Mike Brucia and Mary Lavender Transcript

Interview with Denton County Republican Tea Party president Mike Brucia and his fellow Tea Partier Mary Lavender, at the Prairie House restaurant in Crossroads, Texas on July 19, 2010. This transcript represents the first hour and a quarter of a nearly four-hour conversation. Transcript of the subsequent conversation available upon request. — AB A.J. Bauer: Before we get started, any other questions? And you can ask me questions throughout as well. Mike Brucia: Yeah, I’d prefer that it be kind of casual and conversational — would probably be better. AB: By all means. So first off, what year were born? MB: 1959. AB: And are you from Texas originally? MB: I was born on Long Island. AB: So what’s the path from there to here? MB: When I was a kid my family moved here —when Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport was opening there was an employment opportunity... AB: Doing what? Construction or? MB: It was actually — [laughter] — that was about 1965, so that was for my stepfather. And he worked for an aircraft refueling company that had the contract for DFW. AB: And so whereabouts did you settle in the metroplex? MB: We settled in Irving — over by the airport. AB: And so, raised there mostly? MB: Yes. AB: And what kind of schools did you attend — public or private? MB: Public school. AB: I guess what’s been your career trajectory? MB: Well after high school I went into the Air Force and became a technician. And I guess the best way to describe my career since then as entrepreneurial. Mary Lavender:: It’s interesting the background that you’re going to share with him, you might find some commonality. AB: So when you say “entrepreneurial” — what are some businesses that you’ve started up? MB: Well, I worked in construction — and various different offshoots of that type of work, doing service repair work. And currently we own a vending company. AB: I noticed that on your business card — kind of tell me a little bit about what that’s about — what do you vend? MB: Well, it is pretty much what you’d imagine. We have a number of vending machines — we have them on location. We specialize in what we call cafeteria-style vending, which means employee break rooms at major employers, where we’ll have eight to 12 machines offering anything from gourmet coffee to breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees that are frozen, which they can microwave — all the snacks and drinks that are typical. All the way through dessert — we have ice cream and that sort of thing, AB: I’ve seen those ice cream vending machines — I always liked those. So how did you get into vending? MB: Actually, we decided late in life — after we became empty nesters — to get horses again. And we were living in Carrollton, which is kind of in the center of town and not a great place for horses — although that’s where we boarded our horses when we lived in Irving, when I was a kid. Carrollton was frontier-ville back then. But, we knew someone here living just outside of Denton who would allow us to keep our horses there. And then that property became available so we decided to move and purchase that property, and didn’t want to drive back and forth to Dallas every day so we wound up establishing this company. AB: So you said much of your career has been entrepreneurial — is that something you’d always planned to do or something that fell on you? How did you come across that path as opposed to a more typical path? MB: You know, I can’t say I ever really had a career path. It’s — I’ve not been that type of person. I’ve just kind of followed my heart and pursued opportunities as they were presented. AB: And so, in terms of education, did you go to college at all or just high school? MB: High school and some college. AB: And what were some of your favorite subjects in school? MB: History and technical classes. AB: What were some of your favorite technical classes? MB: All of them. It started when I was in the ninth grade I took a class called occupational orientation where they taught you how to weld and how to do basic wiring and basic carpentry and you’d build projects out of wood and you’d build stuff from metal and the whole year long it was just you tried all these different things to see what you’d like — I liked all of them. AB: And thinking back, what would you say is your first political memory? MB: When I was just a kid, going with my mother to visit our Congressman. AB: Do you remember what Congressman? MB: No. AB: And why was your mother taking you to visit the Congressman? MB: Because I was too little to be left alone, I think. AB: What was she going there for, was she active in politics? MB: She was very much aware of what was going on and she did interact — she did volunteer on some political campaigns and she did have some memorabilia. I think she was mostly Republican, but I don’t know that she was ever specifically engaged with the Republican Party per se. I think the candidates that she chose to support were more Republicans. But she was an interested participant in government — she was an active citizen who had questions she wanted answers for and so she went to the source and got answers. AB: And so, do you remember the first time you ever voted? MB: Yes I do. I was in the Air Force actually. I joined the Air Force when I was 17 and the first president — the first election that came up when I was eligible to vote was the presidential election of 1980. AB: And who did you vote for? MB: Ronald Reagan. AB: Some questions might not need to be asked, but they’re asked anyways. MB: It’s okay, just backing up a little bit. The reason that I went into the Air Force — it’s kind of an interesting story, to me anyway. I had my choice of what military branch I wanted to go into and whether I even wanted to go into the military. At that point there was no draft or anything — and I watched the debacle in the desert, as it was often described, and Jimmy Carter’s attempt to rescue the Iran hostages with a military that he and his administration had basically gutted of