, I was wrong.

This kind of dirty pool has even crept into my personal life. Several friends and family members have started to sharpen their arguments with personal coercion when I state that I will not vote for Donald Trump. This disappoints me, but it is indicative of a larger truth that has shown its ugly head this year. It is best expressed by Bill Kristol who says, “Trumpism corrupts.” There is ample evidence of the truth of this statement. I have never seen an election so rife with pettiness and ranker than this one. Yes, that includes the Bush/Gore fiasco in 2000.

So, as of right now, I am done. I am finished posting various rants and raves about a political contest that started in the basement and has graduated to the sewer. I am following my dad’s example and am going to be a class act in the face of further bullying from the Trump camp. I am secure in my decision not to vote for Trump and have nothing to prove to anyone. I suggest those of you #NeverTrumpers adopt the same mentality. Hunker down and ride out the next two-and-a-half months quietly and gracefully.

I will impart one final truth before I conclude. In a free and open society, no one is obligated to vote for a candidate. A vote is the most valuable form of political currency. The best politicians learn how to woo voters, not bully them. In other words, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Sadly, Donald Trump never learned this very basic lesson and it will be his undoing (and that of his loyal base) in November.

If you want to continue to take an interest in my political machinations, you can follow me on Twitter at RyanO218.

Finally, a note of hope in these murky times. Despite the fear and anger from both the right and left, our country will survive, no matter the outcome in November.

Pick Your Poison

I recently received a message from a former student named Sai (pronounced Sigh.) Yes, you read it correctly. I used to be a teacher at the Colorado Center for the Blind. My job lasted for about two months. I’d love to share a story about how I got fired and went out in a blaze of glory, but truthfully, the job was temporary. It was a summer counseling job. I had the (ahem) honor to work with blind teenagers as a cane travel instructor.

Sai was one of our best. She was quiet, thoughtful and she never broke curfew. A lot of our male students had a crush on her, but she couldn’t be bothered with boys. She was too busy figuring out how to plan her cane travel route, cook a meal and memorize Braille contractions.

As often happens, I kept in touch with some of my students through social media. To that end, Sai wrote me privately a few days ago and asked this question. I will paste the relevant portion below, then give my response.

Quote:
Since you mentioned that you wouldn’t mind answering questions about politics, I’d like to ask one thing I’ve been curious about. Because you consider (or maybe used to consider) yourself a republican, but you don’t support Donald Trump, what are you planning to do when the election rolls around in November? I heard that some democrats who don’t like Hilary would bite their lips and vote for her anyway because they don’t want trump as president, so I was just wondering what republican supporters who don’t like Trump would do. Please let me know if you don’t feel comfortable answering any of my question, or if you’re already planning to address it in one of your future blog post. In the former case I’ll just wait to read your article.
End quote

Sai, here is your rather protracted answer.

I am a part of the Never Trump movement. That means exactly what it says. Under no circumstances will I ever be persuaded to vote for Donald Trump for president. He has had almost 14 months to convince me and he has failed miserably. Many Republicans disagree with me and I will try my best to illustrate their position later in this post.

I don’t believe that Mr. Trump has proven himself to be temperamentally suited for the Oval Office.

Serving as the President of the United States is the most difficult job in the world. It requires the ability to have a vision of what you think America should be. It requires the ability to compromise with many competing agendas. I don’t merely mean the Republicans and the Democrats, but you have to manage hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people, all with their own selfish interests in mind. A truly gifted leader has the ability to maintain his or her own vision while simultaneously respecting the goals and views of their opponents. If you want examples, study Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Most leaders are not truly gifted. If they are merely good, they possess the ability to steer a steady course in order to keep our country safe from harm, whether that harm comes from internal or external forces.

Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is completely bereft of these characteristics. He is a petty bully when he feels attacked, resorting to name-calling and blame displacement that is more befitting an adolescent than an adult. When he is asked about his views on issues of substance, he often dodges the questions, resorting to slogans and shallow political rhetoric to smooth over his very obvious deficiencies in his knowledge of political affairs.

He is capricious in the making of promises that have no chance of ever being kept. There is no practical way that we will ever build a wall along our southern border and compel Mexico to pay for it. There is no pragmatic way that we can ever start a trade war with China without suffering major financial repercussions. There is no legal or ethical way we can ever ban an entire religion from entering this country.

There are many other objections I have to Mr. Trump, but we don’t have enough time to go into all of them.

The other major red flag I will discuss here is the fact that Trump refuses to release his tax returns. It is pro forma for all presidential candidates to disclose their financial records to the public. Trump has made it clear that he refuses to do so. He blames an IRS audit for this, but that is a dodge. An audit does not prevent anyone from making their tax returns available for public scrutiny.

One of the biggest reasons that Trump inspires his supporters is because they believe that he is a rich man who creates jobs and builds things. Trump is, by nature, a braggart. If his tax returns would flatter his image as a self-made billionaire, he would release them in a heartbeat. Moreover, he wouldn’t just casually release them. He’d throw them in the faces of his skeptics, adding his middle finger to boot.

Yet, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, recently indicated that the Trump campaign had no intention of releasing his tax returns during the current cycle. I’m sure there are sound reasons for this. I believe that, if he were to show them to the public, we would learn a good deal about his finances that would not flatter his not-so-carefully crafted façade as an economic stimulator.

I am sad to say that many people who voted for Trump in the primaries were not smart. They chose not to employ their critical thinking skills, choosing instead to fall for his populist line of bs. After he became the Republican nominee, many who did not initially support him came reluctantly over to his camp. This is not because of his skills of persuasion, but rather, they are taking a desperate stand against the alternative to Trump, Hillary Clinton.

From an experience perspective, Hillary has Trump beat hands down. She was the First Lady for eight years, a senator from New York for six years and she spent four years as Secretary of State. Yet, many people on both sides of the aisle view her resume as a weakness. They believe that Hillary represents a broken and corrupt system that badly needs to be reformed. She does very little in her conduct to effectively counter this image.

Hillary badly mishandled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, she put our national security at risk by storing classified E-mail messages on her private server, then blatantly lied to the public, the press and FBI investigators in order to cover it up. The recent revelations that the DNC tried to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders came as no surprise to me. I am hard pressed to think that Hillary didn’t have a hand in it.

