Moving Forward in a Post-Trump America

The Republican Party has decided to stick to their policy of pandering to Trump’s far-right base, and in response, a steady stream of more rational and less extremist Republicans continue to exit the Party. As a result, a number of prominent Republicans have begun raising the notion of forming a new party in order to distance themselves from the perpetrators of the failed insurrection of January 6.

Naturally, we think they could do a lot worse than adopting the Bull Moose Party as their new brand. It’s a historic name and represents much of what was the best of the Republican Party and a continuation of one of the most successful Republican administrations, that of the great Theodore Roosevelt.

Let’s take a quick look at some of Roosevelt’s more notable comments about policies that should be embraced by whatever new party rises up to replace the now-tainted GOP.

“Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”

“The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation…. There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done…Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.”

“The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective-a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.”

“The right to regulate the use of wealth in the public interest is universally admitted. Let us admit also the right to regulate the terms and conditions of labor, which is the chief element of wealth, directly in the interest of the common good. The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare. Understand what I say there. Give him a chance, not push him up if he will not be pushed. Help any man who stumbles; if he lies down, it is a poor job to try to carry him; but if he is a worthy man, try your best to see that he gets a chance to show the worth that is in him. No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so after his day’s work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load. We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life by which we surround them. We need comprehensive workman’s compensation acts, both State and national laws to regulate child labor and work for women, and, especially, we need in our common schools not merely education in book-learning, but also practical training for daily life and work.”

“Those who oppose reform will do well to remember that ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.”

While Democrats talk about the Green Deal or call for a return to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, we believe it’s long past time to get back to Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal.


How to Vote

Speaking of clowns, election time is soon to be upon us. Time to review How to Vote. If you feel that properly researching each and every candidate and ballot proposal is too tedious and time-consuming, I’ve developed a simple formula that will streamline the process a bit.

1. The propositions are more important than the candidates. Read the election guide. If you don’t understand what the proposition is supposed to do, flip to the back of the booklet where they have the arguments in favor and against the propositions. You don’t even have to read them; just take note of which argument uses the most exclamation points, and vote against it. Exclamation points, all caps, underlines and italics are the prime indicators that the argument is one of emotion rather than reason.

If it should happen that both sides are given to hyperbole, skim down and see who submitted the arguments and rebuttals. One side will likely have a contrived title such as “Citizens United for a Safe Whatever-the-heck.” If the other side happens to list an actual organization, or better yet, an actual person with a title below his name, you are most likely safe in voting against the fake grassroots group with the phony name.

2. Vote NO on bonds. Almost always. Bonds are the most expensive way to finance any government project. They should only ever be used to fund physical infrastructure, projects that will still be in existence and serving their function long after the bond is paid off. (And I’m talking about actual public work here, not some semi-private “partnership” where the NFL bamboozles a city into building a new football stadium, shifting the cost to the taxpayer while they walk off with all the profit.) A bond to pay for a bridge is an investment; a bond to pay for a program is fiscal insanity, like using the credit card with the highest interest to pay for your pizza party. If a project is that important, they can find another way to raise the money.

3. There’s always somebody to vote against. If you don’t know who to vote for, or don’t want to vote for any of them, pick the guy you hate the most and vote for whoever has the best chance of beating him. For example, here in California, Gray Davis was an absolute failure as a governor. He was up to his eyeballs in helping Enron to screw the whole state. Plus the guy thought he was king. He told the Sacramento Bee as much; he announced that the purpose of the legislature is to carry out his policies. And he was for sale. A popular joke of the time was: “How do you get Gray Davis to change his position on an issue? Tell him the check bounced.” He was also (according to Jill Stewart at the now-defunct New Times) a full-blown psycho given to fits of rage. Threw things at his staff. Literally, he’d pick up a knick-knack off his desk and hurl it at somebody. It’s a wonder he wasn’t arrested or sued.

That’s one example, but there’s another point to consider: Most career politicians start out by running for School Board, City Council, or Judge, or some other low-level office. This is your chance to kill a political career before it gets started. Read your local paper and check out interviews with the candidates. Look them up. Find the scumballs and vote against them. It’s your civic duty.

4. If you don’t know something about the candidates, don’t vote. Nowadays you can sit down with Google and work through an entire ballot in about 45 minutes, looking up voter guides and candidates’ websites and actually voting intelligently. It’s not that hard. Let me show you why it’s important.

In the 2006 election in Los Angeles, over 236,000 people voted for the least-qualified candidate for judge that I have ever seen. He ended up with almost 40% of the vote. Clearly a half-million people flipped a coin. Fortunately another 100,000 voters showed up for the other guy, so this incompetent didn’t end up on the bench. You can read the whole story here.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. You could read all the initiatives all the way through if you like, but it’s not always necessary. Most times, all you need to know is who is paying for the campaign and whether their argument is based on fact and reason or fear and emotion. Guess which side you should vote for.

Constitutional Amendments

There’s been a lot of noise lately about some proposed Constitutional Amendments: banning flag-burning, making English the only official language of the US, banning gay marriage, in addition to the usual evergreens. It seems to me that the Bull Moose Party ought to take a position on these.

As my teenage daughter said while listening to the yammerheads carry on about flag-burning, “that’s not what the Constitution is for.” Smart kid.

It’s that simple. The Constitution is a blueprint for the country, it lays out specific duties that the various branches of government are to carry out, and lays out general principles for the things it’s not supposed to meddle in. The last time a Constitutional amendment was enacted that restricted what citizens could do, it was an unmitigated disaster. That was Prohibition, and it failed so miserably that it barely lasted a decade before being repealed. Now, granted, none of the bans we’re talking about here are likely to cause anything like the rampant crime and violence that Prohibition brought, but there are principles involved.

Get used to hearing that word; we hope to make the Bull Moose Party the party of principle. We’re not going to tell you who to vote for or anything like that, but we will call your attention to what we believe to be the important principles that underlie every position that we adopt. Now, on to the topics at hand:

Flag-burning. This one seems obvious. It has been established over and over that the First Amendment protects expression, ESPECIALLY political expression. “The right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievances” is specifically protected. I would say that lighting up the Stars and Stripes is a pretty clear petition for redress of grievances. Why are we even discussing this?

Defense of Marriage, banning gay marriage, whatever you want to call it. First, let’s make a little distinction here (you’ll soon discover that it’s all about little distinctions): There is legal marriage and there is Holy Matrimony. Holy Matrimony is a sacrament of the church, and each religion, sect, denomination and affiliation has its own rules for certifying and acknowledging the sacrament. Legal marriage is essentially a contract, a bit of civil law that accords those who enter into the contract certain privileges and rights, including issues of inheritance and next-of-kin status. As long as the religious institutions are guaranteed the right to decline performing or validating any marriage they so choose, there is really no good reason to deny gay couples the legal benefits of marriage. And anyway, it’s not what the Constitution is for.

English only. We’re working on an in-depth piece about this topic, but for now, we’ll just say this: why is it okay for third-generation Americans to celebrate and honor their Irish, Scottish or German heritage (ever been to a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Highland Games or Oktoberfest?), but it’s not okay for more recent arrivals to preserve their family culture and heritage? Certainly, English ought to be the language in which the US government conducts its business, and there is some little merit in the economic argument that it costs money to print official information in multiple languages, but is that a reason to carve this notion in granite as part of the Constitution? Say it with me: “that’s not what the Constitution is for.”