In Search of a New Political Slogan

President Trump has had so much success with “Make America Great Again” — which I never fully understood, since I was convinced that the USA was pretty great already, but which I have to admit is continually effective in how it drives some people beyond crazy — that I started thinking I might need a new slogan for my ongoing “Anti-Campaign.”

(For those unfamiliar with the Anti-Candidate’s Anti-Campaign, we offer two musical introductions: “I Think I’ll Run for Congress” and “The Anti-Candidate Song”.)

My first thought was to copy the “MAGA” formula exactly, and one early contender in that vein was “Make America Gray’s Again” — but that seemed too “arrogant and megalomaniacal” even for me 😃. (If you’re not sure about the “arrogant and megalomaniacal” references, you definitely need to listen to the musical introductions above.) Plus, it would need to be somewhat different so as not to confuse people too much.

Anyway, following the “Make America [Something]” structure, we could have things like:

  • MABA — Make America Barbaric Again (for fans of Walt Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” and the rough-and-tumble days of the frontier), though in some respects we’ve crossed that bridge and burned it behind us; alternately, Make America Brave Again might be more appropriate
  • MACA — Make America Confederate Again (since some progressives seem ready to ditch the current Constitution, maybe we should revert to the Articles of Confederation — or did you think I meant a different confederacy?), though it would probably be better to Make America Constitutional Again
  • MADA — Make America Disciples Again (for those of a missionary or Dominionist bent)
  • MAHA — Make America Harmonious Again (for the “I’d like to teach the world to sing” crowd)
  • MAMA — Make America Magnificent Again (maybe too close, thematically, to MAGA … wouldn’t want any copyright infringement issues), but could also be Make America Megalomaniacal & Arrogant 😁
  • MANA — Make America Neutral Again (admit it: you thought it might say “nice” or “native” again, didn’t you?)
  • MAPA — Make America Proud Again (since, as we learned a few years ago, some people don’t have a lot of pride in the USA)
  • MARA — Make America Righteous Again (another one for the evangelicals, and particularly the fundamentalists)
  • MASA — Make America Serious Again (on second thought … naaah)
  • MATA — Make America Trustworthy Again (i.e., a country with integrity: the best friend and worst enemy another country could ever have)

None of those really fit the bill, though, do they? Maybe this is one reason why I wouldn’t be very well-suited to politics.

I’m sure if I were at all serious about running for office, I would bring some smart people into a room and come up with something. But at the moment, if I were serious, I might just turn things around and have my campaign be about GAMA: Giving America Meaning Again.

What do I mean by that? Reminding us that the USA was “brought forth on this continent” for freedom, and that the steps we’ve been taking toward statist control are anathema to freedom. Reminding us what “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” mean — and what they don’t mean. Reminding us what government is supposed to do — and what it’s not supposed to do. If, that is, anyone would ever want to listen to another voice crying in the wilderness.

So, if you were an adviser to the Anti-Candidate, or on the Anti-Campaign team, what would you suggest as a good slogan?


Don’t forget: As noted here, I’ve been running a series of giveaways for Audible downloads of the Walking on the Sea of Clouds audiobook, and the last drawings will be held this Monday, the 15th of April. Sign up at this link!

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Some ‘Anti-Candidate’ Post-Debate Thoughts

First, a confession: I didn’t watch all of Monday night’s debate. I missed about the last half hour, I think.

Second, an evaluation: Mrs. Clinton looked poised and was better prepared than Mr. Trump, though that seems a fairly low bar to clear. Mr. Trump’s failure to take what would have been some fairly easy shots at Mrs. Clinton seemed almost deliberately contradictory to his usual “attack dog” style. (Yes, people have pointed out Mr. Trump’s interrupting Mrs. Clinton and the unfortunate moderator, but Mr. Trump seemed mild-mannered and deferential compared to his performances in the primary debates. Whether that was intentional, I cannot say, though I have seen speculation that it was calculated to make him seem less intimidating to voters.)

Now, some more specific observations:

