Growth and Opportunity Project: Digital a Good Start, but Insufficient

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By: Patrick Ryan

Two weeks ago, the GOP released its “Autopsy” report.  As a social media professional, I was most interested in its “Digital” section.  The Party’s leadership has pledged an investment of at least $10 million into a community outreach program, while the report itself announced efforts to train volunteers and staffers in digital activities.

For example, these include “a new training institute,” “an RNC Fellows Program,” and “Digital Campaign Colleges” in such places as San Francisco and Austin. Ultimately, the GOP’s “challenge is less of a technology problem and more of a culture problem. Thus,  it “need[s] to strive for an environment of intellectual curiosity, data, research, and testing to ensure that our programs are working.”

The Party also stated that it needed to frame its mission within the cyber environment, ultimately aiming for a bottom-up culture. All these efforts are very heartening to me as I contrast it with Romney for America’s approach, but it still isn’t completely sufficient.

The “Autopsy” mentions neither the word “blog” nor “blogger” in its report. I found this unfortunate as the Tea Party has established networks across the country; they communicate with a variety of blogs and websites.

Some dismiss this important omission because the report mentions “social media” a myriad of times. As Jon Henke, a co-founder of digital media firm Craft DC told me, “In fact, you might even take it as a good sign that the RNC does not lump blogs in with ‘digital’ or make a distinction between blogs and media.”

Yet, just as the report itself attests, the question is ultimately about culture, not digital tools. The “digital divide” between the GOP and the Democratic Party exists because the blogosphere developed during a time of Republican political success: 2000-2008. That historical context severely affected the cultures of both political organizations.

Professor Matthew Kerbel, a political science professor at Villanova University, explained that:

The left has benefited from such a [decentralized] structure arguably more than the right, in large part because the relative disorganization of the left when the Internet matured prevented fledgling communities from being co-opted for top-down purposes like message dissemination.

The left developed their blogosphere as a large-scale community while the Republican Party and the conservative movement used blogs primarily as top-down tools:

The right has done an arguably better job of using the Internet as an additional messaging medium, but with a few exceptions it has come at the expense of community building, which is where you find the most long-term pay-offs.

I have seen this  culture in my personal experiences.

As a War Room intern for Romney for America, I was told primarily to ignore most blogs, both left and right. In this role, I collected stories and articles from cable and network news, national newspapers, digital news sites, and other pertinent forms of media.

Granted, I worked the night shift for four out of my six months with the campaign, but I sensed aloofness towards successful conservative blogs. I did not work for the Communications Department, so I cannot speak to how they engaged with bloggers.

Yet such blogs as Powerline, Hot Air, all of the Huffington Post blogs, and other mediums were ignored. At least we watched Morning Joe every day.

The GOP is currently debating the lessons of the 2012 presidential campaign. One thing we have learned is that our digital department is utterly insufficient; what we don’t agree upon is how we should use this tool.

If we want to truly reform our party culture, we need to start cooperating with national and local bloggers. That means blogger briefings. It means recruiting certain Tea Party writers to help train our staffers. Or asking all staffers of the party who have a large following to meet and share their stories and advice.

It could be anything, but one thing is certain: a report can describe the problem, but the influencers and the citizens ultimately implement the reform.

Growth_Opportunity_Book-620x409

By: Patrick Ryan Two weeks ago, the GOP released its “Autopsy” report.  As a social media professional, I was most interested in its “Digital” section.  The Party’s leadership has pledged an investment of at least $10 million into a community outreach program, while the report itself announced efforts to train volunteers and staffers in digital […]

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BREAKING: Pat Mara is a Republican

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By: Travis N. Taylor

In my years of observing politics, I have never witnessed anything as petty as the “Pat Mara is a Republican” tact of his opponents.

I thought initially that it was just the one website (www.patmaraisarepublican.com) whining about the candidate’s party affiliation, but yesterday, I read a Letter to the Editor in a local paper taking the same line of attack:

Nowhere on the [Pat Mara newspaper] ad do I see that he is a Republican (the only one in the race). Mara attended the Republican National Convention and served as a delegate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Could Mara be ashamed of his party’s stands, especially on abortion, same-sex marriage, [and] D.C. voting rights…?

First, Mara is not trying to hide his affiliation.  Candidates rarely include their party identification on campaign materials, including newspaper ads.  And why would they?  Roughly a third of Americans do not identify with either party; and more than that vote on the issues, not based on party.  Candidates are wise to discuss the issues rather than run around screaming, “I’m a Statehood Green! Vote for me!”  When was the last time you heard the paid for line, “I’m Barack Obama, Democrat for President, and I approve this message”?

