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If you don’t know who Thad McCotter is, don’t worry; you will soon. The next GOP candidate debate is scheduled for August 11, and it’s safe to say that McCotter’s presence in the lineup will get a lot of folks’ attention. Let’s put it this way: he’s not only the tallest guy in the room, but the brainiest. Also, the wittiest — as anyone who’s seen any of his frequent appearances on FOX’s “RedEye” knows.

When I first heard the name Thaddeus McCotter several years ago, I pictured an older Southern gentleman, white-haired, with spectacles and an old-fashioned pocketwatch in his vest, complete with a fob… Colonel Sanders without the bowtie.  Whoa.  I was way off base. Turns out the five-term Michigan Congressman is lean and tall, relatively young, athletic (football and baseball), and the lead guitarist in a Congressional rock-n-roll band, the “Second Amendments.

Formerly the head of the Republican Policy Committee — the #4 GOP leadership position in the House — McCotter represents Michigan’s 11th district, which includes western and northwestern suburbs of Detroit. A Detroit native, McCotter is highly sensitive to the automotive industry which employs (or has employed) many of his constituents. This may explain several pro-union votes cast by McCotter that many GOP primary voters, myself included, may find troubling.

However, since there is no perfect candidate (“perfect” being defined as: “agrees with me 100% on every issue”), I have a one-free-pass policy: I give each candidate a “Get Out of Jail Free” card on one issue. I figure that’s as close to perfect as you’re ever going to get in an imperfect world — and in the particularly imperfect world of politics. And that’s just on the issues. The perfect candidate also needs to be someone who can win.

Let me tell you how close to perfect McCotter is. He has the sheer intellectual firepower of Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann’s passion for the Constitution, the even temperament of Tim Pawlenty, the moral compass of Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain’s can-do American spirit. All that, plus a great sense of humor.

On the issues, McCotter is pro-life, pro-Israel, anti-Obamacare; he advocates lower taxes, reduced spending, small government, a strong defense, energy independence and Paul Ryan’s budget plan. He believes in responsible stewardship of natural resources but doesn’t buy the global warming hoax. The most recent piece of legislation he’s introduced is H.R. 2261, a bill to cut off United States contributions to the United Nations if if the U.N. goes through with recognizing an independent Palestinian “state” as planned this fall.

Actually, most of the GOP candidates share those views. I don’t understand conservative pundits who complain about the lineup of Republican candidates. I happen to think we suffer from “an embarrassment of riches.” Our candidates — those who have announced and the potential ones waiting in the wings — are fabulous, in my opinion, both in their stands on the issues and in their personal skills and experience. If anything, the problem is one of choosing between many excellent and virtuous people.

So what makes McCotter stand out? At least two very major things. First, he has a profound vision of the Big Picture — and, crucially, the ability to articulate it — that is reminiscent of G.K. Chesterton. Second, he has thought through, and deeply cares about, some hugely important issues that I don’t see anyone else in the GOP addressing:

1.  the very real challenges posed by globalization (jobs go to where labor is cheapest, even if that means prison and slave labor);

2.  the fact that Communist China is really and truly Communist, can not be trusted, and indeed is taking hostile action against us politically, economically, technologically and militarily;

3.  the fact that both for economic and for military security, we need a manufacturing base in this country;

4.  the crucial importance of “intermediating institutions” to the social fabric — churches, parent-teacher organizations, Kiwanis clubs, softball leagues, Boy Scouts, small-town chambers of commerce, etc. — without which society is hollowed out, reduced to isolated and vulnerable individuals on one end and an intrusive, overreaching government on the other. It is these intermediating institutions that help keep families and communities strong, strong enough to neither desire nor create an opening for the “nanny state.”

This last point is what Catholic social teaching calls “subsidiarity” — the principle that “human affairs are best handled at the lowest possible level, closest to the affected persons.” In other words, if a need can be met by one’s family, then the school or community should not interfere. If the local community can meet the need, then the state or its agencies should stay the heck out of the picture.

Thad McCotter “gets” all this on a deep, instinctual level — and that’s another reason his thinking reminds me of G.K. Chesterton, who was probably the most able exponent in the English language of the concept of subsidiarity. Many of our conservative candidates are “pro-family” — but precious few (Santorum is the only other one I can think of) explicitly recognize the crucial principle of subsidiarity, without which the bones of a pro-family stance have no flesh.

