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Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

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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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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According to Real Clear Politics, Paul is averaging 8.2% in current polls.  During the primary season in 2008, he mustered around 6.5%.  Although a 1.7% increase might not sound like a whole lot, we should keep in mind that it is still early in the process.  Heck, did the average American even know Ron Paul’s name, much less understand his principles, four years ago?  After all, only during the primaries do most people actually take the time to learn anything about the candidates.  Therefore, I think it is fairly safe to say that the Ron Paul campaign is gathering momentum.

In ten days, August 13th, American politics will focus its attention on the city of Ames, Iowa.  Although not on the political radar often, the city is holding its sixth Republican presidential straw poll.  Last time around in 2007, Mitt Romney won with 31.6% of the vote while Ron Paul captured 9.2%.  This time, I would expect Rep. Paul to easily chart in the double digits.  However, regardless if he wins or finishes somewhere else, I feel I should add a few words of caution about reading too much into this straw poll.

First, it is a straw poll.  It is not binding and the only people allowed to vote are registered voters in Iowa who take the time and effort to show up in Ames.

Second, the winner of this poll does not always go on to win either the Presidency or the Republican nomination.  As mentioned, Mitt Romney won while John Sidney McCain placed a distant tenth in 2007.  In 1999 and 1995, the eventual Republican nominees emerged victorious (George W. Bush and Bob Dole), but back in 1987, Pat Robertson took first place.

Is the Ames poll important?  Yes, I think that all polls have some value and it might thin the field by weeding out minor candidates.  For example, after placing sixth in Ames back in 2007, Tommy Thompson withdrew.  Another factor to consider is that we should keep in mind that not every candidate chooses to campaign here.  Mitt Romney is not bothering with it this year as McCain did last time.

So what is the purpose of Ames?  Like any poll, it merely serves as a small sign of things to come.  I’d wager that if Ron Paul gets 11 to 12% of the vote here, then it will serve to boost his name ID and media presence significantly.  If he finishes below his 2007 total of 9.2%, then it means that the Ron Paul campaign must redouble its efforts.

Speaking from my personal circumstances, I do wonder if I’ll be given the chance to work for Dr. Paul as I did back in 2007/08.  Currently, I’m waiting to hear back regarding a handful of political opportunities, Paul’s campaign being among them.  Will Ames play a role in their decision?  Only time will tell.

Anyway, I encourage you to pay attention to the Ames straw poll.  It may or may not correctly forecast the winner, but either way it, along with the media spin to follow, should be fun to watch.

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When I talk to Republicans about Ron Paul these days, I often get the response, “well, I like him…except for his foreign policy.”  Fortunately, it is true that Ron Paul is gaining more acceptance and respect in Republican circles these days.  Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that they were extremely hostile.  Back in 2007-08 when I worked for Rep. Paul, some Republicans stated that they strongly disliked Dr. Paul strictly based on his foreign policy.

But are Ron Paul’s foreign policy positions really that farfetched?  For the record, he supports a humble foreign policy, which includes opposing: nation-building, wars that are undeclared, ill-defined, and/or humanitarian, spreading our troops thinly around the globe, and using our military as the world’s policemen.  I’m sure that every Republican, with the exception of the zealous neoconservative, could agree with at least part of his stance.

I’ll admit it.  Back in the 2000 elections, foreign policy was not the most important issue to me.  After all, we had (and still have) dire domestic concerns that require our attention.  What people X do in country Y is of little importance…so long as the lives, liberty, and property of American citizens is not directly harmed.  I believed then, as I still believe today, that the purpose of our government and our military is to protect our people, not to “liberate”, “depose”, or “make the world safe for democracy”.

Nevertheless, I did oppose Clinton’s actions in Somalia, Bosnia, and elsewhere.  So too did a majority of Republicans, including future President George W. Bush.  Think back to the words of George Bush during the 2000 campaign.

It is strange.  George Bush could speak against nation building back in 2000 and just about every Republican would applaud.  Ron Paul uses many of the same words today as Bush did then, and some of the same people would boo.  Did the words some how change their meaning?  Or has the GOP I remember abandoned its principles?

What happened to this President?  What happened to the Republican Party?  Regrettably, it seems that both George Bush and the GOP became casualties of the attacks of 9-11, morphing into something scarcely recognizable.

I say that it is time to reclaim the limited government advocating, Constitution supporting, humble foreign policy promoting GOP of 2000.  Of all of the candidates running or rumored to be running for president, there is only one who has a proven track record of supporting these principles tempered with a commitment to protect the unborn and guarding our borders.  That person, like George Bush, is a fellow Texan; Representative Ron Paul.

I want a return to the GOP I remember.  Heck, I want a return to the nation I remember before little old ladies and children were molested at airports in the name of security.  Let me tell you that if you liked the foreign policy principles of 2000 George W. Bush, chances are you’ll love Ron Paul.  Now don’t think that Ron Paul can change our country overnight; after all, a President is restrained by the Constitution.  Nevertheless, he can get it heading in the right direction again.  I hope you’ll join me in supporting him.

Ron Paul 2012!

Special thanks to Nick for sharing the above video.

