Let's Offer the GOP Candidates a Conservative Manifesto

Let’s do things a little differently this time.

Instead of arguing about who is the most conservative candidate, or even the most electable conservative, let’s present each candidate with a short list of policy prescriptions for him or her to endorse -- or not.

There’s a precedent.  On August 16, Donald Trump unveiled his immigration plan

Ann Coulter, with characteristic understatement, called it the greatest document since the Magna Carta.  It’s not, but it includes, along with some rhetorical flourishes and exposition, twelve specific proposals that would very effectively -- Thomas Lifson argues -- reduce illegal immigration.

Trump has performed a valuable service to the campaign.  Now all the other candidates have had to address his proposals.  (Fiorina:  “completely unrealistic”; Christie:  “doesn’t make any sense”; Bush:  not “grounded in reality”; Rubio:  no “chance to pass through Congress.”  Jindal, Walker, and Kasich were more sympathetic.)

We need to follow up.  Let’s address some specific proposals on other issues to the GOP field and ask each candidate to respond.  Otherwise, we will be hearing ad nauseum how everyone favors smaller government and lower taxes, and will make America great once again.

We ought to do it soon.  We had to wait weeks after Trump first started making anti-illegal immigration noises before he decided to provide some specifics.

Two points:

1) “We” is not you and me, dear reader.  The proposals ought to come collectively from a group of conservative opinion makers:  editors of print and on-line publications, heads of PACs and think tanks, syndicated columnists, radio and TV personalities.  You know who are you.

The more the merrier, but it doesn’t have to be a large group and it doesn’t require a convention.  It can be accomplished with some phone calls, emails, and conference calls over a couple of weeks, before the second debate.

2) The positions on the list should be specific and they ought to be maximalist.  This has always been a strategy of the left.  Even sympathetic candidates will want to to edge away from some of proposals.  But we will have pulled them rightward, and, importantly, we will have introduced into the debate perspectives that, though widely shared among Americans, the MSM refuses to discuss.

Here is a quick and dirty outline of a 12-point conservative manifesto for the 2016 candidates.  The items are not in any particular order.

1. Trump’s immigration plan, with a tweak or two

OK, Mexico doesn’t have to pay for the wall, but let’s prosecute all mayors and council members of sanctuary cities as accessories to crimes committed in their jurisdictions by illegal aliens.

2.  Defend the First Amendment

The First Amendment was the first amendment for a reason.  It has been eviscerated over the past couple of decades.  If we aren’t able to discuss freely and openly all questions, we no longer live in a democracy and we jeopardize the growth of knowledge.  (Full disclosure: I wrote a dissertation on John Stuart Mill.)

A First Amendment Protection Act would, among other things:

a) stipulate that colleges and universities abridging freedom of speech be denied federal funds; a panel of genuine civil libertarians appointed by the President would determine violations

b) while businesses are free to adopt speech codes if they wish, any that receives government funds must protect their employees’ right to free speech

c) abolish “hate crimes” -- the designation is invidiously applied and used as a cudgel to quash dissenting views

d) protect the right of business owners to refuse to provide goods or services, so long as they are not discriminating on grounds of race or religion.  This includes the right of clergy to refuse to perform gay marriages.

Without reforming the judiciary, any such legislation is doomed.  All Federal Court Judges (Article III Judges) must be required to pass a rigorous exam in Constitutional law, economics, economic history, the history of legal thought, and American and European history, prepared by distinguished scholars in the these fields.  Judges failing this exam will be replaced, just like taxidermists, accountants, and beauticians who fail their exams.

3.  Reduce Black Crime and end Affirmative Action

America doesn’t have a problem with racist cops; it has a problem with violent African-Americans in their teens and twenties.  The chief victims are Blacks.  (In 2013, African-Americans killed 409 whites, according to the FBI.  But they also killed 2,245 Blacks.) If Black lives really matter, the problem has to be acknowledged and addressed.

a) Fund local African-American leaders who will develop programs in their communities to restore respect for the life and property of all Americans.

b) Encourage the enforcement of all laws in all neighborhoods, and, especially maximum sentences for those convicted of violent crimes.

c) Investigate and, if the evidence warrants, indict federal prosecutors who have egregiously over-charged police and citizens defending themselves from African-American criminals, or who have failed to adequately scrutinize hate-crime swindles.

d) Above all, clearly and forcefully repudiate the anti-European-American, anti-cop propaganda spewed 24/7 from the White House and its media running dogs.  Publicize the Justice Department’s own crime statistics.

Let’s return to merit-based hiring and admissions.  “Disparate impact” is no grounds for rejecting tests that have proven accurate predictors of success in academia, professional programs, and the workplace.  Affirmative Action -- institutionalized racism -- is manifestly unfair to the European- and Asian-Americans it (invisibly) discriminates against, but is unfair as well to minorities placed in positions or in programs for which they are unqualified, and unfair to high-achieving African-Americans and Hispanics who are stigmatized by it.   But it is also unfair to communities not able to hire the best candidates for their police and fire departments, to companies and government agencies that must turn away more promising applicants, and to their customers and owners, or the public they serve.

On both moral and pragmatic grounds, Affirmative Action has to go.   Even minorities reject it:  44% of African-Americans and 59% of Hispanics believe college admission decisions should be based solely on merit.  A candidate with the guts to take on AA will have the support of 67% of all Americans and 75% of European-Americans, says Mr. Gallup.

