Saturday, January 28, 2012

Governor Palin's Message to the Donner Party--We Owe Americans a Better Discourse than This

...One of the left's favorite weapons is frivolous ethics complaints. That's what they used to bring down the architect of the 1994 "Republican Revolution", Newt Gingrich. 
Prior to the election of 1994, the Democrats had held a majority in the House of Representatives for nearly 4 decades. Working with a team of grassroots activists, Newt selected and trained candidates, shaped a political message, and became what [David] Horowitz called "something rare in Republican politics--a genuine movement leader." 
To the left, that meant one thing: he had to be eliminated. There are many fine Democrat public servants, but sadly many in the party have moved increasingly left, and often the beating heart of their political warfare had been the personal distruction of their enemies. Generally speaking, after decades of failed social policies and weak national security positions, the party doesn't have a strong base of success from which to win political arguments. So it targets people instead of ideas. 
Back in the 1990s, Democrats had Newt in their sights. And strangely enough, the more influential he became, the more "unethical" he became--at least if you count the number of complaints filed against him. Horowitz wrote, "Eventually, Democrats lodged seventy-four separate charges against Gingrich, sixty-five were summarily 'laughed out the committee'. 
Over time the cloud of ethical questions hanging over Newt reached critical mass. Instead of defending their own, Republicans on certain committees forced Newt to concede one charge. 
-Governor Palin in Going Rogue (page 363-364) (emphasis added)
Yesterday, Governor Palin wrote a scathing rebuke of the GOP Establishment, which based upon the title of that Facebook post, I'm going to now refer to as the Donner Party.Governor Palin has recognized the tactics of the left as they have been applied to both Speaker Gingrich and herself. The excerpt from her book that I shared above comes amid her discussion of the frivolous charges launched at her. What this excerpt and her Facebook post really boil down to is three things: 1) the savageness of the left 2) the passive and sometimes non-existent defense of the "right" and 3) the cannibalism that has been employed by the "Donner Party".

As Governor Palin wrote in that Facebook post:
But this whole thing isn’t really about Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney. It is about the GOP establishment vs. the Tea Party grassroots and independent Americans who are sick of the politics of personal destruction used now by both parties’ operatives with a complicit media egging it on. In fact, the establishment has been just as dismissive of Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Newt is an imperfect vessel for Tea Party support, but in South Carolina the Tea Party chose to get behind him instead of the old guard’s choice. In response, the GOP establishment voices denounced South Carolinian voters with the same vitriol we usually see from the left when they spew hatred at everyday Americans “bitterly clinging” to their faith and their Second Amendment rights. The Tea Party was once again told to sit down and shut up and listen to the “wisdom” of their betters. We were reminded of the litany of Tea Party endorsed candidates in 2010 who didn’t win. Well, here’s a little newsflash to the establishment: without the Tea Party there would have been no historic 2010 victory at all.  
 As I said in my speech in Iowa last September, the challenge of this election is not simply to replace President Obama. The real challenge is who and what we will replace him with. It’s not enough to just change up the uniform. If we don’t change the team and the game plan, we won’t save our country. We truly need sudden and relentless reform in Washington to defend our republic, though it’s becoming clearer that the old guard wants anything but that. That is why we should all be concerned by the tactics employed by the establishment this week. We will not save our country by becoming like the left. And I question whether the GOP establishment would ever employ the same harsh tactics they used on Newt against Obama. I didn’t see it in 2008. Many of these same characters sat on their thumbs in ‘08 and let Obama escape unvetted. Oddly, they’re now using every available microscope and endoscope – along with rewriting history – in attempts to character assassinate anyone challenging their chosen one in their own party’s primary. So, one must ask, who are they really running against?
Governor Palin has seen the nature of the tactics of the left and some in the Establishment first hand. She saw her family attacked, her maternity questioned, and her record misrepresented by an Obama campaign machine and a complicit media. The media still employ individuals, like recent Newsweek cover story author Andrew Sullivan,  who question that she is the mother of her youngest son. The 2008 election and beyond brought a whole flurry of attacks on Governor Palin and her record. A legislative inquiry, billed as an "October surprise" for the 2008 election, was launched into whether or not Governor Palin pressured a commissioner to fire a state trooper for personal reasons. This was led by a Alaskan Democrat who later was rewarded with a cushy job in the Obama Interior Department, and the Obama campaign kept in contact with the trooper's union during the proceedings. Her record--from funding for special needs education as Governor to funding for rape kits while mayor--was lied about.   Additionally, when the barrage of frivolous ethics complaints were levied against the Governor in 2009, many of them came from the DNC's official Alaskan blogger for the 2008 campaign. The McCain campaign in 2008 and few if any Republicans in 2009 came to her defense when her record was misrepresented, her character was attacked, and unsubstantiated charges were levied against her.

