freedom movement

Standing on the Sidelines is Not an Option for the Freedom Movement

Below is the speech I gave last night at the FreedomWorks’ Spring Break College Summit at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, DC.

Before I get down to the crux of my talk this evening, I’ve gotta say, watching Senator Rand Paul’s epic 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday was nothing short of inspirational. For more than half a day, Senator Paul — aided at times by some of his colleagues, including Mike Lee and Ted Cruz — gave a brilliant defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and challenged the notion of perpetual war.

While Democrats in Congress have claimed to be champions of civil liberties, it was the Tea Party, led by Senator Paul, defending due process. It was the Tea Party making the case against a government that could arbitrarily kill its own citizens on American soil. And it was the Tea Party who was fighting against an extraordinary expansion of executive power.

The message got out there. Senator Paul gained some 40,000 new followers on Twitter and the social media service reported that over 1-million tweets were sent about the filibuster. Ironically, it was Politico that recently suggested that hashtags were no longer relevant. The hashtag, #StandWithRand, pretty much killed that notion.

C-SPAN confirmed that they had received viewership that was on par with events like the presidential inauguration. The filibuster also had the profound effect of gaining support from individuals and groups who aren’t typically fans of Republicans, including John Cusack, Van Jones, and Code Pink.

And not only was this a courageous stand against a President who has abused his authority, but it was also a rejection of the GOP’s past, and they’re losing their minds because of it. We saw that the next morning when John McCain and Lindsey Graham had a complete meltdown on the Senate floor.

A few more thoughts on the Reince Priebus and GOP Liberty situation

Yesterday, United Liberty Editor Jason Pye did a write-up on Reince Priebus and his recent attempts to reach out to the Ron Paul Republicans/Liberty wing of the GOP. This action has naturally been met with much skepticism from the Freedom forces of the GOP. As a member of that group, I just wanted to expound on a few things:

First off, with all due respect, for those thinking that Priebus did this solely because he was concerned about keeping his position, that just isn’t the case. No one, and I really mean no one (including potential challenger Mark Willis), had any real hope that Priebus would be unseated. Of the 168 members of the RNC, there might have been upwards of two dozen or so that could be counted on to vote against Priebus. However, Mark Willis, the Liberty GOPer from Maine, wasn’t able to get the majority vote of the 3 different state RNC memberships to even be placed on the ballot.

Secondly, Priebus has been reaching out to the Ron Paul/Liberty people before, during, and after this most recent RNC meeting. The writing is on the wall - the Liberty forces have the momentum. And even though they’ve been the ones most involved in the degradation of the GOP for the last decade, the establishment GOP is now exhibiting what might be the strongest and most intense of human instincts - self-preservation.  It’s also just common sense, as evidenced by this recent quote from long-serving, social conservative RNC Iowa Committeeman, Steve Scheffler:

“If you don’t start including new people, you’re going to die on the vine…the old guard needs to be inclusive.”

Erick Erickson nails the current state of conservatism

Erick Erickson

It’s been obvious to many that modern conservatism has, to a large degree, become bereft of ideas and more about cultural issues, and opposing Barack Obama more out of personal dislike than principled opposition.  On the right you’ll hear a lot of shouting and yelling, but almost no one is making a reasoned, optimistic pitch for why conservative ideas are better for actual people.  It’s become all about firing up the base, which has been shrinking for years to the point where it is no longer enough to win elections.

But it’s one thing for a libertarian like me to say it.  It’s another for Erick Erickson at the major conservative blog Red State to say it.  I disagree with Erick most of the time, but he has just about nailed exactly what the current state of the Right is:

What I am finding is that among conservatives there is too much outrage, piss, and vinegar. It makes our ideas less effective. We have become humorless, angry opponents of the President instead of happy warriors selling better ideas. We are not even selling ideas.

Conservatives, frankly, have become purveyors of outrage instead of preachers for a cause. Instead of showing how increasing government harms people, how free markets help people, and how conservative policies benefit all Americans, we scream “Benghazi” and “Fast & Furious.”

