Teeter-Totter Syndrome

rvf9ww7m-1435680516By Jeff Smith

“If you wish to view politics with clarity you need to get off the teeter-totter.” ~Old Man Anarchyball

Ever hear of a political syndrome called the teeter-totter? Imagine, a playground teeter-totter. Now mentally title the right-side seat Republican and the left-side seat Democrat. When the right-side seat is up in the air the Republicans are “winning” (debates, arguments, etc.). When the left-side seat is up, the Democrats are “winning.” It goes without saying that when one side is up in the air, the other is automatically down on the ground. In the real world politics doesn’t work like this, but it is amazing how many people believe that it is so.

We are all aware of the dislike the Republican and Democratic Parties and their supporters have for one another. In many, that dislike is closer to a foam-frothing hatred. This hatred between supporters can be so great that it becomes imperative to each side that they win at almost any cost. Each passionately believes that their side must always be in the up position on the teeter-totter or automatically the opposing side is winning. The power of this syndrome is such, that it is speculated that if Joseph Stalin were to come back to life and run for president on the Democratic ticket, and Adolph Hitler were to come back and run on the Republican ticket, one of these two monsters would become the president of the United States. Neither side can tolerate the other side winning and will do almost anything to ensure it, leading to lying and trickery. This is known as the ends justifies the means. That in order to achieve the desired goal, it becomes acceptable to deceive and trick the public. Strangely, it never occurs to the supporters of each side, that what they have come to believe about their own side, may not be entirely true, due to the same lies, trickery and deceptions utilized to obtain their support in the first place.

We are human. We are easily trained to play to win in politics, just as we do in sporting endeavors. The teeter-totter syndrome is part of the state’s training (brainwashing) to accept lies as being truths. A well-brainwashed supporter will defensively deny the truth without realizing it, especially if that truth differs or threatens the normal belief system of that side. The human brain is an amazing and powerful tool. When properly prepared the human brain can consciously fool itself into seeing an altered truth. this naturally hampers the ability to see facts as they really are. Subconsciously, humans are able to realize that they are not processing a real truth, but when combined with hatred and fear (of the opposing party), people can deny themselves the truth, in order to maintain a lie. A good example of this is when voters blame the opposition party for current and ongoing problems, but are unable to see the fault of their own side (denial). Another example is when voters change their position on an issue (war, liberty) based on which party currently holds office. When the parties change which holds office, so changes the supporters positions. In discussing this behavior with the supporters of both sides, they deny any change in their opinions, even though it is plainly obvious to the casual observer.

The teeter-totter syndrome is directly responsible for the tyranny and corruption Americans suffer from. Neither side being able to see and admit that their side is equally part of the problem, not the solution. Because the majority of the people are stuck in this teeter-totter syndrome the Democratic and Republican Parities hold complete economic and individual control over our lives, all the while, the syndrome convinces the individual to believe that they are actually free. The two monopoly mega-parties intentionally feed and fuel the teeter-totter hatred in order to maintain control. In public the two parties passionately attack one another, but in private they are friends, co-partners in the biggest slave trade history has ever witnessed.

The people need to see the truth. That there is no teeter-totter. It is just an illusion of the mind, a tool for the state. If the people could cease hating the other party they would be able to see the world through clear eyes, thus being able to make better choices. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic solution. Hate and fear are natural human traits. They cannot be regulated. The only real solution is to remove the ability of people to have control over other people’s lives. If they can’t see clearly they have no business involving themselves in the solutions others need. This removal of control over others must also include the state, as it is made up of these same people who cannot “see clearly.” Until that day arrives, the government will continue instigating hate and fear so that it can retain control, all-the-while, blaming the other party not currently in office.

Jeff Smith is a political activist who has been involved in libertarian politics since 1975.  He sometimes uses the moniker Old Man Anarchyball.  This piece has been reposted with his permission.

[Image from theconversation.com]

Obenshain v. Dunbar

In just a handful of days Republicans across the state will gather in Harrisonburg, my hometown, for their state convention. There they will be voting for a new committeewoman. The two choices for this position are Suzanne Obenshain and Cynthia Dunbar. Having had the opportunity to get to know both women, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.

The Obenshains in Richmond in late 2012

The Obenshains in Richmond in late 2012

I’ve known Suzanne Obenshain for well over a decade. While I was growing up in Harrisonburg we both attended the same church and were both quite active in local Republican Party politics. She’s a person whose opinion I’ve valued. For example, when in 2013 I started to consider running for local office in the 2014 elections, speaking to Suzanne Obenshain was of prime importance. To highlight some of my activism, I was a bus captain for the Obenshain for Attorney General campaign at the 2013 Virginia Republican convention and later the campaign asked me to serve as her chauffeur, though I only ended up driving her once and it was just around Harrisonburg.

