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Entries in Carolyn McKinney (14)

Tuesday
Nov132012

Carolyn McKinney - We let Democrats define the terms of our defeat

By Carolyn McKinney, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire

When Democrats set the terms of the 2012 campaign for state and federal offices, Republican leaders blew their horns about jobs and the economy and counted on their position of strength and the glaring weaknesses in their enemy’s lines to secure victory. Republicans lost because they forgot to tell the troops about the Democratic weaknesses. Democrats took advantage of the oversight and rolled over the field.

Democratic victories last Tuesday quite simply reflected a tactical failure of top-ticket Republicans to defend the party’s message. This wasn’t a failure of Republican principles, but a failure to define and defend Republican principles. Democrats successfully distracted voters with complete fabrications of reality, and Republicans let them do it without response.  

Predictably, Republican Party leaders assumed that the people had enough of the social issues and wanted to focus on the economy instead—and by in large, Republicans successfully governed on economic recovery issues during the past two years. Democrats understood the visceral nature of social issues and successfully tarnished liberty as the enemy of their carefully crafted relationship between business and government. Republicans didn’t respond, despite the prescient need. They thought that by ignoring the problem it would go away.

Even if it was a good idea—and I strongly contend that it is not—the Republican Party is never going to rid itself of social conservatives, and it won’t dismiss the libertarian faction either, if the libertarians don’t dismiss themselves, first. Due to the way the two-party system has been solidified in state and federal law, neither group has anywhere else to go if it wants any influence, and neither will the Republican Party have any influence without these two groups.

The only solution is for the Republican Party to fully embrace its platform, which is actually more conservative and libertarian than anything else. Had Republican leaders chosen to explain the Republican Party to voters, they just might have received some votes.

In other words, a “big tent” Republican Party includes moderates and the socially agnostic, but let’s be clear: the tent is held up by conservatives and libertarians. There is no tent without them. There’s just Democrats and Democrats-lite. I contend that New Hampshire truly wants neither—and so goes the nation.

Enough with the rhetoric, here’s some realism: Faced with the ludicrous and fallacious Democratic idea that Republicans want to end all abortions and take contraceptives away from women, Republicans should have explained that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land until it’s overturned. And at the same time, they should have explained that there are alternatives to abortion; that women deserve other options, such as child care services, especially if they’re going to college (tuition certainly does pay for it already). 

Republicans should have turned the tables on Democrats: “Who are the real extremists? Who removed from their platform the goal that abortion be ‘safe and rare’? Who supports living children being murdered when their body is already outside the womb? Who supports letting infants die on a surgical table because their abortion went wrong? Who wants taxpayers to foot the bill for this stuff? Really? Even if they morally object? Doesn’t a human being have an inalienable right to life, endowed by his or her Creator? So, tell me again why Democrats oppose Republican proposals to decrease the number of abortions in favor of alternative solutions that both respect women and favor life.”

Without a doubt, Democrats had the extreme agenda, but we didn’t tell voters about it! 

Let’s be clear: We Republicans can change some of our policy positions to more consistently represent the principles in our platform. On immigration, for instance, there millions of inalienably free human beings who simply want to live a better life in America, but our laws don’t allow it. While Republicans are known to support the rule of law, we are also known to be a group that favors Judeo-Christian values, which include love and charity. We must craft a common sense solution that balances the rule of law and the reality that these illegal immigrants must be treated with the dignity that we must afford to all human beings. We also must recognize that the large illegal immigrant population contributes to our economy in important ways, and we need to stop catering to the people who resist a common sense policy that allows for the free trade of labor across national boundaries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for citizenship for all; that’s something that has to be earned. But a guest worker program would certainly go a long way to help the market meet its needs for labor without sacrificing national sovereignty or identity, and it would also be more conservative.

The bottom line is this: Republicans need to unite around their platform or they’ll all be lost to the isolation of their own personal perfection. There’s no doubt that herding cats is difficult, but that is the task for those who lead people who want to be free. Let’s hope they get it right next time, for the sake of us all.

Friday
Nov022012

Carolyn McKinney - Liberty will advance with Ovide as Governor

By Carolyn McKinney, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire

As the leader of a Republican organization focused on liberty in New Hampshire, I often come across people who refuse to go along with the party nominee in higher-end races and vote their conscience instead. 

A vote on principle is certainly something of value and thankfully common among people who truly understand what liberty means. At the same time, it’s important for liberty-minded Republicans and independent-minded voters out there to consider that no person can possibly agree with them on every subject. For that reason, voting on principle sometimes requires a little more deliberation, especially in this election when the momentum of liberty counts so much on the results.

