This has been a long campaign for liberty and many people have earned our thanks. Republican Liberty Caucus members played leading roles on every front in 2012 – running for office, working on campaigns, donating unprecedented amounts of money to our federal PAC, helping to promote and fundraise for candidates and serving as delegates to state conventions and ultimately the national convention in Tampa where we were witnesses to the beginnings of the events which culminated in this week’s historic defeat for the Republican Party establishment. You worked hard with little respect or reward for a cause whose victory sometimes seemed distant and in peril.
There are many who are claiming that this election was a massive defeat for the Republican Party, but after studying the results for two days I’m surprised to be able to report what looks like some major victories for the liberty movement within the party. Yes, the party took it on Mitt Romney’s chiseled chin, but the party’s losses are not necessarily our losses and while I certainly would have liked to have done better, in comparison to the party as a whole our candidates and our issues fared remarkably well.
Perhaps the most significant victory is a sign of change to come While the party lost seats in both houses of Congress, the balance of power shifted and liberty candidates gained seats while the party was losing them. Our endorsees and other sympathetic candidates now control a larger number of seats in both houses of Congress than ever before. We lost only one incumbent House member and gained at least two solid seats in the Senate while the party lost 3 and gained more seats in the House than the party as a whole lost, effectively doubling the significance of our wins. The failure of the party leadership and the Romney campaign did suppress turnout and that flowed down to races at lower levels, costing some of our most promising candidates wins they might have had in better years. Yet 2014 is just around the corner and I expect many of those same candidates to run again and in an off year election we can anticipate the same kind of strong results we had in 2010 and more.
Two RLC candidates won new seats for liberty in the Senate, Ted Cruz (TX) and past endorsee Jeff Flake (AZ). Four new liberty candidates took seats in the House, including RLC endorsees Steve Stockman (TX-36), Kerry Bentivolio (MI-11), Thomas Massie (KY-4) and Ted Yoho (FL-3) who was overlooked for endorsement. Many previously endorsed candidates won reelection in the House, including Justin Amash, Tom McClintock, Walter Jones, Jim Jordan, Mick Mulvaney and others. Perhaps most significantly hundreds of our endorsees won or held onto seats in state government, giving us a very deep bench to run for higher office going into the 2014 election. Many other great candidates ran strong campaigns and came awfully close to winning, but the weakness of the national campaign and lack of support from state and national party organizations were challenges they couldn’t overcome. With more independent funding and resources we expect them to do much better in 2014.
We also saw victories on key issues in several states. Marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington and decriminalized in Massachusetts, which is likely to lead to a very important showdown over state sovereignty as the Obama administration and the DEA crack down on those states attempt to form independent drug policy. In addition, Washington, Maryland and Maine voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a clear challenge to the unconstitutional federal Defense of Marriage Act, and while we prefer a non-governmental solution to the marriage issue, the passage of these propositions was at least a politically achievable step towards greater liberty for more people. Less publicized but possibly equally important, Alabama, Montana and Wyoming voted on initiatives to nullify aspects of Obamacare within their borders, another development likely to provoke a constitutional showdown with the Obama administration. It’s not going to be an easy four years for the president or his unconstitutional abuses of power.
Finally, after the attacks on the grassroots of the party launched by the Romney campaign, party leaders and special interests, in many ways a Romney defeat is a victory for Liberty Republicans. In the long term it may benefit us more than defeating Obama would have. The party establishment and the special interests which back them placed all their bets on Romney and his failure was their failure as well. They have lost credibility with all the grassroots groups in the party and they are saddled with the blame for the abuses of power and bad choices which led to this debacle. Now everyone knows what we have known for years. If the Republican Party is to survive it needs a substantive change of leadership and a return to principles which can win elections.
After this election it is much more likely that our next presidential nominee will have strong liberty principles and Rand Paul’s stock as a presidential contender is way up. We should also expect to see the party distance itself from single issue voters on the religious right and a deemphasis of divisive social issues. This might well be the jolt the party needs to become the fiscally conservative and socially tolerant party which it needs to be in order to win and if it doesn’t happen quickly, we’re here to give change a push.
While this may not be the time for open celebration, this election has created many opportunities to expand the liberty movement within the Republican Party and our voices will be stronger and our opponents weaker than every before as we start a new political cycle. We have more members with substantial campaign experience, we have better campaign funding channels and we have more experienced candidates. Plus the Obama administration will supply us with plenty of opportunities for issue activism which can raise the profile of RLC leaders and our pro-liberty, small government agenda.
I’m looking forward to two years of great opportunities for growing liberty and winning key victories in the ongoing campaign to reclaim the Republican Party and make it the vehicle for the restoration of the Republic.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
Many in the GOP feel like we’ve taken a big blow to the chest after Election Day. However, it’s important to understand why this happened, and how we can pave the road to prosperity in future elections.
First and foremost; we need to run on strong principles, and not cower down every time the establishment media spins our comments, and tries to pick a fight with us. We must fight back. Mitt Romney completely embarrassed himself in the second political debate. He called out Obama for his mismanagement of the Benghazi tragedy, and made a true statement claiming that President Obama didn’t denounce the attackers as terrorists. The moderator, Candy Crowley, stood up for Obama, and said that Obama actually denounced them as terrorists the following day. Romney just stood stood there and said nothing.
Candy Crowley actually admitted that she was wrong the following day. Obama, actually didn’t denounce the Benghazi attackers as terrorists. Obama gave a speech the day after the attacks, in the Rose Garden about the incidents, then talked about 9/11, and denounced the attackers of 9/11 as being terrorists. At that time Obama was still trying to sell the lie that the attacks were based off of a YouTube video.
Another example of this that I’d like to point out goes back a little over a year ago during the primary season. Texas governor Rick Perry was leading in the polls, and was fired up and at his peak. He made comments about Ben Bernanke, and claimed that if Bernanke was printing money in Austin, like he was doing in Washington, he’d be charged with treason. The media immediately went on the attack, and Perry cowered down. He later, during a debate, made the claim that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme, (which it is). The media attacked him, as well as many of his opponents, and he cowered down. After that Perry was trying too hard not to say anything offensive, and his campaign came crashing down.
If we’re going to win elections, we have to be honest, and we must not be afraid to take the gloves off.
The Republican Party is also running into problems dealing with the issue of major demographic changes in our Country. We constantly isolate the Latino vote by taking such hardcore stances on immigration. Yes, the rule of law is the rule of law, but sometimes our laws are impractical. Our laws are written under the assumption that we protect our borders, and have a comprehensive immigration policy; neither is true. Our government actually gives money and provides other incentives to illegal immigrants as the result of half-formed policies which were started with good intentions but were never coupled with appropriate controls which you would have in a comprehensive immigration system. Yes, we need a strong and secure border, but we need to end all welfare and safety nets for the illegal population. That alone would do wonders for keeping illegals out of our county.
Next, we need to make work visas more accessible to foreigners who come here looking for a chance to take care of themselves, and their families – not just for highly skilled workers, but also for laborers in low skill jobs where there is high demand. We also need to provide a reasonable path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are here and have shown a commitment to the nation by working and providing for their families. Get them out of the underground and on the books and make sure that all applicable taxes are being paid. That’s a position that I feel many Latino voters would be supportive of. We just drive them away when we make unrealistic and bombastic statements that we are going to launch mass deportation. It will never happen and just makes us look bigoted and foolish and many in the GOP and in the general population find this sort of posturing offensive and unacceptable in a nation which has been built on immigration.
Abortion and related issues fall into a troublesome area which tends to be given a disproportionate amount of attention and be used as a weapon against the GOP. Nothing looks worse for the party then the comments Todd Akin made regarding abortion. Many Republicans, including Mitt Romney, denounced Akin’s comments, but with the spin in the media and similar comments from Richard Mourdock and John Koster reinforcing the impression Akin created, there is no denying it had a pervasive and lasting influence on the campaign. It made Republicans look callous and inhumane. I understand and appreciate pro-life positions, as well as pro-choice positions, but those positions should be the choice of the candidate and not a matter of party policy. If there wasn’t such an ingrained, anti-abortion platform backing these candidates up, it would make Akin’s comments far less destructive and less likely to produce a negative reaction that spills over onto other candidates.
Another issue that the Republicans need to keep in mind is gay rights. The Republican Party’s position on gay rights isolates a lot of individuals who respect the ideas of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. In Massachusetts, the Republican Party nominated Richard Tisei, an openly gay former State Senator, to run against incumbent, John Tierney. Tisei received very little support from the party, and lost the election by a very slim margin. This was a major strategic error in a state where it’s very hard to get any Republicans elected. Electing the first openly gay Republican congressman is a small price to pay for another seat in the House. If we were more open and fair towards homosexuals, and homosexual candidates; we would be able to bridge a gap that has long hurt our image as a party. I understand the importance of religious freedom, but it would probably be better for everyone to just get government out of the marriage business in the first place. Allow governments to grant civil unions to all, and allow churches and the people to call them whatever they wish.