My last meaningful conversation with Suzanne Obenshain was a little over two years ago. However, as I’ve written in previous pieces, after about 19 years of activism I was kicked out of the Harrisonburg GOP in February 2014. Given that I had been a loyal supporter and volunteer for the Obenshains since Senator Obenshain first declared his intent to run for office in late 2002 or early 2003, the first person I called looking for assistance with this matter was Suzanne Obenshain. In the moment I needed her help the most she refused to provide aid. During the call she asked me if I knew what a “good Republican” was. I explained that I thought it was someone who held fast to principle and advocated the values found in the Virginia Republican Creed. Instead, Ms. Obenshain explained that being a good Republican had nothing to do with ideology, but instead a good Republican was a person who supported all the Republican candidates. I was shocked when I heard these words, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

After all, after the 2012 Republican National Convention, which screwed over the Ron Paul delegates, I presented a resolution to the local Harrisonburg GOP from the Virginia Republican Liberty Caucus that condemned both John Boehner and Reince Priebus for their role in this matter. However, it was Suzanne Obenshain herself who scuttled any attempt to either discuss it or bring it to a vote.

Also, during the 2012 Harrisonburg City Council elections, much to my disappointment I discovered that one of the Republican candidates promoted a lot of big government policies, more so than even the Democratic candidates. Given this realization, there was no way I could bring myself to either support or vote for this person. After the election, when all three Republican candidates went down in defeat, I spoke with Suzanne Obenshain, as she was the person who recruited our local candidates. I asked why the local GOP would nominate a person who couldn’t be called a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. She responded by telling me that no one else wanted to run. However, wouldn’t it have been better to have one fewer nominee than running a full slate if that meant rallying behind someone who was antithetical to our principles? Does being a Republican actually mean anything?

Getting back to 2014, although no longer a member of my local committee, I still requested to attend the state convention. Both the chairman and Ms. Obenshain told me that I could go as a voting delegate. However, I was dismayed to discover that the call for the convention included a strict loyalty oath to the party and her candidates, declaring that all delegates from Harrisonburg would support all of the Republican candidates that year. Neither knowing who they were nor whether or not they would uphold the principles of the RPV Creed I felt could not honorably sign such a document. I asked who decided to include this oath in the call, which was considerably more stringent than other local calls, such as the one from Waynesboro, and was told that it was Suzanne Obenshain who did so.

One of my relatives asked Suzanne Obenshain why the Republicans had treated me poorly and I was told that she responded saying that the Republicans were afraid of me, in part because I was unwilling to compromise on most principles and because I openly criticized my representative, Bob Goodlatte when he voted against what I always assumed were supposedly Republican values.

After the convention I spoke to a local friend who was also a Shak Hill supporter and convention delegate. At the time Shak Hill was running as the more conservative option for Senate. However, my friend told me that several Ed Gillespie supporters, including Suzanne Obenshain, attempted to intimidate him on the voting floor into supporting their preferred candidate.

I still ran for local office but I did so as an independent since I wasn’t a member of the Republican Party any longer; I felt someone needed to represent my principles. I ran on a platform of limiting the power and scope of the city government and to the best of my knowledge, I was the only candidate who mentioned the Creed of the Republican Party of Virginia or sought to advance the values which it advocated. Party labels aside you’d think that limited government Republicans would be happy that at least one of the candidates actually advocated limiting the government. Nevertheless, several of my friends told me that Suzanne Obenshain was furious with me because I had the audacity to run for office against the Republican nominees. When I went door-to-door for my campaign I stopped by the houses of several friends who had signs for the Republican council candidates in their yard. When I asked them about it, I was told that they had not requested the signs but instead Suzanne Obenshain placed them in their yards simply because they were members of the Harrisonburg Republican committee. By comparison, due in part to my principles, many Libertarians supported my campaign either through time or money as did some disaffected local Republicans.

Photo of Cynthia Dunbar with Suzanne Curran and Mark Berg. Image from the Dunbar campaign.

Photo of Cynthia Dunbar with Suzanne Curran and Mark Berg. Image from the Dunbar campaign.

On the other hand, I first spoke to Cynthia Dunbar on New Years Eve of 2015. She called me while I was picking up a few pizzas for a party that was taking place that evening. Although I wasn’t a member of the Republican Party and had no plans of rejoining, we spoke about her candidacy, the GOP, and political principles. I met her in person on Saturday at a meeting of the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives in Mt. Jackson.