As an electoral defeat seemed imminent and eventually came to be in 2008, anonymous McCain staffers (many of whom were former Romney staffers) were thought to be the ones who disparaged the Governor--who was a candidate on the very ticket they were working for--by saying she "went rogue" against the McCain campaign's direction, didn't know that Africa was a continent, and answered the door of her hotel room with nothing but a towel on during the campaign. All this happened while, as Governor Palin stated in her Facebook post, "[m]any of these same characters sat on their thumbs in ‘08 and let Obama escape unvetted". Senator McCain's staff was kneecapping their own candidate while Senator McCain was unwilling to effectively focus on candidate Obama's associates and lack of a record.

 In 2010, anonymous Romney staffers would dismiss Governor Palin as "not a serious human being", and even as recently as last fall, other anonymous staffers joked that they would be trilled with a Palin (and/or a Bachmann) candidacy because they could run against  those "crazy women".   Not juxtaposition of records or ideas, but personal attacks, not by Romney himself, but by anonymous staff. His hands stay clean while his potential opponents get knocked.

It's not just about Governor Palin, though in spite of the fact she isn't running for President this cycle, the Donner Party still sees her as a great threat. It is the Tea Party movement.When Christine O'Donnell won the GOP primary race for Senate in Delaware, GOP Establishmentarian Karl Rove and others spent the remainder of the campaign bashing O'Donnell and the Tea Party movement and essentially serving as an across-the-aisle surrogate for Chris Coons, the Democratic candidate and later victor of the race. To be sure, O'Donnell was in many ways a flawed and perhaps out-of-depth candidate, but the level of vitriol launched at her by her own party was hurtful to their chance to potentially regain control of the Senate. Although like O'Donnell,  Nikki Haley is seen by some as a traitor to Tea Party principles following her endorsement of Mitt Romney, she was one of the many who came into office under the wave of the Tea Party. Haley won her race in spite of sexist and Establishment lies about alleged affairs launched at her.  Again, the South Carolina Establishment, rather than supporting their party's gubernatorial nominee, levied attacks against her. To his credit, Governor Romney did support Nikki Haley in this, though the same could not be said of the next attack on Tea Party conservatives when the tragedy of the Tucson shootings occurred a few months following the 2010 election.  Romney and others said little if anything in defense of the Governor Palin, specifically, and the Tea Party, more broadly, when they were essentially deemed to be essentially accomplices to murder. Governor Palin is absolutely right. These folks are political cannibals, or at the very least, political pacifists unwilling to defend the people of their own party.

In Governor Palin's post, she articulates that this is also not about Newt Gingrich. In fact, Gingrich's support of liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava in the special election in NY-23 indicated that he was willing to go along with the Establishment, and he even criticized Governor Palin for supporting conservative candidate Doug Hoffmann. Gingrich has indeed been in Washington for many years and isn't without fault, but at this point in the election, poses the greatest threat to the Establishment's golden boy, Mitt Romney. As with any election, the candidates are imperfect. Herein lies the beauty of the American electoral experience! James Madison once said, " if men were angels, there would be no need for government".  The beauty of the America lies in the fact that  we choose are leaders from among ourselves. By default, they are going to be imperfect. That's not to say that their faults are to be excused. Quite possibly the only thing that Mitt Romney has not flip flopped on is the topic of Romneycare, among his other faults. Newt Gingrich has supported efforts on climate change with Nancy Pelosi and education with Al Sharpton among other liberal notions he's espoused over the years. Rick Santorum has voted against national right-to-work laws  and has some issues with using taxpayer money to fund his children's "cyber school" education. Ron Paul has a dangerous approach to Iran, and in spite of his strong stand against massive government spending, has requested millions in earmarks, even at a time when the GOP has called for a moratorium on earmarks. Like Governor Palin said, Newt Gingrich is an "imperfect vessel". Any candidate would have some level of imperfection.

