That Contemptible Oath

On Friday, April 28th, the Democratic Parties of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County held a firehouse primary to determine the Democratic nominee for the 26th district House of Delegates seat.  The two choices were Cathy Copeland and Brent Finnegan.  Although I met first Ms. Copeland at her announcement, I’ve known Brent many years.  Facebook tells me we’ve been friends since 2010.

Unlike a traditional primary, a firehouse primary has fewer polling locations (there were two, one in Harrisonburg and one in Rockingham County).  In addition, the process is run by the party and not the state.  However, unlike a convention or some caucuses, the primary is held in public facilities and is open to the general public, not simply party members.

When I first learned about this contest, I was interested in learning more about both of the candidates and their positions.  After all, I would want the candidate I agreed with most to win this primary, in the same way, I would want the candidate who most was in line with my positions to win the general election.  However, when I discovered that the Democratic Party would require each voter in the primary to sign a loyalty oath, I lost interest in the process.  I was told that each participant in the 26th district Democratic primary would be required to sign an oath to agree to support whoever won the primary regardless of who he or she was or what he or she may stand for.

It reminded me a bit of the 2014 Republican Party of Virginia Convention.  As someone who attended the previous three conventions, I looked forward to the one taking place that year.  Although I had been expelled from the party months before I was told I could still participate.  However, I was dismayed to discover that each attendee was required to sign a loyalty oath to support all of the Republican candidates in the following general election.  As I was running for local office, I could not honorably sign a document pledging support to my Republican opponents.

Although I didn’t vote, I stood outside of the polling place for several hours on Friday in order to collect signatures for Cliff Hyra, a fellow seeking the Libertarian nomination for governor.  I overheard Kai Degner, a former Democratic city council member, wondering if I would sign the pledge.  While there, I ran into my first college professor.  She taught Intro to International Relations at JMU which I took while a student in high school.  However, she came back out of the building after waiting in line for some time stating that she didn’t cast a ballot as she refused to sign a document automatically pledging her support to whomever won the primary.  I spoke to one candidate, Mr. Finnegan, about the matter, and he said he wished that instead voters were asked to state their support the principles of the Democratic Party rather than their wholesale support of their candidate.

For a party who prides itself for sticking up for the rights of the poor, marginalized, and those discriminated against, the idea of a loyalty oath ought to be repugnant to both rank and file Democrats and independents.  In addition, the thing is completely and legally unenforceable so what purpose does it serve other than trying to guilt trip voters into supporting candidates they might not otherwise vote for simply because they wish to express their opinions?  Should such a thing even be legal given that the primary was held in a public place, inside Harrisonburg’s City Hall?  I wonder how many people who planned to vote in Friday’s contest, like my former professor, were turned away for refusing to sign a loyalty oath to the Democratic Party and her candidates? My advice to the local Democrats is, don’t hold your party nomination contest in a public place and invite the public to attend if you are planning to make voters sign a pledge to support you in the process.  Not only is it bad public relations, it is also an insult to the principles of political freedom.

Lastly, congrats to Brent Finnegan for winning the primary.  Unless another candidate enters the race, the choices for the voters of the 26th district in November are Brent Finnegan (D) and Tony Wilt (R).  It should be interesting to see how they compare.

Rasoul at Rocktown

Last night, Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) spoke at the April gathering of the Rocktown Libertarians in Harrisonburg.  He has represented the 11th district in the House of Delegates since winning a special election in January of 2014.  Mr. Rasoul is the second member of the House of Delegates to visit with the group this year as Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) attended the previous month.

Although the attendance last night was higher than meeting in the early party of 2017, it was a little lower than the previous month.  Several folks who had RSVPed didn’t end up making it.  In terms of partisanship, the group was fairly diverse.  Not only were there Libertarians at the table but there was also a contingent of Republicans and a Democrat or two.

After speaking about a number of issues of importance to him, Delegate Rasoul fielded a bunch of questions from the audience.  During this time he mentioned that sometimes he works with Republican legislators, such as Delegate Ben Cline, on issues related to protecting liberty in the Commonwealth.  The audience asked him about a variety of topics including criminal justice reform, political freedom and ballot access, drug policy, hemp, and, given that he is the only Muslim legislator in the General Assembly, about his faith and Sharia Law.  One particularly interesting tidbit was unlike most legislators, Delegate Rasoul was sworn in with his hand on a copy of both the Virginia and the United States Constitution.  As he explained, those were the documents he pledged to uphold.