its ability to handle things like that, and I saw America diminishing in the world, in its stature. And I thought certainly that someone was going to provoke a war against America while it was in its weakened state. I decided the right place for me to be was in the military, and that it would be either the Navy or the Air Force. AB: And why the Navy or the Air Force? MB: Because I didn’t want to be ineffectual canon fodder in an Army that wasn’t properly equipped. AB: So, was Carter the first — when did you first start getting conscious of politics and interested in politics? MB: I guess it was probably around ‘68 — is that when Hubert Humphrey was running for president? AB: I believe so. MB: I think I remember Hubert Humphrey running for president. AB: What’s kind of your history of political affiliation — that’s the point where you first became aware — what were you then and how has your ideology changed over time? MB: Well, I have always been more or less libertarian, whether I realized it or not. I’m a firm believer — even as a child I recognized through American history that the United States is something special, and what I mean by that is that the government model that was created by the Founding Fathers is unique in history and that that was something that was special and set us apart and the fact that in this country we have not just freedom, we have liberty. And that always struck me as — how did it strike me? I don’t know, some how it resonated in me. ... [Brief exchange omitted at Brucia’s request.] AB: So when did you realize that little L libertarianism was something you identified with? MB: When I began to hear about bits and pieces — I was never politically connected or particularly involved. I always felt that it was important for an individual to vote, to get educated on current events, who the candidates were, what they stood for and cast your vote according to your conscience. And through that process of reading, watching things on television, listening to the radio, talking to other people, I became aware of the Libertarian Party. And I found that there was — that I could agree with a lot of the things that they espouse. AB: So in terms of party affiliation, then, did you affiliate with the Republican Party or were you independent? MB: I was independent until this year. AB: You mention Reagan — what about Reagan appealed to you and what are some characteristics you look for in a political leader? MB: Okay, what appealed to me about Reagan was he spoke of American exceptionalism — he spoke to the people directly. He didn’t appear to me as — what was I 19, 20-year-old kid? I already had a less than favorable opinion of Jimmy Carter, who was my commander-in-chief. And I saw first hand in the military just how stripped it was and just how undermanned it was and how under-budget, and how every year we had to go a number of days without pay because the Congress didn’t want to put money forward to pay the military. And time and again we needed things — we were cannibalizing aircraft in order to keep others working. It just left a really bad taste in my mouth, and what I heard from Reagan — as I mentioned, hearing him talk about American exceptionalism — the shining city on the hill — the last bastion of hope for mankind. And all of these things resonated with my patriotism, and I listened to what he talked about — they called it trickle-down theory, supply-side economics, and I saw first hand that when government attempted to control too many things, none of those things seemed to run very well. But that when business was allowed to operate — when taxes were reduced and businesses were allowed to flourish, that the economy did better — this is just memories I had from growing up. And Reagan was talking about empowering the people to create jobs and the businesses to flourish again. And of course he talked about empowering the military and reestablishing American military supremacy, and that had great appeal to me. AB: You mention “American exceptionalism” as a term — what does that mean to you? MB: What that means to me is that the system of government that our Founders created — that’s what’s exceptional. And, as an offshoot of that, because of the liberty that provides to the citizens — the people of America have a can-do spirit to overcome virtually anything. Put a challenge in front of an American and an entrepreneur will step up and find a way, not only to accomplish — what’s the word I’m looking for — not only to rise to the challenge, but to also make a profit from it. AB: Kind of flesh that last part out for me a little bit. When you say they make a profit from it, what about that is kind of the cherry on top? Because when you were explaining it you said, “and they get to make a profit out of it.” What gives that extra value? MB: Well, I’m a firm believer in individual responsibility and, as the Constitution specifies, limited government. And in order for us to have limited government, then it means that entrepreneurs need to be able to produce a profit. If you’re going to take risks, if you’re going to risk your time, risk your capital, risk your resources, then you should be allowed to profit — realize a profit. If you’ve done everything right, you’ve done your research, you’ve studied the problem, you’ve committed your resources to it, you’ve worked hard, and then you have met a need, satisfied — you’ve risen to a challenge, then you’ve given so much of yourself at that point, your reward is your profit. AB: So generally speaking in terms of political leaders, what characteristics do you feel are most important? MB: Okay, I’m looking for a leader who recognized that the Constitution is not, as has been termed lately, a “living, breathing document” — that it is absolutely a rule book by which the government is bound. That’s the number one most important thing I look for in an elected official. Any other interpretation of the Constitution is, to me, completely fabricated and has no basis in fact. I look for strength of character — a demonstrated history of having