Do you believe that the greatness of our country was founded upon the principles of a limited and constitutional government, personal responsibility, and the free market? Do you sometimes think that the Republican Party and the nation as a whole have lost their way? And does your adherence to these principles of liberty ever make you feel like a political outcast? Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions and live in or around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I have some good news for you!
On September 16th, the Republican Liberty Caucus of the Shenandoah Valley will be holding a meeting in Staunton.
Although some of you may not know of the Republican Liberty Caucus, you are, no doubt, familiar with some of the leaders that they have endorsed. Here is a short list: 2012 Senate candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, and Representative Ron Paul of Texas. I think you will agree that each of these individuals are some of the best leaders that this nation has to offer, statesmen who promote the values of limited government conservatism and liberty.
As mention earlier, starting at 4 PM on September 16th, the Republican Liberty Caucus of the Shenandoah Valley will be gathering. It will take place at Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant in Staunton, Virginia, just off of the 222 exit on Interstate 81. Although the guest list is still tentative, it is confirmed that Robert Kenyon, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Liberty Caucus, will be there.
So, no matter where you happen to live in the Shenandoah Valley, or even if you reside just outside the area, I hope that you can join us in September as we seek to build a coalition of like-minded activists. Please RSVP on the Facebook page so that we reserve enough space for all.
Working together, we can reclaim our party, restrain our government, and restore our nation.
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?
A few hours ago, I received word from George Allen’s campaign that today he signed The Contract from America. By doing so, he joins the growing ranks of limited government conservatives like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota. As Allen states, “To me, signing this pledge is an affirmation of my commitment to protecting individual liberty, limited government and economic freedom.”
But what is The Contract from America, you might ask? I’m sure most of you remember the GOP’s 1994 Contract with America, but now we are talking about a contract from America? What an odd name. Doesn’t it sound like some secessionist ploy? Well, here’s the contract. Read it yourself:
The Contract from America
We, the undersigned, call upon those seeking to represent us in public office to sign the Contract from America and by doing so commit to support each of its agenda items, work to bring each agenda item to a vote during the first year, and pledge to advocate on behalf of individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.
Our moral, political, and economic liberties are inherent, not granted by our government. It is essential to the practice of these liberties that we be free from restriction over our peaceful political expression and free from excessive control over our economic choices.
The purpose of our government is to exercise only those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people, chief among these being the protection of our liberties by administering justice and ensuring our safety from threats arising inside or outside our country’s sovereign borders. When our government ventures beyond these functions and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.
The most powerful, proven instrument of material and social progress is the free market. The market economy, driven by the accumulated expressions of individual economic choices, is the only economic system that preserves and enhances individual liberty. Any other economic system, regardless of its intended pragmatic benefits, undermines our fundamental rights as free people.
1. Protect the Constitution
Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)
2. Reject Cap & Trade
Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (72.20%)
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (69.69%)
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution. (64.90%)
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities, or ripe for wholesale reform or elimination due to our efforts to restore limited government consistent with the US Constitution’s meaning. (63.37%)
6. End Runaway Government Spending
Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries. (56.39%)
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs. (55.51%)
9. Stop the Pork
Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)
10. Stop the Tax Hikes
Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011. (53.38%)
It certainly sounds promising doesn’t it? Any effort that seeks to restrain the growing power of the federal government is certainly an idea I can get behind. It seems, I’m not alone; the concept has the backing of a number of limited government organizations like The Leadership Institute, The Republican Liberty Caucus, and Freedom Works.
However, I do have two questions regarding the contract. First, what’s with all the percentages after each segment? Is it a ranking of priority? Do the number represent folks who sign choosing to accept certain portions of the contract while rejecting others? Well, after making a few phone calls, I discovered this answer. In order to gauge public opinion on what are the most important priorities, the organizers held a poll. The top ten are what are listed here. The percentages after each are the percent of the vote each won. “Protecting the Constitution” was labeled the highest priority, while “Stopping the Tax Hikes”, although important, was the lowest concern of the top ten.
Second, I’m not too wild about point number seven. Sure, I’d like to see federally run health care defunded and repealed, but replaced? Replaced with what? Something merely more cost efficient? I do not believe that the federal government has any constitutional authority when it comes to the health care of its citizens. Therefore, without additional details, I cannot support this particular plank.
If you will recall, back in 1994, Republicans captured control of Congress by uniting around a list of conservative principles and priorities. Should they do so again, I would expect them to win a far greater percentage of seats.
