The GOP is Falling Apart

Image from sodahead.com
Image from sodahead.com

On Saturday night, before sitting down to play Die Macher with a handful of friends, I had the opportunity to speak with a local professor about politics.  A self-identified Republican, he voiced his frustration with the direction that the party has been heading.  In an earlier conversation he mentioned that although he had donated to the party in the past, he has not done so in some time.

As a libertarian within the GOP, the professor said that he now has little in common with the other factions in the party.  Although the Republican Party used to be an advocate for both fiscal responsibility and limited government, those haven’t been primary concerns in many years.  Amusingly, the professor has a Republican elephant magnet on his refrigerator, but it is turned upside down as if the party were now dead.

Looking at the matter objectively, what have limited government advocates gained in the past 15 years with the Republican Party?  Yes, in the first half George W. Bush was president and in the second Barack Obama has been at the head.  All the while the Republican Party has been in control of Congress more often than the Democrats.  But the policies under both the Republican and Democratic leadership have been fairly consistent.  We’ve gotten a massive increase in our national debt and an expansion of government programs including: No Child Left Behind, Common Core, Medicare Part D, Obamacare, the Patriot Act, NDAA, continual war in the Middle East, the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, curtailing of our civil liberties, extrajudicial killings of foreign civilians, scores of executive orders, and the list goes on.

As the professor lamented, far too many social conservatives seem to tolerate or even embrace these intrusions so long as Republican politicians continue to offer lip service to God in the public sphere while national defense Republicans howl at any sort of cost saving measures regarding our armed forces or the idea of cutting back on our ever-expanding policing of the world.

Perhaps the worst part is that limited government conservatives are actively being fooled (or more realistically they are fooling themselves).  For example, when the 10th district of Virginia was deciding upon a Republican candidate to replace Frank Wolf, anyone who had been paying attention would know that based upon her rhetoric and record that Barbara Comstock was not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination.   After she won the nomination and the election many seemed surprised when she voted more like the Democrats than any other national Republican legislator in the state.  Or how about Paul Ryan?  When he campaigned for vice president in 2012, I had an opportunity to listen to him in person and came to the unfortunate conclusion that he was about as committed to limiting the power of government and reducing the national debt as my own representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  It seems odd that people are now calling Speaker of the House Paul Ryan a traitor after he pushed through the latest budget given that his track record showed that that was exactly what he was going to do if he were given such authority.  Isn’t it painfully obvious that neither Paul Ryan nor Barbara Comstock share our ideology?  Therefore, why in the world should we support them?

Over at Bearing Drift Brian Schoeneman bemoans the infighting in the Republican Party, declaring that the libertarian Republicans “openly flaunt their unwillingness to stand by the Party when it does things they disagree with, going so far as to run and support third party candidates that have cost Republicans victories”.  However, the better question one should ask is, why should liberty-minded folks continue to support the Republican Party?  In the last decade and a half can you name even one federal department that has been eliminated or drastically curtailed as a result of Republican leadership?  Can you point out more examples of ways that the Republican Party has reduced government involvement in our lives…or ways that they have expanded it?

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The William & Mary College Republicans and Margaret Thatcher in 2000.

I would argue that regardless of party Americans desperately need a Margaret Thatcher.  After World War II the Conservative Party more or less surrendered on the issue of limiting the power of the British government, much like the current Republican Party, instead trying to make the bloated national government as efficient as possible.  However, Thatcher upset the wisdom of the day by openly questioning government involvement in a variety of areas that used to be under the control of the private sector, charities, or churches and, once she became prime minister, instituted policies which began to dismantle government control.  How many leaders of today’s Republican Party are willing to take such a step?  Certainly not Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and not most of the Republican or Democratic candidates running for president.

The traditional three-legged stool of the GOP is falling apart because the party has almost completely abandoned the tenets of liberty and limited government.  The party is led by men and women who treat power and not principle as the holy grail of politics and are willing to sacrifice anything to achieve it.  When these people don’t get the influence that they so desperately desire, rather than blaming their failed policies they blame us for not blindly following them!  If the Republican leadership is unwilling or unable to abide by the limitations set forth in the Constitution, perhaps liberty-minded folks ought to take the advice of Dr. Henry Jones at the end of Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade:

The Staunton 4th in Photos

IMG_2984Yesterday, the residents of Staunton, Virginia held their annual 4th of July parade in Gypsy Hill Park.

