Are Libertarians Destroying Elections???

Election season is upon us and discussion of party politics has engulfed the public debate, at the local, state, and federal level. When the results come in, the right will inevitably claim that dead people are voting  and the left will drone on about big businesses rigging the election. 

However, there is one thing that both parties can agree on- libertarians are ruining elections. Both sides will claim that libertarian candidates are stealing votes from their side and handing the election to their opponent.

 This tactic is nothing but a tired excuse to cover up the failings of outdated and poor policy proposals. Instead of exiling the Libertarian party, both major parties should try and extend an olive branch. Compared to other very minor third party groups, libertarianism has a substantial and viable following. 

While the GOP has not yet been willing to acceptlibertarians as competent candidates, the Republican party voters have done so. New voices like Thomas Massie (R-KY), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Rand Paul (R-KY) rising on the national stage show Republicans’ voters willingness to endorse libertarian views. Additionally, the libertarian party has shown the ability to put aside some differences it has with the Republican party and endorse candidates that run under the GOP name.

Massie, Amash, and Paul arguable lean the most libertarian out of all members of Congress. Unfortunately, they are not popular on Capitol Hill. But the GOP can learn a lesson from their struggle. Though they may not be popular with Congress, their message has resonated with voters- perhaps because they support new ideas and endorse policies different from the norm. 

Much of what the GOP has put forth as policy in recent years has been more focused on what people think the Republican party should be and has been historically, rather than actual, concrete substance. New voices and new ideas from ideologies like libertarianism can mix in with classic Republican party ideals to reinvigorate the party platform and help the GOP compromise and build on certain issues. 

To show the appeal that Libertarian values could have in the Republican party, look no further than Austin Petersen. Petersen is running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, and was a former libertarian presidential candidate in 2016. He has slowly worked his way into favor with Missouri voters, despite his third party views. Petersen has been able to use the animosity that voters have toward establishment politics and has run as the “anti-establishment candidate.” Who better to be anti-establishment than a man who was the presidential candidate for the party both Dems and Republicans despise?

Petersen was considered a long shot and still has some work to do. He is running against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). A very active candidate not shy from public criticism, he has openly advocated for Libertarian ideals while running under the Republican banner. For example, he has not hidden that he would like to see the income tax repealed but would settle for a flat tax of 15%. He openly flaunts his strict adherence to the Constitution by arguing for unfettered gun rights, going so far as raffling off an AR-15.

Many Republicans in Missouri are finding Petersen’s libertarian views to be a new, invigorating voice among the monotonous campaign diatribes coming from other candidates. A new pollshows that this voice is being met with open ears among Missouri voters- the incumbent McCaskill is polling behind both other candidates. McCaskill trails Austin Petersen’s competition, Attorney General Josh Hawley, by 7 percent and trails Petersen by a margin of 16 percent. 

Petersen, along with Massie, Amash, and Paul, have found ways to connect with Republican voters and really bring a new life to a party that relies of images of the glory days of Ronald Reagan to garner support. These new voices are showing that Republican voters and Libertarian voters are willing to put aside some differences they have and accept a new voice and a new solution to issues. While the Libertarian party is considered as having unrealistic ideals by the GOP, voters in Michigan, Kentucky, and Missouri disagree. American voters know that the GOP needs to move forward to be successful against the Democrats, and embracing new ideals like those of libertarianism may be the road to victory. 

 

Special thanks to Dallas Coleman and Katie Pickle for their help in writing, researching, and editing this article.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user justgrimes

                                                                                                                                                          

Jake Tapper: A Diamond in the Ruff of the Liberal Media

Jake Tapper is not an easy man to label. like so many of his colleagues at CNN, he does not wear his politics prominently on his sleeve. Though he has worked for Democrats in the past, and for liberal organizations, he was one of very few members of the mainstream media who maintained a somewhat adversarial relationship with the Obama administration. David Axelrod, a former Obama administration and campaign official, remarked on Tapper’s journalistic tenacity when Tapper joined him on his CNN podcast. Of course, compared to the kid gloves with which the Obama administration was treated by the media, any question tougher than, “what enchants you most about this job?” (A real thing that happened) might be viewed as the pinnacle of journalistic integrity. However, Tapper has made his reputation as one of exceedingly few newsmen who can be trusted to tell the truth regardless of the party in power. He joins Bret Baier as one of the last honest men in news.

Tapper grew up in a Jewish family in Philadelphia. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth University with a B.A. in History. Following his graduation from Dartmouth, he briefly attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He began working in politics as the campaign press secretary and later the congressional press secretary for a powerful Philadelphia Democrat. He has also worked for a prominent PR firm and what is now the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. As such, his path to media has been long and winding. He began his full-time journalism career in 1998 at the Washington City Paper, where he wrote a now-famous piece about going on a date with Monica Lewinsky, in which he denounced Washington’s love of scandal at the expense of a sweet girl like Lewinsky. The piece lent some insight into Tapper as a man; honest (some might say brutally so), straightforward, kind-hearted and passionate for the truth. He has since said that he regrets calling her “chubby” in the piece, showing a bit more how he has matured and grown into his role as America’s real alternative to otherwise fake news.

As a conservative, I have always been met with audible groans when I mention my respect for Tapper. The tribalism that we so virulently denounce in the left can affect us in equal measure. Our immediate distrust and dislike for anyone and anything on CNN is, quite simply, no more than partisan trash. Rather than taking individuals and stories on a case by case basis, we too often dismiss an unflattering bit of news or a journalist who is reporting facts that contradict a particular narrative simply because they appear on a network which we (rightfully) distrust as a whole. Distrust is one thing; dismissal is quite another. Conservatives are right to treat CNN and other partisan media outlets with extreme skepticism, but to deny that there are good journalists and even the occasional good story that come from an otherwise detestable source seems imprudent.

No, I have not always agreed with him, and find his looks into the camera while condemning the President a bit melodramatic. But as a man with a full body of work, Tapper remains a fantastic example of what the news should be, and how those who provide the news should behave. Yes, he skewered Stephen Miller, but he also skewered Sheriff Scott Israel for crediting his own “amazing leadership” following the shooting in Parkland, FL. Tapper is a respectable and honorable man, who encompasses many of the best traits of newsmen. Conservatives should be open to, occasionally, giving credit where it is due and recognizing him as one of the prudent leaders of an otherwise dishonorable industry.  

 

Special thanks to Nick Briscoe and Daniel Bruce for their help in writing, researching, and editing this piece. Nick is my law firm manager and a recent graduate of the University of Alabama. Daniel is my chief consultant and a Political Science and Economics student at Auburn University. Both plan to attend law school in 2019.

 

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons

Matt Walsh: A Controversial but Principled Conservative Chrisian

In an age of feel-good gospels of Christianity that teach cookie cutter salvation, the world is in need of a constant reminder that Christianity is not meant to be easy. Matt Walsh, of the Daily Wire, is just the reminder the doctor ordered. Perhaps less afraid of controversy than anyone else in conservative media today, Walsh is a tireless advocate for the Christian faith. He has shown an utter disregard for the potential fallout of plainly and bluntly stating his beliefs and remains willing to inject himself into any debate or start one himself.

One of the most recent examples of his willingness to buck the status quo and engage in a firefight over a topic which others might consider trivial was his denouncement of yoga as a form of Hindu worship, claiming Christians should have nothing to do with it. In all fairness, the ensuing hell storm of angry responses was wildly disproportionate to his actual statements. Accusations of his being “obsessed” with yoga were wildly overblown. His Tweet read,

“It’s kind of amazing to see all of the Christians who think nothing of going to a yoga         class. There are so many excellent ways to get in shape that do not involve participating            in Hindu worship.” He continued, “The best comparison for Yoga would be the Ouija         board. Yes, you can play it ‘just for fun’ without any ill intent, but still you are                            participating in something that was designed to conjure spirits. Better to just play        Monopoly or something. Why mess around with it.”

These terribly incendiary opinions actually led to something of a bizarre alliance, as Vox published a piece examining whether yoga was, in fact, cultural appropriation and questioning whether Christians should practice it at all. They take the scenic route, but end up at the same place.

The most telling thing about this “controversy” wasn’t the Tweet itself, nor the predictable reaction from many on the left. What was more telling was what the Tweet revealed about its author—Matt Walsh is a man who is not afraid to think outside the box, nor is he afraid to make enemies in pursuit of his beliefs and in his advancement of God’s message. Personally, I had never stopped to think about the origins of yoga and the implications that it’s practice might have on my Catholic faith. If we are to obey God’s commandment to have no gods before him, surely engaging in an activity designed to worship the pagan Hindu gods conflicts with it in some measure. This thought-prompting examination of an ultimately trivial pursuit is something that is entirely lacking in modern American life. Pastors and religious leaders have led their flocks astray following the “gospel of prosperity” or, perhaps worse, the gospel of Trumpism. Joel Osteen would never be willing to endure flack Walsh puts himself in, in the name of God’s will. Whether or not one believes that doing yoga is de facto taking part in Hindu worship, what cannot be denied is that Walsh is worthy of the respect afforded to anyone who is willing to take an extremely unpopular position and accept the Earthly consequences.