Although I’ve written some critical pieces about Delegate Sam Rasoul before he was elected, since that time I have appreciated a number of the bills he has sponsored and votes he has taken in the last several sessions of the General Assembly.  Do we agree on everything?  Of course not.  And were there areas of disagreement with him in the audience last night?  Absolutely…but there were also differences of opinions between the regular attendees too.

Some people may be more liberal while others are more conservative, but it is my hope that through dialogue, including with those in other political parties, we can begin to counteract some of this nasty partisan fighting that was especially prevalent during the 2016 elections and find areas where we can work together to promote the cause of liberty.  As Delegate Rasoul indicated, he shared this desire.

Let me close by saying many thanks to Delegate Sam Rasoul for coming to Harrisonburg to speak to the Rocktown Libertarians last night.  Next month, Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) will be in attendance.

A New Group for Frederick County

Last year, I wrote an article regarding a meeting of the Frederick County Republican Committee.  Although I’ve been involved in politics for the last 22 years, I’ve never witnessed a gathering as blatantly corrupt as what I saw from the FCRC on the evening of August 30th.  The temporary chair, improperly elected, ignored the complaints arising from the expulsion of several of their members, rammed through the introduction of new members without either discussion or a proper vote, and then immediately declared the meeting adjourned.

Given this unchecked abuse of power by the Frederick County GOP, what should honest, limited government folks in Frederick County do?  Should they remain with the local Republican Party?  I’m sure some have.  But others have gone elsewhere.  For example, when I visited the Frederick County Libertarians several months ago, I found one former member of the Frederick Republicans in attendance.

Now, as an additional option, another group has emerged which calls itself the Conservative Caucus.  Created by Dutch Jennings, the former treasurer of the Frederick County Republican Party, the group held their first organizational meeting on March 22nd.  But who are they and what do they stand for?  To answer that question, the group sent out a press release about a week ago.

D.P. “Dutch” Jennings, Chairman of the Conservative Caucus, has announced the forming of a new group in Frederick County.  The Conservative Caucus met for its organizational meeting last Saturday the 22nd,  and a large room of guests were inducted as new members.

A “caucus” is most frequently a segment, or a subset, of an organized political party.  However, the Conservative Caucus is not currently associated with a political party; but may consider a future filing with the Commonwealth of Virginia as a more formally organized group.  At this time it is an independent community association focused only on local issues with primarily economic impacts.

According to the Conservative Caucus Mission Statement, they are an organization for Frederick County, VA conservatives who wish to promote fiscal responsibility, smaller government, lower taxes, adherence to the Constitution and individual liberty.

They are forming to give a voice to Frederick County voters and taxpayers who wish to know more about and participate in decisions concerning subjects impacting the political and financial well-being of the county.  This provides the opportunity for more citizen participation, needed transparency and positive results.

A focus will be working to identify areas deserving public attention such as local elections, the financial position of Frederick County and the cost of new projects.  Some goals are to further inform the community on local public projects in terms of reasonable need, not just want; process and methods of accomplishment; cost effectiveness and impact on county residents. This will be accomplished by a number of initiatives that will be announced later in the year.

According to Jennings, “We look forward to like-minded county residents joining our efforts. Citizens desiring to work in a friendly, cooperative environment to make Frederick County a more honest and open place to live and work are invited to contact the Conservative Caucus via our website cc-fcva.com.”

To join, a citizen must be proposed by a member and be voted in by the Steering Committee.  The Caucus’s policy is to keep member information confidential.

So, there you have it.  Although the Frederick County GOP has driven away a portion of their membership with their shady behavior, some of these folks have come together in this nonpartisan group to further their political objectives, especially at the local level.

If you’d be interested in learning more about this group, you can visit their website or email their chairman at dutchjennings@protonmail.com.