The feminist fanfare about Hillary shattering the glass ceiling by being the first woman nominee for president rings hollow with me. Her husband, former President Clinton, is a proven sexual predator. I firmly believe that she enabled and covered up his atrocious behavior, thereby putting many women in jeopardy, in order to advance her career. I have no doubt that she will perpetuate Obama’s liberal agenda for the country by appointing left-of-center Supreme Court justices, by federally funding abortion and by adding to our already staggering national debt.

I’ve heard a few Republicans say that they would rather bite the bullet and vote for Hillary, rather than support Trump. Frankly, I don’t know how any self-respecting Republican could ever pull the lever for Hillary. Trump exemplifies the stark fact that desperation makes people do crazy things. Whatever the case, I am too conservative for this option. In these perilous times, I could be persuaded to vote for a moderate Democrat, but such a breed doesn’t exist anymore, thanks largely to Bernie Sanders. At any rate, Hillary sure ain’t it.

Many Trump supporters have tried to pressure me to change my mind, invoking the anti-Hillary arguments. Sometimes, their attacks have become personal. One Trump supporter called me, “Narrow-minded,” because I refuse to back Trump.

I am not an inflexible person. I have made compromises in the voting booth in spite of my conservative world view. In 2008, I supported John McCain for president, even though he was not my first, nor second, nor third choice during the primaries. I disagreed with his stance on immigration, manmade global warming and campaign finance reform. That said, I believed that, at his core, he was a Republican who cared about the welfare of our country.

In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney, even though his involvement with socialized healthcare in Massachusetts and his past pro-choice views made me nervous. Once again, I perceived Romney as a decent person who would do what was best for the country.

But for me, Donald Trump is a bridge too far. He is an opportunistic, narcissistic bully with no real sense of what it takes to serve as the leader of the free world. Bill Kristol, a political pundit and father of the Never Trump movement, has a saying that I have found to be accurate. “Trumpism corrupts.” He is saying that Trump’s bad behavior has infected, not only the leaders of the Republican Party, but his supporters as well. If the high-pressure tactics of those who show a preference of the stick to the carrot is any indication, Kristol is dead right.

Trump’s tactics may have been effective in the primaries when the voters were fragmented between 17 candidates, but they have only served to backfire on him since the Indiana primary. Instead of instigating and provoking, Trump should be wooing disaffected members of the conservative base, as well as right-leaning independents. The fact that neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich would endorse him is very telling.

He should have made amends with Ted Cruz, thereby courting his endorsement at the GOP convention in Cleveland. Instead, his supporters tried to bully Cruz once again from the floor, only to discover that it was all for not. Cruz refused to endorse Trump, gaining my respect along with many other rock-ribbed conservatives. Even though the convention was hosted in Cleveland, Ohio Governor John Kasich refused to attend, declining an opportunity to associate himself with Trump’s antics.

As we head into the final three months of the campaign, Republicans now find themselves weathering one gratuitous controversy after another as Donald Trump attacks judges of Hispanic heritage, Gold Star families who happen to be Muslim and babies at his rallies. I don’t even want to talk about Putin. I understand that many want to shake up the political establishment in Washington D.C., but Trump is a walking, talking hand grenade who serves as the wrong kind of disruption.

This is the dilemma our country now faces. We get to choose which poison we’d rather drink. Would you rather sip a cyanide shake, or arsenic juice? I choose neither. My party affiliation creates no obligation for me to vote for any candidate, particularly when he (and many of his supporters) presume that they are entitled to my favors.

I was praying that a viable third-party alternative would emerge before the Republican convention, but my hopes have been repeatedly dashed. I investigated Gary Johnson, but in these troubling times of ISIS and the fatally flawed Iran nuclear deal, I feel the libertarian approach of non-intervention is willfully naive. So, I will do what Ronald Reagan did in 1976 and leave the presidential contest blank when I go to vote in November.

To my Trump-supporting comrades who would accuse me of a proxy vote for Hillary, nice try. That is a manipulation tactic worthy of The Donald, but it is not a positive argument in favor of a candidate. It was appropriate in 2008 when I cast a pro-McCain vote that was really anti-Obama, but it won’t fly this time. Trump is just too unstable to be given the nuclear codes. Yes, I remember Marco Rubio’s words, even if he doesn’t.

You asked whether or not I still consider myself a Republican. The answer is a hesitant, yes. I’m not ready to leave the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan just yet. That said, I am particularly angry at the way the GOP silenced descent on the floor of our convention two weeks ago when the anti-Trump delegates tried to have their say. I will remember those actions with bitter irony the next time some GOP official is censored from speaking on a college campus.

Despite our recent difficulties (which were largely self-inflicted), I still believe that the GOP is the best apparatus to keep this country on the right track. If we are still in chaos four years from now, I will give up my long-held Republican registration and become an Independent until such time as a viable conservative third party can be established.

Finally, Sai, let me slip briefly back into my role as your instructor. You’re in college now and you indicated to me that the pervasive sentiment on your college campus is liberal. I won’t presume to tell you how to think. I can only give you the facts as I see them and let you draw your own conclusions. Any good teacher or friend who truly cares about you will adopt this same approach. The structured discovery method is the best, whether we’re talking about cane travel, or life in general.

That said, the reason that the Democrat party is being pulled to the left is due to Bernie Sanders; a self-described socialist. Many of your professors and fellow students agree with the core tenants of socialism. I strongly urge you to employ your critical thinking skills that I know you have and analyze socialism.

When Bernie Sanders says that he wants to make college free for all, is it possible? I submit to you that there is no such thing. Someone, somewhere, will always have to pay the bill, whether it’s for college, entitlement benefits such as Food Stamps, or mass transit in a big city like Denver. When Bernie Sanders talks about breaking up the banks, is that something that a president should be allowed to do? When he talks about defunding the military, do you think Russia and ISIS would welcome such a thing?

Then, ask yourself, your friends and your teachers where socialism has succeeded in the world. I’ll give you a hint; take a hard look at Venezuela.

I appreciate your questions, Sai. You were a joy to work with two years ago and I hope you are well now. I apologize that this was so long, but I wanted to give you as thorough an explanation as possible.

Take care, Sai, and please do keep in touch.

Your friend and former instructor,

Osentowski!

Shoot it Black! Shoot it Blue!

I am an unapologetic supporter of the police. I think they are doing a thankless job in a society that values their worth less and less with each passing generation. My heart bleeds for the 12 cops in Dallas who were shot last night when a peaceful protest over the latest shootings of black suspects by white cops turned deadly.

