Lately, E. W. Jackson has been promoting a very pro-liberty message as he campaigns for lieutenant governor of Virginia. Currently, on his website, he offers a rather inspiring video encouraging Virginians to “defy, not comply” with the unconstitutional overreaches of the federal government including agencies like the EPA and laws and regulations that rob us of our rights like the Patriot Act and NDAA. These are all ideas which should make liberty-minded Virginians quite happy.
Although I certainly agree with many of the statements made in this recent video, I do have a few concerns. As I wrote previously, back in late 2011 a variety of U.S. Senate candidates gathered in Verona to discuss a multitude of pressing issues. I recall coming away from this forum a bit distressed regarding E. W. Jackson’s position on the Patriot Act as it seemed rather statist. Later, I spoke with one of his campaign staffers, but that person assured me that I had misunderstood his opinion on this important matter.
Recently, however, I obtained a link to a video of that 2011 forum including Bishop Jackson’s own words on the Patriot Act.
In this clip, E. W. Jackson seems to suggest that we should be willing to jettison both our liberty and property in order to do all we can to preserve American lives. However, to echo the words of former Virginia Governor Patrick Henry, we must ask, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” Henry has the answer, “Forbid it, Almighty God!”
So this situation begs an important question. Has E. W. Jackson had a political awakening, casting off his previous positions and embracing the ideals of liberty by completely rejecting measures like the Patriot Act? Or, as he seems to say in 2011, does he believe that it is a quality program simply in need of a bit more oversight? Although I’m greatly hoping that the first answer is the truth, I’ve seen too many politicians play the political shell game to rule out that latter possibility. As constitutional conservatives and libertarians increase their clout within the Virginia Republican Party, it is becoming increasingly more important, but also more difficult, to differentiate the true believers and converts from the opportunists.
It is an important question that I hope will be resolved prior to the Virginia Republican Convention in May.
Let me close by offering thanks to Sandy Garst for the clip from the 2011 forum.
Update: In response to this article, I have been sent the following statement from the Jackson campaign: “Having served in the US Marine Corps, I will not apologize for being open to ways of protecting the American people from those who want to kill us. But we must do that without robbing Americans of our freedoms. NDAA and the Patriot Act both fail that test.”