"These are the times that try men's souls".
Thus penned Thomas Paine in December of 1776.
How applicable these words are today as we survey what the presidency of Barak Obama hath wrought over the past 14 months. The One, and his Marxist Minions, have embarked on the takeover of private corporations and entire sectors of our economy, mounted an unprecedented assault on the Constitution, engaged in a spending orgy that would leave Paris Hilton gasping for breath, and appointed more czars than Josef Stalin could depose in 3 lifetimes.
As conservatives survey the wreckage left by the Pelosi-Reid-Obama machine, we might be quite tempted to follow the lead of Howard Beale in the classic movie "Network" who, after a rant and tirade as to the current state of society, encouraged his listeners to rise from their lethargy, go to their windows, fling them wide and yell "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
Personally, I prefer the words of the outlaw Josie Wales:
Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is.
Folks, since there ain't no such thing as a 5-run homer and there ain't any one single action that's going to fix the mess we find ourselves, today I raise the curtain on what I will dub Act One, Scene One of the Josie Wales call to action: sending to Congress real-live Americans who will actually remember that they are bound by the Constitution of the United States of America, and that they represent us , not the elite power brokers who reside within the Beltway.
As a county delegate to our Congressional District's nominating convention , I am one of only 250 people in the entire 1st District who get to choose our nominee to oppose Tim Walz (S-MN1). Up until Mr. Walz won this seat in '06, MN-1 had been in GOP hands for decades as it is an R+3 district. However, Walz votes like he's in a D+20 district: Cap & Trade - yes; HCR - yes; TARP - yes; Porkulus - yes; staffer who told eburke that the profit motive in health care is immoral and who hung up on eburke when informed that that made him a Marxist - yes.
So how'd he do it? Simply put - he's a veteran in a district that has lots of vets, and he has an A rating from the NRA in a district in which hunting begins right after potty-training, so his media-abetted persona is much more moderate than his actual record.
Enter Jim Engstrand - Lt. Col. (ret) Minnesota National Guard. Like all of the 4 candidates I have spoken to, Jim is dead-on when it comes to the issues (paraphrased responses below):
Health care: tyrannical, unConstitutional, an affront to liberty, repealing it is non-negotiable;
Cap & Trade - devastating, stifling, massive government interference in people's lives, a massive tax increase;
Illegal Immigration: pro-legal immigration; "We're spending trillions and trillions of dollars we don't have on unConstitutional expenditures, and we can't find the money to actually engage in the Constitutionally-authorized protection of our borders?"
Spending - unsustainable; a freeze isn't enough; this unsustainable spending level must be reduced; we're destroying our children's futures;
Social Issues - Passionately pro-life and pro-traditional marriage (his campaign manager, who I've also met, is a member of Concerned Women of America and a director at the Christian Coalition of America)
Defense Issues - retired Lt. Col in the MNG, and his campaign manager is a vet who married an officer. 'Nuff said.
Now, I understand that no Republican who wants to be selected as the Party nominee this cycle is going to spew anything other than Reagenesque sounding platitudes. So the question becomes how does one separate the aspirers to the mantle from the real thing.
First, Jim Engstrand speaks these beliefs with a passion and conviction that either makes him the best actor since Dustin Hoffman, or they form the very fiber of his being.
Second, I formulated a series of open-ended questions which have given me great insights into where a particular candidate is really coming from. They are:
1) Name the 3 Congressmen you most admire and most desire to emulate?
2) How will you handle your interactions with the MSM?
3) In 2004, the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate & the White House. Today, the Democrats control all three. Why?
4) In 2003, the House Leadership, left open the vote on Medicare Part D for 3 hours while they 'rounded up' the final 2 votes they needed for passage. How would you handle that kind of pressure and arm-twisting from the president and the leadership of your own party?
And here is where Jim Engstrand secured my vote and passionate support (paraphrased for the sake of brevity):
1) Without the slightest hesitation: Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, and Michelle Bachmann.
2) We need to push right back at them and challenge the premise of their questions. When we do an interview, we put our tape recorder right next to theirs; when we film an interview, our camera sits right next to theirs.
3) Because we forgot who we were and decided to go along to get along. Republicans win when we're conservatives; we lose when we're liberals. Do the math.
4) (and here's the grand slam, boys & girls) I don't work for any president or any party leader, I work for you. I don't care about leadership positions, I don't care about swanky parties, I don't even really care if I get reelected. In fact, the problem in Washington is that we've gotten away from what the Founders intended which was citizen legislators who served for 3 or 4 terms and then returned to their homes. That's why I will only serve 3 or 4 terms. I represent you and the Constitution of the United States of America, not the leadership of my party or anyone else's.
Game. Set. Match.
Is he electable? Well, Mrs. Burke, who because I'm a policy geek who would vote for a 500 lb. ugly bald guy who stutters if his policies were good, sat in on the interview to give me exactly that perspective. Her take? Words like sincere, articulate, passionate, great communicator, leader, commanding presence, can connect with the common person because he is a common person. In fact, she made it pretty clear that if I didn't support Mr. Engstrand I was a) nuts; and, b) might want to explore alternate living arrangements...like in the garage.
But there's more! As I explored with him his strategy for winning the district, it became evident that he and his campaign manager have crafted an outstanding post-convention strategy for ousting Mr. Walz. Again, in the interest of brevity I won't lay them all out but they were impeccably thought out:
They have great connections into the social conservative network;
They have already met w/Michael Steele and procured his support post-convention (his campaign manager, who, we agreed, is the ultimate minority as she is a conservative, black female, personally knows Steele and worked on his campaign for Lt. Gov. in Maryland)
He has received acceptance into the Young Guns program of the NRCC if he wins the convention nod. (an aside here, one of the things that became crystal clear as we talked was that the blowback that the national committees received over the NY-23 ScuzzyFuzzy debacle must have been intense and must have had an impact as they basically told the Engstrand team that they aren't getting involved in any primaries, period).
As a veteran, he has great connections into the veteran's groups in the district, and will have the support of various veteran's groups, most notably Vets for Freedom
In sum, his game plan is as impressive as is his positions and his philosophy of governing.
So here's where you guys come in. Because Lt. Col. Engstrand was serving our country in Iraq until 9 weeks ago, he got into the fray later than the rest of the field. He needs the help of conservatives, (read RedStaters like us) to make up for lost time. However, because this is a caucus and he only needs to reach 150 people to win the nomination, he doesn't need millions of dollars... he doesn't need hundreds of thousands of dollars... he doesn't even need at this point in time tens of thousands of dollars. He just needs enough money and support over the coming weeks to continue the momentum with caucus goers that he's built since getting into the race.
If you're like me, sometimes you look at the millions of dollars that races in places like California, Florida and Pennsylvania cost and wonder if those $25 or $50 or $100 or $250 donations that most of us can afford to make can even begin to make a dent or a difference...and then send them anyway. But if you've been looking to invest in a RedState Republican (and, yes, he's familiar with the site) where your seemingly small contribution can have an impact far beyond it's actual size, I encourage you to let the moths out of your wallet, wipe the dust off of your credit card and help Jim Engstrand be the kind of voice that constitutional conservatives yearn for.
To sum it all up, Jim Engstrand is one of us. Jim Engstrand has sacrificed to serve our country before and he's willing to sacrifice to serve it again to do battle against the forces in Washington that are assaulting all that we believe in. But Jim could sure use our help.