Given our overwhelming registration deficit, I get that being a Republican in DC is a bit of a hindrance; but this letter to the editor is laughable, as is the whole line of attack on Mara’s party identification.  I find it hilarious to the extreme that the best fodder Mara’s opponents can muster is to attack his party affiliation.

But why attack his party ID?  Could it be that Mara has a sterling record of service to the community?  Could it be that he has never been subject to an ethics investigation?  Could it be that he is the single most viable GOP candidate the District has seen in…well, who knows when?

The fact is this: Mara’s opponents are scared to death that a Republican may end up holding a seat – an at large seat at that – on the DC Council.  Worse yet, for them, is that he is unimpeachable.  And once Mara, a good and decent man, proves to DC residents that Republicans aren’t Satan incarnate, more doors may open to GOP candidates across the District.  The left has nothing on Mara and this is their last gasp for breath as they seek to maintain the liberal strangle-hold on DC politics.

Pat Mara, At-Large Candidate for the DC Council

By: Travis N. Taylor In my years of observing politics, I have never witnessed anything as petty as the “Pat Mara is a Republican” tact of his opponents. I thought initially that it was just the one website (www.patmaraisarepublican.com) whining about the candidate’s party affiliation, but yesterday, I read a Letter to the Editor in […]

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Attacks on Federal Government Headline VA Attorney General Debate

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By: Travis N. Taylor

Candidates for Virginia Attorney General discussed the role of the AG in defending the Commonwealth from the Obama Administration.

Candidates for Virginia Attorney General discussed the role of the AG in defending the Commonwealth from the Obama Administration.

State Senator Mark Obenshain and Virginia Delegate Rob Bell met in a ­­­“he said, I agree” debate last night hosted by the George Mason Law School Republicans at the GMU law school in Arlington.

Both Obenshain and Bell spent the 80 minutes laying out their respective visions for the office of Attorney General which overlapped with one another more frequently than they departed.

Neither candidate wasted any time getting to their point: the federal government under President Barack Obama is oppressive and overreaching, a position both took in their three-minute opening statements.

“I believe our [U.S.] Constitution is in grave peril because Barack Obama doesn’t accept the limitations it puts on him,” Bell said in his opening, while Obenshain weighed in, “I believe we have to continue to fight for our freedom…we have that solemn obligation.”

Obenshain went on later in the debate to claim standing up to the feds is “the number one job” of the next Attorney General.

The debate, held in a crowded GMU classroom, was moderated by former Virginia Governor and Attorney General Jim Gilmore.

Gilmore asked only two questions – one of which was intended to move the candidates off of the federal government and onto state policy, but was unsuccessful – before moving to questions from the audience submitted prior to the debate.

The second question posed by Gilmore moved the discussion right back to the feds by asking about Medicaid expansion in Virginia under ObamaCare.

Obenshain said he opposed the expansion (and the commission established by the General Assembly) “as a matter of law” while Bell was more direct in calling it a “terrible idea.”  Neither candidate was particularly excited to defend the matter in court as the next AG.

On the issue of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, both Obenshain and Bell said Virginia should be freed from the “microscopic level of” oversight from the U.S. Department of Justice when changing even minute provisions of voting law.

And what debate this week would be complete without a question about same-sex marriage?

Obenshain was unwavering in his opposition to expanding marriage to include gay couples.  He said that while he would work to protect all Virginians from discrimination, “marriage is an institution to be entered into by one man and one woman.”  He went on to say that he “support[s] Virginia’s marriage amendment,” which he described as constitutional and above reproach.

Bell, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be so sure.  While he mentioned that as a Delegate, he voted for both the statute and constitutional amendment, but then said only that the matter doesn’t belong in the courts.  Bell said the debate needs to be handled in the political process.  Even when given the opportunity to clarify his position with a follow-up question from Gilmore, Bell spoke about the courts and not the issue.

Both Obenshain and Bell appear to be well-qualified and viable candidates.  Both made it clear that they would stand up to President Obama and his intrusion on the rights of states and freedom of citizens.  As such, either candidate is worthy of the support from Republicans across the Commonwealth.

The two candidates will continue to make their case to voters until the GOP Convention in Richmond on May 17 and 18.

The Republican Party doesn't need a change in culture; we just need to drive up our voter turnout.

