Reflections from Principles First, an Anti-Trump Conservative Conference

Last weekend, an organization called Principles First held a summit in Washington, D.C., which was attended by over 400 people. The conference brought together a wide range of people who could generally be considered to represent the center-right of today’s American political spectrum: Republicans, independents, and even a few Democrats who think of themselves as at least somewhat “conservative” but who oppose Donald Trump and his toxic brand of politics.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) giving keynote address

I attended this two-day event because as an independent and former Democrat who rejects both Trumpism as well as the woke left that has increasingly taken over the Democratic Party, I wanted to find out if a center-right movement could feel like my new political home. I also wanted to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the efforts underway to form a meaningful political coalition to oppose Trump and his disciples in upcoming election cycles, either from within the Republican Party or through the creation of a centrist third party or trans-partisan alliance.

Overall, I found the Principles First Summit to be substantive, engaging, and sometimes inspiring in its tone and content. The group that organized it, as well as other organizations represented, seemingly contain much of the seeds that will be necessary for the growth of a powerful grassroots movement to present a positive vision for America — a broadly inclusive political alternative to compete with the extreme woke Democrats and Trumpist Republicans.

At the same time, it became clear to me that much more work needs to be done, and that voices such as my own, who come out of the classically liberal populist Democratic tradition, are essential for such a movement to fully appreciate what is happening in American politics today and to formulate the strategies necessary to move beyond the divisive ideologies that increasingly dominate our country’s two major political parties.

Preventing the Next Insurrection: The Virtue of Limited Government

Throughout history, many governments have fallen at the hands of barbarians. A year ago today, it almost happened in the United States.

Gallows erected by rioters at the U.S. Capitol, January 6, 2021. Vice President Pence was saved by Capitol police before he could be captured and hanged by the mob.

On the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection and riot at the U.S. Capitol, we will read many erudite journalists and hear eloquent political speeches expounding upon the terrible events of that day, and why Republicans should turn away from the dangerous conspiracy theories of Donald Trump. We will be reminded of the police officers who were beaten with U.S. flag poles; the calls to “Hang Mike Pence!” as a gallows was readied for the vice president who refused to heed his boss’s demand to overturn a legitimate election; and the shameful failure of influential politicians to condemn the most influential leader of the mob, the sitting President Trump himself, who sat in the Oval Office and watched the riot on TV, taking no action for hours as his most fervent followers stormed the seat of our nation’s government and threatened the lives of members of Congress.

Such reminders are well and good — but we should reflect not only on what happened and what fueled such appalling political violence, but on how to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.

Why Republican Glenn Youngkin Won Deep Blue Virginia — and What It Means for America

Last year, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 10% in the state of Virginia. Democrats believed this swing state, which has been gradually shifting from Republican to Democrat, had completed the transition and become a deep blue stronghold.

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin, Governor-elect of Virginia

Democrats were dead wrong. Yesterday, in the Virginia governor’s race, Republican Glenn Youngkin beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a popular former governor of the state. As if to further chasten the Democrats, karma dealt a historically heavy blow: A Black Republican, Winsome Sears, was elected lieutenant governor, becoming the first woman of color ever to win statewide office in Virginia’s history. Jason Miyares, also a Republican, was elected as the state’s first Hispanic attorney general. All of this happened after Democrats have spent the last few years saying that Republicans are supposedly a bunch of deplorable racists.

Four years ago, when Ralph Northam was running for governor, I was serving as a Democratic Party county chairman in southwestern Virginia, doing everything I could to help Northam and our fellow Democrats get elected. This year — despite voting for Joe Biden in 2020 and strongly disapproving of ex-president Donald Trump — I chose not to vote in the Virginia governor’s race between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe. It was the first time I didn’t vote in a major election in more than 20 years.

I’ve been a Democrat since the presidency of George W. Bush, and at times I have passionately supported the Democratic philosophy and candidates. But not anymore. In this post, I’m “coming out” as an independent and former Democrat. I’ll explain why I’ve left the party and why millions of Americans like myself are doing so — propelling Republicans like Glenn Youngkin to victory in previously solid blue states such as Virginia.

20 Years After 9/11, the Enemy Is Ourselves

When the United States was attacked by foreign terrorists on September 11, 2001, our nation came together. Today, as we are being attacked by a deadly virus, we are tearing ourselves apart.

Twin Towers burning on 9/11

The difference between Americans’ national response to the 9/11 attacks and the Covid-19 pandemic is striking. Both were tragic yet heroic opportunities for people to rally to a common cause: defeating radical Islamic terror, or eradicating a terrible plague. But in one case, twenty years ago, Americans chose national unity in the face of danger. Nowadays, we choose to make our fellow Americans the enemy — and the greatest danger of all lurks within our politically poisoned hearts.

What has changed in the past two decades? We’ve had two failed wars abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have undermined Americans’ confidence in our country as a force for good in the world. And we have an intensifying culture war here at home, between the “Reds” and the “Blues” — the Trumpist Right and the Woke Left — two factions of our society that increasingly hate each other with a passion that equals, or even exceeds, the hatred felt by radical Islamic terrorists toward America as a whole.