Last Friday evening I had the opportunity to meet a U.S. Senate Candidate, Mr. Richard Behney. I believe he has something to say to the Hoosiers of Indiana. Let’s follow his campaign closely. My gut feeling is we got a winner, folks. But then again, I love America and the Constitution. So go figure.
My name is Richard Behney and I am a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Indiana. Those words seem a bit odd for the owner of a plumbing company, with no prior political office experience, to be declaring to the people of Indiana. Yet, here I stand, ready to take on the Democratic incumbent, a household name since his father first took office 47 years ago; probably the closest thing that Indiana has to a political dynasty.
How did I get here? Let me give you a little insight into my journey into the fight for this Senate seat, where I stand, and why I would ask for you to stand with me.
My wife and I have three children. We moved to Fishers, Indiana in 1994 from Tennessee and fell in love with Indiana. My plumbing business operates in the central Indiana area. I love being an entrepreneur. I enjoy working alongside my plumbing crew, sitting on the back of a truck at the end of a hard day and talking about life. I also like where I live, going to football games and having my neighbors over for a backyard cookout. My wife and I often dream of the day when we have all of our kids raised and we ride a Harley down to Key West for an extended vacation. In other words, I am in the midst of living out the American Dream.
However, a couple of years ago I began to have an unsettled feeling. Something was not right in America. My wife and I began to talk about public policy issues and how they were affecting our business, intruding into our lives and taking over the control I thought I had. You could call this an awakening of sorts. I began to listen to what the government was saying and doing. There was talk of runaway spending and servicing the debt of our nation. It was nothing new, but it was clear that something needed to be done to turn off the spigot of spending in order for our nation to pay down its debt. It just never happened. Regardless of the political party in the majority, our elected officials were spending tax dollars faster than the money could be collected. There were new entitlement programs enacted. There was talk of large corporations in deep debt and the role the federal government would take in bailing them out. Why couldn’t the good men and women we send to Congress just say “no” to all of this? It seemed like common sense. You cannot spend what you do not have unless you borrow it. Borrowed money needs to be paid back with interest. At some point you have to pay it all back or default. This was not complicated.
We began to talk to others who had the same feeling. In November 2008, Barak Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States. It did not take long before his administration began to take action on a fast-track agenda: Cap and trade, bailing out and taking over auto manufacturers, government-controlled and mandated health care, etc. In the midst of an economic downturn, the president announced that the debt would increase $9 trillion in the next ten years. That would nearly double the national debt that had accumulated since the beginning of our country! We are going to pass that huge debt onto our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I remember thinking, “Is this America?” The land of the free was quickly becoming the land of the enslaved. It reminded me of what I had heard of debt bondage of medieval Europe, where children were sold into slavery for the unpaid debts of their fathers.
My gut reaction was that I must do something. I wrote to our elected officials and called their offices to no avail. I was ignored. So was everyone I talked to who had tried to make contact with our senators and congressmen.
My wife and I heard about a grass roots protest taking place in downtown Chicago. This was a march to protest the taking of our liberties, the ignoring of constituents by our elected officials and the intrusion of government into our lives. We decided to go and see what it was about. So I took a day off from work and we drove to Chicago on February 27, 2009. What we found was a group of people just like us. They were not professional protesters. In fact, no one seemed to know what to do. We were surrounded by common folk who had also taken a day off to exercise their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and speak their mind. They called themselves the Tea Party Movement. They, like the patriots of old Boston, were speaking up for their liberty. Government had wandered out of bounds. It was time they stepped back within the boundaries our Constitution put on them. It was a good day. My wife and I found out we were not alone in our unrest. There were many Americans who were ready to stand up and say “Enough!”
