McAuliffe & Clinton in Harrisonburg

This morning, around a thousand individuals gathered at the Festival Center on the campus of James Madison University.  IMG_2212I arrived a little after 8:30 AM for an event which was slated to begin at 10:30 and already the line stretched around the building.  Along with fellow blogger Nick Farrar, we checked in at the press table and awaited the start of the rally.  IMG_2214About an hour later, a group of nine gathered outside to show their support for the Cuccinelli campaign while another local activist drove his truck down the street with signs of the three Republican candidates.

It seemed that just about everyone who was anyone in local Democratic politics attended, including past mayors and party leaders.  About a third of the seats in the room were reserved for them.  Given that seats were at a premium, a vast majority of the crowd had to stand.

After a few individuals spoke, including the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia and a former Republican member of the House of Delegates, both gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe and former President Bill Clinton took their turns in front of the podium.  Rather than offer you a summary of what they said, here is a recording of both speeches:

IMG_2296To the best of my knowledge, this event was the largest, and thus arguably most important political event in Harrisonburg since candidate Obama spoke at JMU in 2008.  Does this event herald a victory for McAuliffe in Harrisonburg and statewide?  We’ll find out in a week.

Clinton Is Coming to Harrisonburg!

With less than two weeks to go until Virginia holds its gubernatorial election on November 5th, it seems that the Democratic Party has decided to bring in the big guns to promote their candidate, Terry McAuliffe.  As part of his final tour of the state, former President Bill Clinton will be joining Mr. McAuliffe.  According to news from Deb Fitzgerald, Chairwoman of the Harrisonburg Democratic Party, both Clinton and McAuliffe will be on the campus of James Madison University on Tuesday.

Here are the details:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

HARRISONBURG EVENT

WHAT: “Putting Jobs First” Event with President Bill Clinton and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe
WHO: President Bill Clinton, Terry McAuliffe
WHEN: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 10:30 AM EDT
Public Access time: 9:30 AM EDT
Press Access time: To be announced
WHERE: James Madison University, Festival Conference & Student Center – 1301 Carrier Drive, MSC-4201, Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Regardless of one’s political affiliation, this is the highest profile event for the city of Harrisonburg since Barack Obama came here during his campaign for president.  I know I plan to be there and hope to get my press pass soon.

A Little Bit of Huckabee Love

Huckbee, ClintonWhile sorting some old papers today, I came across this item from the 2008 Republican presidential primaries.  Although I don’t believe that this flyer was ever distributed to the public, it is likely one of the most amusing pieces of literature to come out of the Ron Paul campaign.

To offer a bit of background regarding its creation, in early 2008, there was a fear that Mike Huckabee would emerge as the Republican nominee.  After all, Mr. Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses with a strong plurality, 34% to second place Mitt Romney’s 25%.  Rush Limbaugh echoed this concern when he said, “I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys (Huckabee or McCain) get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.”  If Huckabee could capture the socially conservative South Carolina, that win would provide him with considerable momentum and could propel him to victories in future contests.

The image is priceless.  If you recall, Mike Huckabee served as the 44th governor of Arkansas while Bill Clinton was the 42nd.  The picture suggests that Huckabee, looking for guidance, turns to his predecessor and is rewarded with a smirk and a thumbs up thus giving him the Clinton seal of approval.  Given that many social conservatives viewed Huckabee favorably, if one were to tie him to the morally bankrupt Clinton, it may cause many of them to have second thoughts about supporting him in the South Carolina primary.

Unfortunately for the Paul campaign, due to the previous poor results of Iowa (where he finished fifth), New Hampshire (another fifth place finish), Michigan (where he finished fourth), and the one bright spot of Nevada (where he claimed second), it seemed highly unlikely that Ron Paul would be able to post huge numbers in the next contest, South Carolina.  Therefore, if Paul couldn’t win the state, one theory emerged to work to weaken one of the candidates who might win the state (in this case Huckabee).  Doing so could prolong the process and allow Ron Paul to gain a much needed victory in a later state.

