Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS 42)
Much has been made about the present divide in the Republican Party. Mississippi is no stranger to the controversy. My U.S. Senate race against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in 2014 exposed deep divisions within the party, both state and national.
Incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran had to rely upon thousands of liberal Democrats to win a Republican primary. In so doing, his campaign resorted to dirty, underhanded, and sleazy tactics that have been well-documented.
Not only did his campaign play the “race card” while openly encouraging liberals to cross-over and participate to the GOP primary, he openly campaigned like a Democrat — pushing for more big government, massive federal subsidies, pork-barrel spending, and increased food stamp participation. In what’s perhaps the most conservative state in the republic, he expressly repudiated the Republican platform for the state and country to see.
Though indefensible, it was a victory for the political class, lobbyists, D.C. insiders and corporate elites who see the federal government as little more than a banking institution for the big business special interest lobby. They, along with assorted establishment groupies led by Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), celebrated their pyrrhic victory, justifying their actions by slandering conservatives as somehow radical, extreme or unelectable.
Betrayed again by the D.C. machine, conservative frustration with the party establishment reached a record high. More than a year later, the anger is still very real. Conservatives are convinced the GOP’s leadership has openly abandoned the party’s conservative foundation.
But to fully comprehend why this is happening, we have to understand the background story. Central to the divide is how people, particularly the mainstream press, attempt to define the combatants.
Take my race, for instance. I have been a Republican since 1984, and have never been a member of a TEA Party group. Nevertheless, during my run for U.S. Senate in 2014, most attempted to improperly frame the ongoing GOP fight as TEA Party vs. The GOP Establishment. But nothing could be further from the truth.
What we are seeing, instead, is an ongoing struggle between true conservatives and moderate insiders — who presently control the GOP establishment — within the party structure.
On one side of the debate stands the thoughts of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater (constitutional conservatives). On other side of the “fracture” is the moderate idealism of Nelson Rockefeller and Mitt Romney (establishment insiders).
Constitutional conservatives seeks structural reform, smaller government, constitutional balance and the maximum in individual liberty consistent with social order. The moderate establishment camp lauds the value of compromise, while fighting to preserve the status quo, so long as corporate welfare, favoritism to their donors and the growth of government suits their financial and personal needs.
Perhaps no one has expressed the divide as well as Redstate.com, an online news and opinion website for conservatives. In describing a recent poll for the 2016 GOP nomination for President, it declared: “Jeb Bush and John Kasich are tied. They are also fighting for the same demographic slice: moderate-to-liberal, high income voters. This is not surprising given their message of “hey, that status quo is working pretty good for me.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Ben Carson and Donald Trump are fighting to win the support of Ronald Reagan’s conservative coalition — a union of blue collar libertarians, economic, pro-defense, and social conservatives. Interestingly, these are the very people who have abandoned the establishment because they no longer believe that Republicans adhere to conservative principles.
Put simply, one side distrusts government and policies of centralization; the other simply seeks to control the D.C. machine, even if it means sacrificing principles. Conservatives claim liberty and Constitutional government as our combined end game; the other side desires power at any cost.
Although we’ve lived under the same tent for years, tension between the groups is rising, and some in the establishment camp have resorted to hostile tactics. Both Cruz and Trump, for example, have recently been slandered. And what was done in Mississippi last year was despicable.
Contrary to the attempts to brand conservatives, there is nothing radical or racist about our thoughts, ideals or policies. Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were voices for our government philosophy, which is rooted in Jeffersonian liberty and the heritage of Western Civilization. It represents a consensus of reason operating within tradition, and it recognizes its origin as the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
Instead of allowing the establishment to define us, please consider the true conscience of a Goldwater/Reagan conservative:
- We believe that political solutions should be sensitive to the whole human being – mind, body and soul – conceding that the problems affecting society are the result of the complexity of human life and therefore cannot be quickly or efficiently rectified by government action, schemes of forced social improvement or similar one-size-fits-all approaches.
- We value self-government, believing that local governments are preferred because they are closest to the people and, therefore, the most responsive. Consistent with this idea, we believe states should retain all powers given to them by the Founders which ensures a system of state autonomy where state and local governments act as “laboratories” for democracy — a system where policies are created and tested pursuant to the Constitution’s 10th Amendment. This not only ensures social and fiscal experimentation, but also a balance of power between the central authority and the states, whereby individual liberty is preserved for future generations.