Another problem is the bad habit among Republicans of falling back on straw man arguments. When you manufacture bogus claims about a candidate and they are disproven you look like a liar or a fool or both. One particularly bad example of this was the claim which circulated a few weeks ago that Obama had passed over 900 executive orders, which is untrue. Obama actually signed fewer executive orders in his first-term then Bush did in his first-term. The claim even lists a bunch of executive orders that sound really bad, but which easy to find public sources can confirm were not even passed under his administration. Similarly weak and likely to backfire are the many ad hominem attacks which appealed particularly to members of the Tea Party, the classic example being all the increasingly ridiculous claims about Obama’s birth certificate, which did more to marginalize Republicans than they did to harm Obama. In this same category are all the claims about Obama being a socialist, Muslim, foreigner, former CIA Agent named Barry Soetoro, etc. These cheap shots actually made many feel sympathetic with the President and ultimately, they hurt our cause. We would have won this last election had we stuck to the issues, instead of spewing radical propaganda that was unprovable or easily disproven.
A lot of Republicans won’t like this, but all the emphasis in the campaign on Obamacare was also a mistake, much though it ought to be hated and rejected. The Affordable-Care Act is a terrible issue to rely on because it is essentially Bob Dole’s plan from the 1990′s filtered through Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health plan. That doesn’t mean that it’s not bad policy, and that it’s not essential for us to repeal this legislation, but it makes any Republican argument against it weaker than it could be, because we came up with the bad idea in the first place.
If we get away from our social extremism, and stand firm on Constitutional principles; we will fix what has taken this great nation in the wrong direction. If we do this, I believe that we can save the GOP, reclaim the Constitution, and restore our republic. The problems facing us as Republicans, and as Americans are obvious. It’s time for the Republican Party to make a choice and find better strategies for the future, and I hope they choose wisely.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
I read an article from Fox News earlier this evening regarding Mitt Romney’s energy independence plan. According to the article:
In a campaign speech in Hobbs, N.M., a few weeks ago, the GOP presidential nominee told the crowd, “I will set a national goal of North American independence by 2020. That means we produce all the energy we use in North America.
Seems like every presidential candidate since Carter has had one of those. None of them achieved it but they did bring us close. In spite of its many critics, NAFTA did do one good thing for the United States: made Canada and Mexico our two biggest oil providers, providing us with more than half of our oil. Saudi Arabian imports are now between 13-15%, which means less American money being redirected to terrorist groups and theocratic uprisings. Venezuelan imports are even less. OPEC’s stranglehold over us has been substantially reduced. And North American energy production is rising. All of this is good. But someone with no understanding of basic supply and demand or cost-benefit analysis decided to attack the GOP nominee.
Here’s what the beef was all about:
In addition to opening up new areas for offshore drilling, Romney says his energy independence goal can be accomplished by speeding up the time it takes to get permits to drill on federal lands. The way to do that, he says, is by putting state regulators in charge of the federal process just as they already are on state and private lands.
Said the article.
My immediate reaction: FINALLY! This is the Mitt Romney I’ve been wanting to see. After a mediocre campaign with mediocre positions, not much detail on how to get government out of our lives, and poor understanding of the duties of the federal government, Mitt Romney took a tenth amendment position that is much needed. A great deal of the mountain west is federally owned land. It should be given back to the states and the states should be in charge of any resources within their borders–with the federal government only involved in cross-border disputes.
But Pete Maysmith, executive director of Colorado Conservation Voters wasn’t exactly happy. He said:
“Governor Romney’s energy proposal … ignores the facts and is a giveaway to his big oil campaign supporters at the expense of our air, land and water. Energy production in the United States is at a 20-year high. So the problem is not regulations, the problem is not lack of access to federal lands.”
I don’t care what your political views are or who you are voting for. And there are many reasons not to like Mitt Romney. However, this is not one of them!
I don’t know if Mr. Maysmith is right or wrong about energy production being at a 20 year high. What I do know is this: IT DOES NOT MATTER!
That’s right. His conclusion might be partially factual in this and only this: most large energy companies are more than willing to comply with basic safety regulations. I’m a member of the Houston Economics Club, and such was the position that Andrew Slaughter, a former Chair of the National Petroleum Council, took at one of our meetings last January.
Most of the anti-fracking hype has been factually incorrect; I won’t get into detail on that but I’m just giving you an example: energy companies have engineered new methods of groundwater protection. So the private sector has addressed the problem, to the point where regulation should be toned down to a property-damage perspective. Not all regulation is bad. Property rights are paramount, and property damage must be prevented.
If you want more information on groundwater protection you can find it in this presentation by Slaughter found here
The point of my article is simply this: his premise is patently false, as is his conclusion that we should not increase access to federal lands.
It is not a matter of energy being at a 20 year high it is a matter of IT COULD BE HIGHER!.
Just because an industry is doing better than ever is no excuse for them not to try and do even better. America needs cheaper energy to prevent an economic collapse. I’m going to go through the dynamics here to justify my premises.
Our demand is probably higher than its even been, which means unless the supply goes up the price of your electric bill or filling up your gas tank will never be lower. It’s bad enough that Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing policies devalue the dollar and enable speculators to drive up the price. It’s also bad enough that because of the globalized 21st century economy, prices rise even further due to the unrest in the Muslim world driving down production in the OPEC countries. Finally there is the rapid industrialization of several large emerging economies: China, India and Brazil. Brazil has a growing offshore oil supply and is ramping up its production, but China and India are not oil rich nations and cannot do the same.
So your energy prices are high, and they will only go higher if there isn’t more expansion of domestic energy production, not just in oil, but in natural gas, wind, nuclear, clean coal, and even–when cost effective–solar. Quite frankly, claiming our production being at a 20 year high (if that’s true) as a reason to stop expanding is pure economic dumbassery.
With our rising national debt, our lackluster job growth, our politicians’ inability to lessen the uncertainty on the private sector, and the Federal Reserve’s massive injections of new dollars into the market–that aren’t backed by economic growth–we face a much bigger problem than the problems conservationists tackle on a regular basis. We face the threat of an economic meltdown, the fall of the United States as a superpower and a much more difficult way of life than anyone in this country who is under the age of 70 or didn’t grow up in an undeveloped country could ever imagine. Its not a matter of Democrats vs. Republicans (and I know the irony of me saying that from a Republican website), its a matter of supply and demand.
Fiat money, when not backed by a hard asset such as silver or gold, is only good if there is demand for it. Demand for the US dollar is not rising as fast as the Federal Reserve is running its printing presses. This will lead to inflation, as long as the Fed continues to pursue this while keeping its interest rates low. Even Keynes, whose followers today laugh at the thought of a dollar collapse and who didn’t predict the housing bubble or 2008 economic crash (with the exception of Nouriel Roubini and few others), knew that increasing money supply should be done during a period of strong economic growth, not the anemic year-to-year growth we have seen over the past couple of years. If you increase the supply when the demand isn’t nearly as strong, you devalue the dollar.
Some Austrian school economic alarmists believe hyperinflation is inevitable. While they deserve credit for predicting the 2008 crash years before it happened, I can’t say I agree with its inevitability. However, I do see it as a possibility. Continuous increases in the money supply, with weak increases in demand for that dollar, and politicians’ inability to tackle our national debt could lead to a fall in confidence of our dollar. That’s the difference between hyperinflation and inflation. The latter is rising prices, the former is when other countries see a significant reduction in the value of your currency, and begin to dump it for other currencies or commodities. Demand for your currency plummets and as a result, the price of everyday living requirements skyrockets.
It’s not a risk worth taking, and neither is inflation. So while our politicians bicker like children and fail to address the debt, economic growth is the only thing that will stop the two.
Increasing our domestic energy production is perhaps the best shot we have at this for many reasons.
Ramping up energy production will create jobs in the industry. More unemployed people go back to work, start paying taxes again, and revenues to the federal government increase.
When people aren’t unnecessarily wasting as much of their money on gasoline and utilities they can be more productive with that spending by spending it on other industries or investing it into new capital. This creates even more jobs. And I do say we are wasting because if the price can be much lower, you’re being inefficient. Inefficiency is a waste.
Lower energy prices cause the price of other goods to come down across the board, because transportation costs pretty much affect everything. So this offsets some of the inflation that will happen as a result of quantitative easing.
The growth in the economy will strengthen demand for the US dollar, further offsetting Bernanke’s disastrous easing policies and preventing a dollar collapse prior to his replacement in 2014 (in the case of a Romney victory).
I imagine that Bernanke’s replacement in the event of a Romney victory will be Martin Feldstein. My familiarity with his work suggests to me he would finally allow interest rates to rise and roll back QE3. If this were to happen, we could prevent a debt crisis and a dollar collapse provided our politicians finally figure out how to balance the federal budget. With economic growth, balancing the budget comes much easier.
What I hope everyone takes away from this article is: WE SHOULD NEVER STOP! We should never stop trying to ramp up energy production so long as it cannot meet the demand at the cheapest possible price–and for you conservationists out there, I mean we will do it in a responsible manner. Pete Maysmith–who I hope reads this and learns a thing or two–made a huge error in his premise by ignoring the laws of supply and demand. This line of thought is poisonous, and I ask of my readers that you share this article with as many people as you can. The less people believe his ridiculous notion, that the goal for any or industry to stagnate or decrease production at any level, for any reason, other than falling demand or maxed out capacity, the better off we will be. And as the research shows, rising global energy demand is inevitable and we are far from incapable of increasing the supply in a responsible manner.
Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas board member Jeff Larson gives his first-hand report of events in the Credentials Committee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa during their main meeting Friday of last week. Accompanying video includes a short interview with Jeff from a local TV station.
Short version, the good guys lost all three today: Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
Karin (Credentials Committee member from Maine) was prevented by RNC rules from voting on her own case. The Credentials Committee voted to allow her to speak, though.
The format was, first, counsel for each side got 30 minutes (or 25 minutes plus 5 minutes for rebuttal). Next, Credentials Committee members could question counsel or their witnesses. Finally, counsel and witnesses were excused, and Credentials Committee members could make whatever motions they wanted. Each of the over 100 Credentials Committee members could speak twice to each motion.
The Chair moved to allow the Vice-Chairs to speak. All the Vice-Chairs were also members of the Committee on Contests, which had pre-heard each of the three cases and had ruled against us each time. Mike (Credentials Committee member from Virginia) objected on the grounds that this would allow the Vice-Chairs to prejudice the Credentials Committee in favor of accepting the Committee on Contests reports (which were all against us). A vote was taken, and the Credentials Committee overwhelmingly voted to allow them to speak.
There was a motion to limit debate to 2 hours. Although it wasn’t clear what the motion applied to, it passed overwhelmingly.
Counsel then presented for Maine. The Challengers (the bad guys) claimed the convention was an utter mess, with people wandering in off the street and voting, people being issued other people’s credentials, etc. The Respondents (the good guys) claimed that aside from a few hiccups, the convention was well run and that all the delegates won by huge margins.
One of the questions was, “If credentials was such a mess, how did you know you had a quorum?” Respondent’s counsel answered that there were 1800 votes cast in the delegate’s races out of 2700 registered in attendance, which pretty well ought to be a quorum.
After over an hour of questions, Mike from Virginia asked just what the 2-hour limit applied to. The Chair said he thought it meant presentations+questions+motions and debate, but he’d let questions continue anyway. Someone then called for the orders of the day, which automatically cut off questioning. In my opinion, the questions hadn’t quite become circular, but had gotten to the point where little new ground was being covered.
There was a motion made to accept the report of the Committee on Contests, which would have tossed half the Paul delegates and replaced them with Romney delegates appointed by the Committee on Contests.
Mike from Virginia made a motion to amend the report to strike all the Romney delegates and replace them with the duly elected Ron Paul delegates. Karin from Maine seconded the motion, but there was an objection because she was one of the challenged delegates. (Kelly?) from Iowa provided a second, solving the problem.
The Committee on Contests had interpreted RNC rule 23 to mean, “We can do whatever we want to fix a problem with a delegation”, which is how it justified striking half the elected Paul delegates and replacing them with Romney delegates. Respondent’s counsel argued they were ignoring RNC rule 17, which allowed a delegation to elect to replace any vacant seats. This would have allowed the 5 uncontested delegates from Maine to pick the replacements. A Credentials Committee member from New Hampshire made a lengthy argument in favor of the Committee on Contest’s interpretation of rule 23. I didn’t think it had much substance.
Stavros Mendros, Credentials Committee member from Maine, made an excellent speech introducing much factual information about the Maine convention and the background. In my opinion, it had the information that Respondent’s counsel should have provided in their presentation. Stavros got an ovation from the other Ron Paul committee members and from the spectator’s gallery.
This report is not an exhaustive list of everyone who spoke to every motion, but hits some of the highlights. A committee member from Louisiana spoke against the amendment (in favor of the Committee on Contests), and the other committee member from Virginia (the lady) spoke in favor of the amendment.
A committee member from Washington gave a speech that was very hostile to Ron Paul. It was the first genuinely anti-Paul speech I’d heard that day, as opposed to one that was merely against Mike’s amendment.
Karin from Maine gave a very emotional speech, claiming that the Challengers had deliberately tried to sabotage the Maine convention, and when that didn’t work, they then filed the challenge. She used the phrase that I’m sure was on a lot of people’s minds, claiming the challenge was just an example of Sour Grapes.
Karin got applause for her speech, which was followed by a voice vote. To my ears, Mike’s amendment went down by about a 2:1 margin.
Mike then made a second motion, to amend the Committee on Contests report to strike all the disputed delegates, and to allow the 5 undisputed delegates (which included the Governor) to elect replacements.
A committee member from Minnesota made a good speech, reminding the committee that although the Republican Party was supposed to be the party of the grass roots, allowing an RNC committee to hand-pick the delegation instead of allowing Maine to select their own delegation was concentrating all the power at the top, to the detriment of the party.
Stavros Mendros from Maine then made another great speech, this one in favor of Mike’s second amendment. He mentioned that the results of the previous vote defeating his first amendment had been tweeted back to Maine, with the result that the Governor had affirmed he would not be attending the convention. Stavros begged the committee to not embarrass his state any more, and to allow them to elect their own delegates. Again, he got applause, only the 3rd time of the day for anyone.
A voice vote was taken, heavily against Mike’s 2nd motion. Mike from Virginia called for a standing vote. 12 committee members, all from states like Virginia, Nevada, Iowa, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and the Virgin Islands, all stood (I hope I didn’t miss anyone, Maine was not allowed to vote). In opposition, the entire rest of the room stood. Cries of “Shame on you!” and “Shame!” erupted from the gallery. The Chair ordered the Sergeant at Arms to remove anyone disrupting the meeting, and he escorted a couple of people out. Afterward, a few people cried “Shame” once, then immediately left the room.
Business returned to the main motion. Since both amendments had failed, the motion was to adopt the Committee on Contests report, striking half the elected Maine delegation and replacing them with Romney people. The motion carried without much opposition. (I’m pretty sure there were 12 no’s.) Thus, the Maine Ron Paul delegates under dispute were not seated. We still get half the original strength as part of the Committee on Contests “compromise”.
The Credentials Committee stood at ease, so I went out into the hall to break the bad news to some of our people. I was talking to a delegate from Arkansas, when a curious thing happened. An RNC staffer approached, and told him he had to go with her. She told me I had to come, too. I asked why, and was told that I couldn’t be here, that my guest credential had been issued in error. She said that Credentials Committee members couldn’t have guests (contradicting what they’d been told in their orientation briefing), and that only RNC members could have guests.
I made a fuss about retrieving my property from the meeting room before getting the bum’s rush, and another staffer escorted me in so I could get my hat. (It’s my special hat.) Inside, I met a Ron Paul-friendly Credentials Committee member who was hanging out in the guest area during the break. I explained the situation to him, and he got nearly as upset as I was, and followed me up to the security checkpoint where I was told to wait while the first staffer straightened things out.
To understand how absurd this all was, there were nearly two dozen guests of Credentials Committee members in the guest area of the meeting room. Yet only I and the Arkansas delegate were being asked to leave. Neither of us had been the least bit disruptive, although he looked “out of place” (hair dyed red and casual clothes). I was in a suit and tie.
The first staffer and my friend on the Credentials Committee went down the hall toward the meeting room while I was left to stew at security. A few minutes later, she came back, told me it was all a big misunderstanding, apologized, told me she hoped I hadn’t thought I was singled out because that was not the case. I was willing to let it all go at that.
EXCEPT that a few hours later, I got the other half of the story. The Credentials Committee member lost track of her for a few seconds, and when he found her again, she was talking to a couple of RNC types, asking them what to do about me. He heard one of them say, “Is he a Paul guy?” At which point the Committee member inserted himself into the conversation, and was told he was intruding on a private conversation. He begged to differ, expressed his outrage at the whole thing, and so I was allowed back in. The red-haired Arkansas delegate was allowed in, too.
Moral of the story…apparently, you can get thrown out of an RNC committee meeting just for talking to someone who looks like an obvious Ron Paul supporter. And you can get right back in if you have friends on that particular committee…but possibly not if you don’t have those friends. I’m not interested in running the experiment.
Next up was Oklahoma. The Challengers (the good guys) claimed the establishment slow-rolled the convention until taking roll-call votes was an issue, blew voice votes where delegate seats were at stake, and refused the roll-call votes that would have exposed the lie. The Respondents (the bad guys) claimed they bent over backwards to give the Paul people several breaks that weren’t in Robert’s Rules, put on a fair convention, and are the victim of sour grapes as the Paul folks lost several delegate votes 75-25 or so.
My take on it is that regardless of the merits of the Challenger’s case, the presentation of that case was very weak. My understanding is that Challenger’s counsel was not a trained attorney, and it seemed to show. In all the other challenges, everyone used the full 25+5 or 30 minutes allotted to them. After 15 minutes, Challenger’s counsel rested. The Chair asked him if he had anything else, any witnesses, anything. He passed. The other side used every minute of the time allotted to them, called one of the convention officials as a witness, and creamed them.
The case by Oklahoma Challenger’s counsel boiled down to, “They didn’t follow the rules! They didn’t follow the rules! They didn’t follow the rules!” In my opinion, a glaring omission was any explanation of why not following the rules thwarted the will of the Oklahoma convention. This is especially so in light of the Respondent’s counsel’s claim that the votes went against the Paul people by 75-25.