At the end of the day, John McCain defeated Mike Huckabee to capture the lion’s share of the delegates from South Carolina.  Although Huckabee did end up winning a handful of southern and border states in later contests, his defeat in South Carolina likely eliminated any chance that he had of becoming the Republican nominee.

Although the piece pictured at the beginning of this article would have had no effect on the outcome in the 2008 South Carolina primary as it was not distributed, it does highlight the growing fear, at the time, of a Huckabee nomination.  It is simply another interesting tidbit of our political history.

Romney vs. Quincy Adams

Today, at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney offered his thoughts regarding U.S. foreign policy.  The full text of his speech can be found here, but to follow is an excerpt:

The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us.  Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, ‘We will not forget that you forgot about us.’…

…I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.

Now compare these ideas with those of John Quincy Adams, our 6th President.  While serving as Secretary of State, on July 4th 1821, he said the following:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be.  But, she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.  She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.  She is the champion and vindicator of her own.

Quite a difference of opinion, don’t you think?  Both seek to remake the world, but while Adams calls for a policy of peace and leading through example, Romney’s plan will invariably lead to bloodshed and is a call for either direct or covert military action, overthrowing regimes and installing ones more friendly to the United States and her ideals.

It wasn’t too long ago when both those on the left and those on the right would have rejected Romney’s plan of action and instead have embraced the reasoning of Quincy Adams.  As recently as the presidency of Bill Clinton, Republicans condemned the president’s military adventurism in the former Yugoslavia due to the fact that the conflict in no way threatened the security of the United States or her citizens.  In fact, the Kosovo Liberation Army, the group the United States supported in the conflict, had previously been declared a terrorist organization.  But the “isolationist” line of thinking of people like John Quincy Adams and the GOP ought to have changed after the attacks of 9-11, right?

In order to answer that question, we must ask another; what motivated the airline hijackings on 9/11?  Was it due to a rejection of our supposedly decadent American lifestyles and immorality?  Perhaps it was…in some small part.  But, if that reasoning alone was sufficient, why attack the United States?  Aren’t there a variety of “evil” countries closer to the Middle East that could have served as a target just as easily?  Could it be that there might be additional reasons?

It seems that a considerable number of Americans have little to no knowledge of Middle Eastern history prior to the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 to 1981.  However, if we turn back the clock several decades, we find a prime example of when the United States interfered in the internal affairs of a Middle Eastern nation with unfortunate results.  Back in the 1950s, Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran sought to wrest control of Iran’s oil fields from the British.  In response, the British and the United States governments teamed up to launch a coup against Mosaddegh and propped up the Shah, a man who many Iranians came to view as an increasingly brutal dictator and an unwelcome westernization of their nation.   His overthrow in early 1979 led to the Islamic state, which now rules in Iran and remains hostile to the United States and her allies, as well as leading to the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  I am also certain these actions taken in Iran by the United States helped fuel the hatred and actions of the hijackers on 9/11.

Now I know what you are thinking, two wrongs don’t make a right.  And, of course, I agree.  Regardless of any U.S. foreign policy, the 9/11 hijackers were in no way justified in their actions and ought to be condemned by every civilized people.  But, if two wrongs don’t make a right, shouldn’t we also agree that three wrongs don’t make a right either?  Doesn’t Romney’s plan repeat the mistakes we made in Iran?  If we wouldn’t appreciate a foreign nation either overthrowing our leaders or propping up our despots, what makes us think that some other group of people would?  And isn’t it also possible that if we overthrow either the government of Syria or Iran such an action could lead to blowback that is far greater than what we have seen?

We seem to have forgotten that the primary purpose of both the United States government and its military is to protect the lives, liberties, and property of American citizens.  It is not intended to dole out taxpayer money to foreign governments, install puppet regimes, or promote the horribly misguided Wilsonian idea of “making the world safe for democracy.”  Should we ask our soldiers to give up their lives in order to promote governments that very well might have ties to the same ideology and people who attacked us on 9/11?