4.  Iran

We have just empowered our sworn enemy, a country that poses a direct military threat to us.  It is not enough to tear up the pathetic Obama-Kerry agreement.  We must do everything in our power to isolate and cripple the mullahs’ regime, and work with the many Iranians who wish to replace it.  The Iran nuclear agreement betrays everyone in that country, once the most progressive and enlightened in the Middle East, who resents living under a dictatorship that has imposed 7th-century laws and values.

5.  Address the threat posed by radical Islam

As with Black crime, the mere acknowledgment that there is such a threat will be a breath of fresh air to most sentient Americans.

The candidate must pledge to:

a) provide diplomatic and other assistance to persecuted Christians abroad

About 2.5 million have had to flee Iraq since our disastrous intervention there.  We owe them big time.  We also have a moral obligation to defend the rights of all Christian minorities under assault.

b)  Repudiate the threat to freedom of speech at home.  What the Muslim Brotherhood-allied CAIR and other pressure groups think should not be a matter of concern to the U.S. government.

c)  Trash all of the dhimmi handbooks and guidelines provided by the military and by government departments and agencies over the last decade.  Replace them with translations of the pronouncements of Middle Eastern leaders and influential clergy.  Base policy on these declarations. 

d)  Institute strict scrutiny for ties to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations on the part of all employees and advisors to the federal government.

6.   Defend Israel

All candidates have expressed support for Israel.  Let’s ask each to pledge as President to renounce the fatal delusion that Israelis must continue to exchange land for peace -- that the core problem in the Middle East is “settlements” in “the West Bank.”  The new President must explain clearly to the American people, based on the history of the Middle East since 1993, how the land-for-peace formula has worked in practice.

Acceptance of the existence of the state of Israel and the renunciation of terrorism should be a sine qua non for diplomatic relations with any country, and a requisite for any foreign aid.

This fundamental shift in policy will have to be accompanied by re-assignments at the State Department.  The Mongolian and Uzbekistan desks could use some additional personnel.

The tsunami of antisemitism sweeping Europe should also be a matter of concern for the new President.  We ought to ask what each candidate will do to address this.

7. Leave the U.N.

Has this organization prevented a single war or atrocity since its inception?  It costs U.S. taxpayers more than $3 billion per year; the 56 nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (with 10 of the top 20 oil producers) together pay $360 million.  Its more than 16,000 delegates and staff in New York, of over 44,000 worldwide, include scores of scofflaws and spies.  It has become an instrument of anti-Western and anti-Israeli propaganda.  (As of ten years ago:  UN resolutions about the 550,000-635,000 Palestinian refugees: 101; resolutions about the 860,000+ Jewish refugees from the Middle East:  0.)

Our foreign policy should be conducted via bi-lateral treaties, like contracts between individuals.

8.  Repeal Obamacare.

Every candidate has pledged to do this.  But given the hysteria the media will fan, we need to ask for specifics as to the health care system the candidate will replace it with, if elected.

9.  Protect the lives of the unborn

Again, each candidate has vowed to do this, and to defund Planned Parenthood, but we should once more ask for specifics.  What does the candidate propose in order to facilitate adoption, beyond the federal tax credit?  Making adoption affordable for would-be parents and an attractive option for pregnant women is the most effective means of saving lives in the short run.

10.  Cut spending and borrowing

Reduce the national debt to 67% of GDP by the end of 4 years.  Today, at 18.15 trillion, it’s 102%.  When Obama took office, it was 68%, and it ranged from 55-61% in Bush’s first term, when the Republicans controlled Congress.

11.  Investigate the claim of anthropogenic global warming

Every candidate promises to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, end the war on coal, which has shut down a third of the country’s plants since 2010, oppose the Russian-subsidized guerilla war against fracking, drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and off-shore, and make America energy independent.  But let’s ask them to attack the root of the problem.

Climatology is an ersatz science.  Let’s convene a panel of eminent physicists, chemists, geologists, economists, historians, and computer scientists including skeptics and believers in the theory of anthropogenic global warming to openly investigate the data and, particularly, the computer models on which the claim is based and issue a report as to whether or not scientific proof exists. Let’s ask the economists to crunch the numbers on the rosy forecasts about the impact of draconian regulations.  Let’s ask a separate panel of psychologists, social psychologists, and historians to examine the doomsday scenarios circulated by the public schools and the media.

12.  Defend Western Civilization

I’ve spent years reading the letters, diaries, journals, articles, and books of individuals who were active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I can tell you each one of them, from the most reactionary to the most radical, would be incredulous and appalled if he or she were to walk the streets of any American or European city, turn on a TV or radio, or cruise the internet.

Margaret Thatcher courageously defended “Victorian values” -- hard work, self-discipline, delayed gratification, responsibility, etc. -- for which she was endlessly ridiculed.  These have been swept away by the feminization of our culture.  We should ask each candidate what he or she would do to promote not only the values that made America and the West great, but the civilization that was produced by Europeans.  How about, for one thing, taxing the purveyors of trash culture to subsidize symphony orchestras (rapidly dying out) and opera companies?  How about requiring each school district to offer classes in Latin and Greek, and what was once called Western Civilization?  Elitist?  Maybe, but if we lose our heritage, we lose much more than the pleasures of listening to Mozart or reading Shakespeare.

Again, this is a provisional and subjective list, and not in order of importance.  Improvements by commenters are welcome.

Remember, we can expect that even the most conservative candidates will want to qualify their support for the list, and reject some of it.  Fine.  This is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.  But it will compel the candidates to clarify their positions, and we will have raised issues that they would have avoided like a Latin class if left to their own devices.

So what we need now is a small coalition of the willing among conservative movers and shakers to rewrite this list, sign it, hold a press conference, and send it off to each of the contenders.

Jay Michaels is the pen name of an academic.