We went back home and decided to organize our neighbors and friends in a like-minded group. We had heard that Glenn Beck had called for people who were feeling uneasy about the actions of the government to join together. In March, we decided to host a group of people in our home. Beck provided a link on his web site for people in our area to sign up to attend our meeting. This number quickly outgrew our living room. We decided to move it to my plumbing shop’s warehouse. Before long, we had more registrants than would fit in the warehouse. We moved it again to another venue and on March 14th, 400 people came to our meeting. We called ourselves the “Indy Defenders of Liberty.” We talked about our concerns that freedom was being taken away from us by our own elected representatives. While all of us went about our lives – going to work, raising our families – our independence was being pilfered away by a government that was aiming at the socialization of America. We were in real danger of losing our republic. I had made a copy of the Declaration of Independence and attached it to the wall. I did so because the more I thought about my unrest with the government, I began to feel a kinship with the signers of this great document. They too felt unrest. They too wanted to hold onto freedom. They had had enough of a government that thought it could thumb its nose at the will of the people. I asked the people of that meeting to join me in signing the document. The patriots that signed the original Declaration in 1776 put their lives on the line for their family and neighbors. I said I was willing to do the same. I had no idea how this would go over. I had no idea whether people would follow me or not. It did not really matter, I felt this was the right thing to do. After I finished penning my name, I turned around to find there was a line of people forming behind me. Men had tears rolling down their cheeks. They were ready to stand up for liberty. It was moving.
One of the things I found out from the March 14th meeting was that I was not alone. There were all kinds of people who were ready to stand up for freedom. During the next few weeks we helped form the Indy Tea Party Movement. On April 15th, 15,000 people showed up on the lawn of the Indiana Statehouse for the Tax Day Tea Party. There were similar events across the nation. Again, it was attended by every day folks who had a message for the government. They carried signs and chanted. Enough of the loss of liberty! Enough of the uncontrolled spending! Enough of the takeover of private business! Enough! These people were respectful, but carried a strong message. Any politician who followed the path of Washington politics needed to change his or her ways or be prepared to be voted out of office. As we began to talk to more people, we found many such groups. The spirit of American freedom was not dead, it had just been repressed. It was time for the voice of the people to be heard once again.
There were other meetings and other marches. We held a rally on July 4th in Indianapolis (the coldest Independence Day on record, yet 2,000 people showed up in the rain!) We went to Washington D.C. on September 12th where 2 million people came to stand up for their freedom and to protest the Obama administration’s leftist agenda. It was energizing.
All along this journey, people kept approaching me to tell me I should run for office. That was gratifying, but I did not take it seriously at first. I had a family and a business to take care of. However, as I began to think about it, what good was marching in protest if it did not lead to change? There was no indication that the current administration was going to back down from pushing their socialist agenda through Congress and down the throats of the American people, no matter how many people took to the streets in protest. I had marched with the Indiana delegation during the 9/12 Washington demonstrations. I marched right past the White House and the Congress. Did it make a difference to President Obama? Just days before, he had called out those who would oppose his health care reform proposal in a joint session of Congress. He said the time for “bickering” was over and he would “call you out” if you misrepresented what was in the bill. So much for First Amendment guaranteeing the freedom of speech and “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Obama’s comments were applauded by many, including Senator Evan Bayh, the man who had sworn to be upholding the Constitution of the United States for our nation and for his Indiana constituents. He is my senator and he was applauding a president as he described how he would deny rights to those who disagreed with him!
Along the way I decided that the next logical step to stop the nonsense was to run for public office. It was not an easy decision. It is not an upward career move. But I harkened back to those founders of our nation. They were farmers and businessmen who put their lives on hold to represent the people. If I am being honest, I would personally rather be riding that Harley with my wife down to Key West. However, I felt that to turn back now was to walk away from a fight that needed to be fought. It was time to stand up. So I threw my hat into the ring.
I also decided to run for the senate seat currently held by Senator Bayh. I felt he had betrayed Hoosiers in his quest for a political career. When Evan Bayh was the governor of Indiana, he had a public persona of being a fiscal and social conservative. There was concern when he went to Washington that he would change his positions. The pundits speculated that a young, attractive democrat from the Midwest would be a viable presidential hopeful, but he would first have to shed the conservatism. So out the door went the pro-life issue. Out the door went balanced budgets. In the door came special interests passing common sense on its way out the door. All the while, Evan Bayh’s public handlers have tried to keep him in the middle of the teeter totter for the sake of his constituents – not too liberal, but not too conservative. You will notice that he is not the first to the microphone on behalf of his party. He smartly lets the likes of Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer make all the far-reaching leftist statements. Evan Bayh just makes sure his votes align with theirs. You won’t find his name on much legislation to fix any problems, you will just see his vote for a socialist agenda. You will find him smiling behind the shot of Hillary Clinton when Clinton is in vogue, or Barak Obama when public sentiment shifts. Let’s call it like it is, he is a chameleon; changing to be the next popular color of the far left. Whatever the cause on any given day, in the shadows lurks our senator, hoping to keep himself out of the public eye on the extremes for which he votes and calculating the next foot up on his rise to a higher office.