Over the last several months, I’ve had the chance to listen to Cynthia Dunbar on a handful of occasions.   She seems to be a person guided by conviction that promises to stand up to the party bosses and elected officials who betray their principles and/or the grassroots activists who elected them in the first place. In addition, she’s picked up endorsements from a number of good Virginia political activists and elected officials I respect including: Delegate Brenda Pogge, Delegate Bob Marshall, Senator Dick Black, Suzanne Curran, Anne Fitzgerald, Steven Thomas, and Ed Yensho. However, the most exciting endorsement comes from my former boss, the godfather of the modern liberty movement, Dr. Ron Paul.

Some of her detractors have attacked Dunbar for the fact that she has lived in Virginia for only a handful of years. But don’t we all have to come from somewhere? One of my Republican opponents for city council used this issue against the Democrats and the Libertarian candidate because they lived within the city limits for only several years. Although I am a native of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, that was as a result of the choices my parents made, not my own. Honestly, what should matter more, political principles and character or something transient like geography? I’d like to think this is an easy question and we should not treat people as outcasts simply because their roots are not as deep as our own.

Let me offer you a few fun facts. Since 2009, only one Republican candidate has beaten a Democratic candidate in Harrisonburg. If Senator Mark Obenshain had won our hometown in 2013, he would be Virginia’s attorney general. Here’s another fact. In 1995, at the age of 15, I was the youngest Republican activist in Harrisonburg. In January of 2013, at the age of 32, I was still the youngest person who regularly attended monthly meetings of the Harrisonburg Republican Party.

The facts and experiences I’ve mentioned might leave you with several important questions. Why don’t Republicans win Harrisonburg? Although I don’t know their current membership, when I was a part of the party why did the Harrisonburg GOP fail to recruit newer, younger members? Well, when you have leaders of a political party which values loyalty to the party over principle, what do you think happens? When you have a local unit, which forces its members to sign onerous loyalty oaths to the party and her candidates, it is possible that the members begin to build up resentment? When you have a political party that is more concerned with pleasing elected officials and party bosses at the expense of the volunteer grassroots activists, why in the world would anyone choose to join such a group? When a local party recruits candidates who are indistinguishable from the Democrats, why wouldn’t voters select the genuine article? When the local leaders of the Republican Party treat conservatives and libertarians who are outside of the party as hostile enemies, should there be any wonder why Republicans no longer win Harrisonburg and the local unit is so dreadfully small and ineffective? Lastly, I have to ask you, are these kinds of values ones that Virginia Republicans want at the national level?

It should be obvious that this election for Republican National Committeewoman is one of important contrasts. Like my hero Ron Paul, if I were a delegate to the Virginia Republican Convention, given my experiences and knowledge of the two candidates, I would have no hesitation in casting my vote for Cynthia Dunbar.

Why Not Vote Libertarian?

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Joshua Huffman with 2012 Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson at the 2016 Virginia Libertarian Convention

VC Note:  On April 2nd, the Daily News Record (my local paper) published an opinion piece from Mr. Allen Clague III entitled “Be Careful in Voting Libertarian”.  In the article, Mr. Clague attempts to dissuade citizens from voting for Libertarian candidates by using some flimsy or just plain wrong reasons, such as the party and her candidates are secretly well funded by billionaires and their shadow groups.  After reading it, I felt it required a response.  Here is what I wrote which appeared in the April 16th edition of the paper.  The paper created the title for this piece.

 

After reading Mr. Allen Clague III’s open forum piece from April 2nd called “Be Careful in Voting Libertarian”, I thought it needed both some factual clarifications and a rebuttal.

First, I do not know of many people who would call Ted Cruz “a libertarian cloaked as a Republican.”  For example, his desire to see “if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out” presumably due to the use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, coupled with his support for religious profiling of Muslims in America and his calls for the government to force Apple to unlock their iPhone are all decidedly unlibertarian positions.  And these are just a few examples.

Furthermore, as Republican Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) wrote in his endorsement of Ted Cruz, “Ted is not a libertarian and doesn’t claim to be.”  Therefore, I believe it is an error to associate Ted Cruz as a standard-bearer or even a foot soldier in the libertarian movement.

Second, I’ve never heard of a group called Citizens for Prosperity.  There was a group called Citizens for a Sound Economy, but it split in 2004 to create Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. Although some people claim that Americans for Prosperity is a front for the Libertarian Party, in my experiences I have never seen them promote a single Libertarian candidate or official but have witnessed them helping Republican candidates and officeholders.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Clague, perhaps he didn’t write the headline associated with his piece.  After all, I have found that when I write for the Daily News Record my titles often change.   However, I agree that one should always be careful in voting, regardless of which candidate or political party you choose to support.  Unfortunately some voters don’t take the time to learn about their choices, instead blindly assuming that a party’s candidate follows a certain set of principles, which often is untrue.

