This is the first of what I’m looking to be a series of interviews with candidates for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat, now held by Ben Cardin. Think of it as an extension of my old “Ten Questions” series.
Robert Broadus is a former naval officer and current small business owner who may be most familiar to Maryland voters as the head of Protect Marriage Maryland, a group opposing the imposition of same-sex marriage in the state. He also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the Fourth District in 2008 and 2010, finishing third out of four candidates in the 2008 Republican primary with 21.8% of the vote and losing the 2010 general election to incumbent Donna Edwards with 16.4% of the vote.
To begin, I was a bit confused by his website.
monoblogue: Let me start out by getting one thing straight: I was told (by a friend of mine) that you’re running for the Senate, but your website advertises “Broadus for Congress.” Having run for Congress twice before (once losing in the primary and once in the general) how does that show you’re committed to the race?
RB: Congress includes both the House and the Senate. Keeping the committee of the same name offers me a chance to save money. You can hear in my several public statements that I am running for Ben Cardin’s Senate seat.
monoblogue: I sort of suspected that, but it may be confusing to some who simply know you by website and recall you ran for Congress before in 2006 and 2008. So why the leap to a statewide seat?
RB: I have always believed that the Constitution puts the decision-making power of the United States into the hands of the Congress, which is the body designated to represent the will of the people and their states. I considered running for the House of Representatives in ‘08 and ‘10 (I did not run in ‘06) because a) the House is by design supposed to be closer to the people, and b) it is only the House that has the power to introduce bills for the appropriation of funds. I saw many of our financial problems, the reckless spending, and the multi-trillion-dollar debt coming from the mal-appropriation of funds, and I saw election as a fiscal conservative to the House as a means to remedy this problem. I additionally saw that both Al Wynn and Steny Hoyer were Democrats who had voted out of step with their party for the invasion of Iraq, and I believed at the time that this would make them weak with their constituents. I correctly gauged that Al Wynn was the weaker candidate; unfortunately instead of replacing him with a fiscally responsible Republican, his voters chose to replace him with the ultra-progressive Donna Edwards.
My ultimate decision to run for Senate was prompted by the fact that Ben Cardin was the first Senator to introduce Obamacare to the public, holding the very first townhall meeting in the majority-black setting of Prince George’s Community College. Part of my encounter with Senator Cardin can be viewed here.
I was also interviewed by Neil Cavuto afterwards.
So, although the event was almost 2 years ago now, I believe that if voters really care, and if they are truly angry enough about the destruction of their liberties, they will support my efforts to take the issue of Obamacare directly to Cardin in serious debate, and to make him pay for what he and his party did to us by giving him a pink slip in November 2012. I believe that the issues of loss of freedom, if framed correctly, will resonate with Black Americans, and the issues of unconstitutionality should appeal to Republicans in such large numbers that they will vote together to get better representation in the Senate.
I also recognized other statewide issues that needed to be addressed, and which were not being heard with me running in a single congressional district. Issues like same-sex marriage and illegal immigration were clearly issues that crossed party lines, and got people from all demographics to come out and challenge their legislators about what was being done almost in secret, against the will of the voters. So, I realized that I also needed to make these issues part of my Senate campaign. I very much believe that if we can unite the social conservatives throughout the state, the fiscal conservatives who recognize the tragedy being inflicted on us by the Democratic Party’s monopoly over Maryland, and inspire them to fight for their freedoms and demand that government respect us as people—as full-grown men and women—as the true rulers of this country, then not only can we win this election, but we can also achieve the goal that our founders and even Abraham Lincoln spoke glowingly of: the goal of self-government, which is in reality the goal of independence: EMANCIPATION.
The people of Maryland need to hear the message of freedom again, and that is why I am running for Senate.
monoblogue: I’ve noticed on your issue page that you cite the Constitution frequently – that’s a good trait to have in a Senator.
I’d love a comment on your call to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment – given Maryland’s longtime love for all things Democratic, isn’t that going to cost you a job in the Senate? Or were you planning on term-limiting yourself anyway?
And a more important question: how do you get out the message of freedom in an era when 30 second sound bites are the norm and Ben Cardin is sitting on a cool million dollars? How much do you think you need to compete?
RB: I consider that a great compliment. While I believe that there have been many violations to the Constitution over the years, I note that there are a small handful that can be looked at as absolutely the most egregious, the most anti-American, and the most destructive of liberty. We can point to the “progressive” amendments as being some of the most dangerous changes to our American system of government—even to the point of taking us backward by making the Constitution an instrument of oppression rather than one of liberation and freedom. The 16th, 17th, and 18th Amendments were all passed during what was known as the “progressive era.” The 18th, as we know, was justly repealed by the 21st. The other two should be as well. The 16th was implemented to make certain the Congress had a power to tax people’s property in the form of their only means of sustenance—their incomes. The 17th was implemented to destroy the critical functioning of the States as an integral part of the federal government.
