Archive for June, 2007

Conservatism’s Self-Inflicted Wounds

June 28, 2007

A friend (a pro-life, socially conservative Republican) recently expressed a frustration with some of our ideological brethren:

“When did abortion start dividing people within our own party in this manner that we’re fighting with each other and trying to provoke fights? I see a lot of you are fighting with each other, fellow Republicans, with far more vigor than they go after the Democrats. This is outrageous behavior.”

In short, why are conservatives, whose differences amongst themselves have more to do with tactics than objectives, seemingly intent on devouring one another?

In response, I noted that American conservatism suffers from the lack of an identifiable, consensus leader that can unite us all. Not since Ronald Reagan has conservatism produced a leader of national stature that we could all rally behind – and this lack of leadership since Reagan has been one of the great failings of this generation of conservatives. Leaderless, conservatism has deteriorated back to base instincts: eccentricity, paranoia, and nostalgia (to borrow an observation made by authors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge in their generally positive history of contemporary American conservatism, The Right Nation). Under Reagan, conservatism was forward looking, positive, pro-active, visionary, out-reaching, appealing, unifying, and rational. Conservatism since Reagan has become stuck-on-stupid, negative, reactive, single-issued, inward-looking, strident, off-putting, divisive, and emotive. We keep looking for the next Reagan because conservatism hasn’t been as appealing or as victorious as it was in the Reagan era. Until we have a leader who can turn conservatism around to make it a positive force in American politics, I’m afraid that “appealing to the base” (meaning, as I’m using the term, appealing to the “base nature” of conservatism today) is a recipe for electoral disaster.

I would add that many conservatives have become overly idealistic, and consequently have become unrealistic about the progress of their issues. Many pro-life voters, as an example, reflect this unrealistic perspective on the politics of abortion. I’ve pounded this point home on this and other forums: It’s been 34 years since Roe v. Wade. Over that time we’ve had 18-plus years and counting of pro-life presidents (Reagan, Bush-41, Bush-43), 12 years of Republican majorities in the House, and 16 years of Republican majorities in the Senate. And what do we have to show in terms of substantive progress on the abortion issue for all of that political advantage? The only issue that has passed Congress is the partial-birth abortion ban, but even that had to be affirmed by a recent decision of the Supreme Court. The fate of Roe v. Wade, and pretty much the entire abortion issue, rests with the courts. A president can do very little on the issue, as we’ve seen over the past 34 years. Even the current President Bush, probably the most pro-life of presidents since the Roe decision, has talked about the importance of developing a “culture of life,” because he knows that ultimately the issue will be decided out in the culture, not in Washington. No one, not even each of pro-life candidates for President this go-around who have served in Congress, has sponsored a Pro-Life Amendment to the Constitution. Roe pretty much took the issue out of the hands of the legislative and congressional branches. The best we can expect is a president who will appoint strongly conservative judges to the courts with the hope that legal travesties like the Roe decision will never again be handed down by the Supreme Court, and that Roe will either be chipped-away at around the margins, or will be overturned and the issue returned to the states.

There are some in the pro-life movement who have said it is vitally important that the GOP nominate a candidate for president who is personally pro-life. I ask, “Why?,” again citing 34 years of pro-life activism since Roe, which, if anything, have proven how unrealistic it is to assume that the issue can be progressed simply by electing a pro-life president, or even a pro-life congress. Those who say that the GOP needs to nominate a pro-life candidate are going to have to convince me why it’s important, considering 34 years of the near fecklessness of the pro-life movement.

Getting down to what this all means in the campaign for the nomination….Rudy’s pledge to appoint strict constructionists to the courts is about as good as it’s going to get for the pro-life movement. Even Reagan was spotty on his appointments to the Supreme Court, which means that Rudy’s appointments might actually be better for the pro-life issue than Reagan’s were. And while GW Bush has been strongly pro-life, and the GOP had a majority in the Senate for four years of his Administration, some of Bush’s more solidly conservative judicial nominations never even came to a vote. So, to threaten to sit out the election if “pro-choice” Rudy Giuliani is nominated, or to hold the party, the nation, and every other issue of importance in the election hostage to the single issue of abortion, is unrealistic, naive, and just wrong-headed.

Greg Alterton


Anti-Rudy Pro-Lifers Miss The Point

June 26, 2007

When President Tony Perkins and Executive VP Chuck Donovan of the Family Research Council published their article on June 25th, entitled “Our Right To Choose Someone Besides Rudy,” they highlighted two very important points about the abortion debate and how it relates to 2008.