overcome adversity, and risen to challenges and succeeded. AB: In particular, why the necessity for someone to have overcome challenges? MB: It shows strength of character. AB: So, again switching gears — would you consider yourself a religious person? MB: No. AB: Have you been not too religious your whole life or has it come and gone? MB: I’ve been not too religious most of my life. I’ve actually struggled with that question for most of my life and have been an avowed atheist for probably the majority of my life. But as I get older, and I learn more about the world around me, I’m not so sure anymore. And it’s not fear of death — who was it that said nobody’s an atheist on their deathbed? It’s not that case at all. It’s that as I look around and I see more and more of the world, I think that an atheist’s viewpoint is limited. It’s not accepting enough about what may be possible. AB: And, what kind of music do you like? MB: I like rock and roll and country music, but not all of either. AB: When you say rock and roll, is there a particular era — and the same with country? MB: I would say that for rock and roll, mostly from the ‘70s. AB: So from when you were growing up. MB: From when I was a teenager — I think like most adults it’s the music from my teens that stuck with me. AB: And then in terms of country western? MB: I like stuff from Hank Williams up through the current day and just pick and choose. AB: And how about television — do you watch television? MB: I do watch, but it’s limited. As a kid, growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s I was glued to the television — I watched lots of it. But nowadays I don’t watch that much. AB: Are there certain shows you watch? MB: I prefer to watch documentary-type television more than anything, and I watch shows that are informative, educational, generally technical. If I decide to watch TV and I’m flipping through channels and see somebody rebuilding an old car — I’ll watch that for a half hour. I’m not going to watch a sitcom or something like that. AB: So ‘Modern Marvels’ type shows. MB: Yeah, so I’ll probably find that the channel is most often on Discovery or the History Channel. AB: And, what about books? Do you read often? MB: No, not lately. I just finished reading a book. AB: What book? MB: The Servant. AB: Do you remember who that’s by? MB: I don’t. AB: Is it a recent book or an older book? MB: It’s a relatively recent. But mostly I read magazines, and usually magazines associated with something that I currently have an interest in. AB: What are some magazines you subscribe to? MB: Western Horseman, Popular Mechanics, Readers Digest — we subscribe to The Horse, which is kind of a veterinary journal. Western Shooting Horse. AB: So lots of really specific magazines for your horse... MB: Yeah, activities that I’m interested in. AB: And so, as you mentioned you own horses — what do you do with them? MB: Mostly feed them and take care of them. [laughter] AB: Do you do shows or? MB: Most recently I have been involved in the game of Cowboy Mounted Shooting — it’s a rodeo arena game where you play for — it’s a timed event, you go as fast as you can using old west six-guns — 45-calibur six-guns that are loaded with blank ammunition... And there are 10 balloons — 65 different patterns that those balloons might be set up in. And the objective is to shoot the balloons in the right order as quickly as you can without making any mistakes. AB: That sounds very fun. MB: It’s an adrenaline rush riding a running horse and shooting at targets as you go past them. AB: I bet. So, in terms of books you’ve read in your life that have been formative — that stick out in your history? ML: [chuckles] MB: Are we talking about novels or non-fiction? AB: Both and either. MB: I remember being struck as a teenager by Sydney Sheldon’s Master of the Game — that one’s always stayed with me and I still have a copy on my bookshelf to this day. I read a lot of action adventure stories — Louis L’Amour was a favorite author. Tom Clancy. ML: The Art of War MB: Of course, Sun Tzu The Art of War — an important book. I have the Federalist Papers that I read. ML: The Fountainhead MB: Oh yes, Ayn Rand — Atlas Shrugged is probably the most important work that I’ve ever read. But I’ve read everything that she wrote, including short stories. I’ve considered myself an Objectivist most of my life and I think that’s where — part of what resonated with the libertarian. AB: Do you still consider yourself an Objectivist? MB: Yes. AB: And what about that philosophy appeals to you in particular? ML: [laughs knowingly] AB: That’s probably an expansive question. MB: It’s a very expansive question — I’m trying to condense it into a few words, to be concise and still convey my meaning. AB: You can take as long as you want with it. MB: I think what it is about Objectivism that drew me more than anything else was Rand’s admonition to reexamine your pretenses and to start from square one — anytime you’re looking at something and it doesn’t make sense, go back — not just to the beginning, go underneath the foundation and start all over again. AB: Of her books, you mention that Atlas Shrugged is most important to you. Why does that book stand out among the others? MB: That book, as you’re well aware, is a story about individuals upon whom there were tremendous demands and these were hard-working, for the most part honest, straight forward individuals who worked because it was what they did. They found solutions because it’s what they did — it was the type of person they were. They were surrounded by people who took advantaged of the type of person that they were and it was a story of awakening. I know who John Galt is. AB: And, this question changes gears slightly, and we may come back to philosophy here in a little while, but what does it mean to you to be an American? What does being an American mean to you? MB: It means being a part of a unique history — a unique departure from history by a group of people where individual effort, risk — efforts and risks are rewarded, and whereby you