Congratulations Vice President-Elect Mike Pence

Donald Trump has been elected President. This  also means that Indiana Governor Mike Pence will now be the Vice President. In all likelihood, Vice President Pence will drive the domestic agenda, and will utilize his close friendship with people like Speaker Paul Ryan to really get great things done.

Mike Pence has called himself a Jack Kemp Republican, so you can see why we admire him.

When Jack Kemp died in 2009, Mike Pence was in Congress and he was able to deliver this brief address on the floor of the House of Representatives. Congressman Pence closed his memorial speech with this:

“I will always be proud to have known this good and great man. And I will always, first and foremost, refer to myself as a “Jack Kemp Republican.”

Harris County Republican Party Reaching Out

Artemio Muniz, Chris Carmona, and Trebor Gordon helping an applicantArtemio Muniz, Chris Carmona, and Trebor Gordon helping an applicant

And choice in education is the wave of the future because it represents a return to some of our most basic American values. Choice in education is no mere abstraction. Like its economic cousin, free enterprise, and its political cousin, democracy, it affords hope and opportunity. – Ronald Reagan, 1989

This past Sunday, Republicans in Harris County took a step toward the future.

Houston Young Republicans, led by Sandi Steinbacher, the Federation of Hispanic Republicans and the Harris County Republican Party Outreach Committee, of which I am the current Chairman, brought together a group of willing Republican volunteers to help families register their children for charter schools in the areas where they live.

This group spent three hours in the meeting room of a Spring Branch community center, assisting families with applications for various charter schools. Many of the schools have upcoming deadlines, which allowed us to help these families beat the deadlines and our team was equipped with answers to most questions.

Chris Carmona, a Republican State Rep candidate who embraces not only Parental Choice in Education, but also the concept of connecting with the community, was there to talk with families and he assisted several in filling out their applications. Republican precinct chair and former Houston city council candidate Trebor Gordon was there to assist as well, he worked hard for us and was very passionate about getting this job done.

To maximize the effectiveness of our group, we used four laptop computers, two iPads and an iPhone. The task was not easy, don’t be misled there. Various schools had varied deadlines. There was also the obstacle that some families were looking at schools for various age ranges, but we helped find elementary schools, middle schools and high schools for all. We don’t have a final count on the number of applications we filed. Some parents registered multiple children.

Moms and dads know that opportunity through education is the surest way to have a real shot at the American Dream. A good education can help avoid the traps of poverty. A good education can also give a lift-up to those in poverty. Connecting with these families over these principles is important and it is a vital step that our party needs to take on a massive scale. Our party is at a point where words mean nothing, if there is no action, then we are just empty suits.

The outreach committee of Harris County Republican Party will lead the party towards a very new place in activism, highlighting the importance of rebuilding our civic institutions, healing our neighborhoods, and exemplifying what it truly means to be a conservative. We cannot ask voters to simply believe our public policy proposals, we must rebuild the private safety net before others agree with us to scale back the public safety net.

Good News Out of Wisconsin and California

John Fund over at National Review Online has a great recap of some election results from last night.

In Wisconsin, Republicans held a rural assembly seat in central Wisconsin with 67 percent of the vote as expected but also held a highly competitive seat in south Milwaukee County that Barack Obama carried in 2008 and only narrowly lost last year. Republican Jessie Rodriguez, who won 56 percent of the vote yesterday, will become the first female Hispanic Republican to serve in the assembly. She was born in El Salvador but moved to the U.S. in the 1980s to avoid that country’s civil war. She is currently an outreach coordinator for Hispanics for School Choice — a nonprofit organization that helps low-income parents find schools for their children.

– – –

But the biggest surprise yesterday may have been in California, a place where the Republican party has been on life support. But not last night. With provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted, former Democratic congressional staffer Matt Dababneh had only a 173-vote lead over Republican Susan Shelley in a special election for a San Fernando Valley assembly seat near Los Angeles. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic. Barack Obama won it in 2012 with 64 percent of the vote and Republicans make up only a quarter of the registered voters.

Paul Ryan’s Kemp-Inspired Crusade Against Poverty

By Steve Parkhurst

While I admit to being one of those people that thinks Washington D.C. is incapable of controlling and patrolling itself, and that something like The Liberty Amendments proposed by Mark Levin are in order for us to rein government back in, there is something to be said for the efforts of Congressman Paul Ryan.

This is an interesting story in the Washington Post, or as I prefer to call it, Pravda on the Potomac. Still, this article is pretty well done:

Paul Ryan is ready to move beyond last year’s failed presidential campaign and the budget committee chairmanship that has defined him to embark on an ambitious new project: Steering Republicans away from the angry, nativist inclinations of the tea party movement and toward the more inclusive vision of his mentor, the late Jack Kemp.