As is typically the case, politicians, candidates, and political parties representing Staunton and Augusta County marched to show their support.  And, like last year, Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) was separate from the rest of the Republicans.  In addition, Angela Lynn, the Democratic challenger in the 25th House of Delegates, was similarly apart from her party.  The other Republican elected officials pounding the pavement included: Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton), Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge), Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke), Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta), and Supervisor Marshall Pattie (R-Augusta).  Ellen Arthur, who seeks to replace Delegate Cline, walked with the Democrats.  The Libertarians were there for Will Hammer who is running against Delegate Bell.  In addition, the one Republican and three Independent candidates for Augusta County Sheriff also each had a float in the parade.  And, lest we forget, the Augusta County Alliance had an entry opposing the proposed Dominion Power pipeline.

 

Congressman Goodlatte Should Provide Leadership on Passing LEADS Act

Representative Bob Goodlatte
Representative Bob Goodlatte

A guest article by Dean Chambers

 

Privacy is a key right for all who use the internet as well as those who communicate and exchange key data needed in business. Privacy is under attack from a power grab undertaken by the Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder, who asserted the power to take data from a server in Ireland owned a subsidiary doing business with Microsoft. Had that data been printed documents in that office in Ireland, the Justice Department would have approached the government of Ireland, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the two countries seeking a warrant to obtain that information. Data on computer servers should be subject to the same exact protections of law as data on printed document enjoys.

The answer to this judiciary power grab is the LEADS Act proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, that would protect the privacy of data against such encroachment. The ability of individuals to use the internet to communicate as well as that of businesses to communicate, invent and innovate using such “cloud servers” on the internet would be protect by enacting the LEADS Act. This legislation would restore balance under the Fourth Amendment, protecting privacy and allowing law enforcement to obtain data when authorized by a warrant from a judge or abiding by MLAT in the instance of data on a foreign server.

The privacy protections of computer data under the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) would be extended to protect the privacy of data on overseas servers. Many businesses have operations and subsidiaries around the globe involved in creating new products and services using servers around the world. The data and processes involved would be protected, giving a competitive advantage to American businesses operating around the world.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte has done some good work in the areas of copyright issues and internet piracy as well as introducing the Innovation Act to reduce frivolous patent infringement lawsuits by patent trolls. It would be very consistent with those efforts, and follow in the same direction, if Rep. Goodlatte would take the lead in helping to pass the LEADS Act in the House.

Writing recently for The Hill, Karen S. Evans writes, “LEADS will improve data privacy protections for U.S. citizens and residents while strengthening law enforcement cooperation with other nations. The bill also preserves the essential balance between security and privacy. At the same time, it will signal to our foreign partners that we are serious about improving law enforcement cooperation with them. In these times, such improvements are vital to ensuring effective functioning of our law enforcement agencies while maintaining the privacy rights of our citizens.”

The key issue involved here, for individuals and businesses using the internet and servers to store and exchange data, is such data has the same protections as any data stored and exchanged in other forms. The use of such “cloud servers” allows a level of communication in innovation not previously possible.

“It is legislation like LEADS that will help the U.S. achieve broader, much-needed ECPA reform. The goal is clear – the laws should ensure that data stored in the cloud receives the same legal protections as data stored in our homes and at work,” Evans wrote in The Hill.

The LEADS Act is extremely important legislation that really needs to be enacted into law, and I strongly urge Rep. Goodlatte to take up the lead in getting this bill passed in the House. Mr. Goodlatte has done great work in the past to ensure the protection of privacy and other rights on the internet, and this is a great opportunity to do so again by helping pass the LEADS Act. The result will be a much stronger and prosperous America if this legislation is passed.

 

Dean Chambers is an independent journalist and blogger who has written news and commentary articles on a wide variety of subjects. His articles have been published on Examiner.com, The Inquisitr, Conservative Firing Line and have been featured on The Drudge Report, The Rush Limbaugh Program, The Blaze and The Gateway Pundit as well as parodied by Stephen Colbert, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow.