The first point is one about which they are absolutely correct: The Republican Party has, since its founding, been a party with a “moral core.”  The GOP has, as Perkins and Donovan put it, tied a “Gordian Knot” between itself and respect for human life.

The second point, however, is a point that they miss entirely: Rudy Giuliani will not, nor is he trying to, “untie” that knot.  The nomination of Rudy as the Republican nominee will not undo the Reagan coalition that includes pro-life social conservatives.

First of all, the argument that the Republican Party’s very survival depends on its ability to nominate only 100% Perkins/Donovan-style pro-lifers for national office is severely flawed.  Pre-Roe v. Wade, when the GOP was not clearly defined as “the pro-life party,” and when Republicans embraced those with libertarian views on abortion (a la Goldwater and Ford) as fully as those without, Republicans still somehow managed to survive and flourish.  In fact, the GOP’s biggest presidential popular vote victory in recent memory (that of Nixon in ’72) occurred in the days when abortion was not a litmus test issue for Republican candidates.

Perkins and Donovan, in their article, imply that the pro-life views of social conservatives like myself is the foundation that makes general “smaller government conservatism” possible in the first place.  And yet, Barry Goldwater, universally recognized as the founder of modern American conservatism, was himself libertarian on the issue of abortion (thereby earning the label of “pro-choice”).

All of which brings us to Rudy Giuliani, who, while he happens to have the best chance at keeping a liberal out of the White House, and while he happens to have the best executive/leadership credentials of any top-tier candidate, and while he happens to be the one candidate who’s actually centering his campaign around real ideas and solutions to America’s most vexing problems, happens to be personally pro-choice.  As a result, some pro-lifers like Tony Perkins and James Dobson have simply rejected Giuliani out of hand and have used their vast political and religious influence to urge others to do the same.

Now, there is nothing wrong in disagreeing with Giuliani on abortion.  Individuals even have the right to reject Giuliani entirely, just because of that one issue, and they have the right to advise others to do the same.  However, just because one has the right to take that approach doesn’t necessarily make it the right approach to take.

For the record, the writer of this article is fully pro-life and does happen to disagree with Giuliani on the abortion issue.  However, disagreeing with a candidate on one issue (or even a few issues) does not require rejecting that candidate entirely.  Ronald Reagan once stated: “My 80% ally is not my 20% enemy.”

Rudy can be acceptable, even palatable, to pro-life social conservatives if we just take the time to look at Rudy’s record on abortion, as well as how he would govern on the issue if elected President.

Under Mayor Giuliani’s administration, New York City abortions plummeted by 16%, even steeper than the 12% nation-wide decline during the same period.  Rudy did this via a three-pronged approach: Doing nothing to promote abortions, aggressively promoting abortion-alternatives like adoptions (the increase in adoptions that occurred during Rudy’s tenure was 133% higher than the increase that occurred in the previous eight years), and by fostering a culture of respect for human life, personal responsibility, and family values.

Rudy’s tight enforcement of the law and cleaning up of New York’s streets didn’t just mean less graffiti and broken windows, it also meant people more thoroughly respecting the right of others to live safe and happy lives.  Rudy’s slashing of the city welfare rolls by 60% and cutting of city-funded bureaucracy by nearly 20% didn’t just mean a healthier economy and employment rate, it also meant people taking responsibility for their actions and making wiser choices.  Rudy’s cracking down on bum dads who didn’t pay child support and sweeping sex shops and porn theaters out of Times Square didn’t just mean a prettier face for the city, it also meant strengthening the core unit of society–the family.  Ultimately, all these factors also added up to create an atmosphere where parents felt more hopeful and more secure in the idea of bringing another human being into the world.  As a result, Rudy made the abortion option far less palatable and saved countless lives that would have otherwise been aborted.

So, how does all this apply to a Giuliani presidential administration, one might ask?  Interestingly enough, Giuliani, being the results-driven executive he is, has been the only Republican candidate to, putting the flowery pro-life rhetoric aside, actually advocate concrete, statistical reduction in abortion as a main goal of his presidency.  Outlined in his “12 Commitments” to the American People, Rudy has pledged to see to it that abortions are significantly reduced during his administration.