I came into work this morning and two of my Boulder coworkers were opining that a federal investigation should be launched every time a police officer fires his/her weapon. Really? Would said investigation be conducted by the FBI, who just let a terrorist slip through their fingers; a terrorist who went on to shoot over 100 people in an Orlando night club? Or maybe the DOJ, who is likely going to no-bill a high-ranking official who carelessly, deliberately passed classified information through her private server, despite warnings not to do so? I am unsure of much in this life, but I am damned sure that the tensions between the police and minority communities will not be eased by our federal government. I firmly believe that they are best addressed on the local level.

As people view the videos of the shootings in LA and MN, it is important to remember that we are not getting the full context of the situation. Civilian videos are generally taken after an incident starts, so we almost never see the prelude to the shooting. This problem would be solved if body cameras were mandatory for all law enforcement officers, whether they live in New York City or Beatrice, Nebraska. In our instant digital age, body cams would provide constant video footage for both perpetrators and victims to use as evidence. It would give the general public a far better picture of what cops have to deal with on the streets where ambiguities are omnipresent.

The sniper who shot the 12 cops in Dallas did the Black Lives Matter movement no favors. If BLM took a King-style approach of ‘peace and love through strength’, they would’ve gotten much further with their message. Riots, looting and the retaliatory murders of police officers, who were merely trying to protect those exercising their First Amendment rights, changes the focus of the narrative and sets them back. As long as they continue to take their cues from Malcolm X., and as long as President Obama continues to lend them his tacit approval, they will be rightly labeled as a fringe organization bordering on terrorism.

As an aside, can someone please tell me what the hell Mark Fuhrman (a documented racist) is doing giving commentary on Fox News? I don’t care what his theories are about the O.J. case. He is part of the problem, not the solution.

God bless the five police officers who gave their lives in the performance of their duties. Prayers to their families and comrades who will never see them again. God bless the other seven officers who are recovering from their wounds. God bless Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and prayers for their loved ones.

#BlueLivesMatter

Roll On, God’s Will

I’ve tried to hold my tongue on this because I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but the plot is spoiled out there, so let me address some of the hysteria surrounding “Me Before You,” from the disabled community.

For those of you who are guilty of being, “Ablest,” and may not recognize the reference, here’s a friendly nudge. “Me Before You,” was a romance novel written by Jojo Moyes, which has now been adapted into a movie. The story takes place in merry old England and follows an active rich guy (Will) who is paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. A young girl (Louisa) who is a bit of a dim bulb takes a job as his caretaker. Long story short…Will encourages Louisa to become more educated and learn more about the world. She tries to convince him that he can still live a full life, even though he’s confined to a wheelchair. After six months, he admits that he’s had a better life than he has ever known, but flies off to Switzerland, where a doctor helps him drift off into the big sleep. But he leaves Louisa a nice nest egg so she can continue her education.

First, this is not an anti-disability movie. It is a pro-right to die movie, just as “Million Dollar Baby,” was. Where was the outrage over that? Could it be that Clint Eastwood just makes euthanasia look much more sexy? For all of you disabled leftists out there who support individual choice in the right to die arena, congratulations. You got what you wanted. How do you like it?

Sidebar: Get ready for the time (it isn’t too far away) when the abortion of disabled fetuses becomes much more common. Same concept… Other end of the spectrum. But it’s about personal choice so it’s all good, right?

Second, many so-called disabled activists are outraged because Hollywood depicts other minorities in a favorable light, while still looking down on the disabled. People, are you really surprised that we are at the bottom of the pecking order? The game of identity politics burst onto the scene in the 1960s. It was elevated to an art form in the 1990s. Why do you suppose the disabled haven’t gotten very far in the entertainment arena? Think hard. This is not a rhetorical question.

Third, many disabled bloggers (who often traffic in sanctimony) trumpet The notion that Jojo Moyes had no business writing this novel in the first place. One blogger says, “This wasn’t her story to tell.” This is a spurious argument that smacks of more than a little arrogant condescension. Larry McMurtry wasn’t alive in the 19th century. Does that mean he should’ve foregone the writing of Lonesome Dove? Dennis Lehane has written several novels dealing with racism. Should we burn his novels and lambaste his credibility because he’s white? Of course not! You can argue that Moyes’ novel was poorly researched or poorly written, but in a free society, you don’t get to decide who should and shouldn’t write what.

Finally, you know what Internet petitions are good for? Nothing! If I was really feeling generous, I could print one out with all 56,000 signatures, wipe my bum with it, crumple it into a filth-smeared wad and leave it in the compost bucket at work as a token for my greenie-weenie coworkers. One petition author whines, “Hollywood! Why do you want me dead?” Another calls this movie, “a disability snuff film.”

Folks, a snuff film is a movie in which someone is actually murdered for the purpose of exploitation. Nobody died in this movie. I know it’s common to employ hyperbole to garner attention, but for god’s sake, at least be accurate!

Ok, I’m done. Rant over. I’ve worked out all my stress, as well as other things while composing this on the toilet. Can somebody grab me that petition from Change.org out of the printing tray? I just ran out of toilet paper.

P.S.: As I stated at the beginning of this entry, I’ve not read the book or seen the movie. I have no intention of doing so. I have a lot of Hardy Boys books to get to before I’ll get around to reading a romance novel. I also don’t know anything about the writing abilities of Jojo Moyes. That said, irony often escapes the masses and subtlety is often drowned out by the megaphone of social media.

That said, some disabilities are involuntary and some are self-imposed. That is very likely the over-arching theme of the novel, if not the movie. Will chooses to allow his disability to rule his life and ultimately, his death, but he gives Luisa the wisdom and the tools to make a different choice for herself. Life is about choices, no?

I originally wrote this rant on Facebook. No one shared it; not even Evaney From Miami. I did get called, “A confrontational dick,” by Kevin; a guy who doesn’t even follow me. Thanks, Kev. Love your passion. You must be a Trump supporter.

Yeah…Trump. There’s a real handicap right there. Who am I to judge Will Traynor? If The Donald wins in November, maybe I’ll fly off to Switzerland for a consultation with Dignitas.

Dick Speaks

The following is an Email from Dad. He wrote it in response to my open letter explaining why I am a part of the #NeverTrump movement. I respect his position. I believe he genuinely wants the world to be better off for his kids and grandkids than it was for he and Mom.