This was not what the founders of our country had in mind when they created a bicameral legislature. They had had enough of lifetime appointments by the English monarchy. They believed that an elected official was called to a short time of service, after which he returned home to pick up his business again. Somewhere along the way, we have created dynasties – and the Bayh family is the closest thing we have had to an elitist political dynasty in Indiana. Evan’s father held a senate seat from 1962-1980. A few years later, Evan burst on the political scene in the 80’s, first as the secretary of state, then eight years as governor, and twelve years as senator. For over two decades the only job he has known is being a politician. For most of his young life, he only knew a father who was a politician. I believe it is time for the dynasty to come to an end.
Where I stand
What are the key issues and where do I stand? There are three principles on which I have based my campaign and which firmly believe.
A limited government is the best for the people
We have to be fiscally responsible as a nation
Congress must provide for a strong national defense
Limited government is best for the people
First and foremost, there is a need to get the federal government back within its constitutional boundaries. I believe in a limited federal government. Our Constitution was set up to restrict governmental control. Why? The founders had lived in a system where the government had the ability to seize property, force its citizens to do things against their will and conscience, to stifle free-speech and a whole host of freedoms we have taken for granted. They revolted against such a government and created a new government based on the will of the people. The founders were smart men who were guided by their experience. A large government, by its very nature, will overstep its bounds. Who has control? The Constitution says it belongs to the individual citizen. That means as a society, we have to stop looking for the federal government to fix our problems. It is a time for personal responsibility. If you have lost your job, the federal government is not the place to turn. You must take personal responsibility to do the things you need to do to land a job, support your family, pay your bills, etc. You might say, “but Richard, I cannot do this on my own. I need help!” You may be right and I would say one of the things I love about living in Indiana is that people are very generous here. They are willing to help a neighbor as long as they see that the neighbor is putting forth some effort. And the federal government will reward lack of effort. It is un-American to give up.
The current debate over health care reform is a good example of a government without boundaries. What business is it of our elected officials to fix the health care system? It is not the responsibility of the government to be in the doctor’s office with you to make medical decisions. Any problems with the health care system is the responsibility of the consumer and the supplier to work out. Is it expensive to go to the hospital? Is health care insurance expensive? Yes, but not nearly as costly as the price tag for the public option on health care insurance that the current administration is pushing (upwards of $3.2 billion per person in the United States according to some estimates. Are you kidding me?) What is the fix for expensive health care insurance? How about entrepreneurs who figure out a way to control their business costs and create an insurance product that is less expensive than what other insurance companies are charging? A free market always corrects itself when the government gets out of the way. If we pull the restrictions off of insurance companies, someone will figure out how to lower these rates. Competition in the free-market makes sure that prices are held in check. If a new company begins to undercut prices on existing companies, all prices will drop to meet the new company and the consumer is the beneficiary. But if the government gets involved, the price will always go up. Why? First, there is no competition for the U.S. government. They are not a business and don’t have to compete within the checks and balances of the free market. Secondly, profits motivate businesses to be better. Either a business makes a profit or, eventually, it goes out of business. The government is not concerned about profits, it lives off of the taxes it places on its citizens. Therefore, there is no need for any kind of efficiency or effectiveness: doing things right or doing the right thing. Federal agencies just get fatter and waste tax money. And when the federal government cannot bring in enough tax money to feed all of the agencies and programs it has created, it simply borrows money to increase the national debt or prints more money through the Treasury Department, thus devaluing the U.S. dollar. It is high time this practice stops. I intend to turn back this trend and be the cog in the wheel when it comes to big government’s reach.
Fiscal responsibility is the responsibility of the Congress
That brings me to a second issue. It is time to live within our means as a nation. The current national debt is somewhere north of $11 trillion. The Obama administration wants to add another $9 trillion to that figure in the next ten years. That would be $20 trillion without figuring any interest on the debt. Let me explain what that would look like. If you take the entire population of the United States and ask each person – man, woman and child – to contribute $32 billion annually from the time Jesus Christ was born until 2010, you would have $20 trillion! We are on the verge of creating a debt that America cannot pay back. And yet our politicians throw the words “trillion” and “billion” around like it was change in your pocket! It is high time that our government lives within its means. We should never spend more than we take in. The idea of going into debt so we can spend today and pay tomorrow is a losing proposition. What is the big deal about national debt? The financiers of that debt are primarily foreign nations, many of them our enemies. We have created a national security issue. How so? If you have owed money to a lending institution, you know that the lender controls the terms of the deal. If you want to negotiate with them, you are at their mercy to do so. If a rogue nation like North Korea decides to test nuclear weapons and China decides that they would rather we stay out of the fray, they have the upper hand to demand such. If we go against the will of the Chinese government, they begin to call the loans, block trade, etc. We are at their mercy. It is my position that in order for our nations to be free, it must stop spending money we do not have and begin to reduce our national debt. This is simply being fiscally responsible. As a senator, Hoosiers can expect me to infuse dollar and cents common sense into the system.
