Until I received a short “what about me?” e-mail following John Feeny’s fantastic interview with Laurence Verga, another impressive congressional candidate in Virginia’s 5th congressional district, I hadn’t heard of McPadden. Given what he had to say here, in another fantastic interview by John, I suspect it shouldn’t be long before his name becomes known by conservatives and concerned Americans from coast to coast.
One of the things that will save the United States of America will be an ability to unite behind the ideas and ideals of our nation’s founders and founding. Where we used to be fractured along the lines of hot-button, third-rail political issues, those of us who find ourselves on the right side of the traditional political spectrum are finding solace in our Constitution and in contemporaneous writings by those great, imperfect men who laid the groundwork for this incredible experiment.
Reading the Constitution is one thing. Anybody can read the Constitution. Heck, our president has read it, and has determined that it is a “deeply flawed” document. What sets people apart is knowing the Constitution, understanding what it all means, and realizing that each and every clause and provision was designed to keep us from treading the path we have trodden, and to return us to that precarious spot between tyranny and anarchy that we call “liberty.”
It is very apparent that Michael McPadden understands the Constitution, and that he understands how America has forsaken the principles behind it. It’s that depth that so many other politicians, current and aspiring, lack. It’s that depth with which McPadden excels, in that he genuinely has a knack for digging to the root of every issue and root cause of every problem, explaining how we came to be in such sorry shape, and demonstrating how conservative values would have prevented the slide in the first place and how those values can help us dig our way out.
I was very surprised with Michael McPadden. I didn’t want John Feeny’s interview to end. I suspect you’ll feed the same way.
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AR: Thank you for spending some time today with America’s Right, Mr. McPadden, and we hope that you’ll consider using our site as a resource from time to time during your campaign, either for additional interviews with any of our writers or as a guest writer yourself.
MM: You’re entirely welcome, and I have several articles that I’ve published in the past that your readers may enjoy. I may do just that.
AR: Let’s start with some general information. Give our audience a sense of your background.
MM: Sure, I’ll be glad to give you a quick bio. I grew up in Virginia, attended Virginia Tech, where I put myself through college as a construction worker. I earned a degree in electrical engineering and mathematics, and shortly thereafter I joined the U.S. Navy, the greatest navy in the world. I eventually became an aviator, during which time I flew the P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft. Our responsibility was to locate and track Soviet submarines, with the objective to take out any Soviet nuclear subs before they could launch on American cities, if we were ever to have found ourselves in a potential nuclear crisis.
I served six years of active duty, after which time I obtained a job with Northwest airlines in 1997. I currently serve as a ship’s captain for Delta Airlines. My family resides in North Garden, Virginia, which is in my opinion the most beautiful state in the nation. I love to hunt and fish, I maintain a garden and orchard and animals as well. My wife and I have four children, and we’re both products of Virginia colleges.
AR: What is your background in politics, and why are you entering the political arena?
MM: Well, I’ve never been formally involved in politics, but that’s exactly why people should be entering the arena right now. The people who should be disqualified are those with a prior history in politics. Our nation continues to pass laws that support incumbency, something that can be seen in what used to be called the “Iron Triangle” – the connection of the lobbyists, the legislators, and the contractors. The people who’ve worked all their lives, paid their mortgages, those are the people that our Founders wanted to go to Washington, people who would serve the public interest for either four or six years and would not pass any laws under which they themselves would not want to live. We now have a situation in which we have people serving who have spent half their adult lives [in Washington], such as the late Ted Kennedy, people who don’t have a clue about the reality of the world.
We have an obligation to pass on a world that has at least as much opportunity for our children – if not more – than out parents passed on to us. As it stands now, young people’s opportunities are becoming more and more limited, and we will not be able to rectify this situation if we simply continue with business as usual. We need to send the right people to Washington right now, people who believe in the Constitution, who believe in liberty, and who will work to maintain the Founders’ vision of the Constitution. The Founders wanted citizen legislators in Washington, not professional ones.
I believe Ronald Reagan articulated the Founders’ philosophy perfectly when he said that the Constitution was meant to maximize freedom consistent with order. Our government was set up to be as limited in scope as possible but powerful enough to protect individual liberties and to provide for the national defense. That government has now grown out of control to the point that it no longer protects individual liberties but is actually becoming a grave threat to those individual liberties. This is something that I intend to work to stop when I get to Washington.
