Gun Show Straw Poll

Photo by Gage Skidmore
Photo by Gage Skidmore

This weekend, the Rockingham County Fairgrounds played host to a gun show, an event that takes place there several times a year.  It is one of the larger gun shows, or perhaps even the largest gun show in the region.  At this event, the Massanutten Patriots (formerly known as the Harrisonburg Tea Party) held a straw poll for the 2016 Presidential election.  The methodology was quite simple.  As attendees would walk by their table, they would be asked which of the candidates (of any party) they would support assuming the election were held today.  Rather than given a laundry list of choices, respondents were expected to offer their own.  Although some were undecided, that option was excluded from the outcome of this poll.

Unlike other straw polls, this one doesn’t gauge political activists but rather average Americans who have at least somewhat of an affinity for firearms.  Like other straw polls, this one wasn’t scientific either.

Anyway, here are the results:

Donald Trump: 43%

Ben Carson: 18%

Ted Cruz: 15%

Marco Rubio: 8%

Hillary Clinton: 3%

Jeb Bush: 2%

Carly Fiorina: 2%

Mike Huckabee: 2%

Bobby Jindal: 2%

John Kaisch: 2%

Chris Christie: 1%

Bernie Sanders: 1%

Total votes: 93

Given that gun owners are typically far more conservative than liberal and more Republican than Democrat, it wasn’t shocking that a majority chose Republicans.  Then again, there are Democratic gun owners too, so there was bound to be a couple of responses for the Dems.  However, I have to say that I found the results at least somewhat surprising.  Yes, Donald Trump is leading in national polls, but I assumed his numbers wouldn’t be nearly this high.  When I asked some of the respondents why they supported Trump, a common answer was that they liked that he spoke his mind and wasn’t beholden to any particular special interest.

Another unexpected result was Rand Paul.  If you scan the tally, you will notice that Paul and a few of the other declared candidates aren’t listed.  That is because not a single person named him as their choice.  Although Paul is a favorite among Republican liberty activists, winning the Republican Liberty Caucus straw poll in New Hampshire, he seems to be either unknown or not favored among the gun-owning citizens of the greater Shenandoah Valley.  As was pretty much the case for his father’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012, so far the Rand Paul campaign has had no official presence in this part of Virginia.  Then again, none of the candidates have had official representation here with the notable exception of the Carson campaign.  One of his staffers was collecting signatures to get Dr. Carson on the ballot outside the gun show and attended the last First Friday meeting of the local GOP.

Although Donald Trump and some of his supporters think that the media is treating him unfairly, and I guess that it is possible that they are, the fact that he is still the most mentioned candidate does much to keep him in the public mind.  As Oscar Wilde once said, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”  Assuming there is at least some measure of favorable or at least neutral press coverage, that maxim holds true in politics.

So, it seems that Trump has actual real supporters among gun owners and is not simply astroturfing.  The question is though, will he continue to maintain his lead until the voting begins in Iowa and New Hampshire?

Finding a Political Home

RLC LPThe “On this Day” feature of Facebook is rather amazing, isn’t it?  Today, it reminded me of an event that took place two years ago, my removal from the board of directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia.  This action was taken in response to my employment with the 2013 Robert Sarvis for Governor campaign.  Although I fought against my expulsion, at first, as I strongly believed in the mission of the RLC to promote liberty within the ranks of the Republican Party, I did understand where they were coming from and thus did not contest the matter further.

When I posted my piece on Facebook, the Treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Virginia told me that it was “time for you to come home.”  I assumed it was an invitation to join the LP.  In some ways it was a rather curious message.  After all, at that point I was not a member of the Libertarian Party nor had I ever been.  Like many folks that promote liberty and reducing the size and scope of government, the Republican Party was the only political home that I had ever known.  But that home would soon be destroyed.  Little did I know that less than five months later, in early 2014, I would be kicked out of the Harrisonburg Republican Party, a group I had volunteered countless hours with since the age of 15.  I discovered that being without a political home sort of sucks and, as such, a month or two later I ended up joining the Libertarian Party.  Although I ran for office that fall, I did so as an independent for a variety of reason beyond the scope of this article.

