Trump Didn’t Win. Clinton Lost

US FlagTrump “isn’t my president”, as so many people say these days. And that’s right. Trump isn’t my president. He’s no one’s president. But neither was Obama. Or Clinton. Or either of the two Bush’s. No one who has presided in the oval office since my birth has been “my president.” Not just because I’m not an American citizen. It’s because that’s not how it works.

The president is the head of the executive branch of the US federal government. He or she isn’t the king of the country. They don’t ‘lead’ the people. The people are free. The president is a clerk, a civil servant. That’s all.

If there’s anything good that might come out of Trump’s presidency, it’s that people will once again find a more constitutional attitude to how American government works. Those on the right who turned a blind eye to presidential overreach under Bush II, and those on the left who stuck their fingers in their ears and shouted “la la la, not listening” when Obama was in office can now unite. They helped create the situation we find ourselves in. But now, it might not just be the libertarians calling the president’s overreach to account. Libertarians have been lonely for some time. Maybe now that will change?

Like most, I utterly failed to call this presidential race. Early on, I dismissed Trump as a ‘cartoon character’, thinking he’d never get anywhere. How wrong I was. How much did I overlook the mood of one of the world’s greatest people, in one of the world’s greatest countries? A great deal.

In the way that the world didn’t suddenly get better because Obama became president, and that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have made the world magically better by being president, Trump won’t suddenly make the world horrifically worse. Will be violate the constitution? Yes. More than the others before him? More than HRC would have done? I’m not sure. But probably not.

I can’t help see the irony in the aftermath of the Trump victory. We were told – and I believed – that if Trump, say, won the popular vote but lost the electoral college, his supporters would take the the streets. They would riot. Police cars would be set on fire. There would be hatred. People calling the result ‘invalid’.

Look what happened when the opposite took place. I won’t say any more than that.

Delving into the stats, one thing is clear. Democratic supporters disliked Hillary Clinton more that Republicans disliked Trump. It was close either way, but she was the one that put most people off. Not because she was a woman. Around a million of them who would have voted for the Democrat went for Jill Stein this time around. About the same for Gary Johnson, who broke all Libertarian Party records with over three million votes, and breaking through the 5% barrier in several states. He wasn’t the spoiler though, a’la Ralph Nader in 2000. For every traditional Democrat vote he took, he got two Republican votes. And a large bulk of his were independents who wouldn’t have voted for either candidate any way.

Here’s the best illustration of how disliked Clinton was: of the 700+ counties that voted for Obama both times, over 200 of them voted for Trump. That’s what he needed, but it wasn’t a great result for him. Typically, to win he’d need to have gotten around 350 of those counties. But what helped him: Of the 2,000+ counties that didn’t vote for Obama either time, just three of them voted for Clinton. Three.

So if you’re not a fan of Trump, and you’re unhappy about what has happened this time around, maybe it’s worth thinking of it this way: Trump didn’t win. Clinton lost.

And be of good cheer. The world will carry on turning and getting better, whichever constitutionally-overstepping person sits in the oval office.

2014 Midterms – Americans Are Okay With Gridlock

US FlagAlmost right after the results were in at the start of this month for the US midterm elections, the commentators were delving right into the data, and trying to create a narrative about what kind of message the American public had sent to politicians in Washington.

Looking back over the last few weeks, the “settled” media consensus is that Americans have voted, expecting Republicans to lead. They want them to put their difference with Democrats in the House and Senate aside in order to achieve more. But is that right?

I can’t see how it is. Republicans are almost certainly as unpopular as Democrats (if not more so) right now. And their recent history has been to block, complain and create gridlock.

My take? Americans are happy for that to continue. They’re not big fans of Republicans all of a sudden, that’s not where this swing has come from. With a Democrat in the Oval Office and Republicans in the Hill, a combination of presidential vetoes and progress-stopping legislative debate could be what we see more of moving forward. And Americans are fine with that.

It’s not that Americans are fed up with Democrats doing things, and now want Republicans to do other stuff: they don’t want politicians doing anywhere near as much as they used to, full stop. Gridlock is probably the best way to ensure that continues.

No one specifically votes for the gridlock. But I suspect most Americans will be perfectly happy if that gridlock means the government is doing less when it comes to interfering with social and economic matters.

Why We Should Celebrate Magna Carta Day

It's 'Magna Carta Day' on June 15th, and for my money, it's much better celebration of what it means to be English, than the tired old esoteric St George's day, which has just become an excuse to endulge in vague piffle to do with “what does it mean to be English”, without giving any real answer. Except for something about a dragon. That didn't exist.

If we really want to celebrate England's contribution to the world, it should be about the best gift our nation gave the rest of the world – namely, the rule of law.

Throughout the Commonwealth – and, indeed, the Anglosphere more generally – The “Great Charter of Freedom” is venerated and highly respected. Sadly, here in the country of its origin, we seem to have forgotten about it entirely.

So, on June 15th, take a moment to remember England's great contribution to the world, that radical, revolutionary truth: we, as human beings, are born free. And any tyrant who claims otherwise, is sorely mistaken.

 

The Spending Cuts (that aren’t spending cuts)

Just a quick reality check: The UK government has postured and made a loud noises about their so-called “spending cuts”, and, indeed, the opposition in the UK have also waxed lyrical about “savage cuts”.