By: Travis N. Taylor State Senator Mark Obenshain and Virginia Delegate Rob Bell met in a ­­­“he said, I agree” debate last night hosted by the George Mason Law School Republicans at the GMU law school in Arlington. Both Obenshain and Bell spent the 80 minutes laying out their respective visions for the office of […]

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Marriage and the Supreme Court: A Debate

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By: Shoshana Weissmann

IN SUPPORT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
The majority opinion in Perry v. Brown, heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, makes an extremely compelling argument against the validity of Proposition 8. To clarify, Perry v. Brown has been taken on appeal to the United States Supreme Court and is being heard this week. It is better known as “Hollingsworth v. Perry,” or, “the Prop 8 case.”

The issue in Perry v. Brown is whether Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that it does indeed violate the Equal Protection Clause.

For years, same-sex couples had the opportunity to be legally married in California. Proposition 8, a ballot initiative amending the state constitution, stripped them of the right to marry… in name only. In other words, after Proposition 8 was enacted, same-sex couples could enter into domestic partnerships with all the same rights as opposite-sex married couples, with one difference. They would not be “married.” They would be “domestic partners.”

In accordance with the Equal Protection Clause, a compelling governmental interest must exist when treating similarly situated people dissimilarly. No such reason exists in the case of Proposition 8, especially as the singular effect had by the law is changing the name of the legal union between same-sex couples from “marriage” to “domestic partnership.”

The majority opinion in Perry v. Brown, written by Judge Reinhardt, goes so far as to say Proposition 8 “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort.’” (Perry v. Brown).

Proposition 8’s singular effect is so trivial in the worst of ways. The court argued the law harms same-sex couples by denying same-sex couples the classification of “marriage,” which “is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults” and holds a large amount of societal significance. (Perry v. Brown).

However, I am not convinced Proposition 8 holds intentional malice against same-sex couples, even if it does harm same sex couples and violate the Equal Protection Clause. Rather, I believe the issue which many fail to see is distinguishing between marriage in the legal sense and marriage in the religious or personal sense. This is even addressed in the opinion: “A state may enforce and dissolve a couple’s marriage, but it cannot sanctify or bless it. For that, the pair must go next door.” (Perry v. Brown). Some believe gay marriage proponents are arguing that the government should be allowed to force religious institutions to marry gay couples against the will of the religious institution. That is not at all the case. This is especially true in Perry v. Brown, as the only aspect that Proposition 8 changes is what one calls same-sex couples entering into a legal union.

From a purely legal perspective, no compelling governmental interest exists to legitimate calling opposite-sex couples “married,” while calling same-sex couples “domestic partners,” when both types of couples enjoy the same legal rights when entering into both unions. Proposition 8 is a great example of how the law can be trivialized to a ridiculous extent. There is no compelling governmental interest in upholding semantics. For these reasons, I am confident the Supreme Court will uphold the ruling in Perry v. Brown.

 

To read the argument for traditional marriage, click here.

SCOTUS and Marriage

By: Shoshana Weissmann IN SUPPORT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE The majority opinion in Perry v. Brown, heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, makes an extremely compelling argument against the validity of Proposition 8. To clarify, Perry v. Brown has been taken on appeal to the United States Supreme Court and […]

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Marriage and the Supreme Court: A Debate

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By: Travis N. Taylor

IN DEFENSE OF TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE
This week, the Supreme Court will hear two cases dealing with the redefinition of marriage.  On Tuesday, the Justices will take on California’s Proposition 8, that state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” (SSM); and on Wednesday, they will review the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era law that defines marriage as one man and one woman for the purposes of the Federal government.

Although public opinion, especially in our generation, has shifted in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry (SSM even finds support among 22% of  Republicans and roughly a third of Conservatives), opposition remains.  Defenders of traditional marriage cite biological, social, economic, and religious justification for their opposition to SSM, summarized most succinctly by Ryan T. Anderson at The Heritage Foundation.

Like the vast majority of my generation, I have friends who are gay and lesbian.  I have had two gay roommates, who were far and away the best roommates I’ve ever had.  The most recent of whom is to this day one of my best friends and, despite living half-a-continent apart, we keep in touch on a regular basis.  However, unlike the majority of my generation, I am on the side of traditional marriage.  And my stance on the issue has never hindered, hampered, or destroyed a friendship with any of my gay or lesbian friends.  We have meaningful conversation and debate about my positions and those discussions have only served to strengthen friendships because I’m a good friend and I love my friends for who they are and who they choose to be.

The Debate Rages On
I understand the arguments of those who agree with me: the purpose of marriage is for lifelong love and commitment and the rearing of children; children are more successful when coming from a two-parent home; redefining marriage will demand elementary students discuss questions of sexual behavior long before they are developmentally prepared, and before their parents are ready to broach the subject.  And I agree with them, based on my in-depth study of the Bible, that homosexual behavior is a sin.  What I can’t understand, or support, however, is the messaging (which is weak) or the tactics (which are at times less than loving) of my side of the aisle.

