Positive Outreach

Scan 2These days, most people rely upon email to send all of their messages.  As such, our inboxes are often stuffed both with legitimate correspondence…as well as far too much spam.  Given this reality, except when we are expecting a package, we don’t eagerly wait for the mailman like we did when I was little, as he typically delivers only bills and generic information of sales.  However, sometimes there are surprises.  Today, for example, I found a hand-addressed envelope in the mailbox.  Inside, was a hand-written note from Delegate Bell (as pictured).

To offer some background, on the evening of July 14th Americans for Prosperity-Virginia held an event in Harrisonburg featuring Delegate Rob Bell (R-58), Delegate Ben Cline (R-24), Delegate Nick Freitas (R-30), and a member of the Goochland County Board of Supervisors.  Although I’ve found AFP events to be hit or miss, this gathering was excellent, featuring many great, informative, and inspiring speeches.  In fact, it was arguably the best AFP event I have attended in my years of activism.  Afterward, I spoke with some of the AFP staff and their guests, including Delegate Bell, who informed me that he read The Virginia Conservative (it is amazing how many elected officials tell me that they visit this website).  Nevertheless, I didn’t think much more about the event and didn’t end up taking any photos of it, as it was one of those “you had to be there” kind of occasions to listen to it for yourself.  However, with today’s mail, I am reminded of it once again.

As some of you may know, Rob Bell is seeking to be the Republican nominee for Virginia’s Attorney General in 2017.  Although he already has several declared opponents, sending out personalized, hand-written notes as he did after this recent AFP event is a good way to set yourself apart in a world of slick, colorful, but impersonal campaign flyers.  In addition, I appreciated the fact that it wasn’t some kind of plug for a donation.

I don’t have a preferred candidate for attorney general at this point, but I have to say kudos to Delegate Bell for his efforts at memorable outreach.

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!

AFP Powers Up Harrisonburg

puvaOn Saturday, June 13th, Americans for Prosperity will be coming to Harrisonburg, VA as part of their statewide tour to fight back against the unconstitutional expansion of the EPA.  As they say, “Americans for Prosperity is standing strong against big government overreach. We’re ready to push back against the EPA’s negative impact to Virginia’s economy, energy resources, and property rights.”

This event will take place in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn right off interstate exit 247 on I-81, 1400 East Market Street from 4 PM to 6 PM.

Featured speakers include:  Delegate Ben Cline of Rockbridge County, Senator Obenshain of Rockingham County, and farming rights advocate Martha Boneta of Fauquier County.

The event is free and you can sign up at the following link.

If you have any questions or for additional info, please contact AFP regional director Flint Engleman at (540) 226-4591 or at flint@AFPVirginia.com

AFP Lobby Day

IMG_2799Today, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) held a lobby day in Richmond.  Over 160 activists from all over the state came to the capital to have lunch with Representative Dave Brat (VA-7).  Afterward, attendees could watch the House of Delegates and Senate in session as well as to speak to members of the General Assembly and their legislative assistants.

At 9 AM this morning, I boarded a bus in Harrisonburg that had traveled down I-81 from Winchester.  The bus came equipped with donuts, coffee, and wifi.  After a stop in Staunton to pick up a few more folks, we continued to Richmond, arriving a little after 11:30.  During this trip, I looked forward to meeting Senator Chap Petersen, whom I’ve written about in a handful of recent articles on this website.

Everyone in the group gathered at the Garden Inn Hilton on Broad Street where we were offered a multitude of sandwiches, chips, and cookies.  Surprisingly, there were no chocolate chip available.

Flint Engleman, the AFP regional director for the Charlottesville and Harrisonburg area, spoke and introduced Rep. Brat.  Dr. Brat told the audience about his early days in office, including his opposition to the CRomnibus, the National Defense Authorization Act, and his apparent strong support for term limits.  I would have been interested to hear what punishment (if any) John Boehner gave to him for opposing Boehner as Speaker of the House.

When the next AFP speaker took to the microphone, I left alongside fellow Shenandoah Valley politico Dave Mason to explore the General Assembly building.  Both the House and Senate were still in session, so we ended up speaking to a variety of legislative assistants including: Delegate Wilt’s, Delegate Rasoul’s, and Delegate Helsel’s.  While watching the House of Delegates debate several bills, I received a text from Senator Petersen’s office saying that he would be returning shortly.  Unfortunately, I only had about a minute to speak to the Senator before he had to hurry off to his next committee meeting.  Afterward, we stopped by the offices of Delegate Rob Bell and Senator Dick Black before making our way back to the bus.

As we rode back, we enjoyed sandwiches from Subway and heard stories of the adventures of our fellow compatriots.

All in all, it was an interesting day, listening to Representative Brat and enjoying the company of some like-minded individuals.  I just wish that it was scheduled on a day when the legislators weren’t quite so busy so that we could have had the opportunity to engage in a variety of meaningful conversations.  Nevertheless, I certainly appreciate AFP hosting the event.

A Night for Liberty

This coming Monday, October 7th, Americans for Prosperity and I have scheduled a social gathering for liberty-minded individuals in and around the Shenandoah Valley.  This event will be taking place at Capital Ale House in downtown Harrisonburg starting at 6:30 PM.