Here is the letter:

Dear Junior, very nice email about your logic behind not supporting Donald Trump. Your historic memory is very good. Apparently not yet affected by beer and cigars! I agree with lots of your logic and wisdom and feel lots of Reps would agree with you that they wish DT would be more to his Presidential side and not use such poor judgment when it comes to using his descriptive vocabulary. Why is it that he is now in a dead heat with HRC in the National polls? Is it because he is such a Washington outsider and will be using the Bully Pulpit to get this country back on track? He is very hard to figure out but has to be given credit for his Business successes and that’s what makes it tough about if that can translate into success as a President. I think the next couple months will answer some questions going into the election this fall. When you continue to examine the past of the Clintons and her personal record as Sec of State, her association with Barack Obummer, the continued dishonesty and attitude of, “I’ll say anything to win the election,” which is exactly what BO did, and Hilary has done with the email scandal, most recent State Dept report to verify that, she can’t be trusted! I think most Reps are looking at this as DT as an unknown, But Hilary is for what she will do when she takes her scandal to office, most feel that the unknown is a better option for this election and more promise to get this country out of the slump BO has us in with the economic situation and the National respect stage. Let alone, something has to be done about the illegal immigration into this country, which Hilary won’t do but DT will. In the limited time left in your parents lifetime, compared to you boys, I am more willing to look at the unknown with Trump knowing it has to be better in the long run for my boys and Grand kids than if HRC got elected and was allowed to appoint Supreme Court justices and continue to make this country a State of people who are asking the Government, “What more can you do for me,” instead of JFK’s quote of, “What more can you do for your country?” Quite a difference in the Democrat philosophy back then. As an independent thinker you will figure this out before time to vote comes around. Plus the fact that we can sort it all out in June when you come for the beer and cigar festival!
Love,
Dick Sr.

Hands Down! Don’t Sue!

I have nothing but sympathy for the victims of the Aurora Theater shooting. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose a loved one to violence. Nor can I imagine the severe trauma of having your own body gravely injured by bullets. My heart goes out to the survivors of the tragedy.

That said, I feel that the civil lawsuit currently being adjudicated in Arapahoe County is misguided. 28 people think that Cinemark should have done more to anticipate and prevent the mass shooting.

I followed the shooting and subsequent trial closely and I don’t feel the facts support this assertion. The plaintiffs seem to base their case on a memo from the Department of Homeland Security warning that movie theaters could be a possible target of terrorist attack. Yet, the memo gave no guidance as to how a business should proceed to prevent such an attack. Until July 20, 2012, no movie theater had been subject to any kind of rampage as we saw in Aurora.

The plaintiffs suggest that Cinemark should have equipped every exit door with an alarm that would have alerted people to James Holmes’ entrance. This would require security to deactivate said alarm every time a movie ends so that the crowds of people using the exit doors would not set it off, then reactivate it once the theater is empty. This may seem like an easy call post shooting, but beforehand, it would have appeared to be an inconvenience.

James Holmes was not a terrorist. He is a psychotic monster who meticulously premeditated the slaughter of dozens of people. He selected a gun-free zone, then cased the theater and diagrammed the entire layout of the premises. He charted the response time of police and rescue units. He even booby trapped his apartment with explosives in the hope of killing more people. I do not believe that this was a man who would have been stopped by metal detectors or door alarms.

After a tragedy of this magnitude, there is always a tendency to blame. Many blame guns and the gun lobby. Others blame violence in our entertainment culture. Still others blame a failing mental health system. Personally, I tend to point my finger at the lawyers. Gun control? Faugh! How about tort reform?

God bless the victims of this evil, senseless tragedy. And I will also pray for James Holmes’ family. Contrary to the opinions of some, I don’t believe they are responsible for the murderous actions of their adult son. I do hope the victims can heal from this horrific episode. I just don’t feel that greedy, opportunistic lawyers assessing blame in a courtroom is the most viable solution.

Lessons

Dear Mom and Dad:

This letter will serve to respectfully, constructively explain to you why I will never vote for Donald J. Trump for president of the United States. I have three reasons. One is ideological, one is emotional and one is logical.

First, ideology.

You probably look back fondly on the era of Ronald Reagan. I know I certainly do. I was a kid growing up in the ‘80’s, too young to appreciate the treacherous landscape of politics. I had no idea of the kind of hostility Reagan faced during his eight years in office. I had no understanding of the import of the assassination attempt on him in 1981. The Challenger explosion was just a reason for my classmates and I to quit working for an hour as the entire school watched live video coverage in the Windy Hills library. As an adult, I have a far greater appreciation for Reagan, but back then, I was just a kid who hated school.

What I do remember from that time period are Doc and Dorothy (Grandma and Grandpa O.) They were Roosevelt Democrats who never had a disrespectful word to say about Reagan. They didn’t vote for him and they did not support his platform, but they respected the office of the presidency.

Eldon and Frances (Grandma and Grandpa G.), who were both Eisenhower Republicans, took the same view during the Clinton era. They did not like either Bill or Hillary, but they kept their criticisms respectful. I remember Grandma G. adopted an unusual tone of disgust when the Lewinsky scandal broke, but by the time it really caught fire, she had her stroke and was unable to follow the proceedings.

One only needs to study the course of 20th century history to understand why my grandparents revered the highest office in the land as they did. During their collective lifetimes, they witnessed two world wars, the Roaring ‘20’s, The Great Depression, the Cold War, the Korean Conflict, the assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War, the first man on the moon, Watergate, an energy crisis, the Iran Hostage Crisis, the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, the rise of terrorism, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the first war with Iraq. Despite these trials, they also saw many transformative achievements such as the rise of the automobile, the telephone, radio, television, computers and the internet.

In some respects, the Doc and Dorothy generation did their jobs too well. By providing an age of security and freedom for their kids, they also unintentionally paved the way to complacency. The Millennial Generation has never faced such a trial as a world war, a great depression or a presidential assassination. Their biggest worries are whether or not someone will violate their, “safe space,” or if the government will pay for their birth control pills. The only national tragedy they can remember is 9/11, but most of the Bernie supporters out there were just rug rats when the towers fell.

Don’t mistake me for a 41-year-old fogy. In many ways, our modern age is wondrous! The technology we now use is really amazing and it has allowed me to share this letter with many who might not otherwise see it. Heck…it allows me to read my mail without sighted assistance, which was merely a sci-fi dream when I was a kid. Yet, I do think the digital age has resulted in a sense of instant gratification for our young. They are the button-pushing generation.