Therefore, we must reject any foreign policy that deviates from the limitations imposed by the Constitution.  Although it might be interesting to speculate how our government could mold a better world, we have seen far too many domestic failings of the feds first-hand through bailouts, subsidies, regulations, and overburdensome security at our airports.  What would make us think that the rest of the world would either desire or appreciate the same treatment?  As bad a leader as many of us think Barack Obama is, what would your reaction be if the Iranian government removed him from power and gave us a new president?

Haven’t we learned that we can no longer afford a neo-conservative foreign policy?  More importantly, doesn’t stumbling down this path foster greater hatred of the United States and, in the long run, make us less safe?  Don’t you think that it time to return to the wisdom of men like John Quincy Adams?

Before & After Ron Paul

Photo thanks to RonPaul.com

There is no doubt in my mind that Representative Ron Paul is currently the most important figure in the liberty movement today.  His actions over the last several years have awakened a multitude of activists and cured the apathy of countless others.  However, we must keep in mind that it is likely that Ron Paul’s spotlight will diminish once his current House of Representatives term expires next year.

It’s time for a bit of history.  For those who don’t recall, late 2006-2007 was a bleak time for many conservatives.  The Democratic Party captured both the House and the Senate, establishing the Pelosi/Reid era in Congress.  Although a Republican still sat in the White House, it became increasing apparent that George W. Bush had little desire for promoting conservative principles like a constitutionally limited government, rolling back the size and scope of federal agencies and departments, and reducing the ever inflating national debt.  It seemed as if many of my fellow conservatives turned a blind eye toward many odious policies, even though they ran contrary to our principles, simply because a Republican leader promoted them.  Many of the same conservatives who once opposed the military adventures of President Bill Clinton now applauded Bush for an even more aggressive policy of nation building.  In short, principle had taken a back seat to party.

As for myself, I was feeling pretty depressed about the direction of my party and the state of politics in America in general.  Early 2007 found me in Tennessee, working a three-month contract with Students for Life of America, a pro-life organization based in Northern Virginia.  Promoting important causes, like the pro-life issue, allowed me to advanced my principles, even when it seemed as if my party had lost its way.

After this position ended, I considered returning to campaign work.  In 2006, I was employed by the Republican Party of Virginia.  Prior to that time, I had volunteered on many campaigns and so I felt as if I had a pretty good understanding of the ins and outs of campaigning.  I had never worked on a presidential campaign and considered it to be a logical conclusion to my time in the field.  But who was the best choice?  Who was the candidate who best advocated my principles, the values of a liberty-minded conservative?

Based upon familiarity, I first considered former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.  But I quickly found a few key areas of policy disagreement.  Next on the list came pro-life favorite Senator Brownback of Kansas.  But again, he was less than ideal.  Well-known politicians like Mitt Romney, John McCain, or Rudy Giuliani, didn’t seem like very good choices either.

Digging deeper into the field I came across Representative Ron Paul.  I must confess that I didn’t know too much about him at that time.  Given the fairly establishment circles in which I ran, I believed what I was told, that Dr. No was little more than a cantankerous old man from Texas who didn’t get along with most of his fellow Republicans.  But the more that I read about him, the more I realized that he represented just what my party needed and my principles demanded.  He fought against the expansion of the federal government and sought to shrink it, he cherished the Constitution and the rule of law, he was a voice for the unborn, and opposed installing leaders of other nations and meddling in their domestic affairs.

These were some of my thoughts before Paul.  You may find it odd that I use the term “before Paul” given that he has been in elected office since the mid 1970’s.  But let me explain.  Although it is true that Ron Paul has been involved in politics since before many of us were born, his greatest impact in the national political dialogue began with his 2007/2008 run for the GOP nod for president.  This primary catapulted him to the forefront of the liberty movement and established a near cult-like following among some of the faithful.

