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:

Marshall Not In…Yet

Picture from bobmarshall2012.com
Picture from bobmarshall2012.com

Yesterday, a fellow blogger at the Mason Conservative announced that Delegate Bob Marshall will be running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Representative Frank Wolf (VA-10).  Given that I have not heard an official announcement, I decided to investigate the matter for myself.

According to my source, Marshall has not yet reached a decision and is still weighing his options and chances.  Barbara Comstock is the clear front-runner at this point and has garnered many endorsements, including RPV Chairman Pat Mullins.  Like Shak Hill, I was irked by Mullins’ endorsement, considering it to be inappropriate.

So will Marshall decide to run?  Knowing what I know, coupled with the fact that he is no stranger to seeking higher office (having run for U.S. Senate previously in 2008 & 2012) I would rate it as highly likely and I would expect an official announcement one way or the other very soon.

The RLC Scorecard

Today, the Republican Liberty Caucus released their scorecard for members of Congress.  Not surprisingly, Republicans generally fared much better than their Democratic counterparts.

Over all, according to the RLC, the Virginia delegation performed well in matters of economic liberty, but not as well in personal liberty.  Representative Morgan Griffith (VA-9), claimed the top overall score in the state with 84%, while Robert Hurt (VA-5) and Scott Rigell (VA-2) both were rated 100% on issues of economic liberty.

Ratings for VA legislators are as follows:

Representatives

Name              Economic        Personal         Liberty Index

Cantor             95                   25                   61

Connolly         20                   35                   28

Forbes            80                   40                   60

Goodlatte        95                   50                   73

Griffith            90                   79                   84

Hurt                100                 53                   76

Moran             0                      55                   28

Rigell               100                 53                   76

Scott                10                   68                   39

Wittman         95                   40                   68

Wolf                85                   47                   66

 

Senators

Name              Economic        Personal         Liberty Index

Kaine              15                   5                      10

Warner           15                   24                   19

 

You may agree or disagree with the RLC and their scoring system, but it seems to me that Virginia is in need of more liberty-minded legislators in Washington D.C.  2014 will provide that opportunity as the state will be electing a senator and all eleven members to the House of Representatives.  Will Virginia voters support more liberty or less in the primaries and in November?  We shall see.

Romney & Allen Win Hob Nob Poll

This evening, the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce held their annual Hob Nob event in Middletown, Virginia.  Unlike last year, which was marred by rain, overall attendance was up by around 30 to 40%.

The main attraction was both former Governors Tim Kaine and George Allen.  Each gave a brief speech, as did two members of the General Assembly who spoke on behalf of the campaigns of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  Although not offered a speaking role, Representative Frank Wolf, his Democratic and Independent opponents, Kristin Cabral and Kevin Chisholm, some of the statewide 2013 candidates, and a host of office seekers from either the city of Winchester or Frederick and Clarke Counties were also brought up on stage.

Each attendee to the Hob Nob had the option to participate in the 14-question straw poll with 211 choosing to do so.  For president, Mitt Romney emerged victorious with 127 votes or 60.2% as compared to Barack Obama’s 76 votes or 36%.  Unlike Virginia’s November ballot, none of the other candidates were listed.  Nevertheless, write-in candidates garnered 8 votes, but it is unknown whether one candidate won all eight or if it was spread among several or many.

Former Governors Allen and Kaine

In the U.S. Senate race, George Allen claimed 131 votes or 62.1% of the votes cast while Tim Kaine captured 80.  There were no write-ins in this race.

Moving on to the 10th district House of Representatives, Incumbent Frank Wolf easily won this straw poll with 72.7% of the votes as compared to Cabral’s 24.9% and Chisholm’s 2.4%.  As for the remaining contests, as the races were specific to certain cities and towns and likely unfamiliar to just about every reader, those results are not included in this report.

So does tonight’s straw poll herald a victory for Republicans in Virginia in November?  Or are a majority of the polls, which predict an Obama and Kaine, more accurate?  In less than two months we’ll have our answer.

In Defense of Rand Paul

Picture from thehollywoodgossip.com

Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky announced on the Sean Hannity show that he was endorsing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for president in the 2012 Republican nomination.  The typical response from a number of my Facebook friends was quite hostile.  As the argument went, how could Rand Paul endorse a liberal like Mitt Romney when the champion of liberty and Senator Paul’s father Ron Paul is still in the race?

I would wager that quite a few people who are upset with Rand are fairly new to the political game and therefore don’t understand how the endorsement game works.

For example, closer to home, State Senator Mark Obenshain (VA-26) recently sent out an email encouraging citizens to vote for Representative Bob Goodlatte and George Allen in the Virginia Republican primary on Tuesday.  Now, as you may recall, I have endorsed both Karen Kwiatkowski and Jamie Radtke; obviously I do not agree with Obenshain on this matter.  But, when it comes to his votes in the General Assembly, I maintain that Senator Obenshain is one of the best members of that body.  Should this one simple issue of endorsement outweigh a multitude of good votes and legislation?  Conversely, if a poor candidate or politician endorses a liberty-minded candidate, should that announcement erase a long slate of bad positions?

