Conservative First

Why not Trump?

Donald Trump is currently leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination. What should conservatives think of this?
THE GOOD Trump has attacked political correctness and skewered some deserving targets, from Jeb Bush to Bill Clinton. He also brought greater prominence to immigration issues and pushed the debate on these issues to the right.
THE ISSUES So where does Trump stand on the issues? With the exceptions of trade and eminent domain, he doesn’t seem to have been consistent on any issue. Most positions have changed over time, and some seem to vary from day to day or even minute to minute.
ABORTION In 1999, Trump said “I’m pro-choice” and refused to support a partial-birth abortion ban, citing his “New York background”. He claims to have become pro-life (with exceptions) a few years ago. He has continued to praise Planned Parenthood for its non-abortion services during the campaign.
GUN RIGHTS Trump once said that “I hate the concept of guns” and supported banning “assault weapons” and waiting periods. During his campaign, he has taken pro-gun positions.
TAXES In 1999, Trump advocated a 6 trillion dollar wealth tax to eliminate the national debt. More recently, he has said the plan was good at the time, but is now impractical. During the campaign, Trump has proposed a tax plan that has mostly been well-received by conservatives.
HEALTH CARE Trump has pledged to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. But replace it with what? Trump has praised socialized medicine in Canada and Scotland in the past. He seems to advocate this for America as well, calling for government to pay for everyone.

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Ted Cruz for President

Senator Ted Cruz is the best choice for the Republican nomination for President.
EXPERIENCE Cruz has a variety of government experience. He has been a Senator from Texas since 2012. Before that, he was Solicitor General of Texas, working on numerous high-profile legal cases, including winning eight cases before the Supreme Court. Before that, he was a member of the Federal Trade Commission, where he fought to protect free markets, including keeping the internet free from government regulation.
ISSUES Cruz is a solid conservative who is pro-life and pro-marriage. He supports gun rights completely. He is a free market conservative who supports cutting government spending, taxes, regulations, and bureaucracy. He is a patriot who advocates a realist foreign policy with a strong military willing to intervene when it is in American interests, but not to support a Utopian vision of imposing democracy and nation-building. He is an immigration patriot who opposes amnesty for illegal aliens and supports enforcing the law, securing the border with a real fence, and cutting back on legal immigration when it is not in America’s interest.
RECORD Lots of candidates talk conservative during the campaign, but don’t act that way in office. That’s why it is essential to examine their records. Ted Cruz ran for senate promising to be a solid conservative who led the fight on important issues. His voting record backs that up. He has lifetime ratings of 100% from the American Conservative Union, 98% form Heritage Action, 98% from Freedomworks, and 96% from Club for Growth. He was a leader of the successful effort to defeat President Obama’s 2013 gun control plan. He led the filibuster of Obamacare funding, and fought against budget-busting spending bills. Cruz was a major part of the successful opposition to the Gang of Eight amnesty bill.

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2016 Michigan Congressional Races

Cross-posted at The Western RightRight Michigan, and Red Racing Horses.

Michigan will see several interesting congressional races in 2016, with two open seats and possible competitive primary challenges.  Michigan now has 14 congressional seats.

There are several articles that analyze the general political leanings of the districts.

Michigan Redistricting: Congressional Map Passed
Republican Michigander Congressional District Profiles (Sidebar at right)

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Second Hoax at Kalamazoo College

Back in March, this blog covered a race hoax at Kalamazoo College.
Race Hoax at Kalamazoo College

There were actually two related hoaxes.  The first was a false accusation by a student government leader of racist threats by an advocate for open carry.  This was quickly debunked when the actual recording of the meeting showed nothing of the sort.

The second hoax was a threat anonymously posted to a student commission Google doc on March 4.

K-College officials learned early Wednesday that a “highly inflammatory entry” had been posted in the Student Commission Google Doc, an online collaboration tool that allows for group sharing and anonymous editing, according to an email to the campus community.

“The entry is racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic” and included a direct threat to K-College faculty, the email stated.

 The post, which included “vitriol aimed at a wide range of campus members,” included the following line, according to another email, this one from the president’s staff to K-College faculty and staff: “At 900AM 3/5/15 I am going to start systematically executing faculty at Kalamazoo U, that will teach them the value of campus carry.” Neither email repeated the entire posting.

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2014 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

The American Conservative Union has long been the premier organization rating members of Congress on how conservative their voting records are.  Recently, ACU began rating state legislators on their voting records, and it just released its third ratings of the Michigan state legislature.  I will summarize the relevant information here.

ACU State Ratings 2014–MI

ACU rated 12 house votes and 13 senate votes from 2013 and 2014.  Ten of the bills are the same for both halves of the legislature. The most common topics for the state house votes were taxes (3 votes), spending (3), and regulation (3).  The most common topic for the state senate votes were taxes (4 votes) and spending (4).

ACU Michigan state senate ratings 2013/2014:
100%: Pavlov, Emmons, Moolenaar
92%: Colbeck, Brandenberg, Rocca, Robertson, Proos, Jones, Schuitmaker, Green, Booher
85%: Marleau, Hune, Jansen, Hildenbrand, Meekhof
77%: Pappageorge, Kowall, Caswell, Richardville, Nofs, Kahn, Hansen, Walker, Casperson
62%: Hunter
31-33%: Hopgood, Andersen, Ananich
23%: Bieda
15-17%: Young, Johnson, Gregory, Warren, Whitmer
8-9%: Hood, Smith

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Is Fred Upton More Conservative?