There is no doubt that Gov. John Lynch was a barrier to liberty in the last two years, despite the Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate. Right to Work would be law today, guaranteeing the freedom of individuals to earn money wherever they could find an employer willing to hire them, and they wouldn’t have to share their wealth against their will with a third-party. New Hampshire would no longer be a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a tax scheme with no real benefit to the environment that has made a few connected businessmen wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

Unfortunately, Maggie Hassan is so much worse than Gov. Lynch on so many issues, as her time in the N.H. Senate should make clear. She was a co-sponsor of the bill to force New Hampshire into the cap and tax scheme, for one thing. She was also largely responsible for the spending and taxing policies that stifled New Hampshire’s economy, destroyed private sector jobs and eventually led to the complete rejection of Democrats during the 2010 election. Those 2010 election results were no mistake. The Republicans we elected did as much as they could to reverse course and advance liberty, and they’ll continue to do that even if we give them only the slightest majority in the Legislature.

But with Maggie as governor, the Legislature will be starting with a budget that drastically increases spending, along with the necessary taxes, fees and borrowing to pay for it. They will face a roadblock to any deregulation, tax or fee cut, or any move to make the government more efficient, and many bills that increase the power and authority of government will sneak through without the threat of a veto. Even with a Republican Legislature, the force of a statist governor who’s never seen a government program she doesn’t like will smother the spark of liberty and prosperity ignited by Speaker O’Brien and the Legislature he led during the past two years. Everything we just accomplished will be stopped dead in its tracks, if we’re lucky, and we could even see many of our accomplishments reversed.

It is for the sake of helping our Republican Legislature continue its good work that the principled vote is in favor of Ovide Lamontagne, the only candidate that can legitimately beat Maggie Hassan. This is not the time for liberty-minded people to work toward any other political goal. Liberty is truly at stake, and Ovide is the only candidate for governor who can and will advance our cause.

Ovide may not be the perfect Republican candidate for governor, and we’ve had very public policy differences with him in the past. If Ovide is elected, I expect that we will have to fight hard to advance freedom in some of these same policy areas, particularly in the area of education reform and reductions in state spending that go as far as we need them to go. 

Despite these foreseen battles, Ovide Lamontagne instinctively knows that small government and economic freedom are necessary for New Hampshire’s future prosperity. That’s why he would sign a Right to Work bill. He’d repeal the cap-and-tax scheme. His budget would be a reasonable starting point for the House before representatives add further spending cuts. Importantly, the executive bureaucracy would be held in check by his oversight. For these reasons, I am definitively recommending a vote for Ovide Lamontagne as the only gubernatorial option for voters who love liberty.

For anyone who still doubts Ovide is the only choice for governor, please consider that the liberty contingent of Republican and independent voters are the only people who can help him top Maggie. We will not let Gov. Lamontagne forget that once he makes it into office. If led by principled Republicans in the Legislature and advocates of liberty from the outside, we can expect that liberty will not only advance in New Hampshire, it will thrive under Gov. Ovide Lamontagne.

Tuesday
Sep252012

Carolyn McKinney - Restore the people’s oversight over their court system

By Carolyn McKinney, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire
 
As voters, it’s troubling to watch a Legislature act against the people’s best interest in times of economic distress by raising tax after tax or fee after fee to pay for unrealistic increases to public employees’ salaries or benefits, or to grant special-interest requests without regard to their need or effectiveness. Such was the case during the 2007-2010 period when Democrats controlled the N.H. Legislature and governor’s office.

Yet, in our system of government, the people have control over how the government spends their money, and voters overwhelmingly rejected the Democrat’s spend-then-tax agenda when they elected a Republican Legislature in 2010. Republican representatives and senators, answering the people’s call to create the proper conditions for economic growth, promptly cleaned up as much of the mess as they could within a two-year period by cutting spending, lowering taxes and fees, and saying “no” to those special interests.

Unfortunately, since 1978 when the Legislature and the people were duped into passing Article 73-a to the N.H. Constitution, the people have not had similar oversight over their court system, which now has the autonomy to write its own rules that have “the force and effect of law.” Many people perceive this constitutional language to be minor—affecting only how the courts run their courtrooms—but they are wrong.

The courts have used the 1978 change to control the behavior of the Legislature, the Executive, and innocent, law-abiding citizens, both inside and outside the courtroom. Because of Article 73-a, the courts have assumed a role that the “separation of powers” clause previously reserved for the elected Legislature. As a result, and because of complacent legislative and executive officials, the court has become an unaccountable and arbitrary power unto itself, which is the exact type of government that our constitution was supposed to prevent.