get to keep the fruits of your labor — you’re not doing it for someone else. And where, as Dr. King said, a man is judged by the content of his character. AB: You mention a departure from history — what do you mean by that? MB: To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln — government of the people, by the people, for the people. No monarch, no higher authority than the individual. AB: And kind of the inverse of that question — what does it mean to be un-American? MB: To work against — let me think about that for a minute okay. AB: No, take your time. MB: There are a lot of different things — and going back, I don’t think I captured what it fully means to be an American. AB: By all means, add more. MB: That’s a subject that could take years of study, and the same with being un-American. That’s very difficult to quantify — it’s one of those things that’s like art. I know it when I see it but I can’t tell you what it looks like ahead of time because there are so many ways that it can be accomplished. But essentially, for an individual to reject the notion of American exceptionalism and to actively work to de-evolve — or devolve I guess is the proper word — the American society, as opposed to doing their part to enhance it and improve it and help strengthen it. AB: Do you feel a stronger cultural identification with your country, state, religious group, ethnic group, class, or some other classification? ML: Is he supposed to pick one? AB: He can pick more than one. MB: My country, followed very closely by my state — by Texas. And because Texas also has a similar history that parallels the United States’ history — with a war for independence by individuals who were hard working people who were just trying to keep the fruits of their labors, who were just trying to govern themselves, who were dealing with a tyrant, that attempted to rule their lives and micromanage everything. And because of the parallel histories of the United States and Texas, I associate closely with both of those. Like I said, I wasn’t born in Texas but I do consider myself a Texan. AB: You got here as fast as you could. That’s the saying right? MB: That’s what they say. But now I have a choice of where I can live, A.J., and I choose to live in Texas. AB: And does that have to do with what you said about the parallel? MB: That has to do with some of it. It also has to do with the fact that Texas is one of the few places in the United States where business is promoted — there’s a reason that since the mid-1800s people have been leaving their homes in other states and going to Texas in droves. What was the last number I read? 800 per day — who are essentially immigrating to Texas from other states in the United States because opportunity abounds here. There is a can-do spirit, an attitude that you get to keep the fruits of your labors and there is no limit to what you accomplish if you apply yourself and are willing to take the risks and work hard and are smart enough to figure it out. And of course, these things that I’ve said — I assume it goes without saying but I’m going to go ahead and say — we’re talking about things that are morally correct. It is reprehensible to work really hard, commit all your resources to become a drug dealer or some kind of criminal — that’s not how you succeed anywhere, not for very long anyway. I’m talking about in legal enterprises — in business particularly. And it’s a wholesome place, because of that environment. A place where people can flourish. AB: Changing topics again, what’s your primary source of news? MB: I don’t have one primary source of news. AB: Where do you tend to get it? What multiple sources? MB: I view probably 30 minutes to 45 minutes of television news each day — it’s on one of the major affiliates, local news. I read the local newspaper. AB: Which one? Denton Record or? MB: Denton Record. AB: Do you have a particular local news station or do you just watch whatever’s on? MB: Actually, we watch, through the course of the week Fox’s local affiliate, NBC’s local affiliate and ABC’s local affiliate. AB: So, in addition to local news and the local paper — where do you get your national news? MB: I listen to talk radio through the course of the workday, in snippets, more or less, as I’m working. AB: What shows in particular? MB: It’s pretty lengthy. I’m not married to any one individual. AB: Is there a certain channel that you keep it on? MB: No. I switch around between WBAP, KSKY and I guess it’s KLIF. And I listen to — for monetary news, Dave Ramsey. For national issues of the day stuff from Bill Bennett, to Mike Gallagher to Dennis Prager to Mark Davis to Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Mark Levine. I mean there are a lot of different people who I listen to — but none of them exclusively. AB: And how long have you listened to talk radio, or how long has that been a primary source of news for you? MB: Gosh. Well, I reject your question — like I said, I really don’t consider it a primary source of news because it is just one of many sources of news. AB: Right, one of many — my apologies. MB: I have listened to talk radio for quite a number of years. It’s hard to say how long it’s been. AB: Do you get news from the Internet at all? MB: Yes. But not all that much. Generally what I get are snippets that have been sent to me by a number of different people I correspond with — and they’re from a wide variety of sources. AB: So people sending out e-mails, “hey, did you see this?” — that type thing? MB: MmHm. AB: And generally speaking what are your opinions of the news media? MB: It’s low. I have a very low opinion of the news media. I think for the most part they have an agenda and they pursue it — and you know what, that’s perfectly okay. The news media are private enterprise in this country. Throughout the history of this country we have had yellow dog journalism — it didn’t go away just because the yellow sheets of paper it was printed on went away. It’s always been there and it still is today. And it’s very difficult, because of it, to get fair