Well, here, courtesy of the office for budget responsibility, are those “cuts”, and the projected “cuts”, in full:

Total Managed expenditure

2012-13: £701.9bn

2013-14: £717.8bn

2014-15: £730.5bn

2015-16: £744bn (OBR figures Autumn 2013)

Andy Jones TV Season 5 Episode 8

A viewer emails: “re the current economic situation, doesn’t it stand that if austerity (i.e. cuts) work and investment (i.e. growth) doesn’t, then why is America’s economy doing better than your country’s and Europe?”

Margaret Thatcher: The Libertarian PM?

MaggieT_IronIn light of Margaret Thatcher’s passing, everyone has added their tuppence worth, and I doubt I could add much more.

Alex Massie sums it up pretty well for my money, as does Daniel Hannan in both overall summary and here in his take on the specifics.

The fact is that the economic freedom Thatcher promoted helped laid down the groundwork for the social freedom that came after it. Ironically, neither her nor her enemies would acknowledge that.

The rich got richer under her. But so did the poor. Yes, the gap between the rich and the poor widened, but seriously, so what? Would you rather be better off, or worse off as long as other people are worse off as well? It’s true and unfortunate that the increase in wealth for the poorest was slow, but that’s because she increased overall government spending. If Margaret Thatcher was even more Thatcherite, the government would have been smaller and poorer people would have been even better off.

Her personal opinions on many social issues were very wide of the mark for me. But – especially in the economic sphere – there has not been a prime minister in Great Britain in my lifetime whom I have agreed with as much.

Those who are bitterly and spitefully cheering her death really do so for one reason. In the political realm and in the real-world, she won and they lost. Not just during her time, but quite possibly for all time. And they’ll never be able to take that away from her.

Andy Jones TV Season 5 Episode 2

A lot of people wonder when the more libertarian period was in human history. Just the other day someone proudly pronounced to me that it was 1790. Really? I bet if you were a black slave in the cotton fields you’d have a very different point of view.

I think the most libertarian time is now:

This Isn’t What We’re Told…

With last weeks announcement that the UK economy shrank by 0.3 per cent over the last three months, everyone is holding their breath for the inevitable “triple dip recession” that will surely be just around the corner.

Once again, we’re spoon-fed vague waffle about how this is all down to the “austerity”, i.e. “cuts”.

That’s why this reality-check from Allister Heath is so worth reading in full.

Austerity – in the government sense – can mean either cuts to public spending or increases in taxation. We’ve had a lot of the latter – taxes continue to rise – but as Heath points out so clearly, the size of government has gone from 48.6% of GDP in 2011 to 49% by the end of 2012. We’re increasing the size of the state. How can we see a large supply-side boost to the productive sector if we continue this engorgement of the unproductive sector?

You can call the current government’s plan whatever you want: savage cuts, deep austerity, but it’s clear isn’t the austerity that we need.

The governments plan will eventually get us back on track, but we could get there so much faster with real reduction of government expenditure.

These “savage cuts” that Nick Clegg was banging on about… when are we actually going to get them? The status quo doesn’t seem to be working.

Why Libertarians Win. Always.

Matt Ridley - The Rational Optimist

Matt Ridley – The Rational Optimist

I’m currently re-reading Matt Ridley’s incredible book, the Rational Optimist. It’s another timely reminder that it’s very good to be a libertarian right now. In fact, being a libertarian has put you on the right side of history and reason since the dawn of mankind.

What’s great for libertarianism, is that in the 100,000 year-or-so history of our breed of hominids, we have been winning the moral and factual argument in the real world. Our brand of reality is actually the real one, not merely the one that we’d like in theory to exist. Conservatives and modern so-called ‘liberals’ (I prefer the term ‘socialist’ or ‘social democrat’ to describe them) cannot – and have never really been able to – say the same thing.

The moment homo sapiens first evolved from their homo dynamicus ancestors, we started to learn the relative value of trade (i.e. I value item A but I value item B a tiny bit more. For you, it’s the other way around, so we trade on mutually beneficial terms). In countless tests, our gorilla, chimp, bonobo and orang-utan cousins can’t pull off the same trick. None of the hominids before us could quite do it either. Our brains were about the same size as our father-species. We were weaker and not necessarily smarter than the neanderthals. But this understanding of trade was what separated us. It’s what made us the sucess we are today.

And on it goes. Everywhere around the world, at an ever faster rate, the human race is living in an increasingly freer, happier, and more beautifully hyphenated and mongrelised world. Almost everything is getting better all the time. Or to state it differently, almost everything is getting more libertarian all the time.

In fact, the only significant area where we seem to be losing the argument, is in the size and scope of the government. In the West, it appears that the unproductive sector is getting increasingly larger relative to the size of the productive sector. But libertarianism, like gravity, is a fact of life. And it will only be a matter of (possibly prolonged) time before this one minor blip in the libertarian road is finally paved over. The size of government will eventually have to come down, just as every aeroplane that has ever taken off has eventually had to land.

The only real question is, will it be an orderly, rational and safe landing, or will it be a “brace for impact” kind of affair?

I hope everybody comes to their senses long before we have to prepare for a bumpy fall to earth.

Ron Paul’s Farewell Speech

A sad day, but an inevitable one. Here’s Congressman Paul, stumbly, awkward but totally true:

Good bye Ron, we’ll miss you in that grand old chamber.