McCotter asserts that too many of us on the right, losing sight of subsidiarity, have become almost as ideological as our enemies on the left. We have gotten suckered into the ideology of “creative destruction,” which is not true conservatism at all. Here’s how McCotter explains it in his book, Seize Freedom!: “Creative destruction” is

the ideology that led “conservatives” to falsely think materialist panaceas — notably the chimera of “free trade” — would solve all problems between peoples.  Enrapt by this deceit, the heralds of “creative destruction” (for everyone but themselves) placed a greater value on saving five dollars on an imported shirt from a sweatshop than on defending the inherent dignity of individuals; than on ensuring fair competition and jobs for American manufacturers and workers; than on securing the national security of the United States from predatory nations like Communist China; and, yes, than on preserving the moral foundations of American culture, which secures and sustains our free-market prosperity.

I like and trust Thad McCotter because he espouses the basic, common-sense truth that I first heard articulated by Mike Huckabee back in 2008: To be secure and to remain free, our country absolutely must be self-sufficient in three things — food, energy and defense. Did you know that we have been outsourcing various defense-systems components? Not to mention that we import many of the machine tools that we need for manufacturing the components that we do still make here. Unlike any of the other candidates, Thad McCotter prioritizes not just “jobs” in the abstract, but specifically the necessity for America to restore its manufacturing base, which he calls our “Arsenal of Democracy.”

As for the “food” leg of the three-legged food-energy-defense stool, you will notice that McCotter is the only Republican candidate who mentions farmers. (He even put that electric guitar of his to use playing at a Farm Aid concert.) McCotter believes that the information-and-services economy so beloved by the liberal elites is no stable economy at all. A healthy, secure America, he says, is a nation of factories, and (significantly to this heartlander) “a nation of farms.”

As an admirer of E.F. Schumacher, Wendell Berry, and G.K. Chesterton, I love it that McCotter believes these things to his marrow. But the scheming political activist in me that wants to win elections rejoices that McCotter’s combination of conservative social values, strong-national-defense advocacy, and blue-collar (both factory and farm) sympathies will appeal to precisely those same working-class voters who enabled Ronald Reagan to win the White House, introducing the term “Reagan Democrats” to the American political lexicon.

McCotter can win those people in the middle who voted for Obama in 2008 because they’d bought the lie that Obama was a “moderate” and a “uniter.” Those people, now disillusioned, are more than ready to vote for a Republican, provided that they feel that he or she understands their concerns. Most importantly, Thad McCotter will win them not by watering down conservatism, but by explaining it so well that he will persuade people of the logic and rightness of conservatism. Just as Reagan did.

Congressman Pat Tiberi of Ohio says that McCotter represents an important part of the Reagan coalition that the GOP is going to have to win again to be a successful national party. “When my dad voted for Ronald Reagan, it was the first Republican he ever voted for,” Tiberi says. “He was a Catholic, a union worker, an immigrant. We need to reach voters like that who share our values but identify with the Democrats for demographic reasons.” McCotter, he says, “clearly and confidently communicates what he believes” in a way that “speaks to them.”

All right, enough about Thad McCotter. Check him out for yourself. Here he is in Whitmore Lake, MI, announcing his candidacy at a July 4th weekend “Freedom Fest”:

As you can see,  Joshua Sharf got it right when he said, “McCotter takes his politics seriously, but not himself, a rare characteristic in a politician.”

McCotter has a solid worldview, not just a set of talking points; a philosophy, not just a personal promotion strategy.

His book, Seize Freedom!, is available from Amazon; many of his speeches and interviews are online at YouTube (I’ve added one of my favorite McCotter speeches to the “Great Speeches” page here at this blog); and the best profiles I’ve seen of the man are at American Spectator and the New York Daily News.

Check out his campaign website, McCotter 2012.

As for me, I’m counting down the days until the Iowa Straw Poll. McCotter’s going to rock it — in more ways than one.

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Dear Sarah:

Long before most Americans knew your name, I’d become one of your fans.  Having read an article about you in the Weekly Standard, I was impressed by your competence, as evident in the extraordinary things you’d accomplished in the brief time you’d been governor, and by your courage and integrity in rooting out long-entrenched corruption from your state’s political establishment.  You only rose in my estimation when, a few months later, I read an admiring article about you in a pro-life publication, and I took note of your fundamental decency, as shown in your bringing precious baby Trig to term (he’d not yet been born at the time the article was published).

Please note that, unlike many of your admirers, I do not consider this last point as anything heroic.  I’d have done the same, and regard it as basic human decency, the bare minimum one should expect of people who call themselves civilized.  Albert Camus once said – I’m paraphrasing – that it’s a pathetic state of affairs when a society holds up as heroes people who have simply done the decent thing. Giving birth to Trig is not what makes you my heroine – although governing Alaska with vision, energy and excellence while raising five kids certainly does.

