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The Federalist Party decoded: An interview with activist JD Rucker

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JD Rucker Federalist Party

“I decided that somebody’s got to do it, if nobody else will, then I must.”

I had the pleasure of speaking at length with head of the Federalist Party, political activist JD Rucker. I became intrigued by Rucker after I learned of the Federalist Party’s existence and their fundamentally different approach to challenging the two-party system. In our current climate of political mayhem, could a third-party be a feasible alternative for the somewhat ideologically homeless conservative? I thought speaking with Rucker would be a good place to begin.

From start to finish, the conversation with Rucker was both enlightening and heartening. Rucker’s understanding of what fundamentally plagues our political system is in congruence with many disillusioned conservatives—the Right’s disappointing failure to fight “big government” has morphed into a growing fondness for bloated bureaucracy. And therein, Rucker defines what he believes to be the purpose of the Federalist Party: “Our third party is designed in particular to essentially pull them [GOP] back to the Right, if that’s even possible. And if not, then we are prepared to take over.”

He sees the Federalist Party as a “reminder” that the GOP can no longer take the conservative vote for granted.  But Rucker isn’t obtuse on how we got here—he’s direct and forthright when he flatly states, “We have allowed the government to do this to us.”

He’s also not naïve about the abysmal success rate to which third parties typically fall privy. However, he does identify the Federalist Party strategy as decidedly different, proclaiming “the primary difference for us is that we are going to build this from the local level, up.”  He coins the Federalist Party’s approach as “bottom-up” in nature, focused on creating an initial footprint in everything from sheriff elections to city council elections to state legislative elections. And indeed, for a party focused on returning power to communities, this approach is refreshingly organic.

Rucker wrote a piece several weeks ago discussing how federalism isn’t about protecting states but rather about protecting the individual. When I asked him about this particular message, he expounded in detail on the government’s general failure to serve the “primacy” of the individual, who has now been belittled by the ever-expanding state.  Rucker then admits that Americans now are looking for “leaders to save them,” and this desire is fundamentally flawed: “Government should enable the people to find a solution—government was never designed to be the solution.”

In Rucker’s eyes, “the individual can solve problems for him or herself better than any government action.” And Rucker believes the Federalist Party is geared towards reintroducing the long-lost individual back into the political sphere, specifically by enabling and encouraging people to take more active roles in their communities.

The Federalist Party’s main goal is to demonstrate how genuinely small government—manifested as the “localization of efforts”—can benefit people’s causes more than a larger federal apparatus can. From Rucker’s point of view, federalism or “taking care of your own local area” is much more impactful than tackling a wide range of issues on a global scale. Given this metric holds true for both the conservative and the liberal, he envisions the Federalist Party as appealing to a variety of figures from across the political spectrum.

And baked into this understanding of federalism’s appeal is Rucker’s conception of what the party’s approach should be. Indeed, his vision for the Federalist Party is one prudently defined by longevity, rather than by capturing a few seats in 2018.  In fact, he could not have emphasized to me more strongly the importance of 2032 over the impending midterm elections.

But perhaps the most interesting part of my interview with JD revolved around his entrance into politics. It wasn’t a foray marked by a prestigious law degree or longish stint at a private equity firm.  Rucker described himself as simply a politically engaged person who realized about fifteen years ago that the Republican Party had approached a stage beyond saving and that it would be far better to structure a new party around a truly conservative perspective. Rucker succinctly explained his own involvement by stating, “Nobody else was doing it and I felt somebody needed to.”

What struck me as most impressive about Rucker, beyond his assessment of the current political climate and his prescription for reform, was his depthless humility. I am ending with his own words because I don’t believe I could do them quite justice. Needless to say, my interview with JD Rucker gives me hope that the citizenry is still capable of producing selfless and thoughtful leaders. In a time of an ever-expanding federal apparatus, made fat by unabated spending, I am encouraged by thinkers like JD who not only diagnose problems with poise but also have the drive to tackle them.  In the words of JD Rucker:

“I want to be clear. People like to put me down as ‘cofounder’ of the Federalist Party. I look at myself as specifically just a caretaker. Just to get this up and running until more people—better people, smarter people—can get involved. That is all.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Federalist Party and what Rucker and others are doing on behalf of conservatism, feel free to visit thefederalistparty.org.  You can follow JD Rucker on Twitter at @JDRucker.

Erielle Davidson is an economic research assistant at the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, California. She completed a B.A. in Russian at Middlebury College with a specific focus on Eastern European politics. She has researched and written extensively on the geopolitical implications of terrorism in Putin’s Russia. She can be found on twitter at @politicalelle.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. David Oslin (@hyperion5182)

    July 17, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Well said and written. An excellent read.