and balanced reporting from anybody. AB: Is that part of the reason why you spread out your sources of news? MB: Yes, I try to get different takes from different sources. AB: And what are your general opinions of journalists? MB: For the most part I think that they are agenda-driven, whether they realize it or not. I think they establish a pretense and then find a story that will support it — that’s on the best side of them. On the worst side of them they’re lying dogs who will fabricate — as has been proven in numerous instances in the last few years. From whole cloth — entire stories to destroy someone or to advance an agenda and create a national furor. AB: What do you suppose is their motivation to do that? MB: I can’t tell you what another man’s thinking. AB: Getting into the Tea Party movement — how and when did you first become aware of it? MB: I became aware of the Tea Party movement shortly after Rick Santelli blasted on the floor of, — what was it, the Chicago Commodities exchange? AB: How did you hear about that? MB: Somebody sent me a clip. AB: And so, you see that clip. Did you immediately act? Or, what happened after that? MB: No, I smiled. I said this is wonderful — I mean, Santelli works for CNN? Or is it MSNBC? AB: I think it’s CNBC actually. MB: CNBC, okay. That somebody affiliated with a left-leaning organization such as NBC and Microsoft would actually get airtime with the views he was espousing — it was very humorous and it was very nice to see for a change. I wouldn’t expect to hear words like that on CNBC or any NBC or Microsoft-related media outlet. AB: And what about what he said captivated you? MB: I think when he was asking the other guys on the exchange whether they wanted to pay other people’s mortgages. I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said that the only real problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. AB: And, when did you become involved in the Tea Party movement? MB: I’m not involved in the Tea Party movement, A.J. AB: How do you figure? MB: How do I figure that? Well, you heard what I said that night. I wasn’t making that up. It’s not like I came to that meeting with an agenda — I was asked to be there. There were some people that were instrumental in the idea of the organization who are inside the Denton Country Republican Party. I had spoken to those people because I got involved earlier this year supporting a dark-horse candidate for governor — Deborah Medina. And because she was running as a Republican, I participated in the Republican processes, and through those processes — the precinct convention and then the [Senate District] convention and then the state convention — I came to meet a whole lot of Republicans, and I realized that while my perception of the Republican Party was pretty accurate and that is that most of the people who are involved with it have specific, single-item agendas that they’re doing — certain individual passions that they are pursuing to the exclusion of all else and if you disagree with them you’re nobody they want to talk to. But I also saw something that opened my eyes — and that was that about half of the people involved in the Republican Party were very accepting — open to discussion and wanted to hear about different ideas about things; and very tolerant, understanding people — very welcoming. And because of that attitude — I was surprised at that attitude, I really expected to find a real closed-mindedness, as has been described in the national media for a number of years and by the Democrats nationally for a number of years — you know, the party of no. What I encountered was, yes, we’re listening, we want to hear what you have to say, please, we’d like for you to be involved. Because of my history as an independent — let me back up a step. I recognize that what we have for government today at the local, the state and the national level is not what was intended by our Founding Fathers. I read a statistic this morning that in 2009 government — and this is a generic word, government in the United States — consumed 61.9 percent of the gross domestic product. That my friend is not limited government — that is a glutton consuming the entire productivity of its people — that sounds more like a monarchy. You’d expect something like that in North Korea, not in the United States of America. And I’ve known about this thing for years and have seen the government involved in so many different things — I read the Constitution and you don’t have to be an attorney or a constitutional scholar to understand that words have meaning and that they were never intended. The Founders who formed it — Madison wrote the Constitution — never intended for the government to be involved in so many facets of our lives. And it occurred to me that if change is going to take place — true, meaningful change that will re-establish the government back to something akin to the Constitutional model — then involvement by its citizens is essential. Our Founders required that we be involved in government, they intended that we be involved in government, not just voting every two to four years, but actually involved in the processes. And I’ve been involved in involved in running a business, I’ve been involved in raising a family, I’ve been involved in — I’ve reached a point in business where I’m comfortable and I don’t have any kids at home anymore. I was pursuing some interests, like the mounted shooting, and spending my resources and my time pursuing that activity. But, I’ve always known that unless people got involved and took action, nothing would happen. We were allowing people to govern by default — because I was casting my vote and holding my nose. I didn’t like the choice of either of the major party candidates in the last election — I would have had to hold my nose to cast my vote for either one of them. We had one who’s unproven with a decidedly socialist upbringing and past and we have one who, bless his heart for all that he’s done, but appears to be a bumbling idiot, who doesn’t seem to recognize where he stands