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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Paul’

Good evening friends in liberty.

I hope that this message finds you doing well.  I would like to write each and every one of you today but as there are so many folks within the liberty movement whom I do not yet know, I thought it best to craft this blanket letter on my blog.

As you may know, here in Virginia we will be holding an election for governor in less than a month.  On our ballot we have three choices, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis.  This election has been a cause for concern in Republican circles for many as a victory which ought to have been a clear and easy task for Cuccinelli is seeming less certain or even quite unlikely as the days progress.

In response, last Friday former Representative Ron Paul came out and endorsed Cuccinelli.  As you may also know, several fairly high profile leaders in the Virginia liberty movement have recently done so as well.

Now, the goal of this letter is not to address the merits or downfalls of Cuccinelli, but rather the state of the liberty movement, especially the liberty movement in Virginia.  Looking back at my own circumstances, I joined this cause not to seek personal glory or to command a large army of followers, but to promote our shared political principles that we think ought to be advanced in Virginia and the nation.  I suspect that many of you can relate to this motivation.  However, as this gubernatorial election proceeds, I am growing concerned about the direction of the effort.

Let me ask you several important questions.  What is the purpose of the liberty movement?  Is it to rally behind an icon, following every word Ron Paul (or his representatives both past and present) speaks without question?  I should certainly hope that the answer is no.  Don’t get me wrong, I likely have as much or more respect for Dr. Paul than just about anyone.  However, I would argue though that the larger purpose of this movement is to promote greater political awareness, to enhance ideology, and the ability to think and reason, rather than some kind of blind obedience.  Although in the early stages I would have been delighted to wear a bracelet asking “What would Ron Paul do?” I’d like to think that I have moved beyond that rudimentary point, that Paul (along with others) has helped push me in the direction that I can independently come to the understanding of what is best for the cause of liberty.  I hope that all of us can  come to this kind of thinking.  Does that mean that I won’t make mistakes?  No.  Does that mean that Ron Paul is faultless?  Surely not!  No one, especially in the realm of politics, is always correct or perfect.

As many of you know, I am a former employee of Dr. Paul; I had the honor of serving as his Director of Grassroots Organization for the State of South Carolina in 2007 & 2008.  Before some rather unfortunate misunderstandings and miscommunications, I was slated to work for Dr. Paul again in 2011 & 2012.  As such, I have been actively promoting the principles of liberty for at least the past six years.  Does that role make me better than you?  Does it mean that I can speak with authority for the entire liberty movement here in Virginia?  Of course not!  Rather it serves as a reflection of my longstanding dedication to the cause.

Friends, when it comes to this election, if you value liberty there are quite a few reasons why you ought to vote for Ken Cuccinelli and there are quite a few reasons why you ought to vote for Robert Sarvis.  My purpose at this point is not to tell you whom you should support, but rather encourage you to carefully study the choices and, with a well-reasoned and well-researched argument, be able to understand and articulate your position.  And, if somehow you come to the conclusion that Terry McAuliffe is the most pro-liberty candidate, then follow your heart.  (Though I’d be very interested to hear how you came to this idea).  Yes, this means that some of us will support Cuccinelli while others rally behind Sarvis.  But the liberty folks in each camp would do well not to vilify those in the other lest the rift grow even wider.  Our detractors would love to see us fail; let us not destroy ourselves.

Make no mistake, the election in Virginia is very important.  But no matter how it shakes out, whether it is a stunning victory or a crushing defeat for one side or another, the liberty movement can and must continue.  Leadership in any cause is important and I hope to continue to offer you thoughts to ponder as we continue to make this journey together.

But, to restate my major point, please take the time to reason, think, and understand.  Sure, it’s easy to follow the leader, but it is far more important to our cause to comprehend the ideology behind it all.  How can we say that we support liberty and personal responsibility in all facets of life if we do not embrace them ourselves in the political arena?  To borrow a quote from LeVar Burton I heard many times in my childhood, “you don’t have to take my word for it.”

In liberty!

Joshua Huffman

Author of The Virginia Conservative

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Moments ago, former Virginia Campaign for Liberty Director Donna Holt posted on Facebook that today Ron Paul has endorsed Ken Cuccinelli to be Virginia’s next governor.  Paul previously endorsed Cuccinelli for his attorney general run back in 2009.