I do not always agree with Matt Walsh on substantive issues. But what cannot be denied is that he is a stand-up guy, a genuine and honest Christian, and a man of immense moral character. He is worthy of great respect, and we conservative Christians would do well to imitate him more in our daily lives. We should begin each day with a simple question: “how can I best serve God today?”

 

Nick Briscoe is the manager of the Reid Law Firm and a recent graduate of the University of Alabama. Nick is an astute observer of the political spectrum, especially in regards to the Conservative movement. He currently plans to attend law school in the near future.

Photo courtesy of Matt Walsh (Twitter).

 

David French: The American Ideal

There are few men who have lived a life as interesting and, in so many ways, heroic as National Review senior columnist David French. Those familiar with his work can attest to his brilliance and capability with the written word, however those familiar with his personal story can attest to much more—his deep sense of compassion, duty, and honor.

A graduate of Harvard Law, French has spent much of his career in the depths of academia, having served as president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and as a lecturer at Cornell Law School. In 2005, however, French retired as president of FIRE, citing plans to serve in the United States Army Reserve. Though a successful author, academic, and attorney, French sacrificed his career and time with his family in order to serve our country as an Army lawyer in the JAG corps. He was awarded a Bronze Star following his deployment to Iraq in 2007. However, his numerous accomplishments throughout his career as both a civilian and Army officer still do not reveal the full story of a truly one-of-a-kind man.

In 2010, French and his wife, Nancy (an accomplished and talented writer in her own right) adopted an Ethiopian girl named Naomi. In the pro-life movement, we often cite adoption as the no-brainer alternative to abortion, yet how many of us are willing to put our money where our mouth is and take part in such a blessing? My guess is fewer than are willing to glorify it as a perfect solution to a horrifying problem. The Frenches, however, were able to recognize that what many of us might see as a tremendous burden is actually one of the greatest blessings God can bestow. As French argues in a 2016 piece for National Review, an “available” foster child is only available because of a series of dreadful events, and these dreadful events will almost inevitably lead to some form of trauma later in life. Despite the challenges and complexities that arise through the process, the Frenches made the decision to adopt, and their lives have been eternally blessed by the addition of an angelic young girl. However, such a blessing does not come without its trials, and even the best of hearts are not repaid in kind.

In 2013, French wrote a scathing denouncement of the hypocrisy of some who insist that a white, conservative, Christian family cannot raise a black child. He describes the disgusting attacks he and his wife received following Naomi’s adoption, ranging from online comments to in-person confrontations at the hands of angry progressives. French mentions that not only has his family become a beautiful example of interracial bliss, but the congregation at his conservative church (he and his wife are Evangelical Christians) has become an idyllic representation of a group of people who truly do not see color, but only humanity. He remarks that, while the progressives who tout their own virtue by claiming to support ethnic and racial diversity responded to their practicing of such lofty ideals with hatred and contempt, the supposedly bigoted, backwards conservatives responded only with love and acceptance. Though one might assume that the adoption of a child would be a point around which all people could gather and rejoice, French’s experience is yet another example that nobility and virtue rarely avoid controversy.

The hallmark of goodness is doing good even, and especially when, it is the more difficult path down which to embark. David French did not have to give up a cushy career at the top of academia. He did not have to surrender a steady and rewarding legal practice. He did not have to serve our country overseas in significantly greater danger and for significantly less pay than he was making in private practice. He did not have to accept the overwhelming responsibility of adopting a child into his family that already included two children. He did not have to sacrifice so much for his fellow man, yet he did. David French is the kind of man we should all emulate—selfless, courageous, brilliant, and noble. It is my greatest hope, and my absolute expectation, that one day little Naomi grows up to recognize what an incredible blessing her father is to her, and she to him. The world is changed by men and women who see beyond difficulty and recognize duty. Though we all have the potential, David French is one of those men.   

 

Special thanks to Nick Briscoe and Daniel Bruce who assisted in writing, researching, and editing this article. Nick is my law firm manager and a graduate of the University of Alabama. Daniel is a consultant at the firm and a Political Science and Economics student at Auburn University. Both plan to attend law school in 2019.

Dave Rubin: The Hero We Need

Few have been as instrumental in the rise of the so-called intellectual dark web of strange alliances than Dave Rubin. This elite group of thinkers, diverse in ideology and ultimately uninterested in political pettiness, have revolutionized the media industry, providing respite from the shallow nonsense offered by cable news. Using long form podcasts and lectures that feature extensive question and answer periods, thinkers such as Ben Shapiro, Sam Harris, Bret and Eric Weinstein, Steven Pinker, Joe Rogan, and of course, Rubin, have given their viewers and listeners a deep analysis of topics ranging from politics to culture to philosophy and beyond.

On his show, The Rubin Report, Rubin gives his guests a platform for a civil, rational discussion. There are no ratings-driven shouting matches that accomplish nothing, replaced instead with long, considerate conversations designed to inform and expand upon ideas and philosophies. As a result, Rubin has enjoyed fiercely loyal support among those who have been starved of genuine, productive conservation in the political sphere. He has attracted followers from across the ideological spectrum, but often acknowledges that he receives the warmest welcomes from conservatives, and the vast majority of hate from liberals.

Why is it that an openly gay, self-proclaimed liberal has become the hero of so many conservatives and drawn the ire of his supposed liberal companions? As Rubin himself predicted, strange political times have led to strange political alliances and rivalries. He is good friends with fellow intellectual dark web staple Ben Shapiro. In the past, one might never have expected a friendship to blossom between an Orthodox Jew and an agnostic, gay liberal. However, this is 2018, and the only things that make sense anymore are those that defy all traditional logic and norms. Rubin has recognized the increased radicalism among those who self-identify as “liberal”, and the paternalism they seem to crave. He hasn’t quite abandoned liberalism, rather, it has abandoned him.

This phenomenon is becoming increasingly common as we undergo the most radical political shift of recent history. Conservatives who feel as if the GOP has left them for the more populist pastures of Trumpism, Trump supporters who feel as if the GOP hasn’t sufficiently supported them, liberals who feel that Bernie Sanders’ socialist revolution has led their movement off the rails, socialists who feel that Hillary’s people-pleasing nomination was a slap in the face—they have all remained constant, while the world has spun out of control all around them. Rubin might be the penultimate example of this phenomenon—a classical liberal who has come to recognize perils of progressivism and value the virtues of a laissez faire approach to government intervention. As a gay man, he supported Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop’s right to freedom of association, and he does not subscribe to the identity-driven politics of progressivism, which dictate that he must support strictly the pre-approved leftist talking points.

In order to move beyond the maddening news cycle in which we seem to be trapped like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, the world must recognize and appreciate the rare talent and dignity of people like Dave Rubin. He is not interested in devolving his show into a cage match, despite the ratings that might follow. He is not interested in blindly the following the partisan talking points that the old guard of identity politics prescribe. He is interested only in providing a crucial public service that has otherwise almost completely disappeared—true, thoughtful information on big ideas that are almost entirely removed from the political fray. In the age of the Trump obsession and hostile polarization on both sides, we must insist that more follow in Rubin’s mold. America would be well served to engage in the kinds of thoughtful conversations modeled by the Rubin Report.

 

Special thanks to Nick Briscoe and Daniel Bruce for their help in writing, editing, and researching this article. Nick is my law firm manager and a graduate of the University of Alabama. Daniel is my chief consultant and a Political Science and Economics student at Auburn University. Both plan to attend law school in 2019.

 

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons

            

Alabama’s Harry Reeder Stands Strong for Christian Values

Early on the morning of March 26th, Pastor Greg Locke took to Twitter to say this, “People are like ‘if you support Trump you can’t be a Christian.’ Do y’all listen when you talk? Jesus hired a demon possessed traitor to handle his money for 3 years. He can use the President if He so desires. Take a seat people.” Walking the line between God’s tendency to use imperfect vessels to advance His ministry and one’s outright support of even a man’s worst vices is where many religious leaders have gone astray.

Though Jesus repeatedly used the morally bereft in order to advance his cause, there was a general theme of repentance that accompanied each case. Saul repented, converted, and became Paul. Mary Magdalene abandoned a life of sin (though the degree to which her life was sinful is a matter of constant biblical debate) in order to follow Christ until the end. Without repentance, the endorsement of anti-Christian behavior by supposed Christian leaders is purely a politically driven exercise. In the midst of such politicization even in the halls of our most sacrosanct religious institutions, Christians are desperately searching for a leader who represents their values, their religion, and their culture without waving like a flag in the wind in order to appease the society at large.