Our mission can be encapsulated as protecting us from Federalists – those who would prey on our liberties from within — in addition to protecting the people from those who would prey on our country from without. We need to fight both our foreign and domestic enemies, and this government is now failing that mission on both counts. We’ve consistently sent people to Washington who have no idea as to the nature of the Constitution and what the job entails in order to defend it.
AR: The perception of many young people in America – and by “young people,” I’m suggesting those in their twenties to early-thirties – is that a “conservative” is an individual who by nature is mean-spirited, selfish, an aimless war-monger, and someone who is resistant to change. How would you define what it means to be a ‘core conservative’, and what can be done to change this perception?
MM: Unfortunately, most young people today get their “news” from MTV and Jon Stewart, and they get their impressions of conservatism from sources along those lines. We have to remember that conservatives are also portrayed as “uncool” and “unhip” – what kid wants to be involved with that? I can’t honestly say that I blame young people in that regard. We have to start by defining conservatism more broadly.
If we’re to look at the biggest picture, there were two schools of conservatism at the dawn of our country – British and American. British conservatism goes back even further, but American conservatism begins with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence is our American philosophy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, because we’re free to disagree as to how we’re going to move from point A to point B on a particular issue; however, we cannot disagree on the basic principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a natural-born U.S. citizen, naturalized, or if you’ve just arrived – if a person believes in the words, “we hold these truths to be self-evident,” then that person is an American at heart. This is a statement as to what we fundamentally believe as a people. We then take that philosophy and turn it into a structure for self-government in our Constitution. That government, however, has a very limited and defined role, as Madison pointed out in the words, “the enumerated powers.”
The power of the American people is unlimited and undefined. The people have all the power. Personally, I consider myself a “paleo-conservative,” which is the school of conservatism that goes all the way back to the Declaration of Independence. If a person’s beliefs are rooted in our founding documents, then that person is by definition a conservative. While there are several branches on the tree of political conservatism, none of them alter the fundamental, core philosophy embedded in the Declaration of Independence.
Our modern society and culture, however, begins indoctrinating our children even in kindergarten. There’s a lot said about the leftist politics that are taught in our nation’s colleges, but in reality it goes all the way down to the earliest stages of our children’s education. They’re lost by the 12th grade. It will take some serious life experiences for these kids to realize that they’d been lied to all those years.
Part of my experiences in this regard is when I gave a lecture at the law school of the University of Virginia, which is one of the top public law schools in the nation. A law student doesn’t get into that school unless he’s really sharp. On this particular occasion, I ended a discussion of the political spectrum by explaining that our form of government is a constitutional republic. One of the second-year students raised his hand and asked: “what kind of government did you say that we have?” He told me that he’d never heard of that before.
Our young people basically have no idea of the fundamental notion of liberty of our Founders, a notion with which they themselves struggled when developing our founding documents. Our kids have no idea as to what it truly means to be an American, and without that foundational knowledge, it’s impossible to understand how difficult it is to achieve liberty once you’ve lost it.
I recently attended a debate sponsored by the college Republicans, and in my opening statement I told them that if they’re not angry right now, then they haven’t been paying attention. I pointed out to them that the people in their age bracket are facing 50 percent unemployment. Where are they all? I said to them that all of these meetings should be standing room only and that their peers are not engaged enough in the political process. Our young people just haven’t yet made the connection to the manner in which this is going to affect them and their families twenty years into the future.
I often wonder why there aren’t more people protesting down at the local school boards as to what’s being done in the schools. These officials need to be made to answer “yes” or “no” to school vouchers and school scholarships. People need to be able to leave bad schools and take their money to good schools. This can only be accomplished by creating competition in the schools, just as we need to create real competition in health care. Parents just are not educated as to what is happening with their children’s education.
My wife and I sent our children to private Christian schools, because we were unsatisfied with the quality of education in the public schools. When there was a problem of some type in the private school – which was rarely ever the case – we had recourse. In the public school, we generally received a blank stare and were told that we basically had no real recourse on a given issue. As this political climate regards education, what’s truly strange is that as people are finally beginning to realize that government can’t get anything right, yet it can still somehow get the schools right? How does that work? Kids are kids, and they’ll work up to whatever standard that you allow them to. We’re seeing a multitude of problems in the public schools, but in the private schools we’re seeing problems that are reminiscent of the 1950’s – chewing gum and untucked shirts (to which I can personally attest. Untucked shirts drive me out of my mind at my school. In the big picture, however, if that’s what I have to worry about, then everything’s good and I’m doing my job). Kids are going to push, but they need to be taught where the line is.
The bottom line is that the schools are not educating our children, they come out of college not understanding the first thing about the true meaning of actual liberty and the Constitution, about the dangers of tyrannical government, and what tyranny has done to human beings over the course of the last 5,000 years. These kids need to wake up, or we’re likely never to see a liberty movement again.
AR: Characterize the divide between the mainstream Republican Party and the resurgent conservative movement that seems to sweeping the nation.
MM: Let’s look at that from the perspective of 1994. In 1994, we experienced a conservative, Republican revolution. The Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and, six years later, we took the presidency and the Senate. What did we get for that? Nothing. Why? Because many of these people got to Washington and discovered that it was easier to just go along with the status quo. As a result, we now have a situation in which the moderates have taken over the asylum.
Many of the people in my district with whom I speak tell me that they’ve left the Republican Party, that they’re upset with the Republicans; what I try to explain to them is that it’s not the Republicans with whom they’re upset, but the moderates. I explain to them that if we can all jump back into the party, we can turn this back into a conservative party. One thing I’ll say in defense of liberals is this: they deliver the liberal policies to their base. We need real conservative candidates in the Republican Party. The fact that the head of the RNC gave one million dollars to a very left-wing so-called “Republican” in New York – in the 23rd congressional district – says everything about the modern Republican party. They don’t care whether you’re conservative or not. They only care about whether there’s a “D” or an “R” attached to your name.
The real difference, then, is that we have people who are beholden to party, regardless of whether ideology is involved. Remember, the Republican Party is not an ideological party; it’s just a party. The Constitutional Party – that’s an ideological party. The Libertarian Party – that’s an ideological party. We need our conservative candidates to hold and abide by core beliefs and values.
AR: What are your thoughts about the Tea Party movement?
MM: The Tea Party movement is a perfect example of the social experiment in self-government – representational self-government – that our Founders wanted for us. They wanted self-determination for us. Large segments of these people have never been politically involved before. They’re moms, they’re dads, people who are otherwise busy working and conservative by nature. The times are changing, though. The Tea Parties are an absolutely necessary function on the American political scene in order to save our Republic.
AR: Given the policies that we see coming out of the Obama administration – namely, the stimulus packages, healthcare, cap & trade, and amnesty — what would you say are the goals and objectives of the political left in this country?
MM: Collapsing the economic system is their primary goal. They try to sell the idea that capitalism and the free markets don’t work and that we need a government-controlled economy similar to those in Cuba and North Korea. We’re told, however, that we shouldn’t look at those countries as examples of how a government-controlled economy will work in America, but those countries are, in fact, the natural outcome of a government socialized economy.
By spending us into unmanageable debt, our debt will eventually be at 100 percent of GDP. We’re already pushing collapse. This is the condition espoused by professors Cloward and Piven back in the 1960’s. By getting as many people onto the social welfare system as possible, a collapse would be forced and we’d need to re-order our economy along socialist lines. If these guys are so smart and could see all this coming, why didn’t they get us out of this to begin with? They’ve no idea what they’re doing.
Government has never created a job in the history of mankind. The only thing government is capable of doing is destroying a certain number of productive jobs in order to create a single one. A government job is a leech-like, parasitic form of employment. Government must destroy private sector jobs in order to create public sector ones. All the so-called “jobs bill” is going to do is to take money out of the private sector and to waste it, just like the first stimulus bill. This is intended to stop job creation, and as a result, we will not have a recovery under the present policies of Barack Obama.
The health care bill is a non-starter for me. Any reforms in our healthcare system must be free-market ones. The government should not be involved. Cap-and-trade is nothing more than a huge tax on small businesses. What is being sold as “energy reform” is being done completely at the expense of the little guy. It’s a lobbyist, special-interest-driven program. The bottom line is that cap-and-trade will choke our economy for the long-term. Should it pass before I get to Congress, I will work night-and-day to have it repealed.
All of this economic propaganda that comes from the left can be summed up in a couple of good stories. One of my friends used to work for Boeing on the flight simulators, and on one occasion had gone to China to work with some people over there. On the car ride over to the plant, he witnessed a beautiful backhoe sitting idly in a field, while next to it there were some twenty to thirty Chinese men working with pickaxes and shovels. When he inquired of his host why they weren’t simply using the backhoe, which would have been far and away more efficient in terms of time and quality, his host’s response was to question what the other twenty-odd workers would then do. He had absolutely no conception that those men could then go off and create work of their own. The thing that mystified my friend was that his host absolutely believed his perspective was correct.
