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Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Politics’

Photo thanks to RonPaul.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In my various posts over the years, I’ve made no secret of my support of Dr. Ron Paul and, even more importantly, the political principles for which he stands.  Therefore, I must say that I was pretty surprised when I got an email asking if I would collect signatures to get Newt Gingrich on the ballot here in the state of Virginia.  For those that know me, you are aware that I had a lot of respect for the former Speaker that morphed into fear/hate relationship stretching back to my earliest awareness of politics, 1994.  Although I would gladly sign any candidate’s petition to get on the ballot, be they Republican, Democratic, third party, or independent, asking my friends and neighbors to do likewise is another matter entirely.

However, the kicker in this situation was the promise of payment for each signature collected.  Heaven knows that it is an extremely tough time financially for so many Americans.  Personally, I’ve had to resort to creative ways to make money as I wait for the start of my next full-time position…whenever that will be.  So, flush with the idea of making a little extra money, I jumped at the chance.  However, while working in my current part-time position, I took a moment to reflect upon Newt Gingrich and my time in politics.

Gingrich is a man who I believe is antithetical to the idea of limited government conservatism, as well as morality.  He seems to advocate remaking society, the government, and really the entire world, not based upon the ideals of liberty, federalism, and personal responsibility, but rather on some sort of futuristic utopia (or dystopia) where Gingrich reigns as the intellectual and political overlord of the ignorant and savage masses.  He oozes hypocrisy writing a book entitled Rediscovering God in America in 2006, after having cheated on two of his wives.  Now maybe you think that he has changed his ways.  Well, if you may recall earlier this year he blamed his past infidelity not as a result of any moral weakness, but due to his overly zealous work ethic.

Even though I could temporarily put my political principles aside and more or less work for this man for the sake of badly needed cash, what would be the result?  How could I live with myself if my actions indirectly led to his election?  Like too many politicians in Washington who have fallen to the temptation, does wealth trump principles?  Who could condemn Gingrich if he or she sold out too?  Just because I have a very disappointing relationship with Ron Paul’s national campaign, cheating on him (and, more importantly, my principles) with his loose and immoral Republican half sister doesn’t reset the scales of justice.  Would every blog post I write from here on out be nothing more than a convenient lie that I tell myself?  Could I pass in front a mirror without pointing at my own reflection and scream “whore!  You are nothing more than a political prostitute”?

Although I will freely admit that I don’t know much about what motivates a person to enter the world’s oldest profession, I wouldn’t imagine that many people engage in prostitution because it sounds fun or offers promise of a stable career, but rather stems from a desperate hope to do anything to escape their present misery.  Maybe I’m being a little overly optimistic here (and/or naïve depending on your perspective), but there is no good reason why, as Ronald Reagan once quipped, the second oldest profession (politics) has to bear a “striking resemblance to the first”.

In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to help Mr. Gingrich.  I believe that doing so would have been a tacit endorsement of his campaign.  Now to my fellow activists and friends who did collect for him, don’t think for a minute that this article seeks to condemn your efforts.  After all, I doubt any of you have the same relationship with Newt that I have had, watching your political hero trample upon what you thought were your shared principles.

As you may have heard, Newt Gingrich will not be on Virginia’s March 3rd Republican primary ballot unless he mounts a successful legal challenge.  Although I doubt that whatever signatures I would have collected would have changed this outcome, I believe that I made the right decision.  The temptation always looms, especially in these uncertain times, but we all have to keep reminding ourselves that principles should not be sold to the highest bidder and honor is worth more than a ton of gold.

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Everyday, it seems that I receive another email announcing some other group or elected official who endorses George Allen’s Senate bid.  More and more people are climbing aboard the Allen bandwagon, but I cannot get on board.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was a very strong supporter of George Allen back in 2006.  During that election cycle, there was nothing that I wanted more than to work for his re-election effort.  Although I didn’t get a job with him directly, through my employment with the Republican Party of Virginia, I did get to spend a lot of time assisting his campaign.  Like most Republicans and conservatives, I was both shocked and disappointed when he lost to Jim Webb by a narrow margin.

When I heard that George Allen was running again in late 2010/early 2011, my first reaction mirrored the same excitement that I displayed back in 2006.  Here is a conservative with almost universal name recognition who can reclaim one of Virginia’s two Senate seats currently held in Democratic hands.  But then, at the urging of a handful of anti-Allen folks (some of whom have since either joined the Allen campaign or who have endorsed him), I delved into Allen’s record when he served as our Senator from 2000-2006.  What I found would make just about every constitutional conservative cringe.

