Protests and Progress

peaceful protest.jpg

Today, I received the following email from Seth Godin. If you are not already a follower, then I recommend that you digest his daily nugget of wisdom.

A simple dialog can turn opinions into plans (or perhaps, into less tightly held opinions).

We ask, “And then what happens?”

Flesh it out. Tell us step-by-step. The more detail the better.

No miracles allowed. And it helps if each step is a step that’s worked before, somewhere and sometime else. The other question that helps with this is, “has that step ever worked before?”

We don’t have a shortage of loud and strongly held points of view about business, culture, or technology. But it may be that finding the time to draw a map helps us get to where we want to go (or to realize that we need a new map).

This email reminded me of the sincere #NeverTrump protests. Protests are meant to affect the desired change. It’s painful to watch angry, loud protesters with an incoherent, rude message annoying leaders. Protests are a first amendment right as long as they are peaceful.

The town hall meetings where protesters shout down the speaker, yell “Do your job.”, and dominate the public mic by asking pre-written questions are feckless events. Speakers will stop showing up if the audience does not want to listen to the speaker. “Do your job.” Seems to mean Do your job the way that I want you to do your job, regardless of how your district voted. Jason Chaffetz was reelected by 75% of his constituents. Do you think that he should ignore supermajority and bend to the 2000 protesters at his town hall? If so, then we have moved from a democracy to a mob rules state, which is the first step to fascism. Being fed questions to ask is not an organic movement.

Follow the tea party movement. Not the part where they shouted down speakers, but by promoting candidates that you support, starting in 2018.

Calling Trump and his administration fascists proves that it’s not. No fascist regime has ever been overthrown by political protests. The fascists will beat up and then jail the protesters. Temper the hyperbole.

To affect lasting change, speak reasonably but passionately. Also, other people have first amendment rights. Do not trample them in defense of your first amendment rights. These differences need to be decided by free speech, persuasion, and the voting booth. It’s worked 240 years. Hopefully, it will work for another 240. (Note: Running a third party candidate for President without winning any state house, governor, or congressional seats first is as futile as sweeping up the beach.)

The people protesting for a $15 minimum wage are seeing unwanted consequences. McDonald’s and Wendy’s are both rolling out self-service kiosks. This means that there will be some $15  jobs, in addition to layoffs.

Keep the end in mind. The extremist already supports your view. Your only hope for change is to persuade the moderates and independents.  Preaching to the choir can elevate emotion but reason moves those in the middle. Leaders need to detach emotionally during strategic planning. This allows clear thinking to prevail.

I have friends that are passionate on both sides. I like to see protests that lead to progress instead of uncivil emotional outbursts.



The Delegate Process


Inquisitive, curious, and demanding journalists continue to question the election process. In addition candidates, surrogates, and voters have picked up the torch. People, the process is the process. There is no stealing, breaking of laws, or disenfranchisement. It’s called campaigning and organizing. The founding fathers were brilliant men who understood corruption and manipulation.

1- Why doesn’t the candidate with the plurality become the nominee? This means that the majority of the voters did not vote for the plurality candidate. If the delegates remained committed to the popular vote then we may never have a nominee chosen. Therefore, the delegates need the flexibility to arrive at a majority for one candidate by representing the people.

The US is a republic with a representative government. We vote for city councils to decide on city issues, which require a majority. We vote for state senators, representatives, and governors to decide on state issues, which require a majority. We vote for a president, congress, and senate to decide on federal issues, which require a majority.

Our president is selected by a majority of the Electoral College. If there is no majority after the first ballot then the US Congress decides from the top three vote-getters.

At the GOP convention, a similar process is followed. The nominee must earn a majority of the delegates. Majority rule, not a plurality, is a democratic principle.

2-Why do the delegates select the candidates? If the candidate has a majority of delegates then there is a clear mandate from the electorate for the nominee. The delegates vote as the people voted and the convention becomes a coronation for the nominee.