- Refusing to ignore the spiritual side of individuals, we hope to maintain a high moral tone in society, insisting that truths exist and are necessary for people to responsibly self-govern their own affairs. We trust in God, as He is our foundation.
- Our philosophy is characterized by respect for inherited institutions, in which individuals develop character by voluntarily cooperating with others in local associations designed to further the common good without government interference.
- Living within our means is a way of life for us, so we expect our government to do the same. We request the courtesy to earn a living, but do not desire the government to provide for our necessities. Work is always preferred to welfare.
- Before we look for government to save us from every perceived crises, we would rather depend on ourselves, our families and friends. Hero worship is not our norm, as we are not easily charmed by smooth-talking politicians desiring a cult of personality.
- It has been said that governments only expand because they do not trust the independent, free judgments of the people. But we understand that any movement whose main promise is a relief from personal responsibility is immoral in its effect, however lofty its good intentions.
- The acceptance of personal responsibility begins with the admission of a simple truth: government is not our ultimate protector and cannot be all things to all people; liberty is the result of individuals learning to rule themselves.
- We admire complexities, embracing blessed variations and stubborn particularities. Unlike liberalism, it is not our desire to override the wills of people and reform them into one master plan. The establishment seek to use the power of government to dominate others; we do not and would never.
- Since independence is a cornerstone of our philosophy, we believe people and corporations should accept the consequences of their actions, although failure or unhappiness may be the eventual result. Government bailouts offend our notions of justice and fairness.
- The rule of law matters to us; words have meaning. We consider the words and phrases of the Constitution to be sincere, and not subject to whimsical change by the dictates of a federal judge. It has set down for all to see the fundamental American principle that there are certain rights held by every individual which no government and no majority, however powerful, can deny.
- We reject philosophies rooted in collectivism, particularly when coerced by the power of the state. Consequently, we reject racism, sexism and other forms of identity politics. We see men and women as individuals and judge them respectively. We seek to empower the individual and his voluntary associations, not as collective groups, but as an American citizen entitled to dignity and respect.
- We likewise reject any system where the wealthy and well-connected are allowed disproportionate access to our governments. Each American citizen, regardless of wealth or power, should have an equal voice and right to petition the halls of power without the corrupting influences of political favoritism, cronyism and nepotism.
And yet, conservatives do not presume to have all the answers, because they are not ours to give.
The collective knowledge of humanity, driven along by complex experiences good and bad, are far better teachers than any one movement, person or government could ever be. It was President Reagan who reminded us that his strength as a “great communicator” was always rooted in his communication of great things that came from the heart of a remarkable republic – our collective experiences, wisdom, and beliefs in the principles that have guided us for more than two centuries.
Perhaps there is no better description of our camp than an unyielding desire simply to be left alone. America’s greatness is derived from its free citizens, not the coercion of its government.
There is nothing radical about common sense, balanced budgets and the rule of law.
And if you wish to gain our support, be honest with us, then trust us to govern ourselves.
As we embark on an uncertain future, conservatives are confident in our principles and beliefs. But we are tired of politicians and disgusted by the lies and perpetual inaction on the part of so-called Republicans.
After my race against Thad Cochran last year, it took time for me to process the betrayal — not simply to me, but to the Republican platform and conservative ideas to which I had professed by loyalty and dedication. As part of my evaluation, the divide in our party became more apparent than ever before.
But also, my resolve was strengthened.
It became apparent that we conservatives are being targeted for marginalization by many within the party’s leadership.
Consequently, we must change our mindset by developing the spirit of reformers.
What does that mean?
Well, in 1902, William George Jordan published The Power of Truth. In it, he wrote, “Anyone can plant radishes; it takes courage to plant acorns and wait for the oaks. Learn to look not merely at the clouds, but through them to the sun shining behind them. When things look darkest, grasp your weapon firmer and fight harder. There is always more progress than you can perceive through your senses, and it is really only the outcome of the battle that counts.”