Like many conservatives, as the Bush presidency dragged on, I became increasingly disheartened with George W. Bush for not only failing to rein in the power of the federal government but massively expanding instead, as well as failing to enact conservative legislation.  But it wasn’t just the President who betrayed the conservative movement.  After all, for a huge chunk of the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses, Republicans controlled both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.  For some unexplainable reason, I focused my frustrations on our President, while maintaining a rather rosy view of our legislators.  Nevertheless, as our Congressional representation endorsed and advocated these plans, they should be held just as culpable.

Let me outline what I feel are a few of George Allen’s most troubling votes while serving as our Senator.

He supported passage of the U.S. Patriot Act in October 2001.  George Allen, along with many other legislators voted to strip away some of our civil liberties in exchange for supposed security.  This act vastly increased the power of the federal government by allowing previously illegal roving wiretaps done without a court order and spying on what books folks check out in libraries.  You might be able to merely excuse his vote due to the widespread panic immediately following 9/11, but the fact that he voted to continue the program in October of 2006 meant that he had no qualms placing this country on the path to a police state.

He supported passage of Aviation and Transportation of Security Act in October 2001.  Are you happy with the TSA handling airport security?  Does the idea of aggressively patting down your grandma and your children please you?  How about revealing body scans?  Again, we can thank George Allen for this situation.

He supported No Child Left Behind in December 2001.  The federal government has no Constitutional authority to be involved in the education process.  Why should bureaucrats and legislators in D.C. have any control of an issue that is, depending on where you stand, the role of the states, localities, and most important, the parents themselves?

He supported the Iraq Conflict Resolution in October 2002.  Senator Allen voted to authorize use of force against the nation of Iraq while forces were already committed in another nation.  This invasion set a dangerous precedent for pre-emptive war.  As we all know now, we attacked a nation who posed no threat to the security of the United States.  This action led to the death of over 4,000 U.S. soldiers, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and a cost to the American taxpayer of $1.9 trillion dollars.

He supported Medicare Part D in November 2003.  Senator Allen advocated the expansion of federal government meddling in the health care industry by voting for passage of the Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act.  From where in the Constitution does the federal government derive such authority?

He supported raising the debt ceiling.  Over the span of his six years in office, George Allen voted to raise the debt ceiling not once, not twice, but four times.  How is repeatedly driving this country further into debt the mark of a fiscal conservative?

Lastly, one of the defining marks of a limited government conservative is to actually eliminate unneeded, wasteful, or unconstitutional government.  How many federal programs did George Allen eliminate or try to eliminate while serving as our Senator?  Can you name just one of any substance?  I sorely wish that I could.

It is true that there are some good conservatives that voted the wrong way on one of these issues.  One area of disagreement typically shouldn’t scuttle a politician.  However, the fact that George Allen is on the wrong side of each of them is particularly troubling.  Although some of my Republican friends may think openly questioning George Allen’s record tantamount to treason, shouldn’t we resolve these matters now, before both the primary and the general election?

Last week, I heard that conservatives should support Allen because he has learned from his mistakes and now shares our values.  I haven’t seen sufficient evidence to back up this claim and thus I don’t really believe George Allen 2011 is much different from George Allen 2006.  Need proof?

If you will recall, from my article on May 27th of this year, I wrote each Republican candidate for Senate asking, “therefore, as a Republican candidate seeking to represent us in the United States Senate, the burning question on my mind is, if elected, what federal programs, agencies, or departments will you work to eliminate?”  Although George Allen stated that he planned to streamline a number of agencies and programs, unlike the other candidates he did not mention completely eliminating anything with the exception of Obamacare which is important, but not nearly enough.  Read my article and decide for yourself.

Now some people will point to Tuesday’s news of supposedly 100 tea party individuals who have endorsed George Allen’s campaign.  Although I’m certain a handful of partiers will do so, it is becoming apparent that this claim is a hoax.  From what I’ve read, quite a few of the people listed did not give their blessing and some of the people on the list aren’t even associated with the tea party.  The Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation, of which I am a member, released a statement dispelling the claims of the Allen camp.

Nevertheless, I’d very much like to join with my friends and elected representatives who have endorsed George Allen.  After all, Virginia needs a strong conservative voice who will stand up for the Constitution, our principles, and the people of the Commonwealth; we need a man or woman with strong convictions who will do what is right even if that means sometimes standing against the President and his or her own party.  Given his track record from 2000-2006, like so many people in the tea party movement, I’m just not convinced the George Allen is the suitable person for the job.

Sure, George Allen has more than established his credentials with the officeholders, but that fact alone doesn’t win either the GOP nomination or the general election.  The challenge for both George Allen and his campaign is to prove to the tea parties, conservatives, Republicans, and average Virginians that he is the most principled candidate.  Despite what some outlets are reporting, so far, they have not succeeded in doing so.