And while I do not accept most positions of those with whom I disagree, I do understand their arguments: Gay people are born that way and can’t help who they love; gay and lesbian couples are equal to heterosexual couples in raising children.  There are even some clergy who argue that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality or that it is simply an Old Testament law, inapplicable to the New Testament Church.  Although the messaging of the Left on this issue has been (and continues to be) impeccable, the tactics of painting dissenters as hateful, bigoted, or un-American is vitriolic – a guise by which to sidestep thoughtful debate – and contrary to the ideals of our great nation.

I support traditional marriage on most of the grounds listed above: Biological, social, and religious.  Despite the liberal monopoly on the academy, biological science has never proven that anyone is born gay.  Social science has shown correlation (but not actual causation) between being raised by homosexual couples and diminished social, economic, and psychological capacity later in life.  And regardless of what agenda-driven clergymen say, homosexual conduct directly conflicts with both the Old and New Testaments.

Constitutionally Speaking
Proponents of redefining marriage cite the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause as justification for their case, a reference which should infuriate racial minorities. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified to protect blacks from prejudices in the law, not to expand the law to accommodate various lifestyles. The likening of SSM to the plight of racial minorities is offensive and unsubstantiated.

I believe, as does Jason Kuznicki at the Cato Institute, that marriage is a state issue under the authority of the Tenth Amendment.  But my policy objection to the redefinition of marriage on a Federal level rests on the First Amendment.  As I opined elsewhere when President Obama was forced into endorsing SSM, the legalization of gay marriage will absolutely violate the First Amendment’s protective barrier of religion from state control.

If gay marriage becomes legal, as it has in nine states and in DC, then one may reasonably expect the government will apply an: “it’s the law so you have to follow it” argument.  Although opponents typically deride such a concern as alarmist, we have already seen this scenario played out under the government’s recent application of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as ObamaCare.

As I wrote previously, ObamaCare,

…contained a provision that requires employers to pay for birth control, including abortifacient drugs (which terminate a pregnancy in its earliest stages).  This provision became law and when Christians, particularly the Catholic Church, raised their objections, the Obama Administration fought back.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, one of the nation’s leading pro-choice politicians, issued an order that [without any approval by Congress] required the Church to comply with the law, despite the fact that their deeply held religious beliefs prohibit the use of contraception and certainly condemn abortion.  The Administration argued that “religious beliefs don’t give you a pass to not obey the law.”

It will force pastors, priests, and other clergy to perform marriages for same-sex couples, notwithstanding their religious objections to the practice of homosexuality.  The Obama Administration has already begun its degradation of religious liberties; they will certainly not hesitate to continue.  And that’s the scary part.

Soon, the Catholic Church will be required to provide for (what it views as) the sin of its employees.  With that considered, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see that Baptist pastors would have to officiate the sinful (in their view) marriage of two men or two women.  Already struggling with the stigma of being anti-religion, this extra attack on people of faith could paint Mr. Obama into a corner he can’t get out of.

So, while I at times disagree with the tactics and messaging of those in agreement with me on this issue, I believe they are right on the issue.  For the protection of the family and society, I believe traditional marriage is the right way to go.  For the Constitution and the future of our Republic, the redefinition of marriage is the wrong way to go.  I encourage my Constitutional conservative friends, particularly those of faith, to recognize this and defend traditional marriage with those of us in our generation who are fighting, and will continue to fight, for this noble cause.

 

To read the argument in support of same-sex marriage, click here.

SCOTUS and Marriage

By: Travis N. Taylor IN DEFENSE OF TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE This week, the Supreme Court will hear two cases dealing with the redefinition of marriage.  On Tuesday, the Justices will take on California’s Proposition 8, that state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” (SSM); and on Wednesday, they will review the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era […]

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The Solution to ObamaCare’s Part-Time Nation: Limited Government

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By: Patrick Ryan

With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…
–Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

We Americans don’t shrink from a challenge. Whether a difficulty faces us in the county, the state, or nationally, we do what Lincoln articulated: strive forward with charity for all.

Unfortunately, however, centralized federal plans can obstruct our vision, liberty, and journey. During World War II, for example, the War Board controlled wages and prices, but they did not regulate health insurance. Companies thus began providing employer-sponsored insurance for their employees. By 1954, the IRS exempted all employer-paid premiums from the income tax.

Thus, our modern health care system was born.

