I want to thank all of you as lovers of liberty for attending this New Year’s Eve fundraising event. Whether you have joined us in person or have tuned in across America, I want you to know that you are the reason we will see a world set free in our lifetime.
I chose today to be the first real message for my campaign because New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time to turn a new leaf, to declare resolutions for the coming year. Today, I offer for all of us to join in one resolution to fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people in 2018. Never have more people in the country wanted to see a change to the status quo. Seventy-one percent of the fastest millennials overwhelmingly want to see a third party in office. They have become tired of ballooning debt, sick of severe incompetence in government, and weary of war.
As Libertarians, we offer hope for brighter futures. We offer pathways to peace. We offer true forms of prosperity.
Tonight, we countdown to a New Year. As each moment passes by, we grow closer to a chance to bring a brighter vision to America. As the clock strikes midnight, we move officially into the year for the midterm elections. We are no longer talking about possible elections, but the reality of making a difference.
In 2017, the Libertarian Party Chairman and the National Committee resolved to have at least 2,000 candidates across the United States step up to run for offices from city council all the way to the United States Senate. I am proud to count myself among them. I have seen the quality individuals who have started emerging to answer the call, and I have never seen more compassion, more leadership, or more talent than I do now. We truly have something to offer. A voice to so many who have been forgotten or ignored by those who hunger for power, and fight to maintain the status quo to keep our voices silent. The men and women who have come forward for this midterm will raise their voices to air the many grievances we share. We will rise together.
Now, more than ever, we need to open the doors we walked through for others to see the paths that lead to freedom. Let’s resolve together, this night, that we will give what we can at every opportunity to show what it means to be a Libertarian.
As a candidate for the United States Senate, I want to take a moment and let the world know what I resolve to do once elected.
The first thing I will fight for will be fiscal sanity in government. For far too long, our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. have spent far beyond what any reasonable person would spend. It almost seems easier for men and women in the capital to spend someone else’s money. The truth is, the money is not theirs. Those representatives did not earn the funds that are being used. They were taken from hard working Americans. It was taken from families deciding how to tighten their own budgets in a more expensive world. Even worse, because these representatives spend beyond the revenue already taken, they also indebt our children and grandchildren to this excess. The are taking money from children who haven’t even had a chance to earn a paycheck yet.
Now, the Republican majority in the House and Senate is going to tout how they cut some of those taxes, and it is true. They did pass some cuts and consolidation of brackets. However, it is only one side of the equation. Without addressing spending, that debt is going to keep ticking upward.
Like many of you, I have a family. We all know that if we continued to spend by taking out pay day loans and use credit cards beyond our income, we would have no options but to eventually declare bankruptcy and start the long process of rebuilding our lives. To avoid that situation, we cut our spending when needed.
When my family hit a rough patch, and struggled a few years ago, the first things to go were cable TV and downgrading phone data. My wife and I sat down together and started cutting coupons and found deals on food. We didn’t go and get a credit card, so we could maintain our old lifestyle before the layoff. Had we done so, we would have been looked at as irresponsible. Many of you have done the same when faced with tough times. So why do we allow our representatives to do the same thing, only with our money and to put us in debt? How many of you, when a bill is due in 24 hours, can call your bank to get a debt ceiling increase? Even if you can get an increase on your limit, or two, eventually the bank is going to say no. It is time for us to say no. It is our money, not theirs.
I will also say that the cuts did not nearly go far enough. In spite of decades of Republicans like Senator Hatch calling for tax reform, what is done has little effect for the poor and middle class in America. Earlier this week, I talked to a young man named Kevin, a customer service representative at a call center here in Utah. He worked hard and earned a small bonus this month. Because of the way tax law is written, this bonus had approximately one-third taken from it; roughly double his normal tax bracket.
We are not talking about something like a Fortune 500 CEO getting a million-dollar bonus. We are talking about a person who makes maybe $13.00 an hour working a little harder than his co-workers to get a couple hundred bucks. This same rule also applies to overtime pay. So, if you work harder, put more of yourself into what you do, you get taxed at a higher rate, even though you didn’t make a lot more than normal.
Now, the justification for this from Washington says that the individual will get the money back in a refund if they didn’t exceed their current tax bracket when they file their return months down the road, wait another four to six weeks to see, and maybe get some back. However, people in the situation where they need overtime often are working to pay for things like medical bills, braces, or getting a Christmas present. These individuals worked extra to get that money, and they can’t use it for what they need because even more is taken from them. It isn’t right and must change.
Moving back into spending, I will declare my second resolution: to fight to end the wars being fought around the world. The budget passed this year for military operating overseas in conflicts was $67 billion. This is to continue a war that has waged for sixteen years. By the time I am sworn in, children born on September 11th, 2001 will be able to join the military with their parent’s permission. Men and women who, while serving in the military and deploying to Afghanistan, that had children in 2001, may be presented with signing papers for their own children to do the same.
Now, we already know the cost in a monetary sense is high in war, however, there are prices far beyond money.
Eleven years ago, I was in Iraq for my second tour. In total, we lost thirteen Marines from my unit on that deployment. In total, I have attended memorial services for twenty-three Marines I served with. These account for wives who no longer had husbands, children who no longer had fathers, and mothers who would never again hold the sons they brought into this world. The human toll in this war has cost us thousands of lives lost and close to one million wounded.
It is time we end the wars, conflicts, and interventions around the globe. It is time to bring our families home.
Once we have done so, we need to ensure a foreign policy of non-intervention is in place to make sure this never happens again. No one I have talked to is against defense, but we do not have a Department of Defense any more. We have a Department of Intervention. If we want to see a world of peace, we must keep the peace ourselves, and not grow conflicts through blowback. We should not nation build, we should not be involved in regime change.
As your Senator, I will work diligently to keep our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, and our mothers and fathers home. The only legitimate use of force is that used in defense. Working together, we can see this happen.
While fiscal responsibility and non-intervention are obviously important, we cannot forget about our civil liberties. Far too often, legislation is passed hurriedly without even reading or understanding the bill being passed into law. We can all recall when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi stated we needed to pass the bill for the Affordable Care Act so we could find what was in it. Sadly, this is the norm in the halls of Congress. When this happens, the consequences typically affect our daily lives and infringe on our liberty.
My job as your Senator would be very deliberate with any bill I would be asked to vote on. If I do not have the ability to read the bill, I would not be able, in good conscience, to vote on it. Each bill not only needs to be able to be read and understood in full, but there also must be debate on the bills. Without debate and working through issues in the public forum, how can we as the American people feel confident we have been represented fully?
Take for example the Patriot Act. The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on October 23, 2001. It passed the next day. On October 25, it passed the Senate. In two days, a sweeping measure that had broad implications was passed by the vast majority of both houses of Congress. While we certainly should be concerned about security, this bill was an affront to civil liberties, especially toward privacy and due process.
Under the guise of things like safety, national security, and protection, we see bills like the National Defense Authorization Act and the Patriot Act pass. Even the names used on many bills are misleading as to the real impact of what is to become law. Who would dare challenge a bill named USA Patriot Act? By standing against the bill, it automatically has the assumption applied that you don’t care about the country. If you oppose National Defense Authorization, even if it mentions indefinite detention, you must not care about national defense. While neither of these assumptions prove true, as the Congressman or Senator would be upholding their oaths to the Constitution, the way the political elite spin words to grow control, you are cast in a negative light.
I will work as hard as I can to not only roll back provisions contrary to our protected liberties, but I will make sure that I remain diligent in my duties to ensure nothing like them are passed again. It is sometimes said that we were attacked on September 11th because of the freedoms we had. As we look at the TSA pat downs and x-rays at airports, see the NSA data center collecting and storing our information down in Draper, and the accelerated militarization of police forces, it is hard to say that they didn’t win because of our government’s response. Liberty has been shrinking and control has only grown.
The last thing I would like to address this evening ties into the overall theme of government accountability, responsibility, and downsizing. I wish to introduce to everyone this evening my Government for the People Plan.
This measure, whether passed in full, or if in increments as opportunities come, is aimed at a smarter, smaller government. My main goal at the end of the day is to leave the Senate with less power than when I first swear in.
The first part of this plan is to decrease the amount of compensation Senators, Congressmen, and other government officials receive for their service. There is no reason for a member of the government to make what they do. In the spirit of wanting to have this passed during my time as a Senator, I pledge that I will only keep the amount I need to house and feed my family. This job is supposed to be to serve the people, not to be enriched by them.
The second part of this plan is to eliminate any matching contributions to a Senator or Representatives retirement. There is no reason why the American people should have to match what they put in from their salaries. While I do not object to smart investing with goals to retire someday, it is not the job of the people to provide that avenue. In the spirit of wanting to have this passed as a Senator, I pledge that I will not participate in the Federal Retirement System.
The third part of the plan is to introduce a law that would require any bill to be voted on be able to be read within 24 hours. If it is so large that it cannot be accomplished, then the bill is too large to be enacted. Some would argue that this will take too much time and not enough would get done in the House and Senate. I agree, and that is the point. This body must be deliberate, and we must ensure that the trust we are given by the voters is not abused.
The next part of this plan is a requirement for any bill to have a minimum of 24 hours in the public before it can be debated. Once it is read on the floor and added to the calendar, the voters must have a chance to review what is about to happen if the law is passed. During this time, the public would be able to address their representatives and give their input before debate begins. We are, after all, elected to be a voice to our constituents.
The final portion of this plan is to introduce a requirement that cures what I like to call D.C. Island Syndrome. Essentially, members of the House and Senate become distanced from the people of their states and districts. They are surrounded by lobbyists, law makers, and bureaucrats for weeks on end. This portion of the plan creates a schedule that both the House and Senate adhere to, absent emergency situations, where they would be in session and in committee for the first two weeks of the month. The last two weeks, they would be working in their districts. If a vote needs to be scheduled during that time at home, technology exists now where debates, votes, and other business can be conducted without being in Washington, D.C. full time.
Everything we are setting out to do is doable. We can have peace. We can have liberty. We can have a world set free in our lifetime. It starts by lighting a spark inside yourself. That you will be the change. Once you have that spark inside, feed it. Once we feed that spark, we become a beacon for others. As they are drawn to the light we shine, we ignite that spark in them.
I ask everyone listening to become a torch of liberty. While the priorities I have laid out today are good, they are not everything. We must work together to fill every gap where force, fraud, coercion and violence is used against others from government.
Some of us will rise to become candidates. Some of us will rise to become party leadership. Some of us will rise to become volunteers. Some of us will rise to become donors. Each of us will contribute. All of us will rise together.
I look forward to this new year.
It will be challenging. It will be bright. It will be worth it.
Thank you all so much for your presence today. I wish you all success in the new year.