Sure, there are some people who like to throw out the names of political bogeymen.  If you are on the left, the Koch brothers are evil masterminds bent on world control or if you are on the right, it is George Soros pulling the puppet strings of others.   Although it makes for an interesting story, each side assumes that these men wield an unbelievable amount of power and control over our political process.  It is easy to say that we have no say in what happens.  However, if you don’t like the way your city or county government is run then it is up to each of us to make a change.  Do you think your state or federal government representatives are corrupt?  Then mount a challenge to vote them out of office.  It’s really that simple.  If that means voting for a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or independent candidate, have at it.  Don’t toe a party line again and again simply because you’ve always voted that way.

What is Libertarianism if it isn’t a scheme to make the Koch brothers and their allies rich?  Well, unlike some other political philosophies, my understanding is that libertarianism advocates a very limited government, one that protects life, liberty, and property, while doing little else.  I do not believe that one should use the power of the government to take from our neighbors to enrich either our friends or ourselves.

Friends, don’t be scared away from voting for the best person in each election regardless of political affiliation.  Despite what some people may say, sometimes voting for Libertarians is the best option.  It certainly beats the lesser of two evils!  And, if you think that some secretive, well-funded group controls the Libertarian Party, I have some disappointing news for you.  After all, if they were, don’t you think we would have seen some extremely well funded Libertarian campaigns by now?  I’ve been involved in politics since I was a student at Harrisonburg High School in the mid to late 90s.  As soon as I get my first check from the Koch brothers the readers of the DNR will be the first to know!

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XXXIV)

IMG_0334On Wednesday, April 6th, Andy Schmookler and I returned to the airwaves of 550 AM, WSVA to talk about politics.  The Democratic and Republican presidential primaries continues to dominate discussion, especially with Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders winning Wisconsin over their party’s current front-runners.

If you missed the show, you can listen to it here.

The Reputation of Bloggers

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Pete Snyder

When you read a piece written on one of the multitude of blogs out there, do you ever stop to think about the author?  For example, do you ask what motivated him or her to craft the article and what agenda he or she is trying to advance?  Yes, when it comes to politics there are conservative blogs, liberal blogs, blogs that promote a grassroots or anti-establishment point of view, and those who seek to prop up certain elected politicians.

Last weekend I took a good bit of time to ponder this thought.  Several months ago a candidate contacted me as he was considering hiring me for his campaign.  After several abortive attempts I finally I spoke with his campaign manager just recently.  Although I was told that they didn’t have the funds to make an offer at this time, I was informed that I could help them out by writing pieces on this website critical of their opponent.  It was hinted that doing so might improve my chances of future employment.  However, the more I thought about the matter, the more it disturbed me.

One of my primary motivations in writing The Virginia Conservative is to report on political events around the state (especially in the Shenandoah Valley), offer my thoughts about politicians, their staffers, and legislation, and do my small part to promote political dialogue as well as the ideals of liberty and limited government.  The pieces I’ve written here I do so because I think they are important, because there is some matter that ought to be brought to public attention.  Have my opinions shifted and changed with time and new information?  Of course!  If you scroll back, you can find writings from 2008.  Who can honestly say that he or she has remained completely the same in an eight-year period?  However, no one has ever paid me to write anything that you find on this website and all thoughts presented (unless otherwise indicated) are my own at the time that they were written.

In response to this recent suggestion from the campaign, I included this statement in the message I wrote the candidate:

…I was asked to write pieces on my website attacking one of your opponents. If I were to do so, I was told it could improve my chances of getting hired when money became available.  Similarly the Stimpson campaign tried to funnel anonymous attack pieces through me in 2013, but I refused to do so.  Although I have made quite a few enemies these last few years, I always try to write what is true and right, not simply what benefits my point of view.  Given my limited experiences with [your opponent] in 2011, I believe it would be a terrible mistake for the voters of [your] district to choose him and I may write a piece to that effect on The Virginia Conservative.  Nevertheless, I steadfastly refuse to become a political hack, degrading either my honor or my work to do the behind-the-scenes hatchet attacks of others…

I was later informed that this situation arose out of a misunderstanding.  But it did get me thinking.  Is this idea foreign to many political blogs?  Are they merely fronts for various organizations, candidates, and politicians, willing to write whatever makes their clients look good (or calls their enemies into question)?

