Most of you know that I am not 100% on board with Ron Paul. I have written both scathing rebuttals to his stances on certain subjects and alternatively supported others. For the most part, I have not praised many of his supporters over the years. Perhaps I just run into the worst of them more often than not. Those that I deem “Paulians” seem to be followers of a messianic figure not unlike Atheists and their Dawkins or Hitchens.
This weekend I had a great opportunity to interview a young man running in the GOP primary for the U.S. Congressional 6th District in Kentucky. He is a 26 year-old software developer and entrepreneur from Lexington, KY. He’s the assistant director at Awesome Labs, a not-for-profit focused on helping students start their own companies. He is also a Ron Paul supporter – but he is no Paulian.
The first time I heard of Patrick Kelly he was on my old friend Leland Conway’s radio show. He was given a small segment to make his mark among the other primary candidates. For me, Patrick blew them out of the water. He wasn’t scripted, had obvious knowledge well beyond the other candidates, had a firm grasp on what he believed, and most importantly, he grounded everything he said in the core philosophy of liberty. Did I mention he’s 26?
Let me be clear about a couple of things. First, I have supported Andy Barr, the favorite to win the GOP primary in the past. I should also come clean and say that I am a Ron Paul supporter (as many of you already know). I’m not a disciple, but perhaps Patrick is that. I don’t mean disciple in the same way that I refer to the Paulians who hang on Paul’s every word, but simply a follower.
If Ron Paul has done nothing else well he has certainly changed the environment in both local and national politics. I think that Patrick has been greatly influenced by Ron Paul’s libertarian views and he, like many other youthful individuals across the nation, are beginning to reexamine the foundation of their nation and the most important element among men and government that is slipping away from us. They are rediscovering liberty – and these individuals might be the last best hope to resurrect our foundational principles and renew America.
Below is the transcript from our interview:
- RHM: On your website you spell out your basis for all political decisions, something that we at the Sentry Journal have been promoting – that all political processes must be built upon the theme of liberty. It seems clear that politicians have been centering their judgments around personal success, outcomes, bipartisanship or whatever lines their pockets most. Can you explain to me why you feel having this core philosophy at the center of your decisions is so important and how it separates you from your opponents?
- PK: Because people are flawed. It’s something we all recognize and are not hesitant to admit, yet it’s very hard to apply to yourself. I like to say that the most common corruption in Washington is a corruption of arrogance. There are a lot of smart people in Washington, but no matter how smart you are, you have a very limited perspective.
- The sheer amount of subject material that Washington covers is beyond the capabilities of one person to remain heavily involved in, so they then begin to rely on personal aids and lobbyists to keep them informed, but each of these are vying for their own special interest. Each of those still has a limited perspective. Even if they were in touch, what is to say that that perspective is right? Look how many competing ideas there are in the marketplace, many very contrary to each other.
- We need people in Washington that have the wisdom to say that they don’t know, that they can’t know what is the correct path for the market to take, for our society to take, for us as individuals. Instead of trying to mix and match the best policy, when you start with that core philosophy and understanding of personal rights and the role of government, then you stop picking sides. You allow individuals to prosper, and ultimately the best ideas of how our society should be run rise to the top.
- RHM: So the outcome is a self limiting government if you have individuals who think this way in national government?
- PK: Well that’s the tricky part, getting individuals to think that way. Yes, if every congressman and president was able to hold themselves to this mindset, then we’d have a much more limiting government. Sadly we don’t, but this is why we have a constitution. The constitution clearly outlines much of the government’s role and authority, and if we had individuals in power that would listen to it and play by the rules, then we’d be one giant step closer to that self-limiting government.
- RHM: You’re a proud Ron Paul supporter. I have, for a few years, struggled with placing myself into a political identity box. Perhaps it is because I don’t want to. Do you consider yourself a libertarian, conservative, republican, or other?
- PK: Well, I think the reason you have trouble labeling yourself with a political identity is because our political identities are so vague. Look at the Republican party, it houses both John McCain and Ron Paul. It’s a very big tent. The same goes with even the libertarian label. You have minarchists, anarchists, and liberaltarians. All of these groups claim the same label, but which is right?
- As for me, I proudly wear each of those labels. But I don’t want that to be a limit on me either, and this is something that Senator Paul has made me very proud of and James Madison would be proud of too. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to our labels, but instead be out there fighting on the issues. While Madison say the coming danger of political parties, our government wasn’t designed around them. Our government was designed for groups forming coalitions of issues, and it’s a mindset I’d proudly promote in Washington.
- RHM: When Reagan was prompted to run against Ford in ’78, he was pushed to run on a 3rd party ticket (Constitutional Party) – He chose to run as a Republican in an attempt to change the party from within rather than promote a 3rd party. Are you convinced that this is the way that things should be done? That the GOP (and DNC) should be transformed rather than overrun?
- PK: Yes, our system will never support more than two parties. We see this with two of the biggest third party movements in our history with Teddy Roosevelt and Ross Perot. While you may start out strong, once you lose you’ll lose all your major support because people don’t want to keep losing elections. A strong third party run makes a strong statement, but that’s about it. Transforming the party is also a lot easier. There is still a lot in common between its members, and it’s a lot easier to convert people on your side that it is to get them to change teams.