Unfortunately, the liberty movement is divided and without a unified home.  Many of us reside within the Republican Party, others in the Libertarian Party, a few with the Democrats, and some that have taken another path or given up on politics entirely.  Even worse, we spend so much of our time fighting each other that often the push for liberty is lost.  Libertarians think Republicans are sell-outs, Republicans declare that the Libertarian Party is a waste of time, and neither group spends much time thinking about the handful of us who are Democrats.

What can we do?  The answer to this situation is illusive.

Being in the Republican fold these days means that my fellow liberty activists are often compelled or even forced into supporting candidates who stand in stark contrast to their principles.  Some of my brothers and sisters in the GOP have told me that they despise the Republican Party and her candidates, but they feel that they have no other option.  I’m sure that many of us profoundly wish that the Republican Party held true to their principles and actually supported liberty and limited government.  Now, there certainly is a segment who do hold to these values, but they are a minority.

Conversely, the Libertarian Party is quite small and faces enormously unfair hurdles in areas such as ballot and debate access.  There are many stories of the LP being bullied by the Republican establishment, presumably done in order to keep the liberty-wing of the Republican Party from switching sides.  The Libertarian Party is plagued by division and a lack of resources.  Like any political party, there are a variety of ideological disagreements among members.  In addition, they have a bit of an image problem; for the longest time I viewed them as little more than immoral, pot-smoking, hedonists.  As for the Democrats…well, I don’t really know what to say about them.

The simple fact is that every political ideology requires a home, a party which promotes its interests.  The liberty movement is divided and is a diaspora.  It needs a major political party to steadfastly promote its principles.  Although they bash each other in public, behind closed doors I have heard conversations from both RLC members and Libertarians who agree on almost every major point.  So, the question remains.  What can we do to find a common political home for the liberty movement, one that both wields significant political influence and one that doesn’t routinely betray the cause?

What is a Republican?

Lately, I’m been mulling over a question in my mind.  What is a Republican?  Having been part of the Republican Party since the age of 15, I thought I knew.

Now, we all know that there is never complete uniformity in any group, but I was under the impression that Republicans stood for a basic set of principles.  That they advocated a relatively small government, one that kept taxes low and let individuals more or less live their lives without too much government interference except if he or she sought to injure his or her neighbor.

Here, let me share with you the creed of the Republican Party of Virginia:

“We Believe:

“That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice,

“That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society,

“That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government,

“That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations,

“That peace is best preserved through a strong national defense,

“That faith in God, as recognized by our Founding Fathers is essential to the moral fiber of the Nation.”

Several weeks ago, I attended a meeting of the Greene County Republican Party and they opened their meeting by reciting this creed.  I must confess, I cannot recall the last time that I had been to a Republican Party gathering where the creed was read or even acknowledged.

But do all Republicans actually adhere to the principles of limited government conservatism as is found in the creed?  The answer is clearly no.  After all, it was a Republican legislature and Republican Governor McDonnell who passed the 2013 transportation tax bill, dubbed the largest tax increase in Virginia history.  And quite a few of those same Republicans helped pass what was previously known as the largest tax increase under the governorship of Democrat Mark Warner.  Why is it that whenever Republicans take control of the Virginia Senate they choose a leader who has supported these tax increases?  If the GOP was serious about limiting the size of government, don’t you think they would nominate someone other than Senator Norment?

Switching gears to the federal government, which party brought us increased federal government control in education through No Child Left Behind?  Republicans.  Expanded federal involvement in medicine through Medicare Part D?  Again it was Republicans.  What about giving us the civil liberties threatening Patriot Act, or the NSA, TSA, or NDAA?  The GOP controlled Congress and presidency.  And which president got this country embroiled in a Middle East conflict in Iraq which has had lasting repercussions to this day and could result in the formation of a horribly brutal and repressive Islamic state?  Why, it is none other than former President George W. Bush, and yes, I’m sure you know that he is a Republican.  And neither John McCain with his hyperaggressive militarism and disregard for civil rights or Mitt Romney and his RomneyCare would have been any better.