Pastor Harry Reeder has spent a lifetime serving Christ and His followers. Since his arrival at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL, the faithful knew that Pastor Reeder was a kind and loving soul, a true Christian role model in these times of great moral peril. Natives of Charlotte, North Carolina, he and his wife, Cindy, have three children: Jennifer, Harry IV, and Abigail. They are also proud grandparents of eight grandchildren. As a man driven and dedicated so fully to family and to Christ, Pastor Reeder has led Briarwood Presbyterian to its position as a widely-recognized home for droves of Christians seeking solace in Christ’s word.

At a time where nearly every aspect of society has seemingly been co-opted by one faction or another for some political purpose, Pastor Reeder has kept himself and his church defiantly out of the political fray. While many pastors and religious leaders have compromised their most deeply held convictions in support of presidents, policies, and the like, Mr. Reeder’s steadfast refusal to enter the mud to appease his base is a refreshing breath of air. For those of us who wish to keep our politics and our religion as separate as is possible, his refusal to compromise the dignity of his church or its members in order to advance his own political interests or ambitions is a much welcome change. Like all great religious readers, and like Jesus the Shepherd, he has put the needs and concerns of his flock above his own.

We’ve seen recently the nation’s visceral reaction to the passing of Billy Graham. Graham, though a more public figure and more closely tied to the political world, managed to remain, himself, relatively apolitical. He counseled Presidents of both parties and various ideological leanings with equal wisdom and spiritual guidance. Despite his charming personality, strong spiritual character, and apolitical nature, some stooped to demonizing Graham upon his death – they slandered and smeared America’s pastor as a false prophet of God’s word.

Graham’s fate is a reminder to all who serve God’s mission not to expect kindness or acceptance, and never to seek such things if it requires an abandonment of His principles. Mr. Reeder recognizes that his adherence to Godly values will not win him many friends in today’s cultural arena. Those who believe, like Pastor Locke, that the mystery of God’s plan mandates blind, hypocritical support for wicked behavior simply because the person caught in sin agrees with their political views will denounce Reeder for his insufficient support of their cause. Those who believe that Billy Graham was a false prophet will never acknowledge the true holiness of any public figure devoted to the Lord’s work. The only friends Harry Reeder will be making are, ultimately, the only ones he needs; his flock and the Good Lord.

 

Special thanks to Nick Briscoe and Daniel Bruce for their help in writing, researching, and editing this article. Nick is a graduate of Alabama and manager of the Reid Law Firm, and Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student at Auburn University. Both hope to attend law school in 2018.

 

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Reeder-Toomer Hay (Facebook)

The GOP Needs More Conservative Leaders Like Alabama’s Gary Palmer

Congressman Gary Palmer, of Alabama’s sixth district, is rated the 13th most conservative legislator in Washington, according to Conservative Review’s tried-and-true scorecard.  He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014, riding a wave of small government conservatism all the way through his re-election in 2016. Palmer has served the people of Alabama’s sixth district honorably, voting and speaking every bit as conservatively as he campaigned. While most Republicans campaign like libertarians and govern like big government statists, Representative Palmer has a solid record of conservative governance and is the kind of Republican that gives the party hope going into 2018.

Republicans live much of their electoral lives in the non-existent fantasy land between their electorate’s conservative leanings (especially for midterm elections) and their hopes of appeasing the media and appearing pragmatic. The constant battle between appeasing extreme-right constituents and extreme-left media is too real for many Republican representatives. As a result, Republicans often fear media reprisal for voting for a bill they campaigned on supporting, such as the long-promised Obamacare Repeal. However, this political strategy is ultimately fatally flawed. There is virtually no realistic upside—the media and the Democrats will not suddenly become enamored by Republicans’ attempts at wooing them, as evidenced by all of political history.

There is, however, a tremendous downside—Republican voters will abandon their constituents, especially in off year elections when Republicans are in power. The best hope for Republicans who employ this strategy is to ride into the sunset as a rhetorical hero of the left and the media, and retire once it becomes plain that their voters won’t be turning out to support them – much like Jeff Flake. If seeking reelection, Republicans must abandon this sleight of hand and commit fully to realizing the conservative promises they made to their constituencies. Representative Gary Palmer is one of few Republicans who, combining ideological integrity with political savvy, has remained true to his conservative campaign promises. As a result, he enjoys sky-high approval ratings and is on his way to a relatively easy reelection in 2018.

Palmer has spent his time in the House actively securing his conservative bona fides. Most recently, Palmer cast a courageous “nay” vote on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, the latest in a long line of egregious omnibus spending packages rammed through congress with little consideration, almost no debate, and virtually zero forethought. The GOP establishment rammed through the spending package, demanding support from it’s constituents. The Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative and libertarian representatives of which Palmer is a part, stood boldly to limit spending, reign in the bloated federal budget, and shed some light on the dark rooms in which these negotiations often take place. Unfortunately, Palmer’s effort and those of the rest of the Freedom Caucus were not enough to slow the runaway train of pork and waste that passed through the halls of congress last week.

Palmer and the Freedom Caucus understand a fundamental truth that too many politicians are happy to ignore—rhetoric and promises only work until people feel the hits in their wallet. While virtually all conservatives agreed that tax breaks were an essential step to drive an economy out of historically low growth, very few advocated for the timeless stance of fiscal conservatism. The problem, as Palmer and others realized, is that one cannot increase spending, lower revenue (however egregious it may be that the word “revenue” references taxation), and expect to speed up a lagging recovery. One might argue that the spending and taxation might reach equilibrium, citing some tortured analysis of the Laffer Curve. The Freedom Caucus is wise enough to recognize that not only are the figures and statistics leading to that conclusion highly questionable, but Americans will never live to see the results of such a balancing even if it were to occur. People—rightfully so— are not patient when their wallets get thinner due to preventable government incompetence.

Gary Palmer is not only a good and honorable conservative, but he is a shrewd politician. He understands the way that GOP voters think and react, while understanding that appealing across the aisle is largely a waste of time and political capital. We need more Republicans like him in Washington—pragmatic, wise, and savvy. I would humbly recommend to Paul Ryan that he hit the recruiting trail like Nick Saban… Get us more Gary Palmers!

 

Special thanks to Nick Briscoe and Daniel Bruce, members of my staff, for their help in writing, editing, and researching this article. Nick is a recent graduate of the University of Alabama and is the law firm manager. Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student at Auburn University and is my chief consultant. Both plan to attend law school in 2019.

Model Turned Libertarian Turned Republican Hopes to Unseat Missouri’s McCaskill

Yet again, the old political order is being disturbed by the pesky grassroots that simply refuse to go away. This time, the culprit is a young, charming Missouri firebrand named Austin Petersen. Petersen burst onto the political scene when he nearly pulled off what would have been considered the biggest electoral upset of 2016—defeating Gary Johnson for the Libertarian Party’s Presidential nomination. He is now running for Senate in Missouri as a Republican with hopes of ousting incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. While his betrayal of the third-party outsiders infuriated some, Peterson hopes the Republican party will afford liberty a greater platform and an opportunity to unseat an establishment Democrat accused of being too cozy with Obama and Clinton.

At the start of his 2016 campaign, Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, had been criticized for years on his switch to the Libertarian Party. He proceeded to play into every Libertarian stereotype one could think of, whether wagging his tongue like a crazed dog on national television or making any of a series of cringe-worthy gaffes. In addition to his many foibles, Johnson had a fatal flaw that would doom his Libertarian candidacy—he wasn’t terribly Libertarian. He supported carbon taxes, opposed freedom of association, and generally found himself on the wrong side of every Libertarian issue. Petersen, a true champion for liberty, gave him a much-needed challenge.

Petersen did not take the traditional route to political prominence. As it says in big, bold letters at the top of his campaign website, he was “Born in Independence and raised in Peculiar—near a town called Liberty.” He did not attend an ivy league university or enjoy a top tier law school education. He attended Missouri State University, where he graduated with a degree in musical theatre. You will not find think tanks or judicial clerkships on his resume, as he opted instead for modeling and demonstrating at the famed New York toy store FAO Schwartz. While working there, he even appeared in a Late Night with Conan O’Brien sketch.

Later, Peterson delved into politics, working for the Libertarian National Committee and the Atlas Network, in addition to the Ron Paul campaigns for President in 2008 and 2012. He moved from there into television, working as an associate producer for the Fox Business program Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano. He then worked as director of production at the advocacy group, FreedomWorks. In addition to running for Senate, Petersen is the owner and CEO of a photo and video consulting firm called Stonegait LLC, named after the family farm, and is founder of The Libertarian Republic and Liberty Viral—libertarian news and commentary websites.  So really, he is just your everyday musical theater buff turned model, turned operative, turned TV producer, turned media consultant, turned Senate candidate.