Goodlatte v. Massie on the TPA & TPP

When it comes to the issue of Trade Promotion Authority and the Transpacific Partnership, there are at least two lines of thinking among Republican legislators in Congress.  Many, like Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), have come out in support of TPA & TPP, while others, like Representative Thomas Massie (KY-4), oppose them.  Although billed “Obamatrade” by its detractors as it is favored by President Obama, it is rather curious that it has more support among Republicans than Democrats.  On June 12th, the TPA narrowly passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 219-210.  Broken down by party, Republicans generally favored it (191-54) while Democrats generally opposed it (28-156).

Rather than outline their positions myself, let me present the two representatives in their own words.

First, on April 30, 2015, Representative Goodlatte sent out the following letter:

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IS NOT AN IMMIGRATION GIVE-AWAY
Dear Colleague:
No one believes more strongly than do I that our immigration laws should be written by Congress and not negotiated in trade agreements. In 2003, I and other Members sent a letter to Ambassador Robert Zoellick, head of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), stating that:
The Constitution grants the legislative branch of the federal government plenary power over immigration law. As the Supreme Court ruled in Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 531 (1954), “that the formulation of [immigration] policies is entrusted exclusively to Congress has become about as firmly imbedded in the legislative and judicial tissues of our body politic as any aspect of our government.” The United States Trade Representative’s practice of proposing new immigration law in the context of bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations cannot be reconciled with Congress’s constitutional prerogative. Even worse, when combined with the grant of “fast track” or “trade promotion authority” eliminating the legislature’s ability to amend such  proposals, USTR’ s practice has effectively stolen this plenary power away from Congress. We cannot allow this to continue and must thus insist that you never again agree to include immigration provisions in trade agreements. . . .
Based on the current draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and assurances from USTR, I am confident that we can vote for the TPP and trade promotion authority without violating the enduring principles set forth in the 2003 letter. To its great credit, USTR has stood up to immense pressure and has refused to agree to “temporary entry” provisions in the TPP that would allow foreign workers to come to America outside of the terms of current congressionally-passed immigration law. Whatever other countries participating in the TPP negotiations agree to regarding temporary entry, the U.S. will not be a signatory. In addition, no one has been more vocal than me in their criticism of the Obama Administration’s attempt to unconstitutionally rewrite our immigration laws through the grant of administrative legalization to millions of unlawful aliens. There is nothing in the current draft of the TPP that will in any way advance or facilitate this or any other unconstitutional action by the Administration.
In the TPP negotiations, USTR has acted in good faith and has respected Congress’ constitutionally-granted power to write our nation’s immigration laws. In turn, we should support the TPP and trade promotion authority as a boon to the American economy.

Sincerely,
Bob Goodlatte
Chairman House Judiciary Committee
In addition, on June 11th, Representative Goodlatte shared a link on his Facebook page outlining the “Top Nine Myths About Trade Promotion Authority And The Trans-Pacific Partnership“.
However, another group of Republicans disagree.  On June 12th, Representative Massie offered the following thoughts on Facebook:

I support free trade, but I cannot vote for the ‪#‎TPA‬ bill that will expedite approval of the ‪#‎TPP‬ trade agreement.

(1) I’ve read the confidential TPP. What struck me most was the enormity of it. Two bound volumes that reference other bound volumes of trade agreements. My staff aren’t allowed to read the document, I’m not allowed to take notes from the room, and I can’t access an Internet browser in the room. How could I possibly understand the unintended consequences of this agreement over the next few decades?

(2) The implications of ceding our sovereignty to the World Trade Organization (‪#‎WTO‬) via trade agreements became painfully obvious to me this week. Congress literally rewrote our food labeling laws to please the WTO. The WTO said we can’t require the country of origin to be on the labels for beef and pork. I voted against removing the labels but the WTO-directed legislation passed anyway.

(3) Phone calls from my constituents are running 30 to 1, opposing versus supporting, the TPA. Some are concerned that this agreement gives this President too much additional authority. Some are concerned about the lack of transparency. These are both valid concerns.

And here is what he said on the House floor:

So, given that Goodlatte and Massie seem to be diametrically opposed on this issue, one does have to ask, what is the Republican position on this matter?  Generally, Republicans favor free trade, but is the TPA & TPP a bad deal for Americans?

Like the recent feud over the Patriot Act and the USA Freedom Act, is this another issue which will help tear the establishment and liberty wings of the Republican Party apart?  And could these rather substantive disagreements predicate the GOP’s future destruction?  After all, last week RNC Chairman Reince Priebus stated that “we (the Republican Party) don’t exist as a national party if we don’t win in 2016.”  I guess we will see.