A Credentials Committee member from California moved to adopt the report of the Committee on Contests, which would seat the Romney delegates elected at the convention, and not seat the Paul delegates elected at the rump convention. Eric Opiela from Texas seconded the motion.
The voice vote was a massacre. I only heard one voice, possibly a second, vote nay. Even the Ron Paul Credentials Committee members who had fought so hard for Maine didn’t vote nay on adopting the Committee on Contests report…they’d have just looked foolish if they had because the case for Oklahoma was so weak. By that, I don’t mean that bad things didn’t happen at the Oklahoma convention, just that if all you’d heard was what was presented at the Credentials Committee meeting, you’d never believe anything was wrong.
The Credentials Committee stood at ease for a few minutes after considering the Oklahoma case. This is when I learned from the Credentials Committee member who had saved me from getting kicked out of the meeting about the conversation between the staffer and the RNC member, and how the Credentials Committee member had intervened on my behalf.
The last case considered was Oregon. The Challenger’s counsel (the good guys) claimed that the establishment deliberately slow rolled the conventions once they saw votes going against them, in hopes that a special Oregon rule for selecting delegates by an executive committee when the conventions fail to elect them would be invoked. Respondent’s counsel (the bad guys) claimed that there was only one convention in 5 locations, that all 5 locations had to adjourn at once, and that they couldn’t have foreseen that the day’s business would have taken so long.
The arguments were very technical at times. There was extensive questioning over whether there was one convention at 5 sites, or 5 different conventions, and the two sides disagreed on that issue. One “site” adjourned promptly at 5pm, and the other 4 “sites” continued on. The establishment considered everything the other “sites” did after 5pm to be null and void. I was amused when Respondent’s counsel (who was claiming that there was 1 convention at 5 locations, not 5 conventions) slipped a couple of times and referred to “conventions” instead of a “convention”. Challenger’s counsel pointed out that Oregon has 2 rules about holding conventions, one for conventions held in odd numbered years, and one for holding them in even numbered years, and that the Respondent’s kept referring to the wrong rule to justify their actions.
Only the at-large Alternates were in play in the Oregon challenge, but due to numerous factors, that actually made a difference with regard to Presidential nominations and voting. Someone on the Credentials Committee moved to adopt the report of the Committee on Contests, which would seat the at-large Alternates chosen by the Oregon star chamber and toss the at-large Alternates elected at the 4 Oregon conventions that did not adjourn at 5 pm. Mandy Tschoepkes (sp?) from Texas seconded that motion.
The female Virgina Credentials Committee member moved to amend the Committee on Contests report to seat the elected (Ron Paul) Alternates instead of the appointed (Romney) ones. One of the committee members from Iowa seconded the motion.
Stavros Mendros gave a speech asking why the contested Alternates from Oregon weren’t split between elected Paul supporters and appointed Romney supporters, just like the Maine delegation was. This got him applause for the 3rd time of the day. There was also an emotional speech by Mike from Virginia urging the Committee to “not reward bad behavior” (on the part of the Oregon establishment that denied the elected delegates). This was followed by a motion to call the question (stop debate and vote on the amendment to seat the Ron Paul Alternates), which passed.
The voice vote to seat the Ron Paul alternates failed by a large margin. I suspect the only “ayes” were the same 12 people who stood for Maine on the earlier vote.
Kelly from Iowa moved to amend the Committee on Contests report to throw out all the contested at-large Alternates, and to allow the uncontested Oregon Delegates to vote for replacements, as provided for by the Oregon State GOP rules. The Chair ruled her motion out of order. Mike from Virginia appealed the decision of the Chair (giving the Credentials Committee an opportunity to overrule the Chair). He needed a 2/3 majority, and the voice vote sounded like he got less than 1/3.
Stavros Mendros from Maine proposed an ammendement to the Committee on Contests report to have the Credentials Committee select half elected Ron Paul Alternates and half Romney replacements, just like the Committee on Contests did for the Maine delegation. Robert (“Max”) from the Virgin Islands seconded the motion. The voice vote failed, again by a large margin.
Someone moved the previous question (again, “let’s quit making new amendments and decided this once and for all”). This passed unanimously, as the Ron Paul Credentials Committee members were just about out of ammunition. There was a final voice vote to adopt the Committee on Contests report, tossing the elected Ron Paul at-large Alternates in favor of the star chamber-selected Romney at-large Alternates. It passed, with the usual 12 or so members dissenting.
Summary: We lost Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
The Credentials Committee took one final vote. The motion was to have only one vote as a permanent committee when they reconvene after the start of the Convention. That vote will be to approve all the decisions made so far (Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon). I expect it to pass handily.
My most recent information is that the permanent Credentials Committee will meet sometime tomorrow (Tuesday, 8/28/2012).
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
A common failing among political activists is the inability to see political decisions and situations from the point of view of those they may disagree with. Activists are by their nature ideological rather than pragmatic and frequently the decisions made by political leaders who have moved beyond their activist roots are made based on considerations which are purely practical and are based on only a very loose understanding of what will really satisfy the activists who make up the various grassroots constituencies they are trying to appeal to.
So if you’re a highly motivated Liberty Republican, a Ron Paul supporter or an ideological libertarian working within the Republican party, I’m going to ask you to try to think outside the box for a little while here while looking at the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate.
From our liberty activist perspective Paul Ryan is pretty much just another establishment Republican hack. With 7 terms under his belt he’s been in office too long. His voting record is utterly uninspiring and shows no real sign of acting on fiscally conservative principles. He’s a big military supporter and never saw a domestic security clampdown or foreign military adventure he didn’t like. Plus he’s about as hardcore a religious conservative as you can find in office. Despite all these indisputable facts, I’m going to suggest that Paul Ryan is still a major concession to the liberty movement within the Republican Party.
Remember that the party establishment is not ideological. All they care about is getting things done, particularly getting their party in power and being able to satisfy the constituencies which keep them in office year after year. They are not inherenly hostile to the best interests of the country or to ideological principles, but they are more loyal to those who provide the enormous amounts of money it takes to get elected or who can provide them with blocks of reliable votes in their home districts. They are made very nervous by any politician who seems too ideological and whose decisions are likely to be unpredictable and deviate from the general strategy of maintaining power and avoiding change.
Now try to get into their heads. From their perspective politicians like Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn and Jeff Flake and even Paul Ryan are radical firebrands because they occasionally come up with an innovative idea or stand firm on an issue for reasons of principle. Not very often, but just enough to make the leadership nervous while still largely satisfying their desire for people to stick with the program. From this vantage politicians like Rand Paul or Justin Amash are positively terrifying because they will consistently challenge the system and operate on an alternative agenda which the establishment is constitutionally incapable of understanding.
The establishment of the Republican party has a general idea that the grassroots are not happy with them. They have encountered the Tea Party and it scared them. They have heard about the liberty movement and dismissed it as so far outside of their worldview as to be irrelevant. They cannot deal with the more ideological elements of the grassroots because operating on ideology is so far outside their experience that they have no tools to deal with it. There’s no way to fit it into their strategy except as a force to somehow be placated with the right rhetoric and symbolic gestures, but most of them don’t have enough contact with the party base to really know what it is asking for. They got huge numbers of phonecalls and emails for Audit the Fed, so they voted for it to throw us a bone, not really understanding that it is merely the tip of the spear of legislative reform which many are demanding, and figuring that somehow that one vote protects and legitimizes them. They stepped outside their box to support that issue and from their perspective that is a huge concession to popular demands.
They have established a norm for the party and varying even slightly from that norm is viewed as dangerously radical. Here’s where Paul Ryan comes in. Paul Ryan came up with a budget plan which included actual Medicare reform and budget cuts. From our perspective the plan is kind of pathetic and inadequate, a mostly symbolic gesture in the right direction which produces mediocre results. But from an establishment perspective it’s absolutely revolutionary because doing anything except voting for more spending and more pandering is very radical.
From that viewpoint, selecting Ryan as the vice presidential candidate is an enormously bold move and a major concession to what their very limited worldview tells them are the concerns of the grassroots. Ryan is more fiscally conservative than they are comfortable with. He is more of an initiator and policymaker than they feel safe with. He’s effective enough that they find him somewhat threatening. From the establishment’s myopic point of view Paul Ryan is an absolute flame breathing radical. He may not seem that way in comparison to Ron Paul, but most of them are not even capable of understanding the ideological views which drive Ron Paul. They don’t take his views or the views of those who support him into consideration at all, because they dismiss them as aberrant and outside of the political mainstream.
The idea of compromising with Ron Paul or making a concession to Liberty Republicans is absolutely inconceivable. It would be like pandering to cows or chickens. Only the most perceptive among the party leaders have even noticed that the liberty movement can raise money and turn out votes, and even they have no idea how to court that constituency. In that position of uncomprehending ignorance the selection of Ryan represents what the establishment sees as an enormous concession. They can’t imagine selecting someone more radical than Ryan and they assume that Ryan is such a strong libertarian (OMG, he reads Ayn Rand!) that he will make everyone happy, bring the Paul supporters on board, fire up the tea party and win over libertarian-leaning independents.