By 1963, 77 percent of the population had hospital insurance, while more than half of the population was insured for regular medical expenses. The federal government then established Medicare and Medicaid.

After peaking in the 1980s, employer-provided private insurance declined for full-time workers from 1989 to 2003. By 2010, employers insured only 53.5 percent of Americans, setting the conditions for the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Employer-based insurance provides certain benefits, but it also greatly increased premiums for all. Businesses provided economies of scale, while also reducing adverse selection by providing a “population average level of risk” through employee cross-subsidization.  Adverse selection describes the upward movement of premiums when elderly and sick individuals sign up for insurance while young, healthy people do not.

Since health benefits weren’t taxed, the federal government inadvertently encouraged both employers and employees to adopt this system, moving away from a true free market of individual consumers making conscious decisions based on transparent prices.

The PPACA commendably sought to resolve this issue of rising premiums and health care costs. Yet it did so in one of the most centralizing, bureaucratic ways possible.

As we are already currently seeing, Obamacare is turning the United States of America into a part-time nation. Whether you’re an adjunct professor, a state worker, or a restaurant employee, chances are that your hours will be cut.

After 300,000 people left the labor force last month, the U-6 rate, which is total unemployment plus total employed part-time for economic reasons, sits at 14.3 percent. This means that 6.6 percent of people are currently either “marginally attached to the labor force” or want to work full-time but cannot.

As the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS begin to enforce the employer mandate in 2014, prepare for this number to rise.

NFIB Research Director Bob Graboyes explained at a Heritage Foundation event that small businesses are currently focusing on three primary questions: “How can I stay under 50 workers? If I have a worker, how can I keep him under 30 hours? If I can’t do either, how do I keep my wallet as intact as possible?”

These three problems face every small business owner no matter how often liberal Democrats explain these employment shifts as “punishments” for reelecting Obama. In 2014, the mandate will further suppress the recovery of the labor market.

This unintended consequence shall transform the economy similarly to how the health insurance exclusion structured the modern health care market.

not_hiring2_1__461x600The PPACA will especially affect the Millennials. Considering that outstanding student loan debt amounts to over $966 billion, our generation is in for a gigantic shock.

An overbearing amount of student debt will constrain our consumption and our savings in the near future. It will lead to a more austere economy. It will also lead to more federal “solutions” to self-induced problems as our generation grows to realize that while premiums continue to rise, more part-time positions and internships will replace full-time jobs.

As part-time work increases for college grads, professors, unskilled workers, and government employees, I predict that the federal government will “reform” the health insurance market once again in forty to fifty years.

The solutions will probably include one or more of the following: 1) allowing multiple employers to contribute to the purchase of premiums for individuals in state exchanges, such as in Utah’s defined contribution system; 2) an elimination of the subsidies cap for the Obamacare exchanges, thereby increasing the subsidization of premiums; 3) the federal government lowering the employer mandate threshold from 30 hours per week to 20; and/or 4) equalizing tax treatment between individual and employer insurance plans  primarily by expanding Health Savings Accounts.

Ultimately, public policy provides incentives for both individual and group behavior within civil society. The PPACA adduces the part-time challenge to problems of the employer-sponsored insurance market.

To truly save our future, limited government conservatives must encourage the Republican Party to be the party of a “better future,” rather than simply the anti-Obama party.

not_hiring2_1__461x600

By: Patrick Ryan With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in… –Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address We Americans don’t shrink from a challenge. Whether a difficulty faces us in the county, […]

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Mitt Romney: McDonnell, Christie are Governors we “Need to Hear From”

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By: Brad Tidwell

After a surprise introduction by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Mitt Romney gave a speech surprisingly reminiscent of his campaign- uncontroversial and lacking inspiration. In his speech, he listed both Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell as governors form blue states that he thinks Republicans can learn from:

As someone who just lost the last election, I’m probably not the best person to chart the course for the next election. That said, I do have advice…
We need the ideas and leadership of each of these governors. We particularly need to hear from the Governors of the blue and purple states, like Bob McDonnell, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Susanna Martinez, Chris Christie, and Brian Sandoval because their states are among those we must win to take the Senate and the White

Romney’s humility in admitting his defeat is a welcome example, particularly given the recent antics of the past Republican presidential candidate. However, identifying McDonnell and Christie as people to learn from shows a tone-deafness to the beliefs of conservatives that plagued his presidential campaign.


McDonnell today is facing protests from conservatives due to his transportation plan, which, among its planks, raises sales taxes on Virginians. This raised a number of eyebrows, as McDonnell had specifically said that taxes did not need to be raised for transportation:

Mr. McDonnell said he would not support new taxes in the current economy. Should lawmakers later agree on new transportation taxes that eluded them in failed special sessions in 2006 and 2008, the taxes would face a veto. “Any general increase in the taxes of Virginia I’m not going to support,” he said. “I’m not planning to raise taxes. That’s the best I can tell you.”