Article 73-a is the language that gave the Supreme Court hubris to think it could legislate from the bench, such as it did with the Claremont decisions in the 1990s when it said that the constitution’s imperative that individual “legislators… cherish … public education” means that the Legislature must define and fund an adequate education.

Under 73-a, the family court has used its rules, including a particular rule that allows all court rules to be waived, in cases where it has ordered children removed from fit parents on mere accusations from third parties. By waiving rules, these courts have admitted hearsay evidence and used it to make a decision without a finding of abuse or neglect or any due process of law.

District court judges have used court rules to throw citizens in jail for contempt on minor decorum issues, and they have used their office to send journalists to jail for simply asking questions about their decisions. Just last year, a Superior Court judge used court rules to prevent two innocent citizens who were not accused of any crime from engaging in a legal activity. He also ordered the citizens to post his ruling on their Web site. Had they disobeyed, the judge threatened to imprison them on charges of contempt of court.

Thankfully, the Republican Legislature that the people elected to correct the wrongs of the previous Democratic Legislature also passed a constitutional fix that will give the people oversight over their court system again. Upon passage of Question Two on the Nov. 6 ballot, the people will restore some checks and balances to their judicial branch.

The change to Article 73-a will make sure that the laws passed by the Legislature are superior to court rules, as they should be. The amendment will put the court back in its place as an interpreter of law for individual cases and not as the policy maker that explains how the law must be applied in all situations—that is a power reserved for the people’s Legislature alone.

When the powers of government are balanced and held in check by one another, there is a greater chance that no branch of government will grow too strong or powerful, and that the people will remain free.

Article 73-a made the courts untouchable, and the people lost control of their government as a result. Question Two on the Nov. 6 ballot will restore the balance of powers by making the court accountable to the laws passed by the Legislature. The people, who elect their legislators, will once more have necessary oversight over all three branches of their government.

 

Thursday
Sep062012

Carolyn McKinney - The true radicals are trying to stop Speaker O’Brien

By Carolyn McKinney, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire

There is no doubt that House Speaker William O’Brien’s leadership was instrumental in the historic achievements of the just finished Legislature, and for no other reason, his political opponents have targeted the man and tried to make him appear the enemy. 

But quite clearly, Speaker O’Brien’s reelection to the House Speaker role will ensure New Hampshire’s present course toward liberty and prosperity, which will encourage more people toward their greatest potential and reduce dependency on government.

History has shown that when government is lean and effective—doing what the Constitution says it should and nothing more—it leaves more money for people to pursue their own goals and dreams while helping others along the way.

A limited, affordable government was the promise America’s founders gave us so we could create a society where everyone has the opportunity to prosper. It is this promise that Speaker O’Brien has been working to restore in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire voters who have been clamoring for “jobs and the economy” can do nothing other than fully support Speaker O’Brien because his agenda will help create the conditions our state’s economy desperately needs to thrive enough to stimulate private-sector job creation.

Yet, because of his courage to outspokenly pursue limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility and free markets, Speaker O’Brien has been ridiculed incessantly for the past two years. He’s been called a radical, a bully, a tyrant and he was even compared to one of the most infamous murderers who once ruled Germany.

While we all know political rhetoric can be heated at times, the attacks on Speaker O’Brien were far from acceptable in civil society, and it’s about time that someone called out the Speaker’s opponents for the radicals they are.

In Saul Alinksy’s book, “Rules for Radicals,” the community organizer spells out effective methods radicals can use to achieve their goals. Among the most relevant rules to this discussion are number 13, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it;” number five, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon [because] it is almost impossible to counterattack;” and number eight, “Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.”

While the Democrats and liberal Republicans have effectively used these radical tactics against Speaker O’Brien during the past two years to attempt to stymie his agenda, there is one countermeasure that undermines their approach, and that is the truth.

The Speaker’s enemies have been relentless in their attacks against Speaker O’Brien because they do not have solutions of their own that will actually help people achieve their dreams in New Hampshire. These liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans don’t have a real way to create jobs and stimulate the economy; they only know how to take more of your money to fund one failed program after another. For this reason alone, the Speaker’s enemies are doing everything in their power to prevent his agenda for New Hampshire from taking hold. They thrive on the power of big government and its rules and regulations. They enjoy the thrill of telling other people how to live their lives, and they tell themselves they know better than you how you should live your own life. They even think they know best how to spend the money you’ve earned. Theirs is the truly dangerous and radical agenda. 