I prized my A Team pin when it received back in 2006, but I guess it will continue to gather dust.  How unfortunate.

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On Friday, Washington Examiner and President of the Young Conservatives Coalition Christopher Malagisi wrote an article concerning Ron Paul’s and Gary Johnson’s recent participation in the South Carolina’s Republican Presidential Debate.  I encourage you to read his piece for yourself.  To follow is my commentary on it.

As you can tell from the title of my work, I believe that Malagisi’s conclusions are just flat out wrong.  He starts out claiming that the Republican Party is a three-legged stool, a merging of libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-communists.  Unfortunately, in this article, we are left with only inadequate assumptions of what he means by these terms.  However, if we look to one of his earlier posts, we find that he lists them as “1.) Classical Liberals – who believe in a limited government, individual liberty, and free markets; 2.) Traditionalists – who believe in preserving our traditional values and heritage; and 3.) Anti-Communists – who believe in a strong national defense.”   Although I would shy away from using the phrase “anti-communist” because I think it is outdated and has little real significance since the collapse of the Soviet Union, I believe he is spot on regarding this fusion of political ideologies within the party.

After this one salient point, Malagisi’s work devolves into fairly mindless bashing of Paul and Johnson for embracing this libertarian or “classical liberal” wing.  He claims that both men are more suited to be Democrats rather than Republicans because they don’t support the war on terror or imposed moral standards coming out of Washington D.C.  Doesn’t it seem strange that Malagisi admits there are three legs of the party, while at the same time seeking to saw off one entirely?  Although this news may come as a shock to those who lack either common sense or a basic understanding of physics, but this two-legged stool that Malagisi seems to be advocating cannot stand.

But Joshua, Chris implies that Ron Paul doesn’t want to defend our country.  Oh really?  Is it possible that one can be in favor of a robust defense while at the same time opposing undeclared wars, imperialism, and nation building?  If he is so “anti-national defense”, why did Paul receive more donations than any other candidate during the Republican nomination process in 2007-08, including former military veteran John McCain?

OK, I guess, but what about his claim that Ron Paul wants to erode our social values through destroying traditional marriage and legalizing heroin. Wrong again.  What Ron Paul has consistently advocated is taking power away from politicians and bureaucrats in the nation’s capital and returning this power to the states.  Just because we want the federal government to do one thing or another, doesn’t that desire allow us to circumvent the Constitution?  After all, are we not a nation of laws?

Let’s look at the question in another light.  To use Virginia as an example, who has defended our Judeo-Christian values better, D.C. or Richmond?  Which has produced greater restrictions on abortion?  Which has enshrined the traditional definition of marriage in its constitution?  Under federalism, conservative states, like Virginia, can offer their citizens a more upright society, while more liberal states, like Nevada or Vermont, provide outlets for sins of the flesh.  Is your state too liberal or conservative?  The proper remedy is to lobby your elected officials in your state capitol or move to a state more suited to your point of view rather than ram your social values, or lack thereof, down the throats of every citizen of the U.S. of A.

Those points aside, Malagisi then goes on to discuss the three most recent Republican nominees for President as “proper Republicans”.  But were they?  I maintain that Bob Dole and John McCain lost, not because they weren’t Republican enough (whatever that supposedly means), but because they could not appeal to all three kinds of Republicans.  Specifically, they were neither conservative nor libertarian enough.  As Malagisi points out, one of the reasons Bush won was that he advocated “a non-nation building approach”, an idea that resonated with most Republicans, like Paul and Johnson, who were weary of the multitude of Clintonesque adventures.  Then again, we saw how long Bush held true to these ideals.

Both Paul and Johnson are a welcome change to the current Republican politicians as usual who advocate a blend of fiscal irresponsibility, moral pandering absent any real commitment for meaningful legislation, wars without end, and the shredding of our Constitution.  Now, I will admit that Johnson is too libertarian for my tastes, after all, I am a social conservative.  However, with the recent debate as a guide, I would support him over Rick Santorum.  Although Santorum and I agree on many social issues, his statements in the debate lead me to fear that he would support an agenda more akin to fascism than liberty.

Despite what you may think from this post and others populating this blog, I am not a libertarian.  However, as a constitutional or paleo-conservative, I see libertarians as allies as we both seek to rein in the power of the federal government.  We can and do disagree on a number of social issues, like abortion and defending our borders, but the party should welcome these folks to counterbalance the Republicans who abandon any notion of limiting the power of government while Republicans reign.  After all, as the government continues to grow unabated, the greater fear is not having too much liberty, but having too little.  Still not convinced?  Remember that the idol of modern Republicanism, former President Ronald Reagan once said that, “the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism”.  If we punt Paul and Johnson off the team, we lose those whom Malagisi himself calls the first leg of Republicanism and, like in 1996 and 2008, the stool will collapse.