A strong national defense
For all of my beliefs in a limited government being better, there is one place where I believe the Congress is required to be elbow deep in involvement: our national security. When it comes to defending our borders, protecting our allies, and going to war, the Constitution is clear that our federally elected officials should be responsible for debating and deciding when and where we use military force. The President of the United States is its Commander in Chief. The Legislative Branch is given the responsibility to provide a common defense for the general welfare of the United States. That includes making treaties with other nations, providing funding for the military, and declaring war. The citizens of the United States are dependent upon government to play this role. It is also my belief that this is the one place where national debt is appropriate and necessary. When we come to funding our military in times of war, we must have one objective: to win at any cost.
This is a gravely serious responsibility. Since 9-11, we have become aware of an enemy that is bent on destroying us. We have seen measures taken at airports to search for any items that may be used as a weapon in an act of terror. At the same time, we have seen the lunacy that political correctness has played in getting in the way of our national security. I remember being in Chicago O’Hare after 9-11 and watching women in traditional Muslim garb working security, searching a blonde-haired, blue-eyed nine year-old girl! What is wrong with this picture? We have seen our borders compromised for fear of offending a particular ethnic or religious group of people. When federal wire taps were used by the Bush administration to track suspected terrorists, the left in Congress cried foul. They claimed there was discrimination and the violation of civil rights. Our president has called for the closing of the military base serving as a holding area for terrorists captured in Iraq. His stated plans were to show the world that we were a kinder, gentler people than his predecessor had been. What he has done is to send a signal to our enemies that we have a weakness that they can exploit. As a senator, it is my sworn duty to protect the citizens of the United States and I believe that every obstacle needs to be removed, be it politically incorrect or not. I would rather be safe than sorry.
You should also know that I don’t think it is the role of the United States to enter into every police action in which the United Nations votes to intervene. Our military personnel are putting their lives on the line. We should deploy them sparingly and only when our interests or the interests of our allies are at stake. I will not vote yes on military action unless I am convinced it meets one of these two criteria.
Stand with me
Why should you stand with me? For one, if you believe (like I do) that this a key moment in our history as a nation, that we are losing liberties at the vote of our legislature and the actions of our current president, then to stand becomes your obligation as a citizen. If you do not stand, you will have no one to blame but yourself when you find your own government telling you what you can and cannot do. The Constitution of the United States gives its citizens the right to vote. You hold the keys to freedom when you go to your polling place and cast a ballot. I would ask you stand with me in the voter’s booth.
I would also ask that you stand with me in exercising your freedom of speech with neighbors, friends and co-workers. Share my message with them. Tell them why we need a new voice in Washington. It is time that people wake up from their slumber and find out what their elected officials are really doing, who is backing them and how they are voting on the floor of the Senate. I would ask you to help me get my message out.
Thirdly, I would ask for you to stand with me financially. I know times are tough. You may only have a bit of money to take the kids out for a pizza this weekend. Believe me, I understand where you are coming from. I would ask you to sacrifice a little so that we can move forward. Running an election is not inexpensive. In order to win, we must raise a significant amount of money. This is not for Richard Behney, but for the cause of freedom. If good people don’t stand, we stand no chance.
There is an interesting story that is told about Benjamin Franklin. After the Constitutional Convention had debated and created the Constitution, a woman shouted out to him, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” He replied,
“A Republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin understood all too well that there would be pressures that would dissolve away the Republic. I stand on the side of keeping the Republic. I’m asking you to stand with me.
For information on other key issues, take a look at the White Papers Papers by Richard Behney.
Note from Munciepolitics: Submitting Mr. Richard Beheney’s introduction letter and website is not an endorsement by Mr. Behney of the Munciepolitics’ blog. It is for informational purposes only.