Tea Party

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.

Rand Paul, Tea Party Senators Stand Strong for the Constitution in Historic Filibuster

Rand Paul

“Epic,” “inspirational,” and “historic” are three words that best describe what I watched transpire on the floor of the United States Senate yesterday. At 11:47am, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) began his filibuster of John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, largely due to the lack of transparency from the Obama Administration on its drone program — specifically the targeted killing of Americans inside the borders of the United States.

The reasons that this gained so much interest was because it was an actual filibuster. This wasn’t a situation where Brennan couldn’t get 60 votes for cloture. Sen. Paul performed an old school filibuster, something that has become all too rare.

There was also another point that made this filibuster unique — Sen. Paul, along with several of his colleagues, spent nearly 13 hours talking substantive policy. There was no reading from a phone book or any other manner of time-buying tricks. Sen. Paul and others spent their time relaying a very pointed message about the Constitution, limits on executive power, and civil liberties.

For nearly 13 hours, Sen. Paul gave one of the most eloquent defenses of the Constitution that I’ve ever witnessed. He was joined at various times by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), both of whom spoke at length on the constitutional concerns over the policy.

Rand Paul gives a solid, substantive response to the State of the Union

Rand Paul gives the Tea Party response

President Obama’s State of the Union address was nothing new.  The President continued the same leftist rhetoric he used during his inaugural address, calling for even more spending and government.  As Jason wrote, he absurdly claimed that he has CUT spending, attacked the sequestration plan that he himself proposed, and called for an increase in the minimum wage would would prove disastrous to job creation.  In short, it was more of the same - big government, high taxes, and spending money we don’t have.

The official Republican response was fairly lackluster.  Marco Rubio is a gifted speaker, but his speech was big on platitudes and slogans and small on substance. The real response came from Senator Rand Paul.  It’s no secret that Senator Paul is a favorite of mine and of many libertarian-leaning folks, so there was much anticipation that he would offer a clear vision apart from both Obama and Rubio.  For the most part, he did just that.

To begin, Paul went strongly after the President and laid out a clear idea of what he believes America is really all about:

Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.

What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.

What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.

Union thuggery at its worst

Back in 2010, Tea Party protesters were accused of using racial slurs at African-American members of Congress — including Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a civil rights-era hero. No proof of this was ever provided, of course. Yet, the accusation lived on in the media, with no actual video recording of the incident, despite a $10,000 reward offered by Andrew Breitbart.

So today, I saw this tweet on my feed:

Please click on the link and read through.

It appears that a hot dog vendor, Clint Tarver, who is an African-American, was hired to provide food to Americans for Prosperity — the same group who had their tent torn down by pro-union protesters in Lansing, Michigan yesterday. Apparently, these rabid union thugs weren’t too happy about this:

After destroying the Americans for Prosperity tent, where Tarver was catering hotdogs, the mob turned there attention to the hot dog cart.

Common Sense After a Close Election

“Now let’s pull up our socks, wipe our noses and get back in this fight.”

After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense.  I suggest we all take it to heart.

He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.

First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.

Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.

Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.

That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California.  But capitulation is not one of them.

The Case Against Saxby Chambliss

Taxby

Over the last six years, I’ve been watching Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) very closely. Back in 2008, Chambliss faced a tough challenge in a three-way, finding himself in a runoff against Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat.

Part of the problem was campaign organization. Insider Advantage quoted an unidentified Republican who said that Chambliss and company had the organization of a “bad state House race,” calling it a “embarrassing campaign.” There was also the perception of Chambliss among Georgia Republicans. Insider Advantage again quoted a unidentified Republican who said, “Saxby’s reputation is that he’s spent six years in Washington playing golf. He’s gone on lots of trips. He hasn’t done the down-and-dirty constituent work.”

“Saxby bragged about it his first four years – how much golf he was getting in. It was a real problem and it irked a lot of people,” said the unnamed Republican source. Many Republicans in the state were less than thrilled with Chambliss, who hadn’t been able to endear himself to the state party the way Sen. Johnny Isakson had.

Another issue that hurt Chambliss was that he had lost the support of many fiscal conservatives in Georgia because of his votes that put taxpayers at risk.

Prime Time for Liberty Movement

Liberty Bell

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).

The Election, Mitt Romney, and the Future of the Republican Party

It’s election day. We’re finally here. This grueling, seemingly non-stop campaign ends today. President Barack Obama made his last campaign stops yesterday. Mitt Romney hopes to pickup what undecided voters remain during visits to Ohio and Pennsylvania today.

Despite public polls showing a close race in swing states, though Obama has a slight advantage, Romney’s campaign says that their internal polls show him leading in Ohio and tied in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Writing at National Review yesterday, Jim Geraghty saw reason to hope that Romney will pull off a win tonight. And Aaron Blake surmised that the early voting numbers suggest that the race will be tight. However, Blake points out that “[i]n basically every state, Democrats’ early vote edge is between four and eight points less than it was in 2008.” That could mean trouble for Obama, especially in Colorado, Iowa, and Pennsylvania.

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.

Segmenting of the Libertarian Vote: Tea Partiers, Civil Libertarians, and Libertarian Independents

Written by David Kirby, associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Last week, I posted data from the latest Reason-Rupe poll showing 77 percent of libertarians supporting Romney—the highest percentage share of the libertarian vote of any Republican presidential candidate since 1980.

Many commenters on Twitter and Facebook were horrified! Surely, many reasoned, this large vote share is a measure of antipathy for Obama rather than affinity for Romney. Others commented that any libertarian supporting Romney doesn’t deserve to be considered a “true” libertarian.

I wanted to reflect on this last comment. Who should count as a libertarian?

In our Cato research, David Boaz, Emily Ekins and I have taken to using a relatively broad definition of a libertarian. Why? Compared to other political words like “capitalism” or “socialism,” fewer know the word “libertarian.” Many who hold libertarian views call themselves “moderate” or “independent” or even “conservative.” Few polls even offer respondents an option to identify themselves as “libertarian.” Those that do reveal confusion about what the word means.


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