Here is a pdf of Ron Paul’s Endorsement of Ken Cuccinelli.  Thanks to Robert Kenyon for the file.

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Yesterday, fellow blogger Willie Deutsch posted a 2012 campaign piece in which Susan Stimpson joins Bill Howell in urging voters to support George Allen for the United States Senate in the June 12th Republican primary.  This information, along with a host of other adventures once again begs the question, who is Susan Stimpson?

Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum

Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum

I first had the opportunity to hear Susan Stimpson at last year’s Ron Paul Legacy Dinner in Staunton, Virginia.  At the time, I thought the list of speakers for the event was rather curious.  After all, I only know of two recent candidates who sought or are seeking either statewide or federal office that have openly supported Ron Paul: these are Karen Kwiatkowski (who sought the 6th district GOP nomination) and Delegate Bob Marshall (who ran for Senate in 2008 and 2012).  Although it is quite easy to support the cause of liberty when it is politically advantageous, it is quite another issue entirely to stand on principle regardless of the potentially negative consequences.  Although Stimpson was unknown to many liberty activists, there is no question that she gained considerable traction through her appearance at this dinner.

There seemed to be an increasing avalanche of support for Stimpson among the liberty community.  However, I have urged and continue to urge my fellow activists to learn about all of the candidates before blindly hopping on any bandwagon.

So who is Susan Stimpson?  I’m still not sure, but one moment that sticks out in my mind took place during the forum at Liberty in Lynchburg.  When asked if she supported random drug testing for welfare recipients, she stated that she did.  As someone who considers himself a constitutional conservative, I found this answer to be particularly troubling for two reasons conveniently voiced by Pete Snyder and Senator Steve Martin.  First, as Mr. Snyder pointed out, these drug screenings would be a considerable invasion of privacy.  Although I do not have any fondness for a permanent welfare program, I’m horrified about the prospect of granting the state more power to control its citizens.  The second concern, mentioned by Senator Martin is one of cost.  How would the state be able to afford to drug test recipients?  Wouldn’t such a move require additional state employees and equipment?  From where would these funds come?  Would the move require additional taxes or cuts in more important programs?

Yesterday’s information from Willie Deutsch brings the question of Susan Stimpson into the forefront again.  Is she the liberty candidate?  Is she the rebellious conservative outsider?  Or is she, as Shaun Kenney over at Bearing Drift suggests, an establishment conservative?  Now don’t get me wrong, if a candidate could successfully wear the mantles of both being an establishment Republican while simultaneously viewed as a liberty-minded libertarian/conservative, he or she would likely enjoy tremendous success.  But is such a designation possible or is it merely a shell game that, if discovered, would result in utter disaster, alienating both wings of the Republican Party?

Scott Lingamfelter recently damaged his chances to win over liberty activists with his negative comments about Ron Paul supporters.  But, to the best of my knowledge, he has never claimed to be the “conservative/liberty candidate”.  By comparison, if Stimpson turns out to be merely an establishment candidate who adopted the clothing of liberty for political advantage, the fallout from such a realization would almost certainly be fatal to her campaign.

As a personal note, I must say that it is an extremely liberating feeling to have not selected a candidate yet, to be able to examine all of the candidates as objectively as I can without worrying if this process offends them or causes my employer or co-workers to view me unfavorably.

So, we return to our first question.  Who is Susan Stimpson?  Is she the liberty champion that many of my fellow Ron Paul supporters are selling her to be?  Or is she something else?  Either way, it is unwise to either rush to praise her or condemn her.

Regardless of your political principles, I once again encourage all of the activists seeking to be delegates to the Richmond convention in May to get informed, stay informed, and to share any and all information that they find.  Don’t simply adopt my opinion or the opinion of someone else.  Sure, it takes time, but do the research for yourself.

Lastly, don’t mistakenly think that the main purpose of this article is to disparage Susan Stimpson, but rather to promote awareness.  After all, who knows?  Once all of the dust settles, and I have sufficient data, I may find myself firmly in her camp, assuming her principles closely match my own and her campaign does a decent job articulating her message.  Remember, it is okay to trust, but you must also verify.