“And when it is all over and the victory is yours, and the smoke clears away, and the smell of the powder is dissipated, and you bury the relationships that died because they could not stand the strain, and you nurse back the wounded and faint-hearted who loyally stood by you, even when doubting, then the hard years of fighting will seem but a dream. You will stand brave, heartened, strengthened by the struggle, re-created to a new, better, and stronger life by a noble battle, nobly waged, in a noble cause. And the price will then seem to you . . . nothing.”
Perhaps, instead of conservatives, we are now simply reformers, pilgrims in an unholy land.
In any event, make no mistake, reform is coming.
This is our party. This is our republic. And despite the establishment’s money and power, we will fight to regain our rightful place.
As it was last year, so it is today: Now is the time.
With Father’s Day today, I’ve been paying special attention to the wonderful moments of life.
They often represent simple experiences taken for granted, such as a midsummer’s night rain storm, a beautiful sunset, or an early morning mist resting comfortably on emerald green grass. Or, they may be of a more profound nature – a telephone conversation with mom, a grandfather’s smile, or the much needed support of a good friend.
Varying with one’s personal adventures, they define a life worth living and mark the highlights of one’s experience, though we often don’t realize it at the time.
Sadly, it has become common for many in our society to rush through the wonderful moments of life in an effort to realize others.
However, spending one’s life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives leaves most feeling unhappy and exhausted.
Not only are hasty departures from contentment bad for the soul, impatience can be conducive of heartache, as well as the impetus of guilt.
Lost time is never found again. That’s why we’ve all experienced some type of sentimental yearning for return to an irrecoverable history.
Nostalgia can be painful, particularly when regret is involved.
So lately, in clarifying my focus and reordering my priorities, I have come to understand that one way to avoid regret is to live without neglecting the present, especially in matters of the heart.
As a father, living life without neglecting the present now dwells among my highest priorities.
My sons deserve my time, my earnest consideration, and my devotion. Such were my father’s precious gifts to me; now it’s my turn.
I always find time to respond to a tiny tug at my pants leg.
Before Cambridge was born, I dreamed of him, I imagined him, I prayed for him. Now that he’s here, I cherish my time with him. And when my youngest son, Chamberlain, was born, life became complete. My love for them both is endless, without limits.
But even though watching them grow has been the delight of my life, it hasn’t always been easy. As all fathers can attest, their arrivals occasioned major changes.
For instance, both have developed a superhuman ability to make noise. Between drum sets, motor cars, action figures, and laser guns, volcanoes have erupted with far less turmoil and pandemonium.
And there is always – and I mean always – some type of strange smell floating inside our house. After all, a perfect summer day to a little boy means mud on his face, a scrape on the knee, and chasing frogs in the shade of the front porch. Despite my wife’s hard work to maintain cleanliness, we have quickly discovered that a boy is best described as a noise with dirt on it.
My personal space has disappeared, too. What once was a spacious home is now a cluttered minefield of balls, books, cars, trucks, and other assorted plastic dangers. Mom’s broom is no match for Curious George, Elmo, Spider Man, and friends.
Boys are God’s way of telling you that your house is too orderly.
Making matters worse, though I do my best to professionally represent my constituents, I have a confession to make – I haven’t worn a clean shirt in years. For some reason, particularly when I’m wearing white, my sons imagine me as a two-hundred pound walking paper towel.
And yet, with proper perspective, incredible fulfillment is discovered daily amid the complexities and difficulties of raising boys.
I’ve learned to enjoy even the challenging moments, because I know life is fleeting. My time with them is short, so I embrace each second.
One day, many years from now, when I’m sitting in my empty home alone, strangely quiet and far away from the worries of this hour, the day will come when I will find myself in nostalgic thought, wistfully recalling a much too hurried time — one of clamor, laughter, mud puddles, puppy dogs and innocence.
And with my shirt carefully pressed and perfectly clean, I’ll mourn the loss of those days when I think of the touch of my sons and their greasy little hands.
Their loving touch of affection while longing for my attention, which should have been my only focus, will always mean more to me than the temporary stains left behind.
At the end of this life, it will not be the blemishes on my shirt that mattered most; it will instead be the indelible imprint they’ve left on my heart.
The embrace of Judeo-Christian morality is an indispensable component of American life and conservative ideology, particularly in the State of Mississippi.
It is the acceptance of an astute understanding shared by the founders — a belief that moral truths exist and are necessary for people to responsibly self-govern their own affairs.