But now, after five years, we are faced with the grim reality of a movement without Paul.  After all, he is not running for re-election to the House of Representatives in November and, unfortunately, will not be the Republican nominee for president.  I won’t say that I know his plans, he could host a talk show or be a regular on Fox News like Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin, but I expect that his role will diminish as the years pass.

I wish I could say that the movement has transcended national leaders, that a sufficient portion of the population is educated and energized to take back their country from the statists who have led us down this troubled path.  I wish I could also say that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were the GOP leaders who fully embraced our philosophy, but neither statement would be true.

Fortunately, there are other leaders in Congress, leaders like Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, Representative Scott Garrett of New Jersey, or Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina who have been fighting the good fight for liberty.  The best well known, Senator Rand Paul, has also drawn a good bit of flak, tarnishing him in the eyes of some Ron Paul supporters for endorsing Mitt Romney recently.  I won’t go into that argument again, but you can find my thoughts here.

I suppose my take home point here is that there has been a time before Ron Paul was there to share his wisdom, inspiration, and leadership.  Whether it happens today, tomorrow, next year, or fifty years from now, there will come a time when Ron Paul is no longer with us.  Therefore, although Ron Paul is currently an important force and should be remembered and honored as such, for the sake of the future of the movement, we must become something more than a cult of personality based around Dr. Paul.  When he leaves us, we cannot allow ourselves to be lost in the wilderness once more, waiting for the next great leader to serve as our guide.

The future belongs to all of us.  Ron Paul has made his mark and, God-willing, he will continue to do so for a long time to come.  But, like Barry Goldwater before him, the time of Ron Paul is coming to a close. So what will you accomplish to further the ideals of liberty in this great nation of ours?

Ames Thoughts

The results from Ames are in and the numbers are as follows:

Michele Bachmann 28.6%

Ron Paul 27.7%

Tim Pawlenty 13.6%

Rick Santorum 9.8%

Herman Cain 8.6%

Rick Perry 4.3%

Mitt Romney 3.4%

Newt Gingrich 3.4%

Jon Huntsman .4%

Thaddeus McCotter .2%

First off, congratulations to the Bachmann campaign for their win.  As I didn’t have my “ear to the ground”, I wasn’t quite sure who would emerge victorious.  Second, I should also commend the Paul campaign.  More than one out of every four voters picked Paul.  That’s about an 18% increase over last year’s total.  Seems like it should serve as a very good boost to them.

The news reminds me of Bill Clinton’s second place finish during the New Hampshire primary in 1992.  Although he finished second, he got a higher vote total than expected.  Calling himself “the Comeback Kid”, he spun the news to make everyone think he won even though he technically did not.  Based upon this “win”, Clinton went on to capture several key states and then the nomination.  If the Paul campaign can work similar magic, perhaps Ames can serve as an excellent launching board to creating President Paul (I hope).

Speaking of spin, some media outlets are completely ignoring Paul performance, a favorite tactic from 2007/08.  Perhaps the worst offender is Politico.  Before changing their headline, it first read, “Bachmann Wins, Pawlenty 3rd”.  Why they would announce the third place finisher in the headline but not second place is, quite frankly, baffling.  The only logical conclusion that one can draw is that they are actively seeking to marginalize Ron Paul.  Disgraceful.

Another major news tidbit to come from Ames is the story that Tim Pawlenty has decided to withdraw from the race.  I believe such a plan to be shortsighted.  After all, he finished in a strong third.  More importantly, it is merely the first straw poll.  No delegates were awarded and actual voting is many months away.  Nevertheless, I welcome the news as it shrinks the field slightly and shows that Pawlenty was never a serious candidate to begin with.

Lastly, although not directly related to Ames, Rick Perry, the current Governor of Texas, has entered the Republican race for President.  The reaction to this news is mixed.  While some conservatives welcome this new choice as authentic and viable, others consider him to be yet another RINO (Republican in Name Only).  Either way, I look forward to learning more about Governor Perry in the future.  Also, as you will note, even though he was not on the ballot, Perry finished sixth, a strong performance for a write-in candidate.