One of the arguments used by conservative supporters of Congressman Fred Upton is that Upton is more conservative now than he used to be.  Is there any merit to this argument?

To analyze this claim, we consider ratings issued by conservative groups over the years.  This will make it easy to spot any trend.

Of course, the usual caveats apply.  These ratings are calculated based on a selection of votes.  The votes rated each year are different, but these groups use fairly consistent standards that allow comparison over time.

First up is American Conservative Union (ACU), which has been rating Congress since the 1970s.  Their ratings for Upton’s entire tenure are graphed below.

A linear regression line is graphed along with the data.  As you can see, the line is virtually flat, indicating no substantial change.  There is actually a very slight decrease over time.

Upton’s two best ratings occurred in 2002 and 2010, both of which were years when Upton received serious primary challenges from the right.

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Senate Passes Prevailing Wage Repeal

The state senate passed a repeal of the prevailing wage law, which forces the government to overpay for construction projects.  The bill passed 22-15, with five Republicans voting no.

Five Republicans – Sens. Mike Kowall of White Lake, Tom Casperson of Escanaba, Mike Nofs of Battle Creek, Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights and Dale Zorn of Ida – joined all the Democrats in opposing the three bills.

Many of them previously opposed Right to Work.

Kowall – supported Right to Work – term-limited in 2018
Casperson – opposed Right to Work – term-limited in 2018
Nofs – opposed Right to Work – term-limited in 2018
Rocca – opposed Right to Work – term-limited in 2018
Zorn – opposed Right to Work (in the state house) – up for re-election in 2018

Notably, Mike Green and Ken Horn, who voted against Right to Work, voted for this bill.

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Race Hoax at Kalamazoo College

What’s going on at Kalamazoo College?  K College is a far left elite private college just west of downtown Kalamazoo.  It was originally founded as a Baptist college, but that influence is long gone, replaces by progressivism, social justice, gay rights, anti-racism, and all the trendy cultural Marxism common on campus.

Kalamazoo College students start #UnsafeAtK social media campaign, say they feel threatened
Meeting about minority student safety at Kalamazoo College draws more than 100 students
Kalamazoo College officials address #UnsafeAtK social media campaign in campus-wide email
Security increased at Kalamazoo College after online threat to ‘start systematically executing faculty’
‘Don’t let them win’: Solidarity sought at Kalamazoo College in aftermath of online shooting threat
Kalamazoo College threats: Investigators hope Internet trail will lead them to suspect
Despite threat, Kalamazoo College students who have experienced racism push for intercultural center
Kalamazoo College students rally over concerns about racism and marginalization, push for intercultural center

The current controversy involves a student who is a gun rights activist.  He has advocated for open carry on K’s campus, a noble but hopeless cause at an extremely left-wing private college.  In late February, he asked the student government for support for this cause.  They predictably declined, and launched a flurry of insults, as reported by Campus Reform.

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Where Did Lorence Wenke’s Votes Come From?

The closest state legislative race in Michigan in 2014 was in state senate district 20, which is coterminous with Kalamazoo County. The district was vacated by Republican senator Tonya Schuitmaker, who ran for reelection in a neighboring district due to redistricting.

The Republican candidate was 61st district state rep Margaret O’Brien of Portage. The democrat candidate was 60th district state rep Sean McCann of Kalamazoo. Both are fairly typical representatives of their parties.

Aside from the closeness of the race, there was another complicating factor. Former state rep Lorence Wenke ran as a Libertarian after having originally filed to run in the Republican primary. Wenke was a moderate Republican state rep 2002-2008. He had an eclectic platform emphasizing support for gay rights and support for cutting government employee benefits. In the course of the campaign, he announced support for several tax increases and other un-libertarian policies.

The election results, after a recount, were

O’Brien 36645 (45.6%)
McCann 36584 (45.5%)
Wenke 7171 (8.9%)

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Conservatives Win in November

Republicans won a big victory in November in Michigan. They held all their statewide offices and Congressional seats. They also held all their current state legislative seats, gaining one in the Senate and four in the House. They now have at 27-11 supermajority in the Senate and a 63-47 majority in the House. More importantly, conservatives gained seats within the Republican caucus. All eight candidates endorsed by Madison Project Michigan won in November. Congratulations to Pat Colbeck, Lana Theis, Jim Runestad, Jason Sheppard, Tom Barrett, Cindy Gamrat, Gary Glenn, and Triston Cole.

One key test of how conservative the new Republican caucuses are is the leadership elections held two days after the election. The new Senate majority leader will be Arlan Meekhof, who is more conservative than previous leader Randy Richardville. The new Speaker of the House will be Kevin Cotter, the more conservative of the two candidates, who opposed Medicaid expansion and Common Core. This victory was made possible thanks to conservatives winning key primaries.

Of course, we can’t rest easy. The legislature may still try to raise gas taxes or discriminate against Christian businesses. Candidates who ran as conservatives may be tempted to ‘grow in office’ or compromise for the sake of political expediency. We will do our best to hold them accountable if they do.

Thanks to everyone who supported the Madison Project Michigan! We hope that you will support our efforts again in 2016.

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