Although we are all imperfect, Mississippi conservatives believe that moral limits to human behavior are intertwined into our nature, not simply accidents of history. We regard such limits as something that must be conserved to protect character from avarice, envy, unhealthy ambition and destruction. As Russell Kirk noted in his masterpiece, The Conservative Mind, we have a “belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience.”
We recognize, as he did, that “political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.” Consequently, we do not reject moral certainties; we accommodate them, understanding that good individuals make good citizens.
Self-government and moral order are intertwined. Without moral order, notions of liberty often slide into chaotic license, and expanding government rushes in to fill the void and reestablish order. The result is a corresponding and often devastating loss of personal liberty.
And yet, contrary to other political philosophies which embody the might of centralized authority, we do not propose that it should be the mission of government, by force of law, to dictate to others how they must live or to remake authority in an effort to micro-manage every individual’s whims and desires.
“We have,” as Kirk reminded, “not been appointed the correctors of mankind; but, under God, we may be an example to mankind.”
Such beliefs sew the seeds of personal responsibility, resisting calls for state sponsored uniformity, choosing instead to respect individualism and the treasures that originate with it. People are more than materialists with animal instincts.
Barry Goldwater, in 1962, explained this principle, when he wrote, “The root difference between the conservatives and the liberals of today is that conservatives take account of the whole man, while liberals tend to look only at the material side of man’s nature. The conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic, an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, those needs and desires reflect the superior side of man’s nature, and thus take precedence over his economic wants. Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Man’s most sacred possession is his individual soul.”
Put simply, not everything about human nature is reducible to society’s modes of production. A person is a moral, political and religious entity. And it is his natural complexity that we seek to conserve.
That is why, for Mississippi conservatives, the practice of politics must always take into account the whole human being – mind, body and soul – conceding that the problems affecting society are the result of the complexity of human life and therefore cannot be quickly or efficiently rectified by government action, schemes of forced human improvement or similar one-size-fits-all approaches.
Unlike liberalism, it is not our desire to override the decisions of people and reform them into one master plan.
Noble and lasting virtue is never forced; it is instead born out of respect for liberty.
Soon after the Republican sweep in the midterm elections, President Obama issued a very controversial executive order on immigration, allowing a minimum of five million illegals to remain in the country without fear of deportation. This order essentially granted them amnesty and nullified federal laws governing aliens who crossed into the country illegally.
Now, bear in mind, Obama has said on at least 22 different occasions that the powers of the presidency do not give him the authority to issue such an order. In one such instance, he told the Spanish network Telemundo: “I’m not a king. My job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law. When it comes to enforcement of our immigration laws, we’ve got some discretion. We can prioritize what we do. But we can’t simply ignore the law.”
But ignore the law he did.
And it’s not only immigration that has attracted his pen. In December, he issued an order to stop oil and gas exploration in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Just this past week he issued another order to expand the amount of paid sick time for federal workers, all without congressional approval.
How can he get away with such abuses of power? It’s easy with a timid Congress afraid to confront him directly.
Making matters worse, Obama has also deceitfully used language to confuse the public by naming his orders something else. Rather than call such actions “executive orders,” he now labels them “memoranda.”
But whether they are called executive orders, memoranda, or proclamations, these actions have the same force of law and Obama, despite his denials, has issued 33 percent more executive actions than President George W. Bush and nearly 50 percent more than Bill Clinton.
Why does he do this? Because Congress won’t act, he declares, so he must. Yet, contrary to his belief, a “Do Nothing Congress” Clause is not in the Constitution.
In fact, unbeknownst to most people, there is not one single word in Article II of the Constitution, or in any other section, that mentions “executive orders,” “proclamations,” or “memoranda.” Without Congressional authorization, they are all unconstitutional, whether issued by a Republican or a Democrat.
The Constitution, in Article I Section I, gives all legislative, or lawmaking, authority to Congress, not to the President. The President’s power consists of making sure “the laws be faithfully executed.” He cannot make law on his own, nor can he use executive action to delay or modify laws, as he has done repeatedly with Obamacare.
Although it may seem to be a frustrating system, it is the best ever conceived by man, designed to safeguard the liberties of the people. This is accomplished by one of the great beauties of our government – the separation of powers, a division of sovereignty between the federal government and the states and divided authority between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Put simply, the diffusing of power protects our individual liberties.