Want new music? Just push a few buttons. Want to call a friend? Just touch your screen to activate a video call. Want a date? Call, It’s Just Lunch.

This is a large part of the reason why a man such as Donald Trump can get as far as he has. “You want jobs?” he says. “I’ll bring them back. I’m a successful businessman. I can do it.” “You want a wall? Mexico will pay for it.” “You want Putin to go away? I’ll make a deal with him. Putin loves me.”

Trump’s supporters are so eager for instant gratification, for deliverance from their fear and desperation, that they lap up whatever he says without critique. Never mind that the very things Trump promises are impossible for one man to render, given our political system; the very system that both of my grandfathers fought to protect overseas. Trump says it, so it must be so, right?

So I ask you this, Mom and Dad. What do you think your parents would think of Donald Trump if they were here? How do you think Trump would stack up against the great leaders of their time like FDR, Ike, JFK and The Gipper? For that matter, how would he stack up against the not-so-great leaders like Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter? My educated guess is, The Donald would come up short in either column. I know he bragged otherwise once on a debate stage, but I think he comes up short. He doesn’t measure up as a Republican, as a leader, or even as a human being.

I believe that the office of Commander in Chief is the most worthy office in the world. Despite the strife that often accompanies it, it is a position of great honor, nobility and yes…respect. If it’s occupants have not always lived up to the position, one can understand, given the fact that few humans are capable of doing so. Yet, the obvious fallibility of Mr. Trump indicates to me that he is grossly unworthy of such a position.

This leads me to my second reason; the emotional one.

When you refused to send me to the school for the blind in Nebraska City, you were taking a big risk. When you kept me home and enrolled me in the public schools, you could not have predicted how difficult my years in school would be. One of the reasons was due to the various bullies that plagued me during my elementary years.

When you encounter enough bullies, you develop a sense that alerts you to their presence. It’s like a dog that pricks up his ears at the first scent of another animal. It’s in his blood. I learned how to smell bullies there in Windy Hills. I smelled them in the classroom, in the halls, on the playground and on the way home from school. They were an unfortunate reality of my childhood. I learned about bullying from every angle; the verbal, the emotional and the physical aspects of it.

Sadly, bullies don’t go away when you become an adult. I’ve met them in college, in the workplace, in social settings and on the street. We’ll call this a silver lining. The upside to dealing with 10-year-old bullies is that they prepared me for how to better deal with them when I left home.

My Spidey Sense began buzzing over Trump after the first primary debate when he clashed with Megyn Kelly. It was clear he had a very thin skin. She asked him a tough question that was fair game and he made it personal. If there’s one thing a presidential candidate should not and cannot do, it’s let things become personal. Trump did and ultimately accused Megyn of being ruled by her menstrual cycle and of being a third rate reporter (neither of which are true.)

It didn’t stop there. Do you notice how he loves to label his opponents? “Little Marco, “ “Lyin’ Ted,” “Crooked Hillary.” The last one may be true, but it is worthy of a presidential candidate to stoop that low? I don’t think so. I think it’s a bullying tactic designed to whip up emotions and distract from the real issues.

If you disagree, what do you make of the way Trump berated John McCain for the fact that he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam? There are reasons to berate Senator McCain, but his service record is not one of them. What would Doc and Eldon think of that?

What about Trump’s blatant mocking of a disabled reporter? Shouldn’t that offend me as a disabled guy? Frankly, I was far more put off by the way he mocked Carly Fiorina’s face. She was and is a real class act about the whole thing and turned it to her advantage. I’m only sorry she will not be our vice-president.

And what of Trump egging on his supporters when they became violent with anti-Trump agitators at his rallies? “Go ahead! I’ll pay your legal fees,” he yelled. Is this presidential?

Coming from the perspective of someone who has lived through it, I can tell you that, when it comes to bullies, the worst thing you can do is validate and enable their behavior. Trump’s legions of supporters have already validated him by casting their votes. Frankly, this doesn’t surprise me. People love power and they love it when someone displays a mean-spirited streak. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone in a position of prominence say something cruel, only to be cheered and encouraged by an audience. I think a lot of Trump supporters love it when he makes fun of the way Marco Rubio sweats, or accuses Ted Cruz’s father of having a hand in the Kennedy assassination.

Well Mom and Dad, since you went through it with me, I think you’ll understand when I draw a hard line and say, no way! I will not support or enable or otherwise encourage Donald Trump’s juvenile, boorish behavior.

There is a stark difference between a bully and a fighter. Reagan was a fighter, but he also understood a very basic truth. To everything, there is a season; a time to make war and a time to make peace. This is a distinction that is lost on The Donald. I feel quite comfortable in surmising that he has never read Ecclesiastes. I doubt he could even pronounce it. If he ever read this, he’d go on Fox and Friends and accuse me of plagiarizing The Birds.

Now, to my third reason, which is based in logic.

After Trump’s blow-out victory the other night in Indiana, a Fox News commentator said that Never Trump people were, “Useful idiots for Hillary.” Newt Gingrich (whom some believe is bucking for a VP spot with Trump) echoed the sentiment by saying that those who do not back The Donald are functionally supporting Hillary.

This is an argument that is easily turned around. I could argue that Trump supporters are “useful idiots” for Hillary. This is based on my very reasonable belief that Trump simply cannot beat Hillary in the general election in November.

Without exception, every major, credible poll in America has Hillary ahead of Trump by double digits…and we’re only two days into the reality that he is the presumptive GOP nominee. What do you think will happen when Hillary starts to provoke The Donald? He will not have 16 other opponents to divide the field, but just one.

Whatever her shortcomings, Hillary is a shrewd politician. Roughly half the country will support her world view. All she has to do is take out mega advertising and fill it with old clips of Donald’s past comments about women, veterans, Muslims, Hispanics, etc. Do you think Donald will have the analytical skills and tactical fortitude to deflect her? I do not believe so. He has done nothing thus far to indicate that he has any common sense at all. In fact, I think his victory over a GOP field that was 16 strong will only encourage his crass behavior. He is too obtuse to realize that his luck thus far has been due to a combination of external factors that have nothing to do with his own political prowess.

Part of it has been luck and his luck will run out in six months, if not before. I still think he will ultimately self-destruct and the country will cry, enough! Until then, the Republican Party can count it’s dead and scratch it’s head wondering just what the hell happened. Maybe Ben Sasse is right and a viable third-party candidate will emerge. If so, Hillary will still win it due to a split GOP vote.