Peterson has gained a cult following among lovers of liberty, as he is unafraid to challenge conventional political norms or advocate fiercely for his most deeply-held beliefs. Naturally, his fierce engagement in the time-honored Libertarian tradition of sharing memes and trolling absolutely everyone has earned him the respect of liberty lovers everywhere.

But now, Peterson has shed the stench of the Libertarian Party and embraced the once-villainous two party system. He now embraces conservative and classically liberal thought leaders like Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin, while strongly condemning the utter chaos of the Libertarian sideshow. His move to the Republican Party drew the ire of many Libertarians, as doctrinal a group of people as you will find who lack a central doctrine. Some accused him of selling out, others of abandoning his lifelong principles. These same people accuse Rand Paul of being a closet statist, but are happy to cast a vote for interventionist and anti-gun Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts. In other words, the dogmatic hardliners who demonize anyone who blindly tows the party line are often willing to sacrifice a great number of their own principles in order to blindly tow the party line.

Austin Petersen has done an extraordinary job of exposing hypocrisy while maintaining his own dignity and integrity. His decision to leave the circus sideshow disguised as a functioning political party in order to give liberty a greater platform was one that he knew would be met with controversy and indignation, but ultimately was the only decision that could be made for the greater good—the advancement and diffusion of liberty.

In a deeply red state like Missouri, Peterson might just have a chance, even against an incumbent Democrat. McCaskill is sure to have the full support of the DNC, which sees 2018 as an opportunity seize Congressional control from stagnant Republicans. However, in today’s political climate – where voters seem to be fed up with the bickering and lackadaisicalness in both parties – former Libertarians like Peterson have their best shot in years to rule the day.

 

 

Special thanks to Nick Briscoe and Daniel Bruce for their help in writing, editing, and researching this article. Nick is my Law Firm Manager and a graduate of the University of Alabama. Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student at Auburn University and my Chief Consultant. They both plan to attend law school in 2019.

 

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons under Fair Use

Sessions Should Never Be Trump's Political Pawn

This article originally appeared on my Newsmax column.

The strained relationship between President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hit another boiling point last week. In a furious tweet, Trump publicly denounced Sessions’ decision not to unleash the power of the Justice Department on the president’s enemies, calling the attorney general "Disgraceful!"

While Sessions has traditionally remained silent on such criticism, he stood his ground in the midst of Trump’s latest tirade responding, "As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution."

Sessions should be applauded for standing up to his boss, who in this case acts more like a 71-year-old child rather than the leader of the free world. In fact, one must go back to some of the Founders to find a sitting president launching a public attack against members of his own cabinet. Perhaps most notably, John Adams was known for a fuming temper, one often wielding its head against members of his own party — such as his Secretary of War James McHenry and former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.

Consequently, Adams’ quickness to burn his bridges cost him a second term — a fair warning for any attempt by Trump to start a cabinet war in Washington, D.C.

However, Jeff Sessions’ stand reflects much more than the consequences of childish inter-office bickering; it’s a stand for the sovereignty of American constitutional law. The U.S. Constitution gives the president the sole power to pick the members of his cabinet, and there is a long-standing adage that cabinet members "serve at the pleasure of the president." However, the Framers also ensured that the people had an ability to check the president’s appointment power and instilled Congress with the duty of confirming the president’s appointees. Thus, the president chooses his cabinet, and the people — through their duly elected representatives — approve them.

In the political world, this process is known as the concept of checks and balances. It is an integral aspect of the Framers’ vision of a constitutional republic. It also puts cabinet officials in the sometimes unfortunate position of serving as an extension of the president, while acting on behalf of the people.

In Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ case, Trump has repeatedly given him the choice to follow the law that he has sworn to protect or cave to the political pressures of his hot-tempered boss. If the U.S. attorney general — the chief law enforcer — becomes merely a pawn of the president, we become a nation ruled by the passions of men rather than the timelessness of law. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has its first loyalty to the rule of law and we must never politicize prosecutions. By doing so, we chip away at the things and ideals separating our country from places like Venezuela and Russia.

It is this timelessness that has allowed the U.S. to peacefully transition power to different figures and parties for over 200 years — without conflict.

Sessions has received some support from his colleagues in the legislature but many elected leaders in my state of Alabama have failed to defend the good name of their friend of 20 years!

Some have told me that they can’t defend sessions because if they say anything against Trump it may hurt them in the primary and to them I say you don’t deserve to lead anyone.

If elected leaders aren’t willing to even stand up for their friend of two decades, whom they know personally, then who are they willing to stand up for? These officials not only know Sessions publicly but they know his family as well; their children know one another.

Sessions has reached out to them when their family was dealing with tragedy, and they fought for conservative principles together for years. Everyone in my state who knows Sessions doesn’t question him at all. They realize if he is doing something that Trump doesn’t like its only because Sessions will always try and do the right thing no matter what the cost. I am so proud of him for being a man of character. Sadly, a large portion of the Republican party has aligned with the Always-Trumpers, claiming that the attorney general’s sole duty is to do what the president commands — regardless of legality.

In our polarized culture, it seems that we have forgotten that humans are not infallible. Even ones with whom we agree with the most have their faults.

It's not treason or betrayal to push back when members of our own party do something wrong. There is no need to make excuses when our leaders let their egos blind them to reality. Instead, we should encourage them to do better.

After all, even the president serves at the pleasure of the people.

This is not all to say that Jefferson Sessions does not have his faults. He does, and I have openly disagreed with him. Yet even in disagreement he has always listened to my concerns and made a thoughtful argument for his viewpoint. I love that about the man.

Sessions had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because there are clear rules which govern this. Sessions even said during confirmation process he would recuse himself. So, Trump knew this, but somehow he blames Sessions? Trump has repeatedly asked his attorney general to defy the law his office is designed to uphold, and Sessions has repeatedly responded with respect — even to the point of submitting his resignation. However, our current attorney general — and the American people — must now show Trump that he is not king; that no one is above the law.

In closing, I don’t advocate we support the Democrats as a way to push-back in 2018, as we shouldn’t vote for people whose vision we fundamentally oppose.

However, if the voters don’t know what we stand for and see us putting any elected member of our party over our principles then we will ensure our defeat in 2018.

Let us praise our president for the things he does well, critiquing him when he goes against our conservative beliefs. We cannot continue to excuse anything he says or does and continue to beleive that we will not be a minority party in 2018. Let’s be fair and reasonable. This way we will win the argument, and the voters will support us in 2018.

Note: Special thanks to Daniel Bruce, a member of my firm, who helped write, research, and edit this piece. Daniel is a political science and economics student at Auburn University and is a regular contributor to Rouser News. He plans to attend law school when he graduates.

 

GOP Must Condemn Alt-Right Primary Challenges

This article originally appeared on my Newsmax column.

This August, Paul Ryan will once again face an unorthodox challenger in his Congressional primary in Wisconsin — eccentric businessman Paul Nehlen. The two men have met in a primary once before: in 2016, Ryan trounced Nehlen by nearly 70 points. Despite this loss, Nehlen is at it again, and though his chance of victory is no better, he’s making headlines for his outspoken, radical views.

Nehlen is not a politician; he’s an equipment manufacturer who has never held any public office. Normally, a run like Nehlen’s would not be significant enough to garner national coverage. However, Nehlen got some media attention during his last run because of praise from the president, and he’s challenging the most powerful member of Congress. What’s more, it’s rumored that Ryan might be retiring from the House.

The main explanation for Nehlen’s unlikely place in the public eye is the nationalist, anti-Semitic propaganda that he spews. In recent weeks, he has taken to Twitter and launched vicious attacks toward minorities, especially Jews. Nehlen once observed, “Poop, incest, and pedophilia. Why are those common themes repeated so often with Jews?” He recently tweeted that lawyer Ari Cohn should “fill a Jesus-shaped hole” in his heart, and frequently declares “it’s okay to be white” a popular white supremacist tagline. Nehlen was once a tool of Steve Bannon, but Bannon has since denounced Nehlen’s comments.

Unfortunately, these types of comments from alt-right politicians are not uncommon. It’s concerning that we have almost come to expect this discrimination from members of an increasingly popular political sect. Although most of America sees these views for what they are, backwards, vulgar, and despicable, the media can’t get enough of the alt-right circus. Nehlen, though he is not a serious threat to the seat in any way, has had articles written about him in major publications such as HuffPost, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, and Vox.