As Ron Paul’s viewpoints increase in popularity, it comes as no surprise that folks like Malagisi bash him as being a Democrat, even though such claims lack any merit.  Once you get beyond the surface, how many Democrats support reining in the power of the federal government, fiscal responsibility, a noninterventionist foreign policy, and states’ rights?  Can you name even one who embraces these platforms?  I maintain that unlike “mainstream” candidates, Ron Paul is a blend of all three legs of the Republican Party and should be treated likewise.  As I’ve explained above, shouldn’t Malagisi support Representative Paul given that the good doctor embodies Malagisi’s fundamental Republican principles of “individual freedom, limited government, free markets, a strong national defense, and preserving our traditional values and heritage”?

I would wager that either Malagisi is woefully ignorant of Paul and the conservative movement (unlikely) or he is a neoconservative who longs for the return to big government Republicanism.  Either way, I encourage my fellow traditional conservatives and libertarians to steer clear of his poisonous rhetoric.  Although he is welcome to his opinions, given his current political position, I fear how many other potential allies will become unknowingly tainted by his misguided and baseless words.

Update:  Fellow Jeffersoniad blogger Rick Sincere offers his take on Malagisi’s article here.

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Earlier today, political commentator and former Clinton consultant Dick Morris briefly appeared on Peter Schiff’s radio program.  Before I make a couple of brief comments, you should listen to the exchange.  I think you’ll find it interesting.

First of all, I find it strange that Mr. Morris doesn’t want to discuss the issue that Mr. Schiff brings up.  Instead, his only concern seems to be peddling his newest book.  Now why is the world would you be interested in reading his book about Obama’s supposed socialism if the author is unwilling to talk about the facets of this issue?

Second, Dick Morris makes a rather startling suggestion.  “We should drug test every high school student”?  Unlike the libertarians, I don’t believe that the solution to the drug problem in this country is to legalize every drug; however, I do strongly believe that such issues should be left to the states, not the bureaucrats in Washington.  Nevertheless, like Schiff, I don’t believe that drug testing every student is a policy that is responsible, cost effective, constitutional, or conservative.

Now some people make the claim that “if you’ve done nothing wrong then you’ve got nothing to hide”, but such an attitude is harmful to the liberty of the citizenry.  After all, I’m proud to say that I never took drugs while in high school.  However, even though I was clean and thus “had nothing to hide”, a school testing every student without probable cause is a gross violation of the privacy of the student.  Although I have heard that some people engage in these activities in the bathrooms, is installing cameras in these bathrooms a suitable response?  Yes, I’m sure it would cut down on illicit actions, but is it worth this “big brother” style invasion?  I’d like to think most rational people would say no.

So what is Dick Morris’ agenda?  As far as I can tell, it is only about making money through his books and getting more appearances on TV and radio to promote himself and his work.  It is hypocrisy to call Obama a socialist in one breath while you advocate a troubling big government solution just a few moments before.  Are the only two options left a big and intrusive government run by the Democrats (socialism) or a big and intrusive government run by the Republicans (fascism)?  Fortunately, there are a growing number of activists, libertarians and conservatives alike, who are working to purge the GOP of this Dick Morris style mindset.

Apparently I’ve got it all wrong.  Maybe if I just pretend to be a conservative and spend time with prostitutes I too will get a gig on TV.  Hey, it worked for Morris.

Thanks to Chris for alerting me to this video.

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Today, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky gave his first speech on the Senate floor.  In it, he recalls the actions and attitudes of two Kentuckians, The Great Compromiser Henry Clay, and his less well-known cousin, Cassius Clay.  Paul encourages the listener to ponder the following thought; is it better to compromise and achieve greater success or is it better to stand firm to your principles?

Again as this speech highlights, Senator Paul stands for so many important principles like: liberty, fiscal responsibility and Constitutional restraint.  As I’ve said multiple times, I believe that in order to achieve any real reform in this nation, we must elect more leaders like Senator Paul and his father.  Compromise is sometimes needed, but we must never compromise our cherished ideals for the sake of petty political power and selfishness.

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As a follow-up to my two-year-old post, “The 31 Flavors of Conservatism“, I just found a nifty little quiz that seeks to answer the question, what kind of conservative are you?  It’s only eight questions long, but as it covers a broad range of issues and includes a good number of choices, it should give you a pretty accurate answer.  Hopefully your response, like mine, will read,

“Congratulations!

You are Most Likely a Paleoconservative!”

So, go check it out for yourself! The quiz is part of U.S. conservative politics on about.com.

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