As I wrote many years ago, Virginians for Life sent out an email about then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli back in 2008.  They compared him unfavorably to the biblical Judas due to his endorsement of Representative Frank Wolf.  I would not have endorsed Wolf as he and I disagree over the underlying philosophy of proper governance.  However, if we all reacted by condemning Cuccinelli over this rather trivial matter, what would be the end result?  Would we still have a spirited attorney general that is willing to fight against Obamacare and other overreaches of the federal government?

Be it for better or worse, endorsements are one way elected officials pay back favors and reward loyalty.  After all, here in the 6th district, both Bob Goodlatte and George Allen have helped a number of our current politicians gain their office and thus many of those folks feel that they need to repay that debt now.  Moving back to the national level, the theory goes that it is the duty of every good Republican politician (who wishes to remain relevant to the party) to offer some measure of support for the party’s presidential candidate.

But let’s return to the first question.  How can Rand Paul endorse Mitt Romney while Ron Paul is still in the race?  The response is quite simple, but not an answer that most Ron Paul supporters will either accept or want to hear.  I hate to say it, but short of a major miracle or divine intervention, Mitt Romney is and will be the Republican nominee for President.

Although it is true, as repeatedly pointed out these last few days, Rand Paul is not Ron Paul, the simple fact remains that Senator Paul is one of the few liberty-minded legislators in the United States Senate.  In one fairly recent example, while most Senators were either apathetic, or downright hostile in the case of Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC), about defending our civil liberties during the debate regarding the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial, Senator Paul remained firm in his efforts to try to derail this effort.

Regardless of this minor endorsement issue in the grand scheme of things, as long as Rand Paul continues to embrace the key principles of liberty and the Constitution, I am proud to support and defend the Senator from Kentucky.  And yes, if you are wondering, these thoughts do come from a former Ron Paul staffer who actively volunteered for his former boss in this election cycle.  I just hope that the rest of my like-minded brethren will realize that Rand Paul is a great senator and, endorsement or not, we need to support and elect more men and women like him.

Searching for Judas

A little while ago, I got the latest issue of the Life Defender in the mail.  For those unfamiliar with the newsletter, it is a publication of the organization Virginians for Life, a pro-life organization based out of Front Royal.  Although the issue contained a number of interesting pieces, including a small picture of yours truly, the item that caught my eye was a provocatively entitled article “What Should We Do When Pro-life Politicians Sell Out for 30 Pieces of Political Silver?”  For those with even the most basic knowledge of the Bible, you should instantly recognize the reference to Judas.  For the price of 30 pieces of silver, Judas agreed to betray Jesus to the Jewish authorities and thus led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Now this article claims that a certain Virginia politician has sold out the pro-life movement in exchange for political capital, but who might this politician be?  Why, it is none other than State Senator Ken Cuccinelli.  But how you may ask, according to this article, did the conservative Cuccinelli betray the pro-life cause?  By endorsing Frank Wolf.

Now I think that anyone who has read much of this blog would not be surprised to hear that Rep. Frank Wolf is not one of my favorite Virginia politicians.  He supported the $700 million dollar bailout of Wall Street, he supported bartering our freedoms by voting for the Patriot Act, and he supported limiting our gun rights through the Brady Bill, just to name a few issues of concern.  But when it comes to the issue of life, for the most part, Rep. Wolf is actually pretty good.  He is against partial-birth abortion, votes to remove much of Planned Parenthood’s funding, has an 85% voting record with National Right to Life in 2007, and typically supports the pro-life movement.  So what is his great sin, that which tarnishes him in the eyes of Virginians for Life?  He is pro-life except in the cases of rape and incest.  As I stated in the past, although I don’t agree with these exceptions, I do not condemn those pro-lifers who hold them, but treat them as brothers and sisters in the fight.  Think about it for a moment.  Not only would banning abortion except in cases of rape and incest reduce the number of abortions in this nation to a relatively few, it would also be a solution which I believe a majority of Americans could rally behind.  Do I want abortions in this country?  Absolutely not, but, like those who favor gun control, we must work though incrementalism and not tear ourselves apart through infighting.

Would I support Frank Wolf for Attorney General of Virginia?  No, I wouldn’t.  But, on the same hand, I cannot condemn Ken Cuccinelli for endorsing him based upon the life issue either.  After all, Cuccinelli is on the ballot, Wolf is not.  Plenty of conservatives supported McCain even though I did not.  Should I treat them as unrepentant heretics?  Heaven forbid.  Not only would I alienate myself, I would also condemn many otherwise fine and upstanding people that I respect and desire to work along side, not against.  Fellow conservatives, I firmly believe that Senator Cuccinelli represents a strong hope for us in the coming years and we must continue to advance our beliefs through whatever candidates and organizations share such values.  To Senator Cuccinelli, I say good luck to you, sir.  To Virginians for Life, I say do whatever you can to continue to fight for the unborn, but please do not disparage the strongly pro-life Cuccinelli on this fundamental issue.  There are certainly Judases among our ranks, but Ken Cuccinelli has proven himself to be our friend and ally, not a traitor.