  • Both candidates talked a bit about the National Debt. Mr. Trump made the point about how large it is now, without driving home the point that it is much larger now than it was eight years ago. Mrs. Clinton made the point that Mr. Trump’s proposed tax cuts would add to the debt, without explaining whether her proposed tax increases would actually reduce it. But the moderator missed an opportunity to ask them one simple question: Are you going to balance the Federal budget every year? Because if not, then you’re not going to reduce the National Debt.
  • Mrs. Clinton scored some points with the “Trumped Up Trickle-Down” phrase, and she praised her husband with respect to the booming economy we enjoyed during his Presidency. Then, however, she made the curious statement that trickle-down economics led to or was responsible for the recent recession. I found that curious because trickle-down economics was not a hallmark of George W. Bush’s 2001-09 term; it was a hallmark of Ronald Reagan’s 1981-89 term. If trickle-down economics lasted until the 2008 recession, then, that would imply that the economic policies of the intermediate terms didn’t count for much.
  • Mrs. Clinton also scored points by pressing Mr. Trump about his company’s failure to pay suppliers for services rendered. I would like to know the story behind that, and the terms of the agreements that were violated — or that were negotiated so strongly in favor of the Trump conglomerate.
  • Just once I would like to see a debate in which one of the candidates actually takes a moment to explain what is and is not the President’s job. With respect to economics, for instance, to explain a bit how the budget process works (I’m not sure Mr. Trump knows very much about that). With respect to military matters, instead of sniping at each other about who has a plan to defeat ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/whatever the Islamofascist quasi-Caliphate is calling itself today, it would be refreshing to have a candidate say, “No, I don’t have a plan because that’s not the Commander-in-Chief’s job. That’s why we have a Secretary of Defense; that’s why we have Combatant Commanders; that’s why we have the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will give them direction, they will recommend courses of action, and I will make the decision. Next question.”
  • The two of them had a lot to say about policing, but policing is a local issue rather than a Federal one. It would have been nice to have them discuss whether they think the Executive Branch has a role in local matters, and if so what that particular role might be, rather than hearing about whether “stop and frisk” was or was not effective when it was in place in New York City.
  • The crime and gun control portion was one of Mr. Trump’s missed opportunities. A simple question that he could have asked: How many criminals and gang members have ever gone through a background check in order to purchase a firearm legally?
  • The question about cybersecurity was another missed opportunity. Mr. Trump certainly did not display any sort of killer instinct, or he would’ve pointed out the irony of someone trying to come across as knowledgeable about security who could not recognize that paragraph markings in a message denoted classified content; alternately, he could’ve asked about how increased cybersecurity might have protected mishandled emails that, it turns out, included very highly classified information.
  • Also on my list of things I wish Presidential candidates would talk about in order to show that they understand or at least appreciate National Security and military-related issues: the DIME: the instruments of National power.

Prepping the debate

(Image: “Prepping the debate,” by Leigh Blackall, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)


In the end, I was disappointed that the smaller-party candidates had not crossed the threshold of making it onto the debate stage. That might have been more entertaining, and almost certainly more enlightening.

It is easier, of course, to talk about playing the game than it is to play the game: to analyze the debate afterward than to participate in it in real time. It may be that if I had the chance to debate I would not have fared any better. Then again … I think if I had a team of people to help prepare me and quiz me, I would be able to hold my own.

Put me in, Coach. I’d love to take a swing at it.

P.S. I’m the Anti-Candidate, and I approved this blog post.

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Another Election Day, But the Same Heinlein Quote Applies

On every electon day, I recall this bit of guidance from Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long”:*

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for…but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

And if you decide you want to vote against both sides, I am as always available as your convenient write-in vote.

I’m the Anti-Candidate — or, if you will, the “well-meaning fool” — and I approved this blog post.

*The “Notebooks” were included in Heinlein’s novel, Time Enough for Love.

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Missourians, You Have Another Choice: the Anti-Candidate!

Actually, that goes for just about anyone, anywhere, but most especially for my friends in the Show-Me State who are as appalled as the rest of the thinking world at the idiocy spouted by Representative Akin.

Remember, the Anti-Candidate is available to be your write-in vote for any election, any time, anywhere.

You DO have a choice this November. As the Grail Knight said to Indiana Jones, “Choose wisely!”

I’m the Anti-Candidate, and I approved this message.

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A Pre-Election-Day Reminder

If you can’t find anyone you want to vote for, you can always write in the Anti-Candidate.

… we’re not on the ballot for … any elected office (so far as we know). You won’t see our name on those irritating little signs in your neighborhood. You won’t see any obnoxious “I approved this message” ads on television. In fact, if you’re committed to one party or one issue and you find a candidate who will represent you adequately, we encourage you to vote for that person.

Then again, if you find you’re not satisfied with the candidates already on the ballot — and you can’t pick one to vote against, as Robert A. Heinlein suggested — just vote against all the candidates and write in “Gray Rinehart.” It doesn’t matter what office: put us down for any or all of them. (Be sure to spell the name right: we wouldn’t want the election officials to get confused.) On the off chance that we win, we probably won’t show up anyway, since we agree with Thoreau that the government governs best “which governs least.”

You can read more on the Anti-Campaign page.

I’m the Anti-Candidate, and who else in their right mind would have approved this message?

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On the Road to Dragon*Con, the Anti-Campaign Surfaces

Driving through the Triad on the way to Dragon*Con yesterday, right around Thomasville, I noticed a blue Dodge pickup truck with a very interesting political message on the tailgate. Neatly spelled out in precise white letters was the simple message:


— which sums up why I started the Anti-Campaign.

I have no way of contacting the gentleman in the truck; he pulled off I-85S at exit 106 (Finch Farm Road). If anyone knows who drives a dark blue Dodge pickup with North Carolina plates and a University of Georgia-style “G” affixed to the roll bar, let him know that I appreciate the sentiment.

And if you feel the same way about any of this year’s political races — that you’d rather have someone else, anyone else, than the candidates on the ballot — feel free to write in my name.

I’m the Anti-Candidate, and I approved this message.

