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Posts Tagged ‘No Child Left Behind’

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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Note:  This was a post written for VCAP last month that was never published.  Although a bit out of date, I wanted to have it posted somewhere.

It seems to me that in recent years, at least from a national perspective, a critical part of conservatism has been forgotten.  Sure, there are social conservatives and there are fiscal conservatives, but what about small government conservatives?  Can you name any leader who still actively and unashamedly promotes conservatism in all three areas?  There are still a few.  As some folks have forgotten about it, I guess that I should first define what I mean by small government conservatism.  Simply put, it is reducing the size and scope of the federal government to its constitutional boundaries.  Now I believe there are many legitimate functions the national government serves, chief among them are defending her citizens from threats against their lives, liberty, and property, and performing tasks that either the states or individual citizens cannot do, like the creation of a uniform monetary system.  And, although there are certainly differences between regions in the country, the government should respect and uphold the religious and cultural values that have defined our country and her people in various ways since colonization.  Beyond these limited functions, the federal government should not and must not interfere.  That, in my mind, is the basics of conservatism as it applied to the federal government.

There are many areas of power that the government has taken from the states and the people that it has no right to do so.  For example, when the preamble mentions, “promoting the general welfare”, no conservative would ever take that to mean the creation of a welfare state where citizens (and even non-citizens) depend on the charity of the federal government (and, as a result, we the taxpayers).  Although our liberal colleges would decry us as uncaring, the simple fact is that the government does not have these powers.  We must reject the neo-conservative lie that big government is OK as long as Republicans are in control.  Now I know I’ll get in trouble here, but the same fact applies to Social Security.  Social Security is just a giant pyramid scheme promoted by the feds.  As long as there are more citizens paying into the system than withdrawing, then no one notices the flaws in the plan, but when more withdraw, as is happening with the baby boomers now, the system collapses.  Why in the world did we ever allow the government to get involved in retirement?  Show me where they derive such authority?  The problem with Social Security is that you cannot simply eliminate it tomorrow without terrible consequences.  First and foremost, some folks planned their retirement around this pension and, if it were removed immediately, would force thousands upon thousands onto the streets.  Second, there are many who have paid into the system who will never see a single dime of their own returned.  The solution, in my mind, is not the easiest, but must be done.  That is, fulfill the promises to the citizens on social security while phasing the program out entirely, returning the funds that each citizen put into the system.  Will federal spending have to be cut to solve this problem?  Of course.  But, I believe this solution will help restore the government to its constitutional limited role and solve many more problems in the long run.

Getting back to my original point, how many supposedly conservative politicians talk about limited government solutions to these problems?  I remember the presidential election of 1996 where Senator Dole, if elected, promised to eliminate the federal Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts.  To conservatives, these should be two worthy goals.  Regardless of the merits (or lack there of) of these two agencies, the federal government did not have the constitutional authority to meddle with either the arts or education.  Alas that type of thinking seems to have fallen out of favor.  For example, since the 2000 election of the Republican George W. Bush, how many federal agencies and departments have been eliminated?  Can’t think of any, huh?  For example, rather than end the federal government’s involvement in education, unfortunately he has only increased it with the creation of disastrous No Child Left Behind Act.  Education is the sphere of the state, locality, and parents, not bureaucrats in Washington.   In other areas too, the president has sought merely to reform rather than eliminate federal government control.That failure should truly be a great disappointment to every limited government conservative out there.

Assuming John McCain becomes our next president, what federal programs and departments will he work to eliminate?  I know he speaks well against pork spending which is admirable, but it is merely fighting the symptoms rather than the disease itself.  Unless he works to truly reduce the size of the government, striking at the heart of the problem, spending will go up again soon enough.

The solution, my friends, rests with us, not the politicians in Washington.  If you are a three-pronged conservative, you must support three-pronged conservatives.  If a politician claims to be conservative, the burden of proof is on the candidate.  If he or she embraces the conservative rhetoric in whole we should support him or her.  Then if the politician fails to live up to the promises and their voting record is poor, then we must withdraw that support.  When considering the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, I encourage you to put the torch under each candidate asking, “if elected, what federal programs, agencies, or departments will you work to eliminate?”  If the response is the “deer in the headlights” look, or a vague and unsatisfactory answer, limited government conservatives must not support that candidate.  That, I believe, is the only way that we can reclaim the Republican Party and reign in the massive power of the federal government.  We deserve better!

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