The problem with the Donner wing of the GOP is that a double standard is applied. Earlier during the presidential primary, Romney hit then candidate Rick Perry from the left on Social Security without a peep from the Establishment, but when Newt Gingrich hit Romney from the Left on Bain Capital, it was seen as an inexcusable attack on capitalism. Romney, the candidate who said that he didn't want to return to the ways of Reagan, have been inaccurately and malevolently trying to paint Newt Gingrich as anti-Reagan. To be sure, Gingrich has perhaps been critical of Reagan's state department and had suggestions for George HW Bush's campaign, but to paint the man whom Nancy Reagan said carried President Reagan's torch, is an underhanded tactic. One could only imagine the tactics the Establishment would use against Governor Palin had she chosen to run. Attacks on her resignation and the frivolous ethics complaints would likely be used to try to paint her as not up to the pressure of the job of leader of the free world. Who knows? They may have even tried to paint her as anti-Thatcher as well!

The Establishment wants a coronation; the electorate wants a nomination. Generally it has been the "next-in-line" who has gotten the support of the Establishment. In 2008, it was John McCain, and in 2012, it is Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney has gotten the support of the those in the conservative media--Jennifer Rubin and Ann Coulter. He has received the support of the likes of John McCain, President George HW Bush, and Bob Dole--candidates who took the phrase "everything in moderation" and turned it into a political ideology. Whoever has been the biggest challenge to Mitt Romney has been disparaged by the Establishment. Jennifer Rubin started writing negative pieces about Governor Palin 8 days after she started writing for the Washington Post. At the time, Governor Palin's potential candidacy was the biggest threat to Romney's nomination. The Establishment knocked Rick Perry when his candidacy peeked and was a threat to Romney's nomination. Tom Ridge, moderate Republican and former Bush Cabinet member, hit Michele Bachmann as inexperienced when she was at her peak. While Newt Gingrich is seen as a Washington insider, he is not necessarily the Establishment's choice, and has therefore been in many ways unfairly attacked.

 To be sure, campaigns are cutthroat. Records need to be exposed. Policy plans will be scrutinized. Character will be tested. This is all for the benefit of the electorate and the refining of the candidates' mettle. Same standards must be applied to all candidates. People who cry foul on Gingrich's misrepresentation of Romney's immigration stance can't try to sweep Romney's misrepresentation of Gingrich's ethics record under the rug. Our country was founded in part because the settlers wanted representation; they didn't want a distant king calling down orders and levying taxes from on high. Similarly, the conservative electorate, or any American electorate for that matter, does not want an oligarchical "Donner Party" to determine the outcome of election.  Here in Illinois, some of Mitt Romney's delegates are challenging Rick Santorum's ballot petition signatures to potentially keep him off the Illinois primary ballot. Mitt Romney's Illinois campaign manager is also our state treasurer.  Never mind that in the interim, Illinois credit was downgraded to the worst in the country. Getting a political opponent off the ballot is far more important than hunkering down and addressing a major fiscal crisis to those backing Romney. In other words, Romney's supporters would rather not give Illinoisans a choice of candidates rather than win the battle of ideas.

 Thankfully, there are people like Governor Palin who are echoing the words of President Reagan when he said, "those voices don't speak for the rest of us" when speaking about the Elite whether it liberals in elected office or those in the political power at a party level. During her gubernatorial run in 2006, a pivotal point came when Governor Palin's opponents were bickering, and she interrupted them and calmly said, "we owe Alaskans a better discourse than this".  Governor Palin has essentially said the same thing on a national level.  The GOP owes the electorate a discourse, not an Establishment monologue, on the issues, and they owe us a better one. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, " Great minds discuss ideas;average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people". This primary election must be a discourse of ideas, not a barrage of personal attacks. As an undecided voter, a discourse of ideas, not an Establishment command, is what I would like to see in the coming weeks and months of this upcoming election. I'm glad to see that Governor Palin has continued to hold the Donner Party accountable for their tactics.