Some people have a hard time believing how capable you are.  I remember the skeptics back in 2008 who said things like, “She must be short-changing something; no one could be a good governor and a good mom.”  Perhaps one reason I never had those doubts is that, living as I do in the rural heartland – “flyover country” – I know more than a few women who are as competent at multitasking as you are.  They’re not governors, but, like you, they sure pack a lot into 24 hours.  My part of the country,  with its history of pioneer resourcefulness, has a high concentration of what I call “superwomen” – they would laugh at the term, for they don’t see themselves as out of the ordinary – I’m speaking of women who help run their husband’s farm or small business while working a part-time job in town, homeschooling five or more kids, raising goats or chickens and a huge garden, canning up gallons upon gallons of homemade salsa and spaghetti sauce, teaching Sunday school, and bringing their homemade pies and casseroles around whenever someone in the neighborhood has a birth or a death in the family.

So you, and Ann Marie Buerkle, and Kristi Noem, and Michele Bachmann… are not a foreign, exotic species to me.  Admirable, gifted, accomplished, yes – but not creatures of fantasy. When I saw and heard so-called feminists saying that you shouldn’t be John McCain’s running mate because the responsibilities of office – especially if fate were to put you in the Oval Office – would prevent you from being a good mom, I just laughed.  Obviously, those “feminists” are not acquainted with the kind of women who live in my neck of the woods – and in yours.

High on the long list of things for which I’m grateful to you is the way that, just by being who you are, you have not only encouraged and empowered other “Mama Grizzlies” to run for office and help save our country, but you have also helped all of us pro-life, pro-family feminists to reclaim authentic feminism from the frustrated, wounded, angry people who hijacked it 40 years ago and warped it into their own image.  I have been a member of Feminists for Life for nearly 30 years, and a supporter of the Susan B. Anthony List for as long as it has existed.  SBA List director Marjorie Dannenfelser is one of my personal heroines, and I am immensely proud of the win rate of the SBA List candidates.  But any honest observer must acknowledge that you, Sarah, had a substantial role in those Election Day successes – not only by speaking and fund-raising for individual candidates, not only by endorsing them on Facebook, which introduced them to people all over the country, but also, just by being who you are.  It is your example more than anything else, I believe, that has reinvigorated authentic feminism – or what you have called “pioneer feminism.”  As a long-time pro-life feminist – who for years felt like a lonely voice in the wilderness – I have a very particular gratitude, admiration and affection for you.

Along with being the face of pioneer feminism, you have been the face of the Tea Party. The devilries of Obama, Pelosi and Reid would have provoked a reaction no matter what, since there are still so many Americans who believe in the bedrock American values of faith, family, freedom, personal responsibility and the adventurous entrepreneurial spirit.   Rick Santelli’s off-the-cuff coinage of the phrase “Chicago Tea Party” only ignited a conflagration because tens of millions of Americans, horrified by the explosion of the federal debt, were already like dry tinder just waiting to be lit.  But if Santelli’s rant was the spark, and the righteous outrage of millions of ordinary Americans was the fuel, then you, Sarah, were the fire-tender, the one who, more than any other single individual, has channeled that energy and given a voice to Americans who are feeling, as never before, despised and threatened by their own government.

You have been the heart, the soul, the face and the spirit of the Tea Party movement, its mobilizer and behind-the-scenes strategist.  The Left attacks you because they envy the way you can change the course of a political primary by endorsing a particular candidate; it eats them alive that you can mobilize millions of Americans to contact their elected representatives about some issue just by posting a few paragraphs on Facebook. The Left does not understand that the conservative revival is not about you any more than Rush Limbaugh’s huge audience is about Rush.  We love you because, like Rush, you don’t tell us what to think; rather, you validate and give voice to what we already know and feel.  Since the lamestream media ignore us at best, and savage us at worst, we cherish you because you articulate, with a very big microphone that the rest of us don’t have, the ideas that we want Washington to hear, loud and clear.

I think of you, in some ways, as our Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi never held elected political office, and yet he was the most powerful, influential figure in the Indian independence movement – indeed, there is no more beloved figure among Indians; they call him the “father of their country.”  And yet, he was never President or Prime Minister.  He did what none of those people could:  inspire and empower the people in a way that made them willing to make great sacrifices for a righteous ideal.  Gandhi wrote prolifically, gave speeches everywhere, led through personal example, and because of his genuine solidarity with the masses of India, was able to “speak truth to power” as the authentic voice of the Indian people.  Like him, you have influenced the course of events with your writing, speaking, personal example, and solidarity with “We the People.”