In closing, let me say that, like Grandma and Grandpa, you guys did your jobs too well. You taught me about things like honesty, integrity, respect for others with whom you disagree and kindness in the face of adversity. Mom, you always used phrases like, “Respect breeds respect.” Dad, you always told me I could be funny, but that I should also be a class act.

Are these intrinsic characteristics something you want in your child, but not your president? I can’t believe that. You raised me better than that. I am the seed you have planted and now I am a Republican in full bloom.

I write this with the knowledge that you were not initially Trump supporters. I know your desire for me to vote for Trump is born of an acknowledgement for the need for party unity. I am mindful of your desire to beat Hillary and stay loyal to the Republican Party. I want the same thing, but as this letter illustrates, I don’t believe for one second that Trump is the man who will get the job done. Quite the contrary. I think Trump will do far more to damage the Republican brand than he would do to grow it.

You always told me to go out and be a bridge-builder. In this age of encroaching socialism and the loss of personal freedoms, it is more important than ever that the message of conservatism rings loudly across the land. Is the man to carry that message the man who has donated thousands of dollars to Democrats over the years and who unapologetically defends himself by saying, “I’m a businessman. I make deals on both sides of the aisle.” I think not.

If you find none of my arguments to be convincing, we’ll have to agree to disagree (respectfully, of course.) You can put it down to the fact that I am still the strong-willed child.
Sincerely,

Your loving son and proud Republican,

RyanO

P.S.: Yes, I remember Grandma G. refusing to shake Bob Kerrey’s hand. He was a governor, not a president.

#NeverTrump

Window to a Footnote

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of participating in history.

It was merely a sliver of a much larger piece; a brief flicker on a movie screen. It certainly would not equate to The Boston Tea Party or the Treaty of Versailles. At most, the events surrounding the state convention of the Colorado Republican Party will eventually amount to no more than a footnote in most historical texts. Yet, this election is nothing if not historic, and I was glad to play a minuscule part in it. Given the controversy that is now swirling around the actions of the Colorado Republican Party, I thought my perspective (however insignificant) might prove valuable as another place marker in my life’s journey.

I spent the entire weekend in Colorado Springs. With apologies to the GOP, my main reason was not political. My girlfriend’s birthday was in close proximity to the convention, and that proved to be my prime motivator. It also may explain why I was more than a little tired when I got to the Broadmoor World Arena at approximately 8:45 on Saturday morning. It was not a good morning to go without coffee, but I had no choice as I had already overslept and was in a rush.

I could tell you about the myriad of speeches I heard. The chief form of entertainment at a convention is speechmaking. All of the state big-wigs put in quick appearances at the microphone; Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn, Mike Coffman and Ken Buck all spoke. But for my dough, the most interesting exchange took place, not on stage, but in the row directly behind me.

The dialogue occurred between two rank-and-file Republican delegates; one of them a supporter of Donald Trump, the other a backer of Ted Cruz. The Cruz supporter was a woman of advanced age with a telling Texas drawl. The Trump advocate was a guy who sounded as if he could’ve been anywhere from 30 to 60. Their personas were polar opposites of their candidates. The Cruz supporter was aggressive, abrasive and at times, rude. The Trump guy was soft-spoken and polite.

I didn’t have a sound recorder or a note taker of any kind so I’m paraphrasing here, but this is just some of what the Cruz lady said:

“Ted Cruz is a man who will do what he says he’s gonna do. When he was AG in Texas, he went after a couple of illegals who raped and murdered an 11-year-old girl. That’s cast-iron character right there. Donald Trump is a windbag who makes his straw through character assassination. We don’t need a leader like that. Ben Carson is a wimp. I can’t believe he would back a man like Donald Trump!”

The Trump guy didn’t bother to point out to her that she was engaging in the very behavior for which she was criticizing The Donald. The most he ever said was, “I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree about Trump.”

You could tell he was ready to withdraw from the encounter, but she kept pressing him.

“I just don’t see how Trump supporters can back a man who’s been on every side of an issue. Cruz is a man of his word. Ain’t that what we want in our politicians? When we finally get one, half the party craps out!”

Finally, the Trump guy got up and left. I didn’t blame him.

As for me, it’s strange how you can be on someone’s side on the issues, yet find that they chafe like sand paper underwear. I call it, the Dr. Laura Schlessinger phenomenon.

I could tell you more about the convention; the endless speeches, the transparent ass-kissing from the 597 delegates all wrestling for 13 seats, the ballpark hot dog and Pepsi I had for lunch, thereby emphasizing the sporting nature of the event. But let’s just skip to the part where Ted Cruz showed up.

My pal Bill told me that Cruz was on the schedule for 12:30. Given the nature of national campaigns with their vast arrayed of staff members, Secret Service escorts and death threats, not to mention the protesters (probably Bernie supporters) lurking outside the arena, I found it impressive that Cruz was only a half-hour late. According to my trusty iPhone, it was 1:05 when he took the stage.

At that point, I had forsaken my seat in my row. The noise, the crowd, the stadium-style steps, the confines of the seat strangling my torso, the mouthy Cruz fan behind me…all of these factors conspired to drive me downstairs, where I eavesdropped on Cruz’s speech at the bottom of a stairwell. A third of the way through, an authoritative voice said, “Sir, do you have a seat?”

“Maybe,” I replied.

“Well, I [‘m gonna have to ask you not to stand right here blocking the stairs, sir. It’s a fire hazard.”

“Sure thing,” I said with a smile and walked away. I found another stairwell further down and was careful not to stand directly in front of it. Luckily, the stairs were very close to an amplifier, so I could hear Cruz clearly.

Fire hazard or not, foot traffic was no problem during his speech. The hallway where I stood was absolutely clear. There wasn’t a soul on the steps nor in the area near me. In my mind, I imagined the arena filled to capacity as Cruz delivered his remarks.

Honestly, the speech itself was nothing you couldn’t see on the internet. It was the same platitudes delivered in Cruz’s trademark pseudo-televangelist’s style. The call-and-response nature made me want to hit my knees and beg for salvation. The noteworthy element was the energy that filled the arena. You could almost sense that my fellow delegates and alternates all realized that, despite Cruz’s cheap Reagan imitation, they were living during a distinctive moment in history.

After Cruz was finished, a human tidal wave flooded into the hallway. I flattened myself against the wall and waited as every Cruz supporter in the building headed for the nearest hot dog, soft pretzel and pizza slice.