In the Federalist Papers, James Madison makes a point of arguing that while the original Constitution (the Articles of Confederation) provided for a “federal” system of government, the new Constitution would provide for what he calls a “combined” government—namely, a hybrid between a “federal” government (a confederation, or government of sovereign states) and a “national” government (a popular government.) To assure his critics that the States would not be destroyed, he argued repeatedly that their continuance was guaranteed by their constitutionally-guaranteed role of appointing Senators. For example, in Federalist 45, he writes: “The State governments may be regarded as constituent and essential parts of the federal government; whilst the latter is nowise essential to the operation or the organization of the former…The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State legislatures.”
In fact, the entire argument of the Federalist Papers (and therefore, that of the Constitution) depends on the fact that the States were guaranteed not only representation, but EQUAL representation in the national legislature, much as they had been under the Articles of Confederation. To take this component away not only undoes the character under which the Constitution itself was ratified, but it also destroys the “federal” nature of our system of government. So, whereas the Federalists Papers are written to argue the need for a combined federal/national government, what the 17th Amendment created was a purely national government, in which the States are mere subdivisions of the country—no more sovereign or independent than counties or towns are to a State. We are seeing with Obamacare and other pieces of unconstitutional legislation just how insignificant and powerless the States have become.
While I support term limits for all federal offices, I do not have plans for what I will limit myself to. My primary motivation for running is that there is something dreadfully disastrous happening to our American republic, and it needs to be fixed. If I am able to affect the system (either from within elected office or outside of it) in a way that these problems will be fixed, then I will have no more need to be in the Senate, and will gladly step aside to allow other citizens to represent the State in that capacity. It is also important to understand that even in the House of Representatives, you are chosen to represent your State—not “the people” per se. Only in the twisted political worldview that emphasizes cronyism, pay-to-play, and “bringing home the bacon” has it been interpreted that members of the House only represent their districts (or certain special interest groups within their districts) and not the entire State. I further understand that Maryland’s political history means it is almost certain that the legislature will continue to appoint Democrats to the U.S. Senate. However, when it comes to the Constitution and Liberty, principle is more important than any political ambitions. If the Constitution says that Senators must be appointed by the legislatures, then I would not support a system that tries to subvert that just because I’d like to see a Republican in office. In fact, this is one of the motivations behind this rule—Senators should reflect the political disposition of the State. If enough people in Maryland really want a Republican Senator, then they will work to get a Republican State Legislature. In fact, I firmly believe that if more people focused on their local politicians rather than national offices such as the presidency, they’d have much more control over their government, and would be happier with the representation they were getting, both in Annapolis and in DC. This, I think we can do if we change the way we look at politics, and focus on making Maryland a 2-party state instead of a monopoly for the Democratic Party which it has been for its entire history.
Regarding how to get out the message of freedom in an era of 30-second soundbites, this is really up to the people of Maryland. If they want to hear my message, they will donate to my campaign and give me the platform to speak—in the form of TV ads, mailers, radio spots, etc. I don’t have to have the most money—I just have to have the backing of the citizens of Maryland, or even of the Republican Party. However, the grander question is, “Does the Republican Party want to be represented by the message of freedom?” Do they want it on their airwaves or plastered on billboards across the state? Last election, the message we heard in Maryland was extremely diluted down to “More Jobs, Lower Taxes.” Although the Tea Parties had a great influence, and basically saved the MDGOP from extinction, the establishment shunned the Tea Parties and rejected their message of a return to the Constitution and conservative values.
Ben Cardin is sitting on a lot more than a million dollars. One report I read from several years back showed his personal wealth above $5 million—which he could donate to his own campaign. But in 2006, Cardin raised over $9 million. Even though Michael Steele reportedly raised slightly more, Cardin won the election. So at the end of the day, it is not about dollar figures alone. With Barack Obama on the ticket and the future of America at stake, we can expect Cardin to exceed $10 million or more, if such amounts are needed to keep the seat in Democratic hands. Cardin basically has unlimited funds, and can raise whatever he needs. But more than money, it is the message that will make the difference of a win or a loss in 2012. If the people of Maryland are ready for a change to what they’ve been getting—a change from high unemployment, high taxes, high inflation, and high treason against the Constitution, then all of these messages combined can overcome those millions. If they are tired of their money being used to fund abortion clinics, violate their religious liberties, indoctrinate their children with socialist values in public schools, and dole out their money to entice illegal immigrants to settle here, they will also have motivation, regardless of party, to demand new representation. People can get out and start spreading the word that a renewed spirit of freedom is in the air, and that we must change our way of doing business if we want to pass on a Maryland (and an America) to our children and our grandchildren that was as vibrant and free as the one we grew up in. We are on the verge of an ideological split, and like in 1861, today we are very much a “house divided.” However, the division today is not over race and cotton. It is over freedom to live and work and do as you please versus subservience to an oppressive state that declares that all must participate in the “shared sacrifice” of a tyrant’s will. Such tyranny is not lodged in a single party—it is lodged in the will of all our politicians to violate the principles of the Constitution, the only thing that guards our freedoms.
