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Photo from Bridget & The Parrish Campaign

On Monday evening, a handful of liberty-minded political activists gathered at a coffee shop in Lynchburg, Virginia, for two purposes.

The first was for the reestablishment of the Libertarian Party in the region.  Although politically influential a decade or so ago, the local Libertarian effort has diminished considerably in recent years.  This newly refounded group seeks to bring together Libertarians, not only in the city of Lynchburg, but also the surrounding counties of Campbell, Bedford, and Amherst, and even the nearby county of Appomattox.

In addition, yesterday’s meeting gave these Libertarians a chance to speak with Jonathan Parrish, the Libertarian candidate for the 23rd district seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.  Mr. Parrish is challenging T. Scott Garrett, a Republican first elected in the 2009 cycle.  According to his campaign website, Parrish’s three priorities in this race are: cutting taxes and spending, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, and reforming the school system.

There is little doubt that the Virginia Libertarian Party is expanding their efforts; besides the Libertarian affiliate in Lynchburg, another group is taking shape a hundred miles away in Harrisonburg, and there are likely more yet unreported.  In addition, they are running a considerable number of candidates this November.  Including Robert Sarvis, the second ever Libertarian candidate for governor, and Jonathan Parrish in the 23rd, the party is contesting a total of six seats in the House of Delegates.

More information about the Lynchburg Libertarians, including dates of further gatherings, can be found on Facebook or meetup.com.

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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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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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A lot of people have been speculating as to who will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives prior to yesterday’s election.  Now that the Republicans have taken control of the House, most eyes have turned to House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.  Although his positions are quite good on a number of issues such as abortion and gun rights, I believe there are better choices out there.

We need a Speaker who will ardently and consistently stand up against big government and support fiscal conservatism.  Toward that end, might I suggest that we start by examining the following candidates:  Rep. Paul Broun (GA), Rep. Randy Forbes (VA), Rep. Ed Royce (CA), Rep. Michael Burgess (TX), Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ), Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA), Rep. Ron Paul (TX), Rep John Duncan Jr. (TN), Rep Louie Gohmert (TX), Rep. Ted Poe (TX), Rep. Jeff Flake (AZ), Rep. Jack Kingston (GA), or Rep. Tom Price (GA).  Now you may be asking, what do all these House of Representatives members have in common?  Each of them steadfastly voted against every bailout proposal in 2008 and 2009.  Although there were seventeen folks in all who were originally on this list, several have retired or moved on to other offices.  Even though the House has the option to elect a Speaker outside their ranks, I don’t consider such a move likely, as it has never happened up to this point.

Now, unfortunately some of these choices I don’t really know.  It is quite possible that they hold very objectionable voting records in regard to other issues.  Nevertheless, I believe that the Republican Party should set some sort of principled standard as to who the next Speaker will be.  Standing firm against the bailouts sounds like an excellent way to begin to weed out potential choices.

The American people have once again given the Republicans a chance to at least share in the leadership of our national government.  Electing a proven and principled Speaker to the House of Representatives will help make sure they don’t screw up this opportunity by 2012.   Otherwise prepare yourself for another term of President Obama.

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Hello once again. I wanted to give you all an update concerning my earlier post about the AARP group, “Divided We Fail” which is pushing for greater government intervention in healthcare and retirement. In the early part of this month I wrote a letter to both Representative Goodlatte (VA-6) and Representative Garrett (NJ-5) as a follow-up to my earlier post about the subject called “Divided We Succeed?” Just the other day, I got a response from my Congressman Bob Goodlatte. Unfortunately, as I am not a constituent of Congressman Garrett, I assume by this point I will not get any answer from him, which is a bit of a disappointment but not entirely unexpected. Should I get a letter or email from the New Jersey Congressman, I will be certain to let you know.  Rather than comment right now, I wanted to post both my letter and Representative Goodlatte’s response.

To: The Honorable Representative Bob Goodlatte
Of the 6th Congressional District of Virginia

Good afternoon to you, Sir.

I am writing you today as a result of my research concerning the group Divided We Fail. Although I have seen their efforts, including their booth at the Republican Convention in Richmond in May, I never gave them much thought. Recently, however I decided to find out what they are all about, and I found the results troubling. According to their own mission statement, they believe that “all Americans should have access to affordable, quality health care”, “all Americans should have peace of mind about their future long-term financial security”, and “We stand as strong champions for the new American dream — to build a 21st century America where these issues are paramount so that all people can have the opportunity for a prosperous future. We also believe that individuals, businesses, health care providers, non-profit organizations, and government must work together to find solutions – personally, privately and publicly. We represent tens of millions of Americans and we believe that all of us share a responsibility for making our society work and restoring peace of mind to all Americans.”

If I understand them correctly, they are pushing for greater Federal government involvement in the areas of retirement and health care. The problem as I see it is twofold. First, as Americans, do we not have faith in the individual and the free market to plan for his or her own future, free from the tendrils of utopian Socialistic schemes? Second, and perhaps far more troubling, is the continued and blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution for it does not grant such power to the National government. Although not as celebrated as the rest of the Bill of Rights, doesn’t the 10th Amendment reserve such authority to the states and the citizens? Is my comprehension of this unconstitutional effort led by the AARP the same as your own, sir? And if so, how is it that some supposedly conservative members of Congress support such a blatant move toward a liberal welfare state?

Thank you for your time. May you continue to promote the values and principles of the people of the 6th district.

Sincerely,

Joshua

To follow would have been Congressman Goodlatte’s letter in reply, however, after speaking with Congressman Goodlatte’s Chief of Staff a few moments ago, I was asked not to post the letter out of concern that it may be taken out of context.  Apparently it was not written for general consumption, just for me.  Therefore, out of respect for the Congressman, I will not be including his letter, truly sorry about that readers.  Nevertheless, I will mention that he does address the issues of health care choice, federal spending and a balanced budget amendment, and the 10th Amendment and the Enumerated Powers Act. I do want to point out though that the Congressman stated that he indeed did not sign the “Divided We Fail” pledge nor was he planning to do so.

Now, as voters in this great commonwealth, or perhaps another state, if you agree with my above letter, I strongly recommend that you write your Representative or Senators.  Perhaps your Congressmen or Women adhere to the principles of the Constitution, or maybe they do not, but I strongly believe that if enough of their constituents demand accountability, they will listen.  For myself, I think I’ll try contacting our newest Senator, Jim Webb.  He hasn’t signed the “Divided We Fail” pledge yet.  Let’s see what he says…

Until next time,

The Virginia Conservative

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