The reason for the mass exodus became evident when I detected the light tones of a youthful voice coming from the arena. It turned out to be the Trump surrogate. I only caught snippets of his speech, but it sounded as if it was written by Bernie Sanders (or maybe Alex Jones?) as he railed against, “The Establishment,” “International corporate corruption,” and “Honey money politics.” The cheers received were sparse at best.

I missed John Sununu’s speech on behalf of John Kasich. Despite the fact that I believe that Kasich is irrelevant at this point, I must admit that I started to mentally check out after Cruz spoke. Darryl Glenn was a pleasant surprise and won my support. After doing my homework, I chose to support the slate of delegates who were pro-Cruz. I’d pretty much made up my mind by 2 PM and the rest was just fluff. You can only hear so many chest-thumping speeches before your brain begins to switch to cruise control.

The exception to this came during George Brauchler’s short speech. I’ve been partial to Brauchler ever since I heard him as a weekend radio host on KOA. Later, I sat with wrapped attention as he prosecuted the case against James Holmes (aka, the Aurora Theater Shooter.) I appreciate his direct style and plain language. I work in Boulder and my coworkers are a collection of clichéd leftist stereotypes. In a workplace where people are bound and determined that two plus two equals five, it was oddly comforting to be reminded that good and evil are still finite concepts. Brauchler is merely a human being like the rest of us, but sitting there in the cold control room, he served as the voice of justice. I also enjoyed his speech at the county assembly wherein he spoke of his family with evident warmth and affection.

The rest of my time was spent finding a reader for my ballot. Many thanks to J. R. (yes, that’s really his name) and his lovely wife for reading the ballot to me. I never got her name, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Sue Ellen. When I left, it was raining and nothing had ever felt so soothing to me.

My first hint of what was to come came the next day as my girlfriend and I returned from her birthday dinner. I glanced at Twitter and saw a lament from Matt Drudge that said:

“Does George Bush have to invade Colorado to make it a democracy? STUNNING Republicans had no primary or caucus. At least Dems are faking it.”

I dismissed this as the all too typical pro-Trump handwringing by Drudge and made a mental note to unfollow his personal Twitter account when I got home the next day. By the time I followed through on said mental note a day later, Trump was shrieking about a crooked, rigged system in Colorado and the national media was running with the ball. The Drudge sirens were shrill with headlines about, “voterless elections,” “stolen delegates,” and “Establishment tyranny.” Trump officials were accusing Cruz of using, “Gestapo tactics.” Colorado Trump delegates claimed that they had been banned from the convention, their names had been left off the ballot and that they were given no true voice at the venue.

The Cruz camp countered that they did their homework, while Trump slacked off by scheduling an event in Colorado Springs the day before the convention, then canceling at the last minute. By late Monday, GOP state chairman Steve House had canceled all interviews with the media and turned off his cell phone.

From this point on, let me be clear about my bias so there’s no mistaking where I stand. Up until March 16, I was a supporter of Marco Rubio. When he suspended his campaign, I switched my loyalty to Ted Cruz. I have done so with a clear conscience. I don’t have high hopes for a Cruz victory in November, but at this point, I’ll take substance over symbolism. I should also make it clear that, as I’ve previously stated in this blog, I will write in a candidate before pulling the lever for Donald Trump. That said, let me correct some of the misnomers that have been flying around since Saturday.

First, the sassy Cruz supporter who sat behind me at the morning session was an anomaly. I overheard many conversations that day and, with that one exception, they were all friendly at their best, civil at their worst. I never witnessed any bullying or intimidation on any side.

Next, Matt Drudge is dead wrong. We did hold a caucus in Colorado. I was there at the Centennial Covenant Church on March 1 where I was chosen to be a delegate to the county assembly and to the state convention. The good folks in my precinct chipped in their own hard-earned money to send me to state because I didn’t have enough cash in my wallet to fund my own trip. When I asked them for their phone numbers so I could reimburse them, they refused. This wasn’t charity or guilt. It was participation in the political process.

Drudge loves to use the term, “Voterless elections,” when referring to the Colorado contest. This is disingenuous. People who bothered to show up had the chance to vote on who they wanted to send to their county and state assembly from each precinct. At the state convention, delegates voted on who they want to send to the national Republican convention in Cleveland. The illusion of a bunch of high-powered leaders in smoke-filled rooms deciding the fate of our election with zero voter input is misleading. If you want to make an argument to me that our election process wasn’t as representative of the average voter as it should have been, I will go along with that. But this is the same way we’ve been exercising representative government for decades. There was nothing deliberately nefarious about the process this year.

It’s also worth mentioning that the number of Trump supporters at our local caucus was very low. We had Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Carson supporters who were all vocal, but not a one for Trump.

The snag comes in because the party did not hold any kind of straw poll. Several people asked our caucus leader if we were going to hold a presidential voice vote before the caucus adjourned and she flatly said no. I thought this was a mistake then and am doubly certain today.

The entire core of anger from the anti-establishment crowd comes from the idea that they no longer have a voice in the process. They believe that the Republican elites in Washington D.C. are consumed by their own interests and no longer care about their base. A straw poll, even a non-binding one, would have gone a long way to mitigate this anger. Instead, it only served to fuel Trump’s very predictable reaction when Cruz swept our state convention.

Never mind that Trump didn’t even try to compete for our state. Never mind that he didn’t do his homework and, thus, was outflanked by Ted Cruz. Never mind that neither he nor his supporters complained about the process until the day after the contest. Trump lost the game and, when he loses, it’s everyone else’s fault but his own. So Trump, populist manipulator, plays on the tangible anger of his own base and mixes a kernel of truth into his mish-mash of lies.

Trump is claiming that the state establishment wanted to thwart him, so they changed the rules last August to favor Cruz. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense! Yes, the state party changed the rules last August, but sabotaging the Donald wasn’t a factor. At that time, only one debate had aired and no one thought Trump was going to get as far as he did. Our mistake. For that matter, no one thought Cruz was going to get as far as he did. Our mistake.

In truth, the reason the party dispensed with the straw poll had to do with past elections. In the 2008 Colorado primary, Mitt Romney was the winner. By the time of our state convention, Romney had dropped out and John McCain was the presumptive national nominee. Yet, the delegates were bound to Romney, which made their initial votes null and void.

