Tone Deaf

Friday, September 9th, 2016 and is filed under Blog, Elections

No matter where you are on the Donald Trump phenomenon (Evangelist, Apostate, Unbeliever), it’s clear that he is part of a chain reaction, a cause and effect if you will, caused by the elites in Washington, DC.

The pattern has been this. Campaign cycles come, Republican politicians dust off the old playbook, make red meat promises (“I will rip out Obamacare root and branch!” or “We will end illegal immigration!”) to gin up the conservative grassroots, win, retreat from said promises under the guise of, “We just don’t have the numbers that we need to make progress here in Washington, DC-you don’t know how things work here,” attempt to govern like moderate liberals and then, as the next election cycle approaches, dust off the old playbook and lather, rinse, repeat.

And on and on this pattern has gone until the American taxpayer realized that maybe it was time to take the red pill and see how far down the rabbit hole things go.

Here’s what reality looks like. We are a nation that is now $19.3 trillion in debt. Illegal immigrants continue to pour in through our southern border at an ever increasing rate. Unemployment numbers are decidedly well above 5% and it appears in less than 10 years, the non-tax paying American populace will be over 50%.

Yet in Washington, DC, the GOPe fiddles as the nation burns.

Their solution?

To tell the grassroots that they shouldn’t believe their lying eyes.

To shift the blame from their poor performance and broken promises that gave rise to Donald Trump to “the conservative commentariat industry” that seeks to hold them accountable (read: fulfill campaign promises).

In other words, they would like to continue doing things the way they have always done them with no repercussions.

That is simply not possible.

In the chaos that is the 2016 election cycle, some takeaways have emerged.

One, the Republican Party as we know it is rotten from the inside out. Josh Holmes and others quoted in the article linked above have taken and continue to take corporate contracts to work for policy items that accomplish three things: make themselves a lot of money, help corporations crowd out the American taxpayer and continue to plow the American economy under (and the American taxpayer, but we already said that).

Yet this is the same “crop of influential Republican consultants” who want to take the party back over and “enact their principles.” What, we wonder, are their principles? Is it really to roll back Obamacare? We would offer this in response to that. While the name Billy Piper might not ring a bell for many readers, he is the former chief of staff to Mitch McConnell (Josh Holmes’ predecessor, slightly taller, less hair than Holmes). While Mitch McConnell was out promising to uproot Obamacare, guess what Piper was doing? Lobbying for it and not just for it, but the expansion of it to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too.

Why would Piper do this even as he actively remains a part of McConnell’s inner circle?

See the three reasons given above.

Another takeaway is that the Republican Party is comfortable being a “little less liberal” version of the Democrat Party. Maybe we should add “extremely” in front of “comfortable.”

They don’t believe in limited government-“It’s here to stay, might as well work with it!” They don’t want free market healthcare because a bevy of former staffers from leadership offices are making hundreds of thousands lobbying for it (see Piper, Billy). They don’t want to stop illegal immigration because corporations like the cheap labor (electoral results and demographic shifts in favor of the Democrats be damned) and corporations fund their war chests.

If there is a lesson to be learned from 2016, it is this: the GOPe gave rise to Donald Trump after years of broken promises. Their hope was to use him as a vehicle to further empower themselves. As an electoral apocalypse looms, they are now pivoting to the blame game.

We cannot and must not let them. Their chickens are coming home to roost and it’s about time.



Failing to Succeed

Thursday, July 21st, 2016 and is filed under Elections

There’s a lot being said about Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention last night. Reactions range from Jonah’s Goldberg’s I Choose Ted to David Harsanyi’s In A Party Full Of Cowards, Cruz Stood Apart to Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, calling Cruz “an asshole” on CNN this morning (forgive the language, we’re just reporting the news).

Think about that for a few seconds. The comms director of a Republican Party entity calls a sitting Republican Senator that on national TV. Remind us how is Trump making America great again?

The fact of the matter is that the party bosses of a corrupt and decrepit Republican Party have latched on to Donald Trump as a vehicle for them to strengthen the hold they have on . . . a corrupt and decrepit party. Trump, more interested in self-glory and self-promotion, couldn’t care less. After all, he’s a lifelong Democrat populist who snookered a bunch of low information voters into helping him win the GOP primary with a healthy dose of help from Fox News and other media outlets who loved the increased profits from Trump appearances and headlines.