In reality the response in the grassroots has been fairly tepid. Some of the more sold-out tea party groups which have been taken over by the religious right are genuinely excited. But the more ideological groups and those who are real Liberty Republicans have reacted with anything from boredom to outrage. From the perspective of real radical activists Ryan is so close to the establishment norm as to be indistinguishable, just as from the establishment perspective he’s far enough out of the norm to appear like a real concession to the radicals.
The problem with these two conflicting worldviews is that ideological voters are not likely to be terribly forgiving or understanding of an establishment they view more and more as a major part of the problem in our political system. We don’t see what a huge concession Ryan is from the perspective of those in power, we just see how far he is from our ideals and feel disappointed. It’s possible that this is not the right reaction. In analyzing any action the intent behind that action is enormously important. Yes, Ryan isn’t what we wanted, but acting within their limitations, the selection of Ryan shows a clear intent from the establishment to offer a concession to the more radical pro-liberty elements within the party.
That said, it’s possible that we ought to be scoring the Ryan selection as a major victory for liberty because it is a sign of the establishment stepping outside of their comfort zone and offering us something they think is significant. It’s like when your senile grandmother gives you a pair of used socks for Christmas. You don’t like the socks and you don’t want the socks, but you have to appreciate her intent to do what she thought was something nice, even if the result was horribly disappointing. You welcome the old socks with enthusiasm and don’t express your inner dismay, either because you respect her and feel sorry for her, or at the very least because you hope she’ll leave you some money in her will.
Ultimately, if we object to Ryan, if we raise the roof with outrage, they’re sufficiently out of touch that they won’t understand and will just get confused and offended. If we accept their lame gift with a winning smile that makes them think they did the right thing, that makes them feel good about us and next time the gifts may be more generous and they’ll write us into the will and we will eventually inherit it all.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
With the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 election, Romney is hoping to strengthen his credentials as a budget cutting “deficit hawk” through association with Ryan’s famous budget plan. Given the other choices which Romney was considering this is probably a good overall choice. As Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Dave Nalle said in response to the announcement:
“While Paul Ryan is by no means the most exciting or creative choice for a running mate, his selection does suggest that there would be an emphasis on budget cutting in a Romney/Ryan administration. Using the Ryan plan as a starting point and with the addition of deeper cuts and more significant reforms to entitlements, Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the Presidency might be able to pull the country back from the brink of the fiscal abyss.”
The problem is that Ryan’s reputation as a fiscal conservative may not have much substance to it and his positions on other key issues are at the very least worrisome. He has received a great deal of press for a budget plan which does include some cuts and restructuring of medicare, but despite fearmongering from the left, the cuts are far too small and the reforms too limited to really pull us back from the edge of the abyss of debt which faces the nation.
The Ryan plan might be a good starting point if it was augmented with more substantial spending reductions and more comprehensive entitlement reform, but that would require a very proactive and fiscally conservative Congress. By itself it is just not sufficient. It takes a decade to balance the budget and potentially 40 years to deal with the debt, by which time there may be no economy left to save.
In addition, Ryan’s record on spending and other budgetary issues gives little hope that he is terribly serious about promoting limited government. In 2010 the Republican Liberty Caucus of Wisconsin published an analysis of his record and the report is not encouraging. I am reprinting it here in its entirety for those who are concerned about Ryan’s real credentials as a fiscal conservative.
Increasingly our Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan has become a national media darling. Representative Ryan is consistently being promoted on social media networks and by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the nationwide “free market” group Americans for Prosperity.The fact of the matter is that Congressman Ryan voted with George W. Bush 94% of the time. That’s why Ryan’s 2007 Republican Liberty Caucus Liberty Index score, which ranks members of Congress on their voting record from a constitutional perspective, was 91% on economic issues but only 56% on social issues. In 2006, his score on the Liberty Index was 66% on economic issues and 67% on social issues. He has scored better on the Liberty Index; his 2008 score, for example, was 88 both on social and economic issues — an impressive score.It appears that when Paul Ryan’s party is doing the spending, raising debt limits, and acting unconstitutionally… Ryan goes with the flow.
Congressman Ryan’s actual record leaves much to be desired.
The issue Ryan is most known for is his interest in cutting the deficit and balancing the budget.
But why did the Congressman vote to bail out the auto industry, to pass the Medicare package to the tune of $400 billion, and to nationalize education via No Child Left Behind?
Paul Ryan on Bailouts and Government Stimuli
-Voted YES on TARP (2008)
-Voted YES on Economic Stimulus HR 5140 (2008)
-Voted YES on $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler. (Dec 2008)
-Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending. (Jul 2009)
Paul Ryan on Entitlement Programs
-Voted YES on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. (Nov 2003)
-Voted YES on providing $70 million for Section 8 Housing vouchers. (Jun 2006)
-Voted YES on extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks. (Oct 2008)
-Voted YES on Head Start Act (2007)
Paul Ryan on Education
Rep. Ryan went along with the Bush Administration in supporting more federal involvement in education. This is contrary to the traditional Republican position, which included support for abolition of the Department of Education and decreasing federal involvement in education.
-Voted YES on No Child Left Behind Act (2001)
Paul Ryan on Civil Liberties
-Voted YES on federalizing rules for driver licenses to hinder terrorists. (Feb 2005)
-Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
-Voted YES on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. (Sep 2006)
Paul Ryan on War and Intervention Abroad
-Voted YES on authorizing military force in Iraq. (Oct 2002)
-Voted YES on emergency $78B for war in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Apr 2003)
-Voted YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date. (Jun 2006)
-Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days. (May 2007)
Congressman Ryan supports the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, federal bailouts, increased federal involvement in education, unconstitutional and undeclared wars, Medicare Part D (a multi trillion dollar unfunded liability), stimulus spending, and foreign aid.
According to Michelle Malkin in 2009, “[Paul Ryan] gave one of the most hysterical speeches in the rush to pass TARP last fall; voted for the auto bailout; and voted with the Barney Frank-Nancy Pelosi AIG bonus-bashing stampede. Milwaukee blogger Nick Schweitzer wrote: ‘He ought to be apologizing for his previous votes, not pretending he was being responsible the entire time, but I don’t see one bit of regret for what he did previously. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him get away with it’.”
Congressman Ryan: if you don’t like debt, stop voting for debt.
Ryan’s record of fiscal irresponsibility has continued beyond 2010 when this article was written. He has since voted to raise the debt ceiling multiple times and approved ongoing extensions of military spending on unnecessary foreign wars. To be fair his record on fiscal issues has become increasingly mixed. He has voted against foreign aid, farm subsidies and some other specific spending increases as well.
Possibly of even greater concern is Ryan’s ongoing record of absolute irresponsibility in the area of civil liberties. Since 2010 Ryan has been on the wrong side of almost every important vote involving basic Constitutionally protected rights. He voted to extend the PATRIOT Act, for CISPA, for DOMA, for the NDAA (three times), to expand the Department of Homeland Security, to extend troop commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and to give the President the power to appoint department heads without Senatorial approval. At a time when more and more Republicans are waking up to the threat of expanded government power to operate without observing traditional limits on their police power these votes are a major concern.
TARP, bailouts, entitlement expansion, endless military spending and bigger, more intrusive and less constitutional government. Is the Ryan record an example of the kind of policies a financially imperiled nation needs and which grassroots Republicans are demanding? Ryan is probably a gesture in the right direction, but Liberty Republicans should be concerned that the gesture is more symbol than substance and demand a clear and aggressive fiscal plan from the Romney campaign.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
It’s been a long and exhausting primary season for the GOP this election cycle, and things are finally winding down as we head toward the Republican Convention in Tampa next month. Some in the liberty movement, aren’t planning to rally behind the presumptive nominee, and some are even hoping to pull off an upset, to nominate Ron Paul on the floor of the convention.
The Truth to the matter is as simple as this: Mitt Romney will be the Republican Nominee for President of the United States.
But, never fear kids, it’s not the end of the world. If we gain a majority in the Senate, I have little doubt that we can get a lot of good, pro-liberty legislation passed under Romney. Romney will approve the Keystone Pipeline, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and bring more fiscal responsibility to our budget. If we can get a good number of Liberty Republicans in office, we may even have some leverage with foreign policy issues as well. None of this will happen if we re-elect Barack Obama.
If we present ourselves as reasonable and supportive of the party during the Republican National Convention in August, we’ll have a lot of pull on deciding Romney’s running mate, which could be a make or break for Romney come November. There’s been much speculation on Mitt Romney and Ron Paul’s relationship. They supposedly are on very friendly terms, and from what I understand their wives have become very fond of each other as well. And surely Rand Paul’s endorsement of Romney didn’t hurt anything either. Romney realizes that his base has an enthusiasm gap, and he realizes that he’s going to need the Liberty Republicans to support him in November, if he’s going to win the Presidency. With that said, there’s a very good possibility that Rand Paul could be his choice for VP, as well as possibly even his father receiving the VP nomination, or possibly a cabinet position.
Imagine Rand Paul getting the Vice-Presidential nomination, and Ron Paul getting a Cabinet Post of Treasury Secretary. A lot of that will depend on how we act in the weeks leading up to the convention.