 Crossposted here and here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Misplaced Argument against Romney's Bain Capital and the GOP Primary Fight

This past July, I wrote a post where I made a minor point about Governor Romney's association with Bain Capital:
Between lobbying efforts and campaign funding, it seems that too often the government allows itself to be beholden to special interest groups and only certain institutions, and, thus, legislation is often crafted to benefited favored institutions, rather than the American people. This is a bipartisan problem. In fact, it is interesting to note that in the last three months, Governor Romney received far more campaign funds from Goldman Sachs employees than even President Obama. Romney has also accepted more than half a million dollars in campaign funding from lobbyists during that period of time. Additionally, in 1994, Romney’s Bain Capital actually has partnered with Goldman Sachs in purchasing Dade International, a medical diagnostics firm. In doing so, 1,600 Dade employees were laid off between 1994 and 1999, but Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs would later cash in selling back their shares to Dade for more than $350 million. So when Mitt Romney tries to tout his job creating skills as a businessman, it should be noted that he has also destroyed jobs while partnering with a company that would later give him loads of campaign money.
To be sure, Governor Romney's time with Bain Capital also afforded opportunities for company restructuring and indeed job creation in some situations, as the Wall Street Journal indicates that Romney's time at Bain had mixed result. At the same time, as I mentioned during the summer, there are some potential issues with his campaign funding that likely came as a result of his time at Bain. Since Romney helped bring in the cash for Goldman Sachs, they have reciprocated with campaign funding. What will this mean for them if he wins the White House? Is Goldman Sachs anticipating that Romney would sign bills into law that would be favorable to them? It seems so. This really is the only criticism that can be launched at his time at Bain. Does it prove to be the foundation for a crony capitalistic presidency?

 This isn't to say that Romney was wrong in his involved with Bain. He was acting as a businessman. Isn't capitalism all about the market picking winners and losers? As Jim Pethokoukis writes:
Of course, Romney and Bain weren’t in the game to create jobs. They were in it to make money for their investors and themselves. Then again, the same would go for Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Warren Buffett, and just about every other successful entrepreneur and investor you could name. But that is the miracle of free-market capitalism. The pursuit of profits by creating value benefits the rest of society through higher incomes, more jobs, and better products and services. This isn’t “destructive creation”—like, say, crippling U.S. fossil fuel production before “clean energy” sources are viable—but “creative destruction” where innovation and efficiency sweep away the old and replace it with a more productive and wealthier society.
However, the fact that some candidates are choosing to attack Governor Romney for his business decisions is misplaced, and Romney's primary opponents have a lot more than can go after rather than attacking his business experience. As Michelle Malkin has written today:
Mitt Romney’s chronic flip-flopping political career is teeming with reasons to oppose his nomination — from his support for racial preferences, to government funding of abortion, liberal judges, global warming enviro-nitwittery, TARP, auto bailouts, the Obama stimulus, gun control, and of course, individual health insurance mandates that presaged Obamacare.Instead of focusing on his long political record of expedience, incompetent non-Romneys have morphed into Michael Moore propagandists — throwing not just Bain Capital under the bus, but wealth creators of all kinds who take risks in the private marketplace. 
We’re screwed.
Please read the entirety of Malkin's piece because, as usual, she is spot on. There is much to oppose Governor Romney on, but if the candidate choose to attack capitalism it shows a sense of desperation that is unhelpful. All of the candidates are flawed, and as James Madison," if men were angels, there would be no need for government". One of the many beauties of America is that we get to choose our leaders from amongst ourselves.  Our leaders are going to be flawed, just as we are. Where does that leave us? It leaves us to study the records, ideas,and character of all the candidates for ourselves and make an informed decision. Juxtapose these against other candidates. Appropriately address what you may see as problems with a candidate's record or policies.

 This doesn't mean that we denigrate other conservatives for their decisions to choose to support any given candidate. Make an informed, respectful argument for why you support who you are supporting. There is sadly much bickering and name calling among conservatives because of who they may choose to support. If people have done their due diligence, more power to them if they have made their decision with their choice of candidate. We are all independent thinkers. One person may view a candidate's strength as greater in magnitude than another person may. One person may see a candidate's flaw as a dealbreaker. All opinion are valid. Some people choose to vote with their heads, some their hearts, and some their conscience. On rare occasions are we afforded the opportunity to vote with all three.Vote with your head, heart, conscience, or all three if your candidate fits the bill. So do your research. Make your informed decision, or choose not to if your information leads you not to support in the primary. We can't simultaneously be a country whose greatest blessing is individual liberty when we abuse that liberty to degrade others for exercising their own. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Alaska Has Three "A's" Its Name and Now, So Does Its Credit Rating