and is very confused about what his philosophy is. Each of them teamed with a vice presidential candidate that was laughable at best — who didn’t really add anything to the ticket on either side. But we have a firmly entrenched two-party system in this country and one of those two guys was going to get elected. Either one was a poor choice for America. The only way that an individual can have a hand in making sure that we have better choices on the ballot is to get involved in one of those two political parties. I look at the Democratic Party and I see it so far left and seems to be running leftward at a breakneck pace that is going to lead to socialism. And lest we forget what socialism on a national level, and nationalism can combine to create — the worst form of tyranny available. We had a recent experience with that back with the National Socialist Party in Germany back in the middle of last century. It leads to totalitarianism. We saw it again with left-leaning politics in Russia — what was Russia became the Soviet Union and, again, we wound up totalitarianism. We saw it with China, again we wound up with totalitarianism. It seems that everywhere socialism is tried you wind up either bankrupt or with totalitarianism. Neither of those choices are appealing to me. So like I said, after looking at the Republican Party I saw some hope. I saw that there are some people there who, like me, believe that the Constitution is a guideline — no, is a rulebook for government. And it’s deviation from it that has led to so many of the problems that we’ve been experiencing. The interference of the government with the people, with free enterprise — instead of just the few tasks that the Constitution gives the government, it’s taken on so much more and has its fingers in so many different things. It took 61.9 percent of the gross domestic product in 2009 to satisfy government’s incredible, insatiable appetite for the fruits of the labor of the people — that does not seem to me government of the people, by the people, for the people. That seems to me government by an elite ruling class just like a monarchy — taking away the majority of what you produce. But I hear a lot of voices in the Republican Party that want to see it go back to individual responsibility, limited government, and free enterprise — private property rights. And since there’s already a firm foothold there — a firm place to start from, I figured that was the place where I would work. Now, all that said and to answer the question of how long I’ve been involved with the Tea Party — I’ve been involved with the Tea Party exactly one month this coming Thursday night — the night I met you was the first time I’ve been involved in any Tea Party event. And the reason for that is I’ve seen the Tea Party — and I’ve seen a whole lot of people do a whole lot of speechifying and hold up a whole lot of signs, get a whole lot of people really excited and then give them absolutely no direction to follow. And I thought, what a colossal waste of time and resources — yes they’re saying the right things, they’re espousing the same viewpoints that I do, but they are not doing anything to accomplish it. Now, my entrepreneurial side says, hey, you can talk all day long or you can get up and take action — which is it? We were a week out of the state convention, and I was conflicted about going to Dallas for the Republican state convention, which I really didn’t want to do because I’m not a Republican, and going to Oklahoma for a national championship of Cowboy Mounted Shooting that I’d qualified to attend. I was making arrangements to go to Oklahoma, and was a little conflicted because I knew that I had a duty, that there was something that needed to be done — that we as Americans are tasked — we have a duty, our Founders insisted that we accept this obligation, and most of us have shirked it all our lives. For generations most of us have shirked it. We’ve had our nose to the grinds, heads down taking care of our own business — well it’s not enough. We have a responsibility to the future that the form of government they established continues forward. And I was reminded, just before I finalized my plans to go to Oklahoma, by the love of my life Mary, that I had quoted to her, although I don’t remember the circumstances, that is often attributed to Edmund Burke, though he never said it, and that is that all that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. I said, okay I’m going to Dallas. I went to Dallas, met all these people, got involved with the Republican Party and decided that was where I was going to work. People in the Denton County Republican Party were looking for a way to keep an open communication between independents — Tea Party type people — and the Republican Party. And they took a look at me and said you’re our guy. And so I wound up at that meeting — knowing full well when I arrived that I was going to be nominated to lead that group — and I accepted the nomination and then the group voted for me to lead it. And that’s my involvement in the Tea Party. AB: And so, what about the Tea Party label is useful? For example, there’s plenty of Republican Clubs that can reach out — I’ve been to several Tea Party gatherings in the area and many of them have actually heard about your gathering and are concerned. And I think there was a little bit at that meeting — there were a few people that were — there was a little discussion about that, I recall. MB: Yes. AB: What about combining the two titles is best for the Republican Party — and what do you think about that whole debate there? MB: It says who we are. It’s truth in advertising. I believe — I’m the kind of person that a lot of people don’t like, A.J. I’m going to look you in the eye and I’m going to tell you how it is, whether you like it or not it’s the reality of the situation. And the reality of the situation is this organization is the Denton County Republican Tea Party. Any other name would not describe it properly. The reason that name describes it properly is it is headed up by an