- RHM: Let’s get specific to your campaign. Andy Barr lost by 600 votes last time to Ben Chandler. Rep. Chandler isn’t the most popular character in Kentucky and, in spite of the most recent polling (24 point lead); many people feel that Barr has a decent shot at taking Chandler out. What makes you more equipped to defeat Ben Chandler in November?
- PK: I don’t think Barr is conservative enough to win, and this was demonstrated with his loss in 2010. He talks a lot about how he almost won, but at the same time that he lost District 6, Rand Paul, probably the most conservative person in the senate, won District 6 by a significant amount. I think this shows that people of District 6 are hungry for a real conservative.
- Rand Paul and I share a very common appeal, and that is understanding where your rights come from and the role of government. Our rights come from being alive, they don’t come from government, and government should only exist to protect those rights. This is a very strong conservative belief that has appeal across party lines. Not staying true to this belief is what allows Barr and Chandler to support things like the Patriot Act. If Barr had stood against the Patriot Act in 2010, he would have won the election.
- There are enough democrats who are upset with Chandler and want him out of office, but you have to give them a candidate that differs from Chandler on key issues like civil liberties. They’ll cross the lines if you can give them a true conservative candidate, a candidate that stands up against an invasive government that spys on and indefinitely detains it’s citizens. Support for civil liberties is one of the biggest weaknesses of Chandler and one of the strongest points for Senator Paul and I.
- RHM: Where do you feel Ben Chandler has failed our district most in the past 4 years?
- PK: Whether it’s through supporting Cap & Trade, the stimulus package, or the Patriot Act, Ben Chandler has failed Kentucky by supporting the idea that the only way to solve our problems is to take away our freedoms and expand government control. While our country has gone through one of its most difficult financial periods in our history, Chandler has sat quietly. He doesn’t hold town hall meetings. He doesn’t take the floor in Washington. And he doesn’t present any legislation to help Kentucky. Ben Chandler is the perfect example of arrogance in Washington, out of touch and unwilling to meet with his constituents. Ben Chandler the has been a voice, not for Kentucky, but for Nancy Pelosi.
- RHM: I was at Ben Chandler’s “Bill Clinton Rally” two years ago and I was also at Andy Barr’s response to that rally where Congressman Aaron Schock came to support Andrew. It seems there are a lot of big wigs out there supporting these candidates. How do you combat the money, celebrity, and support they have?
- PK: With a strong message and a loyal base. There are a growing number of Kentuckians who understand the need for a congressman that has a strong sense of liberty and property rights. I entered this race knowing I would be outspent and out-glamed by Barr. I’m 26-years old and have no political history, other than volunteering for Senator Paul. I’m not a lobbyist lawyer with ties to the Fletcher adminsitration. But despite my lack of history, my message couldn’t be more well received. When I entered this race, I honestly had no idea what to expect, but the people of this great state have been more than receptive to what I have to say. It’s made me even prouder to call District 6 my home.
- RHM: Last November Republicans picked up huge numbers in Congress. Many had hoped for grand changes due to the House picking up so many Tea Party candidates. Do you think that the House has let us down? Do you think we’re in the process of changing for the better? What changes would you bring/focus on in the House?
- PK: I think the House takeover was a step in the right direction, but unfortunately it wasn’t a complete change. Many people still kept their seats that shouldn’t have, and a few that were elected haven’t lived up to their campaign promises. The important thing is that we the people keep them on their toes. Unfortunately, change doesn’t happen overnight.
- The biggest area where the house has let us down has been by not presenting enough alternatives. Republicans have been great at being a party of “no” in the face of much of Obama’s agenda, but there are still plenty of problems plaguing our society. We can see this tide starting to turn and now many Republicans are going on the offensive. I stand ready to take the charge in many of these areas. Within my first year, I promise to introduce legislation to start fixing our healthcare industry, based around Health Savings Accounts and increased competition, and legislation to help our students by making all earnings for individuals enrolled in school and under 25 excempt from FICA taxes.
The solution to all our major problems in this country is more freedom and not less. I will bring change to Washington by not just saying no to bigger government, but by providing real solutions and elevating the discussion.
- RHM: Finally, you’re youthful and seem to have a lot of fun running your campaign – as evidenced by your “I Like Beard” slogan, and your St. Patrick’s day parade where people will be wearing beards to raise awareness about your candidacy. At the same time, you’re very serious on your website and in interviews about the issues. So the question is what most compels a young guy like you to run for such a high office?
- PK: When I discovered that Barr was running unopposed this year and after a little encouragement from a friend, I knew I had to throw my hat in the race. While I do think Barr would make a better congressman than Ben Chandler, I do have several major disagreements with Barr, such as his support for the Patriot Act and the income tax. I’m definitely young, but understanding personal liberty is not a learned thing. It isn’t something that comes with age. It’s something that either you understand or you don’t. Barr gets aspects of liberty, but he hasn’t made it the centerpiece of his platform. And I wasn’t going to let this race happen without a candidate that truly promoted individual liberty and a truly limited federal government.
- As far as having fun with my campaign, Milton Friendman once gave Walter Williams a piece of advice, and that was to smile whenever you’re talking about liberty. If you can’t smile and have a good time when you’re talking about something as exciting as liberty, then when can you smile?
I am truly inspired by Patrick Kelly’s stance. I know one thing, I’m getting myself an “I Like Beard” t-shirt and throwing my hat into his corner. I hope you do too. You can read more about Patrick or donate to his campaign by going to http://www.patrickkelly2012.com/. You can also follow his candidacy on Facebook here.
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