Goodlatte, Liberty & Security

Our Representative, Bob Goodlatte

Last night, as a result of the debate that was going on in the U.S. Senate over renewing provisions of the Patriot Act, Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) posted the following message on Facebook:

“Pleased that the Senate acted wisely to proceed with debate on the USA Freedom Act. This decision is long overdue. However, I’m disappointed that the Senate has stalled and will not vote on it tonight. Because of Senate’s irresponsible inaction, three national security provisions will expire at midnight. I urge the Senate to act as expeditiously as possible to approve the USA Freedom Act, without amendment and without delay, so that we protect Americans’ civil liberties and our national security.”

Although 52 people indicate that they “like” what Representative Goodlatte wrote (at this time of the writing of this piece), a greater number of individuals offer comments, and a vast majority of these are in opposition to the representative’s stance.  Let me offer a few examples:

Some are statements of support for Senator Rand Paul’s efforts to stop or delay renewal.

I stand with Rand. Sic semper tyrannis.

“#Istandwithrand

Others compare Representative Goodlatte to Representatives Justin Amash and/or Thomas Massie, generally regarded as the most pro-liberty members of the House of Representatives.

You, sir, are a hypocrite — you read the Constitution once a session out loud, and ignore it the rest of the time. The USA Freedom Act is almost as dangerous to liberty as the Patriot Act was. Have even read the whole thing? The 6th District deserves a Massie or an Amash — perhaps you should learn from them.

Maybe you should adopt Congressman Thomas Massie‘s position on it. His is much more in line with the Constitution and the 4th Amendment.

A handful call for Goodlatte’s removal from office or express hopes that he is not re-elected.

You sir should resign. You DO NOT represent the people.

I cannot wait for a tea party candidate to run against you. You John McCain and Lindsey Graham are all cut from the same cloth.

However, the top three “liked” responses to Representative Goodlatte’s post are as follows:

3. “I cannot possibly disagree with you more. The Patriot Act has destroyed Americans’ civil liberties. We should hail the expiration of the three unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act as a renewal of the Fourth Amendment.

2. “You urge them to expeditiously vote to violate our 4th amendment rights? What about that oath you took??

1. “A good Virginian would follow the foot steps of those before him and stand hand and hand with that great Senator. Freedom does not spy on ‘we the people’ that is tyranny.

I suppose the question is, do these 71 comments accurately express the will of the people in the 6th congressional district of Virginia?  Is Representative Goodlatte out of step with his constituents on this matter?  And, if so, will this issue be the tipping point and give rise for an opponent to challenge Bob Goodlatte in 2016?

Bell Vs. Hammer

Images from Dickie Bell's and WIll Hammer's websites
Images from Dickie Bell’s and Will Hammer’s websites

On Friday, Will Hammer of Staunton declared his intent to run for the Virginia House of Delegates for the 20th district.  As mentioned in his announcement, he plans to be the Libertarian Party candidate.  Also running is Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton, the recently certified Republican candidate who has represented the 20th district since 2010.  The 20th district includes the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro as well as Highland County and portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties.

Mr. Hammer, as some readers may recall, ran as the Libertarian Party candidate against Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-6) in the 2014 election cycle.  To the best of my knowledge, he is the first ever Libertarian to run for House of Delegates in the Shenandoah Valley.  One can find the official press release of his announcement on his website.

Unlike most districts in the Shenandoah Valley, the 20th has seen quite a few races lately, being contested in two of the last three election cycles with Erik Curran running under the Democratic banner in 2009 and Laura Kleiner doing likewise in 2011.  However, so far, no Democratic candidate has announced this year and it is growing increasingly doubtful that anyone will do so.

On a lighter note, given their last names, I expect that we will see quite a few puns appear dealing with this race.

Falling Out With Goodlatte

Representative Bob Goodlatte
Representative Bob Goodlatte

On Friday, January 2nd, I received a notice from my representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6th), encouraging me to connect with him on Facebook.  Although I followed him for many years, my enthusiasm for him has waned considerably and I’ve been actively supporting his challengers for the last several cycles.

Rather than pointing to a single issue, for there are many, let me instead offer some background and history.