But now, there is talk of your seeking the top executive job in our government, and this gives me pause.  Not because a woman can’t do the job – just look at Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher.  But when you do look at them, you immediately notice something:  They were very, very different from you.  They got where they did – and performed effectively in those positions – by being very much like… men.  We love you, Sarah, and are inspired by you because you are not like a man.  You fulfill a very special role, and your femininity is an essential part of it.

I am not downplaying your toughness or competence; you’ve proven beyond doubt that you have plenty of those.   No, the difference between you and “the Iron Lady” has to do with the unique role that you are playing in our society – and specifically in the Tea Party movement – at this point in history.

The Tea Party is the most important political movement in decades – precisely because its origins were spontaneous, and it is genuinely grassroots, i.e., it has no official leadership structure.  Its decentralized, freewheeling nature is the source of its vigor and vitality.  And yet, if did not have some kind of leadership, it could easily lose focus and fizzle out.  What’s needed, then, is a rare type of leadership that works outside the usual channels.

As the conservative sweep of November 2 demonstrated, you are that leadership.  It was your endorsement that made the difference in enough races to give the GOP a new majority in the House, and a larger presence in the Senate.  But here’s the key point:  It worked because you are outside the official structures. Our movement is bottom-up, not top-down, and the “bottom” – the conservative grassroots – is powerful today in large part because you, as a free agent, are the wind beneath our wings.  Does anyone suppose that Glenn Beck by himself could have attracted the numbers that crowded Washington on August 28?  Even as Glenn Beck has inspired millions of Americans to really study the Constitution and American history – many of us for the first time in our lives – you are the one who is stimulating a rebirth of the American spirit.  Your positive outlook, warm affirmation of our country, and contagious love of life are a light for us in this dark time, and a source of real energy.

I am convinced that this energy will be dissipated if you go the conventional route of electoral politics.  I would remind you once again of Mahatma Gandhi, who empowered and sustained the Indian people as no elected official could.  Like him, you are a “kingmaker.”  As our unruly Tea Party movement moves forward, we need a kingmaker who stands outside party politics, and has greater influence because of that.  Elected officials and kingmakers are two very different roles, which ideally are filled by two very different kinds of people.  You are magnificently effective as the latter, as our victories on November 2 attest.

Conservatives across the country are grateful to you for focusing your unique and powerful spotlight on the likes of Kristi Noem, Sean Duffy, Ann Marie Buerkle, Tim Scott and Adam Kinzinger – a new generation of conservative American leaders who are going to shake up Washington and help put us on the road back to fiscal sanity and responsibility toward the generations that follow us.

But the most important person that your support helped to elect is the man I believe can save our country as our next President:  Allen West.  His Democratic opponent threw every dirty trick imaginable at him, and in a district that is more Democrat than Republican, all the lies and slanders could have sunk him.  They didn’t – in part because Allen West himself is such an amazing man, and there’s simply no suppressing him; in part, because the FL-22 Republicans who volunteered for him in droves are an incredible bunch of people who saw, early on, what a phenomenal person their candidate was, and then worked their hearts out for him; and partly because – and this might have been what put him over the top – your support increased his national name recognition, and thus helped bring much-needed financial support from around the country.

Allen West is ready to lead – he could walk into the Oval Office tomorrow and be job-ready – and we need him at the earliest opportunity – which means 2012.  Many people have noted the parallels between Obama and the appeaser Neville Chamberlain – with the radical Islamists being the Nazis who threaten world takeover.  I believe that God in His mercy has given us a Winston Churchill in the person of Allen West.

We are at war, and we need a wartime President.  The enemy is not only at the gates, but already within our borders.  Radical Islamists and their sympathizers have infiltrated not only the executive and legislative branches, but even our courts, and, it would appear, very high levels of our military.  Only one man has the deep knowledge of history; the keen understanding of the Islamic mind that comes from daily personal contact with Muslims as both foes and allies; and the boldness to speak the enemy’s name out loud, regardless of opposition, regardless of political correctness, regardless of the risks to his own personal safety.

Only one man has the toughness, born of decades of military discipline, to tell us the unpleasant truths about the struggle we are in; and the leadership that will inspire us to persevere through the “blood, toil, tears and sweat” that lie ahead of us.

Important as the most-discussed current issues are – jobs, taxes, health care – radical Muslims have declared war on us, whether we like it or not, and their clearly stated intent to annihilate us overwhelms all other issues.  With Allen West as our President and Commander in Chief, we can begin in earnest what will be a long but determined struggle to defeat this enemy.  Please help us, Sarah, to make this happen.  Help us to save our country.

Sincerely,
WestForWestWing2012

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