At Conservatives4Palin, Stacy Drake wrote a piece last summer following our nation's credit downgrade indicating how the fiscal environment of Alaska was stable enough to allow Moody's (one of the three main credit ranking agencies) to upgrade Alaska's credit rating in November of 2010. Today, another credit rating agency, Standard and Poor's upgraded Alaska's credit rating to its highest possible rating of AAA. The agency gives several reasons why it felt confident enough in Alaska's fiscal climate to make such an upgrade. A few of these reasons are due directly to the policies implemented by Governor Palin:
*The state's strong financial management and generally conservative forecasting 
*The state's financial flexibility, enhanced by the maintenance of large reserves derived from windfall oil revenues since fiscal year 2008 
*The state's moderate debt burden 
*An accumulation of multiple budget reserves equal to more than 200 percent of the general fund budget 
*Extensive forward‐funding of significant areas of the state's operating budget, a practice that could be halted in an underperforming revenue environment 
* The aggressive steps the state has taken to reform its pension and retirement systems, which will limit the accumulation of new liabilities
The state's strong financial management and generally conservative forecasting:

Governor Parnell has largely been a fiscal conservative during his time as Governor so far, but indeed Governor paved the way by cutting budgets by nearly 10% and reducing earmark requests by more than 80%. This is "strong financial management

The state's financial flexibility, enhanced by the maintenance of large reserves derived from windfall oil revenues since fiscal year 2008:

One of Governor Palin's signature pieces of legislation was ACES--Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share--which revamped the corruption tainted oil tax legislation of the Murkowski administration and was implemented during fiscal year 2008. While it is a misnomer to characterize such revenues as "windfall", they have provided financial stability to the state. As Alaska's state constitution notes that the people own the natural resources, so such a tax is better classified as a severance or production tax paid by the oil company as a recompense for extracting the irreplaceable citizen-owned state resource. Nonetheless, the changes to the oil tax structure has increased the revenues that the state has brought in, while at the same time providing record number of oil jobs and oil companies investing in the state.

The state's moderate debt burden: 

During her time as Governor, the debt of Alaska increased at a much slower rate than all of the governors currently seeking the GOP nomination for president and a the debt was actually lower than under her predecessor's administration.

An accumulation of multiple budget reserves equal to more than 200 percent of the general fund budget:

Due to legislation like ACES and the frugal budgeting of Governors Palin and Parnell, Alaska now has a 12 billion dollars in savings. During the VP campaign, Governor Palin was able to tout a more than $5 billion surplus.  While many states are wallowing in budget deficits, Alaska is facing just the opposite. 

Extensive forward‐funding of significant areas of the state's operating budget, a practice that could be halted in an underperforming revenue environment  

One of Governor Palin's key items when she ran for office was forward funding of education using the budget surplus, which she implemented to the tune of a billion dollar early in her term, and this is a practice that Governor Parnell has continued. This kind of budgetary practice not only enables schools to be able to have flexibility and foreknowledge of their fiscal situation, it also provided the stability to fiscal future of the state, as roughly 10% of the state's budget is devoted to education. 

The aggressive steps the state has taken to reform its pension and retirement systems, which will limit the accumulation of new liabilities:

During her tenure, Governor Palin reformed pension and retirement systems, which lead to a reduction in liabilities of 34.6% during her tenure. Governor Palin noted in a Facebook post over a year ago that her pension reforms and other fiscally prudent measures have contributed to Alaska's fiscal health:
My home state made the switch from defined benefits to a defined contribution system, and as governor, I introduced a number of measures to build on that successful transition, while also addressing the issue of the remaining funding shortfall by prioritizing budgets to wrap our financial arms around this too-long ignored debt problem. When my state ran a surplus because we incentivized businesses, I didn’t spend it on fun and glamorous pet projects for lawmakers – though that would have made me quite popular with the earmark crowd. In fact, I vetoed more excessive spending than any governor in our state’s history, and I used the state’s surplus to bring our financial house in order by paying down our unfunded pension plans that some other governors wanted to ignore. This fiscal prudence didn’t make me popular with the state legislature. In addition to vetoing hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending, I put billions of dollars into savings accounts for future rainy days, much like most American families do in responsibly planning for the future. I also enacted a hiring freeze and brought the education budget under control through a commitment to forward-funding. I returned much of the surplus back to the people (it was their money to start with!) through tax relief and energy rebates. I had proven as the mayor of the fastest growing city in the state that tax cuts incentivize business growth, and though the state legislature overrode some of my veto cuts and thwarted an additional tax relief request of mine, the public was supportive of efforts to rein in its government.
This bodes well for Alaska's fiscal health, especially when many states are swimming in debt and unreformed pension programs (my state of Illinois now has the worst credit rating in the country). It also provides another feather in Governor Palin's cap which provides continued vindication regarding her wisdom, intellect, political foresight and boldness.Should she seek elected office again in the future, she'll indeed have much to point to in the way of leadership and fiscal prudence. 