Let me expand on what I wrote concerning the Stimpson campaign.  Back in 2013 the Susan Stimpson campaign for lieutenant governor contacted me prior to the Virginia Republican Convention.  One of her staffers wanted me to write a piece critical of both Jeannemarie Davis and Pete Snyder, two of Stimpson’s opponents that year.  As such, they provided me with information and quotes from a gathering elsewhere in the state.  I did not personally attend this event, so the only material I had to work from was the information provided from the Stimpson campaign.  First of all, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic to attack either Davis or Snyder.  Both Jeannemarie Davis and Pete Snyder had taken time out of their campaign schedule to meet with me personally.  Although the Stimpson campaign repeatedly suggested a similar face-to-face meeting, they never made good on this promise.  However, in the interest of promoting dialogue, I agreed to write up a piece using the material that they sent me provided that I could mention that I had received this information from the Stimpson campaign.  However, they didn’t want their opponents to know that their campaign was behind it and so declined.  As a result, I decided not to run the story.

So are bloggers seen as mere mercenaries for hire these days?  Given some of the seemingly baseless attacks from one of the larger Virginia blogs against a certain legislator, I sometimes have to wonder.  Much like super PACs, do politicians and groups funnel money to bloggers to anonymously attack their foes?  Has that become our reputation?  If so, I would be ashamed to call myself a blogger. I would not want to associate with any writer or campaign that thinks that this kind of behavior is okay.  Yes, I do have an agenda to promote dialogue and liberty, but I feel if others discovered that I were writing thinly veiled behind the scenes attacks (paid or even unpaid), it would completely obliterate my credibility and any chance of even an attempt at objectivity.

Perhaps I am wrong.  After all, donations are few and far between and the costs of running The Virginia Conservative are higher than the monetary gains.  Nevertheless, I hope my readers can rest assured that when they read an article on this site, it isn’t written because I am getting paid to promote a certain cause or candidate. I do it because I’m one of those people who believe in what they say and think that honor is worth more that the lure of a possible job.  Revisiting 2013 once more, I’d like to believe that Ms. Davis and Mr. Snyder approached me because they considered me to be fair and objective, focusing on the issues we have in common, and not simply as someone who can be bought off to support a certain point of view.

So, what do you see as the reputation of bloggers?

The Dangerous Republican Game

For many of us who support the idea of a constitutionally limited government, the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a great loss.  Now, that’s not to say he was perfect by any stretch, after all, none of us are and I disagreed with a few of his rulings, but generally his opinions were quite good.  Now that he is no longer with us, the president has the duty to appoint a replacement.

1923690_886161108167069_6937576282551871910_nHowever, some congressional Republicans have announced that they will not consider any appointment by President Barack Obama.  For example, here is a quote shared by one staffer for my representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  “The voice of the American people should be heard over the opinion of a progressive, lame-duck President.  I continue to oppose the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice under President Obama.”

Now, I’ll be one of the first to admit that I’ve disagreed with a lot of the opinions of President Obama’s previous two picks, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.  In all cases the Supreme Court ought to determine the constitutionality of a law based upon what the Constitution actually says rather than what the Supreme Court would prefer the Constitution to say.  The Supreme Court is not and should not be in the business of making new laws for the nation.  That was never the intent of the body and no justice should be allowed to do so, regardless of ideology.

Yes, chances are good that President Obama will nominate another candidate who will legislate from the bench and thus ought not be confirmed by the Senate.  Nevertheless, when Republican leaders, like Bob Goodlatte, make blanket statements opposing any and all nominees that this president will offer, irrespective of who they are and what they stand for, it conveys a dangerous message of blind partisanship.  Yes, President Obama is a “lame-duck president”, but so too were George W. Bush from 2004-2009, Bill Clinton from 1996-2001, and Ronald Reagan from 1984-1989.  Does being a lame-duck mean that a president no longer has constitutional duties?  Weren’t each elected to hold the powers and office of the president by “the voice of the American people”?  Didn’t each win a majority of the votes in the Electoral College as prescribed by our Constitution?  Are these powers surrendered once a president can no longer seek re-election?  If so, please point to the article and section in the Constitution where it says as much.

If Mitt Romney had won the presidency in 2012 or if John McCain had been re-elected that year would the congressional Republicans adamantly refuse to consider a Supreme Court nominee of either of these two men?  Or would they happily consider these nominees simply because they happen to be of the same political party?

