Candidate for President: Corey Sterner
Candidate for Vice President: Jeffrey Ryan
Party: TARFU (kidding, none)
Slogan: More Cowbell, Less Government
States Where Candidates are Eligible as Write In’s: AL, CO, IA, MS, NH, NJ, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, WY
Background: As documented in this blog, I decided back in 2009 that I would run for President as a write-in candidate as soon as I was legally qualified to do so. 2016 is the first general election in which I qualify and over the past few years I’ve researched the viability and mechanics of campaigning as such. While I’ve documented my motivation and research quite well, I have not documented my stance on the various issues important to voters. So I’ve written this post to do just that, and I hope the timing is perfect as most everyone considers how to complete their ballot in just a few days. Should you be as disgusted as I am with the predictable A/B choice we’re offered every 4 years, I encourage you to explore alternative candidates like myself and/or resolve to run for yourself as a write-in candidate in forthcoming general elections. You are not ‘throwing your vote away’ if you vote for someone other than the A/B mainstream options. You only throw your vote away if you don’t cast it.
Stance On Issues: While I could write a complete essay on every issue, I think voters want a simple explanation absent minutiae. Every issue comes with exceptions upon nuance wrapped in contradiction. So instead of trying to account for every angle, I will state my general positions and move on. I welcome commentary through whatever medium you’re reading this post, and am happy to discuss any issues not addressed herein.
Taxes – I support lower taxes across the board. Taxation is necessary but I believe there is an optimal rate at which work is incentivized while government is funded. My tax philosophy is inspired in large part by the work of Art Laffer and his curve theory. Tax reform is possible and very necessary to re-accelerate our economy. We’ve become complacent with a state of economic malaise and it’s unacceptable. Capital gains taxes should be returned to pre-Obama levels to incent capital investment. Corporate tax rates should be reduced and a tax holiday implemented to incent cash repatriation from abroad. The biggest problem facing America is our insolvency; if we focus more time and resources on cost reduction than tax increases, and we incent investment + productivity, then we can rapidly change the country’s financial imbalances.
Social Issues – Gay marriage: live and let live, government should not legislate morality. Legalization of marijuana: in full favor of it (see Colorado for example of massive economic benefit). War on Drugs: has been an utter failure so it needs re-thinking. In short, there are much bigger problems for the federal government to solve than protecting us from ourselves and legislating morality. I have faith in the individual’s ability to take responsibility for him or herself. The more empowered, responsible and disciplined we are as individuals, the stronger we are as a nation and culture. The reverse is also true here.
Gun Control – I’m a staunch defender of the second amendment. The federal government should not violate your liberty in deciding how to protect your life when it is threatened. But I also support common sense improvements in the background check process. Similar to the requirements for a concealed carry permit, training on firearm use, safety, and laws should be required prior to firearm purchase. More thorough training should be required to secure a concealed carry permit. Those on a no-fly list should not be permitted to buy a firearm. Those with a diagnosed history of mental illness should be subject to a much longer waiting period and in some cases outright denial of purchase. In short, more extensive cross-referencing should take place prior to purchase authorization. I am not in favor of magazine capacity limits or assault rifle bans.
Healthcare – The Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, is an absolute disgrace and should be unwound post haste. I don’t say this for theatrics; I say it because the ACA has done nothing to truly reform healthcare. All it has done is add bureaucracy, increase costs, and push the government deeper into yet another aspect of our personal lives. True healthcare reform focuses on cost reduction and incents investment in better patient outcomes. When a knee brace costs $200 in cash paid by the patient but $800 when billed to the insurance company something is terribly wrong. When an ER bills an insurance company $50 for a tablet of ibuprofen something is terribly broken. So I support the reallocation of resources toward reducing the cost structure of healthcare. And philosophically, I do not believe that a country the size of America can provide “free” healthcare to all of her citizens. When people cite New Zealand, Canada, France, England, et al as paragons of national healthcare they’re ignoring the problem of scale. America has over 300 million citizens while these other countries have just a fraction of our population. No one ever applauds more comparable nations (i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China) for their ability to care for their citizens via federal programs. Privatized healthcare can and does provide superior patient outcomes in a country of our scale.