  2. JC

    July 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Great article! Hope to see more from you!

  3. Judith Irlacher

    July 18, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Knowing nothing of the Federalist Party, I am impressed with the opinions of J D Rucker, thank you for sharing his ideas!

  4. Susan Sylvia

    July 28, 2017 at 4:22 am

    I have been with JD (by email!) since Day One when he asked on his website The New Americana, ‘Should we do this?’ and I can say that everything the author says about him is true. He takes a Democratic approach to decision making and is an excellent team leader, while still very humble. He also has a very smart plan, using the latest technology and social media, to make this go, and he is savvy enough to observe what other parties have done wrong and to sidestep those pitfalls. I think that this third party, vs. others that have come and gone or simply languished, has a real chance to take off. And what better name for a party? I’m a member, and I hope others will join!

  5. Kim Gallagher

    July 28, 2017 at 6:14 am

    Ditto Susan.

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Healthcare

BrundleFly or Hillarycare: The sad choice for Graham-Cassidy

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The other day, I wrote a long-winded defense of Graham-Cassidy. In response, JD Rucker, the EIC of this site, wrote a short rebuttal. These two pieces illustrate the upside-down nature of this bill.

In short: people who believe Graham-Cassidy should not be passed argue on the basis of it actually being implemented. People who argue that we should pass Graham-Cassidy do so on the basis that it cannot possibly be implemented.

They’re both right

If Graham-Cassidy is implemented as the bill is written, no politician could ever claim that it will solve Obamacare’s problems. All it does is intensify them and allow healthy individuals to go without insurance or join health cost sharing organizations. (Disclosure: I am a member of Medi-Share, a Christian medical expense sharing ministry that’s exempt from Obamacare.)

Moving the money to the state level as Medicaid block grants without gutting the Medicaid expansion, the coverage requirements or the heinous recordkeeping and administrative load of Obamacare is worse than living with the current, mostly-implemented and known system. States will not have enough time to enact enabling legislation, therefore by the 2020 deadline, many states will simply fall in a huge crack or the federal government will have to grant en-masse extensions. Remember, we went through this with Obamacare, which took until 2014 to fully swing into action, and by 2016, 19 states still hadn’t really done anything to get people off the federal exchanges.

Supporters say this is a feature, not a bug.

Burn the ships!

We’re passing Graham-Cassidy so we can be like Cortés in 1519. I love this story.

In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships. As I imagine it, someone then laughed and Cortés promptly thrust his sword into the man’s chest. After which, the rest proceeded to get hammered on rum by the glow of the blaze. Almost like a bloodier version of The Pirates of the Caribbean with Cortés played by Johnny Depp.

The lesson, presented by business leadership coach Travis Robertson is: Retreat is easy when you have the option.

There is no political body in America more in need of a swift sword smack in the behind than the United States Congress. It is in a permanent state of retreat, unless it comes to spending your money and mine on endless projects in this district and that district to make a few people wealthy and the rest of us feel good about getting something for nothing. Most of us just pay and get nothing anyway, then go about electing the same people over and over again.

There is only one argument for Graham-Cassidy. Passing it destroys Obamacare with no way to go back. Passing Graham-Cassidy burns the ships and cuts off retreat.

Brundlefly

Passing Graham-Cassidy will force Republicans to either embrace Bernie-style single-payer or proceed to a fuller repeal of the destroyed, mutated Obamacare-monster. Like the 1986 horror classic “The Fly,” the Graham-Cassidy fusion teleporter only works one way. There’s no going back. And like the BrundleFly-Telepod monster, the result cannot survive.

There will be no choice but to destroy it or it will self-destruct before it ever sees the light of day.

Or do nothing and have Hillarycare

The other option is to not pass Graham-Cassidy and do nothing. Just embrace Obamacare and let all states adopt it. We could tweak coverages or eliminate some waste and inefficiency from the program. President Trump could re-enable the IRS (still led by Obama appointee John Koskinen) to enforce the fines for not purchasing coverage. Congress could make some allowances for conscience in health sharing ministries. But that’s it.

We could make Obamacare work, such as it is, and try to keep health care costs from ballooning further within that framework. But it means more government control, more cronyism, less small government, state-controlled commerce. It also means higher taxes for everyone.

In a nutshell, it would be what Hillary Clinton would do. We’d have Hillarycare.