And really, how would a President Giuliani differ in practice from a President Bush?  Rudy has stated that he will nominate strict constructionist judges like Roberts, Alito, and Scalia, to the Supreme Court (the kind of judges that might overturn Roe v. Wade and send the abortion issue back to the individual states to decide), and Rudy has also stated that he supports the Hyde Amendment (which bans almost all federal funding of abortions), as well as the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.  Except for the fact that the March for Life might not snag President Rudy as the keynote speaker, a President Giuliani would function exactly the same on abortion as George W. Bush has in the past six years (and possibly even better).

Pro-life leaders like Tony Perkins and Chuck Donovan and James Dobson have every right to choose someone other than Rudy.  However, it might be good for them to re-evaluate the benefits of blacklisting candidates because that candidate doesn’t approach one particular issue in the exact same way they do.  Also, Perkins and others should keep in mind that the abortion issue is more than just politics–individual human lives are at stake.  And if the ballot in November, 2008 is between a Democrat (who, as President, would appoint liberal Supreme Court judges, would veto the Hyde Amendment and the PBA Ban, and would do absolutely nothing to reduce abortions) and Rudy Giuliani (who, as President, would do all the exact opposite things), perhaps the action that would be in the best interest of all those individual unborn lives would not be for us to sit on our hands and pout.

Josiah Schmidt

Rudy Giuliani — A Leader With Results

June 14, 2007

Following the Republican presidential candidates’ debate in New Hampshire over a week ago, published an op-ed piece by Curt Pringle, Mayor of Anaheim, California, entitled “Rudy Giuliani: Real Results from a Real Leader.”  Mayor Pringle is a solid conservative, a solid social conservative, the former Republican leader of the California State Assembly, and hence one of California’s top Republicans. What attracts him to Mayor Giuliani isn’t the lip-service of promises, but a record of real results – astonishing results, actually – in a city that was deemed by many to be nearly ungovernable.

Mayor Pringle ends his article by stating, “When you listened to Rudy Giuliani speak at the debate last night, it was not just rhetoric. These are real results from a real leader. Many of us know Rudy Giuliani as the symbol of leadership in a time of crisis. Rudy faced a city in crisis when he became mayor. He proved then that he could guide New York out of that crisis, just like he did on 9/11. That is the strong leader we need as President.”

When Giuliani became mayor of New York, he faced a city in the depths of dysfunction. In his book, Prince of the City, author Fred Siegel describes the state of affairs in NY:
New York City’s jobless rate was 10.2 percent. The previous four years, NYC lost 235 jobs – every day! Financial expert Felix Rohatyn complained, “virtually all human activities are taxed to the hilt.”

In 1993, 1,946 New Yorkers were murdered, down from a peak of 2,262 in 1990, but still a spectacular level of carnage. Social pathologies fueled disorder and lawlessness. Vagrants relieved themselves on trash-strewn sidewalks. Mental patients roamed the streets, and occasionally pushed commuters onto subway tracks. Some 1.32 million New Yorkers, one of six, were on welfare.

In August 1991, an anti-Semitic pogrom erupted in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Street battles raged for days as Democratic Mayor David Dinkins failed to deploy the police. A young hoodlum named Lemrick Nelson fatally stabbed Australian rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum as a black mob yelled, “Get the Jew….”

Giuliani approached the problems of New York by applying conservative principles of tax reduction, fiscal responsibility, privatization, law and order, and colorblindness.

Pro-growth tax-cutter

As mayor, Giuliani cut city taxes by more than eight billion dollars, reducing the tax burden on New Yorkers by 22%. He cut sales taxes; he cut the marriage penalty on taxpaying couples; he cut taxes on commercial rents everywhere outside of Manhattan’s major business districts; and he cut various taxes on small businesses and self-employed New Yorkers. He cut NYC’s hotel tax from 6% to 5%, which resulted in an increase in hotel tax revenues of over $100 during his term in office. He cut or eliminated 23 levies totaling $8 billion. Asked after September 11 if he would hike taxes, Giuliani was refreshingly blunt, calling that “a dumb, stupid, idiotic, and moronic thing to do….”

Rudy Giuliani characterized his economic philosophy this way: “City government should not and cannot create jobs through government planning. The best it can do, and what it has a responsibility to do, is to deal with its own finances first, to create a solid budgetary foundation that allows businesses to move the economy forward on the strength of their energy and ideas. After all, businesses are and have always been the backbone of New York City.”

“The thing that probably disturbs me the most when I read the New York Times editorials, they’ve kind of turned around the whole idea of cutting taxes, and they make tax increases morally courageous,” Giuliani said. “I have no idea what is courageous about raising taxes. I understand it’s courageous to run into a fire and take somebody out, but I can’t figure out what’s courageous about raising taxes. I don’t understand why you would think that in an economy that’s essentially a private economy, it makes more sense and is more efficient for the government to confiscate more of that money.”