It’s important to remember that Nehlen and his cohorts, though all over the news, are only at the political fringe. To denounce them is the right thing to do, but we can’t allow the media to be consumed with their stories. Nationwide coverage only adds fuel to their fire, whether it is coverage condemning them or not.

More likely than not, it’s the media attention that is behind Nehlen acting out. Though he probably does believe in the comments he’s making, to some degree, he no doubt also sees radicalism as a winning political strategy. Nehlen refuses to call himself a white supremacist or a nationalist, perhaps because he doesn’t fully embrace those views. But he would not be getting any attention at all were it not for his outrageous rants. It’s disturbing that some politicians have come to think of demeaning others as a path to victory, and it should not be acceptable by any account.

It’s especially crucial for the Republican Party to remind Americans that it does not embrace these radicals, and that the views they espouse are not Republican views. Candidates like Nehlen see an opening — the GOP is vulnerable to radical attack because it has failed to unite its voters. These candidates aren’t Republican, they’re power hungry and need a major political party to get them in the door.

Nehlen is getting no love from his so-called party, but neither, really, is Ryan. When denouncing Nehlen, and other reprobates like him, Republicans need to flip the script to focus on party positives. In Nehlen’s case, Republicans should be praising Ryan, and rallying around the leadership he has shown and the party values he represents. Criticizing the alt-right isn’t enough; the GOP needs to show that not only are the Nehlens of America not Republicans, but that being Republican means something admirable and worth believing in.

Though Nehlen and the alt-right should not be garnering so much media attention, the GOP needs to use this coverage to its advantage, rather than letting it hurt the party’s reputation. There is media interest in the Republican Party, but right now it’s that people like Nehlen are representing it. If the Republicans can respond to every news story about a nationalist radical with a story about a Republican triumph, they will have a much better chance in 2018 and beyond.

Special thanks to Katherine Pickle, My chief law clerk who is a second year law student at Emory, for helping me research, write, and edit this article.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

'Red Flag' Gun Control Might Have Prevented Parkland Shooting

This article originally appeared on my Newsmax column

Mass shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, force Americans to reflect on just how broad their Second Amendment right should be.

Though overall instances of gun violence have declined in number, clearly the problem is not completely resolved. Responsible, law-abiding citizens should be able to own guns, but there are individuals out there who forfeit that right by committing felonies or making violent threats. The issue facing Congress is what they can do about these dangerous individuals, while still maintaining Second Amendment liberties.

Across the U.S., anyone who passes a federal background check can purchase firearms. These background checks look into things like criminal history, mental health history, immigration status, etc.

However, the information in federal databases is not always up-to-date or complete — states do not have a good track record of providing information. Additionally, in some states, only licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks. Private sellers and vendors at gun shows are not required to do so. Republicans made a big issue out of not letting anyone vote who couldn’t produce an ID — shouldn’t we apply the same standards to weapons that could harm dozens of people?

Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, obtained his AR-15 legally after passing a background check. Cruz was able to purchase a gun despite observations by his peers that he would be a likely candidate for a school shooter. Any mental health problems Cruz may have, however, did not surface in his background check.

This is because in many states, including Florida, mental illness is only available in the federal databases under limited circumstances. Mental illness shows up on a background check only if 1) a person has been involuntarily admitted to a mental hospital or 2) a court or government body officially declares a person mentally incompetent. This is also assuming that states actually submit this information to the federal government. In fact, some people estimate that we are not even placing half of these records in the database

Obviously, this is not a very good metric for keeping track of every state citizen that might be mentally ill. In Florida, it is even possible to be involuntarily detained for mental illness and still purchase a gun, if the detainment does not last for more than 72 hours.

Though mental health is not the reason behind most gun violence, is it certainly partly to blame in tragedies like Parkland, and lawmakers should work to find a better way to prevent the mentally ill from possessing firearms. The problem is that it is difficult to classify individuals with mental health issues as actually dangerous. The government would run the risk of over-categorization if it attempted to compile a more thorough registry. For example, if a person saw a therapist for minor depression and anxiety, would they be barred from firearm possession? If so, this law might apply to some of the nation’s military and police officers.

One possible solution is for all states to adopt so-called “red flag laws.” Red flag laws allow the temporary seizure of guns from individuals before they can be used for harm. Four states have adopted red flag laws, and 18 other states, including Florida, are considering similar legislation.

The system relies on third parties to report to the government if they believe individuals are a danger to themselves or others. The focus of these laws is to single out dangerous behavior, rather than mental illness in general. Dangerous behavior is categorized as including signs of mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc. If an individual is reported as exhibiting dangerous behavior, their firearm is temporarily seized, but may be returned to them after a court proceeding and most of the time the hearing must take place within 2-4 weeks.

The worry of staunch Second Amendment supporters is that under this system, firearms might be taken from individuals without just cause. However, the seizure is only temporary, and people have the opportunity to argue their case and dispute evidence that they exhibited dangerous behavior. These laws exist for citizens’ protection, not to destroy their rights. In fact, it is still up to the state to prove that someone is dangerous, so the burden of proof doesn’t shift to the accessed which is an essential part of protecting due process.

Following the horrific events in Parkland, there has been a promising surge of bipartisan support for new gun control legislation. There is the strong possibility of a bipartisan bill to ban bump stocks, a move which both President Trump and Jeff Sessions have said they support. Trump is also supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system, expressing the desire that federal and state agencies be held accountable if they fail to upload records into the system.

Recent survey data from POLITICO/Morning Consult shows that most Americans are in favor of strengthening gun control laws related to background checks and preventing guns from getting in the hands of the mentally ill. In fact, 88 percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchasers. Most interestingly, 55 percent of gun owners back new restrictions, as well as 49 percent of Republican voters. Though recent surveys have shown even higher numbers than this!

History and data has taught us that broad based gun control doesn’t work and ends up wasting the limited resources that police have on harassing people who have never committed a crime. However, targeted gun control which harshly prosecutes felons for gun possession and the implementation of a red flag system could have prevented the last three mass shootings in Florida. The FBI was aware of the three last mass shooters long before they committed any acts of violence, but they didn’t have the tools to act pre-emptively. No one is arguing for putting anyone in jail for free speech, but it is important that there is a temporary process to take weapons from someone until it is clear they are no longer a threat to themselves or others. Making these changes could ensure that mass shootings will decline, but we must stop talking about what needs to be done and simply do it.

Special thanks to Katherine Pickle, a member of my staff, for her help in writing, researching, and editing this article. Katherine is the chief law clerk at the Reid Law Firm and a 2L student at Emory Law School.

 

America and the World Desperately Need Another Billy Graham

This article originally appeared on my Newsmax column.

This week, the nation continues to mourn the passing of “America’s Pastor,” Billy Graham. For over 60 years, Graham turned the hearts and minds of the world upside down as he spread the love of Jesus Christ around the globe. Graham had an innate ability to bring folks together in mutual affection and hunger for a greater purpose — an ability severely lacking in today’s culture of hatred and partisanship. In order to ever ease the tension that divides our communities, we need a leader to rally behind, a leader who will wake us from our hazy slumber and point us to the truth.

Beginning in 1947, Reverend Graham travelled the nation and eventually the world to preach the Gospel to nearly 215 million people through his famed crusades. At the end of every sermon, he invited each one to “come forward” and commit their lives to Christ. He offered a chance at redemption, hope, and a life free from frustration and bewilderment — a life dedicated to Jesus Christ. His only agenda was Christ’s, and he ministered to people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and status — from North Carolina farmers to United States presidents.

Graham ministered to presidents from Truman to Obama, often becoming their confidante and spiritual guide. However, being friends with the leader of the free world doesn’t always come easy. Graham was often criticized for his close relationship with Nixon, even through the Watergate scandal, but Graham continued to maintain that he and Nixon were equally sinners. Presidents realized they could trust him and often opened up to him about their most personal struggles, from the office to their families. His reach extended even beyond American leaders. In 1992, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung invited Graham to preach in Pyongyang’s officially sanctioned churches. Graham fostered a friendly relationship with the dictator and would even return to the communist regime as an unofficial American envoy. Graham’s reach was truly unprecedented and perhaps a telling result of the universal message that he preached.

In the nation’s darkest hours, Graham was continually called upon to lead. In the midst of the strife and hatred that plagued the nation during the civil rights movement, America’s pastor called on Christians to lead the charge for change. Graham integrated his crusades in 1957, and was praised by Dr. Martin Luther King, who wrote, “You have courageously brought the Christian gospel to bear on the question of race.” In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, Graham was invited to the National Cathedral to unite a grieving country in prayer. No matter the challenge, Billy Graham knew just what the nation needed to come together, and we all looked to him for a sign of comfort and peace.

