In this chapter of the Independent Candidates 2008 series, I profile Blake Ashby.Â Ashby is a small business owner who lives in St. Louis, Missouri.Â Ashby worked for some Republican office holders in his early twenties, and for former U.S. Senator Jim Talent.Â He wrote a book following the evolution of liberalism, arguing that the flavor we now know in the U.S. came from the idea of Utopianism.Â Formerly a life-long Republican, he ran as a protest candidate in the 2004 Missouri primary.
Mr. Ashby would take a inclusionist approach to national security policy in the Middle East.Â He would invite Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia to contribute troops to Iraq.Â He says it is naive to keep these people out of the Iraqi stability process, arguing that the troop surge will not work, and the country would then be left to the Iranians, anyway. [Ed. Note: This platform may have been written before more recent developments in Iraq.Â Though, whether the surge truly is the reason for stability is an issue for another entry.]
In Afghanistan, Ashby says the Taliban should be allowed to participate in their government, but only if they turn over Osama bin Laden.Â He says it is up to the people to decide who their leaders should be, and if the Taliban recognizes the standards of international justice by giving up bin Laden, they should be allowed to participate in democratic elections.Â He says if they win, it is a problem of Afghanistan government, not the U.S.
Ashby argues that the Bush tax cuts should be canceled, and that the argument that the economy will flounder if this is done is nonsense.Â However, he also notes that spending must be cut back, and that the government should only spend what money it has, not what it wants to spend.Â He argues that there needs to be faith in the free market to balance consumption and investment.
He also argues for tort reform, saying that attorneys need to have some liability in paying expenses if the other side should win.
Ashby says the U.N. should create an agency to help spread the ideals of democracy.Â It would evaluate countries on their political systems and spread democracy.Â He argues that the U.S. flavor of democracy doesn’t need to be the message sent, just the idea of people electing their leaders.Â Further, he argues that non-democratic nations should only have half a vote in the U.N.
Ashby argues that doubling the output capacity of existing nuclear energy sources is a must, and is the least disruptive way to lower our dependence on carbon-based sources.
He says that sugar should be imported at free market rates, and the trade barriers on the substance should be removed.Â He argues that sugar is a much better method for bioenergy than corn.
Finally, he says that small incremental changes our the best way to reduce energy consumption, rather than a mass effort.
Ashby says that it must be easier to take away children from parents doing a bad job.Â He argues that the worst parents are setting standards for neighborhoods, and that letting them do bad jobs derides all other progress, from the economy to education.
Ashby is for abortion, under the argument making it illegal would have an impact on the U.S. budget, and that every unwanted baby has a significant cost to the government.
Ashby has several suggestions for improving education.Â First, as mentioned above, he would make it easier to remove children from irresponsible parents, so that education, rather than policing in the classroom, can become more of a focus.
He argues for a repealing of No Child Left Behind, arguing that the schools are better served from a local perspective of the parents, although he agrees with a national standard.
Finally, Ashby would make it easier to remove underperforming teachers.
I found Mr. Ashby very interesting.Â He’s kind of like Ron Paul, but without the strict constitutionalist stance.Â I agree with a lot that he stands for.Â The economic arguments make a lot of sense.Â I’ve said it before – you cannot cut taxes and then spend, spend, spend.Â It hurts the economy, and the taxpayers.Â It doesn’t make sense at all.
On energy, I’m nominally for increasing nuclear energy capacity, but also think that waste becomes an issue.Â He doesn’t cover that issue in his platform, unfortunately.Â Still, nuclear energy is not the end-all, and I think he recognizes this.Â Â He argues that sugar is a better answer for biofuel.Â I’d need to study the science behind it more, but I do know that all biofuel options have their pros and cons.
There are places I don’t agree with him, however.
I’m somewhat against his idea for Iraq.Â He wants to put together Saudi, Iranian, and Syrian troops?Â Talk about a mismatch.Â The government of Iraq barely functions with Shia and Sunni elements together, and he wants to put in different kinds of military?Â Not going to happen, I think. Â As for Afghanistan, I’m not entirely in favor of letting back in power those who harbored the organization that attacked our soil.Â While I understand the thought behind the idea, the Taliban is already gaining a foothold back into the country.
The U.N. idea is a nice one, but I think they have more important things to do than to go rating countries based on democracy.Â I think it’s already easy to tell.Â Besides, if we’re rating on how people elect their leaders, all the one who use direct elections are going before us!Â I’m also not a big fan of the half-vote idea.Â There are some countries out there that are still under true monarchies, but are not necessarily totalitarian or oppressive.
I’m going to remain neutral on his abortion platform, because I don’t have a fully formed opinion on his reasoning behind allowing it.Â Finally, I didn’t include his platform on healthcare, because I think it was more of a mismash of what the problems are now vs. what the problems would be with true universal healthcare, rather than what he would do.
So, there you are, folks.Â Blake Ashby, Independent candidate for President.