Welfare reformer

As Mayor, Giuliani launched a welfare revolution, removing illegal recipients, cutting the rolls by 20% the first year alone and dropping the welfare rolls by 600,000 over the course of his plan. He launched a work requirement program for the remaining welfare recipients.

Fiscal conservative

As mayor, Rudy Giuliani cut the New York City government payroll by 19%, eliminating unnecessary civil servants from the public dole. While hiring 12 percent more police officers and 12.8 percent more teachers, Giuliani sliced municipal manpower elsewhere by 17.2 percent, from 117,494 workers in 1993 to 97,338 in 2001. Inheriting a multi-billion dollar deficit, Rudy turned it into a surplus, delivering eight consecutive balanced budgets.

Giuliani’s expenditure growth averaged 2.9 percent annually, while local inflation between January 1994 and December 2001 averaged 3.6 percent. His fiscal 1995 budget decreased outlays by 1.6 percent, while his post-9/11 fiscal 2002 plan lowered appropriations by 2.6 percent.

Racial quotas

Giuliani ran on the slogan “One standard, one city,” in 1993, and then immediately implemented it. During his first month as mayor, Giuliani ended the city’s 20 percent set-asides for minority- and female-owned contractors, and a 10 percent price premium that such companies could charge above the bids of white, male competitors.

Rudy rejected the idea of lowering the job requirement standards for minorities and woman. He said, “It was unfair to expect middle-class kids to work their way through college by holding down jobs and going to classes while exempting students on welfare from working.”

As Giuliani explained at a December 3, 1997 Manhattan Institute forum, “I, number one, thought that was very bad public policy. The city shouldn’t be paying 10 percent more. Remember, I was dealing with a city that had about a $3 billion deficit at the time. How we could possibly pay 10 percent more for anything seemed incomprehensible to me.

“And second… the whole idea of quotas to me perpetuates discrimination. It has exactly the opposite effect on people who support quotas think it would have. So, I did away with it.”

Crime and Quality of Life

Giuliani has said that “government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets, not to redistribute income, run a welfare state, or perform social engineering.” He backed this up by going after both quality-of-life crimes and serious crimes.

During his tenure as mayor, total crime went down by some 64 percent in New York City, and the incidence of murder went down 67 percent. Auto thefts went down on average about 80,000 per year.

Giuliani went after both low level and high level drug dealers for the first time in the city’s history. He had zero-tolerance for quality of life crimes such as squeegee extortionists, graffiti vandals, panhandling and public urination.


Mayor Giuliani supported parental choice in education. As he said in the June 16, 1994 Newsday, “If you give the Board of Education more money, you end up with something like the old Soviet Union.”

Giuliani ended tenure for principals and ended social promotion, which promoted students even when they could not perform grade-level work. He also launched a Charter School Fund and openly advocated vouchers.

“The one area that I would emphasize… is choice and vouchers,” Giuliani said. “The only thing that I believe is going to change dramatically public education in this country is to go to a choice system and break up the monopoly,” he said, and, “The whole notion of choice is really about more freedom for people, rather than being subjugated by a government system that says you have no choice about the education of your child.”

Michael Reagan, son of President Reagan, told Frontpage Magazine, “On every major issue, [Giuliani] is a solidly conservative and extraordinarily adept executive…”

When Mayor Giuliani commits himself as president to continue to press the offensive in the war on terror, securing the borders and identifying all illegals in the country, restoring fiscal discipline in Washington, cutting taxes and reforming the tax code, leading the nation in energy independence, expanding health care coverage through market-based solutions, reforming our legal system, decreasing abortions by increasing adoptions, granting parents choice in the education of their children, and enhancing our position and reputation in the world, he speaks as one who has a record of accomplishment that no other candidate for president can match.

Greg Alterton

Conservative Religious Leaders Run Risk of Isolating Themselves

June 12, 2007 posted an article on June 11 entitled, “Conservatives Would Bolt GOP Over Rudy.” The title is a bit misleading as the article is about a few prominent religious conservative leaders, not religious conservatives as a whole, and not conservatives in general. The article would have been better titled “Religious Conservative Leaders Poised to Run Head Long into Political Oblivion.”