Whether you’re a conservative, a libertarian, or simply curious about politics, I encourage you to join us on Monday night.  And hey, Americans for Prosperity said they’ll be picking up the tab for the first round of drinks.  Who doesn’t like a free beer?  Even if you are under 21 or don’t drink, you should come too as they offer a fine selection of sodas and tea.

It should be a great night to re-connect with old friends and to make some new ones.  Hope to see you there!

Obama Comes to Charlottesville

Earlier today, President Barack Obama visited downtown Charlottesville, Virginia as he continues his campaign for re-election.  In 2008, Charlottesville proved to be one of Obama’s most favorable cities in Virginia, as he garnered 78.35% of the vote.

Prior to Obama’s speech, the Jefferson Area Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity held an “Oust Obama” rally at Lee Park, which began at noon, three or four blocks from the Pavilion where Obama’s event was slated to be later in the day.  Featured speakers at this meeting included: former Republican Party of Virginia Chairperson Kate Obenshain, Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, and E.W. Jackson, a former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.  The crowd at this event was estimated to be approximately 160 people, most came from either Charlottesville or the surrounding Albemarle County, but there was also a sizable contingent from Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro as well.

Attendance to Barack Obama’s speech was far more tightly regulated that the relatively informal tea party event.  Each person had to have a ticket, which meant filling out a form that requested a name, address, phone number, and email address.  Once the gates opened at 1:00 PM, the line quickly grew to stretch from one end of the downtown mall to the other, a distance of about a half a mile.  As warned, the attendees had to path through “airport style security” which included emptying pockets and passing through a metal detector.  Fortunately, neither full body scans nor removing shoes was required.  However, as no outside beverages were allowed, many people simply threw their trash on the ground as opposed to finding a proper trashcan.

Although it was difficult to gauge a specific number, attendance had to have been in the thousands.  People were packed as tightly as sardines within.  A vast majority of the area was standing room only; ticket holders gathered both inside the structure and on the grassy slopes around.

After a bit of live music and some brief introductions from some of the local Obama field staff, the politicians spoke.  First up was Tom Perriello, the former member of the House of Representatives for the Charlottesville area until he lost his re-election bid in 2010.  Next was former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine who is looking to claim a seat in the U.S. Senate in November.  He made a handful of jabs against George Allen, his Republican opponent.

Around 3:30 PM or so, Barack Obama took the stage for about a half an hour.  He spent quite a bit of time reminding folks of the November election, as well as his accomplishments and plans for the future.  He spoke on an abundance of topics that would please the mostly liberal audience such as: Obamacare, his support for abortion, and his desire to increase fuel efficiency of automobiles.  One surprise, however, had to be his call to begin the complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning in about a month’s time.

Although it was not difficult to leave the downtown area via car, the Charlottesville police did close off traffic in or out of Route 29, one of the busiest arteries of the city, for over an hour until the presidential motorcade had passed by.  One does have to wonder how many thousands of citizens had their schedules disrupted by this unexpected delay.

Even though WSLS 10 reports that enthusiasm for Barack Obama has waned from its high water mark four years ago, today’s event in the liberal bastion of Charlottesville showed that there are still a vast number of people in Virginia who are willing to wait for hours on a fairly hot summer day and in a packed crowd to hear him speak.

Statistics show that Virginia will be one of the most important battlegrounds in the November 6th race for the President.  Whether Barack Obama carries the Old Dominion, as he did four years ago, remains to be seen.  However, as we draw nearer to the election, Virginians should expect more visits from Obama and Mitt Romney as well as counterbalancing gatherings of their detractors.

Averill In At AFP-VA

Trixie Averill at a meeting of AFP in January 2011

In a bit of breaking news, I’ve just received word that long-time Virginia political activist and Sixth District Republican Chairwoman Trixie Averill has recently accepted the position of Virginia State Director for Americans for Prosperity.  As you may of heard, Ben Marchi, who has held the position for the last several years, will be leaving that post in a matter of days.  I knew that AFP had been sorting through candidates, but, until a few moments ago, had not realized that they had selected one.

This news is of particular interest to me for a number of reasons.  First among them, in an interesting twist of fate, I have had the opportunity to get to know and work with both Mrs. Averill and Mr. Marchi.  Then again, I suppose there aren’t but so many people who work in Virginia politics.  For the record, the Republican Party of Virginia employed all three of us during the 2006 election cycle.  In the early stages of the campaign, I worked with Ben Marchi in Virginia Beach.  In the later part, it was with Trixie Averill in the Valley.

With this news of AFP also comes word that Mrs. Averill will be resigning her post as Chairwoman for the Sixth District.  Who will take her place is still, as of yet, unknown.

I want to extend my congratulations to Trixie Averill as she begins her new position with Virginia’s Americans for Prosperity.  With our Delegates and Senators up for election this year and our Representatives, Senator, and President the next, it should certainly be a busy time.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she has in store.

George Allen Returns!

Today former Governor and Senator George Allen announces his bid for Virginia’s Senate seat in 2012.  For most of those following the election, the question was not if he would run, but rather when he would run.  I’m glad to hear both through this video and his visit during the Americans for Prosperity tour last week that he is central message thus far seems to be the same kind of limited government conservatism that so many people in the Commonwealth support.  And so fellow Virginians, our front runner has arrived.  The GOP nomination should be interesting, so stay tuned!