Since February, Ryan (R-Wis.) has been quietly visiting inner-city neighborhoods with another old Kemp ally, Bob Woodson, the 76-year-old civil rights activist and anti-poverty crusader, to talk to ex-convicts and recovering addicts about the means of their salvation.

Ryan’s staff, meanwhile, has been trolling center-right think tanks and intellectuals for ideas to replace the “bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs” that Ryan blames for “wrecking families and communities” since Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty in 1964.

Next year, for the 50th anniversary of that crusade, Ryan hopes to roll out an anti-poverty plan to rival his budgetary Roadmap for America’s Future in scope and ambition. He is also writing a book about what’s next for the GOP, recalling the 1979 tome that detailed Kemp’s vision under the subtitle, “The Brilliant Young Congressman’s Plan for a Return to Prosperity.”

Of course, that “1979 tome” was Jack Kemp’s An American Renaissance. But I digress.

Ryan’s new emphasis on social ills doesn’t imply that he’s willing to compromise with Democrats on spending more government money. His idea of a war on poverty so far relies heavily on promoting volunteerism and encouraging work through existing federal programs, including the tax code. That’s a skewed version of Kempism, which recognizes that “millions of Americans look to government as a lifeline,” said Bruce Bartlett, a historian who worked for Kemp and has become an acerbic critic of the modern GOP.

“They want to care,” Bartlett said of Ryan and modern Republicans. “But they’re so imprisoned by their ideology that they can’t offer anything meaningful.” Ryan has explained the difference by noting that the national debt has grown enormously since Kemp ran for president in 1988, nearly doubling as a percentage of the economy.

Kempism. Stay tuned in future months for more on that.

In the mid-1990s, crime and poverty were hot national issues. Kemp was a font of innovative ideas for reviving inner-city commerce, rebuilding public housing and overhauling the welfare system. He was pro-immigration, pro-equal opportunity and, above all, pro-tax cuts, which he viewed as government’s primary tool for promoting growth.

Unlike other Republicans, Kemp also frequently visited black and Hispanic voters and asked them directly for their votes.

Two days after Ryan was introduced as Romney’s running mate, he pushed to do the same. Advisers recall Ryan in workout clothes in a Des Moines Marriott, telling campaign officials in Boston that he had two requests: First, to meet the staff in person. And second, to travel to urban areas and speak about poverty.

No one said no. But with Romney focused relentlessly on Obama’s failure to improve the economy for middle-class Americans, the idea always seemed off-message. “We struggled to find the right timing to dovetail it into our messaging schedule,” Romney strategist Ed Gillespie said via e-mail.

Ryan adviser Dan Senor said Ryan argued that “47 million people on food stamps is an economic failure.” But Ryan did not get clearance to deliver a speech on poverty, his sole policy address, until two weeks before the election.

Great point: “47 million people on food stamps is an economic failure.”

Ryan had sought Woodson’s help with his poverty speech. The two reconnected after the election and began traveling together in February — once a month, no reporters — to inner-city programs supported by Woodson’s Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. In Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Denver, Woodson said, Ryan asked questions about “the agents of transformation and how this differs from the professional approach” of government social workers.

Like Woodson, the programs share a disdain for handouts and a focus on helping people address their own problems. In Southeast Washington, Ryan met Bishop Shirley Holloway, who gave up a comfortable career in the U.S. Postal Service to minister to drug addicts, ex-offenders, the homeless — people for whom government benefits can serve only to hasten their downfall, Holloway said.

At City of Hope, they are given an apartment and taught life skills and encouraged to confront their psychological wounds. They can stay as long as they’re sober and working, often in a job Holloway has somehow created.

“Paul wants people to dream again,” Holloway said of Ryan. “You don’t dream when you’ve got food stamps.”

Trips to Newark and Texas are slated for later this month. Woodson said Ryan has also asked him to gather community leaders for an event next year, and to help him compare the results of their work with the 78 means-tested programs that have cost the federal government $15 trillion since 1964.

The takeaway for Ryan, a Catholic, has been explicitly religious. “You cure poverty eye to eye, soul to soul,” he said last week at the Heritage forum. “Spiritual redemption: That’s what saves people.”

How to translate spiritual redemption into public policy?

If you don’t have goosebumps at this point, what’s wrong with you?

“There’s definitely a feeling that conservatives need to get in this arena,” Winship said. Otherwise, “the voices on the left are going to have the entire conversation to themselves.”

A point Newt Gingrich has been making for many years now, and something we fight against here at GPH. To paraphrase Gingrich, you can’t get real solutions offered if you have two Leftists debating on stage, and Republicans standing off to the side yelling “no!” Conservatives and Republicans have to get into the less comfortable debates and have real discussions with people; start connecting with the community. As Jack Kemp used to say, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Also worth noting before closing, the swipe at the “angry, nativist inclinations of the tea party movement” is both senseless and pointless. It tells me that the Left is worried that Paul Ryan and those few like him may be on to something here. If they aren’t worried, then this was just another swipe at the tea party. You decide.