Unfortunately, he’s since gone back on his promise, including tax hikes in his plan.

Christie has also made a number of notable quotes that undermine his leadership in New Jersey- when talking to the National Plumbers Union leader Larry Bulman, he said this: “I’m not much different from Andrew Cuomo. I probably agree with him on 98% of the issues”

He also mentioned that he “loves” collective bargaining at a town hall meeting. His flagrant fights with conservatives have spawned a primary challenger to face him in New Jersey- Seth Grossman. Grossman has actually attracted some attention at CPAC, passing around flyers with the above quotes by Christie and listing his contact information and website.

Grossman may not be much of a challenge to the boisterous Christie, who enjoys significant approval ratings in New Jersey. However, his running such a quixotic campaign shows the level of displeasure some of Christie’s actions have caused among conservatives.

As a former governor of a blue state, Romney probably feels a connection with these governors, and it is certainly true that the next presidential candidate needs to make more headway in blue states. However, for all of the moderate views Romney espoused during his campaign, he managed to win less support amongst conservatives than even McCain did. Romney also failed to make significant inroads among the blue states he extolled in his speech.

The next presidential candidate needs to make firm conservative values into a positive attribute that gains support across the spectrum, not have a tempered, moderated, and watered down message. While Romney rightly doesn’t try to significantly interfere with the future of the party, his advice should be taken with a grain of salt. The moderate examples of Christie and McDonnell, while seemingly advantageous in the short run, are not the examples the future leaders of the Republican Party should be taking most seriously.

cpac live

By: Brad Tidwell After a surprise introduction by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Mitt Romney gave a speech surprisingly reminiscent of his campaign- uncontroversial and lacking inspiration. In his speech, he listed both Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell as governors form blue states that he thinks Republicans can learn from: As someone who just lost the last […]

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Students for Liberty President’s Smear of Conservatives as Intolerant of Homosexuals Tarnishes CPAC Panel

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By: Adam Cassandra

It was quite embarrassing to see Students for Liberty President Alexander McCobin badgering a panel of young conservative/libertarian activists Thursday at CPAC, seemingly hoping they would join him in smearing conservatives as bigots towards homosexuals.

While moderating the panel “The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y” McCobin repeatedly brought up the subject of gay “marriage” throughout the discussion, while finding every opportunity to insist that conservatives are intolerant of homosexuals.

McCobin began the discussion by making it clear to the crowd that he is a libertarian, not a conservative, and said, “Some of you may be wondering why I’m moderating this panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference.” Indeed by the end of the show, many definitely were.

The Students for Liberty president made broad statements about the Republican Party having a history of bigotry, saying it was on the wrong side of the civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, and now the “gay rights” movement, which he called the civil rights issue of our time. He gave no details about what he was talking about, but everyone knows it’s a long running Democrat myth that the GOP opposed civil rights. They were, in fact, the champions of equal rights. Republicans were also leaders behind the women’s suffrage movement.

McCobin made several comments about young people turning away from conservatism and towards libertarianism because they believe in an “equality” not found in conservative principles. At one point he asked the panel for a show of hands of who would trade a balanced budget for the repeal of the Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA).

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students of Life, questioned why McCobin kept bringing up the issue and responded, “Is this the gay marriage panel?”

During the question and answer segment, a member of the audience even pointed out how noticeable McCobin’s attempts to get the panelists to join him in smearing conservatives was, to which McCobin responded that the audience member was misrepresenting his views.

In his opening remarks, McCobin said many of the young people he knows consider the term conservative to be a “dirty word,” highlighting what he viewed as youth opposition to social conservatism because of its “intolerant” nature. When it was her turn to speak, Hawkins rebutted McCobin. Holding up a stack of papers, she said, “I have statistics that show this is a pro-life generation.” Hawkins also made it clear she believes that the abortion issue should be discussed with young people separate from issues such as marriage or drug legalization.

“I don’t think conservatism is a dirty word,” said Kate Edwards, program officer for chapter services at Young Americans for Freedom, during her opening remarks.

“It was obvious that McCobin was trying to convey that conservatives are intolerant on social issues,” Edwards told this reporter.

“A panel that was supposed to be focused on youth issues and how we message to youth became a panel on gay marriage,” she said. “He was there pushing his agenda instead of moderating our panel discussion.”