Exactly.  We see this all over the place.  Obama is not simply just someone to disagree with, but someone to hate, to view as a literal traitor and evil person.  Surely the left was guilty of this to some extent in the Bush years, but never to this degree.  Frankly, the right has become exceedingly boring, and most of the country agrees.

Where do we go from here?

So today is inauguaration day. For many in this country it is a grand and glorious day, but for many it is a stark reminder of the failures of the GOP establishment and the Romney campaign. If ever there was a presidential election that should have been won by the non-incumbent party, this was it. So what happened?

For starters, a weak candidate who ran a very weak campaign is usually a recipe for disaster. But more than that, I think the biggest failure was the refusal of the GOP establishment to to even tolerate, much less embrace, the liberty wing of the party. You can call this wing the “crazy Ron Paul people” or, as a lady in my county said, “these libertarians trying to take over our party.” This behavior was found at all levels - precinct, county, district, state, and national. A real shame considering that this was the one wing of the party that could have actually GOTV and created some excitement. But the GOP antics in Tampa made sure that wouldn’t happen.

What were they thinking? In such an electric and polarized environment, you’ve got to be inclusive as possible, not completely exclusive. It’s as if many GOPers had a death wish - making all of the wrong decisions at every, single turn. But…that’s all in the past - water under the bridge.

So where do we go from here? That depends on what you believe and what you think is truly helpful to the liberty movement. We all have our opinions on that. A method that I learned from my real estate days is the wall method. Throw it all against the wall and see what sticks, also known as the kitchen sink method.

MI-3: Justin Amash Has 14-Point Lead

Post image for Justin Amash Has 14-Point Lead in MI-3

There’s good news out of Michigan today. New polling shows Michigan Congressman Justin Amash has a 14-point lead over Steve Pestka, his Democrat challenger.

If you’re not yet familiar with Amash, you should take the time to get to know him. While I usually agree with him on issues, Amash’s voting record is only part of the reason I’m such a huge fan.

1. Justin Amash has never missed a vote in Congress.

One of my frustrations with legislators is the number of votes they miss. Sure, some votes really don’t matter, but when you’re selected to represent people, you ought to be there. Amash makes sure he is present for every vote that comes to the floor of the House.

2. Justin Amash explains every vote on his Facebook page.

Not only is he present for every vote, he explains those votes on his Facebook page. He’s the first member of Congress to be so proactively straightforward about transparency in government. I like my own Congressman a lot, but if I want to know why he supported or opposed legislation, I’ve got to either send an email or call his office and then wait for a form letter reply. Amash’s constituents can look on Facebook to see every vote he has ever cast and the reason for his position on the issue.

In a time where so many politicians are worthless, corrupt, and hungry for just a little more power, it’s refreshing to see someone doing the job he was sent to do and being transparent about it.

Attracting women into the libertarian movement

There have been lots of blogs and articles about how to bring women into the libertarian movement. Rachel Burger took her stab at it this past Friday. Most of her piece is about social oppression and a response to another piece, but she concluded with this:

It’s very easy to point to state authoritarianism and say “no,” but we cannot ignore for societal oppression either. As a predominantly white male political group, the crushing effects of social oppression often go unrecognized within our circle, simply because it doesn’t affect the majority of libertarians. This cannot continue. If we want to see change in this country, we have to actively be aware of the states of different members of the population and work on more inclusive messaging. This includes women and minorities; once we start doing that, we might see more of them within our movement.

I’m not going to address minorities because Rachel’s piece wasn’t about that. The biggest problem with Rachel’s piece is it focuses way too much on the philosophical and not enough on practical things like messaging.

Most people don’t live their lives through an ideological prism. They care about just living their lives and taking care of their families. Libertarians have a tendency to try and reach people on a largely philosophical and theoretical plain and Rachel’s piece is no different in that regard. The problem is when you talk about feminist ideas on societal oppression or even abstract ideas on liberty; they don’t register with someone whose only concerns are about how they will provide for their families. As a movement, we need to be become more relevant to everyone’s lives. As we become a more practical movement, we can speak to everyone, regardless of gender.