Mike Lee’s Anti-Poverty, Civil Society Speech

Senator Mike Lee

By Steve Parkhurst

United States Senator Mike Lee of Utah, yesterday delivered a very interesting speech at an anti-poverty forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation. The entire speech text can be found here, and it’s worth reading. Here are a few interesting takeaways for me.

We know that participation in civil society, volunteering, and religion are deteriorating in poor neighborhoods – compounding economic hardship with social isolation. And we know these trends cut across boundaries of race, ethnicity, and geography.

All of this might lead some to the depressing conclusion that – 50 years after Johnson’s speech – America’s war on poverty has failed. But the evidence proves nothing of the sort.  On the contrary, I believe the American people are poised to launch a new, bold, and heroic offensive in the war on poverty… if a renewed conservative movement has the courage to lead it.

Later:

Properly considered, then, the war on poverty is not so much about lifting people up. It’s about bringing people in. And so the challenge to conservatives today is to rethink the war on poverty along these lines, to bring into our economy and society the individuals, families, and communities that have for five decades been unfairly locked out.

Nineteen-sixty-four wasn’t the year Americans started fighting poverty; it was the year we started losing that fight. To start winning again, conservatives are going to have to lead the way – not simply by offering criticism, but alternatives. Our job is to identify the obstructions that impede Americans’ access to our market economy and civil society and clear them. And if we’re looking for impediments to mobility and opportunity, we’ve certainly come to the right place!

Finally:

Today, millions more of our neighbors are still out on the plains. They are not some government’s brothers and sisters – they are ours.

And the time has come to do something about it. As conservatives, as Americans, and as human beings, we have it in our power – individually, together, and where necessary through government… to bring them in:

  • to bring them into our free enterprise economy to earn a good living,
  • to bring them into our voluntary civil society to build a good life,
  • and to welcome them and their children home to an America that leaves no one behind.

DC Deadlock

By Joe Gruters

Nothing like watching malicious ineptitude at a staggering level in Washington, D.C. make us grateful for a responsible, functioning, productive state government in Tallahassee.

And by “functioning,” we mean:

  • A government that gets out of the way of citizens and protects the rights of all its residents to pursue dreams in business, with private property, in religious activity;
  • A government that protects rights rather than continually erodes them;
  • A government that allows its citizens to protect themselves;
  • A government that does not nanny every Floridian as though we are incapable toddlers, but expects a certain degree of personal responsibility;
  • A government that at least tries to keep dangerous criminals off the streets and aggressively goes after pill mills, bath salts, drug dealers, gangs and human traffickers;
  • A government that attempts to ensure only legal voters cast ballots in a democracy instead of pursing policies that will ensure voter fraud on a broad scale;
  • A government that actually is open, transparent and in the sunshine, not one that just blathers on about it but consistently acts in secret;
  • A government that is reducing its onerous drag on the productive and the law-abiding;
  • A government that spends at most only the money that it brings in and lives within its budget!

That is a functioning government.

The non-functioning part of what is going on in D.C. right now is not that there is a government shutdown or a looming debt ceiling. Those are only symptoms that have come about because of a government that is aloof, elitist and not answerable to the American people, aided and abetted by a Beltway media establishment that has lost in watchdog ways.

What should be crystal clear is that this “crisis” has resulted from a government led by Democrats that is incapable of restraining spending. In the sequestration, we are still spending far more than we bring in. Now, in the quasi, kind of, sort of, partial government shutdown and attack on veterans, Democrats refuse to negotiate on anything until they get everything.

That is dysfunctional because it is utterly irresponsible and in opposition to the best interests of the American people, and has been for many years.

Florida can’t save the union, but at least it is doing things right for the state in every measurable category. And the reason is simple: Florida is run on conservative principles led by a competent Gov. Rick Scott. D.C. is run on liberal principles led by a with less-than-competent President Obama.

Thanks for being informed and engaged.

Steve Parkhurst Interviewed On SoCal Radio

This morning, I was interviewed by Jerry Slusiewicz, host of Your Money Talks in Southern California on both KSPA and KFSD. We discussed the debt ceiling debate, the ongoing government shutdown and ObamaCare.

Welcome California GOP Convention Attendees

California Republican Party Convention 2013 Banner

If you’re attending the California Republican Party Fall Convention in Anaheim this weekend and you found one of our cards in your welcome packet…welcome. Jump right in here, the water’s fine. Take a look around our website, you’re sure to find something of interest.

If you know someone thinking about running for office, or someone ready to take that plunge, but they’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help. Let’s take back California, one community, one neighborhood, one precinct, one voter at a time.

Thank you for checking us out, and have a great fall convention.