From the article:

“A growing number of influential social conservatives are speaking out against Rudy Giuliani, with some threatening that they will take flight from the Republican Party in 2008 if the former New York mayor is the GOP nominee…”

While the article cites the views of James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, their opinions are virtually identical to those of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who said, “Speaking as a private citizen, no, no, I could not support (Giuliani). The 20 years I’ve been involved in politics, the life issue has been at the very top. How could I turn my back on that?”

Rather than prophets of doom delivering their message to the Giuliani campaign, Messrs. Perkins, Dobson, Sheldon, and Land may be on a collision course with irrelevancy.

I’m as pro-life as any of these four, but the question becomes one of strategy and tactics, not sincerity and commitment to the issue. As I stated in an earlier blog entry, 34 years of pro-life advocacy have produced exactly what in terms of eroding the Roe v. Wade decision? The partial-birth abortion bill signed by Pres. Bush is the only substantive thing in 34 years, but that was challenged in the courts, and while the swing vote for the majority was supposedly Justice Anthony Kennedy, the real swing vote was actually Justice Samuel Alito, the most recent addition to the court, and the one who replaced Sandra Day O’Connor on the court. This fact shows the importance of the courts in moving the pro-life position further down-field. Since Rudy Giuliani is committed to appointing strict constructionists to the judiciary, I see this as the best and only way a President can potentially chip away at Roe.

When Perkins says he’s been at this for 20-some-odd years, therein may be the real motivation for opposing Rudy. While I hesitate to assume to read minds or peer into the heart of an individual and divine their motives, Messrs. Perkins, Dobson, Sheldon, and Land have made a career out of being recognized as “leaders” among social conservatives, and a Rudy candidacy no doubt threatens their king-maker role within the GOP. If Rudy gets elected, it may mean reduced influence for these four — no more pandering to them for their support, no more special lunches at the White House with the President, and so forth.

And that fear is well-founded. The Politico article also cites the fact that a plurality of self-identified rank-and-file social conservatives supports Giuliani for the nomination. “Giuliani’s support for abortion rights and gay rights has not to date prevented him from winning the support of a sizable number of socially conservative voters, according to polls. But the continued strength of his candidacy is causing alarm among leaders of conservative advocacy groups, many of which have been major players in Republican politics.” Therein may be their real fear – not that Rudy Giuliani may become President, but that most social conservatives will be deaf to their political opinions.

I wish to repeat something I stated in an earlier post: How does being personally pro-life make this nation more secure, keep our economy strong, reform and reduce the size of government, grant parents greater choice in the education of their children, defend and expand freedom around the world, and win the war on terror? Messrs. Dobson, Land, Sheldon, and Perkins may hold the view that they will refuse to vote for someone who is not personally pro-life, and that’s their right. But speaking as a pro-life conservative Christian who believes that social issues are important, I refuse to hold issues such as national security, a prosperous economy, the need to reduce the size of government, America’s interests in the world, and the war on terror, hostage to the one issue of abortion (despite my pro-life position). If Mayor Giuliani maintained a personal position in support of personal choice on abortion, and hadn’t pledged to appoint conservative strict constructionists to the courts, these self-appointed spokesmen for social conservatives might have a point. But he has, and they don’t.

While these “leaders” are saying they will not follow a candidate who isn’t personally pro-life, I think it’s time many of us social conservatives tell these “leaders” that we will not follow their leadership if they sacrifice every other issue of importance to America on the abortion altar. Let them quit politics, if that’s their choice, and get off the public stage.

So, Messrs. Dobson, Land, Perkins, and Sheldon…how about getting back to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and stop looking to politics as the way to redeem society? Abortion is a black and white issue. Politics is always various shades of gray. There is power in the gospel to change lives and hearts. Maybe it’s time you four moved out of politics and got back to what’s really important in improving the character of the nation.

Greg Alterton

Rudy and Guns: The Case For Federalism

June 10, 2007

In 1993, when Rudy Giuliani was elected as Mayor of New York City, it was conventionally known as the “crime capital” of America.  NYC then averaged about 35-40 homicides a week, and 10,000 felonies per week.  Tax paying, law abiding citizens were fleeing New York in record numbers, with about half of them citing the fact that they or someone they knew had been a victim of violent crime in the city.

When Rudy Giuliani assumed the office of mayor in 1994, he had his work cut out for him.  City Hall had been unable to make any real dent in the crime problem pre-Giuliani.  His predecessor, David Dinkins, refused to see the violent crime issue as a matter of enforcement, rather placing the blame solely on poverty and lack of education.  The solution to which, Dinkins asserted, was more taxpayer-funded social programs.  They didn’t work.