independent — it is open and welcoming to individuals who don’t want to wear the Republican label, for a wide variety of reasons. As you’re no-doubt aware, you’ve indicated to me that you have a liberal lean, so you don’t want to wear the Republican label. I hope that you’ll be educated through this process, not just by myself but by other people, and maybe begin to reject the liberal label as well. Liberalism in itself is not a bad thing, but the things that have been done in the name of liberalism is horrible. But that’s another story. The purpose of this organization is to help take the people who leave the Tea Party events, and they are excited and they are charged up and they want to get something done — we want real change, we want positive improvement, we want to do something, we want to get involved, we want to take action! It’s a way to introduce those people to the Republican Party and to show them what I’ve realized — about half of the people who are currently in the Republican Party understand, and that is that we have a firmly entrenched two-party system in this country. If you want to be actively involved and you want to have a say in what’s going to happen in upcoming election, you need to get involved now and meet the people who are going to run for those jobs. And speak with them. And make sure they understand that in order to receive the support that a party provides, they are going to have to actually represent the people that are going to actively work to put them in office — and the viewpoints of those people. AB: So you mentioned the Deborah Medina campaign — is that the first time you ever got involved in politics or what was your entry point? MB: That was the first time I got actively involved with a campaign. AB: And what drove you to go out and get involved that time? MB: I was tired of holding my nose. AB: What was the final straw? MB: Gosh, A.J., there’s not been a final straw, has there? Mary’s got an idea, share it with me. ML: The health issue. MB: The health issue. ML: The health issue. MB: Oh, the national health care that is being or was foisted off on America as “health care reform” — shoved through Congress by changing the way things are handled. It did not at all resemble what the Constitution said the process was for a bill to travel before it becomes law — and yet it became law. I realized we had government run amok. Deborah Medina was a voice for Constitutional construction — constructivist view — and private property rights, and independent, individual responsibility, and very anti-big government. And I’ve decided that we’ve allowed this government to become so large that it thinks it can run roughshod over the people — and that was not what was intended when this government was formed. I do not advocate any type of revolution or armed resistance to government. I advocate involvement. And not just involvement to get Republicans in to replace Democrats — because good lord they have been two sides of the same coin as long as I’ve been aware. I’ve often said when someone asked if I was a Republican or a Democrat, I said no, I’m neither — I’m an independent. And they say, well why is that, and they’ll say well who do you vote for, and I’ll say I generally vote for Republicans, and they’ll say why? And I’d say because at least they’ll allow you to make money before they steal it from you. Where the Democrats put policies into place where you can’t even make the money, and then insist that you give it to them. But don’t elect a Congress full of Republicans, because they’ll spend like drunken Democrats — they’ve proved that. So I’ve had a real distaste for the way our government has operated regardless of which party was in power per se. And that also led me to where I am today — it’s time to fix that. And it’s time for the people to reclaim the government. The Constitution says it belongs to us and it’s our job — and the only reason we don’t control it right now is because we’ve shirked our responsibility. We said, oh, we’ll let those folks do it. We allowed them to do it by default. We’ve all been so busy taking care of whatever we needed to take care of that we forgot to take care of the government itself and it’s reached a point where it’s completely out of control. Medina was a breath of fresh air — she was not saying the same big-government things that I was hearing from the other two Republican candidates. It was a foregone conclusion that Bill White was going to be the Democratic candidate for governor, so I paid no attention to that race at all. And I thought if there were any chance of improvement, it was going to be on the Republican side so I paid attention to those three candidates. Both Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison have proven themselves to be big government people — they wear a Republican label; they tend to vote more conservative than Democrats do but, again, other side of the same coin. So I’ve never been a big fan of either of them and Medina was — she had some kind of crazy ideas about some things, but she was a breath of fresh air and — here’s the key, A.J. — she was of the people. She was not a career, professional politician. She was me or you or the guy down the street or the lady who works at the grocery store who stepped up and said somebody’s got to do it. AB: And what would you say are the main values of the Tea Party movement? MB: I believe that they’re all pretty clearly identified — you can go to pretty much any Tea Party group’s Web site and see. They all agree pretty much on national sovereignty, individual responsibility, limited government, private property. AB: And you think it’s just — what do you think the movement is motivated by? MB: Disgust. AB: What about the Tea Party do you think that the media consistently gets wrong or misapprehends? MB: I think that the media — the national media predominantly portrays it — what was it Barack Obama said earlier this year? They cling to their guns and Bibles? We are founded as a Christian nation under God with the right to bear arms. For him to say such a