It seems to me, that in general Republicans are far more interesting in holding power than they are electing people that hold any sort of principle.  Personally, I find that sad.  And when grassroots Republicans try to stand on principle, as they did in the 6th district when they unanimously insisted that our representative, Bob Goodlatte, not vote for John Boehner as Speaker of the House, they are ignored.  Some people thought it tantamount to heresy when I suggested to the 2014 Republican Senate nominee Ed Gillespie that he ought to advocate eliminating unconstitutional federal programs in his platform.  In case you are wondering, he isn’t doing so.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party in my home of Harrisonburg is similarly a mess.  In recent times they seem to value a blind adherence to the party rather than a common set of political principles.  Believe what you want, but support the GOP, even if they nominate candidates to whom you have a moral objection.  Is it any wonder then that no Republican has been able to win the city of Harrisonburg when facing a Democratic opponent since 2010?

Although one of the most heavily Republican counties in the state of Virginia, the Augusta County Republican Party seems to be in a continual state of civil war.  Certainly there are many factors involved: the struggle for power and personality conflicts.  However, I’m wondering if what is happening in Augusta isn’t just a never-ending struggle between those who feel electing Republicans is the party’s most important task, compared to those who believe that Republicans ought to nominate people who hold to a certain set of conservative principles as found in the party creed.

This past week, the GOP had a booth at the Rockingham County Fair.  In the past, volunteering there was my absolute favorite political activity, one I looked forward to every year since I was 15.  Given that I am running for office as an independent, was booted from the GOP in the early part of this year, and that I have philosophical differences with some of the Republican nominees, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I did not volunteer for them this year.

6th district Republican Chairman Wendell Walker made an appearance and posted this picture on his Facebook page with the following comment:  10583997_10204312722326836_3587689603352275332_n“Spent time in Rockingham at the county fair, campaigning for Ed Gillespie, Bob Goodlatte, and Harrisonburg city’s next councilwoman, Dede Dalton.”

The problem?  Well, if you know the woman on the left, can read the shirt she is wearing, or can see the signs behind them, you will note her name is D.D. Dawson, not Dede Dalton.  One does have to wonder, does Chairman Walker know anything about Ms. Dawson and her political principles?  Or is the party label all that matters?  Having had several conversations with her myself, I can say there is more to Ms. Dawson than the fact that she is the Republican Party nominee.  I don’t bring this point up to disparage either Ms. Dawson or Mr. Walker, but to further illustrate the dis-functionality of the Republican Party locally, statewide, and nationally.

To tell you a little more about my own circumstances, for over a year I served on the Board of Directors for the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia.  I’m glad to say that there have been victories for the moment, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.  But perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that so many liberty-minded people know what I’m saying to be true and they either can’t admit it, or they feel that there is no other alternative than trying to reform the Republican Party.  Unfortunately, that course of action often leaves us feeling ignored or maligned.  For one personal example, in late 2012 I submitted a RLC-VA petition to my local committee calling for the resignation of John Boehner.  But the group wouldn’t hear of it and it was tabled until the start of the next year and then dismissed.  They welcome our help…so long as we keep our views to ourselves.  Thus, when liberty-minded folks cast our ballots, we are often faced with the ordeal of having to “hold our noses” to vote for a Republican candidate that is diametrically opposed to our principles.

When I first met former Republican Robert Sarvis in mid 2013, he told me that the Republican Party is hostile to liberty.  I didn’t believe him at that time and I have to tell you that it was mainly because I didn’t want to believe him.  But as time pressed onward I began to realize that he was unfortunately right.  This is one reason why the Libertarian Party is seeing growth.  We aren’t leaving the Republican Party so much as we are coming to the realization that the Republican Party has already left us.

I must confess I do have the hope, some may call it a naive hope, that Republicans will stand on shared values, but as long as a sizable segment of the party cares only about power and insists on making participants sign loyalty oaths, not to principle, but rather to the party and her candidates, I know that my hope isn’t really realistic.  Although I opposed many positions held by former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA 11), I have to agree with one point he made in 2008, “Members instinctively understand that the Republican brand is in the trash can. I’ve often observed that if we were a dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”

So, how do we answer the question first posed, “What is a Republican?”  It is a question that I wrestled with when I wrote “Some Nights With the GOP” after the Republican losses in 2012.  All I can say is that I don’t know anymore;  there are great Republicans and there are terrible Republicans, but the label itself isn’t particularly meaningful.

How Do Virginia’s National Politicians Respect Economic and Personal Liberty?