Despite McCobin’s constant prodding, the panelists insisted on talking about the importance of focusing on the issues that unite conservatives and libertarians.

“The conservative movement has been the most effective when we focus on what we have in common,” said Edwards during the panel discussion.

Alex Smith, national co-chairman of the College Republican National Committee, said that focusing on what unites us can lead to inroads into demographics Republicans lost in 2012.

“We’re at a unique moment in history” where the most important issues are the ones that bring us together panelist Evan Feinberg, president of Generation Opportunity, told the crowd.

Francesca Chambers, editor of Red Alert Politics, and Jeff Frazee, executive director of Young Americans for Liberty, agreed and joined the others in refusing to debate the nature of marriage or engaging in a discussion about the “intolerance” of conservatives.

It’s clear to anyone who truly understands conservatism that opposition to the radical redefinition of marriage has nothing to do with intolerance of homosexuals. Marriage, properly understood, is and has always been a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership for life that is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. The family unit is essential to the building of a civil society. And the effects of the breakdown of the family, along with the push for a redefinition of marriage, have negative cultural, economic, and constitutional consequences.

Even for those who don’t believe in a fundamental moral order, or that marriage is a sacred institution, there are numerous reasons to oppose the redefinition of marriage, including reasons for limited government activists to support traditional marriage.

Not every Republican agrees with defending traditional marriage, but CPAC is a conservative, not a Republican Party, conference.

At the nation’s largest gathering of conservative activists, McCobin’s comments did great harm to the conservative movement. Regardless of personal disagreements on the issue, having CPAC panel moderators who completely mischaracterize conservative positions, and use the language of the Left to smear conservative activists, is, again, embarrassing and completely counterproductive to what CPAC is supposed to be about.

Adam Cassandra is the chairman of the Fauquier County Young Republicans and is active in the pro-family movement.  Follow him on Twitter @

cpac live

By: Adam Cassandra It was quite embarrassing to see Students for Liberty President Alexander McCobin badgering a panel of young conservative/libertarian activists Thursday at CPAC, seemingly hoping they would join him in smearing conservatives as bigots towards homosexuals. While moderating the panel “The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y” McCobin repeatedly brought up the […]

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Utilizing New Technology to Win Campaigns

National Issues 1 1 Comment

By: Kim Smith

Since the last election cycle there have been many news articles written about how the Republicans need to re-think our messaging, policies and tactics to win campaigns.  I will leave the discussion on messaging and policy to folks above my pay grade, however the discussion around tactics is something that I think should really speak to Young Republicans like me.

One such article, published last week by Time’s ‘Swampland’ blog, was Michael Scherer’s ‘Consultants plot new tech-savvy infrastructure.”  Scherer argued that Republicans do not have the basic infrastructure needed to train and develop young people into being top of the line campaign operatives using the most cutting edge tactics.  The highlight of the article though was the work and thought that has already gone into modernizing our campaigning efforts by folks like Patrick Ruffini.

Ruffini is starting the Empower Action Group that will work to train and connect young conservatives and nurture them to be savvier in the digital, data and organizing areas of campaigning.  Another conservative group that is generating attention for their forward looking approach to technology is Red Edge, a consulting group that specializes in digital advocacy.  Groups like Empower Action Group and Red Edge offer a path for young Republicans to help blaze a political future for our party in new and creative ways.

Phone Vote

I have spent over nine years working in issue advocacy and organizing so this stuff gets me pretty excited.  Yes, I may be a geek, but we should all get excited about opportunities to take our party to the next level and make sure that we are kicking electoral butt on all aspects of a political campaign.

It is not about seeing what the Democrats are doing and then cutting and pasting for our needs; it is about working to learn from the best and the brightest, no matter their background, as we move forward and forge the path ahead for Republican candidates around the country.  So we should look at what worked well and what didn’t in the last campaign cycle, but we should also be looking for ways to improve and learn from political campaigns, issue advocacy campaigns, unions and the business world.

Think about the investments in technology and social media that businesses make.  They know which online ads work and where, how to communicate with targeted audiences through social media and the data needed to decide how best to spend resources on targeted TV/radio ads.  Again it is not a cookie cutter approach I am calling for, it’s taking the time to learn from people and industries that might be somewhat outside of the box and developing our own unique and cutting edge strategies that will help us win elections.

I am not saying that there is a tweet that will win the White House, or an instagram picture that will be the tipping point in a state wide senate race, but all these things add layers and texture to a campaign.  On first appearance the popular website Reddit, a user generated social news and entertainment website, looks like a site with way too many kitten and puppy memes but in reality it is a wildly popular website with very dedicated readers.  In one of their ongoing discussion boards the “I am a” section allows people to post and take questions from people about their work or some other interesting aspect of their lives.  Many of these submissions get hundreds – if not thousands – of questions and comments and open up a forum of discussion with possible new voters.