thing is to say what we have come to understand about the man — the he does not believe that the Constitution is indeed a rulebook that government has to follow. And that he, as the chief executive of the United States of America, which is ordained and established in that very document, from which he derives his powers — he does not feel any obligation to honor that document. AB: So you think the main claim is — so you said that the claim was that people cling to their guns and their Bibles, but then you defended it as accurate. MB: Well, okay, what they do ... AB: Maybe “cling” is the inaccuracy? MB: Yes, the “cling.” It’s not clinging — these are rights. And I’m sure you’ve heard this before but I’m going to say it for you now — rights pre-existed this government. There are many people in the Tea Party, and in the Republican Party and, you might be surprised to know in the flyover country, the Democratic Party, many, many, many people who do believe in God and believe that their rights come from God. As I said before, I don’t have a clear-cut answer on that. But I do believe that the rights we enjoy, that are enumerated in the Constitution specifically, pre-date this government, and supercede any government. And a right to freedom of religion and a right to self-defense are basic human rights, regardless of government. And any government that attempts to make light of those, let alone attempts to suppress them, has to be changed. AB: So I think those are all the questions I’d prepared to ask. Are there any questions that I didn’t ask or should have asked or anything else that you think is important that I know? MB: I want to go a little further on the subject of the mis-portrayal of the Tea Party. AB: By all means. MB: There has been a trend throughout — I’ve become particularly aware of it in the last 10, 12 years — on a national level there has been a real derisive attitude on the part of leadership, government officials, toward the people. And I see portrayed today in most — not all — I’m seeing a change in it as we speak. But most of the recent portrayals or — maybe not a portrayal, but when you have an agenda-driven reporter on an agenda-driven network, it’s the spin that’s put out there that the people that are interested in preserving the Constitution and the fundamental freedoms that it enumerates and defines and protects, as being yokels and hicks who don’t really know what’s going on. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Tea Party is ditch diggers and millionaires and everything in between — it’s teachers and firemen, it’s the guy who works in the grocery store and the lady who trims the nails on your dog. And it is a true cross-section of America. It’s a lot of people who feel disenfranchised by their government. And I mentioned the word “disgust” — over the course of the last coming up on two years now, little over a year and a half — the disdain with which the leadership has treated the will of the people — governing without the consent of the people has awakened in Americans from all across the country — from the extreme liberal Northwest to the extremely conservative Bible Belt in the South to the Industrial Belt — for lack of a better phrase, from sea to shining sea, people are waking up and going — no, not in America, that is not right. So they’re looking to learn, and they’re going to Tea Party events, and they’re hearing speakers who will tell them about these things that are going on, that they don’t necessarily hear about by agenda-driven media. And they’re coming away going “I thought so. I was pretty sure there was something going on here that’s not right.” And they’re finding other people like them, who feel the way they feel, that they feel disenfranchised by their government. And instead of portraying these people as victims of their government, and also victims of their own lack of action, that the media should — that is the true portrayal of the Tea Party — they portray them, like I said, as hicks and yokels that are under educated and don’t know what the right thing to do is — unable to govern themselves. AB: So two questions stem from what you just said. First, when you say “agenda-driven media” to what are you referring and to what are you not referring? MB: I believe that the majority of the national media have an agenda, whether they recognize it or not that — it used to be referred to as a good-ol boy network, but they don’t refer to that because now that’s not metrosexual enough. It seems that the people who are in leadership roles now, in business, in big businesses and government, in the media, are — they have those old-school ties — they’ve been to predominantly liberal universities, they share an attitude that anyone who doesn’t see things the way that they see things is under-educated, regardless of what university they may have gone to or how long they may have run a business or how successful they may have been in life. They don’t have the same knowledge — the same understanding of what is the right thing to do, and there’s it seems a collusion among those people to make sure that they are — that they have people like them in positions of power who get to determine the course of our future. AB: So, do you believe that all media has some type of agenda, or do you believe that some media has no agenda? MB: I have yet to discover any media that doesn’t have some form of bias — as I said before, it’s always been that way. I don’t anticipate it ever not being that way — regardless of the fact that the liars in all their medias will attempt to tell you that they’re fair and biased — they’re not. I mean fair and un-biased — fair and balanced. You know, they all say something to that effect, regardless of how they phrase it — they all have a certain lean. AB: I don’t have any follow ups. Do you have anything else that you wanted to add? MB: Anything? She thinks I said too much; she always thinks I say too much. ML: I think it was a great interview. — Interview conducted by A.J. Bauer —

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