Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Michigan Conservatism?

July 27, 2010

Primary Target

"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."
 - John Adams

In pundit parlance, Michigan's 6th Congressional District is most assuredly "safe Republican." Republican Fred Upton has represented that district since 1987. Yet for quite some time, the seat has not been "safe conservative."
Michigan's 6th district is a microcosm of the general arrogance and complacency of the Republican establishment against the constitutional conservatism of the Tea Party movement. If Republicans and conservatives lazily continue to return so-called moderates like Upton to Washington, the slide toward European socialism is perhaps slowed but never halted.

Long ago, Mr. Upton was himself a primary challenger. In 1986, he ran against incumbent Rep. Mark Siljander, who refused to meet Upton in debate before the primary. At the time, Upton remarked that should he one day be in Siljander's position, he would debate all comers, saying "Whoever my challenger is ... I'll debate him. I hope to be proud of my record."

Apparently, over twenty years in Congress exhausts the statute of limitations on such matters. While participating in a solitary debate recorded for later local radio broadcast, Upton has this year dodged several challenges to live debates with his primary challenger, former state representative Jack Hoogendyk. His refusal of a real-time public debate brings to mind the haughty reaction from not a few members of Congress last August when confronted by the great unwashed. Upton knows that even a cursory examination of his record will reveal that he is the sort of Republican only a Democrat could love, the sort of Republican causing almost as much damage as avowed leftists.

The Club for Growth annually ranks voting records of the various state congressional delegations, assigning weighted value to votes on taxes, budgets, earmarks, etc., to judge support for economic freedom, 100 percent being the highest score. In 2009, the average score for Republicans in Congress was nearly 83 percent; Upton's score was a dismal 64 percent, and in 2008 a horrible 39 percent.

Upton is obviously not a dyed-in-the-wool leftist; he pledged to vote against cap-and-trade, as well as to repeal national health care. But he voted for TARP and Cash for Clunkers. The guy is all over the map. When he surmises easy reelection efforts, he slides toward the left, passing out earmarks like candy. When challenged, he is suddenly conservative.

By contrast, Hoogendyk is always conservative, as evidenced by his voting record as a three-term member of the Michigan House of Representatives. In 2007, the legislature as a whole approved $1.4 billion in state tax increases and budgets configured to spend the extra revenue. All told, 155 members of the Michigan legislature voted for at least $1 billion more that the previous year's expenditures. Hoogendyk voted for only $7.5 million more. In 2003, Hoogendyk voted against a "bad driver fee" that eventually passed. He knew right away it was a government scheme to create a windfall, not a public safety initiative. He knew this because he appreciates the limitations our founders placed on government and voted accordingly.

Hoogendyk is a first-generation American -- born in the United States by the grace of God and the wisdom of his parents, who fled postwar Holland in the wake of the undeniable creep toward a socialism that saps individual initiative and the spirit of human freedom. They had a place to which to escape. But there is nowhere else to go -- this is, as Ronald Reagan said, the last stand on Earth. Hoogendyk and many other Republican primary challengers not only realize that, but they have demonstrated their commitment to first principles in state legislatures, city councils, and private enterprise. So must voters.

Conservatives fed up with squeamish Republicans in Congress have this year several opportunities to back true conservatives who understand that we live in a democratic republic, not a direct democracy wherein every single need of the people must be promptly addressed by the federal government, where "earmark" is another word for "bribe." The race in the Republican primary in Michigan's 6th district is, in stark relief, the difference between members of Congress voting as if all blessings flow from Capitol Hill and conservatives who know this madness must cease if we are to keep our republic.

Jack Hoogendyk has an established record of standing on conservative legislating and should be supported in his bid to unseat Fred Upton, a symbol of comfortably entrenched power. Hoogendyk's guiding principle may seen quaint, but he believes that no matter the issue, the primary question each member of Congress must ask himself during any debate in committee or on the floor is "What is the proper role of the federal government as outlined in the Constitution of the United States?"

Incumbents too long in their seats -- salivating over earmarks, voting based on potential challengers they can crush -- hold most of the cards when facing a primary challenge. But if real change is to come to Congress, conservatives must and can prevail at the ballot box. As it is in Michigan's 6th district, so it is around the country: "Safe Republican" is meaningless when the Republican is nothing more than a diluted Democrat.

Matthew May welcomes comments at

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Mount Vernon Statement

Very interesting read:

The Mount Vernon Statement

Constitutional Conservatism:
A Statement for the 21st Century

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding.Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.
A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.
  • It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
  • It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
  • It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
  • It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
  • It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.
If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.
We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.

February 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

We Still Hold These Truths

Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future

In the midst of frenzied efforts to remake our nation—of endless government initiatives involved in virtually every aspect of our daily lives—Americans are increasingly concerned: How did we get so far off track? And how can we get America back on course?

Matthew Spalding answers these questions by looking to the timeless principles and practical wisdom that have been the source of America's monumental success. Spalding, an expert in American political history at The Heritage Foundation, the esteemed research and educational institution, calls for a great renewal of these unchanging principles—and a new appreciation of their preeminent status in our nation's life.

In We Still Hold These Truths Spalding explains and brings to life ten core principles that define us as a nation and inspire us as a people—liberty and equality, natural rights and the consent of the governed, private property and religious freedom, the rule of law and constitutionalism, all culminating in self-government at home and independence in the world. His enlightening and engaging tour through America's founding not only recalls the deep roots of our "first principles" in Western civilization but also reveals their enduring lessons for today.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

America- First Principles

The Heritage Foundation- Fighting for America's founding principles.


The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America's first principles. "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization," as Thomas Jefferson warned, "it expects what never was and never will be." Widespread ignorance of American history is but the most recognized symptom of the troubling decline in popular knowledge of fundamental principles. We face an education system that upholds mediocrity in the name of relativism; an ever-expanding and centralized government, unmoored from constitutional limits; judges openly making laws and shaping society based on pop-philosophy rather than serious jurisprudence; and growing confusion over America's legitimate role in the world, made all the more apparent by the fundamental threat posed by radical Islamists. At the root of all these problems is a pervasive doubt about the core principles that define America and ought to inform our politics and policy.

As the leading public policy institution focused on American liberty, The Heritage Foundation must lead the call to awaken our country and get it back on course. We must recall the nation to its first principles, reinvigorate American constitutionalism, and revive the sturdy virtues required for self-government. We must restore the principles of America's Founders to their proper role in the public and political discourse, influencing public policy and reforming government to reflect constitutional limits. We must rebuild and unify a robust conservatism around, and in defense of, these core principles, and identify and develop current and future policymakers, opinion-makers, and leaders who understand, articulate, and will promote these principles. In short, our vision, building on the great successes of the modern conservative movement, must now be to save America by reclaiming its truths and its promises and conserving its liberating principles for ourselves and our posterity.