Conversely, Mayor Giuliani combined new, innovative accountability practices with vigorous enforcement of the law, and at the end of his tenure, saw great successes.  Murders and violent crimes (specifically gun crimes) were down tremendously.  The FBI at that time declared that New York City had become “the safest large city in America.”

How did he do it?

Mayor Giuliani admits that some modest gun control measures played a part in this drop, but perhaps his support for gun control has been blown out of proportion.  Rudy, as a revered prosecutor who, during the 80’s, ran the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Reagan administration, is an expert in law and knows the Constitution and its Second Amendment-guaranteed right to bear arms well.

Here’s what Rudy proposed in 2000: “I do not think the government should cut off the right to bear arms. My position for many years has been that just as a motorist must have a license, a gun owner should be required to have one as well. Anyone wanting to own a gun should have to pass a written exam that shows that they know how to use a gun, that they’re intelligent enough and responsible enough to handle a gun.”

Rudy’s view in no way infringes upon the basic Second Amendment personal right to own a firearm.  But, like every constitutional right, there are reasonable precautions that should be taken.  For instance, while Americans cherish the right to free speech, no one objects to arresting someone who makes a serious verbal threat against the life of a President.  And while this country was founded on the freedom to practice religion, no one expects the authorities to stand idly by if someone’s “religion” mandates murder or pedophilia.

With wild accusations now flying that Rudy is a “gun grabber” who advocates or has advocated abolishing the right to personal ownership of firearms or a national gun registration system, perhaps it’s time to set the record straight.

Here’s the kind of gun control Rudy has actually advocated:

  • Rudy supported the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, named for James Brady (Reagan’s press secretary who was grievously wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt on the President).  This bill established a five-day waiting period to buy a gun, which was implemented partially as a “cool-off” time to deter impulsive suicides and crimes of passion, and partially to allow for a background check on the person wanting to purchase firearm.
  • In his second mayoral term, Mr. Giuliani endorsed amendments to the City Charter requiring gun owners to use child safety trigger locks when storing their weapons, and banning guns within 1,000 feet of schools.
  • He also endorsed a bill in Albany that suggested that new guns be test-fired so that the police would have ballistic records, and asked for background checks to be conducted when purchasing a firearm at a gun show or flea market.

Rudy understands the difference between guns and those who misuse them.  All of the gun control measures Rudy implemented have been very reasonable when taken in the context of the crime situation that New York City faced upon his inauguration as mayor.  But, most importantly, Rudy understands the importance of allowing the individual states the right to protect gun ownership freedoms as broadly as they desire.  Rudy is a true federalist in this regard, and this philosophy has been shown throughout history to be the most effective.

In America, where the federalist system prevails, states routinely protect their own constitutional rights to gun ownership.

Throughout the 1800’s, politicians in states like Kentucky and Georgia tried to enact overreaching gun control measures, and they were each time overruled by the states’ Supreme Courts as unconstitutional.  This is quite unlike the recent situations in countries like Canada, England, and Australia, where the federal governments have all but banned the personal ownership of firearms, even for self-defense, to no avail.

In the past two decades, England has implemented more and more restrictive gun control laws, and in 1997, banned all handguns.  Instead of the crime rates decreasing, criminals now know that their potential victims will be unarmed, and, as a result, the homicide rate in the U.K. bounded by 50% between 1990-2000, and in 1996, the U.K.’s violent crime rate surpassed that of supposedly “gun-negligent” America.

After shocking murders in 1996, the Australian government launched a pricey $500 million+ campaign to confiscate and destroy legally purchased and owned handguns from law-abiding citizens.  As a result, armed robbery increased 166% nationwide, and Australia’s violent crime rate increased in stark contrast to America’s decrease during the same period.

In marked disparity, New York City displayed the exact opposite trend.  By the end of Mayor Giuliani’s tenure, overall crime was down 56%, murder was down 66%, and, importantly, gun-related crimes went down significantly.  Yet, Rudy recognizes that what works for New York City might not work for New Mexico.  “There can be reasonable restrictions, and they largely should be done by state and…done by legislature,” he stated at a March 12 press conference in Washington.

The difference between America’s “states’ rights”-focused model and the more “federalized”-focused model of countries like England and Australia, is that America retains the right of its individual states to defend their constitutional freedoms against any new, impulsive, overreaching gun control laws the federal government might try to impose across the entire land.  This is something that Rudy knows and understands well, and is why Rudy has proposed no new federal gun controls in a future presidential administration.