Of course, I can already hear some of you screaming at your keyboards: “What about Gary Johnson?”
To be clear, I admire Gary Johnson. I wish Republicans were in such a place to where he could have been nominated by the Republican Party. Unfortunately, most Republicans weren’t ready for some of his ideas, such as being pro-choice, and his advocacy for the legalization of Marijuana. So, in result he switched parties, and he went on to win the nomination from the Libertarian Party instead. As much as I hate to say it, and as much as I think Johnson would be a better President that Romney, he really has no chance of winning. If he can get into the debates, that may cause me to sing a different tune. However, we all know that’s not going to happen.
Romney, may not be the candidate that we brag about, and he is arguably the worst candidate the GOP could have elected; but he’s what we have. Also, he’s far better on liberty issues than the unacceptable alternative offered by the other major party. I ask for libertarians and Republicans to join me in supporting Mitt Romney for President 2012!
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
On this Independence Day I had wanted to celebrate our freedom and not worry about politics. But I couldn’t finish this article yesterday and I realize our freedoms are being threatened here at home so standing up for liberty seems like a good way to celebrate. And a strategy to move this country and our revolution forward isn’t a bad way either.
Much like many young people in the liberty movement, I was upset with Ron Paul’s loss in the Republican Primary. I did not expect him to win, but I expected him to do better. The establishment had chosen Romney, and Romney it will be. But as the primary season went forward and the old doctor’s delegate strategy began to bear fruit I saw greater hope for the future of the movement. It did not come from the possibility that Gary Johnson, now running as the Libertarian Party nominee would continue the movement. It came from the Ron Paul supporters who began taking leadership positions in the Republican Party.
It mostly happened in small-to-medium population states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Alaska and Minnesota. Ron Paul supporters and Republicans with true libertarian streaks were usurping power in the state-level party organizations. The establishment didn’t like it, but they were having trouble stopping it in spite of their best efforts. It made something perfectly clear: Ron Paul laid the ground for the liberty movement to take over the GOP by the end of the decade. Perhaps his son, Senator Rand Paul would run for president in 2016, easily win the early primaries and use the momentum to carry himself to the nomination. But even if Rand did not do so, it became clear to me how the liberty movement could take control of the party by the end of the decade.
The Republican Liberty Caucus has been trying for 20 years to actually change things in the way the GOP does business and now, for the first time in history, the odds are in their favor. But the threat to the liberty movement comes from within itself. And so I am writing this appeal to the movement with the hopes that I can prevent the liberty movement from dissolving.
Let me first start by saying that political consultant Roger Stone is delusional for putting his faith in Gary Johnson. I like Gary. I wish he’d stayed in the party and ran for US Senate in New Mexico, but sadly he did not go that route even though it would have been an easy victory for him and a boost to our movement.
Have I got your attention? Good. Because I need to be blunt. There is a concept in public choice theory called rational voter ignorance that too few libertarians have ever even heard of. In a nutshell, this ignorance means that the two party system of America will not go away for at least another generation.
The good news, it doesn’t need to for liberty to win in the short-term. When you look at the numbers, its impossible for a third party candidate to gain serious traction, even in the internet age. But could we use those numbers to gain faster results? My strategy suggests we can.
There is a coming generational shift that will make many Americans happy and make some angry: the inevitability of a secular society. Social conservatism, at least from a “we need the federal government to enforce Christian morals” is on life support. And the plug will be pulled soon. The Moral Majority types that took over the Republican Party in the 1980s probably have a half life of about 7-10 years at this point. Ron Paul, using the same strategy that they used in the 80s, brought thousands of liberty-minded Americans, many of them in my generation, to state Republican conventions all over the country. They showed up. They sent liberty loving delegates to the Republican National Convention. And while they didn’t send enough to get the nomination for Ron Paul, it is my belief that the Republican establishment will be shocked at what they see. A proportional decrease in the number of Bible thumpers at the convention versus 2008 and a massive new wave of delegates who are economically conservative but don’t believe the federal government has any more business in our bedrooms than they do in our wallets.
The Republican establishment, first and foremost, is concerned with political power. They are eventually going to see the rise in secularism and begin to ignore the religious right in favor of individual liberty, but this can only happen if we play our cards right.
The Coming Dichotomy
For clarity–mainly to any older generations reading this–I’d like to point out that secularism has become a dirty word in recent years due to the left. It should not be. Secularism merely means the government abides by the first amendment. It means that government policies are unbiased by direct religious influence. Laws cannot be justified just because a religion says so. An individuals liberty is protected if he is doing no harm to another, even if he is doing something that might be dangerous or stupid. It also means the government has no business in dictating to the church how it runs its business.
Secularism has gotten a bad name by those on the left who are anti-religion (usually biased against Christianity more so than other faiths) and support government policies that violate a person’s religious views (like the Obama Administration trying to force the Catholic Church to pay for contraception). This disdain for religion comes from the cultural Marxism in today’s American left.
My generation, often referred to as millennials, is overwhelmingly secular in that as a strong majority we don’t care if same-sex couples marry, we don’t want government to ban all abortion (even if many of us are personally opposed to the practice), we don’t want government to tell 18 year olds they can’t drink, we don’t support the war on drugs, and we don’t like politicians who try to use government to force Biblical principles on us. We’re less religious than our predecessors in terms of our church attendance and even our practice of organized religion. And for those of us that do practice a religion, we’re much less likely to aggressively proselytize it to those who have different views.
As our generation matures and begins coming to power, it will shift society with it and there will be an ideological dichotomy in this country: secular capitalists vs. secular Marxists. I use the term Marxist loosely. No, not all of them will be full-blown communists. But many of them will support Marx-inspired policies: government control of industry, redistribution of wealth, centralized economic planning, etc. Basically the failed ideologies of the 20th century. The cultural Marxists will be anti-religion. But the secular-capitalists are not anti-religion. And I am confident that when all is said and done the forces of capitalism will prevail.
Secular-capitalism is the future we need to restore American greatness. Its a good kind of secular because while its not going to use government to define marriage as between man and woman, its also not going to force churches to perform same-sex marriages against their will. Its going to let the private sector and private individuals solve the complicated social problems that government can’t (and shouldn’t try to in the first place).
Take drugs for example. The country is moving in favor of marijuana legalization. There is still strong opposition to this, but as the great conservative author William F. Buckley Jr. once suggested, drug legalization would not destroy society because there are still societal pressures for personal responsibility.
“And, by the way, there’s no reason not to encourage social sanctions against [illegal drug use], i.e., if you come to work for Mr. Heffner, you can’t take drugs. And if you don’t consent to have an occasional drug test, extemporaneously scheduled, then don’t apply for a job. I’m all in favor of social sanctions for use; it’s the legal sanction that I think is killing us.” — William F. Buckley, Jr. in an interview with Richard Heffner, The Open Mind, August 1996
If a person goes to work high on marijuana or cocaine, they would be fired just the same as they would if they came to work drunk. Its these pressures that prevent society from spinning out of control. The onus is on the individual to be responsible. And most individuals will. The ones that don’t will be irresponsible regardless of the substance’s legality.
We as libertarians understand this. The religious right does not seem to. But the establishment will see things our way not simply because our views are becoming more accepted by society and the “theo-cons” less so, but because they are realistic.
An Appeal to Ron Paul Delegates
When I was an alternate delegate to the Texas state Republican Convention, I saw a strong presence by Ron Paul supporters as well as other Republicans with some libertarian leanings. We stopped the theocrats from putting a plank in the state platform to restore “sodomy law”. We stopped protectionists from removing a market-friendly immigration reform plank. We put planks in the party platform calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System, withdrawal from the UN, elimination of unnecessary EPA regulations and many other Constitutional policies. The end result was far from perfect, but I was amazed how good it was. I was also stricken with fear at what might happen. If those same delegates who helped get this done lose the faith simply because Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee and leave the Republican Party for the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party or just to become independents, then all that work was for nothing. But if they show up in the same numbers with the same enthusiasm at the 2014 Texas GOP convention, they will proportionally be more significant. Since its not a presidential election year, the convention will have lower turnout by the religious right and even the establishment, meaning we would wield more influence.
So those of you planning on supporting Gary Johnson or writing in Ron Paul, I encourage you to read the rest of this article before making a final decision. The rules of the Republican National Convention permit the delegates to choose the vice-president. If there is not unity on Gov. Romney’s nominee, they can try to send their own nominee. I hope all Ron Paul-supporting delegates and all Gary Johnson supporters let it be known that YOU CAN force Ron Paul into the VP slot and you should. And then you should vote for Romney/Paul.
Many of you will criticize me for this and claim that Romney would still be Romney. Well, Romney is like tofu. You cook him in Massachusetts, he’ll be a liberal Republican. You cook him with Ron Paul…well, he might start throwing some bones to the liberty movement. This election is bigger than Romney, Paul, Obama or Johnson. Its about whether or not we are actually going to restore free-market capitalism and individual liberty.
