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.
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.”
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.
Mitt Romney had his clock cleaned on Tuesday night. There is no getting around it. People can talk about his campaign couldn’t have done any better. There isn’t much disagreement on this end. Many conservatives are understandably frustrated with how the election turned out.
Romney ran this race in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Yet, he still lost. This didn’t happen because of a lack of GOTV efforts and phone-banking. Romney lost because he failed to run on big ideas that would have made the choice before voters more clear.
Republicans didn’t win because they nominated a guy who passed a law in Massachusetts that would later serve as a blueprint for ObamaCare. When he was on the campaign trail, Romney and his surrogates played up his “experience” on the issue. There was no real distinction.
Throughout the course of the campaign Romney said that that the United States is facing long-term economic problems. However, Romney never put forward a substantive plan that would actually get spending under control.
How many of these post-mortem soundbites have you heard?
- Where was the Tea Party this time?
- All that campaigning from AFP and FreedomWorks wasn’t very effective.
- Romney lost because people want free stuff.
- Romney lost because people are uneducated.
- Romney lost because of voter fraud.
I don’t know why Romney lost. I will leave that to smarter people than me to figure out. I will say, though, that there’s some truth in a couple of those sound bites and none in others.
The analyst in me says those things only matter to the extent we use that knowledge to win hearts and minds (and elections) in the next four years.
We have a golden opportunity right now in the conservative and libertarian movements. Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid for my financial future and the future of civil liberties (1st, 2nd, 4th Amendments for starters) after last night. But it’s the perfect time to regroup and define what I’m going to term the Liberty movement.
Liberty is a winning philosophy. It’s what America is built on. The current GOP loses because they’ve embraced judgmental social policies and haven’t differentiated themselves enough from the Dems on financial and big government-principles. A younger generation, the Paul Ryan generation of conservatives, holds a much more Liberty minded philosophy. It’s time for them to take over leadership positions on the right and start a massive education and outreach movement aimed at the 15 to 45-year-old demographic (and start a preschool and elementary school program too).
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.
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.
The rise of the Liberty Movement has had a strong impact on American politics. The 2010 mid-terms and primary races in the current cycle have showed that the grassroots base is not going to stand silently by while the Republican establishment chooses politics over principle.
Some have explained that the Liberty Movement is in the midst of a “hostile takeover” of the GOP. And while we have seen overwhelming success — far more than pundits predicted, there are constant reminders that the establishment is trying to leave its mark on our movement.
Perhaps the best example came yesterday with news of Jesse Benton, who served as chairman of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, signing on to run Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election in 2014.
“Jesse is literally the best in the business at building and organizing conservative grassroots movements, and I’m thrilled he’s chosen to return to Kentucky to lead my campaign,” Senator Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post.
Earlier this afternoon, my colleague, Jeremy Kolassa, raised an important issue about fusionism between conservatives and libertarians. For what it’s worth, I share the frustration. In early June, I attended a local GOP meeting to hear some local candidates talk about the issues facing our county. Unfortunately, the county party’s chairwoman spent 10 minutes complaining about Ron Paul supporters and libertarians who “want to take over the Republican Party.”
The experience was deflating, though not entirely surprising. I wasn’t in attendence as a libertarian. I was there as a concerned citizen, who has twice had his home broken into, to discuss issues important to me.
It’s certainly true that many conservatives don’t find the importance of an alliance with libertarians. The Rick Santorums and Mike Huckabees of the conservative movement have certainly made that clear. Indeed, even CPAC worked hard to ensure a “libertarian-free” gathering earlier this year. But fiscal conservatives, including Sen. Jim DeMint, have offered us an olive branch so that we can work together on issues that are mutually motivating.
Two weeks ago, I wrote not one, but two posts about how conservatives had basically foisted Obamacare upon the populace. About how conservatives wanted libertarians to join them again, and vote for a conservative…who wrote Obamacare. About how conservatives had lost any sense they principles they had.
This is an addendum.
Since the end of World War II, libertarians and conservatives have been allied in a loose coalition known as “fusionism.” The idea was that, as communism and social “democracy” was on the rise, anyone who believed in free markets had to ban together, at the expense of other ideas. It originally began with Frank S. Meyer, an American philosopher, who believed that libertarian free market concepts worked hand in hand with conservative traditionalism.
However, it has become clear to me, and to growing numbers of libertarians, that this is false. That the entire fusionist experiment was really born out of necessity, not principled ideology, as a way to survive the Cold War. And especially the last few years have shown, the conservative “movement” has come utterly unhinged.
The birthers. The Kenyan anti-colonialist crap. The accusations our president is a secret Muslim. The now ludicrous defenses of bigotry against homosexuals, transgendered, and those who do not believe. And then there is the vehement and heated arguments against spending…but on the same front, conservatives themselves spend and spend and spend. They just want to spend a tad less than liberals.