As our nation again becomes increasingly polarized, who will we look to for that comfort and peace? When our world inevitably comes crashing down, who can we turn to, to lead us into the light? Graham did not speak for a particular church, a particular party, or a particular people, but his familiarity gave us peace, his words gave us hope, and his message brought us life. Today, our leaders are just as polarized as we are, and even our spiritual leaders often find themselves touting a particular agenda. America — and the world — needs another Billy Graham, someone who can strengthen our faith in the Almighty, deepen our love for our fellow man and unite us around a greater purpose.

Special thanks to Daniel Bruce, a member of my staff, for his help in writing, researching, and editing this article. Daniel is studying Political Science and Economics at Auburn University and plans to attend law school after graduating. He also is a regular contributor to Rouser News in D.C.

 

The New Tax Reform Law Could Save the GOP in the Midterms

This article originally appeared on my Newsmax column.

The Republican tax bill has gotten a lot of flak since being passed by Congress in December. Though the majority of Americans’ taxes will (for the time being) go down, the GOP reform is less popular than tax hikes under Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. The question is why — have Americans misjudged the bill, or are they correctly skeptical?

One criticism of the legislation is that members of Congress were not given enough time to read the 500-page bill. Though they were presented with the full text of the bill at what was arguably the last minute, to claim they had absolutely no time to understand its contents is an exaggeration. The key points of the bill had been up for discussion with the Senate Finance Committee for the past three years. Surely if Senators were passionate about the issue, they could find time over 3 years to investigate the bill for themselves.

Assume for a moment that there actually was adequate time to fully read the bill, would anyone in Congress have done it? This is doubtful. The embarrassing problem of legislators not reading the legislation they vote on has been around for decades. It’s such an issue that Senator Rand Paul has attempted to pass a “Read Bills Act” requiring elected officials to actually read the proposals on their desks. But they’re busy people, and their time is better spent on other pursuits — according to one study, Congressmen and Senators spend 40 percent of their time soliciting votes and raising money for their next campaign.

Another document that most members of Congress have not read, and certainly not most Americans, is the Internal Revenue Code (more simply, the Tax Code). It’s difficult for people to understand what’s changing, when they likely don’t understand what the rules were in the first place. There’s a reason that many Americans hire professionals to do their taxes. The Tax Code is exceedingly complicated, because it contains a vast assortment of detailed rules and specific exceptions inserted over the years as a result of lobbying by different interest groups. Some of the new updates no doubt fall into this category as well.

So, because neither members of Congress nor average Americans have read the Tax Code or the GOP tax bill in their entirety, the focus is on the biggest, most obvious changes. What are they? Lower individual tax rates, a larger standard deduction, and a significantly lower corporate tax rate — each of which has its pros and cons. For example, the cuts to individual tax rates are short term and expire in 2026, and while the standard deduction is larger this change is at the expense of itemized deductions, which have been eliminated.

Most economists suspect that there will initially be an economic boom as a result of the reform, but that it will not last. Wall Street analysts project that companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook will save $4.5 billion in taxes due to the low corporate rate, and that there will be a big boost for all businesses. Savings for middle income taxpayers will be about $900-$1,600.

Even with these potential benefits, many Americans are not satisfied. One issue, as intimated above, is that people don’t fully understand the bill. Furthermore, people are more likely to focus on the negatives than the small positives they may be experiencing. The fact that all itemized deductions have been slashed makes Americans feel like they’re losing out, even though the vast majority of people will marginally benefit from the larger standardized deduction. It’s true that the individual tax cuts will expire in 2026, but this is a result of budget rules, not Republicans’ will; it’s the GOP’s intent to renew these cuts. Most Americans will thus benefit in the short term, and may very well benefit in the long term as well.

The biggest shadow on the reform doesn’t even have anything to do with what’s in it — Democrats and other Americans are predisposed to disliking the bill because Trump supported it. Though the bill is not perfect, Democrats would not have been happy with anything Republicans had drafted. In 2018, Republicans will preach the success of the bill, and Democrats will tear it apart, but the fact is, no one can be sure.

Economists do predict that the benefits of the bill will fade and that the national debt will grow as a result. But, Republicans are banking on economic growth from, primarily, the lower corporate tax rate to counteract these downfalls. There are so many variables in the economy that could change drastically over the next few years that it is nearly impossible to say what the greater effects of the reform will be. However, the early information we are getting is showing a very good trajectory that could lead to economic growth we haven’t seen since Reagan was president.

In sum, Americans should not be so quick to judge the GOP tax bill. Most of us don’t fully understand it, and it is extremely difficult to accurately predict what will happen to the economy years in the future. The tax reform law is definitely a net positive but only time will tell just how big an impact this bill will have.

Christopher Reid is an attorney out of Birmingham who owns his own general practice law firm, which handles Business, Family, and Probate Law and high-end litigation throughout the state of Alabama. Reid has held various policy positions, including working for the Alabama Policy Institute and the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C., where he also worked for House Republican Whip Roy Blunt. In law school, he clerked for the Alabama Attorney General Office, and, after graduation, he became Health and Judiciary Policy Analyst for Alabama’s governor. His charitable work includes serving on the board of Sav-A-Life. Chris is a frequent co-host on The Scott Beason Show in Birmingham, writes political and legal commentary for publications including The Hill, The Washington Examiner, and has been quoted in The New Yorker. He regularly provides on-air expertise and political commentary for TV news shows on Fox, NBC, and Newsmax with JD Hayworth. 

 

 

Scott Dawson, Minister turned Gubernatorial Candidate

Gubernatorial candidate Scott Dawson is shaking up politics in Alabama by bringing his ministerial background to the campaign trail on his way to the 2018 gubernatorial election. Dawson is looking at politics from the perspective of a minister rather than that of a typical career politician. I had the opportunity of listening to Dawson address some of his major viewpoints when he came to Samford this past week and was able to better understand how a minister could go straight to politician and be able to make the transformation seamless. By looking at the world as a citizen and a minister, Dawson saw problems that were facing his own family and facing the thousands of people to which has preached. He has spoken to 8,000-12,000 students a year at his conferences and has spoken in every Alabama county, which made him jokingly mention, “the only one who knows more backroads than me is probably James Spann.” He is firm on having consistent principles and consequences in our judicial system and points to early signs of this forming in the Bible itself. An example of this would be when Adam and Eve faced a consequence after disobeying God and eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. Throughout his speech, he included his positions on the economy, education, healthcare, immigration, and education. 

The first major position Scott referenced were his views on the education systems in Alabama. Currently we are spending $6.4 billion on education in Alabama, so we are investing the money but don’t have the correct leadership. We need to fix this, because education is critical for our future and the next generation. He instructed that we need a three-step approach to the education systems in order to prepare our children to have a successful future. These three steps include leadership, attitude, and economics. You must believe in yourself and your capabilities in order to lead anyone else, you must have an appropriate attitude, and you must utilize your money properly. A policy Scott believes should be implemented in the education systems is requiring drug tests for those involved in extracurricular activities beginning in 9th grade. This would help us to find those struggling with addiction and allow us to offer them help before the drug addiction becomes an unsolvable lifelong problem. Fixing this in the early stages of one’s life will prevent them from ending up in the judicial system or being hindered further down the line. He proposed that we bring ROTC training to every high school to implement discipline and structure in the student’s life if they have behavioral issues. Misbehavior in class distracts all students from learning, so bringing back the ROTC to schools with benefit every student. This will also contribute to the student’s entrance into society after graduating high school. If this kind of ROTC training and drug monitoring is brought to the schools of Alabama, it will allow for high school graduates to come out of school with necessary life skills and be able to succeed in society regardless if they choose to go to college or not. 

Economy was the next thing Scott turned his focus on. He not only wants to bring more jobs to Alabama, but he wants to have more jobs and businesses to originate in this great state. If you are staying in Alabama after you receive your education and having success, forming a family, or even creating a business of your own, that means you are bringing more success and revenue to the state of Alabama. He wants to make Alabama business friendly so that entrepreneurs and businesses don’t feel the need to leave the state to benefit their business. Current business regulations aren’t easy to follow, there are many unnecessary fees and regulations that are put on businesses. Taxes on businesses isn’t the problem, because Alabama has a low tax rate for businesses. He suggests having an independent council. This council would make the department issuing the regulation or fee justify their actions, if they cant do this its called “cut the tape.” Doing this would not only allow for new businesses to come into Alabama, but it would also provide a reason for Alabamians to create new business here. This would in turn create more revenue for the state and would boost Alabama’s economy. 

Immigration is another point Scott spoke about. He says he is supportive of Trump’s policies and the idea of a wall. He feels immigration is a federal issue, so something that we need should instead focus on is preventing the spread of the MS-13 gang. Alabama is sitting is a critical area for this gang and it is already in certain parts of our state right now. This gang posing a large threat to our citizens and they have committed gruesome acts in the past, so they must be stopped. We must take a stand against them. 