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For those of you who spend time on Facebook, you may have noticed an ad with this picture

Image found on VoteiQ ad

asking “Where do you align?” Being the political junkie that I am, I immediately clicked on the link and filled out the survey.  The results were very disappointing.  On several issues, mainly foreign policy, the website claimed that I was a liberal.  As a result, I called the folks at Vote IQ to explain my objections to a few of the questions.  They sent me an email explaining their process, but they didn’t fully address my concerns.  Therefore, I replied with an admittedly rather hastily and passionately written return email which reads as follows:

Thank you for your email.  I suppose I should explain my objections to the quiz.

Unfortunately, on a number of questions, (3,5,7,11) a response labeled as conservative is not really conservative but instead it is neo-conservative response.  These two camps have battling for the heart and soul of the Republican Party for a number of years.  Now one may claim that any policy enacted by George W. Bush’s administration is “conservative” given that he is a Republican, however I believe that to be a rather short sighted approach.  For example, many of his actions, such as No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act, and the War in Iraq and against terrorism went against traditional conservative values.  Speaking to question #7, although we favor a strong national defense, very few conservatives support a limitless defense budget.  I’m sure we would support eliminating redundancies and outdated equipment especially given the growing national debt.

Turning to a personal level, for quite I have been fighting elements within the Republican Party who promote a vast increase in the size of government at the expense of the states and personal liberty.  Therefore it is rather disheartening to see you define these big government solutions as conservative.  Prior to Bush, recent history agrees.  With the exceptions of neo-conservatives, one only look to the reaction of conservatives during the Clinton era when we were fairly united against entangling foreign wars and nation building in Kosovo.  Back in the 1996 Presidential campaign, Republican Bob Dole spoke of ending the Department of Education.  Now, we have the Tea Parties.  Now some people think that the Tea Party movement sprang up solely in response to President Obama’s administration.  Such a viewpoint is shortsighted, as it is also partially a rejection of neo-conservatives who have vastly increased the power and scope of the national government without regard to the Constitution.

To state simply, conservatives prefer a smaller federal government who defers to state and local government, refrains from economic intervention, and allows for the enforcement of cultural and religious norms.  Although some conservatives (like neo-cons) support a robust foreign policy which involves the U.S. policing the world, such a viewpoint doesn’t represent historical conservatism, but rather adopts many of the same principles as Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat.  Now many liberals [are] against grand foreign entanglements too, but so are Paleoconservatives.

Lastly, to switch subjects, I wanted to comment on question #9.  As I’m not a doctor nor I have I researched the subject, I do not pretend to know the medical value of embryonic stem cell research.  I just oppose the process for ethical reasons.  Whether or not you think the process is valuable is not the key question, but rather do you support using stem cells for medical treatment.  Therefore, I would recommend changing the wording of this question.

Thank you for your time.  I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Several days ago, I received the following response:

Hi Joshua,

Reading over your thoughtful email this morning was a pleasure.
You have identified limits to the use of labels like liberal and conservative.
William Buckley 50 years ago said in UP FROM LIBERALISM that it is difficult to define conservatism and so it is.
The limitations of the labels and the values people assign to those labels is therefore in constant flux and dispute.
That is as it should be.  Were the labels to become fixed they would quickly become out of date and stale.
We took for our definitions the results of the Pew ideological poll of 2005.
It’s an imperfect approach; I don’t know what a perfect approach would look like.
The goal was to give our visitors something to chew on.  If this leads to a good discussion on Vote iQ, that would be terrific.
We’d welcome it.

You all should check out this website, but take their thoughts and labels with a grain of salt.  I believe that conservatives should always fight against the unconstitutional excesses of government both domestically and abroad.  Even though we must give a small portion of our liberty to the government, we cannot be overrun by fear into sacrificing our supposedly protected rights.  As Ben Franklin reminds us, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

It seems that we must continue to reclaim the mantle of true conservatism.  Neocons have had their day.  Even though we are still in the early stages, I’m hopeful that the age of the Tea Parties and the constitutional conservatives has come to stay.

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As an avid read of the blog would know, one of my major concerns has been to wrest control of the Republican Party away from the neo-conservatives who dominated policy during the presidency of George W. Bush.  I’m pleased to say that we are moving in the right direction.  With each passing day as a result of the legacy of Bush and the quagmire of Obama, more and more Americans reject the philosophy of the nanny state, government interference in the private sector, preemptive war, and the burden of military occupation while clamoring for more federalism and states rights.

Last night, the Southern Avenger posted a video that eloquently addresses the current ideological struggle and I encourage you to watch it.

What surprised me is that so many conservatives who despised the foreign policy of Woodrow Wilson were so quick to embrace his progressive agenda once the neo-conservatives offered a repackaging of basically the same philosophy.  I’ve been stating and restating that point on this blog almost since day one when I tied neo-conservatism to Wilsonianism back in June 30 of 2008.

Worry not fellow lovers of liberty.  With your help, we will once again have a major party that consistently and boldly advocates the policies of personal responsibility and limited, constitutional government.  Not only can we reclaim the Republican Party, we are winning!

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