Defense – Peace through strength and diplomacy. Statesmanship seems to be a lost art and the most recent administration has done us zero favors on the diplomatic front. With a military as potent as our own, we need renewed focus on trade deals and alliances in order to affect Smart Power. I have no radical agenda either way (spending or cutting) with regard to the defense budget. I am in favor of maintaining and enhancing the most advanced military on the planet. The Global War on Terror is best waged in the shadows by our intelligence agencies and in tandem with small footprint engagement by our military branches.
Immigration – Responsible immigration policy makes our country stronger. Almost every American is descended from immigrants so the mindset of slamming the door shut behind ourselves is unacceptable to me. Illegal immigration is a problem because, well…it’s illegal. The biggest problem with illegal immigration is the drain on social services at the state and local level. Renewed focus on enforcement of laws/rules is more favorable and pragmatic than just trying to keep everyone out. Pathways to legal citizenship should be strengthened and encouraged. Illegal immigrants just subvert our efforts to bring in the good people who want to be here lawfully. I am not in favor of wholesale amnesty nor am I in favor of mass deportation. Rather, I see economic pressure (i.e. social service crackdown, e-verify) as much more effective in modifying the behavior of illegal immigrants who cannot be bothered to pursue legal pathways. They’re mostly here for the cash so make that harder to get and they will go away. Simple as that.
Education – The federal government should be benchmarking & measuring, not mandating. So I believe curriculum decisions for primary and secondary education should be delegated to the State level. Higher Education should be held more accountable for the soaring rise in tuition costs. There is no reasonable explanation for how inflated the costs are and the federal government should stop rubber stamping the increases by way of backing the student loans to pay those costs. The federal government needs to be more stringent about backing student loans which will in turn pressure tuition costs downward. Tax breaks for student loan balances would be seriously considered by my administration.
Abortion – Put simply, I would not impose my personal beliefs on this issue on the Judicial branch. I am politically pro-choice but personally pro-life. How does that work? I believe that the Federal government should not infringe upon a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body. The Federal government should not legislate her morality. But I personally believe that the choice to abort a pregnancy comes with profound spiritual ramifications. Those ramifications transcend the laws of a nation and the woman who makes such a choice – as well as anyone complicit in her choice – has to live with the consequences into the hereafter. In only extreme cases (i.e. rape, incest, life of the mother) do I believe in spiritual clemency for the abortion of life.
Economy – Not sure how to treat this as an issue but it’s worth a section. History has shown us that central planning leads to failure. And the Keynesian model of central planning that the federal government has employed for nearly a century is failing. The Austrian school of economics holds far greater promise and on this matter the Libertarian party has the best ideas. Major reform is necessary in the reserve banking system and with our monetary policy. Without reform, we are destined for an implosion unlike anything the world has ever seen. If we don’t grow our appetite for reform then the only question we should be trying to answer is ‘how soon will we implode?’
Death Penalty – While every person has a right to their own life, I believe that right is forfeited once you’ve infringed upon the right of another to their life via homicide. Cases of self-defense excepted. In cases of clear-cut guilt I see no sense in nurturing the rest of a perpetrator’s life at the expense of taxpayers.
Minimum Wage – I support raising the minimum wage. Foremost because it would alleviate the burden on social services at the state and local levels. At present, depending on where one lives, one would be better served taking social services than working a minimum wage job. At these income levels, the means for living are more lucrative on social services across much of the country. Taking individual pride out of the equation, that’s a perfectly rational economic decision. But if minimum wage were raised it would change that calculus. Going to work everyday would result in a net gain for the individual. Many small business owners pay their employees well above the minimum wage and if they can do it, then every fast food corporation (as an example) can do it too. End Issue. Easter Egg: Coke or Pepsi – If you’ve stayed with me this long and are reading this final section, I will gladly buy you a Coke, Pepsi, or other Cola of your choice as thanks for your time. Simply comment, ‘fiddy cent’ and I will follow through.