Therefore, despite my one particular objection, I believe that this Contract From America is an important step in the right direction. It may be a funny sounding name, but we need to get Washington under control and we must do so now. As our former Governor and Senator states, “Only by listening to ‘We the People’ and returning to the foundational principles of freedom, personal responsibility and opportunity for all will America once again be the land of opportunity.”
Although I still need to learn more about this effort, I certainly do appreciate their motivation and applaud George Allen for signing on to this project.
Sorry for little pause in updates. My personal circumstances are changing including a potential move, though I should still be in the 26th district. But on to the topic at hand…
Limited government conservative and establishment Republicans have long butted heads and 2010 is no exception. For starters, you can look south to Florida for The Rubio/Crist feud. How about blowback against the maverick John McCain in his primary fight in Arizona? We in the limited government camp are not alone. The tea party movement itself rose to tell not only the federal government, but also the Republican Party, that to quote the movie Network, we are “as mad as hell and not going to take this anymore! Things have got to change!” Now we don’t merely want change for changes’ sake. We have seen the supposed hope and change that President Obama offers, and now our future is clouded and uncertain. We need a new and better direction. Neither citizens nor corporations should endlessly suckle at the teat of the government, merely crying for bread and circuses. That crooked road doesn’t lead to freedom and prosperity, but to shackles and serfdom. To reclaim our nation we need a path paved with the promises of liberty and personal responsibility, not welfare and bailouts.
This year, I believe no battle is more important in war for the heart and soul of the GOP than in Kentucky. For the side of the limited government crowd we have Rand Paul, son of Texas Representative and 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul. For the side of the establishment, we have Trey Grayson, the Secretary of State of Kentucky. With the primary less than two weeks away, politicians and political leaders from both wings of the Republican Party have taken notice and have come out swinging with endorsements. In Grayson’s column, we have Senate Minority Leader and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, Dick Cheney, Rick Santorum, and Rudy Giuliani. Paul’s supporters include Senator Jim DeMint (SC), Steve Forbes, Dr. James Dobson, and Sarah Palin. These endorsements alone should give you some indication of the quality of the two men.
On many issues both candidates share the same (or nearly the same) views: abortion, taxes, and spending. Therefore, I don’t believe it would be fair to say that either candidate is not conservative. What makes Paul a better choice, in my mind, is his limited government mindset. I think Erick Erickson of Red State sums up my thoughts pretty well. “The problem with Republicans in Congress is that they lost their way. They were willing to do things they otherwise would oppose because George Bush told them to. And they have been willing ever since to go along with strategies that were poll tested and mother approved because that is what the leadership wanted and told them to do.” He goes on to add, “I want men and women of high moral character who are men and women of conservative principle, not of party.
When of party, politicians think too often of saving themselves, not the country. For too long the Republicans have invested in solid party guys who advance the party’s agenda, but not conservatism and certainly not smaller government.”
Amen Mr. Erickson. We need leaders who are not afraid to actually lead.
Like his father, Rand Paul is against bailouts of all kinds, the Federal Reserve, and even opposes the Patriot Act and the War in Iraq. Although such a line of thinking is not popular with the establishment Republicans and may even be considered radical, I believe that this path is the only method to save the Republican Party and, more importantly, our nation as a whole.
Although I do not live in Kentucky, I wholeheartedly endorse and support Rand Paul. Neither side will be able to claim ultimate victory as a result of this primary, but a win for Paul will likely create aftershocks felt across the land. Sooner or later in our own cities, counties, and states, both you and I will have the opportunity to choose between the status quo and a limited, constitutional government. On that day, will you have the courage to take a stand?
This evening, while working at the store, a customer mentioned to me that the cosponsors to HR 1207 (Audit the Fed) had now reached 245. Therefore, once I got home, (and remembered) I scanned the list to see the new names. Ok, ok…most of them I didn’t recognize. After all, there are 435 of them. Who can keep them all straight? Anyway, I was both surprised and pleased to see Rep. Eric Cantor’s name on the list. I guess that your all’s hard work has paid off. Thank you Representative Cantor for doing the right thing! If you live in his district, let him know that you appreciate it when he works to reduce the size and scope of Washington.
But the work is far from over. Assuming that it passes through committee and all of the supposed cosponsors actually for it, we still have the Senate. Therefore, we must stress the importance of this bill to our Senators. Three have already signed on: Crapo (ID), DeMint (SC), and Vitter (LA), with Senator Jim DeMint being the very first. If you are a Virginian, Senator Webb’s Washington number is 202-224-4024 and Senator Warner’s number is 202-224-2023. You know the drill.