Guest post by Charles Frohman

Since 1989 the Liberty Index (http://www.scribd.com/doc/199483758/Liberty-Index-2013) has rated politicians based on fiscal issues such as cutting taxes and regulations, and personal social issues such as respecting privacy and due process, among other issues.  One might think Republicans may do better economically and believe Democrats would succeed on the social issues.  Let’s look at Virginia’s members of Congress and see how well they keep government out of our wallets and personal lives, remaining aware over the weakness of this and all surveys:   the limitation imposed by the available votes.

That is, votes were scheduled on only a limited number of issues under each category.  Had more votes been available on a wider range of issues, scores could have changed at least marginally.  Click the link above to look at the actual votes.  Meanwhile, for the votes the politicians actually submitted, they could have made better choices, as reflected in the overall low scores of Virginia’s politicians.  Remember these scores next time you vote at the ballot box.  Overall, House Republicans scored a solid 86, with their counterparts in the Senate disappointing with a 42, while Democrats in both houses came in at zero, on average.  In Virginia our top scorer was Congressman Griffith, representing southwest Virginia, at 84.  The rest of our congress-critters deserve primary challenges.

Name                           Econ Liberty   Personal Liberty         Average=Score

Senators

Kaine, Tim                              15                                       5                                  10

Warner, Mark                        15                                      24                                19

Representatives

Cantor, Eric                           95                                     26                                61

Connolly, Gerry                     20                                     35                                28

Forbes, Randy                        80                                    40                                60

Goodlatte, Bob                        95                                    50                                73

Griffith, Morgan                     90                                    79                                84

Hurt, Robert                          100                                    53                                76

Moran, Jim                                0                                    55                                28

Rigell, Scott                           100                                    53                                76

Scott, Robert                           10                                    68                                39

Wittman, Rob                         95                                    40                                68

Wolf, Frank                             85                                    47                                66

Again, click the link above to look at the limited number and range of votes on which our congress members are ranked.  But also wonder why when given a vote, they chose government control over personal liberty.  Virginia, the home of our nation’s founders, deserves better.

Charles Frohman, from Suffolk and now in Williamsburg, worked in DC politics for 2 decades including Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.  He is a regional fundraiser for the Our America Initiative, the only national grassroots movement for fiscally responsible activists who also are socially open-minded.  To reach Charles, email CFroh@yahoo.com.

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.

Shake-up in the Virginia RLC

Last night, the Board of Directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia voted to remove two of their members from their ranks, Vice Chairman Steven Latimer and At-Large member Joshua Huffman.  In separate photographs both Latimer and Huffman were shown wearing shirts for Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for governor.  Earlier in the year, the RLC-VA voted to endorse Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate.

Although I cannot fault the RLC too much for their decision, given that it is the “Republican” Liberty Caucus after all, I did fight against my expulsion from the group.  If you remember, Ron Paul himself ran as a Libertarian back in 1988 and spoke favorably about that party during his talk in Lexington, VA in January of this year.  Would they similarly condemn him?  However, given that one replacement for Stephen and me happened to be on the call where the vote was to take place, there was little doubt in my mind how it would go.  For the record, I had been a part of their board since July of 2012.

For those who have read my piece entitled “Joining Team Sarvis”, you will note that even though I do have a few policy disagreements with Ken Cuccinelli, my major complaints centered on the tactics of Cuccinelli’s campaign rather than the candidate.  In good conscience, I could not support their exceedingly negative campaign and their attempts to silence Sarvis, a legitimate candidate on the November ballot.  Some liberty-minded folks claim that the Cuccinelli negativity is simply in response to McAuliffe’s negativity, but I must reject that argument.  Two wrongs cannot be combined in any fashion to make a right.  What both the Cuccinelli and McAuliffe campaigns were doing was, quite frankly sickening, making both seem completely unelectable without any positive hope.  Given Cuccinelli’s constantly slipping polls numbers up to Labor Day, it seems that a majority of Virginia voters agree.  After speaking with Steven Latimer earlier today, his opinion is that “Ken Cuccinelli has not run a very libertarian campaign” and that “the campaign seems out of touch with the party grassroots and is resistant to hearing suggestions.”

As you may know, giving the flailing nature of the Cuccinelli campaign, they recently had a bit of a shake-up as well.  It was my great hope that they would jettison their previous negativity.  Today, I received an email from the Cuccinelli campaign entitled “Lies” and beginning with the line, “Headed into the first statewide televised debate, Terry McAuliffe has set a low bar for the depths of dishonesty he will stoop to,” while at the same time including not a single positive word about Ken Cuccinelli; it seems to me that they have learned nothing.  Should they lose in November, (and I unfortunately believe that they will) and then they wonder why they lost, they only need look in the mirror.

It is amazing to me that for someone who has been struggling to find work, a person who is trying to put a little food on his table and a little gas in his car, the RLC would chastise him for doing so.  Should he do what he can to promote the cause of liberty, even if that means working for a Libertarian candidate?  Or would they prefer if he suckled at the teat of the welfare state instead?

Given a choice between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe, there is no doubt in my mind that Cuccinelli would be a much better governor for the Commonwealth.  I have said as much before and have no qualms about doing so again here.  However, that statement wasn’t sufficient for the RLC-VA who insisted that I had to both renounce Sarvis and publicly endorse Cuccinelli.  To me, my endorsement is something exceedingly special, my highest stamp of approval.  As such, I have endorsed only a handful of candidates over my 18 years in politics, such as Ron Paul in 2008 & 2012, Karen Kwiatkowski in 2012, and Ken Cuccinelli in 2009.  One should never construe my employment as necessarily my endorsement, for I have not endorsed all of the candidates for whom I have worked.  In addition, each of my endorsements I have done in accordance with my own free will, without duress.  I cannot nor will not allow any group to force me to endorse anyone.  Even though I very much wished to retain my position with the RLC, I felt I could not honorably take this step and told them as much.  As a result, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, both Steven and I were removed from our positions.

Virginia needs a healthy dose of liberty interjected into her politics.  So too do the Republican and Democratic parties.  Given my more than a decade of involvement with the GOP, I saw the RLC as an important avenue to promote these principles and mold the Republicans into the party that their creed claims they are.  Say what you will about them, the Libertarian Party, partly through the Sarvis campaign, has been pushing the liberty envelope in the state.  Will this Libertarian effort hurt the GOP?  Of course it will.  But rather than shoving liberty-minded people away, both the RLC-VA and the Republican Party as a whole ought to redouble their efforts to welcome these activists into their camps.

The Sarvis campaign serves a multitude of important functions to promote liberty and expand political dialogue and if anyone thinks that I am helping them because I hate Ken Cuccinelli either politically or personally, or believes that I want to see him lose in November, then that person has missed the point entirely.

Despite this unfortunate event, I consider many of the board members of the RLC-VA as my friends and wish them well as they seek to reform the GOP.  I’m disappointed not to be counted among their ranks, but know full well that I too will do my best to continue to promote the cause of liberty in some fashion or another.

Liberty now and forever.

A Moral Foreign Policy?

When considering U.S. foreign policy, how often do you think about the morality of our nation’s actions?  Presumably many of us don’t pause to consider this question and, if we took the time to do so, it is likely that we would very troubled by some of the actions our leaders have taken on our behalf.

Joel-McDurmon-150x150To explore this topic in greater depth, I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Joel McDurmon will be coming to Harrisonburg this coming Saturday, May 4th.  Starting at 7 PM in the Board of Supervisors room for Rockingham County (20 East Gay Street), Dr. McDurmon will be speaking on “The Bible, War, and American Foreign Policy: What’s the Problem?”.  After his talk, members of the audience are encouraged to participate in what will surely be a lively question and answer period.  The groups sponsoring this event are: The Republican Liberty Caucus of the Shenandoah Valley, Grassroots Solutions Inc., and the Providence Baptist Church.

I hope you’ll strongly consider coming to this event on Saturday.  Entrance is free though donations are accepted.

If you would like a flier with more information, please click on the joel flyer.

See you there!

Time for Priebus to Go!

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

About a week ago, both the Republican Liberty Caucus and the Virginia state chapter of the RLC issued press releases calling for the resignation of the chairman of the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.  The reasoning for this action revolves around the conflict that took place during the recent Republican Nation Convention in Tampa, Florida.