There is no question that Representative Bob Goodlatte has been a mainstay in Shenandoah Valley politics.  First elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, he has been serving in that capacity for twenty-two years.  Most elections he has been without a Democratic challenger and he has faced an opponent from within his own party only once, Karen Kwiatkowski.

When I first became interested in politics in the mid 90’s, I supported Representative Goodlatte without question.  After all, isn’t that what a “good Republican” ought to do?  Once I graduated from college, seeking a position to make a difference in politics, my first interview was in his office, as I hoped to become his regional representative for Staunton.  That didn’t come to pass but, several years later, I had another interview, this time to work for the House Agricultural Committee which Goodlatte chaired.  That didn’t work out either.

Ah ha, you might say.  You grew bitter about not getting a job then.  Actually, that doesn’t really have anything to do with it.  I’m actually grateful for any opportunity to get work in politics and certainly don’t hold that against him.

Well, is it something personal then?  Again, not really.  He has always been civil to me and I have done my best to be civil toward him.  For example, this year he made it a point to say hello to me even while I wore the shirt of Will Hammer, the Libertarian candidate for the 6th district, and did so again a few months later while he was stumping for the Republican candidates for city council.  I’ve donated my time for his liberty-minded opponents and he donated $500 to my establishment competition for Harrisonburg City Council.

So, what then?

Well, a small portion of it deals with the people in his employ.  Although he does have some good staffers, several of his people over the years are downright unpleasant, egotistical, arrogant, power-hungry bullies whose one goal is to rise as far and as fast in the political ranks as possible, caring little what principle needs to be discarded or what person needs to be eliminated to achieve these goals.  Yes, I’ve encountered people with these traits throughout my adventure in politics, but these kind of individuals seem to flock to Representative Goodlatte at a far higher than average rate.

But that’s only a small part of the problem.  The far larger one deals with the fact that he and I have a radically different political philosophy.  I believe in a small, constitutionally limited federal government while he doesn’t…not really.  Although Representative Bob Goodlatte often uses great rhetoric, his votes and bills often don’t match.

The truth was hard for me to swallow at first.  After all, watching previous political role models such as Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush either fall from grace or completely abandon their principles was hard to accept.  Surely my Representative, Bob Goodlatte, was the good constitutional conservative that he claimed to be.  Like the kid who asked Shoeless Joe Jackson on the steps of the courthouse, “say it ain’t so, Bob.”  Unfortunately, the legislator I assumed Bob Goodlatte was didn’t match who he actually happened to be.  Let me offer some examples to illustrate:

– For a good many years he has been advocating a balanced budget amendment but has voted to raise the debt at least seven times.  Wonder why the country is over $18 trillion in debt?  Representative Goodlatte has been part of that problem.

– He supported the 2014 continuing resolution commonly known as the CRomnibusAs Conservative Review states, “This 1700+ page, $1.1 trillion Omnibus spending bill granted President Obama full funding for 11 of 12 federal departments for the remainder of the fiscal year – without any congressional restrictions on his unilateral action on amnesty, Obamacare, and environmental regulations. Worse, this bill actually provided Obama with an additional $2.5 billion in funds to facilitate his executive amnesty.”

– Has both supported and opposed minimum wage increases (depending on which party holds the White House) despite the fact that Congress has no constitutional authority to set any sort of wage standards.

– A leading advocate to ban internet gambling even though that is yet another power not enumerated to the federal government.

– Was the deciding vote in favor of Medicare Part D, further embroiling the federal government in yet another area it has no legitimate control.

– Voted for George W. Bush’s meddling in education with No Child Left Behind which Republicans are finally starting to publicly admit was a mistake.

– Voted for George W. Bush’s military adventures in Iraq despite the fact that Iraq posed no military threat to the security of the United States.  This conflict has cost trillions of dollars, and resulted in the needless deaths of a multitude of Americans and Iraqis.  In addition, destabilizing the region has only increased the possibility of terrorism against the United States and her citizens.

– Cosponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and supporter of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) designed to strip away our freedoms on the internet.

– Voted for the Patriot Act.  Although you can make an argument for it in the wake of the 9/11 hysteria, Representative Goodlatte has voted for it each and every time it comes up for renewal, gravely endangering the civil liberties of Americans.

