Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two Cheers for 9-12 Project

by Gene Wisdom

Gene Wisdom
It was with mixed feelings that I read through Lee Douglas’s email posted here which also appeared in my Inbox.And it was with somewhat less mixed feelings that I read Rod’s response to it. 

First of all, Lee’s motivations and those of the 9-12 group are nothing to instill fear in the minds of liberty-lovers.  Their concern is to protect our freedom from expansive government as well as some threats to our nation’s survival.  I disagree with some of their legislative priorities, such as the so-called Sheriff’s Bill in Tennessee, which as I understand would require federal law enforcement to notify a local sheriff before they perform a raid or execute a warrant.  

 As a Constitutionalist conservative I believe that it is in violation of the supremacy clause of the Constitution as well as the principle of federalism.  In my brief email discussion last year with its chief sponsor, state Senator Stacy Campfield, when I raised these issues he said that it is supported by Printz v. United States, a Supreme Court decision.  I read that decision and see no basis there for this bill.  That decision is regarding unfunded mandates, in that case commanding state and local law enforcement officers to conduct background checks on prospective handgun purchasers.  When I mentioned this out along with several other passages from the Court’s decision in that case Sen. Campfield chose not to respond further.

I also disagree with 9-12’s focus on Agenda 21, an opposition which is rooted in the fever swamps of the John Birch Society.  My knowledge of that issue is admittedly sparse so I’ll defer to Rod, who has taken a close look at it.  I’ll certainly agree that Lee’s group is more familiar with it than I but the roots in JBS conspiracy “thought” is unmistakeable.

Those differences aside, 9-12 is grounded in a view of limited government inspired by the Founding Fathers.  While I disagree with them on some of the legislative direction they take from that foundation it is clearly rooted in principles we should all recognize as conservative—smaller government, distrust of internationalist institutions, lower taxes and government spending.

I guess my point of departure, besides the specific legislative issues above, is the vitriol with which they label those who disagree or “fall short” of their own devotion.  The Republican Party as “those loyal to King George”?  The “treasonous votes and behavior” of “rogue officials”?  Rogue?  That’s no big deal—lots of folks in politics wear it as a badge of honor such as the sweetheart of some of those in the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, who said she was Going Rogue.  But “treasonous”?  That is a highly defamatory term if there is not some serious evidence behind it.  At least the Founders gave us a long list of “injuries and usurpations” by the King. 

On one point of disagreement with my friend Rod, I do believe that 9-12 is correct in its concerns about Muslim influences within state government—and national.  Although I have not educated myself about the specifics of the individual noted in 9-12’s full page ad in The Tennesseean (seen at this link: http://www.912projecttennessee.com/Sharia_Law_in_TN/), I am well aware of the threat posed by Muslims within our country and their devotion to imposing Sharia law.  That awareness is largely due to 9-12 (and ACT for America)-sponsored local events featuring well-informed speakers, including a former Muslim cleric.  It is a danger about which I wish Rod would seek to become better informed through a variety of excellent conservative—and non-fevered—sources.  Rod’s ignorance about it, however, is not due to a lesser love for this country (he served our country in the Army in Vietnam--toward which this peacetime Navy man renders a smart salute and deep thanks) or an unconcern over its security.

9-12 is also to be applauded for its conservative orientation on social issues though I confess ignorance as to the extent of its direct involvement on them.  Rod and I disagree, I believe, on whether social conservatives should be welcome within the Republican Party.  Or maybe Rod believes they should just keep quiet.  I will detail more on my position in a separate essay here and perhaps Rod will engage me in debate on this, here on his blog. 

Regarding Kevin Kookogey’s role in the intra-GOP controversy I have no specific knowledge other than having met Mr. Kookogey at a local Heritage Foundation event.  I found him to be a soft-spoken very well informed conservative.  One to whom a Republican Party looking for strong roots in its conservative base should listen.

My hope is that 9-12’ers don’t, as Lee’s email suggests, define “moderate” necessarily as “unprincipled”.  The equation is sometimes well-placed, as in the case of our two U.S. Senators.  Sen. Corker’s national reputation as a bargainer and a dealer far surpasses any regard for him as a leader of principle.  A choice, seeking conservative principles, between him and a Jim Demint (Republican Senator from South Carolina and founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund) would find Mr. Corker back in business as a home builder in Chattanooga. There are others who I consider “moderately conservative” such as Rod, however, who, while he may not peg out as a 100 on a conservative index, is grounded in good common sense with conservative instincts and principles.  Such moderation in my view calls for education and persuasion, not reproach (that means I’m gonna keep working on you, Rod).      

It is my hope that 9-12 will welcome debate within its ranks.  I understand it is not a discussion forum such as (shameless plug here) a group I belong to, Conservative Fusion (www.meetup/ConservativeFusion) but is rather an activist group focused on an agenda as such groups are.  I hope that there is room, however, for principled, thoughtful debate that doesn’t define someone as “outside” for holding a position contrary to its program.  Both sides should listen. 

Lee, meet Rod.  Rod, meet Lee.    

Gene Wisdom is an Alabama native but has lived in the Nashville area since 2007. He, his wife Vicki, and their dog Savannah live near Nolensville.  Gene is a conservative activist and leads the Conservative Fusion Book Club. 

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