Good Guy Nick Freitas

From the Nick Freitas Campaign Facebook page

As many of you all know, in 2015 Nick Freitas ran for the House of Delegates against a Republican who had been in office for more than a decade.  His opponent wasn’t particularly fiscally responsible, voting for what was billed at that time as the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history, nor was he all that interested in expanding liberty or shrinking the size and scope of the state government.  But Nick Freitas presented himself as something different.  Over the months, I had the chance to speak with Nick and learn about his philosophy and his goals.  And, as such, I enthusiastically supported his campaign.

In the November election, Nick Freitas won the chance to represent the people of the 30th district.  Since that time, he has proven himself to be both a man of his word and a champion of liberty.  In these last two sessions, not only has he voted the right way on just about every piece of legislation, he has sponsored a number of great bills, such as legalizing industrial hemp, creating instant runoff voting, expanding gun rights, opposing the incumbent protection act, and more.

Another important point is that unlike some politicians who are only willing associate with members of their own party, Nick Freitas isn’t afraid to reach out to other like-minded folks who belong to other political parties.  In March, he spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at a meeting of the Rocktown Libertarians.

Now, Nick Freitas is running for re-election to serve another two years in the House of Delegates and he already faces one opponent.  Unless you live in the 30th district (which includes all of Madison and Orange Counties as well as a portion of Culpeper County), you won’t be able to cast a vote for him.  However, you can still assist his campaign by making a donation.

Before you ask, no, I do not work for the Freitas campaign, nor is this article paid for or authorized by any campaign or political group.  I would like my fellow Virginians to elect honest, like-minded delegates and do what we can to support and re-elect those folks already in office.

During his first term, Nick Freitas has shown himself to be one of the good guys in the Virginia House of Delegates.  Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitution Party, or independent, if you support liberty and limited government as I do, I would encourage you to chip in a few dollars to help out excellent candidates, like Nick Freitas.  

Let’s send Nick Freitas to Richmond for another two years!

It Is Easy to Hate

It is easy to hate someone of a different skin colour

So long as you don’t know anyone with a different skin colour

 

It is easy to insult folks who have a different religion

So long as you aren’t friends with someone with a different religion

 

It is easy to degrade people of the opposite gender

So long as you don’t respect people of the opposite gender

 

It is easy to dehumanize people from another country

So long as you don’t associate with people from another country

 

It is easy to dismiss members of a differing political party

So long as you never speak to a member of a differing political party

 

It is easy to look down on people who aren’t the same socioeconomic status

So long as you avoid people who aren’t the same socioeconomic status

 

It is easy to deride someone of a different body type

So long as you don’t mingle with someone of a different body type

 

It is easy to hate people who are different from yourself

So long as you don’t interact any people who are different from yourself

 

It is easy to hate

Stewart at First Friday

On Friday, April 7th, Corey Stewart spoke to the First Friday gathering at the Wood Grill Buffet in Harrisonburg.  There were about 30 people in attendance, including a writer and photographer from the local paper, The Daily News Record.  The previous weekend, Mr. Stewart held a campaign rally in the friendly city but had difficulty finding a venue due to protests, first trying at Dave’s, then the Wood Grill Buffet, and finally settling at Court Square downtown.  Corey Stewart is one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor that will be decided in a June primary.

Arriving about 20 or so minutes after his scheduled time, Mr. Stewart offered introductory remarks for about 15 minutes and then took questions from the audience for about another 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, size restrictions cut off the first minute or two of Mr. Stewart’s speech, but here’s a video of what he said.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XLV)

On the morning of Wednesday, April 4th, Andy Schmookler and Joshua Huffman appeared on 550 AM, WSVA for our monthly radio hour.

The main topic of the day was Neil Gorsuch and his appointment to the Supreme Court.  As the confirmation vote draws near, more Democratic Senators, including Virginia’s own Tim Kaine, have announced they will not support Mr. Gorsuch.  Will he be confirmed?  Is this payback for what happened to Merrick Garland last year?  Will Senate Republican use the nuclear option?

The next subject we briefly tackled concerned a speech that Andy Schmookler gave outside of Representative Bob Goodlatte’s Harrisonburg office the previous day. At that time, he challenged Goodlatte to a debate or for him to investigate the possible unethical and illegal actions taken by President Trump both before and after he was elected.

If you missed the show this morning, you can find it here.