A weakened and outdated old conservative and Evangelical guard, eager to remain relevant, has latched on to Trump, some pre-Indiana, some post-Indiana. Endless excuses have been made as to how Trump, though imperfect, is nothing more than a modern day Biblical character like King David, a man after God’s own heart.

Let’s be done with this nonsense.

Trump has publicly stated that he has never asked forgiveness. The missing component of Trump as a modern day Biblical character is repentance, much less simple confession. Trust us, by his own admission, he has a lot of work to do.

A lot.

As for the conservative elements of the old guard, they are reassuring themselves over and over again that “Trump will give us good judges, Trump will give us good judges, Trump will. . . .” let us pose this question to you. Reagan, who seems to be the standard of this election, had four Supreme Court appointments: who were they?

Take a minute and see if you can remember.

Ok, so here they are: Sandra Day O’Connor, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.

These are Reagan’s appointments. Which of these would you say are great picks? Likely most of you, since you are reading a Madison Project blog, will say Scalia and from time to time Rehnquist.

So, Reagan himself batted .350-ish on judicial nominations.

Now ask yourself: Is Donald Trump Ronald Reagan?

If you even think yes, just stop now. We have nothing more to say to you and don’t worry about coming back.

But, if the elephant in the room just trunk slapped you in the face, there is no way Trump will nominate good judges by conservative standards. Enough of the paper waving and declarations that Trump will give conservatives the judges they want because someone from the Heritage Foundation or the Federalist Society whipped up a list for him.

It’s not true.

Even more importantly, it’s the wrong paradigm. Presidential elections have been reduced by the GOP Establishment to “Judges, it’s all about the judges!” for a reason. They know which neighborhoods to drive their windowless van into to offer free candy.

The fact of the matter is, the judiciary is the Article III Constitutional power for a reason. The Founders intended for them to be subservient, not only to the Executive Branch (Article II), but even more so to the Legislative Branch (Article I-see the trend line?).

The House holds the purse strings. They can defund a run away judiciary. The current Republican leadership in Washington, DC lacks the courage to do so.

The Senate can either confirm good appointments and judges or stop each and every one the Executive sends over. It is their Constitutional right.

Which means the burden of this election cycle should really be on Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans. They and they alone hold the fate of all appointments and nominations. With a Clinton Presidency (if McConnell can hold the majority), the Senate Republicans will be under intense pressure. What is needed from them now is a pledge to conservatives, the ones who will elect them, that they will block all ideological nominations that a potential Clinton Presidency sends over.

Our hunch is that McConnell and Co. will fold like the cheap seats, but that does not remove the burden of responsibility from them. The fate of this republic, teetering as it is, rests with the NRSC and Mitch McConnell and them 1) holding on to the Senate and 2) drawing a battle line in the sand, not some ginned up “Trump will give us good judges!” rhetoric for them to hide behind.

Will they rise or will they fall? That remains to be seen.

As for the Presidential election, sometimes it takes failing to succeed. Ask yourself as a conservative: is there anything left in the current Republican Party apparatus that you would like to thrive and advance? It is a corrupt institution riddled with those driven by power and profit, not principle. It has now, thankfully, fully embraced Donald Trump. When he falls, and is likely he will, they fall with him.

This then is the opportunity we have as conservatives to once again regain control of our political destiny.

In between the failure and success we have one remaining task: to fight like hell.

The Madison Project Endorses Colm Willis (OR-5)

Monday, June 13th, 2016 and is filed under Elections

Many politicos take a look at Oregon and think, “No way. No way can a conservative win in Oregon.”

Well, we have news for you. There is a conservative who can win and he happens to be running in the perfect district to win.

His name is Colm Willis.

Back in 2010, Colm worked for one of the principles here at the Madison Project, Drew Ryun, as part of a major effort to elect more conservatives. As a field staffer, Colm excelled and after the election was over, became Political Director for Oregon Right to Life. A native Oregonian, Colm graduated from Willamette University College of Law in 2015 and represents nonprofits, individuals and entrepreneurs in the Willamette Valley.

Not only is Colm a full spectrum conservative, he showed considerable political wherewithal by winning the multi-candidate primary for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District with 58% of the vote and now heads towards the fall as the Republican nominee in a district that currently polls R+7 on the generic ballot.