Romney and Obama are so similar on economics and foreign policy its not even funny. But Romney has something that makes him malleable which Obama does not. Romney would have to get re-elected in 2016. The majority of the American people are opposed to more war. So on the foreign policy, Romney is less likely to start another war because it would cost him the election. If Obama gets reelected he will be a lame-duck and if you think he’s been unconcerned with the wishes of the American people up till this point, just imagine how bad he’ll be when he no longer has to give a damn what they think. He is more likely to start another war and will add more to the national debt than Romney. There of course is the prospect of our economy being crushed by this debt and sending us into an economic downturn–as Peter Schiff suggests. With a President Romney, there is a chance of actually taking some of the right steps. With Obama, there is none. Will Keynesianism finally be blamed if Obama presides over this collapse? Or will he blame “obstructionist Republicans” and will the American people buy that? I’m betting the latter and its not a gamble I’d like to take.
We need to win the American people on the issues of the day and I think we are. Most Americans are opposed to more war, are leaning towards proposing an end to the war on drugs, are apathetic to or supportive of same-sex marriage, so if we win them on free-market principles they essentially will become libertarian-minded people! And if the American people lean in our direction on the issues, a hypothetical President Romney will be forced to in order to be re-elected in 2016.
This is not my endorsement of Mitt Romney. I am withholding my endorsement until after the GOP convention because I want to see just how far my fellow libertarian-leaning Republicans are willing to take things. I request of the Ron Paul delegates that you force Mitt’s hand! Its already public record that Romney and Paul are personal friends in spite of their political differences. This suggests they can work together and Romney can be molded in a more conservative direction on the economy and a 10th amendment position on social issues.
Of course this scenario I’ve proposed can only happen if Romney is president. The best way to solidify this is to get him to choose Ron Paul as vice-president. If he were to do so, he would undoubtedly have my vote and I know many Paul supporters who would only support Romney if Paul was his running mate. Independent voters lean positive on their opinions of both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney from the polls I’ve seen. I imagine that those who don’t care for Mitt like Ron and vice-versa. This is the ticket that will send Barack Obama packing!
Romney would have a hard time winning otherwise. Mitch Daniels or Luis Fortuno could help Romney win as well. But some of the names being tossed around like Rob Portman or Marco Rubio I do not believe would solidify a Romney victory.
Let’s go for it! A Ron Paul vice-presidency does two big things.
First, it brings the liberty movement into the mainstream. A vice-president is not easily ignored. Think about it. Every ridiculous thing that comes out of Joe Biden’s mouth is national news. It would give Ron Paul a greater degree of respect than he’s ever had by mainstream America.
Secondly, it is important to remember that while Romney needs to get re-elected, Paul would likely only serve one term. Romney can’t force Paul to resign. Paul will say whatever he wants. And he will use the power of his vice presidency to elect liberty Republicans to the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 2014 midterm election! A vice-presidential endorsement goes a long way in terms of improving name-ID and finances for a congressional candidate. Imagine a few more Rand Pauls in the Senate and 30-40 more Justin Amashs in the House!
It means we can’t be ignored anymore. And the Republican establishment will see how we are replacing the religious right and the war-hawks and they will want to move in our direction to stay in power.
I’ve also considered the proper strategy if Ron Paul is not chosen as Vice-President.
The Statistical Implications: An Appeal to Gary Johnson Supporters
I know many young libertarians who are turning to the Libertarian Party (LP) candidate Gary Johnson and believing that he and the LP are going to continue the revolution Ron Paul started. Hate to burst your bubble, but its not gonna happen. I referred earlier to rational voter ignorance. Just because you don’t like the two-party system doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Its not going anywhere! And the Libertarian Party is not competent or resourceful enough to make a dent in the status quo. A better strategy would be for the entire party to dissolve, disband and all register as Republicans and help people like Justin Amash highjack a major party and oust the theocons, neocons and the Keynesians. I’ve met people in the LP who laugh at me and say that there is a better chance of the Libertarian Party winning than the Republican Party changing.
Please hear me out! You have to consider the numbers game. When you do, you’ll realize why–to paraphrase Andrew Wilkow–I’m right, they’re wrong, that’s the end of the story!
The LP failed to co-opt the 40% or so of the early Tea Party movement that wasn’t socially conservative. They didn’t even co-opt 1/4th of that 40% or so. They’ve never won a congressional seat, state house speakership, state senate seat in a large pop state, governorship, mayorship in a major city. And please don’t give me that “the GOP didn’t for years” crap. 19th century America when we had less than 100 million people in this country, before rational voter ignorance became pandemic, IS NOT a relevant comparison. The LP was started by billionaires–the Koch brothers–and even with the might of the internet they still haven’t accomplished these things.
There’s also the question of financing. Another third party was once started by a billionaire. But it went nowhere. Ross Perot’s Reform Party attempted to present an alternative in the 1992 presidential election and he capped at 18%. Romney and Obama will each raise half a billion bucks before this is over. Gary Johnson, over the course of a year in 2 different political parties hadn’t even broke $1 million. Romney, Obama, even Ron Paul can merely send out a simultaneous Facebook update and tweet saying “send me money” and raise that much in 48 hours. 48 hours vs. a year. Admit it, Johnson is more than a longshot candidate. He is statistically unable to make a difference.
Assume voters are 30% Dem 30% GOP and 40% independent/third party and from past polling we can see the Libertarian Party’s cap at about 3% in general elections. We’ve got 13-16% of the GOP already in support of Ron Paul based on primary results this year. There is anywhere from 2-5 percent more in the Republican with some libertarian leanings on various issues (they had either backed Cain or Hunstman in the primaries).
For this simply arithmetic demonstration I’ll go with the LP-friendly estimate. .16 * .30 = 4.8%. Add that to the 3% cap of the LP and you get 7.8%. Not enough to get Johnson into the debates (15% minimum). Which means he will never get the necessary name ID. He’s trapped in a vicious circle: he can’t get his name ID up without being in the debate, but he doesn’t have enough name ID to get into the debate in the first place. I feel sorry for him, but not too sorry because he hasn’t accepted he’s made the wrong move by joining the Libertarian Party.
Merging Across Parties
Now, consider this. The Libertarian Party is 3% of the voting population. They DISBAND. They all register Republican. Add them to the Ron Paul supporters and the former libertarian-leaning Cain and Huntsman supporters and the liberty wing of the GOP is now about 20%. Its in the territory where it rivals the religious right. Come 2016, they’ll be over 20%
This sends a signal to two groups: the GOP establishment types who aren’t uber religious and are more concerned with winning elections than the social conservatism and the independent voters. The generational shift becomes irrefutably evident to all that secularism is rising and Bible-thumping is dying. The GOP establishment will finally understand the religious right is on its way out and will begin moving more in the direction of the liberty wing. This makes the party look more secular. Independent voters, who are overwhelmingly not socially conservative will be more inclined to join–or, in some cases, return–to the Republican Party.
By the early part of the next decade, you will see a Grand New Party, a party of secular capitalism. One that the Democrats will NEVER be able to stop.
By contrast, if the liberty wing of the GOP break away now, as I fear they might do. If they register LP. If they support Johnson. If they don’t show up at state and local GOP conventions in droves during the 2014 midterm to continue the push that Ron Paul started, then you will see two minority parties. A minority GOP and a minority LP. Both financially broken and statistically insignificant–meaning both unable to defeat the new Democrat majority that is so much larger.
You all know I’m right, and when Johnson fails to break single digits I will say I told you so. But I will also welcome you with open arms to accept my strategy as the most politically viable for the liberty movement. I can only hope that failure to see this now rather than after the November election won’t mean its too late for the liberty movement.
Aaron Alghawi obtained a B.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 2012. He is a national board member and Director of Student Outreach for the Republican Liberty Caucus.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
At the Texas Republican convention, while a lot of eyes were focused on the efforts of Ron Paul supporters to become part of the national delegation, the more interesting fight for many Liberty Republicans was over the platform and what it might say about the future character of the Republican Party. Because Texas is the most Republican state in the union: and has such a large presence at the national convention, our platform is looked to as a guide when setting policy for the national party.
I was involved in the platform fight long before arriving at the convention as a delegate. I was an outspoken critic of the 2010 platform, having written several widely read articles critical of its contents and spearheaded a publicity campaign for the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas which targeted the divisive social issues sectiion and had led to interviews in state and national media. Months in advance I created a working group of people with similar concerns which produced and distributed a dozen pro-liberty platform resolutions, including a proposal to limit the length and specificity of the platform. We also wrote an alternative platform to be introduced from the floor if the final platform proved to be unacceptable. Prior to our county convention I contacted all of our county chairmen and SREC members with an email urging them to appoint reformers to their local and statewide platform committees. In the weeks leading up to the convention I also lobbied the members of the platform committee directly by email and wrote an article suggesting key areas where the platform could be improved.
I used every resource at my command to influence the process, from direct appeals to media pressure to threats of an embarrassing floor fight. I knew it was working when anti-reform insiders who actually liked the abominable 2010 platform began to get paranoid and started talking publicly about a conspiracy to destroy it.
All of this work had three main objectives. First, to generally shorten and simplify the platform. Second, to eliminate as many of the anti-gay planks as possible. Third, to reduce the section on foreign policy to a simple statement of principles without specific planks on policy towards other nations. These goals were not intended to address every problem in the platform, but focused on targets which were particularly offensive and also easy to argue against.