Scott acknowledged healthcare as a very important issue in Alabama. Some counties are having hospitals close down, making the drives to the nearest hospitals in Alabama for some residents be up to 45 minutes away. While residents of Birmingham have many options within a 20 minute drive. We must serve the public and create more healthcare opportunities by opening up more clinics around the state. 

An opportunity we need to offer is medical resources in the poor neighborhoods. Churches often offer medical resources to meet the need because government wasn’t designed to meet all of our needs. Church is something very important to Scott, but he understands the separation of church and state is needed. However, government shouldn’t be expected to show compassion but should empower the church to do that. The government is designed to do some things like keep us safe but not designed to meet its citizen’s needs. We have to have people in these four areas to fulfil the needs of the people, those four areas being teachers, the medical field, first responders, and pastors. The church has a place in our state but that must be streamlined. 

It was evident throughout Scott Dawson’s speech that he was focusing on the future of the state and not just what needs to happen in this exact moment. He is a minister running for governor of Alabama, not a politician that has people guiding his direction and his policies. He wants what is best for the state of Alabama. He has studied ministry for 30 years of his life and wants to apply that knowledge, but does not want to create a theocracy. We need to find the right balance of laws and government intrusion so we don’t have a system of anarchy or communism. He makes it clear that he is not perfect, he is going to make mistakes; but he has his eyes set on Montgomery and his focus isn’t moving from it. He believes the children are our future and we must start their path to success early. When you elect a governor, you are saying you trust that governor to lead your children to a better future and he believes he can be that governor.

Photo retrieved from https://www.scottdawson.com/about Used under fair use doctrine of the United States.

Shapiro, Stuckey Show How the GOP Can Reach Millennials

As the 2018 midterm elections approach, Republicans need to cleanly separate themselves from the fringe movement of the alt-right.

Radical individuals whose views do not align with true conservative values have been harming the GOP’s image, and if not addressed could be detrimental to the party. Republicans cannot allow the incredibly small number of nationalists and racists to hurt the brand of the party which is the same party that fought for civil rights, pushed for woman’s suffrage on the party’s platform in 1856, and had a higher percentage of its members vote for woman’s suffrage in 1920. In fact the Republicans voted for both the Civil Rights of Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 at a higher percentage than the Democrats.

To be successful in 2018 and beyond, the GOP must attract millennial voters. However, Republicans have struggled to connect with the now-largest voting block that has shown little interest in the conservative platform. Republicans can best do this by reinventing and energizing the positive and promising aspects of the party, but they cannot allow the negativity of the young and growing alt-right to dominate social media and garner the wrong type of millennial support — no matter how desperately it is needed.

Many millennials are bright and brilliant leaders who will surely make this nation proud. However, some have become severely misguided by troubled minds who preach hatred and bigotry from the comfort of their keyboards and webcams. Many young Americans, who feel largely neglected by the current political landscape, are attracted to their promise of change.

The bottom line: these are the millennials that need to be utterly rebuffed by the Republican Party. While they may seem like a quick vote now, they ultimately intend to twist the party’s conservative values to promote their own populist and nationalist ideology. Thankfully, there are not many millennials with backwards views, and there are many more who continually stand up for conservative ideals and values.

Ben Shapiro and Allie Stuckey are two of these millennials who stand for conservatism.

Stuckey, known as The Conservative Millennial, has attracted a large social media following for her videos that support and defend conservative values. She fiercely reveals the errors in the ideology of the left and has brought an energized and much needed female voice to conservatism. I have interviewed her multiple times on the radio and have not only been impressed with her ability to articulate complex policy ideas in ways that my generation could understand, but was most impressed with her depth of character and insight, which she attributes to her faith in Christ. She will be a true leader of the Republican Party and there is no doubt that her media status will only continue to rise.

Shapiro rose to fame at 17, when he became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the country. He founded The Daily Wire and hosts his own daily political podcast, "The Ben Shapiro Show," two accomplishments that have brought Shapiro over one million followers on Twitter. A fierce defender of conservative values, Shapiro has even been restricted when speaking at universities, who say his views can be “concerning and even hurtful.” However, Shapiro simply preaches and defends the conservative values of limited government, individual freedom, and the importance of strong families.

The GOP needs young voters who will support them in the future and help the party grow, but it cannot allow itself to be a vehicle of hate. Therefore, the party should continue to align itself with true conservative millennials like Stuckey and Shapiro, rather than the prejudice spouted by the alt-right.

Contrary to what many might believe, the Republican Party has always been the party where innovative ideas have been welcomed. There is room in the GOP for young ideas and support, and a surge of principled, conservative millennial participation could be the shot in the arm Republicans need in 2018.

Special thanks to Katherine Pickle and Daniel Bruce, members of my firm, who helped write, research, and edit this article. Katie is a 2L at Emory law school and Daniel Bruce is a contributor at Rouser in D.C.

This article originally appeared in my column on Newsmax.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

Analyst Dowd a Model of Reasoned Political Discourse

Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst for ABC News, has a message for politicians and the American people. It’s time to come together and figure out what we want this country to be. With an unpredictable future on the horizon, Dowd believes people need to stop focusing on who is wrong on each side and start figuring out what is right for both sides.

Dowd speaks from a breadth of political experience. Over the years, he has worked for both Republican and Democratic politicians around the country; most notably for President George W. Bush on the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

It’s no surprise that much of Dowd’s rhetoric encompasses reaching across the aisle, eliminating blind partisanship. Before being approached by Bush and becoming a strong advocate for the past president, Dowd spent 20 years working for Democrats.

His experience with Bush throws a spotlight on much of Dowd’s political philosophy. Dowd was initially attracted to Bush’s message because he believed that the Texan could unite the American people, bringing together the opposing sides in Washington, D.C.

However, over the years, Dowd became frustrated by the president’s actions. He came to believe that Bush was ignoring the will of the American people with regard to the war in Iraq, and that he failed to pull Americans together in a time of conflict. Subsequently, Dowd left the Bush administration. .

What’s more, Dowd’s life story shows that anyone can become heavily involved in politics, fighting to make a difference. Dowd comes from humble beginnings; he was one of 11 children raised in a Catholic, Detroit household. The political turmoil of Watergate inspired Dowd to delve into the political arena. He was enthralled by the unraveling of an administration and seeing the strength of a Constitution being tested. He wanted to be a part of it. All it takes is one spark, something that people are passionate about, to inspire them to affect change.

Inspiring people to rise up, to be leaders themselves is a major theme in Dowd’s book, "A New Way: Embracing the Paradox as We Lead and Serve." In it, Dowd lets Americans know that even if their candidates let them down, they can find ways to lead — without them.

Dowd argues that the greatest power is local power, and that leaders in Washington right now are not leading. This means the American people need to engage and lead their politicians to the right choices.

Dowd openly worries about the state of democracy in this country. He is concerned that people are isolating themselves within their own parties, with their own ideas, while refusing to listen to opposing views. Dowd thinks what’s important is not connecting as Republicans or Democrats, but connecting as people. People are more than their politics. If they dig deep down, they'll find fundamental similarities to one another.

For Dowd, this meaningful connection is what's missing between Republican and Democratic politicians. There is no empathy between them. The left doesn’t bother to try and understand why the right would support policies it does, and vice versa.

Matthew Dowd argues that what’s most important is that politicians and the American people expose themselves to ideas they don’t agree with; that they concurrently avail themselves of regional and local struggles nationwide, especially those with which they are most unfamiliar. Ideas are the needs and desires of real people all across the country.

All Americans need to understand that what we’re talking about when we discuss differing politcal platforms, and that ideas are the needs and desires of real people nationwide, not just check-boxes on a ballot or buzzwords in a debate.

Dowd recognizes that the U.S. is divided and that people are worried about the future, but he sees this as a positive in an exciting time, an era in which real change is possible.

During the special election in Alabama between Judge Roy Moore and Doug Jones, Matt Dowd called into the radio show I co-host giving some very insightful analysis on how Moore’s nomination showed the level of tribalism in politics had risen to new heights.

The thing I admire most about this political analyst is that he's always able to identify the deeper issues at play — in any political debate. Though I don’t always see eye to eye with his political views I can honestly say that he is truly of the wisest men I know. His book, "A New Way" is powerful because Matt doesn’t talk about his successes but discusses his failures in a manner revealing a humble heart, a rare trait for those who work in media.

In sum, Dowd’s perspective is a powerful one. Though America no doubt faces challenging times, they would be made easier if people and politicians work to understand each other, fighting together for what the country needs.

Special thanks to Katherine Pickle, my law clerk who attends Emory School of Law, and Daniel Bruce, my chief consultant and contributor to Rouser News, for their help writing, researching, and editing this article.