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On Monday, in response to the death of Chris Kyle, Ron Paul offered the following thoughts on Twitter: “Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense”.  To give a bit of back-story for those who are unaware, in an attempt to help ease his friend’s posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from his experiences in the military, Chris brought Eddie Routh to a shooting range.  While there, Routh killed both Kyle and another man.

Regardless of the medical wisdom or folly of taking a PTSD victim shooting, Paul’s comments were horribly offensive and callous.  After all, when a tragedy such as this incident occurs, about the worst response a person can offer is, “see, I told you so!”

Ron Paul later tweeted, “As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad…” If Paul had offered this second statement in place of the first, there would have been no great public outcry, but instead he solidly wedged his foot in his mouth and, as he is seen by many to be the father of the liberty movement, his words helped weaken the momentum that he has been instrumental in developing.

Tuesday, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican candidate seeking to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia, wrote a response repudiating Ron Paul’s comments.  In truth, I agree with a lot of what he says.  For example, his paragraph that states, “Not only was Chris a hero on the battlefield but he was a hero at home.  When Chris realized a hometown veteran was suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he once again answered the call of duty.  This time, not as a sniper, but as a friend, helping a fellow warrior who suffered mental wounds from the field of battle” was particularly poignant.

However, Delegate Lingamfelter then went on to make a number of comments that are terribly odious to those of us who, despite his unfortunate gaffe, still hold Ron Paul in exceedingly high regard.  He stated, “It sickens me that our party — the party of Reagan — could put on a Republican stage a candidate who holds our party, our process, our principles and our nation in such utter contempt.”  The delegate concluded,As expected, Senator Rand Paul tried to paper over his father’s words.  Don’t you believe it. Today, everyone who ever has served in the military knows exactly what Dr. Paul and some of his supporters think about our country.”

Here are my thoughts on the matter.  Lingamfelter is right to be upset at Paul.  But his remark stating that it is sickening that Paul had a national stage is completely uncalled for and an insult that I had to repeatedly endure from rank and file Republicans when I had the honor of working for Dr. Paul in South Carolina during the 2008 campaign.  Oh, Ron Paul is out of touch with the modern GOP.  His ideas about the Constitution and liberty are antiquated and Republicans ought to embrace the notion of a strong federal government.  He and his supporters are nothing more than a bunch of crackpot conspiracy theorists that shouldn’t be allowed to speak.  I heard all of these arguments and many more like them and appreciate them as much now as I did then.

If I had the chance to speak directly to Delegate Lingamfelter, I’d say yes, I do know what Dr. Paul thinks about our country for his thoughts mirror many of the same ones that I hold.  He has fought diligently to restore our liberty during his time in office, not because his holds his fellow citizens in disdain, but because he knows the history of our nation, the great promise that it once held, and the bright future that our people and our country deserve to enjoy.  And like you sir, he loved America enough to serve in our armed forces when called.

Ron Paul is not perfect and you are quite justified to call him out if and when he blurts out stupid or heartless comments, but, to be frank sir, I’ll be damned if you think I’ll sit quietly by if you or anyone else attempts to completely eradicate his legacy and his supporters from the national scene, state politics, or our political party.  As mentioned in a previous post, I thought you performed excellently at the Lynchburg debate.  Given the conservative values I heard you articulate there, I sincerely hope that you will not simply dismiss my fellow Ron Paul advocates and me, thus squandering any chance to connect to the liberty wing of the Republican Party.

In times of tragedy such those surrounding the unfortunate death of Chris Kyle, emotions run high and it is easy to speak without thinking.  Whether his medical advice was proper or not, Ron Paul ought to be rebuked for the insensitive comments he made on Monday.  In addition, however well meaning he sought to be, due to his over the top response that could alienate some libertarians and conservatives, Scott Lingamfelter should be admonished as well.

Update: This morning, after several articles on this topic were written, one on this blog and another on the Mason Conservative, Delegate Lingamfelter offered the following response on his Facebook page.

First, I do not oppose participation of anyone in the Republican Party who will stand firmly by our Creed. I am a Reagan Republican, period. And if you agree with the leadership model he advanced, I am eager that you join the ranks.