I plan to offer the people a choice in the matter: freedom, not slavery—liberty, not death. If freedom is popular, and if the people value their liberty, then nothing can stop us from winning. But if they prefer anything above liberty—whether it be safety or security, wealth or celebrity, then they will receive anything but liberty.
To illustrate this point, I will quote Madison again (whom, because of his short-sightedness, I am not a fan of) but who recognized the dangers of Obamacare 224 years ago when he wrote in Federalist #57, “If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America—a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it. If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.”
There is a very serious problem that has arisen within our government, and we need someone who will go to Washington, who will fight for Maryland and its people, and who will not rest or cease from fighting until that problem is fixed.
monoblogue: Well, there’s not a lot I can argue with there, aside from the fact that I took the million-dollar figure from Cardin’s most recent FEC report. But speaking of getting out the message, are you finding your work with Protect Marriage Maryland and travel around the state in promoting marriage between one man and one woman is giving you a leg up for campaigning? How much influence do you think social conservatives can have in this state?
RB: I believe that working on the marriage issue has given people a subject to associate my name with. People who care about preserving traditional marriage very often associate me with it. At the same time, people who are opposed to preserving traditional marriage also know me as a pariah. In my view, this helps to separate the wheat from the chaff. People who outright reject social conservatism will most likely go and find other candidates to support.
On that note, I do believe that social conservatives can have a great influence in this state, but like everything else, it depends on them wanting to make their voice heard. The first question Republicans must ask themselves is, “Why am I a Republican?” Some will just be Republicans because their parents were Republicans and they were raised to like the Republican “brand.” But if anyone is a Republican because they truly believe in a set of principles, they will most likely find themselves describing conservative principles. Is there a difference between social conservatism and other forms of conservatism? On the surface, the answer seems to be, “yes,” but in reality, the answer is, “no.” When you look at issues like abortion, single-parenthood, inner-city violence, illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, etc, these all boil down to economic issues, even moreso than being issues of faith. The chief distinction of where we fall is whether we let our particular circumstances interfere with our own willingness to support the conservative message.
(It is important to note that like most Blacks in America, I did not start as a conservative, and would not have identified myself as a conservative 10 years ago. But the more I have thought on the issues, the more I realize that I either have been a conservative all my life, but didn’t know it, or that I want to be a conservative on certain issues, but just can’t bring myself to give up certain idiosyncrasies that I’ve grown up with, such as identity-politics or a deep-seated belief that there are some things people can’t do without government.)
To that point, the question of being a conservative (and more importantly a social conservative) rests largely with the MDGOP & the National GOP’s desire to push the message out to voters that conservatism is cool. As long as the MDGOP’s mantra is that we have to moderate on some issues to win over liberals, we will never be in a position to win the argument. What they are really saying is that they do not feel confident enough about their own ideology to convince others that it is the right philosophical approach to life.
The reality is that like myself, most Marylanders have been conservative all their lives, but didn’t know it. They believe in liberty, fiscal responsibility, and that justice is best achieved by adhering to the rule of law. They believe in treating other people the way they’d want to be treated—which means not only giving lovingly from your heart, but also showing “tough love” by withholding charity when instead what the person needs is a swift kick in the rear. They believe in doing “what’s right,” and that means sometimes you’ve got to tighten your belt and delay gratification to get through the tough times and see better days.
The unfortunate thing is that liberalism (or statism) teaches people that government can solve all their woes, and even better than that, it can solve them instantaneously—all they have to do is believe that government is the answer to all their problems and serve it unerringly. Whenever government fails, just turn a blind eye or blame the other party; and whenever things go well (no matter how slightly,) showcase it as evidence that government works. Yet the truth is that government cannot ever make your life significantly better. It can only make you dependent. And it is unraveling this fallacy that causes the fiscal conservative (or conservatives of another category) to eventually arrive at the same point as the social conservative. The social conservative isn’t so because he worships a certain religion (although he may have found conservatism because of his religious beliefs.) The social conservative is so because he wants to stand on his own two feet. To do so, he must act with wisdom, which means avoiding foolish risks and frivolous lifestyle choices. If he does make such a bad choice, then he must be prepared to live with the consequences—he does not expect society to pick up the slack for his personal decisions.