– Voted for the Aviation and Transportation Security Act which created the TSA, needless hassle and harassment at the airport, and has failed to do much to deter or catch terrorists.

– Voted for the National Defense Authorization Act in recent years which, along with the Patriot Act, allows for indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects in violation of the 4th Amendment.

– Voted for the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2014, which, in the words of Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3rd), “permits the U.S. government to acquire, retain, and disseminate nonpublic telephone or electronic communications to or from a U.S. person”.

– Voted to impeach President Clinton and, although now Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and admits that President Obama “is not enforcing the law“, he refuses to consider impeachment for Obama’s gross abuses of executive power.

I could go on to include his advocacy for big ag subsidies and his support for the ethanol mandate, choosing crony capitalism over the free market, but these are some of the more troubling issues of the day.

IMG_0144Just as important, Representative Goodlatte does not feel beholden to his constituents.  At the 2012 6th District Republican Convention, he surprisingly called the 6th district GOP chairman, Wendell Walker “his boss”.  Although his honesty was appreciated, I was horrified to learn “his boss” wasn’t the voters of the 6th district or even the Republicans of the 6th district.  To hammer home this point, despite the fact that the 6th district Republican committee unanimously wrote a letter to demand Representative Goodlatte oppose John Boehner for Speaker of the House in the 2013 election, he ignored them and voted for Boehner anyway.  In 2015, he once again cast his lot with John Boehner.  Although his campaign shirt proclaims, “Bob Goodlatte, Working Hard for Us!” it should more accurately read, “Bob Goodlatte Does Whatever He Wants and Ignores Us!”  After twenty-two years in office, he seems to be far more beholden to the power-brokers and lobbyists in Washington than the citizens he was supposedly sent to represent.

He or his people treat the 6th district of Virginia as his fiefdom, replacing party leaders who oppose him or trying to silence his critics (as was done to me when I was expelled from the Republican Party).  Unfortunately, Goodlatte and/or his supporters have hurt quite a few of my friends and allies who, like me, believe that principle is more important than any single politician.  As a result, an increasing number of them react by treating Representative Goodlatte with utter contempt.

Although the 6th district of Virginia is arguably the most conservative district in the state, one whose people support an extremely limited federal government, we have a representative who has proven time and time again that he does not share this point of view.  Yes, it is a good thing that he encourages a public reading of the Constitution on the Congressional floor, but it is clear that he doesn’t seem to think that all of its provisions, especially the 9th and 10th Amendments, should be used to restrain the power of Washington.

Representative Goodlatte is a member of the Republican Party, but as I’ve illustrated through the issues listed above and The Washington Post agrees, he certainly shouldn’t be mistaken as either a conservative or libertarian.

I hope that Representative Goodlatte and I can continue to be civil toward each other and yes, compared to some legislators (Senator Shelly Moore Capito I’m looking at you), Goodlatte is better.  However, although Goodlatte might be a decent enough fellow personally, if you like a federal government that grows bigger every year, strips away our civil liberties piece by piece, supports endless war, ignores the Constitution, rewards some businesses at the expense of everyone else, works to enslave us all with debt, employs some of the most unsavory of people, and promotes big government Republicans like John Boehner, then Representative Goodlatte should suit you just fine.  Conversely, I oppose them all which puts the two of us at odds.

Believe it or not, I’d love to be proven wrong, that Representative Goodlatte is a strong advocate for liberty, that all the examples I’ve given don’t offer an accurate picture, and I don’t know what I’m talking about.  But I don’t think this is the case.  And so, I’ll continue to speak out against his votes.  I don’t do this because it is good for my political career, on the contrary I’ve been informed that it is personally detrimental for me to stand against such a powerful figure in Shenandoah Valley politics and likely has cost me several jobs, but because principle should come before our own enrichment.

I’ll admit that I’d very much like to support my representative as I once did, but that will either require a change of principle by myself or Congressman Goodlatte…or a change of representative.

Hammer’s Video

Today, Will Hammer, the Libertarian candidate in the 6th District of Virginia, released a campaign video.

This November, Mr. Hammer is challenging Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte.  Representative Goodlatte is seeking his 12th term.

Given the somewhat unusual last names of both of these candidates, the ad plays upon that fact, showing Hammer smashing a multitude of containers of “good latte” bearing labels such as the drug war, NDAA, and the Patriot Act.