My point about Ron Paul is this. What he said was dead wrong. And frankly I am pleased he even recognized this by clarifying his hurtful and disrespectful comments about Chris. Here is what he said after hearing from many people all across the nation, even from his own supporters.

“As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle’s family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies. –REP”

Nobody—particularly a veteran—wants to fight a war that does not have both the legal and moral authority of the people. But a soldier’s duty is to the oath he or she takes. You can make the clear points on fighting wars on a constitutional basis without bringing scorn on those who do and are ready to give “the last full measure of devotion”.

I want our party to be the conservative party for America. And we can’t do that by insulting veterans when they die tragically, like Chris. Would Reagan have done that? Would Reagan have been silent with respect to these comments? Not a chance. I spoke out knowing it would upset some folks. But I will never stand by quietly when our veterans are spoken of in the manner we have heard in the last 24 hours. No way.

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Huckbee, ClintonWhile sorting some old papers today, I came across this item from the 2008 Republican presidential primaries.  Although I don’t believe that this flyer was ever distributed to the public, it is likely one of the most amusing pieces of literature to come out of the Ron Paul campaign.

To offer a bit of background regarding its creation, in early 2008, there was a fear that Mike Huckabee would emerge as the Republican nominee.  After all, Mr. Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses with a strong plurality, 34% to second place Mitt Romney’s 25%.  Rush Limbaugh echoed this concern when he said, “I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys (Huckabee or McCain) get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.”  If Huckabee could capture the socially conservative South Carolina, that win would provide him with considerable momentum and could propel him to victories in future contests.

The image is priceless.  If you recall, Mike Huckabee served as the 44th governor of Arkansas while Bill Clinton was the 42nd.  The picture suggests that Huckabee, looking for guidance, turns to his predecessor and is rewarded with a smirk and a thumbs up thus giving him the Clinton seal of approval.  Given that many social conservatives viewed Huckabee favorably, if one were to tie him to the morally bankrupt Clinton, it may cause many of them to have second thoughts about supporting him in the South Carolina primary.

Unfortunately for the Paul campaign, due to the previous poor results of Iowa (where he finished fifth), New Hampshire (another fifth place finish), Michigan (where he finished fourth), and the one bright spot of Nevada (where he claimed second), it seemed highly unlikely that Ron Paul would be able to post huge numbers in the next contest, South Carolina.  Therefore, if Paul couldn’t win the state, one theory emerged to work to weaken one of the candidates who might win the state (in this case Huckabee).  Doing so could prolong the process and allow Ron Paul to gain a much needed victory in a later state.

At the end of the day, John McCain defeated Mike Huckabee to capture the lion’s share of the delegates from South Carolina.  Although Huckabee did end up winning a handful of southern and border states in later contests, his defeat in South Carolina likely eliminated any chance that he had of becoming the Republican nominee.

Although the piece pictured at the beginning of this article would have had no effect on the outcome in the 2008 South Carolina primary as it was not distributed, it does highlight the growing fear, at the time, of a Huckabee nomination.  It is simply another interesting tidbit of our political history.

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IMG_1630Last night, former Representative Ron Paul spoke to a packed room in Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  The building held about 500 while another location was set up nearby to provide live video feed for those unable to fit inside.  The Contact Committee, the W&L Politics Department, and the W&L College Republicans sponsored the event.

Starting at 9 AM the day before, Contact began giving out tickets to Tuesday’s event.  However, in a mere forty minutes, all 350 tickets allotted for early seating were claimed, leaving the multitude with the hope of snagging one of the remaining 150 seats prior to the event on a first come first serve basis.

Given Dr. Paul’s numerous contributions to the rise of the liberty movement, along with the work I did on his campaign staff in 2007/08, and the fact that this event marked his first visit to the Shenandoah Valley, I knew that I had to make every effort to attend.  As I arrived slightly too late to secure one of the early tickets on Monday morning, I left Harrisonburg at about 3:30 PM on Tuesday along with fellow activist and blogger Helen Shibut of the Madison Liberty blog.