Ames is over and done; a small drop in the bucket.

Spending Our Way To Prosperity

As the federal government rapidly approaches its debt limit, powerful lawmakers and bureaucrats are suggesting that we increase that ceiling as to allow the government to go further into the red.  Now, I’m sure that just about every American knows that the federal government doesn’t merely suffer from some minor credit problem.  After all, how many other industrialized nations have a debt clock to keep track of the gross irresponsibility of their leaders?  Why is it that we have allowed our elected representatives to go $14.29 trillion into debt?

Speaking of that matter, do you have $129,105 sitting around to give to Washington?  No?  Well, that is how much you owe.  Given this information, why are there not daily mass protests in the streets as our legislators spend, not only our future, but the future of our children and their children as well?

Consider your own personal finances for a moment if you will.  Imagine that your spending vastly outpaces your income.  Worse yet, all of your credit cards are maxed out and you only pay the interest on your debt, not the principle.  What is the solution?  Although a wise person might suggest that you seek a credit councilor and get your problem under control, D.C. takes a different approach.  They think that we simply need a higher credit limit or a new credit card.  Although we know such behavior leads to personal ruin, for some reason we have allowed our President and members of Congress to be completely negligent stewards of taxpayer money.  When the government spends our money on foolish and unconstitutional endeavors, we ought to be upset.  However, the time for being merely upset is over.  Given that the government spends money that they don’t even have to the tune of over $14 trillion, we have devolved into a state of crisis.

The solution to this problem is relatively easy, although admittedly not without pain and hardship.  Rather than raise the debt ceiling again and again, we must drastically slash spending, payoff our debts, and balance the budget once and for all.  Every department, agency, and program has to be cut, and many eliminated entirely.  Republicans and Democrats alike have been spending our money like drunken sailors.  Enough is enough.

In a speech back in 1996, President Bill Clinton famously stated, “the era of big government is over” while also calling for a balanced budget.  Back then the deficit was only about $6 trillion.  Unfortunately, Clinton was wrong.  No, boys and girls, big government is alive and well and growing larger by the day.

Maybe we too should take a page from Washington and personally borrow to finance all of our wildest hopes and dreams.  After all, according to their model, we must be able spend our way to prosperity.  Oh, don’t you worry.  We won’t have to pay for any of it.  Put that big-ticket item on my unborn child’s tab.

Although I’m aware that it is merely wishful thinking, I’d like every American to write this simple message to their Representatives and Senators:  you vote to increase the debt ceiling and we vote you out of office.

Turning 15 (or 30)

Well, today marks another milestone.  Today is my birthday, the big three zero.  Oh, how time flies.  Normally I don’t make much of a deal about birthdays.  After all, how much of an accomplishment is a birthday?  What great feat have I mastered?  Not dying, I suppose.  Nevertheless, I will admit that it is nice to have a day when people pay attention to you.  But in this post I’d like to talk to you what I believe is a more relevant anniversary, my fifteenth.

You see, about fifteen years ago I first took the great plunge into politics.  Sure, I developed an interest earlier.  Let me draw you back into those halcyon days.  I remember voting in our school’s mock Presidential election in ‘88 and ‘92; I stopped in to the local GOP headquarters in November 1994 to pick up an “Ollie!” button.  I watched the election returns at home and remember being excited about the result, though I wasn’t really involved.  Like most Americans, I was a passive spectator.  Soon after that cycle, everything changed.  I eagerly purchased “To Renew America”.  I committed myself to my first important issue, abortion, and so I ordered a bunch of Pro-life literature from Heritage House 76.  I even created a crude bumper sticker, which I proudly displayed on a folder around the halls of my high school.  It was a very simplistic time, a time when everything was clearly black and white.  All Republicans, like my heroes Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Bob Dole, were good guys, and Democrats, like President Bill Clinton and Minority Leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, were the bad guys.  1995 was a year of tremendous optimism.  After all, Republicans dominated the 1994 election unified on the back of the Contract With America.  And after my first attempt at volunteering in that year, Glenn Weatherholtz picked up the 26th House of Delegates seat and Kevin Miller won the 26th State Senator seat, things were looking extremely positive.  But life didn’t stay that way for long.