Congress won’t advance when it can retreat

The one truth here is that Congress will never advance when it can retreat. It will never take on anything for which it has to later be responsible without someone standing up behind them holding a sword. It will never act on its own unless leadership does what Cortés did and make an example of someone. Until we can get some leadership, or Trump actually begins to lead on health care, our only options are between BrundleFly and Hillarycare, either of which could lead to single-payer.

The solution is not one we can achieve with this iteration of Congress. It will take something else from outside.

I say burn the ships and force the issue, but others say it’s too risky to deal with Brundlefly. Sadly, both answers are probably right.

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Economy

America’s biggest weapon against North Korea isn’t nuclear, and isn’t directed at the Norks

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin unveiled the biggest weapon the U.S. has in its arsenal against North Korea, and it’s not a bomb.

No bank in any country should be used to facilitate Kim Jong-un’s destructive behavior. This new executive order will authorize Treasury to impose a range of sanctions such as suspending U.S. correspondent account access to any foreign bank that knowingly conducts or facilitates significant transactions tied to trade with North Korea. These sanctions will be forward-looking and applied to behavior that occurs following today when President Trump signed the executive order. Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that going forward they can choose to do business with the United States or with North Korea, but not both. This new executive order enables Treasury to freeze assets of anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea. It also allows us to freeze assets of actors supporting North Korea’s textile, fishing, IT and manufacturing industries.

The target of this executive order, which is wholly legal and proper for the president to sign, is certainly China. China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner by far. It will hurt China far worse than anything we could do to North Korea. And China can force North Korea into starvation or negotiation.

Perspectives

Why Sanctions Against North Korea Are Causing Pain in China – Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-20/north-korea-sanctions-claim-another-victim-china-s-rust-beltWhile Beijing has joined the international community in condemning North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear tests, it doesn’t want a war on the Korean peninsula or Kim’s regime to collapse. Either event may trigger a rush of refugees and the potential for U.S. troops on its border, risking social unrest and a heightened security presence that could further hinder trade.

China advises against unilateral sanctions against North Korea | South China Morning Post

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2112446/china-advises-against-unilateral-sanctions-against“The situation facing the Korean peninsula is complicated,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a press conference in Beijing.

Lu said at the press conference that “China opposes the imposition of sanctions outside the framework of the United Nations Security Council”.

In his address at the assembly, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said negotiation remained the only solution to the North Korea problem, while warning its neighbour not to pursue the development of nuclear weapons.

Final Thoughts

As long as goods can flow into and out of North Korea, all the military threats we make are simply saber-rattling. Kim Jong-un will continue to provoke until we back down from a potential holocaust for South Korea. This is what he’s done for decades. But if the U.S. truly punishes China with banking sanctions and assets freezes, just like we did to Iran, soon they will push North Korea to the table, or make it clear that the Hermit Kingdom is on its own taking on the U.S. in a military battle.

The money bomb is a much bigger weapon than anything our military possesses. History shows that it always has been (read your World War II history of Japan).

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Healthcare

‘Where are the facts?’: Kilmeade challenges Kimmel with a reasonable request

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Brian Kilmeade responded to Jimmy Kimmel’s on-air bash with a very reasonable request.

That’s why our approach on Fox and Friends, even on the radio show has been ‘Okay, this is what Cassidy said, this is what Jimmy Kimmel has had.’ Sadly, no one in the Democratic party is taking on this bill except for Jimmy Kimmel. If he’s telling the truth, he’s right. If Cassidy who wrote the program is right and has great reputation as does Senator Lindsey Graham — he disputes every one of them. Even though they spoke on the line entirely to their cell phone phone, Cassidy and Kimmel don’t speak. Tonight, I’m sure Jimmy Kimmel is going to answer again and Cassidy answered on a show earlier today. Where are the facts in this conversation? The fact is, he had this terrible thing happened with his son, he’s got more operations. He’s obviously very emotional as everybody else would be. So nobody wants to offend Jimmy Kimmel but at the same time, he should go on and have Cassidy on as a guest and debate it.

Jimmy Kimmel has a touching story about his son, and everyone believes his motives are driven by genuine compassion. But that doesn’t qualify him as an expert on health care policy.

He may be right, but he can’t call Sen. Bill Cassidy a liar on the air and expect no pushback. That’s what led to the “Hollywood elite” comment that started the mini-feud between Brian Kilmeade on Fox & Friends and Kimmel. Everyone in Hollywood with a stage and a microphone somehow thinks those things qualify them to expound on whatever political or scientific issues close to their hearts without challenge.

It’s not enough that Kimmel may be right. The point has never been about who’s right. It’s about how we engage on issues, politically and socially.

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