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Risk & Sacrifice separate grass roots activists from insulated party professionals

In 2009, like many other citizens shocked at the sudden, dramatic changes and corruption re-shaping America, I greatly increased my political activity.

Part of a grass-roots wave of citizen activists that year, I ran in a four-way US Congressional primary.  It’s a long story, and in short I ended up liking one of my opponents so much I hoped he would win.  Along the way, several people closely affiliated with the Republican Party tried to dissuade me from running, assuring me that a certain sitting state senator would beat the incumbent Democrat, congressman Tim Holden.

Our campaign still netted about 25% of the vote in a four-way race, which is solid performance, especially considering that one of the candidates had run before, one was a sitting state senator, one was a well-known political activist, and we had gotten a late start and spent little money.

In the general election, Holden crushed the Republican state senator who won that primary race by 400 votes.

Fast forward to January 2012, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects a new, heavily gerrymandered Republican redistricting plan.  At the heart of the court’s decision was the “egregious” and grossly unnatural shape of the 15th state senate district, where I happened to then reside, and still do now, too.

The PA Supreme Court called the new district “the iron cross,” and indeed it looked like a cross shape and was iron clad against upstart citizens asserting themselves in political races reserved for establishment members only.

(My current congressional district is the same, with only about ten blocks of Harrisburg City included in what is otherwise a large, rural district reaching the Maryland state line. Guess who lives in that ten-block area. Yes. Me. )

Given my previous public interest in running for the 15th senate seat, it was obvious that excluding our family’s home from that district was purposeful: It was an attempt by political bosses to artificially silence and thwart an otherwise good candidate who does not see his job as serving political bosses.

The court’s ruling allowed a handful of us to wage a tremendous grass roots 11th hour campaign for that senate seat, getting our start two days into the three-week ballot petition process.

Although we did not win, we did give the political bosses a hell of a challenge by winning a huge number of votes with only pennies spent.

A year later, York businessman Scott Wagner beat those same political bosses for his state senate seat, in a historic write-in campaign against a million dollars of party money. The race, and its remarkable result, drew national attention.  Clearly the voters responded to Wagner’s grass roots campaign in the face of a party juggernaut.

This evening I spent some time speaking with an NRA staffer.  We met at the Great American Outdoor Show, which is the former Eastern Outdoors Show and now NRA-run at the PA Farm Show complex, and he gave me an opportunity to vent a bit and explain my frustration with the NRA.

To wit: An increasing number of grass roots activists now perceive the NRA as merely an arm of the Republican Party establishment political bosses.  The same bosses who oppose conservative/ independent candidates like me and Wagner.

See, back in 2012, I was the only NRA member in that three-way primary race (to be fair, one candidate had been an NRA member for several months, which could never, ever be construed as a political move, even though he was the candidate selected by the same political bosses who created a safe district for him to run in), but the NRA refused to get involved.

If there was any endorsement that was deserved in that race, it would have been the NRA endorsing their one and only member, and a decades-long member at that – Me. (Firearm Owners Against Crime did endorse the one pro-Second Amendment candidate, thank you very much, Kim Stolfer)

And then tonight it dawned on me on the way home from the Farm Show complex…two basic but defining experiences separate grass roots activists and candidates from the party establishment: Risk taking and making sacrifices.

By definition, grass roots candidates take many risks and make many sacrifices, both of which are seen as signs of weakness by the establishment.

Self-starters motivated by principle and passion for good government, the grass roots candidates and activists have to reach into their own pockets to get any traction, and they often risk their jobs and businesses in challenging the establishment power structure.  To get invitations to events, they have to reach out and ask, knock on doors, make phone calls.  They have to cobble together campaigns made of volunteers and pennies, and they usually are grossly under-funded now matter how successful they are.

On the other hand, party establishment candidates have the ready-made party machine in their sails from the get-go.  Money, experienced volunteers, paid staffers, refined walking lists, the establishment can muster a tremendous force in a relatively short time.  Establishment candidates also enjoy artificial party endorsements (formal or informal) that give them access to huge pots of party campaign funds or a leg-up in other ways.

Establishment groups like NRA view grass roots candidates the same way as the party establishment views them- trouble makers.

In short, few if any establishment candidates put in their own money to drive their campaigns, take risks, or make sacrifices in their pursuit of elected office. Everything is done for them by other people.

So long as party establishment staff and officials and groups like NRA maintain this artificial lifestyle and view, this alternate reality, this disconnect between the grass roots voters and the party that needs their votes will continue and deepen.

So long as the voters see grass roots activists and candidates struggling against an unfair arrangement that is created solely for the preservation of political power and profit, they will continue to migrate away from the party and support people they can relate to the most.

An elder in my family once told me that taking risks and making sacrifices build character and lead to success, and although a 26-year career full of both risks and sacrifices has often left me wondering at the truth of that claim, I increasingly see it bearing out in electoral politics.

The voters are not dumb; they can see the pure American earnestness in their fellow citizen fighting City Hall.  They respect risk-taking and sacrifices made in the pursuit of saving America.  That is a strong character which no establishment candidate can or ever will have.

Those political parties and groups that ignore that strong American character do so at their own risk, because they will lose the supporters they need to be successful.

 

Americans awaken from stupor, kick butt

Nationally, Tuesday night was a day to remember for many years.

The American people awakened from a stupor.

Obama was rejected by the voters, as one might expect. He has been an utter catastrophe.

Normal people are running Congress now.

My choice for presidential candidates in 2016 are Dr. Ben Carson and Col. Allen West. Look for them. Support them; they’re awesome, real, authentic Americans.