With the right resources this race is very winnable. Colm has done the hard work this point by coalescing conservatives in OR-5 around his campaign. It’s now time for the national groups to engage and we are happy to lead the way today by endorsing Colm Willis for Congress.

For more on Colm, watch his campaign video. Get to know him. Then donate to him!

The Madison Project endorses Jarrin Jackson in OK-2

Monday, May 23rd, 2016 and is filed under Elections

This is why we exist as a PAC-to shake up the status quo. Years ago, we committed to systematically working through each deeply red district or state to find Members of Congress whose voting record does not match up to their districts and work to replace them with a Member who will be just as conservative as their district.

This mentality is what lead us to launch the Madison Performance Index (MPI) in 2013. When we asked the simple question, “Is this Member voting in line with his or her district?” there was no simple answer. Now there is and when we looked at the make up of Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District it became apparent that the current Member, Markwayne Mullin, was nowhere near voting in line with a district that is R+20, scoring -27.5 on the MPI. He is seemingly more interested in doing the bidding of the Establishment leadership than representing his district and advancing conservatism.

Which is why today we are thrilled to get the opportunity to endorse Jarrin Jackson in his run to unseat Congressman Mullin and work towards electing a truly conservative Member is this strong Republican district.

A 5th generation Oklahoman and graduate of West Point, Jarrin is the veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, serving as a platoon and company commander. After an honorable discharge from the Army, he has turned his attention towards serving his country in another role and that is getting our country back on track. When he announced his run for Congress late last fall, Jarrin said:

“This is a time for triage and intervention, not maintenance. Our country is getting sicker, and our enemies are using our goodness against us. We need to counter that. I am conservative, but I want to be judged by performance, not labels. I offer American values, fresh ideas, and military ­grade grit.”

We couldn’t agree more and today, we are excited to support Jarrin in his run for Congress.


Defining “Establishment”

Thursday, January 21st, 2016 and is filed under Elections

Crossposted from The Resurgent.

There has been a lot of discussion around the terms “conservative” and “Establishment.”

If you are reading this blog, you are not unaware of the ever increasing divide between the Republican Party bosses and their minions in Washington, DC and those who live in real America. At the center of this fight are ideology and control of the Party of Reagan. Even just as important are the definitions of the words “conservative” and “Establishment.”

In 2014, the team at Madison Project and I corporately wrote a blog titled, “Defining Conservatism.” Having just re-read the post, I believe it still holds up. There are tenets that define the word “conservatism” as a whole, much like the tenets of faith. You either believe in something or you don’t. For those living in our modern age, the thought of actually believing or not believing in something is an antithesis to how recent generations have been taught to think. To sum all that up, it boils down to, “Hey, if it works for you, do it.” There is nothing new under the sun. There was, after all, a time when “every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

Bottom line is that you can define “conservatism” in a very concise way. It is the belief that individuals know best, not the government, in all areas of life. Any attempt to grow the latter and its intrusion into our lives is, well, not conservative. Taxes, ever expanding bureaucracy, more government red tape-these and more fall into the “not conservative” column.

Enter the term “Establishment.” It was with some interest that I noticed Senator John Thune of South Dakota (who I know-my dad and he served in the House of Representatives together) said last week that he was “very offended by being called ‘The Establishment’.”

If you click on the hyper-link above, you will note that Senator Thune has a 48% on the Conservative Review scorecard. He also holds a 54% on the Heritage Action scorecard and a -25.5% on the Madison Performance Index. Some will trot out other scorecards like the American Conservative Union and say, “Buuh, but he has an 86% on the American Conservative Scorecard!” Keep in mind the ACU is the same group that also gives out awards to the likes of Mitch McConnell, including the Award for Conservative Achievement in 2015.

Chew on that one for a second. . . .

So what does “Establishment” mean? How do we define it?

The simple answer is: the opposite of conservatism. And if conservatism is the approach that individuals know best, not the government, and therefore seek to constrain the size, scope and intrusion of government into our lives, then being part of the Establishment means that those who are part of it believe government knows best, not individuals, and do nothing to constrain the size, scope and intrusion of it into our lives and, in fact, seek to grow it that they may benefit from its growth. The latter is collusion between Big Business and Big Government.

Can it be that simple, you ask?


