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Archive for December, 2010

As part of my study of political philosophy while at William & Mary, we read a few of the works of Niccolo Machiavelli.  Although The Prince is his best-known treatise, you should know that Machiavelli was a man of many talents; he was also a poet and a playwright.  Sunday evening, I reread his play Mandragola.  Much like his philosophical work, Mandragola is infused with deeper meanings and revelations about mankind.

Unfortunately Mandragola is a depressing tale.  None of the characters in his play are moral; each is scheming for some personal gain at the expense of his or her neighbors or relatives.  For example, the main character, Callimaco lusts after the wife of an older man of Florence.  In order to achieve his goal, he devises an elaborate scheme to trick Nicia, the old fellow, into willingly opening his bedchamber to Callimaco’s interloping.  Nicia, who desires offspring more than anything else, assumes he is sacrificing the life of an innocent bystander in order to gain a child.  Timoteo, a priest of the city, goes along with any devious plan if at the end of it he will make financial gains.  Lucrezia, Nicia’s wife, while originally seeming virtuous, secretly breaks her marriage vows for the sake of her new lover.  Although each character puts forth a seemingly honorable face with the best of intentions toward those they are trying to deceive, we, as the audience who have heard their inner thoughts, know their true wickedness.

As I believe was the case with The Prince, Machiavelli weaves this tale not to say this is necessarily how people should act, but rather, when left to their own devices, this is how people will act.  Another common thread with The Prince is the underlying theme that fortune favors the bold.  Consider again the character Callimaco.  Rather than sit around moping about the love that can never be his, he instead acts quickly and decisively to acquire the object of his affection.  Thus, those who are daring are far more likely to achieve their objectives than those who act timidly.  Obviously, as a social conservative, I cannot condone his actions, but they do serve some practical value mostly as a warning.  One should never simply assume that humans would always act in the spirit of charity, honesty, and virtue.  To blindly assume nobility of your comrades and associates is a recipe for your own disaster.

Although all areas of human interaction can fall prey to this callous dishonesty, they are typically most frequent and recognizable in the areas of politics and religion, which I believe Machiavelli knew all too well.  This work plumbs the dark recesses of the human soul.  Personally, I have witnessed many cases of one person crushing another beneath his or her feet in order to achieve wealth, status, power, or the attentions of another.  The temptation is always present, always gnawing at the corners of your soul.  I wonder how many folks, while in midstep, look down and recoil in horror at the act which they have willing committed, the person on whom they have trampled in the quest for personal glory.  I suppose each step that one takes makes the following one that much easier.

Mandragola can be viewed in many differing lights.  It can be a grim caution against deception, a manual on how to succeed no matter the cost, or a woeful tale of the greed and corruption of society and the church.  Read the play and decide for yourself.  Although compared to the works of Shakespeare, it is exceedingly brief, but a careful reader can draw much from its pages.  No doubt that The Prince is a far more valuable work in terms of political philosophy; nevertheless, for all of the reasons stated above, once you have exhausted that text, I encourage you to take the hour or so needed to explore Machiavelli’s Mandragola.

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Used with permission from the office of Rep. Garrett

Despite being a New York Giants fan, I have often jokingly stated that there is very little to like about New Jersey, especially when it comes to New Jersey politicians.  Given the traditionally moderate to exceedingly liberal nature of the state, coupled with regular cries of corruption, it is not difficult to understand why conservatives would frown upon New Jersey politics.  As an infrequent visitor to the state, I’m appalled by the vast number of toll roads and the fact that one is forced to pay someone else to fill up your gas tank.  Although fairly recently elected Governor Chris Christie has captured the hearts and hopes of a few conservatives I know, might I suggest you take a closer look at another New Jersey leader?  Just north and west of East Rutherford (where the Giants play), you will find New Jersey’s fifth congressional district, home to Representative Scott Garrett.

To be fair, I stumbled upon Representative Garrett completely by accident.  While unsuccessfully searching for a congressional staffer several years ago, I came across Mr. Garrett.  Let me tell you that the more I read about Mr. Garrett, the more I liked him.  As an example, let me summarize a few of his recent interest group ratings as listed on Project Vote Smart: 0% from Planned Parenthood, 100% from National Right to Life, 0% from Americans for the Arts Action Fund, 93% from the American Taxpayers Union, 92% from Citizens Against Government Waste, 95% from Freedom Works, 100% from the American Conservative Union, 91% from Gun Owners of America…and the list goes on.  One can clearly tell from these ratings that on a number of key issues Rep. Garrett and I agree. As Wikipedia puts it, “Garrett is by far the most conservative member of the New Jersey delegation, and one of the most conservative members ever to represent the state in Congress.”

But that’s not all.  In yesterday’s Washington Times, we learn that Representative Garrett just sponsored a bill that would require each piece of congressional legislation to cite where in the Constitution such action is authorized.  For an ardent 10th Amendment supporter like myself, I eagerly welcome such legislation.  Only by obeying the restrictions set forth in Constitution will we ever hope to restrain the increasingly grotesque power expansion in Washington.  Assuming that the Republican leadership takes the words of their A Pledge to America seriously, they should stand behind Garrett’s efforts.  After all, the pledge states, “We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”  I would recommend that you write your Representative to encourage him or her to support this effort.