The delegate selection process is the second layer of the election. Winning 1237 delegates from winning elections is the primary goal but ensuring that campaign friendly delegates are selected is the secondary goal. This is only needed if 1237 is not attained on the first ballot when most of the delegates are pledged to vote according to the state’s results. However, there is a secondary campaign to win the votes of delegates who change from pledged to unpledged. Persuading enough of these free agent delegates to vote for your candidate is the key to winning a contested convention.

Serious candidates must accrue delegates by campaigning for votes and engage in the delegate selection process in case they do not reach 1237 on the first ballot. This is not cheating or stealing. It’s called democracy.

Abraham Lincoln trailed Seward 100-170 heading into the 1860 convention. On the third ballot, Lincoln had 230+ and Seward had 100. The process works. Seward was subsequently Lincoln’s secretary of state and negotiated Seward’s purchase, the acquisition of Alaska from Russia.

3- How do states conduct elections?  Some have primaries, caucuses, conventions, winner-take-all, proportional by state or district, etc. Every state has unique rules and processes. The candidates are expected to be organized and informed enough to compete. If all states are treated like primaries then the candidate will lose delegates. If all states are treated like caucuses then the candidate will lose delegates. You can’t win the decathlon if you bring a shot put for each event.

Our election process, as well as our legislative process, is meant to be cumbersome. This avoids a populist, disorganized candidate winning the White House. The constitution provides the framework for how our country operates. Don’t listen to candidates, surrogates, journalists, pundits, talking heads, or neighbors criticizing our constitution. Adherence to it is the glue that has kept American diversity thriving for 250 years.


(Election) Tipping Point

tipping point

The next two weeks are critical for the Republican candidates. Donald Trump will possess a 300 delegate lead by 27 April. The Cruz campaign will survive this ebb as Trump adds an additional 150 delegates to crest 900. Then the Cruz campaign will ascend as the contest moves west. Indiana is a critical state. Is there any polling data? It should be favorable to Cruz and Kasich.

The Cruz bashing will end. He will no longer end up in third place after the campaign leaves the northeast except possibly New Jersey.  With a strong showing in Indiana and California, Trump will be 70- 100 delegates short arriving at the convention. The Cruz ground game has dominated the Trump ground game consistently and persistently.

Trump has resorted to accusations to put his opponents on the defensive. Mike Huckabee reveals Trump’s strategy in this video.

at around 4 minutes, Mr Huckabee says  “That’s where you always lose politically, when you have to explain something”.

Trump’s populist message appeals to his supporters, but inflames them by attacking the Constitution. He opposes states’ rights and the election process.  Trump’s attacks include this incomplete list.

  • Rosie O’Donnell
  • Megyn Kelly
  • Ted Cruz
  • Marco Rubio
  • Charles Sykes
  • Reince Priebus
  • Roger Ailes
  • Jeb Bush
  • Heidi Cruz
  • The RNC
  • Michelle Fields
  • Scott Walker
  • Rick Perry
  • Ben Carson

Then Trump threatens to: spill the beans on Cruz’s wife, calls Cruz a liar, accuses Cruz of felonies – coordinating with Super PACs, alleges the delegate system is corrupt, and even proposes that the election should be by popular vote, and threatens delegates and officials. Ben Carson, a Trump surrogate, has been questioning the need for the electoral college.

This two-prong offense (attacking people and processes) produces the following results:

  • Provokes the media to pursue the rumors
  • Dominates the news with Trump stories
  • Drives his spox talking points to stay on the attack
  • Keeps his opponents in a defensive stance
  • Arouses his supporters passions by constant repetition of “unfair” treatment
  • Forces reasonable people to consider his threats

The options for his opponents are tough. Do they ignore his attacks? Do they punch back? Do they introduce new attacks to put him on the defensive? Trump and his team excel at brawling and mudslinging. Most of the candidates and their teams are not equipped for low brow gutter fighting.

The best roadmap is to follow the high road when attacked, answer the reporter’s questions, and stick to the message. Continue working the air game (voters) and the ground game (delegates). The rules will not change significantly this election. However, taking advantage of the rules is the way to win, especially against a popular front runner that hasn’t won a majority of votes in ANY state after 34 contests. He may win over 50% in his home state of New York this Tuesday.