In the process of developing this effort I had made contact with sympathetic members of the platform committee and was in touch with them by text message during their meetings and deliberations and saw draft sections of the platform and provided input outside of the normal process of testimony at hearings. I did attend the hearings, but ended up having to testify only once in person, though I also had confederates giving testimony.
The platform committee was under the leadership of Tom Mechler who I would describe as state chairman Steve Munisteri’s right hand man, a choice which tipped me off early that I and my group were not the only ones with a plan to influence the platform. Sitting in the audience at the committee meetings it quickly became clear that the other organized effort was coming from an element of the party leadership headed up by Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a long-time ally of the Republican Liberty Caucus, who was pushing a comprehensive immigration reform plank to replace the entire section on immigration in the platform with a single, coherent plan. Their goal did not conflict with ours and between their influence and our activism we were more effective than expected.
Our first success came when Mechler split the platform committee out into subcommittees for each section of the platform and specifically instructed them to trim down the verbiage and resolve inconsistencies. I assume this was done to protect the new immigration plank with a hand-picked subcommittee, but it also meant smaller groups looking at each section, with more autonomy and room for individual initiative. The revisions which came out of this process were excellent. The overall wordcount was cut by almost 40% and while not many full planks were cut, secondary clauses which contained controversial content were cut aggressively.
At the start of the process there were 8 anti-gay planks and almost 30 foreign policy planks on specific countries. By the final committee meeting this was down to three anti-gay planks and the only country specifically mentioned under foreign policy was Israel. Along the way bad bits in other sections also got the axe, including much of the language supporting creationism. Planks equating homosexuality with pedophilia, condemning gay scoutmasters and opposing gay adoption were among those we had targeted which had been removed. In the original draft of the family values section which came out of the subcommittee a particularly ridiculous plank expressing support for the Texas law criminalizing sodomy which was struck down by the supreme court several years ago had been removed, but it was put back into the platform by the committee at large.
At the final session of the committee I had planned to come to add my voice to those testifying in support of Jerry Patterson’s immigration reform plank, but on discovering the reintroduction of the sodomy plank I left immigration to an associate and got on the list to speak on the sodomy issue. In my three minutes at the microphone I argued for a general softening of the language on gay issues and specifically pointed out that the sodomy law had been struck down by a Republican Supreme Court mostly appointed by presidents from Texas and that if we believe in the Constitution and the rule of law as stated elsewhere in the platform then it was ridiculous to demand that our legislature attempt to override the highest federal court on a constitutional issue. I saw a lot of smiles and nods from the committee and was not surprised to learn several hours later that the committee had followed my advice and again removed the sodomy plank. Most other arguments before the committee were not as successful. Attempts to remove or weaken the new immigration section were not well received, nor were attempts to restore the old foreign policy planks, with the exception of a brief statement in support of Taiwan.
That wasn’t the end of the fight. The platform still had to go to the floor of the convention where it could be challenged and modified by any delegate who stood in line to speak at one of six microphones and could stir up enough support for his position. Unlike previous years the floor debate for the platform was scheduled on Friday, rather than at the close of the convention on Saturday, so there was potentially plenty of time for a fight over controversial planks on the convention floor.
When the platform committee report was presented to the general session of the convention, long lines immediately formed at all of the microphones. As I learned while standing in line, there were three groups of people at the microphones: nativists who wanted to reinstate the 2010 anti-immigration language to the platform, outraged religious right activists who wanted to put the anti-gay language back in the platform and agents of the group that framed the new immigration section planted there to make arguments in support of it. I was there to counter anyone trying to bring up the social policy issues, but as it turned out my efforts were unnecessary. It became fairly clear that supporters of the new immigration plank had a well-formed plan and all I had to do was go along for the ride.
I don’t mean to suggest that anything happened which was not entirely above board. The Chairman made sure that people got equal time to speak on both sides of any issue which was raised. But beyond that it was fairly clear that the situation was being carefully orchestrated. Although immigration was the last item in the platform, the Chairman agreed with a request to take it out of order and examine it first. He then heard motions which were basically complaints about the section which were masquerading as points of information. Supporters were given equal time to defend the immigration plank, including Land Commissioner Patterson who spoke from one of the floor microphones. Back and forth about immigration went on, with several suggestions for changes, including replacing the whole thing with the 2010 wording, being voted down on voice votes. Then, much to everyone’s surprise there was a motion from the floor to close debate and vote on the platform as a whole, and suddenly with about 60 people waiting in line to make motions on the platform, the whole thing passed and it was over.
The intent, clearly planned carefully by the party Chairman, the head of the Platform Committee and the backers of the immigration plank, was to make absolutely sure that the platform passed with their plank in place and unchanged, regardless of what else in the platform their strategy left unchanged. So because of their efforts dozens of anti-gay activists were left fuming on the floor while the platform passed with most of the anti-gay planks edited out. It was a surprise victory which fell into our laps, and while there remain two problem planks in the family values section, we got more change than I had ever realistically expected.
That personal victory aside and without minimizing the progress made on social issues, the really important result of this process was the immigration plank which ended up in the platform. Chairman Munisteri made very clear that he expected our platform to be looked at closely at the national convention, and that Texas ought to have a strong voice in setting national immigration policy for the Republican Party. To that end, what Commissioner Patterson crafted is something the nation has been begging for, an authentic, balanced and comprehensive plan for dealing with all aspects of immigration, and one which a national campaign can be run on.
The immigration plan includes provisions for border security, for limiting the access of immigrants to public welfare and services and a proposal for a robust guest worker program with a modern system for monitoring workers to make sure that immigrants can find jobs and industries which need temporary immigrant labor can find workers legally. It also does this while explicitly avoiding draconian penalties for businesses, punitive measures against those currently in the country illegally and any form of national ID system for citizens like E-Verify. It is very much a “square deal” in the best Republican tradition, looking out for the interests of all the parties involved, including native workers, immigrants, taxpayers and businesses.
With Romney as the nominee we have to expect that the Republican Party will move back towards a more pro-business, small government agenda. Attracting independent voters, small business owners and hispanic voters will be a key component of any winning strategy for the GOP, and a well-conceived position on immigration which satisfies the needs of businesses and the hispanic community to see immigrants treated fairly will be a major asset.
It seems clear that the “fix was in” for this immigration plan at the Texas convention. If this was done with the cooperation and support of the Romney campaign then that is a very promising sign that they will be taking a smart stand on this key issue. If the Romney camp was not involved, they would be wise to pay attention to the opportunity to pick up a good idea from the most Republican state in the union, a state with the longest border in the nation and a wealth of experience in immigration policy.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
The boisterous Maine Republican Convention finally adjourned late Sunday night with a clean sweep for Liberty Republicans.
The Ron Paul slate won 20 of the 24 national convention delegates and all of the alternates, plus new pro-liberty RNC representatives who also sit as delegates to the national convention, leaving sitting Maine GOP Chairman Webster as the only sure Romney delegate and Maine Governor Paul LePage as an additional delegate who may vote with the liberty faction. Of course, The Establishment raised enough procedural issues to create potential roadblocks and is threatening to challenge the entire delegation.
At one point, the Executive Committee of the current Maine State Committee was seen in a break room around a table on a conference call trying to get the RNC to declare the Maine convention invalid. On Saturday, as the trend was evident, Romney’s top lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg was flown into Augusta Municipal Airport by private plane to advise The Establishment on the convention floor. The Portland Press Herald caught a photo of him in action trying to influence proceedings at the convention.
Youth was brought into the party with the election of young Paul supporters as National Committeeman and National Committeewoman. The National Committeewoman-elect Ashley Ryan will become the youngest member of the RNC and she has expressed interest in Republican Liberty Caucus.
Liberty Republicans, including at least eight RLC members, swept State Committee seats and, unless challenged by The Establishment lawyers, look to have a majority or better for control. The State Chair Charles Webster, who declared war on libertarians, is up for election in December.
Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage has been friendly to libertarians and was supported as a delegate on the liberty slate. He was endorsed by Maine Republican Liberty Caucus in the seven-way primary before his election.
The old guard Establishment remains the Legislative leadership, many of whom led the procedural challenges which caused the convention to run late. Several expressed open hostility to the Paul movement, libertarians and two to the RLC specifically. State Rep. Aaron Libby, who is friendly to RLC, did endorse Paul last February but is the only GOP legislator to be public.
The Maine RLC booth was extremely successful in terms of both new memberships and revenues from sales of my book and the wing-nut teeshirts, which were worn all over the convention floor by the young Paul enthusiaists.
The only drawback was an incomplete Maine RLC State Convention. We were able to convene with a quorum long enough to elect officers. Ken Lindell was reelected Chair, Vic Berardelli was re-elected vice chair, Tim McClure is secretary, Jeffrey Ellis is treasurer. Board members are David Brooks, Ken Anderson and Michelle Anderson. We were about to get into endorsement review when our “courier” said they cut short candidate speeches and were about to conduct voting business on the main convention floor. With the Romney challenges and the late hour, we were unable to muster a quorum to reconvene and will have to conclude our RLC business at a later date.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.