 Crossposted here and here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What Would Thomas Jefferson Tell Us Today?

At our local 9/12 group meeting tonight, we were studying the Preamble to the Constitution and the seven provisions provided in its words. In discussion of the second provision, to provide a more perfect union, some words from Thomas Jefferson were shared that I think are very pertinent for today (emphasis mine):
We owe every other sacrifice to ourselves, to our federal brethren, and to the world at large to pursue with temper and perseverance the great experiment which shall prove that man is capable of living in [a] society governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and peace; and further, to show that even when the government of its choice shall manifest a tendency to degeneracy, we are not at once to despair, but that the will and the watchfulness of its sounder parts will reform its aberrations, recall it to original and legitimate principles, and restrain it within the rightful limits of self-government.
Thomas Jefferson was a minister to France when the Constitution was written in Philadelphia, and I am not sure the context of these words. However, his words are basic building block in the foundation of our nation. The Founders knew that our nation would never be truly "perfect". Men are fallible. In The Federalist Papers, James Madison noted, "if men were angels, no government would be necessary". This is in part why our Founders framed the Constitution as calling for a "more perfect union". The "more" indicates that true perfection can never be achieved. In fact, Jefferson knew that government ultimately had a "tendency to degeneracy". Our nation has not been in the black financially since President Jackson's administration. Our courts are legislating from the bench and thus twisting the branches of government. Our executive branch is defying the balance of powers by ignoring a Senate recess and appointing an essentially unaccountable bureaucrat. Our states are being sued for trying to enforce laws that the federal government should be enforcing themselves in reality. Individuals are being forced to purchase services, like health insurance, when there is no Constitutional authority to do so. The limited federal government has turned into a limitless oligarchy. The state's are losing their Constitutionally provided power. Individuals are losing their rights. What does Jefferson tell us?

Jefferson says, "do not despair" and be a "sounder part". Be willing to be watchful. Call for reform. Return to the first principles and restraint and limits of government. This is indeed what many have been doing for many, many decades, and indeed, what the Tea Party movement has been focused on in recent years. However, it seems like there is some despair. To be sure, for many of us, there are individuals we wish were running for higher office. There are people whom  we thought we could trust in government who have let us down and who have strayed from the platform which they supposedly espoused. However, Thomas Jefferson makes no direct mention of elected leaders in his statement here when he says "we". The "we" seems to be broader than that. The "we" that established the Constitution was not "we" as in the delegates at the Constitutional convention, nor was it we the states as had been the basis for the failed Articles of Confederation. It was "we the people".

 Perhaps too often, we put our trust in leaders and project our hopes onto them. To be sure, elected leaders do possess the powers and the mandate for change or restoration. They can influence policy, institute reform, and shape a message and an attitude towards our nation and the world. However, if we begin to place our hopes for our nation only on those people or those whom we hope will pursue such leadership roles, we will ultimately be despaired, which our Founders did not wish for us. With an overly powerful government, we can feel powerless, but we are not. We have the opportunity and the right to continue to call for reform and a return to first principles for those leaders, but also for ourselves. We can continue to educate ourselves on those first principles. Perhaps the reason we have strayed so far from those principles is that we haven't remained vigilant from generation to generation to pass knowledge of those principles down to younger generations or even across to our own generation. As  Ronald Reagan once said, "freedom is never one generation from extinction".  Reagan did not despair, just as Jefferson did not despair when government became degenerate. The went to action, not only as elected leaders, but also as citizen leaders. We have opportunity to do the same.