And this is the difference. Every time you hear a Republican say something like, “I’m normally against government welfare, but…” you are witnessing a fiscal conservative cave in to his own principles. And the liberal (statist) has a million ways to pry us from our values. Their favorites are words like “compassion,” “love,” and “pity.” Another one is a hyphenated form of the word, “justice.” Recently, they’ve begun toying with the words “sacrifice” and “tolerance” to achieve the same effect. Conservatism (which is self-reliance or at least a desire for independence) requires the ability to reject all these things when they drive us away from our better selves. Liberty requires that we can place something above grandiose ideas like “love” or “tolerance.” Indeed, we can put our needs before the desires of others, and we can put our families before other families, and we can put our faith in God before other noble ideas like “love” and “tolerance.” Even “fairness,” sometimes, will fall to our greater sense of self-preservation—but that’s what liberty is all about. Liberty is not the idea that you have to do what others want—it is the idea that you can do what you want, even if others disagree.
This is a lesson that my ancestors learned and passed down through the generations, as they yearned for liberty from the slavemasters’ plantations. This is the lesson that our founders fought for as they rebelled against their King and created a new government to protect their liberties. And I believe that if we promote this message effectively, the people of Maryland will see it is a fire that still burns in their hearts and minds.
So, I do not see social conservatives as being the minority in this state—not by a long shot. I see them as being the dominant majority. It is a bit sad that their strength is not self-evident. It is just a matter of time before they awaken and realize that what they want in their hearts can be achieved by voting for a guy like me, running on a Republican ticket, and that what they want can be achieved in this next election. It won’t take 20 years of being a career politician, nor will it take a complete turnaround of the statehouse. Putting the right person in the House or Senate can magnify their voice 1,000 times beyond what they have now, which is complete silence. Not only that, but they will not get this magnified voice with any other candidate—Ben Cardin is actually stifling their voice. I will not pretend that it won’t be a struggle to get them to realize this, but I do believe that in the near-term, it can be done.
monoblogue: I think this has been a pretty thorough discussion. Is there anything else you want to add to “close the sale”?
RB: Thanks a lot, Michael.
I would simply close by saying that identifying with conservative values has enabled me to better consider why we instituted a government among ourselves, and what the Constitution is really all about. It has enabled me to see–as many abolitionists like Frederick Douglass did well before 1865–that the Constitution is a “freedom document,” which in its best interpretation should be looked at as embodying the spirit of Independence that fueled the founding of these united States. It has also caused me to take a more serious look at how money is created and used in our financial system. No government that preserves an individual right to property (as our 5th amendment requires ours to) can do so without supporting a capitalist economic system based on sound money. And it has enabled me to see that in our current struggle, the Republican Party is the party that stands for the liberty, independence, and even the equality of opportunity for all people willing to put in the required work and remain dedicated to achieving success, happiness, and prosperity.
The greatest threat to our future can be described in two ways that are closely related: the first is forgetting that we were created as a republic of free and independent States. It is the States that serve as a check on the national government to protect the rights and sovereignty of the people. We are losing this as we embrace an increasingly nationalist government. The second is in neglecting the vital importance and proper interpretation of the 10th Amendment, which locked into the Constitution the very principle of the rights and sovereignty of the States. The 10th Amendment tells us how to read the rest of the Constitution, and defines its character completely. The notion that the government’s powers are limited, and that it does not have the authority to employ any means whatever to achieve its desired ends over the rights of the people are contained nowhere else in the Constitution but there. Obamacare represents an unbridled assault on the heart of the Constitution in the form of rendering inert the 10th Amendment. I have had several occasions to speak with Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, and he expressed the same concerns. I stand by his efforts and the efforts of other States’ Attorneys General to defend the rights and sovereignty of their States regarding an issue that the federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved with. We all need to stand in this critical hour—in 2012–to save our States and protect our republic, as that is the only way we will protect our liberties.
Personally, I think Broadus lays out a very compelling case as a conservative Senator. He obviously has the strikes against him of a lack of name recognition in most of the state and perhaps being too closely identified on the surface as a one-issue candidate. However, in this interview he displays a depth of thought which should be able to convince voters he has sound positions on most issues outside the narrow range of social conservatism.
That narrow base of support could be his downfall in an election year such as 2012, where the primary is early. That gives an advantage to candidates who already have a support system in place.
Yet Robert reminds me a little bit of 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge – not necessarily in style, but in the way he speaks at length and depth about conservative issues. If Robert’s as good of a speaker as he is a writer, I’d love to watch him mop up the stage with Ben Cardin in a debate – that’s probably why you won’t see one.