I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you probably plan to vote Republican in the 2016 presidential election. I say that because if you place a high priority on your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms you certainly can’t vote Democrat, as all of the progressive and liberal candidates — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Mallley — have made solemn promises to pick up wherever Barack leaves off in the ongoing attempt to gut our Second Amendment rights.
I suppose you could vote Libertarian or Independent but doing that in our (extremely flawed) two-party system is essentially throwing away your vote. I know I sound like an unprincipled defeatist in saying that but it is what it is and there’s also the very real chance that if you decide to vote for a third party candidate it will make it easier for a Hillary or an O’Malley administration to take the White House.
So, that leaves us with the 11 candidates who took the stage Wednesday night at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. To be totally and completely honest, I have no idea who I’m going to vote for in 2016. I don’t even have any early favorites. What I do have is general impressions, some pros and cons for each candidate that I’ll share with you. Aside from the occasional mentions of the Second Amendment, I’m not going to get policy specific because (a) not all the candidates have explicated their positions on every issue and (b) it would make for a really tedious read. At this point, I’m more interested in the intangibles: who looks the part, who really pops out, who has the “it” factor going for them.
With that said, I’m really interested in what you have to say about the candidates too, which direction are you leaning in and why? I’m going into this election cycle with a wide open mind, so I’m all ears.
Pros — I like Carly’s simple message about leadership, “Challenge the status quo, solve problems, get results.” She’s a tough cookie and has proven to be a world-class debater (She was the hands-down winner in both debates so far). To state the obvious, she’s a woman. What’s good about that is that it would presumably negate the advantage Hillary would have with female voters were Hillary to go up against one of the other male GOP candidates.
Cons — I’m not sure about her track record as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was she as successful as she claims? Dubious on the 2A, she’s a gun owner by proxy (they belong to her husband).
Pros — Christie would be good in a general election as he appeals to wide swaths of Independents and Democrats. I trust his prosecutorial acumen (It’d be great to watch him grill Hillary on server-gate, Benghazi). I like his confrontational style and candor.
Cons — New Jersey’s is an anti-gun cesspool. Sure, Christie’s vetoed some gun control bills and pardoned some law-abiding gun owners ensnared in the state’s draconian gun laws, but as governor of the Garden State he hasn’t made 2A rights a high priority. He has a “C” rating from the NRA. His portly appearance is red meat for pundits and the left-wing media.
Pros — Rubio is a young, articulate and driven politician. When I hear him speak, I get the impression that he’s been groomed his whole life for this moment. I love his humble beginnings, his blue-collar roots and the fact that he is the personification of the American dream. He know the issues through and through.
Cons — Not a real gun guy. At times, it seems he is on the verge of crying when he speaks.
Pros — Jeb is a likable guy. I mean, who doesn’t like Jeb (Aside from Barbara, he is probably my favorite Bush)? Jeb is political royalty (which is a pro and a con) and definitely a savvy politician.
Cons — Not a great debater, at all. I feel as though he really struggles on stage, under the lights. Jeb is a true establishment Republican, which is worrisome. Not sure a third Bush is what the country needs. He has a lot to overcome in that respect’ he has to convince the American people that he is a different man than 43 (his brother) and 41 (his dad). That’s a tall hill to climb. Not a gun guy.
Pros — Fun to watch in the debates. Business savvy. Deal maker. Not afraid to say what others won’t. Not a career politician. Self-funded, not owned by corporate elites or private interests groups. Dynamic leader. No one can talk smack like Tump (His rant on Rosie O’Donnell is one of the best burns I’ve ever seen).
Cons — More than a bit vague on some of the issue. Many believe his campaign is a joke or just a way to propagate the “Trump” brand. Never admits he is wrong and refuses to apologize, even when he sticks his foot in his mouth. Stubborn, arrogant, and a bit childish at times. Doesn’t seem to care much about the Second Amendment.
Pros — Kasich has a lot of political experience working in Washington and leading the Buckeye State. Appears to speak from the heart. Takes a pragmatic approach to politics. Instead of pandering to the crowd, he seems realistic about what’s possible in terms of implementing a Republican agenda in Washington. Kasich is a gun owner.
Cons — At the debate, Kasich seemed a bit flustered at times and as a result he wasn’t as articulate as some of the others. A bit long in the tooth. Not that age really matters that much, but one can argue that he doesn’t have the energy that some of the other candidates have.
Pros — Paul is not your average Republican. He is not a GOP insider or establishment Republican. He has Libertarian influences. Led the filibuster in the Senate to stop the federal gun-control push following Sandy Hook in the Spring of 2013. Paul is well-spoken and substantive on the issues.
Cons — Paul has the disposition of a petulant child at times. He just comes across as whiny or cranky. It’s too bad too, because he is really principled, really smart and really well-versed in the Constitution. The rug (that can’t be his real hair).
Pros — Walker is a pretty good public speaker. He has a solid understanding of the issues. And he is a hunter and a gun owner.
Cons — He just doesn’t pop for me. I think he’s lacking the “it” quality, that palpable presidential magnetism that attracts voters to him. In short, he is 50 shades of vanilla.
Pros — Carson doesn’t look, talk or sound like a politician, which makes him a really attractive candidate. His background as a pediatric brain surgeon is impressive. He is a thoughtful, conservative intellectual. Very friendly and likable.
Cons — I don’t see a killer-instinct in Carson. Not that one’s required in a president, but I’m afraid he comes across as being a bit too relaxed for the oval office. I can’t imagine him being that forceful of a negotiator either. I’d like to see him be a bit more fiery.
Pros — Why Huckabee isn’t more popular I don’t know. He is one of the best speakers on the stage, one of the strongest conservatives on the stage, and one of the most likable guys on the stage, in an avuncular sorta way. He loves guns and the Second Amendment.
Cons — Huckabee wears his Christian conservatism on his sleeve. As someone who is a social Libertarian, I find it a bit off-putting. I mean, let the gay marriage thing go already. I believe his stance on gay marriage, and some other issues, would hurt him in a general election.
Pros — A constitutional lawyer, he definitely understands the history and import of the Second Amendment. Cruz is a conservative’s conservative. He will definitely stand on his ground and doesn’t back away from a protracted fight (he’s not afraid to shutdown the government).
Cons — Sometimes Cruz comes across as a snake-oil salesman. Like, his responses in these debates are too rehearsed and tinged with a mawkish quality that makes him seem like a daytime TV actor. His wife is a Wall Street banker (the optics of that are bad).
Who Owns a Gun
I left some candidates off my list — Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal — because I think three to six months from now they will have bowed out of the election due to the minimal traction they’ll have gained in the polling. I guess we’ll see though. If I didn’t include your candidate, please feel free to list them in the comment section below and explain why you like them.
I think we all understand the importance of this next election. Should the wrong candidate be elected in 2016, the progress that’s been made over the past decade to expand concealed carry rights, eliminate gun-free zones, affirm that the Second Amendment is an “individual right,” keep widely popular and commonly owned black rifles free from a federal ban could be all for naught. Hillary, Sanders, O’Malley, would all be a disaster. They would nominate anti-gun Supreme Court justices, push gun control via executive fiat, use the bully pulpit to advocate for tougher gun laws, make the ATF more meddlesome for law-abiding gun owners just to name a few objectives. As I said, they’d be a disaster!
Quite simply put, we need a pro-gun president back in the White House. The question is, who do we go with? Who is our guy or gal?