So, what do you think?

Is the ad effective?

Does anyone else have the the urge to get a cup of coffee?

The Local Republican Headquarters

Yesterday, the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Republican Party Headquarters celebrated its grand opening.  Local State Senator Mark Obenshain acted as the master of ceremonies as neither the chairman of the Harrisonburg or Rockingham County GOP was in attendance.  Oddly, none of the four delegates representing Harrisonburg or Rockingham County made an appearance.

IMG_2680As a surprise guest, Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) was on hand to speak.  Also talking about their candidacy were D.D. Dawson and Ted Byrd, the two Republican city council candidates.  One remark that the mayor made which stood out in my mind was that he declared that his opponents for city council were fairly new to the city.  Although that statement is true of many of his opponents, it isn’t true for all as I have lived in the city of Harrisonburg almost my entire life.

I was told that one of the organizers of the event wasn’t happy that I was in the crowd, given that I am running as an independent for city council.  However, given my multitude of years of ties to the party and my fellow activists, I wouldn’t be deterred from being there.  Not surprisingly, I wasn’t offered a speaking opportunity nor even officially acknowledged.

Nevertheless, I did end up talking to a sizable chunk of the crowd one-on-one, not really discussing my campaign, but rather the current state of the GOP.  Ms. Dawson pleasantly said hello as she often does and even Bob Goodlatte made it a point to shake my hand.  The mayor also came up to me at one point to offer his greetings and mentioned that his statement about his opponents being from out of town didn’t apply to me.  With that thought in mind, I thought it would have been prudent for him to use the phrase “almost all”.  Then again, technically both Ms. Dawson and Mr. Byrd are opponents for each other given that they could siphon away votes from the other from voters who wish to support one Republican, not both.

The Republican elected officials and candidates at the opening.
The Republican elected officials and candidates at the opening.

Although I was appreciative of the fact that Rep. Bob Goodlatte mentioned what supposedly are the guiding principles of the GOP, such as limiting government and promoting liberty, I’m disappointed that such rhetoric isn’t much in vogue among Republican politicians.  Worst yet, even fewer actually legislate with these thoughts in mind.

Anyway, the local GOP headquarters is now open and should be a hub of activity for Republican activists making phone calls and knocking on doors between now and Election Day.

Labor Day in Buena Vista

Senator Mark Warner addressing the media
Senator Mark Warner addressing the media

On Monday, a host of political activists made their way to the streets of Buena Vista, Virginia.  Although certainly a small city, Buena Vista plays host to the largest political parade in the state, a decades old tradition.

Although last year was the smallest gathering I had seen in my several years of going, 2014 was more robust.  Republican activists nearly doubled the Democratic crowd.  As is typical, countless yard signs littered the parade route with Mark Warner emerging as the victor in the sign war.  It was unfortunate that some supporters of Mark Warner used their signs to cover the Republican ones, but, then again, Gillespie supporters did likewise.

Ed Gillespie speaks to a reporter
Ed Gillespie speaks to a reporter

After the mile and a half trek through downtown, which culminated at Glen Maury Park, each of the candidates were invited on stage to speak to the crowd.  This group included: Senator Mark Warner, Ed Gillespie, Robert Sarvis, Representative Bob Goodlatte, Will Hammer, and Delegate Ben Cline.  Both the Republican and Democratic activists cheered loudly for their candidate(s).

Robert Sarvis addresses the crowd
Robert Sarvis offers his opinions to the crowd

Interestingly, Bob Goodlatte didn’t speak about his own race, where he faces Libertarian Will Hammer and Independent Green Elaine Hildebrandt (who did not attend the Buena Vista event) but rather the need to elect Ed Gillespie.  Delegate Cline made some critical remarks about Senator Warner which led some of us to wonder if he would be yanked from the microphone.

After Warner and Gillespie spoke, they left the gathering along with Bob Goodlatte before Robert Sarvis took the microphone.  Although that development was disappointing and disrespectful to their Libertarian opponent, what I thought was far worse was that 90% of the Republican crowd walked out as well.  By comparison, a majority of the Democratic activists showed far more decorum, having enough courtesy to listen to what Sarvis and Hammer had to say.

All in all, it was encouraging to see an upswing in Buena Vista this year.  Hopefully, this Shenandoah Valley tradition will continue to thrive.