Here in Pennsylvania, a decent man with generally good policies but with the interpersonal skills of a walrus went down to defeat. It goes to show that communication is the heart of politics and government.

While Tom Corbett may ultimately be responsible for his own loss, it was the kids, the kids!, running the Governor’s office who really dragged him down. Jen, Patrick, Luke. Nan. The list of ordained, arrogant, know-it-all but failed insiders is as long as my arm. Please, people, go get jobs in the private sector. Please stop driving our party over a cliff.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party needs a major overhaul. New leadership. Obviously. So let’s get that done, pronto, and get back in the game with a winning team.

Cantor loss is shocking only to those who are not paying attention

Yes, yes, yes, Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) was an important man, high up, famous, powerful…blah blah blah.  And he lost his five-million dollar primary campaign to a grass roots candidate who spent a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Hey, Republican establishment folks, are you now paying attention?

Do you maybe now understand what so many of your own voters have been telling you for years?

To wit: America is worth saving, and it can only be saved by breaking from the creeping Big Government identity of “moderate” Republicans.  That means No on amnesty, No on gun control, No on universal background checks aka gun owners database, No on ObamaDon’tCare.

In other words, Hell Yes on freedom and liberty.

Cantor failed on these issues, and his voters punished him for it.

While the NRA lost out to Gun Owners of America in this race, probably no group was more closely identified with Cantor, and the Republican establishment around him, than the Republican Jewish Coalition, a nice group I have had some exposure to.  Sadly, RJC mishandled Cantor’s loss in a gargantuan way that may spell the organization’s descent or even demise.  In many ways, Tuesday night’s RJC is emblematic of the larger Republican establishment, which also seems determined to drive itself over a cliff.

Late Tuesday night, 11:26 PM, to be exact, the RJC issued a brief lamentation about Cantor’s electoral loss and how great Cantor was and blah blah blah.

Did RJC acknowledge that REPUBLICAN voters had spoken?  Nope.  Did RJC congratulate the winner, economics professor David Brat?  Nope.  Did RJC publicly stake out hopes for Brat to follow closely in Cantor’s pro-Israel shoes?  Nope.

Instead, RJC came across as soundly rejecting the wisdom of REPUBLICAN voters in Cantor’s former district, and failing to acknowledge the Big Government issues of a) gun (citizen) control and b) illegal aliens, who are destroying American democracy, disenfranchising American voters, and robbing American taxpayers.

RJC may be a small group with great intentions, but Tuesday night, they were the lost voice for the entire Republican Establishment.  And it shows just how out of touch the establishment is with the American citizen.  Every conservative activist who reads the RJC statement will wonder what the hell is in the DC Beltway water, because it sure isn’t anything they’d want to drink.

The folks who ran and funded Cantor’s campaign, who issued public statements for him, who stood by him when he wafted in the wind on critical issues, and who bewailed his loss, are incredibly out of touch with the actual voters, taxpayers, citizens, moms, dads, students, and out-of-work-car-won’t-run Americans who are slowly, surely, awakening to the crisis we are in, and who are not not shocked that Cantor lost.

But the experts…they are shocked.

What does this portend or mean to Pennsylvanians? Here is one suggestion: Political parties are supposed to represent the voters and stand for principles. Once the PA GOP returns to that model, winning elections will be easy.

Huffington Post: No democracy for you!

A Huffington Post headline reads “Congress Inaction Prompts Obama to Act Alone.”

American civics class 101 teaches citizens that the executive branch cannot act alone, not really. If Congress is inactive, the president can only enforce laws that are on the books. He cannot create new laws. That would be dictatorial.

Ah-hah. There’s the point. Obama fans LOVE his dictatorship. Unashamedly.

Just remind us of that love when we have a new president from the other party, surrounded by angry citizens demanding retroactive corrections to the Obama years. You’ll learn to love it then, friends.

ObamaCare…are unilateral changes to law legal?

Congress makes laws, the executive branch executes and implements them.

So how is it that Obama makes unilateral changes to his health care law? Isn’t congress needed to amend the law?

One of Obama’s chief flaws is his tendency to rule as a dictator. He shakes hands with and bows deeply to dictators. His willful disregard for American law is dictatorial.

When do congressional leaders corral this wayward president? Will he be impeached?

0bamaCare, on the rocks…keep pushing

0bamaCare is on the rocks, with strong efforts to defund it or eliminate it altogether gathering steam in both the US Senate and US House.

The nascent program is a disaster. It’s causing healthcare costs to rise dramatically, everyone who is someone has received a temporary compliance waiver from the White House. Unions are demanding that it end. And the icing on the cake is that federal bureaucrats, including congressmen and their staffers, are not required to abide by it.

The politicians actually voted themselves a waiver from 0bamaCare. But you and me, the serfs, the peons, the masses…we must obey.

Lend your voice to knocking this horrendous law over the cliff, call your elected officials and ask them to vote against 0bamaCare.

PA-17th Cong. District Update

Many supporters of my 2009-2010 Republican campaign for the PA-17th Congressional District are asking what my plans are. Will I run for Congress again?
My answer is that I’d like to run again, but it depends on what the PA-17th looks like after redistricting. That process is happening now and several reports have the district as we have known it divided up into several different pieces. Harrisburg, where I reside, may end up in Congressman Platts’s district, while Dauphin County is further divided among other current members of Congress.
Until the proposed plan is unveiled, I can’t give a complete answer. In 2010 our election results were an impressive 24%, out of four candidates, on just $11,000. Our amazing volunteers, like Carl Fox, made that difference.
So please check back here soon. I hope to have an answer shortly. And thank you for all your encouragement and support!
Wishing you a glorious Independence Day holiday,
Josh