Although he did not become the next Speaker of the House as I suggested in my article from November 3, 2010, I strongly believe that Representative Garrett is a man who deserves support and recognition, especially from like-minded activists.  Take a look and I’m sure that you will agree.  Once you do, “like” him on Facebook so you can keep tabs on his efforts.  As a final thought, given that only one of my Facebook friends currently likes Rep. Scott Garrett, I do have to wonder if the rest of my friends have taken the time to discover this New Jersey conservative.  Don’t you think you should?

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I held a social gathering for young conservatives in downtown Harrisonburg this past Thursday.  Why would I hold such an event, you might ask?  Well, with the notable exception of the College Republicans, not too many folks under the age of 30 take much of an interest in politics.  For example, at the last meeting of the Harrisonburg Republican Party, I was the youngest person in the room.  Although I don’t know how many people were more youthful than I at the last Tea Party meeting, I assure you that I was well below the median age…by at least ten years.  I get it.  Most people are not like I once was, a fifteen-year-old high school student champing at the bit to do his civic duty to improve his government.  Nevertheless, citizens should take an active interest because the government affects so many facets of life.  But let’s get back to our gathering…

I arrived at the library a few minutes after 6:00 PM but was dismayed to discover that the close parking lots were full.  Therefore, I had to park on the next block away.  Normally this setback wouldn’t be too troubling but, given that I had to haul multiple heavy items such as two gallons of tea, two gallons of water, and several boxes of cookies, I found the multiple treks to and from my car to be quite taxing.  The first guest to arrive was Mr. Mellott, a writer for the Daily News Record.  I was pretty surprised to see him because I didn’t think the local news would take much notice of my humble operation.  His presence made me a bit nervous, not because I have any objection to attention from the media, in fact I welcome it, but rather I was worried that the event would be sparsely attended and therefore reflect poorly on me.  Next to arrive was a handful of members of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  Although they too were not in my expected age range, I greatly appreciated their company especially their willingness to help me set up the room and return the items to my car upon the conclusion of the event.

All in all, about twenty people showed up to the gathering.  We had a handful of people from the Young Republicans, the James Madison University College Republicans, Luis (a great guy who is very spirited about the cause), and even a few volunteers from Corey Stewart’s The Rule of Law Campaign. Even though I had prepared a few brief remarks for the crowd, I never had the opportunity to speak given that people came and went as they pleased.  I don’t believe that more than ten people were in the room in any given moment.  Then again, perhaps it was for the best.  After all, the event wasn’t for me, but for everyone.

Overall, the meeting was both a disappointment and a success.  It was a disappointment because, with the exception a few of the JMU CRs, I didn’t get to meet any new 18 to 40 year old conservatives.  I didn’t bring in any new blood.  By contrast, my unexpected accomplishment was the opportunity to spend a good bit of one-on-one time talking to the leaders of the local Tea Party.  Although, in general, they are both considerably older than I and don’t have nearly the experience in politics, it is refreshing to hear about and witness their dedication and vigor in support of our shared conservative principles.

Let me take the opportunity to infuse this post with a bit of political encouragement.  Don’t believe the lies.  One person can make a difference in politics, regardless of age or experience.  You are not alone.  Never forgot that there are many conservatives, just like you, out toiling in the trenches to promote our ideology.  But you should join a group.  Whether it is the College Republicans, Young Republicans, City or County Republicans, your local Tea Party, or something else, find activists who believe the same as yourself.  After all, while one person can carry away heavy stones, a multitude can move an entire mountain.

I guess in retrospect, I should have expanded my invitation for the event to conservatives of all ages.  It just would be nice to meet a few more unattached conservative young women.  Anyway, next time I hold a social event, I really hope you can join me.

In liberty!

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We all know that the federal government’s takeover of healthcare is unquestionably unconstitutional.  Now I know that some liberals out there disagree, therefore I ask you to show me where this authority is spelled out in the enumerated powers.  If you cannot do so, then Obamacare must be repealed.  After all we must always remember that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Oh, that darn pesky 10th Amendment.

Nevertheless, as we wait for the multitude of state lawsuits to proceed through the judicial system, we should take a bit of time to understand what Obamacare means and how it could impact our lives.  Fortunately, our friends at Americans For Limited Government are taking the time to wade through the impact of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the official name of Obamacare).  They’ve recently created a new website http://obamacarewatcher.org/ to uncover many of the pitfalls hidden within this liberal feel good legislation.

Despite the claims of some big government Republicans, nationalized healthcare doesn’t need to be replaced or reformed, but repealed completely and the idea thrown on the ash heap of history.  This ridiculous folly mocks the concept of liberty, the notion of individualism, and ultimately undermines the true spirit of America.  As we work toward this goal, I strongly encourage reading more on Obamacare Watcher so that you can learn the truth for yourself.

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Just wanted to remind everyone that our conservative meet-up is scheduled for this evening.  For those who have forgotten, the details are as follows:

Who:  Conservatives of all stripes: Fiscal, Social, and Constitutional

(Ages 18 to 40)

What:  Social Gathering

When:  Thursday, December 2

7:00 PM to 8:00PM

Where: Downtown Harrisonburg

Massanutten Regional Library

174 South Main Street

Main Room

Hope to see you there!

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