July 24, 2006

Conservatives Invade Rhode Island for the Weekend

Carroll Andrew Morse

This past weekend, over one hundred members of Republican Assemblies from around the nation gathered at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick for the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA) Northeast Conservative Conference and National Board of Directors Meeting. The hosting organization was the Rhode Island Republican Assembly.

Here’s a general description of the event and of the Republican Assemblies – both locally and nationally -- from Raymond McKay, President of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly…

The event this weekend was to promote the Conservative movement in the northeast and also to promote the Rhode Island Republican Assembly here in Rhode Island.

The long term goals are to grow the Assembly and to help the GOP become more true to itself and to its roots and to the Ronald Reagan Republicans that made the party great in the eighties. We’ve lost sight of our core principles and the party can’t challenge Democrats if it isn’t true to its own core principles, because if everyone is seeing the same message, and the only difference is that candidates are wearing different suits, then why should the general public care?

In addition to conducting their organizational business, the Republican Assemblies presented a series of speakers and discussions…
  • As mentioned in the previous post, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma gave the luncheon keynote where he discussed stem cells, the War on Terror, healthcare, and the philosophy of governance in general.
  • Attorney Rebecca O’Dell Townsend delivered the opening keynote, a discussion of how the modern concentration of power in the judiciary is both ahistorical and undermines the protections provided by the separation of powers. Ms. Townsend presented some fascinating examples, like how the contemporary practice of using foreign law in judicial decision making is expressly cited as evidence of tyranny in the Declaration of Independence…
    [The King] has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.
  • NFRA President Richard Engle spent some time discussing faith as a legitimate and integral part of politics.
  • NFRA Executive Vice-President Rod Martin gave a stirring speech about why conservatives shouldn't abandon President Bush or the Republican party in the 2006 mid-term elections. In a nutshell, Mr. Martin’s message was a) liberals never stop fighting to expand the power of government, so conservatives can’t afford to take any election cycle off and b) the most important organ of government has become the Supreme Court, so it is important to work towards keeping the President and Senate and Republican hands. Mr. Martin also discussed how President Bush is conservative in some areas where he rarely gets credit, like pursuing missile defense and vigorously defending the idea that the 2nd amendment protects individual gun ownership.
  • Suzette Kelo told the story of the seizure of her home and how it led to the Supreme Court ruling that the government has the right to seize property for economic development.
  • Phil Kiver, author of a book titled 182 Days in Iraq, discussed his experiences as a military journalist in Iraq, including some firsthand evidence of weapons of mass destruction he observed.
  • A number of breakout-lecture sessions were held, dedicated to subjects like an analysis of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, illegal immigration reform, eminent domain reform, the benefits of the flat-tax, creating a culture of life, and strategies for conservative activism.
  • Several regional candidates made their pitches -- Greg Parke running for Senate in Vermont, Mark Shepard running Congress in Vermont, Ken Chase running for Senate in Massachusetts, Rick Barton and Chuck Morse (no relation) running for Congress in Massachusetts. Oh, and some guy named Steve Laffey talked about for running for Senate in Rhode Island.
  • Other local candidates who made speaking appearances were Jon Scott and Ed Leather, Reginald Centracchio and Kerry King, Sue Stenhouse, Dave Talan, Scott Avedisian, and Alan Fung
  • Jim Haldeman described how he felt compelled during his service in Iraq to step outside the safety of the American compound at Fallujah (in violation of a general order) and offer his personal condolences to an Iraqi General who had witnessed the death of a friend after a tragic misunderstanding, and how the ripples of basic, human acts like that, even in the worst of circumstances, do as much to build peaceful and prosperous societies as does anything else.
At the end of the conference, I asked NFRA President Richard Engle about the challenge of getting people to base their political participation around an idea group like a Republican Assembly rather than an economic group like a labor union or an ethnic identity group, or other types of interest groups with narrower and more short-term focuses…
The best answer that I’ve heard to that is from our District of Columbia Republican Assembly President Grover Norquist. Grover describes our coalition as the leave-us-alone coalition. There are a group of entities out there who are trying “get from”. What the conservative coalition is and what the Republican Assembly is is the leave-us-alone coalition. Leave our families alone, the traditional family is fine. Leave our money alone, I can spend it better than the government can.

Government is here for a certain set of very specific and limited purposes. Protect my life, protect my liberty, protect my property. And protect everybody else’s life, liberty and property. When government is not doing that, then it is acting tyrannical, according to our Declaration of Independence. Government can do those three things. It’s not government’s place to do anything else beyond that, even good things. Not every good thing should be done by government.

That resonates. Just like it resonated with the colonists when they signed off on that Declaration of Independence, it resonates now.

Over the course of the week, I’ll post some more material from the conference, including some more discussion of issues by Senator Coburn and the story of Kelo v. New London, as told by Suzette Kelo.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

"The long term goals are to grow the Assembly and to help the GOP become more true to itself and to its roots and to the Ronald Reagan Republicans that made the party great in the eighties."

Step 1. Get a REAL leader instead of that blithering moron we have in charge of the party apparatus now who just LAST week decided to demand Leffey apologize for this old people comments (which he did the day after he made them...). What an embarrassment she is.

Posted by: Greg at July 24, 2006 3:48 PM

Allan Fung gave a great speech about how he helped turned Cranston around. What a natural leader he is!

Posted by: Brandon at July 27, 2006 1:32 PM