This Sunday, I had the exciting privilege of interviewing a candidate for U.S. Congress, the strict Constitutionalist, RJ Harris. You can listen to that interview in its entirety here.
If you would prefer to read a shorter, abbreviated text version, I have transcribed it for you below:
RJ Harris: Very good, Wes. How are you and your listeners? Hope all is well.
W. E. Messamore: Ah- doing very well. Really- excited to talk to you because- I'm just excited to have a candidate that I'm excited about!
RJ Harris: (chuckle)
W. E. Messamore: Um, before Congressman Paul made his historic presidential bid in '07, so many Americans who feel the way we do as Constitutionalists, felt that there were few really good choices out there we can be excited about, and then after Dr. Paul's run, it seems that all of you are just showing up everywhere, running in all kinds of elections, on a state, local, and national level all over the United States, so I'm excited to hear what you have to say tonight.
RJ Harris: Yeah, we definitely have a movement afoot to retake the Congress and to save this republic by doing so, and it is exciting. I remember prior to Dr. Paul's run for president, I was one of those people out there trying to figure out who to support, who to vote for- and it was very, very "slim pickins."
But now, we need to be excited and motivated because there is a whole field of liberty candidates stepping forward. We need to get out there and look at their websites, vet them, make sure that they are legitimate constitutional conservatives- and when we find out that they are... we need to support them as best we can.
Because I don't know about the rest of them, but I refuse to solicit any type of campaign donations from lobbyists or corporate interests, so add to that the recession we're going through- fundraising is going to be tight, but if we stay on message and are good stewards of the people's donations, we can win.
W. E. Messamore: So what you're saying, Mr. Harris, is if we want our Congressman to read the bills, we need to do some reading up on our candidates themselves?
RJ Harris: That's right. That's exactly right.
W. E. Messamore: Well if you don't mind, I'm going to open the interview with a pretty hard hitting question. Is that cool with you, sir?
RJ Harris: Go ahead.
W. E. Messamore: You're running in a GOP primary against a Republican who's an incumbent, Congressman Tom Cole. What do you say to Republicans who think that that disrupts party unity?
RJ Harris: Well the very premise of the question, no offense, is flawed, because party unity isn't what we should be caring about right now. What we should be caring about is saving this republic and restoring our Constitution.
And I firmly believe that an added benefit to that, especially if the Republican Party were to finally get on board is that we can save the Republican Party in the process.
W. E. Messamore: I see- so having more men with elephants on their lapels in Congress isn't what's going to save the republic, having more constitutional conservatives in office is what's going to do the job?
RJ Harris: That's exactly right, and a Republican would hope that that would just so happen to also be the person with the elephant on their lapel, but that might not necessarily be the case.
W. E. Messamore: Now your opponent in the primary there, Tom Cole, he's got an elephant on his lapel. He's a Republican, but he did vote for the TARP bailout and the stimulus package. How would you have voted? I'm assuming from your words that you would not have voted for the bailout or the stimulus package?
RJ Harris: Oh- I would not have voted for either one. Neither one of them are Constitutional, they both represent a form of what I like to call individual welfare, and individual welfare is not allowed by the Constitution. Article I Section 8 defines the 18 enumerated powers that Congress has and what they're allowed to spend money on, and one of those things is to provide for the general welfare with the caveat / key phrase following it of "of the United States."
That defines what the general welfare to be provided for is. It's for the nation state itself. It's for the operation and function of the government, not for individual people like you, or me, or our states, or companies, and so no where in the Constitution will you find an authorization for an expenditure of federal resources from the treasury on individual welfare, which is exactly what bailout votes and stimulus packages are. So there's no way a constitutional conservative would have ever voted for that.
W. E. Messamore: So you support following the rules- that's radical!
RJ Harris: Yes. (chuckle)
W. E. Messamore: So what specific policy prescriptions would you propose to fix our nation's economic problems, for instance the health insurance industry, the finance industry, and our economy in general?
RJ Harris: Well, the first thing that's got to to happen is we have got to stop getting involved in individual welfare. That right there causes a lot of problems because it spends money unconstitutionally, and it causes unintended consequences for the various markets for which they were spent.
The other thing is- we need to retake the delegated authority given to the Federal Reserve and take it back to the Congress. That authority has improperly been delegated and Dr. Paul has articulated way better than anyone in the last several decades how the Federal Reserve and their unconstitutional currencies they float cause these business cycles. And their cheap money and their artificial inflation of money and credit- that's what's causing a lot of this financial meltdown.
As for the health care industry- remember that health care is an example of individual welfare, so the Federal government doesn't have the authority to provide that. A lot of folks out there want to say "RJ, you're being so heartless- what about people who are indigent and need help?"