Now that’s not to say that some Democrats wouldn’t do the exact same thing if they found themselves in this position.  In all honesty, if the roles were reversed and the Democrats controlled Congress and a Republican were in the White House, they would likely use the exact same language and tactics to thwart this hypothetical nominee too.  Although we all know it won’t happen, what would Representative Goodlatte say if President Obama nominated Goodlatte as a Supreme Court justice?  If he chose any path other than demanding an outright rejection from the Senate, he would prove himself to be nothing more than a hypocrite.

Unfortunately, this increasingly blind partisanship is destroying our nation.  Unlike some people, I don’t want to see President Obama or the Congress succeed or fail simply as a ploy to aid or hinder one political party’s election chances.  Looking at it objectively, it doesn’t matter which party controls a specific branch of the government.  What does matter is will they follow the rule of law and the Constitution or not?  Will they work to expand our debt or shrink it?  Do they advocate liberty or statism?  Will they return the power of the bloated federal government to the states, localities, and people or will they continue to concentrate influence inside the beltway?

Let President Obama make his Supreme Court pick and then the Senate should do its job in judging that candidate based upon his or her ideas, merits, and fidelity to the Constitution.  Any politician who has even the slightest desire of following the Constitution should reject the idea of a blanket refusal or acceptance swayed solely by one’s feelings about our president and his political party.  To do otherwise is a dangerous game and an abandonment of the duties of his or her office.

Griego & The Libertarians

Photo from Harry Griego's Facebook page

Photo from Harry Griego’s Facebook page

On Tuesday, March 15th, the Rocktown Libertarians will be holding their monthly meeting at O’Charley’s in Harrisonburg.  The social gathering begins at 6 PM, but often attendees don’t arrive until about 6:30 or 7.  This month, Harry Griego will be a guest at the gathering.  Mr. Griego is challenging Representative Bob Goodlatte for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s 6th district.

Looking back on my time growing up in the Shenandoah Valley, I realize that it is a very toxic place politically.  Activists, politicians, and party leaders often reinforce the idea that those in a differing political party are the enemy and should always be treated as such.  Much like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, each side has developed a hatred of the other and loyalty to their family or party which often supersedes reason, logic, principles, and even understanding.

As I wrote last year, I was encouraged when in 2011 the local Democratic party offered, and Republican sheriff candidate Bryan Hutcheson accepted, a speaking slot at their meeting.  Unfortunately, the local Republican party bosses leaned on Hutcheson and he ended up declining the invitation.

When I ran for city council in 2014, I greatly appreciated the chance to speak to the JMU College Republicans alongside the Republican nominees.  Unlike the other candidates, I didn’t focus too much on myself, but rather talked about the principles for which the Republican party supposedly stood.  However, I was told that the local Republican Party leaders castigated the JMU CRs for allowing me the speaking slot and was later informed that I was no longer welcome even to attend their weekly public gatherings.

Photo from the September 2015 meeting of the Rocktown Libertarians

Photo from the September 2015 meeting of the Rocktown Libertarians

In 2013, when Senator Mark Obenshain ran for Attorney General of Virginia, I strongly and repeatedly encouraged his campaign to reach out to the Libertarians as there was no Libertarian candidate running for that office.  However, they refused declaring that it would look bad for party unity for him to do so.  I still wonder that if he did, would Obenshain have picked up 166 additional votes and thus would have been elected attorney general?  In addition, if he were to make such a gesture, that would mean Senator Obenshain would be recognizing the right for the Libertarian Party to exist and to run candidates.  In early 2015, I asked him about the matter and was both shocked and dismayed when my state senator informed me that he opposed the idea of any candidate, except for Republicans and Democrats, being listed on the ballot.  Shortly thereafter, in mid 2015, April Moore, Senator Obenshain’s Democratic opponent, reached out to the Rocktown Libertarians and ended up speaking to them.

In late 2015, Nick Freitas, now the Republican Delegate for Virginia’s 30th district, was the featured speaker at JMU’s Madison Liberty group.

11206029_10152900151181915_7531848474274651375_nAs you might imagine, I am very encouraged that Harry Griego will be speaking to the Rocktown Libertarians tomorrow night.  Not only does it give Mr. Griego the chance to speak to some likely receptive voters, it sends a message to the Shenandoah Valley that the Libertarians have the same rights and privileges as both the Republican and Democratic Parties.  In addition, I’ve been informed that some regional liberty-minded Republican leaders will be attending the event too.  Despite what some may think, this isn’t an attempt to convert Libertarians to the Republican Party or Republicans to join the Libertarians (although given the decline of the GOP that might end up happening), but rather to spread dialogue, understanding, and discover issues of mutual importance.  I suppose it is likely that some establishment Republicans will declare Mr. Griego’s visit as disloyalty to the Republican Party, but you should bear in mind that any elected official or candidate should be beholden to and reach out to all of his or her constituents, not simply the party bosses and big donors who keep him or her in power.  We cannot reclaim our country so long as legislators are allowed to ignore large groups of voters and run on mere party labels and nothing of any substance.  Is there any wonder why a supposed outsider like Donald Trump leads the Republican field for president?