The founders did this to keep the nation from falling into despotism and dictatorship. As James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, said in Federalist 46, “The accumulation of all power, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
But sadly we seem to be moving inexorably in that direction.
To stop this movement, Congress, now in the hands of Republicans, should take swift action to restrain the growing powers of the President. Any illegal executive actions taken by any President should be swiftly reversed and, if applicable, as in the case with executive amnesty, defunded.
No President, regardless of party, should be allowed to change laws or delay them without congressional action, and no presidential action should ever have the force of law.
That power must forever remain in the hands of the people’s chosen representatives.
Senator Chris McDaniel is an attorney, conservative commentator and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses parts of South Mississippi, since 2008. He lives with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi.
The nation just recently received the news that the economy grew at its fastest rate since 2003, a brisk 5 percent. The same day, the Dow moved past 18,000, a new record. All indications, at least from those seeking political gain, are that the economy is soaring.
And that has been the consistent Obama theme, although the middle class and poor have seen little evidence of a prospering economy.
At a rally in Kansas City back in July, Obama touted his recovery: “America has recovered faster and come farther than just about any other advanced country on Earth. For the first time in more than a decade, if you ask business leaders around the world what’s the number-one place to invest, they don’t say China anymore. They say the United States of America. And our lead is growing. So . there are a lot of good reasons to be optimistic about America. Things are getting better..”
But despite the best efforts of the president and his followers to sugarcoat the state of the economy with their own unique set of facts and figures, the underlying reality is far different.
A good quarter of growth does not an economic recovery make. We could very well consider this false growth when we factor in government spending. Overall federal spending increased nearly 10 percent in the third quarter, with military spending rising 16 percent, which can account for much of the increase.
We also have major concerns with China. It was recently reported that China has now surpassed America as the number one economy in the world, out-producing the United States, a placement we have not seen since Ulysses S. Grant was President in the 1870s. China owns more than $1.3 trillion in US Treasury bonds and has indicated a willingness to dump them.
China is also strengthening its economic ties with Russia and is promising to help get the world off the dollar. Losing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency would have devastating consequences for the United States.
President Obama seemingly ignores such concerns.
Rather than liberating capital for the producers that actually hold capital, thereby allowing it to be invested in the economy, he believes that vast public spending will encourage growth and, somehow, correct the problem of income inequality, which he has droned on about for years.
Despite his best efforts, Obamanomics has been a failure for most Americans. According to a recent study by the Russel Sage Foundation, middle class wealth in 2013 was 20 percent less than what it had been in 1984, three decades ago, with nearly a third of that drop coming since Obama took office.
Even Alan Greenspan, Former Federal Reserve Chairman, paints a gloomy picture. “The United States is doing better than anybody else, but we’re still not doing all that well,” Greenspan said last week. “We still have a very sluggish economy.” He then indicated the economy will not recover until American companies – that is, producers – invest more capital in productive assets.
President Obama vowed to enrich those in the middle class, but his policies have failed them. And now they are struggling to find steady employment. As of the fall of 2014, there are more than 92 million Americans who are not in the labor force, an increase of more than 11.9 million since Obama took office. Not to mention the million added to the welfare rolls.
And yet, remarkably, the vast numbers of immigrants surging across our borders seem to be having no trouble finding jobs. Immigrant workers now account for all employment growth since 2007.
Ronald Reagan, as well as John F. Kennedy, took a different economic approach, a plan the Left derisively calls “trickle down” economics. The result for President Reagan was years of steady economic growth, not just one quarter; the creation of twenty million high-paying jobs; an increase in manufacturing output; and a rise in median income by $4,000. Indeed, GDP under Reagan grew from $2.8 trillion in 1981 to nearly $5.5 trillion in 1989, almost double.
Under Reagan, America grew stronger and more vibrant; under Obama we are in steady decline with no end in sight.
History has provided us with examples of what policies work to get the economy moving and create jobs. But we need strong leadership willing to turn those examples into new action. The last thing we need is more disinformation and propaganda from this administration trying to convince us that all is well and that government manipulation is working.
Senator Chris McDaniel is an attorney, conservative commentator and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses parts of South Mississippi, since 2008. He lives with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi.