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The Opening Salvo

The 2010 primary season was, for the most part, a good one for limited government, freedom-loving conservatives. Most of the high profile challenges against the incumbent or establishment candidates, with Mike Lee, Ken Buck, Joe Miller, and Sharron Angle ended with the grassroots candidate winning. The American people clearly demonstrated that they are tired of long time incumbents, the ruling class, ignoring the will of the people and growing government spending and the role of government in people’s lives.

But we need to put things into perspective: the 2010 primary season must be seen as simply the opening salvo in the American people’s war against statism. It is the first battle in many to come in the war over whether the American people, or the ruling class, will control the American system of government.

Sure, there are reasons to celebrate, but let’s be honest: nothing has been won yet. The primary victories are just that: primary, not general election, victories. And while it’s humorous to see the befuddlement of the establishment as yet another one of its candidates goes down in defeat, think about this: of the 472 U.S. Representatives and Senators running this fall, it is almost guaranteed, in a supposed “anti-incumbent, anti-establishment” election that 80% or more of the incumbents will win this year.

Those statistics are just at the federal level, but they hold true even at the state level: roughly 80% of state house and state senate incumbents will win this fall. The good people over at have even compiled a list of state legislators who will not even be challenged in the general election. The list is uncomfortably long, which is staggering given that this is a Congressional re-districting year due to the census.

All of this to say to the grassroots: there have been great victories, and progress in the right direction. But we must be honest: in 2010, with 80% of the incumbents winning, the ruling class will actually win the first battle in the war. What will be the true test is what the grassroots, and I would say the American people, will do in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014; quite frankly for every election, every year, for the next 10-15 years.

What it comes to is this: If the American people are truly interested in winning the battle over who will run our form of government, if they truly believe that all power inheres in the people, not the ruling class, then they must break the power of the incumbents at all levels of government. If the American people can control the nomination process of a party, or parties, they will control the party, and quite frankly, the system of government.

What those of us who believe in free enterprise and limited government are confronting; an out-of-control bureaucracy, out-of-touch leaders, and fiscal irresponsibility, did not materialize overnight, and will not be changed overnight. It will take time to shift the massive ship of the American state and get it back on course.

I would say that until we see a losing percentage of 50% or more for incumbents at all levels of government we cannot truly say that there is an anti-incumbent wave and that the American people are winning the war against the ruling class. That percentage will not happen in the next election, or even the next after that, but I believe it should the conservative movement’s goal to increase by 5-10% every year the number of incumbents beaten. The starting point is to simply challenge incumbents in primaries (between 2000-2008, a GOP U.S. House member had a 98.3-99.5% chance of winning his or her primary).

I was asked by a reporter the other day if the “civil war” in the Republican Party was over. I told him I didn’t believe that there was a civil war: what’s taking place is people expecting Republican leaders to actually adhere to the principles of the party, and if they don’t, we can find leaders that do. He asked if I thought we’d see more of what took place in the 2010 primary season play out in the future. I told him we were just getting warmed up and to expect more of the same in 2012 and beyond. There are six Republican U.S. Senators that might need to be challenged in 2012. There are dozens of House members, and untold numbers of state legislators, county commissioners, city council and school board members who should also be primaried.

The process of breaking the incumbents’ hold over the American system of government will not be an easy one, but it will be well worth it. A farm team of conservative leaders at all levels of government needs to be identified and groomed, and American Majority is in the process of doing just that. But that is only part of the solution: the American people have to stay engaged and demand greater transparency and accountability from their leaders and government. Furthermore, we must have leaders sent to Washington, DC who believe that power should be devolved from DC and back to as local a level as possible-concentrated power was never what the Founders intended, and in fact, it is precisely what the Founders feared.

If the American people can beat the ruling class, and regain control of the government of “We the People,” they can renew the Founders’ vision for America. If we will renew the great principles of free enterprise and limited government, then we as a nation can rise to even greater heights of freedom and prosperity for all in the 21st century.

Breaking the Cycle

This is an op-ed written by Bob Beauprez and my brother, Drew, that I thought was worth posting.



The Honorable Bob Beauprez and Drew Ryun

Over the last few weeks, thousands of people have voted in primaries across the United States.  The most important message to those voters is that their job – and their opportunity – doesn’t end when the polls close.  The opportunity to make change happen comes today and every day.

Take the question so many conservatives are asking themselves today: How in the world did we end up here? Did voting for George W. Bush advance the conservative cause? Is voting for Republican candidates the way to achieve conservative policy victories?

No. No matter what party takes control of the House, Senate, or White House, it is simply business as usual, expanding government and empowering politicians on both sides of the aisle who concern themselves primarily with the perpetuation of their own power and the power of government.

For years we the people have fueled a system that has spun further and further out of control. But there is hope. There is now a new way forward to break this cycle. We do not have to rely on the status quo–the same players, the same insiders, the same places, or the same plays–to fight and to win.

The American people are standing up to power, corruption and politicians’ self-interest in a way our democratic republic has not enjoyed since our founding.  They deserve to win back their power and win back their country.

More are joining this movement to engage and empower the American people in a uniquely American way. Citizen control of government was the standard of the American political system for over one hundred years. That is no longer the case, but what was lost can be regained.

Right now, the John Hancock Committee and its like-minded allies are rebuilding the key functions necessary to win in politics and change the system forever. They are all privatized functions, which means we’re not relying on the Republican or Democrat Party, consultants or party insiders, to win our fights. It is the job of party insiders and consultants to protect the party. Our job, as conservatives, is to promote truly conservative ideas and leaders who are critical to preserving freedom and protecting our nation’s future.

This means encouraging free-market, freedom-loving leaders to run as candidates within the two-party system, from school board to United States Senate. It means creating a trusted source of news outside the mainstream media. It means innovating public policy and marketing political ideas. And most importantly, it means building a system to keep elected officials accountable inside and outside of election cycles. All these pieces and more are in motion from Texas to Maine and Missouri to Hawaii.

We are working where the action is and where the people are: in the states and away from Washington, DC.

For too long we conservatives have placed our trust in a party system to win elections, to carry our standard to state capitols and the nation’s capitol, and to represent us behind closed doors. That trust has been squandered.

So, we face a choice: throw up our hands up and say, ”You can’t change the system. Things have always been done this way and they will always be done this way.”

Or, realign resources, redefine the balance of power, and reinvent politics.

To give up is to deny that we are blessed to live in the greatest nation on Earth. It is precisely that belief in American exceptionalism that inspires the revolution currently afoot from coast to coast.

So, consider declaring your independence from the party system, from consultants and party insiders who want to pad their pockets with money and from losing. Try something new.

Take part in the transformation of politics as we’ve known it and take back the country that is rightfully yours.

The Honorable Bob Beauprez represented the 7th District of Colorado for two terms and is the current Vice-chair of the John Hancock Committee for the States. Drew Ryun, son of former United States Congressman Jim Ryun, served as a deputy director in the Grassroots Division at the Republican National Committee and is the current Executive Director of the John Hancock Committee for the States.

The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care)

I posted this earlier today on RedState:

Note from Erick: Make this your must read of the day.

I recently finished an early copy of a book called The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care). It is a fascinating read about what took place in Colorado over the course of about 5 years, and how a group of very wealthy progressives changed the entire political landscape of Colorado by thinking outside the box.

Let me explain. The 2006 and 2008 election cycles were unkind to the Republican Party, but what happened in Colorado was something altogether different and totally new.  A group of four mega-donors decided to ignore the state Democratic establishment and start from scratch with a brand new, privatized political infrastructure.  Of course they were aided by the new campaign finance reform laws, but what the “Gang of Four” (Rutt Bridges, Tim Gill, Jared Polis and Pat Stryker) did was replicate all of the essential functions of the Colorado Democratic Party–and added a few more for good measure.

From policy generation to leadership recruiting, coalition building to grassroots activation, the Gang of Four personally funded dozens of 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 527 organizations that worked in perfect harmony to take down the Republican establishment and install left-leaning policymakers in its place.

To understand what happened in Colorado is to understand the future of state-level politics, but I think the future of American politics as a whole: I’m convinced that what the Left did in Colorado at the state-level can be done on a national level by creating a conservative privatized political infrastructure.  And it’s clear the Left is intent on doing that very thing on their side: the left is effectively exporting the “Colorado Model” to other states and then “stitching” together these local organizations, so really the Colorado narrative is also the story of how national politics is changing as well.

If you’ve been following the discussion of the “Colorado Model,” with Fred Barnes writing a superb article on it in 2008, then you’re probably familiar with the general ideas of what happened in Colorado. But the great thing about The Blueprint is the depth that it goes into. The book is authored by former Republican Colorado state legislator Rob Witwer, and a Denver-based political journalist, Adam Schrager, and because of their work, we now have a detailed look into the inner workings of the Left’s new political infrastructure.

My only disappointment with the book was the title. I really wish it had been titled “The Blueprint: How the Left Won Colorado (and Why Conservatives Everywhere Should Care),” because I think that is a more precise description of what happened. The Democrat Party didn’t win Colorado: the progressive left did. They simply used the Democrat Party as a vehicle by which to achieve their political ends. The reason conservatives should care is two-fold: they aren’t facing the Democrat Party of old. They are facing a very aggressive and well-organized Left that is intent on implementing statism in this country, starting from the state and local level and building to the federal. But the other reason is that conservatives can do, and should do, exactly what the Left did in Colorado: create privatized political infrastructure, and then use the party, or parties, as the vehicles to achieve their political ends.

I rarely promote books, but I really mean this when I say that every conservative should read “The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care). It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the Left has built its machine. So go get your copy, read it, and see how you can work towards implementing it in your own state on behalf of freedom.