I will wrap up with a call to action for my fellow Young Republicans.  Jump in and get excited about growing our party in new and exciting ways as we gear up for future elections. We must use the best and most current technology and innovations to guide our work and create new ways of communicating our true conservative principles to new people in different venues.  As we forge ahead volunteering and working on Republican campaigns we must push for new technologies and strategic tactics that are uniquely our own.  The future of our Party depends on it.

Kim Smith is southern girl at heart but now calls Washington, DC home.  Kim has been active in issue advocacy and politics for almost a decade.  She is looking forward to contributing to the DC Young  Republican’s blog before she ages out in a few years and has to act like a grown up.  Follow her on Twitter: @kimmiedawnsmith

Phone Vote

By: Kim Smith Since the last election cycle there have been many news articles written about how the Republicans need to re-think our messaging, policies and tactics to win campaigns.  I will leave the discussion on messaging and policy to folks above my pay grade, however the discussion around tactics is something that I think […]

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Why We Didn’t Need VAWA Reauthorization

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By: Travis N. Taylor

This week, the House of Representatives, despite its  Republican majority, passed the Senate version of VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) Reauthorization, a legislative debacle which might more accurately be titled: VAWASIGA: the Violence Against Women and Special Interest Groups Act.

Now, I come from an abusive home; I’ve lived through domestic violence and I thank God every day that my mom had the strength, courage, and plain ol’ common sense to leave that environment and take us kids with her.  I abhor domestic violence because it destroys families and flies in the face of Christ’s commandment to “love one another.”

My childhood primed me to despise domestic violence.  As a former police officer, I have experience with the enforcement of these laws.  In Louisiana, where I was a patrol officer, when there is evidence of domestic violence – or Domestic Abuse Battery as it’s called in the Bayou State – a responding officer is required to affect an arrest on the perpetrator, even if the victim doesn’t want to press charges.

This stands in stark contrast to EVERY other crime, which requires a complaining victim (homicide detectives assume that their victim would complain if given the chance).  But in the cases of Domestic Abuse Battery, the State will file charges against the abuser even without the victim’s complaint.  I should also note that Louisiana’s law doesn’t just protect spouses; it protects live-in girlfriends and boyfriends, as well as exes who have met the criteria within the past five years, along with minor children of the suspect.

That’s the type of law we need: Local and state laws doing what is best for the citizens of their state.  We need police officers and prosecutors who will enforce those laws, and judges who will take the offenses seriously enough to hand down stiff punishments for convicted domestic batterers.

What we don’t need is the federal government passing laws that protect special interest groups.  I believe we should protect people from violence, which is why I became a police officer in the first place.  And I believe we should protect everyone equally—woman or man; gay or straight; black, white, Hispanic, or Native American; born or unborn.  After all, aren’t “all Men…created equal”?

The Constitution agrees: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Amendment XIV).  While this amendment doesn’t apply to the Federal government (although it should), the Fifth Amendment does require people to be given due process.  I would argue that denying equal protection denies due process.

No law, no matter how well-intentioned will ever protect everyone it’s supposed to; and no law will ever protect anyone if it’s not enforced.  We didn’t need VAWA (or VAWASIGA); the fact is we have laws on the books that provide legal protection for women; we just have to enforce them.

And, let’s face the truth: No law in a law book or restraining order in a glove box will protect a woman like a gun in her hand will.  The real opponents to protecting women aren’t the House Republicans who voted against VAWASIGA, it’s the Democrats who say women are too irrational and emotional to protect themselves or insinuating that rape on college campuses is rare.  The real war on women is being waged by Democrats who want to disarm women, despite the fact that women have clearly shown the capability of protecting themselves with a firearm time and time and time and time again.

VAWA is a bad law that does nothing but increase federal power and is used as a “political football” by the Left.  And my experience tells the tale: As a police officer, I never heard about VAWA, despite having made dozens of arrests for Domestic Abuse Battery; and VAWA did not protect my mom.  I just hope that with the passage of VAWA, the bogus allegations about Republicans hating women can finally be laid to rest.

CapSteps

By: Travis N. Taylor This week, the House of Representatives, despite its  Republican majority, passed the Senate version of VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) Reauthorization, a legislative debacle which might more accurately be titled: VAWASIGA: the Violence Against Women and Special Interest Groups Act. Now, I come from an abusive home; I’ve lived through […]

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