This article first appeared in my column on Newsmax.

Trump Should Retain, Electorate Should Value Jeff Sessions

Of all the officials in the Trump cabinet, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has arguably garnered the most attention. From the drama of his confirmation hearings to several Sessions parodies on "Saturday Night Live" (SNL), the attorney general has certainly been in the public eye since his nomination. Most recently, attention turned back once again to his recusal from the Russia investigation.

Though it’s been months since Sessions recused himself from the probe, two weeks ago The New York Times published an article alleging that last March, President Trump ordered White House counsel to convince Sessions to remain as part of the investigation.

Some pundits have speculated that this action suggests Trump wanted Sessions to protect him, and wanted to ensure that a close cohort maintained control over the probe.

The current relationship between Sessions and Trump is lukewarm. Some report it has only slightly improved. At a recent press conference, Trump told reporters that he did stand with Sessions. But, in the past, Trump referred to Sessions as "beleaguered," and Newsweek reported that Trump was more frustrated with Sessions than with Mueller and the leaders of the Russia investigation. It appears that the president has not gotten over what he seemed to perceive as the disloyalty of Sessions’ recusal.

Despite Trump stating that The New York Times story is off base, and that anything he may have told White House counsel was "proper," it’s clear that he has retained a dislike for Sessions since the recusal incident.

This dislike is not warranted — by recusing himself. Sessions did the right and judicial thing. Jeff Sessions is a capable attorney general and a valuable member of the Cabinet, and a loyal friend to Trump.

Democrats called loudly for Sessions’ recusal, premeditatively accusing him of unethical behavior. What they didn’t know is that Sessions had already recused himself — completely on his own.

Commentators would say that Sessions did this because he knew Trump had something to hide, and that this speculation is perhaps why Trump feels that Sessions betrayed him. But the real reason Sessions recused himself was because it’s the law and he respects the rule of law.

In response to media questions about his recusal, Sessions cited a statute that states a Justice Department employee shall not participate in a "criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with . . . an elected official, a candidate (whether or not successful) for elective, public office, a political party, or a campaign organization." Sessions was a top official in the Trump campaign. His recusal was not betrayal, it was being a loyal servant to the law, as the bar and his oath of office require.

Rather than revealing guilt, Sessions recusing himself shows that he is a man of integrity. Sessions continues to try and prove himself to a president that hasn’t shown him the same loyalty he has been shown.

The Washington Post reported that Sessions has been attempting to win back Trump’s approval, asking White House aides to sing his praises to the President. Sessions is no doubt one of the most active attorney generals. He has made significant strides in advancing President Trump's agenda. For conservatives on the right, Sessions is a strong member of the administration. Sessions is willing to take a lot of abuse from the president, while remaining committed to serving him. This is a trait that Trump should not take for granted.

So far, any attempt to get back in Trump’s good graces have been minimal. Trump rarely calls in Sessions for meetings, and speculation continues that this attorney general may soon lose his job. Though these rumors may have no basis in fact, it’s worth thinking about what Trump would lose if he did fire Sessions.

Asking for Sessions’ resignation would only make the situation worse for the Trump. It could make him look guilty, much like when he fired James B. Comey in May. Beyond the Russia investigation, however, it would be a loss of a humble and graceful servant. Sessions is extremely valuable to the Trump administration, as both a conduit of Trump’s policies and an example of strong conservative leadership.

Sessions has shown himself to choose the right thing over something politically expedient. He has refrained from exchanging harsh words with Trump or getting wrapped up in their feud. In addition, he has remained committed to tangible administrative change.

The president should try to emulate Sessions’ values rather than ignore them. He should see that staying focused on policy is actually a path he should follow. Avoiding drama and admitting his own mistakes is also something he should consider. I have known the attorney general for years now. In every conversation I have had with him he has blessed my life. Several times we were at political events with much more important people than me, but he cared enough about a young conservative to speak to me --- as is true with all young conservatives.

Even if I had a difference of opinion, he thoughtfully and graciously expressed his views. Beyond having strong character, he has one of the best legal minds of our generation. his entire family is also wonderful. I am thankful that a man of Sessions’ character is serving our country.

Special thanks to Katherine Pickle, my law clerk who attends Emory School of Law, and Daniel Bruce, my chief consultant and contributor to Rouser News, for their help researching, editing, and writing this article.

This article first appeared in my column on Newsmax.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

 

True Conservative Leaders Look More Like Blunt Than Bannon

At a time when internal conflict in the Republican Party is all too common, it can be difficult to find a guiding light of leadership in the scrum. More often than not, it’s the loudest Republican voices that get the most attention. Controversial figures like Steve Bannon and Roy Moore dominated media coverage of the GOP in 2017, but the focus of their diatribes is not concrete Republican policy. Individuals like Bannon and Moore spewed meaningless political fluff meant to enflame voters and fuel the media circus; they thrive on popularity and attention. Thankfully, recent events have put Steve Bannon and Roy Moore out of the spotlight and it is likely their political influence will be minimal going forward.

Because these types of outspoken figures have become well-known through the widespread publicity of their antics, some might come to believe that it’s the Bannons and Moores who are the GOP’s most prominent leaders. But leadership is much more than how many dramatic headlines are written about you. The measure of a great leader is not how loudly you can shout and how many people can hear you, it’s how many people will actually listen.

Roy Blunt is one of these great leaders. Though he is one of the most powerful and influential members of the senate, he doesn’t feel the need to hear himself talk. He is one of the few leaders in congress who believes that the measure of a leader isn’t who makes the most promises but who delivers on promises made.

Blunt is not your typical example of a politician — in fact, before entering politics Blunt was a high school teacher. He was elected to represent Missouri in the Senate in 2010, and successfully ran for reelection in 2016. From 1997-2011, Blunt served as Congressman to the 7th district of Missouri, the state’s most conservative district. This is no surprise, as Blunt has a strong conservative record. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Blunt a 97 percent rating for his pro-business voting record, and he received an “A” rating from the NRA for his commitment to the Second Amendment. Blunt manages to maintain this solid conservative record without subscribing to the firebrand style of individuals like Roy Moore.

I’ve chosen to focus on Blunt as a prime example of Republican leadership because I know the strength of his character from personal experience. I had the pleasure of working for Blunt’s office in 2007 as an intern while he was serving as House Republican Whip. What struck me most about Blunt was his commitment to supporting policies that he truly believed would help people and make the country better, not just taking stances that would help him get reelected.

Blunt’s desire to truly help his fellow Americans is illustrated by his little-known involvement with his local prison ministry in Missouri which is how I came to hear about Roy Blunt from my Aunt who lives in Missouri. Blunt has never felt the need to publicize this about himself; Jesus said whatever you do for the least of these you do it for me and the thing that struck me the most about this is that this isn’t something that politically would win him a lot of points. Many of these people weren’t violent criminals, but had simply made bad choices because they were addicted to drugs and had been arrested multiple times. Attitudes towards those who struggle with addiction has changed but Senator Blunt cared about these people and did something about it long before it was political advantageous. When I worked there I never heard the staff say one negative thing about the congressman and when I told other Capitol Hill staffers I worked for Roy Blunt I only ever heard how lucky I was to work for someone like Roy Blunt. The older I get the more I realize how valuable a good reputation is and how quickly it can be lost. Senator Blunt may not be the first person you see on Twitter, but he has been instrumental in enacting policy changes which has benefited every single person reading this article now. He has a tremendous amount of power but he doesn’t use it simply to advance his own interest but to make the lives of the people of Missouri and the United States Better.

Though no doubt a solid conservative, Blunt has consistently shown that he is more committed to enacting actual change than choosing sides in inter-party disputes. Blunt has no need to prove himself as a loyal and determined conservative; his record does that for him. When interviewed about his stance on the Trump-Corker feud, Blunt remarked, “I think both these men have really big jobs to do and I think they both should focus on them instead of talking about each other.”

This comment hones in on a central issue in the Republican Party today — conflicts that distract Republican leaders from the task at hand. Blunt sees that choosing a side and further dividing the party is not the answer. Firebrands like Bannon, on the other hand, choose disloyalty and pot-stirring as tools of furthering their own agendas. The Bannons and Moores of the GOP are not leaders; leaders exhibit level-headedness, and serve the people, not themselves. Leaders like Roy Blunt are proof that we still have an amazing group of leaders in the Republican Party, and he is an example both for voters, and his fellow politicians, of what a true leader ought to be.

Special thanks to Katherine Pickle, my law clerk who attends Emory School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia and to Daniel Bruce, a member my chief consultant and contributor to Rouser News, for their help researching, writing, and editing this article.

This article first appeared in my column on Newsmax.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.