In truth, Speaker O’Brien knows better than his liberal critics. Speaker O’Brien knows that the best way to restore liberty and prosperity in New Hampshire is to take power away from government bureaucrats and return it to you; to take money away from unnecessary or failing programs and return it to you; and to remove all legal impediments standing between you and the good life and let you achieve whatever you choose to work for.

These are not radical ideas; these are the ideas that led our nation to the greatest prosperity the world has ever known. And they will again if Speaker O’Brien is able to continue his work. 

It is with confidence in Speaker O’Brien’s leadership and a sense of urgency that we must continue down the path on which he and the Legislature have set us that I offer my full endorsement for Speaker O’Brien for state representative, and upon reelection, for House Speaker. Without hesitation I can say that any alternative would be intolerable to those of us who truly want economic prosperity and the jobs that come with it.

Tuesday
Aug212012

Carolyn McKinney - Your most important vote this November is more local than you think

By Carolyn McKinney, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire

Contrary to what many pundits will tell you, the upcoming presidential election is not the most important decision facing New Hampshire voters this November.

It’s true; a change in the presidency would at least slow our nation’s march toward an all-powerful centralized government. Yet, despite a long series of political party fluctuations in the White House and Congress, Americans have experienced no real shift in direction—and I have no confidence that we will ever see a that shift from the federal level.

The people will only regain their liberty when they use the states’ inherent constitutional power to wrest back power from the federal government. Therefore, what really matters this November are the type of people we elect to the State Legislature and, just as important, the people we elect as New Hampshire’s county sheriffs. These people—and the sheriffs in particular—can change the direction, not just of the state, but also of the entire nation.

By design, county sheriffs are supreme law enforcement officers in American counties, and their number one duty is not to transport prisoners, as some pundits in New Hampshire would have you believe. Before anything else, a County Sheriff’s job as a peace officer is to protect and defend the constitutional rights of citizens in the county from all enemies, "foreign and domestic." Accordingly, county sheriffs in New Hampshire and in the other 49 states are America’s last defense against an out-of-control federal government, which seems to be increasingly determined to take away citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.

This fact is not just my opinion, but also the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Printz, Mack v. United States (1997), which overturned parts of the Brady Act of 1993, a gun-control law. Ravalli County Sheriff Jay Printz of Montana and Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack of Arizona brought the case when federal agents ordered them to help register guns. Rather than comply with the order under a misinterpretation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the two sheriffs challenged the unconstitutional law and won.

Important in the decision, writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said: "States are not subject to federal direction." He clarified that the Supremacy Clause does not make the U.S. government the supreme authority in the United States; rather, the Supremacy Clause makes the U.S. Constitution and all laws that abide by it the supreme law of the land.

Further, Scalia said that states and their subdivisions have an equal authority to enforce the U.S. Constitution within their jurisdictions: "Our citizens would have two political capacities, one state and one federal, each protected from incursion by the other," he wrote. Just in case his point wasn’t clear, Scalia quoted James Madison, Father of the Constitution, in Federalist 51: "The local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the Supremacy, no more subject within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere."

It is the independent authority of the sheriff, within his county sphere, that can help protect citizens from abusive federal power—or abusive state power, for that matter. His role as a peace officer is to make sure that all citizens, regardless of their status or position, are treated equally under the law. The fact that the people elect their sheriff makes his position even more powerful, because the county sheriff is accountable only to the people he serves.

As examples, consider the Lemhi County Idaho Sheriff Brett Barslou’s move to organize 500 citizens in support of a rancher who had shot a gray wolf that killed one of his calves. The sheriff’s actions forced three armed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents to back off their attempt to serve a warrant. Contemplate Sheriff Richard Mack’s support for a local board of supervisors within his Graham County Arizona jurisdiction. Mack forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to back off from a threat to fine the town $50,000 a day for rebuilding a washed-out bridge without the “required” 10-year environmental impact study. The town built the bridge that year, and the town paid no fines. Also note how sheriffs throughout the State of Wyoming have told federal agents they must get permission before they do anything within their various jurisdictions. 

Voters should take comfort in a long history of county sheriffs standing up for the Constitution, not just in our early history, but also in modern times. At least two candidates running for sheriff in 2012, Bradley Jardis in Coös County and Frank Szabo in Hillsborough County, fully understand the importance of the county sheriff role, and for that reason they should earn voters’ enthusiastic support.