But for more clarity, in 2015 alone, Senator Thune voted for the DHS bill that funded amnesty. He voted for the $500 billion Doc Fix, No Child Left Behind Reauthorization, the Continuing Resolution that funds Planned Parenthood and in 2014 for the $956 billion Farm Bill, calling it “a significant win.” Add to all this what the Conservative Review team wrote:

“Not surprisingly, as a member of the Agriculture Committee, Thune has supported consistent federal involvement in farm subsidies.  And as a member of the panel overseeing transportation, he has supported federal control of infrastructure and is a proponent of earmarks.”

There’s a lot more I could add to this. Things like, “If you are part of the Establishment, you work to maintain the status quo.” Or, “If you are part of the Establishment, you run around talking about all the stand alone bills you voted for that have no chance of becoming law.”

Or, last but not least, your sentences justifying your political existence begin with, “Look, there is no one more conservative (or pro-life) than I am, but. . . ”

While not the definitive post on what “Establishment” means, let’s at least use this as a marker going forward.

The Madison Project Endorses Steve Toth

Thursday, December 31st, 2015 and is filed under Elections

He’s a successful businessman who has spent one term in the Texas House of Representatives and while there, earned sterling scores from the conservative scorecards in Texas.

More importantly, in his election to the Texas House of Representatives, Steve challenged and knocked off liberal Republican, Rob Eissler, organizing a “from the ground up” kind of campaign to oust Eissler 56.5% to 43.5%.

Now Steve is looking to jump to the big leagues by challenging incumbent Republican Congressman Kevin Brady for the 8th Congressional District of Texas.

In an a conservative R+29 district, Congressman Brady scores a paltry 55% on the Heritage Action scorecard, failing to even meet the average score of House Republicans (and that’s saying something). On our Madison Performance Index, Congressman Brady scores a -24.5. From voting for the Ex-Im Bank to the pork laden $325B Highway Bill, Kevin Brady is a man out of step and out of touch with his Congressional District.

Clearly, it is time for Kevin Brady to go and in Steve Toth we will have an election and legislatively proven conservative. He has been there, done that and it is time to promote him to Congress.

We are excited about this race and for the chance to endorse Steve. This is one of those races that we feel is going to surprise a lot of people in 2016.

The Madison Project endorses Mary Thomas

Thursday, December 31st, 2015 and is filed under Elections

At 37 years of age, Mary Thomas is a rising star in conservative politics. A general counsel inside Governor Rick Scott’s administration in Florida since 2011, Mary has been involved in interviewing the governor’s nominees as well as serving as general counsel for the Department of Elder’s Affairs in Florida. Already having made the repeal of Obamacare a core component of her campaign, Mary impressed us with her deep knowledge of the Constitution. We have seen this a few times before with great Madison Project candidates-the one that comes to mind is Ted Cruz.
Florida’s 2nd Congressional District is currently held by a Democrat but with redistricting it is now a strong Republican district which means whoever wins the Republican primary looks to win this seat comfortably in the general election next November. Though Mary has raised a healthy six figures, she is up against a well funded moderate in the race who, as a lobbyist, fought for the expansion of Medicaid as a part of Obamacare and is on record saying he opposes the repeal of Obamacare because it would “jar the economy and leave many people without care.”
This is an opportunity for us to make history as a team, not only by helping Mary win but by helping elect the first Indian-American female to Congress, one who has promised us her first order of business in Washington, DC will be to join the House Freedom Caucus.
We are thrilled to endorse her and look forward to helping her win both the primary and the general election.

Ted Cruz versus the Wall Street Journal

Monday, December 21st, 2015 and is filed under Uncategorized

In today’s Politico, one of the headline stories was that Ted Cruz is locking horns with the “conservative” Wall Street Journal over its coverage of him.

In the article, Ari Fletcher, former press secretary for George W. Bush (noted limited/free market conservative. . . .), rushes to the WSJ’s defense.

“In an era where print newspapers have long been on the decline, the one exception is the editorial page and the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, for Republican primary voters especially. They’re the gold standard,” said Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary to President George W. Bush. Calling the paper a front for Rubio, Fleischer added, is “a wrong read of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. … They’re a consistent voice for conservativism, especially on economics and supply side Reaganomics.” 

Let’s break that one down for a minute. Fleischer claims the WSJ is “a consistent voice for conservatism.”

Fair enough.

One question that begs an answer: define conservatism. Our hunch that if tossed this question, Ari Fleischer would be hard pressed to find his way out of the brown paper bag known as Big Government Republicanism.

In other words, he has no idea what he is talking about.

