Now that the filing period for state elected positions has come to a close, the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire (RLCNH) will begin its evaluation of Republicans running for office to determine if they truly understand what it means to support liberty.
Generally, conservative Republicans—those who have a deep commitment to liberty— will support legislation that advances the principles of limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility and free enterprise, and oppose legislation that violates these standards.
Unfortunately, many Republicans genuinely believe themselves to be “conservative,” but vote against these core principles of liberty when it comes down to the day-to-day job of serving as an elected official. That is precisely why the RLCNH takes so seriously its role of recruiting and supporting Republicans who have a deep understanding of these principles and the fortitude to uphold and defend them.
A liberty-minded Republican is grounded in doing what is right, not what is politically expedient or what has been requested by a lobbyist or an official from another branch of government. The ideal official works for the people by following through on his or her campaign promises and uses his or her judgment to make independent decisions. He or she does not bend to the whim of the media, special interest groups and their e-mail or phone campaigns, or other elected officials.
Most importantly, however, a conservative Republican will always live by the core principle: “first, do no harm.”
For instance, we expect officials to honor New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” attitude and oppose bills that require motorists to wear seat belts or motorcyclists to wear helmets. Adults who are personally responsible will wear seat belts or helmets, and those who choose to take the risk to go without should be expected to take full responsibility for the consequences if something goes wrong. Likewise, a liberty-minded Republican would vote to repeal the state’s smoking ban in restaurants, assuming the same principles.
We also expect officials to honor the natural rights of a free people. Thus, we would, for example, expect our officials to oppose strict licensing laws, which infringe on the right of a person to pursue an occupation of his or her choice. These laws are perpetuated under the assumption that government can protect citizens from danger, but as it turns out, licenses can provide a false sense of security to consumers because anyone can pass a licensing exam, but not everyone can provide a quality good or service all the time. The only true security is a business’s reputation and the idea that a business owner will be held responsible if something goes wrong.
Inherent in the idea of liberty is limited government, something our Founders understood well. Thomas Paine called government a “necessary evil.” Even George Washington said “government is force,” comparing it to a fire that must be controlled to ensure it does not destroy everything.
Therefore, our liberty-minded officials should loosen business regulations and their associated fees to expand economic growth and keep taxes low by limiting government spending to only those programs essential to establishing basic social order, keeping the peace and mediating disputes among citizens. Liberty-minded Republicans should never allow government to get involved in disputes by subsidizing a particular industry or group of citizens, setting price controls or minimum wages, or mandating the purchase of any type of product or service. These interventions disrupt free market forces, creating an unnatural environment that favors cronyism and political connections instead of hard work and supply and demand.
Another part of limiting government is ensuring the balance of powers among the three branches of government, and right now, the system is unbalanced. That means, for example, that our representatives and senators won’t let state police testimony influence their vote on a bill that allows citizens to carry concealed firearms without a license. It also means our legislators will ignore court decisions that unconstitutionally set policy, such as the Claremont decision that said the Legislature must fund an adequate education.
Finally, a conservative Republican knows that only the Legislature—the representatives of the People, and those most accountable to the People—sets state policies. Specifically, he or she knows that only the Legislature can determine how much educational aid, if any, the state will give to local communities to run their schools. Even more importantly, that Republican will vote to ensure state law respects the natural rights of parents to raise and educate their own children as they see fit. Additionally, the best Republicans will recognize the value of local control of local schools and support laws that encourage competition with those schools that are publicly funded.
[Carolyn McKinney is the chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire. -Skip]