“His history is of enforcing gun laws, not of gun control,” said Anthony V. Carbonetti, a senior adviser to Giuliani. “Rudy took over a city that averaged over 2,000 murders a year, and 90-some-odd percent were gun-related murders. It was all about taking guns out of the hands of criminals.  Responsible gun owners will see him as an ally.”

Rudy Giuliani is not advocating, and has never advocated, the repeal of the personal right to bear arms, nor is he advocating a national gun registration system.  Rudy is all about keeping guns in the hands of the good guys, and disarming the bad guys.  Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP of the NRA, recently highlighted the fact that cities like Los Angeles are trying unsuccessfully to use gun control as a substitute for criminal control.

LaPierre recounted: “Back in October, a gang of teens viciously assaulted a group of women in Long Beach.  Months later, some of these ladies still haven’t recovered from their injuries.  But instead of charging the teenagers as adults as the law allows, prosecutors went after them in juvenile court.  And instead of years behind bars for their assault, most of them got off with probation, community service, and two months of house arrest.  What type of message does this send to violent criminals?  Assault people within an inch of their lives, and you’re going to be ‘grounded’ for two months?  Is that going to make any criminal think twice before he breaks the law?”

This is exactly the approach that Giuliani took issue with as Mayor, and that is why Giuliani reformed New York’s law enforcement system with tough, innovative tactics such as “Broken Windows” policing, which focused on enforcing all laws, even minor ones, which led to a reduction in major crimes as well, and “CompStat” programs, where up-to-date statistics of certain crimes in certain areas were made available to track, and where regular meetings were held to keep law enforcement officers accountable for their areas of responsibility.  Giuliani was often criticised for being supposedly “too tough” on crime, but his tactics worked.

Giuliani got hounded for cracking down on petty subway turnstyle-jumpers until it was found that 1 out of 7 turnstyle-jumpers also happened to be a wanted felon.  Giuliani suffered many a nasty remark for driving away the squeegee men who would wash car windows and then demand payment (often violently), until their absence brought people back into New York City, revitalizing the tourism industry.  Giuliani’s top-down approach to fighting gun crime by enforcing the law was what worked, and it’s something both the NRA and Rudy Giuliani understand and agree upon.

Rudy Giuliani is not running for President to advance some liberal social platform of more federal gun control.  He has unequivocally stated that a Giuliani presidential administration will defend the overall right to personal ownership of firearms for both self-defense and recreation and leave the specifics up to the individual localities.  Rudy Giuliani’s approach is about federalism, not only because it works, but because it’s constitutional.  As the tough-on-crime prosecutor who brought down New York’s most powerful organized crime rings and drug dealers, and as the Mayor who turned the once crime-rampant New York City around 180 degrees, Rudy Giuliani understands both the practical and constitutional benefit of the Second Amendment better than perhaps any other conservative running for President in 2008.

Josiah Schmidt

Mainstream Social Conservatives Flummox the Experts

June 6, 2007

They’ve been saying it for months. “They” are self-appointed spokespersons for social conservatives, especially conservative Christians – “they” are the ones the news media go to when they want to take the pulse of social conservatives. And what they’ve been saying is that “They may support him now, but once social conservatives realize his position on [pick the issue: guns, abortion, homosexual rights, his personal life], they’ll turn away from Rudy Giuliani.” However, regardless of what the “experts” think, Rudy Giuliani remains the frontrunner among socially conservative voters.

A June 5th article posted on Christianity Today’s website quotes Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, saying, “I think a lot of evangelicals are just getting to know Rudy…As they get to know him—not as the hero of 9/11 but as a supporter of tax-funded abortions—his support will decline precipitously.”

What is there that conservative evangelical voters don’t know about Rudy Giuliani? His personal position on abortion, gays, local gun control regulations, his personal life, even the fact that he dressed as a woman at various fund-raising events when he was mayor of New York, have been splashed all over the internet and the mainstream media for months. And yet Giuliani continues to be the frontrunner among conservative evangelicals and other stripes of social conservatives.

A May 28 article on Politico reported a recent poll and analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showing that Giuliani is the frontrunner among conservative evangelical voters, earning the support of 30% of this group compared to 22% support for Sen. John McCain. The Pew poll also found that 44% of social conservatives believe that Mayor Giuliani has the best chance of becoming the next President. And despite Richard Land’s view that as social conservatives get to know Giuliani “his support will decline precipitously,” the Pew survey found that evangelical voters are actually much more tuned-in to this presidential election than the average voter. The Pew survey found that 31% of self-identified social conservatives have given the 2008 presidential candidates “a lot” of thought, while only 23% of other Republicans have given the race the same level of scrutiny.