Here’s the link to the Facebook event if you’d like to learn more about what is going on tomorrow night.  Hope to see you there!

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XXXIII)

IMG_0243On Thursday morning, Andy Schmookler and I returned to 550 AM, WSVA, to talk about the political issues facing the state and nation.  The main focus of show was the 2016 presidential contest between the Republican and Democratic contenders.  However, I briefly touched on the Libertarians too.  After we were off the air, the station staff and I had an interesting conversation about Bob Goodlatte, his supporters and employees, local politics, a bit of career advice for me, and other issues.  It would have been great to delve into these additional topics on the air, but there simply wasn’t enough time.

Anyway, if you missed it, you can find yesterday’s show here.

A First Friday Fracas

Photo from Cynthia Dunbar's Facebook page

Photo from Cynthia Dunbar’s Facebook page

On Friday, the local Republicans held their monthly First Friday gathering at the Woodgrill Buffet in Harrisonburg.  The featured speakers were Ralph Smith, who is running for 6th district Republican Chairman, and Cynthia Dunbar, who is seeking to be the next Virginia Republican committeewoman.

Although not quite every seat was filled, the room was almost full.  After both Smith and Dunbar spoke, they took questions from the audience.  As a few examples, Laura Logie asked Mr. Smith about party primaries and the fact that although Senator Emmett Hanger isn’t popular with valley Republicans and often votes against the wishes of his constituents, he continues to get re-elected due to fact that the senator, and not the party, gets to select the party nomination process.  Mr. Smith seemed to indicate that he preferred the current system of open primaries as opposed to conventions.

I pointed out that although the Republican Party demands loyalty from its members, it doesn’t hold its candidates and politicians to the Republican Creed and asked Ms. Dunbar what she would do about this issue.  She agreed that the party leaders needed to create some system to keep rogue or unprincipled politicians in check.

Then, Cole Trower, an employee of Representative Bob Goodlatte, got up.  He started off by declaring that Cynthia Dunbar was wholly unqualified to serve as national committeewoman and furthermore that she had no understanding of the position for which she was running.  It wasn’t so much a question, but rather a hostile accusation.  Another fellow at Mr. Trower’s table added that Dunbar was “a smooth talker”.  Dunbar offered a rebuttal to this accusation, but Cole continued which led the organizer, Donna Moser, to ask Cole to stop.  He refused.  Then, Scott Sayre, another candidate for 6th district chair, said that Cole was a plant of the Obenshain campaign, Dunbar’s opponent.  Nevertheless Cole was not deterred.  At this point, Ms. Moser asked Bryan Hutcheson, the Sheriff of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County who was in attendance to remove Cole Trower.  The sheriff thought such an action wasn’t called for, and fortunately Cole finally sat down, ending the matter.  However, a local JMU student spoke next saying that Ms. Dunbar was new to Virginia and questioned how much she had helped out the Virginia Republican Party, one of the main talking points of the Obenshain campaign.

After that, things got less heated as several of the candidates who are running for spots as delegates to the national convention spoke along with individuals seeking positions on the Republican State Central Committee.

Then, at the very end of the meeting, a fellow asked if he could say something, which was granted.  He declared that although he had supported Bob Goodlatte for many years, he could no longer do so because he considered Bob Goodlatte to be a liar.  He pointed out that although Goodlatte pledged to only serve three terms in the House of Representatives when he first ran, he is now in his eleventh term and is presently seeking his twelveth.

As I left the meeting I realized I hadn’t seen anyone treat a guest speaker with such disrespect as Cole Trower had to Cynthia Dunbar since several years before when Cole interrupted and berated Bob Goodlatte, the man he curiously now works for.  Even though I had no hand in it, I felt it necessary to apologize to Ms. Dunbar for Cole’s behavior.  Unfortunately, Mr. Trower has been acting more and more thuggish as of late, bullying people as he did me at the Rockingham County GOP mass meeting on February 17th.

Booking Photo of Cole Trower from the Republitarian.com website

Booking Photo of Cole Trower from the Republitarian.com website

When I got home, I pulled up VPAP and found that in late 2015 Cole Trower had been paid over ten thousand dollars by the Obenshains, hardly making him either an objective or an impartial observer in the Suzanne Obenshain vs. Cynthia Dunbar contest.  Later that day, Dave Briggman, who sat across the table from me at First Friday, wrote a piece on his website, The Republitarian, about Cole Trower.  It detailed Cole’s arrest in 2014 for destruction of private property, assault and battery of a young woman, and other charges.