For many Republican and conservative activists who only heard news of the convention via reports from the mainstream media, much of this article may come as a bit of a shock.  However, behind the cheery exterior in Florida, there lurked a number of troubling accounts.

First, as mentioned in a previous article, the changes in the convention rules greatly upset a number of conservative activists including Virginia Republican National Committeeman and president of the Leadership Institute, Morton Blackwell.  Rather than using proportional voting in early state primaries, which would allow for greater development in the GOP primaries, this switch means that an exceedingly small number of voters in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will likely dictate future party nominees.  In response, Blackwell warned that these changes would “concentrate and centralize more power at the top of the party, and to shut off opportunities for power in the party to flow from the bottom up”.  Video of the vote on this matter shows that the result was not decisive, but Speaker of the House John Boehner declared in a dictatorial fashion “in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.”

Along these same lines, rather than unify the party behind Mitt Romney, the convention further drove a wedge between the Ron Paul and Romney supporters.  For starters, early in the convention, many delegates from Maine who supported Ron Paul were stripped of their voting power.  To make matters worse, although a candidate and elected official in the Republican Party, Representative Ron Paul was not allowed to speak on the convention floor.  Lastly, in a move which must have been done out of spite, when delegates from each state cast their votes, the officially announced totals made no mention of Paul’s total.

Here is a video which outlines all of the objections raised in this article:

Therefore, as stated at the beginning of this article, as a result of the events that took place under the leadership of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the Republican Liberty Caucus and many state chapters of the RLC have issued a resolution calling for his resignation.

The text of the RLC-VA resolution is as follows:

September 17, 2012 (Staunton, VA) – The Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia Board approved the following resolution in response to the events at the Republican National Convention in Tampa:

Whereas, the management of the Republican National Convention in Tampa displayed a blatant disregard for the rules under which the convention committees and convention’s general business session were supposed to be conducted;

Whereas, national party leaders and agents of the Romney campaign worked to disenfranchise legitimately elected delegates, silence dissent and disregard legitimate motions and the results of votes during the national convention;

Whereas, fraud and coercion were used to pass new rules which reduce the power and autonomy of state and local party organizations, allow future rule changes without proper oversight by the body of the party and impose a top-down structure of governance in place of the party’s traditional bottom-up structure;

Whereas, most of the factional problems at the convention could have been resolved through reasonable negotiation in ways which promoted unity and cooperation, but were instead dealt with by a heavy handed incompetence which has led to greater divisions, a weakening of the party and loss of support for the presidential nominee;

Whereas, responsibility for the mismanagement and abuse of process at the national convention ultimately rests with the national Chairman;

Whereas, it is to the benefit of the party to protect the rights and interests of party members and preserve the traditional and unique practices of the state parties;

Therefore be it resolved that:

We call for the immediate resignation of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus;

We reject the validity of all of the revisions to the party rules passed at the Tampa convention and consider the 2008 rules to remain in effect;

We commend the efforts of the Republican National Committeeman from Virginia, Morton Blackwell, to prevent adoption of these odious rule changes;

We condemn Ben Ginsberg, John Sununu and John Boehner for their leadership of and complicity in these activities;

We assert the primacy of the state parties in determining policy for conducting party elections, nomination of candidates and apportionment of delegates within their states without the interference of the national committee or any campaign or outside entities.

We urge the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee, our State Chairman and our Republican National Committee representatives to act on this resolution and vote to return control of the party to the state parties and the body of party members.  We urge members to take this resolution to their local unit committees for passage by said committees, and for Virginia Republican activists to endorse it.

The unity of the Republican Party is in a sorry state due to the leadership, or lack thereof, of Reince Priebus and his confederates.  Conservatives and libertarians have been demoralized and disenfranchised and his actions have harmed the party and its candidates in not only the 2012 elections, but for elections in the years to come.

Partially as a result of the devious actions which took place at the convention, most Ron Paul supporters I know are unifying behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and, try as I might, I can’t say that I blame them.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Nothing defeats the Republican Party quite as well as the Republican Party.  We should never forget that Reince Pribus bears a considerable portion of this blame.

It is time for Priebus to go!

Liberty Comes to the Shenandoah Valley

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.

See you on the 16th!

Allen’s Contract

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.

Individual Liberty

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.

Limited Government

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.

Economic Freedom

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.