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Vote for Gray! (The Anti-Candidate Lives)

After much soul-searching and “counting the cost,” I have decided NOT to file as a candidate for the 2010 election primary. (Today is the deadline.) Instead, I will continue making snide observations about the candidates and the process, and as the Anti-Candidate I remain available for any write-in votes you want to cast.

(East view of the U.S. Capitol. U.S. Government photo. Click to enlarge.)

I received a lot of encouragement from folks, and I appreciate everyone’s confidence and general enthusiasm. I especially appreciate the offers of office space and other support. Maybe next time….

I made the decision based on four practical considerations. First, I don’t have any spare time to devote to the actual work of campaigning, not while I’m working two jobs and spending most of my off hours on church matters. Second, I haven’t built an organization capable of running a campaign, spreading the word, and getting out the vote. Third, owing to the lack of an organization, I don’t have any campaign funds to pay for things like the campaign filing fee. And finally, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of candidates already in position, each of whom has more time, more of an organization, and more money than I do. So, from a practical standpoint, it made sense to sit this one out.

Some folks really seem to want me to run for office, and maybe one day I will. In the meantime, if you want to get an idea of where I stand on the issues, I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that out. (Actually, I’ve posted some issue-related ramblings on the Anti-Campaign pages.)

And if you don’t like the choices set before you on election day (or primary day), and can’t decide which one(s) you should vote against, feel free to vote against all of them by writing in my name!

(I’m Gray Rinehart, and I approved this message.)

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If I Were My Own Representative, Part I

For a long time I’ve thought — “known,” in the all-knowledge-is-only-probable sense — that I would do well as a Member of Congress: a Representative or even a Senator. I like to think things through, I try not to overreact, and I firmly believe in our government of, by, and for the people.

(West front of the U.S. Capitol. Image from Click to enlarge.)

I also think that I am probably unelectable. I am not a fan of back-room dealings, have a tendency to speak my mind with some disregard for the consequences, and I really don’t like the idea of turning my life into an endless campaign.

(My aversion to fund-raising and the whole idea of campaigning, along with the fact that I thought the idea was funny, is what led me to start the Anti-Campaign. Truth to tell, I wouldn’t mind serving in just about any office … if you need a new Mayor or whatever, let me know … I just don’t want to run for office.)

All of which doesn’t stop me from thinking about what it would be like If I Were My Own Representative. Hence, this blog series — or what I think will be a series.

Since the President’s State of the Union speech is tonight, it seems appropriate to start with this: If I Were My Own Representative, I could get one of the best seats at the State of the Union or other Presidential addresses. I would fight the urge to heckle — I do have some sense of decorum — but if you’ve ever sat with me at an event you know that, unless the mood is particularly somber, I would surely nudge my neighbor and make snide comments from time to time. I might even laugh at inappropriate moments.

Why? Because even serious subjects can benefit from a little levity. Because sometimes we take things (and ourselves) too seriously. And because sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. But mostly because that’s the way I am all the time, and why be any different?

Besides, I’d just be happy to be there.

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Trees or Forests? Metaphors for the Political Left and Right

Some recent blog posts and the opening of a new (local) political season brought my thoughts back to the speechifying and responding we enjoyed* during the last Presidential campaign. It occurred to me that some of our country’s left-right dichotomy has to do with which side can’t see the forest for the trees, and which one sees the forest but not the trees.

It all depends on perspective … and, to a degree, on what issue is being discussed.

Take the economy, for instance. Those on the left seem unable to see the forest as they focus on single trees in the form of individuals hurt by the recession. Those on the right seem unable to see the individual trees because they are looking at the entire economic forest and the larger forces affecting it (and affected by it). The former would say a forest can’t be healthy if the individual trees are damaged or diseased; the latter would say it makes no sense to focus on individual trees if by doing so you neglect or even hurt the rest of the forest.

We can also see that difference in perspective with respect to healthcare. Those on the left see the trees — individuals and families without health insurance and saddled with staggering bills — and seem willing to sacrifice much of the forest of insured and mostly satisfied healthcare consumers in order to attend to those individual needs. Those on the right see the forest — a vast but untamed landscape of providers, customers, and insurers — and seem willing to let a few trees wither rather than take drastic action that may end up tantamount to clear-cutting.

What about other issues? What about your own perspective? Do you see the forest, or the trees?


*Or, if you prefer, “endured.”


This message has been brought to you by the Anti-Campaign. “I’m the Anti-Candidate, and I approved this message.”

Image Credit: Jonathan Gill, from Flickr, under Creative Commons

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LOLcats Repudiated

I’m not a LOLcat fan, although I admit some of them are funny. And if you’re not familiar with the LOLcat phenomenon, the great anti-LOLcat on the Fabianspace Blog won’t make any sense to you. But I liked it. 😀

Fabianspace is run by Karina Fabian, a talented writer whose husband Rob was a speechwriter with me on the Air Staff and is now a Squadron Commander at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Karina agreed to be the Anti-Running-Mate in the Anti-Campaign, and posted a fake news story about the Anti-Candidate on the same “Labor Day Funnies” page of her blog. I suspect Rob had a hand in producing that segment.

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