This matter brings up a lot of important questions.  Did Mark Obenshain and Bob Goodlatte know of Cole’s conviction before hiring him?  Once they found out about it, why would they keep him on their staff?  Why didn’t the media report it either when the event transpired in 2014 or when he was found guilty in 2015?  Did Cole’s powerful political connections help keep his arrest out of the public spotlight before it was revealed on Friday by Mr. Briggman?  With this knowledge, why would any politician who considers himself to be a defender of the family and the individual bring Cole Trower on his staff?  Now that these events are in the public spotlight, will he continue to serve as Bob Goodlatte’s northern field director on his re-election campaign?

It is unfortunate that Cole Trower treated both Cynthia Dunbar and Donna Moser, the leader of the group, with such contempt at the Republican First Friday gathering.  Disagreement is natural in politics, but not such incivility.  Let us hope that that kind of disrespect will not happen again.

A Few Thoughts Before Voting Tomorrow

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the Republican presidential race…a lot. And, after pondering the matter for quite some time, in my opinion the least desirable Republican candidate running for president is…Marco Rubio.

Image from Marco Rubio's Facebook page

Image from Marco Rubio’s Facebook page

Yes, I know many people will say it is Donald Trump. He certainly has said some offensive, sexist, and racist things and that kind of behavior is unacceptable to me. But, think about Marco Rubio. Trump’s derision of people’s physical appearance is abhorrent when Rubio acted the very same way this weekend? Come on! In Marco Rubio you have a man who hasn’t bothered to show up to work most days and yet still draws a paycheck for a full-time job. He has and continues to deprive Floridians of representation in the U.S. Senate and ought to have resigned his seat if he had no interest in serving so that someone responsible could have taken his place. Furthermore, on foreign policy he is without a doubt the worst candidate running. I think Rubio is the most likely to get us embroiled in another endless overseas war and heaven knows we have had enough of those already. To me Marco Rubio represents a return to many of the failed polices of George W. Bush, policies Republicans and Americans ought to have rejected but are still embraced by the Republican establishment who longs for greater power once more. Marco Rubio has even snagged the endorsement of Virginia’s least principled Republican Representative, Barbara Comstock.

Yes, I know many of my brothers and sisters in liberty are afraid of Donald Trump and I’m not saying that these concerns are unfounded. However, surrendering our principles because of these fears is no path forward.

I don’t care which candidate is the most likely to beat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination if he or she does not embrace the ideals of liberty. Yes, it is likely that if you vote for principle your candidate won’t win, but do you know what else is true? Odds are very good that your one vote won’t influence the outcome in the slightest. Can you name even one national or statewide election whose outcome hinged on a single vote? Although I’m sure there has to be one somewhere, I can’t think of an example. Therefore, why not vote for what you know is right rather than what can “win” or what is popular?

Chances are very good that Trump’s momentum is already too great and if he wins a majority of the states on Super Tuesday then he will be the Republican Party nominee. And that, people say, will destroy the Republican Party. The truth of the matter is that the Republican Party has been dying for decades as it sheds principles in the pursuit of power. What difference does it make if it suffers a quick and explosive death under Trump or a continued slow and painful decline under Rubio? For some of you this is a hard thing to come to grips with but if the GOP isn’t the party of limited government principles, as it claims to be, it is better off dead.

So whom should you support? Well, assuming I vote in the Republican Party primary tomorrow, it will be for Rand Paul. Yes, I know that he isn’t running any longer, but he is really the only candidate on the ballot who comes close to the principles of liberty and limited government, principles which many of us claim to hold but have now jettisoned due to fear. Acting out of fear has gotten us the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, TSA, the erosion of our civil liberties, and much more. How much more of an empire will we become abroad and how much more of a police state will we become at home before we finally declare that enough is enough?

Sure, the GOP may nominate a terrible candidate for president. But guess what? Just because he is the Republican nominee that doesn’t mean that you have to support him or even vote for him. In each election we ought to be voting for the best candidate, not voting against the worst. Remember that there is no ribbon or trophy awarded if you cast your vote for a terrible winner as opposed to voting for a principled loser other than the knowledge that you actively helped install someone horrid who now has power over you. This whole voting for the lesser of two evils nonsense has been making our country worse and worse and the quality of candidates continues to degrade as a result. Hold your head high and if you vote tomorrow then vote for someone you believe in. Don’t look back with regrets of another slightly less bad decision. I know I won’t.