I believe that Cruz and Kasich will keep Trump from winning on the first ballot. If so, then Cruz is well positioned to win on a succeeding ballot. Trump recently showed his trump card by mentioning Rubio and Kasich as possible running mates. If either accepts the offer then Trump will probably win on the first ballot. Would either of them accept his offer? Could they serve with him? Former candidates Huckabee, Christie, and Carson chose to support him after his vicious attacks.  In the timeless words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been”.

Note: Trump’s  51 SC pledged delegates are in danger since he violated his pledge to support the eventual republican nominee. This will be challenged by the Cruz campaign before the convention. The SC penalty for violating the pledge is non-specific, requiring a court to judge the validity and penalty. Here is a link to Trump rescinding his pledge.


Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

Donald Trump boasts that his self-funded campaign and having no super Pacs proves that he is not beholden to any organization. The media allows him to call into news shows which no other candidate has been offered. He conveniently avoids the $1.9B of “free” air time donated by the media (see chart below). That is 6 times more than Ted Cruz. His entertainment value is not justification for leading the greatest country in the world. Trump also unleashed a vicious attack on Cruz through his supporter, the National Enquirer. His character is deeply flawed and unfit for the Presidency. Unfortunately, nobody knows how President Trump would govern,  which is scary.  If elected, I assume that we will end up as a media puppet master that governs by threats, bullying, and unconstitutional proclamations. Caveat Emptor, my fellow Americans.

Trump free media

Trump or No Trump

Trump Cruz

Politics, like sports, is about momentum during this election season. Donald Trump had a very good night on Tuesday. He was able to increase his lead from 100 to 300 delegates over Ted Cruz. Ted did not have a good night except for two things: Kasich won his home state of Ohio and Rubio suspended his campaign. In an effort to stop Trump from reaching 1237 delegates, Kasich stopped Trump from adding an additional 66 delegates to his total. Rubio’s exit will concentrate the conservative votes for Cruz.

At this point, the only prospects for Cruz are to stop Trump from reaching the requisite delegates before the convention is a contested convention. Trump and Cruz are the only legitimate choices for the convention, but Cruz needs to be close enough for legitimacy. There is a total of 2472 delegates available. About 100 are unpledged and Rubio and Kasich have earned about 300. I believe that Cruz will need to be within 200 delegates of Trump before the convention to have a chance to win. If the gap is wider then Trump deserves the nomination.  My numbers are fuzzy but I think that this is his target. There are only about 1000 delegates remaining. If Cruz can win 50% and hold Trump to 40% of the remaining delegates then he has a good shot at winning the nomination in a contested convention. It will likely depend on  Kasich’s delegates.

Delegate Count on 3/17 Delegate Target at the Convention
Trump 691 1100
Cruz 422 900
Kasich 145 250
Rubio 171 171


Math Matters

math matters

Dear GOP,

If you are interested in making the 2016 GOP presidential nomination competitive then some of the remaining candidates need to decide if continuing in the race is causing damage to other campaigns instead of helping their own.

Donald Trump is the leading candidate after Super Tuesday following his wins in seven of the eleven states. Ted Cruz won 3 states including the biggest prize, Texas. Trump is winning in most categories of voters. However, he is not winning a majority. His main advantage is that the other candidates are splitting the majority of the votes – especially Cruz and Rubio.

The goal of the campaign is to not to collect the most amount of votes, but to collect the most amount of delegates. This is where Kasich, Carson, and either Cruz or Rubio need to engage in some soul searching. The only way to beat Trump is to narrow the field from 4 to 1. John Kasich and Ben Carson have failed to reach the required threshold of 10-20% of the votes in many states, which siphons delegates from Cruz and Rubio. For example, In Texas Cruz received 43% of the vote and received 91 of the 155 delegates. If he had 50% of the vote then he would have received all 155.

The accumulation of delegates favors candidates with momentum in order to avoid a brokered convention. Here is the current tracking for Trump, Cruz, and Rubio to secure the nomination before the convention. This data is from

Trump is ahead schedule while Cruz and Rubio are far behind. Trump will get a big boost from the upcoming elections in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Without a consolidation of candidates down to one then Trump will be the Republican candidate, after garnering the majority of the delegates before the convention. There is only one option to possibly (not definitely, but to have a hope) stop Trump.

Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, and Carson need to have a private meeting. They need to discuss if everybody is committed to defeating Trump. If they are, then everybody needs to consider their impact on this race. If Kasich wins Michigan and Ohio then he will be energized. Since he will not win the nomination then his delegates will be reallocated. Carson has not and probably will not win a state. His continuation of splitting the votes is ultimately supporting Trump. (Update – Dr. Carson announced the end of his campaign while I was crafting this article. On 15 March after losing his home state, Florida, Rubio suspended his campaign with 166 delegates. Rubio encouraged his voters to support Cruz in future elections)

Once Carson and Kasich suspend their campaigns, then we are left with Cruz and Rubio. Both are strong-willed and determined but need to decide on who will step down. They could pick a date and decide the one with the fewer delegates will be the vice presidential running mate. They are diluting the votes which facilitate Trump victories. The voters need to narrow their choices to Trump or the conservative/establishment candidate.  Trump or no Trump. This would be a tough conversation, but the alternative is to concede the election to Trump.

The candidates need to take the delegate math seriously and consider the consequences of their decision. To continue on will result in GOP nominee, Donald Trump.


Disappointed Supporter

Note- A brokered convention does not bode well. Whoever is leading going into the convention, but does not get the nomination, could decide to launch a third party candidacy (Trump?). I wrote about this scenario before.

2016 Republican Nightmare (Hypothetical)

Perot- Trump

Unfortunately, I foresee history repeating itself in 2016.

Donald Trump is leading the republican candidates at this point because his followers are frustrated with Washington politics and the lack of transparency. Trump strikes a chord that resonates with voters seeking raw honesty.

Ben Carson is an honorable gifted surgeon with stellar morals. His gentle and plain-speak campaign are appealing, but I think he lacks the timbre to be president. He would be an excellent Surgeon General.

Ted Cruz is a smart conservative with a surgical strategy for winning the primary and general election. All counties in Iowa and New Hampshire host a Cruz headquarters for promoting his ideas. His plan is to expand the base instead of growing his minority voter base.

Rand Paul is the only libertarian in the republican field. Rand, like his father Ron, believes his duty is to defend and obey the constitution of the U.S.A. This entails shrinking the military, stop nation building, having a balanced budget, eliminating the Federal Reserve, and promoting state’s rights. Our tri-cameral government has gradually colluded to grow federal power at the expense of state’s rights.

The 10th Amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

There are NO implied powers given to the federal government, only those explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. ALL implied powers are reserved for the states.

Here are some of the abuses forced on the States by the Feds: immigration, speed limits, drug laws, same-sex marriage, Obamacare, and arbitration.

The republican field will thin in February after the initial primary states have voted. I think that Cruz is best positioned as the candidate to join for most of the followers bailing from terminated campaigns. The people enamored with Trump are already followers. The race will narrow to a Trump/Cruz competition with Cruz winning the nomination.

In 1992, billionaire Ross Perot lost the Republican nomination to George Bush. Running as an independent, Ross siphoned mostly republican votes from George Bush which awarded the presidency to Bill Clinton.


Bill Clinton George Bush Ross Perot
Popular vote 43% 37.5% 18.9%
Electoral vote 370 168 0


Even though Clinton only received 5.5% more of the popular vote,  he tallied over 65% of the electoral college.  Notice that Perot has almost 20% of the popular vote, but zero electoral votes.

This chart clearly shows how Ross Perot skewed the republican votes which resulted in Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Now we fast-forward to 2017. Here is a fictional scenario.

In 2016, billionaire Donald Trump lost the Republican nomination to Ted Cruz. Running as an independent, Trump siphoned mostly republican votes from Ted Cruz which awarded the presidency to Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton Ted Cruz Donald Trump
Popular vote 43% 37.5% 18.9%
Electoral vote 370 168 0


Could Hillary enter the Oval Office the same way as Bill, facilitated by a billionaire running as an independent splitting the republican votes?