Well the different pieces of the Constitution come together to make an answer for a modern problem- and that is under the tenth amendment, we see that any powers not given directly to the Congress under the Constitution are reserved to the people and the states respectively, i.e. equally, and so the states, working with their citizens, can decide whether they want to have free market solutions, or whether they want state-based solutions for health care, but it has nothing to do with the Federal government.
W. E. Messamore: What did you learn in your experiences and how would that affect your view of legislation as it relates to military and foreign policy?
RJ Harris: When I became a sergeant, that's when I read the Constitution for the first time because I had to swear an oath to uphold and defend it, so it dawned on me that I should probably read it. And immediately I started seeing all kinds of things that our government was doing that was askance of that document. The government is breaking its own supreme law constantly.
The other thing I learned was that we should not be willing to expend the blood and the valor of our veterans on anything less than the common defense, and unfortunately we see a lot of that going on lately. We have to ask ourselves are we really pursuing the Preamble of the Constitution and providing for the common defense?
We have set a lot of bad precedents and we need to close those doors now and reclaim the ground the Constitution has set us upon and put an end to this stuff.
W. E. Messamore: How do we do that? Things are getting worse in Afghanistan than we ever thought possible? What do we do with Afghanistan? What do we do with Iraq?
RJ Harris: This is why our founders insisted that if there's going to be a war, it needs to be declared by Congress and their names need to be written in the marble of history for what they've done. But they've delegated this power to the president. So now we have these open-ended military endeavors.
How many times do we have to win in a given theater before we say we have achieved what we went there to do? In Afghanistan we went to overthrow the Taliban, to remove that regime and the support they were giving to the terrorists who were living there, to set up a new government- now people are voting, so we're not fighting a war over there now so much as nation building.
We already went over there and did everything you told us to do, and now you're adding more. It's the same in Iraq, we went over there and overthrew the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein, they captured or killed him, his sons, and the major Ba'athist party officers, they established elections and a new government, and yet it's still not enough.
W. E. Messamore: George W. Bush campaigned on a promise of no new nation building. So that's a conservative idea, not just a democrat idea- that nation building is not something we should do. We oppose welfare here, so we should oppose it overseas.
RJ Harris: I refuse to allow any of my opponents to say wanting to bring our troops home is "cutting and running" because I can say as someone who's served in Iraq twice, it's not cutting and running when you've achieved all the goals that were set for you. What they're talking about is simply promulgating an empire that we are not constitutionally allowed to have
W. E. Messamore: I hope people can look at you and see the credentials you have as someone who's served and knows what it means to give and sacrifice for your country and are speaking from experience and wisdom as a constitutional conservative when you say we need to make sure these wars are clearly defined and ended decisively and expeditiously
RJ Harris: I'd like to point out that when the United States declares wars we win them. WWII took what? 6 years? With less technology than we have now. When the US declares wars and the names of the congressman that supported it are written in the marble of history, then America wins the wars it declares and we come home. Unfortunately when we go off on this military adventurism and the Congress delegates its authority to the president for setting the benchmarks, they never end.
Our Fathers new this to be true. They had been victims of it. Their sons had been conscripted throughout colonials times. They new the blood and treasure of their nation was going to be used up for the petty whims of tyrants and that in the end, they would be left with nothing to show for it. So when they wrote the Constitution, they ensured that only the Congress- which is the people, can declare war.
W. E. Messamore: Bringing it back again to the Constitution! Well I was going to end by asking your top two or three priorities as a Congressman, but I can see that in any situation and for any policy issue, it's bringing things back to the purview of the Constitution, which is encouraging to hear. What can we do to support you and help you bring this message and agenda to our nation's capitol?
RJ Harris: The #1 thing I ask you to do is read the Constitution. It's only four pages long. Read it and get angry enough at what the government is doing to you so that you will actually get engaged.
Then go looking for the liberty candidates in your area or near to you, support them, help them out, go to their Facebook page, visit their website, donate to them. We aren't getting money from the special interests, so we need support from the people.
You can find the liberty candidates near you by checking out RetakeCongress.com.
W. E. Messamore: By the way, you can donate to candidates anywhere, not just the ones in your area.
Visit: RJHarris2010.com. That is Mr. Harris' site. You can make a donation to him there. His district will not cost nearly as much to win as some other districts or states, so your dollar goes a long way to bringing us a Congressman with the principles you just heard.
Thanks so much Mr. Harris. Have a great evening. All the best!
RJ: Thanks so much! I look forward to coming on again. Have a good evening.