Flash forward four years to 2012, when Rick Santorum won the Republican Colorado primary. Once again, Santorum was gone by the time of our state convention, though his delegates were still pledged to him.

The party thought that it would be better to leave the delegates available to see who was left standing on the national stage at our convention. This may have seemed pragmatic at the time, but given the anti-establishment mood that has permeated this election cycle, it proved to be a serious lapse in judgment. And that’s all it was. I don’t believe for a second that it was a vast conspiracy to defraud Trump of his God-given delegates.

The solution to this current public perception crisis is obvious. Colorado needs to switch from a caucus to a primary system. For the record, Chairman Steve House has publicly supported this idea.

Frankly, I like the caucuses. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Trump doesn’t do as well in caucus states. I think the voters that show up and spend a little more time at a caucus, rather than simply pulling a lever in a voting booth, are better informed and engaged in the affairs of their community. However, a primary system is more inclusive and allows for the busy schedules of the average voter more than does a caucus.

That said, I am absolutely, unalterably opposed to an open primary. This is the kind of contest that squishy moderates and sneaky political organizers love, because it allows someone from either party to vote in either primary. A closed primary only allows for registered members of a given party to vote in that party’s contests. Why in God’s name would we want Democrats having a say in who we present as our choice for the general election?

Before the state convention, there were already rumblings of a ballot initiative this November that would switch Colorado’s elections from a caucus to a primary. I have no doubt that this controversy will only fuel the fire. I will happily support such a measure, but only if we get closed primaries on both sides. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Donald Trump does better in states with open primaries.

Finally, I will make a sad prediction. Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president. Republicans and right-leaning moderates have about six months to make their peace with the coming reality of President Clinton 2.0. Frankly, this is heartbreaking to me, but this is the hand that Trump has dealt the GOP. This election had so much promise with a diverse field of candidates who, by in large, could have easily trounced Hillary in November. But the thing I feared most has taken hold; the misguided anger of the uninformed voter.

If Trump is selected as our nominee in Cleveland this July, those of us in the Never Trump movement will stay home, or will do as I plan to do and write in a candidate. Sorry, Mom and Dad, but I refuse to give the vote that my grandfathers and uncles fought for overseas to an unprincipled, narcissistic opportunist who has no core values. Many other principled conservatives feel the same way.

On the other hand, if Trump is not the nominee, he will throw yet another tantrum, walk out of the hotel and officially start his third-party run. I believe that the stink he’s raising over the Colorado convention is merely a prelude to such a bid. Moreover, I don’t believe that he actually wants to be president. I think he just gets off on the adoration of the big crowds that gather at his rallies. If his campaign manager manhandles an occasional reporter, so much the better. Any media attention is good attention for The Trumpster.

Trump’s disenfranchised base will blindly follow him. It won’t matter if our nominee is Ted Cruz, or a Hail Mary candidate selected at the convention. They won’t care. They’ll either vote for Trump, or just stay home. The Republican Party is deeply fractured and I don’t see a figure who can rise above the fray and unite us in time for November to come around.

Meanwhile, Hillary’s base will unify behind her despite her unlike ability. Yes, Bernie Sanders’ supporters are vocal and passionate, but they’re not going to swing over to Trump, no matter what he claims. They will vote for the lesser of two evils. The only slim chance Republicans have for a victory is if Sanders runs third-party after he loses the Democrat nomination. I don’t see this happening.

Sidebar: Some of my conservative friends hope that Hillary may be indicted over her Email debacle. Obama will never let this happen. He knows that Hillary is the best chance he has of perpetuating his legacy. The Supreme Court vacancy left in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death is the best example of this political reality.

So, there you have it, folks. That was my first (and probably last) dalliance in state politics. I’m glad I participated in the convention, but I doubt that I would ever do it again. I just can’t tolerate noisy crowds the way I did a decade ago.

You know…I wonder if Scalia is having a good laugh right about now. He probably realizes just how futile all of this gamesmanship really is. I guess he can let us know when we get there. In the meantime, this is the world we live in and we can either choose to engage, or sit back and let things happen to us.

Shining City in the Darkness

This entry is reprinted from a Facebook post I wrote late last year. In light of the recent fractures within the GOP, and given the fact that I will be representing my precinct next weekend at the Republican State Assembly in Colorado Springs, I think it’s more important than ever that I take this opportunity to reaffirm my values.

Let it also serve as an explanation for my friends and family as to why I will never vote for Donald Trump.

“Ryan, how can you be a Republican!?”

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked this question. The subtext is usually, “Ryan, how can a blind person possibly be a member of a party that clearly doesn’t care about minorities.”

The answer is simple. I am not a person who is defined by my blindness. My eyes may be broken, but I don’t blindly follow a political ideology with which I fundamentally disagree.

I believe in a limited government that defends our borders, but I believe even more strongly in a free market that allows individuals to reach their full potential. I believe in the men and women who defend said borders. I believe that said government can only maintain a robust economy if we balance the budget and don’t spend more than we have. I believe that lower taxes stimulate the economy. I believe that the Constitution of the United States as written is the greatest American document ever authored and, if it is followed, allows people to achieve the highest form of freedom in their lives.

I believe that minorities can achieve more understanding through dialoguing peacefully with their neighbors, rather than being caught up in the collectivist mentality of angry identity politics. I believe that every human being has the right to life, pre or post partum. I believe that a gun is merely a tool in the hand of the person who uses it.

I believe that man is merely another part of Mother Nature and has absolutely no dominion over her what so ever. I believe in justice for the victims of violent crime. I believe that our country is strong due to diversity through lawful immigration. I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. I believe that the family unit is the greatest weapon against poverty that humanity has ever designed.

But most of all, I believe in America! Yes, we are a flawed country with a checkered past. What country isn’t? But there is no place on God’s green earth that I’d rather live as a blind person and as a free citizen.

Does the fact that I carry a cane and read with my fingers mean that I shouldn’t believe in any of these things. Of course not! It merely means that, in my opinion, the Republican party is the best apparatus by which my views can be expressed in the public discourse. No, they are not perfect, but they represent who I am far more closely than any other political party or philosophy.

Someone once said to me, “I wouldn’t admit that I was a Republican if I were you.” Why the hell not!? I’m proud to be a member of the party of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Condoleezza Rice, Marco Rubio and many other great leaders. If you don’t like it, go vote with the other party and don’t let the door bang you in the butt on the way out.

Thank you, God bless America and have a nice day.