Harry Reid Compares Tea Party to “Anarchists”

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took a shot at the Tea Party movement while discussing the sequester and the Simpson-Bowles fiscal reform plan with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Coburn, who is serving his last term in the Senate, objected to S. 788, which would suspend the sequester for the current fiscal year. The sequester — a plan that merely cuts the rate of spending increases, is being blamed for flight delays due to FAA furloughs of air traffic controllers — a move with political motivations behind it.

“What is happening in the Senate is phenomenal, and I want the American people to see this, Coburn explained. “The Federal Government is 89 percent bigger than it was 10 years ago. We just heard the majority leader say flexibility can’t work because we are already dealing with the same amount of money — 89 percent more than we were 10 years ago.”

“I didn’t vote for the Budget Control Act. I think sequester is a stupid way to cut spending. But I want us to understand exactly what is going on,” Coburn continued. “This is a contrived situation because no effort — zero effort — by the FAA or the Department of Transportation has been made to have any flexibility in terms of how they spend their money. They have made no request for a reprogramming of funds within the FAA. They have over $500 million unobligated sitting in balances that aren’t obligated, so none of this had to happen. This has been a created situation.”

Reid responded with revisionist history, bogus numbers, and a slam against both Coburn and the Tea Party movement.

Fusionism is a Necessity: Winning Minds Requires a Conservative/Libertarian Alliance

There has been much debate in recent weeks over fusionism inside the liberty movement, especially now that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has become a prominent national political figure. This debate has been raging for years, but has really taken off for a number of reasons.

Writing yesterday at National Review, Jonah Goldberg, author of The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, noted that conservatives and libertarians have always shared a core belief in economics, making us natural allies:

What often gets left out in discussions of the American Right is that fusionism isn’t merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a “libertarian journalist.” Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb that the question “Does this augment or diminish human liberty?” informed most of what he wrote.

Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American Right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.

Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn’t a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one. Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike. When Pat Buchanan wanted to move America towards protectionism and statism, he had to leave the party to do it.

RNC Trashes Grassroots in 2012 Election “Autopsy”

Reince Priebus

The Republican National Committee released its long-awaited “autopsy” of the 2012 election, which is supposed to help the GOP determine a way forward in future elections. Let’s just say that the report is disappointing if you view the grassroots as an important part of the process:

The GOP’s prescription to cure the ills that helped bring on yet another disastrous presidential cycle would revamp its presidential nominating rules in ways to benefit well-funded candidates and hamper insurgents - a move that quickly heated up the already smoldering feud between the Republican establishment and the tea party-inspired base.

Tucked in near the end of the 97-page report, formally known as The Growth and Opportunity Project, are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions.
[…]
The recommendations are also a nod to the party’s donor class. Several donors bluntly told RNC Chair Reince Priebus at meetings right after the election that they wanted Iowa, with its more conservative base, to have less of a role in the process.

CPAC’s Winners and Losers — and More

Rand Paul

There was some uneasiness about CPAC this year due to last year’s disappointing loss at the ballot box and internal disagreements among various ideological views. Despite those initial concerns, the conference was a success if you’re part of the liberty movement, at least. Here’s a look at the winners and losers from CPAC. Also, scroll down to the bottom for a few more pictures and some additional thoughts.

Winners

— Rand Paul: When it comes down to it, Sen. Paul has been constantly winning over the last few weeks, but his speech on Thursday was probably the most anticipated and well-received speech of the week. And while the straw poll win over Sen. Marco Rubio just adds to the momentum.

Stand With Rand

— Liberty Movement and Young Attendees: Really, the liberty movement should go above with Sen. Paul, but given what we heard on yesterday from RNC Chair Reince Preibus and former ACU Chair David Keene, both of whom called for conservatives and Republicans to welcome liberty-minded activists into the fold, requires some separation. Add in Sen. Paul’s straw poll win and it was a successful weekend. Also, the fact that 52% of straw poll voters were between the ages of 18 and 25 — many of which I suspect are in the liberty movement — is a big deal because it gave them a chance to have signficiant influence.


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