Why do we say that? Politico actually answers that question for us.

“Editorial page editor Paul Gigot, who notes the Journal hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover, said the paper’s differences with Cruz are rooted in nothing more than substantive policy differences. The paper has called for comprehensive immigration reform, backed President Barack Obama’s trade agenda in Asia and supported the NSA’s controversial metadata program to screen domestic phone calls for potential terrorism connections — and it has criticized Cruz for being on the opposite side of those issues. All three happen to be issues where Rubio — along with many establishment Republicans — is aligned with the paper.”

Quick show of hands.

Can you, dear reader, name one conservative who is for more government intrusion into our lives (NSA)? Or for comprehensive immigration reform (read amnesty)? Or, or, even better, for ObamaTrade?

No, of course you can’t.

Bottom line, the Wall Street Journal has become a hotbed of Establishment shills lead by the Paul Gigot, a man more interest in shining Mitch McConnell’s boots and the GOP Establishment than being a clear and consistent voice of free market conservatism.

Quoted in the article, Gigot says, “As for who is the voice of conservatism, I’m not sure Ted Cruz gets to define what’s conservative, but our views haven’t changed very much in 125 years.”

Newsflash, Paul Gigot.

Ted Cruz isn’t defining anything. He’s living it.

As for the “we haven’t changed at all” statement, in fact, they have changed dramatically. The Wall Street Journal that you read today is not your father’s Wall Street Journal. Whether pimping McConnell’s big government policies or attacking free market conservatives, the WSJ has lost whatever remaining shine (or credibility) it had.

Bottom line, this is a great fight for Ted Cruz to pick.

In fact, what took him so long?


American History in 5 Minutes, Episode #2

Friday, October 23rd, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Uncategorized

In this episode of American History in 5 Minutes, Drew Ryun of the Madison Project discusses how the Declaration of Independence came into being, laying the intellectual foundation necessary for the American colonies to move into outright rebellion against King George III and the British Empire.


Is Paul Ryan A Conservative?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 and is filed under Blog

As we noted last year in our post Defining Conservatism, it is critical that words retain meaning. By definition (literally), that is what they are intended to do. One would never use “cold” to describe “hot” or “dry” to describe “wet.” There are implications to the improper use of words.

We often hear the word “conservative” bandied about, untied to any concrete example(s) of why it should be used other than the ones using it hope to gain some street cred with their hearers, the grassroots activists who are, by experiential action, conservative in nature.

Which brings us to Paul Ryan. First elected to Congress in 1998, Paul came was the fresh, under 30 face of the new conservative movement. He was the smart kid with the pencil tucked behind his ear and slide ruler in his pocket. He was going to save America.

However, in spite of his tax plans painfully crafted to balance the budget over certain time periods (all of which were so far in the future as to beggar the question of relevance), it became abundantly clear that Paul Ryan’s voting record and his rhetoric did not sync. In fact, not only did they not sync, they were so at odds with each other we began to wonder as to the split political personality of Paul Ryan-big government Paul or small government Paul-and who would win the Gollum-style argument in the mirror.

It’s clear now that Paul was, all along, what we have suspected for some time. A big government liberal who has mastered the talking points that conservatives want to hear, which is why we see the easily entertained (namely Hugh Hewitt) rush to defend Paul Ryan’s “conservatism” against the attacks of those who point to his voting record and say, “Prove it.”

In a normal world (not Washington, DC), our actions define us. That is reality. It is how the real world works. In light of that, take a quick minute to review the “highlights” of Paul Ryan’s voting record.

During his tenure in Congress, Paul has voted for (each hyperlinked with what these bills actually have done or will do to America):

No Child Left Behind

Medicare Part D (projected net expenditures from 2009 through 2018 are estimated to be $727.3 billion-can we just say, “gazillions”?)

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)

Numerous Debt Ceiling Raises

Amtrak Reauthorization (with a price tag of $7.2 billion)

Couple this voting record with his stances on amnesty, his voting for a Continuing Resolution that funds Planned Parenthood AFTER the videos exposed Planned Parenthood for selling aborted baby parts for profit and one is hard pressed to define Paul Ryan as a conservative.

A Republican, yes. A conservative, no.

So let’s be done once and for all with this nonsense that Paul Ryan is a conservative. He is, at best, a middle of the road Republican content with being in power and never using it to achieve anything of merit.