A different acquaintance of mine tells about an experience of his from the 1970’s, when he and his wife went to visit friends in Russia. Once they’d settled in, their friends told them that they were going to put together a traditional Russian feast and invited them to go food shopping with them. As they walked through the government-run markets of St. Petersburg, his host had to choose between several-day-old meat that was hanging up, in addition to a scarce variety of vegetables that also didn’t look very fresh. Somehow, they managed to put enough food together for a passable Russian feast, but this was reality to them. Fast-forward a few years, and his Russian friends had come to visit him and his wife in Atlanta. Similarly, they invited their friends along to food shop in preparation for a big meal that night. When this couple entered this brightly-lit supermarket, with rows and rows of fresh meats and vegetables and more food than the eye could see, the Russian woman began to weep, because she had always been taught that this was not possible in a free-market society.
Our problem is that our young people are now starting to believe in the reality of the socialist utopia. They are taught that everything around them in America is ugly. What they’re not told is that while Cubans, for example, live in abject poverty, Castro has the finest of everything. That is the nature of totalitarianism, and it’s something that hasn’t changed for 5,000 years. You can call it by different names, but it’s all the same thing – totalitarianism.
AR: Did you have any particular reactions to the State-of-the Union Address?
MM: Not really, other than to say that the people who support and/or believe in these policies live in a different reality. One thing that I’ll say for President Obama is this: he’s pushing exactly what he said he would.
AR: What do the mass retirements/defections that we’re seeing – namely inpeople such as Patrick Kennedy and Evan Bayh – say about the current state of the Democratic party?
MM: Some people say that Evan Bayh is a Blue Dog Democrat but, if I’m not mistaken, he also voted for the healthcare bill that passed the Senate. If so, he’s no Blue Dog. In fact, people are beginning to see that there is no longer anything such as a moderate Democrat. They can call themselves anything they want, but they’re not fiscally responsible. As far as my take as to what this says about the current state of the party as a whole, it’s tough for me to offer a concrete opinion, because I’ve never been formally involved in the political process. All I know is that I don’t want to stop them from leaving.
AR: As a Rhode Islander, I was initially ecstatic that Patrick Kennedy decided to get out. On second thought, however, it’s going to make John Loughlin’s campaign all that much more difficult in this state, because Kennedy probably could have been defeated fairly easily right now.
MM: Yes, that’s true, but like I said, it’s better that some of these guys are abandoning ship.
AR: Collectively, what do the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts say about this administration?
MM: People are in shock as to the nature of what Washington is trying to pull off. Look, Scott Brown is a good candidate, but he’s a pro-choice Republican. He’s far from a true conservative. His election and the other two, however, show that people are appalled by what they’re seeing. They are rejecting this Democratic Party out-of-hand, and 2010 may be a bloodbath. But that’s who these people are. They’re being rejected because they’ve moved so far to the left and so fast.
The important thing for all of us to remember is that we can’t mess this up in November. When quasi-conservatives get to Washington, this is what happens. It’s very important that we get this right. We can’t let another 1994 happen all over again. We have a national debt that’s out-of-control, we have a world-wide war on terrorism that has no direction, we have open borders and open seaports, and we’re apparently just waiting for the next terrorist attack to decide what we’ll do next. This administration has no problem whatsoever taking our liberties from us in order to protect us. Well, I’m not interested, and I’m not willing to let my liberties die on the vine.
AR: Do you feel as though this country could be beyond repair even before we get to the November elections?
MM: No. But if we don’t get this right, it could be our last chance. By 2012, that’s a possibility.
AR: Finally, are there any issues specific to Virginia 5 on which you’d like to elaborate?
MM: I’m traveling through Hartford, Connecticut right now, and I see a lot of stores and malls that have closed their doors, which is symbolic of the depression that has been brought on by these Democrats. The issues that are particular to Virginia 5 are basically the same as those throughout the rest of the nation: taxes need to be cut drastically, especially those on small businesses. Government will never bring this economy back; that’s the work of our small businesses and entrepreneurs. Further, government and government spending needs to be slashed. If people think it’s bad now, they haven’t seen anything yet.
AR: Thank you very much for taking time with America’s Right today, Mr. McPadden, good luck in your campaign, and we hope to hear from you in the future.
MM: Thank you very much, and the pleasure has been mine.