The next years were a back and forth series of ups and downs, positive at the state level and disheartening at the federal.  In my first Presidential election in 1996, Bill Clinton easily defeated Senator Bob Dole.  In 1997, then Republican Attorney General Jim Gilmore won the Governor’s race in Virginia promising to eliminate the car tax.  Next, in 1998, we had the GOP congressional loss and Newt Gingrich’s fall from power, coupled with the later discovery of his hypocritical affair.  Then in 1999, Republicans captured a majority of the seats in the House of Delegates for the first time since Reconstruction.  During this time, however, I slowly began to come to the critical understanding that politics was more than blind partisanship and the single issue of abortion.  Sure the Republican Party and pro-life work are important, but they are facets of a larger struggle of ideology and principles…conservatism versus liberalism.

Considering I mention it so often in this blog, I feel like I need to talk a bit about foreign policy.  Interestingly enough, foreign policy was never an important issue to me until after the attacks of 9-11.  Who cares about other nations?  I thought.  Our own domestic policy was all that really mattered.  Sure, I didn’t support Clinton’s adventure in Bosnia, but my objection primarily stemmed from economic concerns.  As I studied more about the issue in college (at first rather reluctantly), I came to realize that how we conducted our affairs abroad had a tremendous impact on policies at home both in terms of security and our budget.  If we are supposedly a Judeo-Christian nation, shouldn’t we treat other nations and peoples as we ourselves would like to be treated?  Now don’t misunderstand, the primary objectives of our government are to secure the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens and so if another nation (or group) seeks to destroy our freedoms or our people, we must prevent them from doing so.  But, as John Quincy Adams reminds us, “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”  Unfortunately, this seemingly simple time honored principle has gotten me in more trouble in Republican circles than any other.

These last eight years or so have been extremely depressing.  Why?  At the national level, how many government programs, department, and agencies have been eliminated?   Compare that number to how many new bureaucracies have been added.  It’s sad isn’t it, watching the government grow, our liberties shrink, and our constitution reduced to mere toilet paper?  So many politicians cry for change, but how many of them protect our rights, our borders, or the unborn?  So many are pathetic shills.  Until the Ron Paul campaign came along in 2007, I didn’t think politics would ever get better.  Suddenly Paul was a single drop of limited government conservativism in an indifferent ocean of status quo politicians.  He firmly stood for principle over party politics.  Most Republicans I knew shunned Paul and it wasn’t until after the campaign had concluded that they finally viewed the doctor in a positive light.  These days, with the rise of the tea party movement, I’m very hopeful that this new wave of activists will push both the Republican Party and the federal government toward the conservative principles that I have been advocating for a long time now.

Based upon these last years, what will the future hold?  Will taxes, regulations, and mandates from Washington further shackle the American public?  Will the states refuse to obey any more unconstitutional legislation?  Will a great leader emerge to restore the republic or conversely will he or she create a socialist paradise?  We should not look to others for the answers to these questions, but to ourselves.   Right now we have a lot of positive rhetoric and hope, but we need greater numbers and, more importantly, action.  Therefore, I ask you to join me.  Politically speaking, you may be an infant, a teenager like myself, or someone far more experienced, but really age doesn’t mater.  Only by working together can we enact meaningful change. We must not be silent.  We must not be complacent.  Recruit your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers.  Run for office, draft legislation, write your Congressman, volunteer in your local GOP, or join a Tea Party.  Getting back to the original point about my birthday, if you’re looking to get me the perfect gift, how about a little liberty?