Outside the chapel at 4:30 PM

Outside the chapel at 4:30 PM

A light rain marked our departure and it continued to be our constant companion as we traveled along Interstate 81 and into Lexington.  Surprisingly, the parking lot closest to the chapel still had a couple of spots open and so we were able to avoid a lengthy walk.  More shocking still had to be the number of people standing outside the chapel when we arrived.  Given how quickly the tickets were exhausted, I envisioned a lengthy line of people waiting until they could enter the building at 6 PM.  However, due, in part, to the poor weather, we were the 7th and 8th to enter.  Even though not in line at that time, there were others who were already there.  For example, Karen Kwiatkowski and a contingent of like-minded folks were lingering inside a nearby building until the time drew closer.

Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, and Cole Trower

Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, and Cole Trower

The weather continued to degrade, but the line grew steadily and by the time that the doors opened, one could not see from one end of the crowd to the other.  Although the announcement indicated that attendees would be unable to come in the building without semi-formal attire, several people in line wore casual clothing such as blue jeans; it is uncertain whether these folks were allowed admittance.

Dr. Paul’s entered the main floor of the chapel to thunderous applause shortly after 7 PM.  He spoke on a wide variety of topics important to the liberty movement including, but not limited to: a non-interventionist foreign policy, the need for a sound currency and the impending financial collapse, the importance of sticking to political principles, the proper role of government, and the constant erosion of our civil liberties.  After his speech, he fielded a number of questions from the audience regarding what political party best embodied his principles, the issue of abortion, religious freedom, and concerns regarding the investigation into 9/11.  The entire event lasted for a little less than an hour and a half.

IMG_1637All in all, I would rate Dr. Paul’s visit to Lexington as a success.  The only change that I would suggest would be a larger venue.  According to the various event notices posted on Facebook, W&L could have easily filled a space that was two, three, or even four times larger.  So then, why did they choose the chapel?  Well, there is no question that the location is picturesque and is steeped in history.  The basement formally served as the office for Robert E. Lee and presently holds his remains. In addition, I was told that when Washington & Lee hosted Rudi Giuliani some time earlier, they had considerable difficulty reaching the 500-person threshold.  But, such concerns were not necessary that night.  After all, as Ron Paul reminds us, freedom, much like Dr. Paul himself, is popular.

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Several months ago, I began to think of ways in which I could improve the political climate here in the Shenandoah Valley.  When I came up with the answer, it seemed so obvious.  Why not bring Representative Ron Paul to the area?  After all, there are a growing number of folks in the area, especially younger voters, like the students of James Madison University, that hold Dr. Paul in high regard.  In addition, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t been here in recent times; he didn’t have a campaign stop here during his presidential run in either 2007/08 or 2011/12.

PaulSo, with these thoughts in mind, I contacted Representative Paul’s office in order to arrange for him to speak in Harrisonburg.  Working in tandem with Madison Liberty, a JMU student group devoted to the principles of individual freedom and limited government, the idea of bringing Ron Paul to the Valley was transforming from a dream into a reality.  It was an exciting prospect!

And then came additional bits of favorable news.  The students of Madison Liberty secured a good location at JMU for Dr. Paul.  Plus, I was told that Ron Paul himself was interested in coming here.  I could get the necessary paperwork within days.  Only one hurdle remained.  Securing the funding for the event.

Now, I had expected that it would cost a good bit of money for Ron Paul to come to Harrisonburg.  One had to consider issues of transportation, lodging, and whatever he sought in the way of a speaker’s fee.  Nevertheless, I was stunned by the amount quoted to me.

As indicated by the title of this piece, I would need $55,000 for this event.  Yes, you read that figure correctly.  If he can make this kind of fee, then I suppose I can’t speak ill of it.  After all, free market principles dictate that he should charge whatever he is able to get.  Unfortunately, in the process, this kind of money will exclude many, myself included.  Part of me wishes that I could simply cut a check myself to cover the costs, but, like a vast majority of Americans, I don’t have $55,000 lying around.

Yes, perhaps my idea of bringing Dr. Paul to Harrisonburg might never amount to anything; a dream deterred.  Nevertheless, hope remains.

In closing, should any wealthy conservative and/or libertarian read this post and care to generously contribute to this project, please let me know.  Dr. Paul is and continues to be a hero to many of us in the liberty movement, myself included.  Is it too much to ask to share him with the fine folks of the Shenandoah Valley?  I suppose that’s the $55,000 question.

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