It was the 2009 Constitution Day conference at Cato’s headquarters in Washington.
Over lunch, I said to a group of my constitutional lawyer friends, “Isn’t this great? There are people studying and talking about the Constitution like never before in our lifetimes.”
We constitutional lawyers on the right fighting for liberty were used to defeat. Liberty was being taken away through our elected officials and the courts. The media was horrendously against for the forces for liberty.
We were losing ground every week -- every day. The Constitution was becoming irrelevant.
But more depressing, it had always seemed to us that we were fighting our battles in isolation from popular support.
Too many people didn’t seem to understand -- nor care -- that the Constitution was written to protect liberty. We were depressed that we were fighting a losing battle, and the Obama administration had just begun its assault on the rule of law and the Constitution that would get far worse the longer he was in office, and the more brazen his administration became.
But what happened in 2009 gave us encouragement that our efforts were not in vain.
The Tea Party came to be. The People had awakened.
We knew America still had plenty of patriots. But now it seemed that the Constitution had a chance to survive. The cavalry had arrived.
That year, the constitutional conservative force swept a purple state’s election. In Virginia, a conservative Bob McDonnell was elected governor and a 40-something Tea Party champion Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general. The following year, there was the 2010 congressional election landslide.
Since then, however, we have had more than our share of disappointments. Running on the energy of this constitutional conservative movement, many elected Republicans have turned their backs on the people and principles they claimed to represent. Some have even threatened to run primaries against Tea Party, constitutional conservatives.
We had seen Republicans running on the coattails of Ronald Reagan’s reputation before, but then espousing big-government ideas in office. But this new movement, with its grassroots energy, was about more than just limited government – it was about saving the Constitution.
Constitutional conservatives are used to betrayal. But you know what? We now have two United States senators who are legitimate constitutional scholars – Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Plus, we have Rand Paul, who has made the Fourth Amendment a household term.
Better than most constitutional scholars, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul understand that the Constitution was written to protect liberty. They carry the tune of the Constitution in their hearts and minds, just as Justice Clarence Thomas understands the Constitution’s purposes better than most scholars who teach it.
In the past few years these principled constitutional conservatives have shown the contrasting visions for America -- and our constitutional republic – more than the GOP had shown in the preceding decade.
This is why the 2013 Virginia election is critical.
The Republican ticket – Ken Cuccinelli for Governor, E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor and Mark Obenshain for Attorney General – is the best ‘liberty ticket’ we’ve seen in any state.
For constitutional conservatives, electing Ken Cuccinelli governor is a make-or-break moment. His defeat would not be a win just for Terry McAuliffe, the Hillary Clinton machine and Barack Obama; it would be a win for the establishment Republicans such as Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who has refused to endorse Ken Cuccinelli.
This race isn’t important just for Virginia, and isn’t just about 2013. This is a national race, and its effects will reverberate into 2014 and 2016, win or lose.
If we do not elect Ken Cuccinelli, all across the country people will say that the tea party, constitutional conservative movement was a short-lived fluke, and cannot win in a purple state. It would be leftwing media’s ‘we-told-you-so’ moment, and it will hurt fundraising for constitutional conservative candidiates.
I hear grumblings from conservatives in Virginia about Cuccinelli’s campaign. I hear that he’s not energizing the base. I hear that the campaign does not reflect the Ken Cuccinelli who has been the voice of constitutional conservatives, or the Ken Cuccinelli who wrote The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty, which is the single best book about liberty and the Constitution that I’ve ever read written by an elected official.
The Ken Cuccinelli we need to elect this November wrote:
The Constitution with its Bill of Rights is not a code of laws for citizens; it is the law that governs government . . . It is the law that guides how government must act. Just as laws constrain individuals from harming one another, the Constitution restrains the government from harming the individual and his liberty.
The Ken Cuccinelli we must fight to elect this November is the walking embodiment of the Tea Party, constitutional conservative movement.
We are the hard-working mainstream. They are the special interests. We are the people for the people, the rule of law, and ‘love-thy-neighbor.’ They are the nearly $17 trillion national debt that is immorally saddling generations yet to be born, and jeopardizing our security.
Ken Cuccinelli is us writ large. His record proves it. We must elect Ken to send a message that we are here to stay.
Most importantly, Ken Cuccinelli understands the purposes of the Constitution. He is not the type of Republican who pays tribute to Ronald Reagan and the Founders, then betrays most or everything they stood for. In Ken Cuccinelli, we have someone who shares our view that the Constitution is in jeopardy, and who is willing to fight to preserve it.
For those of my friends who grumble about his campaign, let me ask this: Who among us can run for governor -- and win? Who among us will make that sacrifice?
We will have too much to overcome if Ken Cuccinelli were to lose. The Left knows that, and they are pulling out all the stops to defeat him.
If we in Virginia and across the United States do not triple our efforts to elect Ken Cuccinelli this November, we will be doing more harm to ourselves than any Republican elected official who has ever disappointed or betrayed us. This election is about more than Ken Cuccinelli. It is a reflection of us, and whether we have stamina.
Please start by donating here now.
Between now and November 5, I ask all constitutional conservatives to triple their efforts to elect Ken Cuccinelli as Governor of Virginia, not for Ken, but for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. Let us work to save the Constitution, and let us send a message that we and the Constitution are here to stay.