To explain the frontrunner status of Mayor Giuliani, John Green, a senior fellow at Pew who compiled the survey, said, “A significant number of social conservatives have adopted a pragmatic line.” Mr. Green is quoted in Christianity Today saying that he believes issues like abortion and opposition to same-sex marriage “are fading a little bit” as many states have banned gay marriage and evangelicals turn their attention to other issues. “They still care about social issues, but many also care about national security, economic issues, and the environment. It very well may be that Giuliani appeals to evangelicals on these other issues,” Green said.

Returning to Mr. Land, there appears to be a hint of desperation in his analysis of the race and where conservative evangelicals may come down in this election. To cite the Christianity Today article, “Land believes that even if evangelicals overlook Giuliani’s abortion record, they will struggle to overcome his broken marriages. ‘He promised at least two wives that he’d love, honor, and cherish—till death do you part—and he broke his promises to them,’ Land said. ‘Three spouses is at least one spouse too many for most evangelicals.’”

The abortion red-flag doesn’t seem to be working to undermine the Mayor’s standing among evangelicals, so go to Plan B.

Aside from the odd implication made by Land that having two spouses is now perfectly OK for “most evangelicals,” the personal issue of a candidate’s divorces seems a peculiar issue over which to fall on one’s sword. Mr. Land, representing Southern Baptists in Washington, is skating on thin ice if he adopts divorce as his make-or-break issue. George Barna, the pollster who has made a career of surveying and analyzing the attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyles of evangelical Christians, noted in a report published in 1999 that among all Christian denominations, the one with the highest divorce rate are the Baptists.

Being married only once won’t balance the federal budget, enhance the security of America, reduce the size of government, defend and expand liberty, or win the war on terror. A good number of evangelical voters understand this, apparently much to the consternation of some self-appointed evangelical leaders. My wife said it best recently: “I might not want to be in a relationship with Rudy, but I want him defending this nation.”

Greg Alterton

Rudy: Pragmatic Traditional Values — With Results

June 4, 2007

A lot of Republican politicians in Washington talk of traditional values. A lot of conservative pundits and leaders of interest groups raise the banner of traditional values. But where’s the fruit of electing politicians to federal office on a purely socially conservative agenda?

Rudy Giuliani has taken more than a few slings and arrows over the past few months for supposedly not toeing the line on traditional socially conservative values. However, isn’t it more important to show results consistent with these values than to simply give them lip service? Mayor Giuliani may not fit the conventional mold of a “traditional values” candidate, but among those running for the 2008 Republican nomination for President, he has a record of accomplishment that should make values voters take notice. Consider:

While Mayor Giuliani takes hits for his “personal” view on abortion, abortions in New York City declined while Giuliani was mayor – a drop of 16.8 percent during the Giuliani administration, according to the Center for Disease Control. University of Alabama political scientist Michael New has stated that, “The decline in abortions in New York City under Giuliani was greater than the national decline.” What other candidate for President can boast a record of actually decreasing the number of abortions?

And while abortions were going down, adoptions in New York City were going up. Children in foster care fell in the city from 47,509 in December 1993 to 28,700 in 2001, the last year of Giuliani’s term in office. While only 2,312 children were adopted in New York City in 1994, cumulative adoptions swelled to 27,949 over the next seven years.

Mayor Giuliani has also spoken in very traditional terms about personal responsibility, particularly parental responsibility. “Seventy percent of long-term prisoners and 75 percent of adolescents charged with murder grew up without a father,” Giuliani said in his January 14, 1999 State of the City speech. “So, I guess if you wanted a social program that would really save these kids, a lot better than the City of New York, the United States Congress, the Social Welfare Agency, and Administration for Children Services, I guess the social program would be called fatherhood.

As mayor, Giuliani supported the position that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman: “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that it should remain that way, it should remain that way inviolate, and everything should be done to make sure that that’s the case.”

In the midst of his tenure as mayor of New York, columnist George Will said of Rudy Giuliani, “He is America’s most successful conservative currently in office. He understands that culture, more than politics, determines a community’s success, and he has devised policies to drive cultural change in a conservative direction.”

While Rudy Giuliani may not pander to social conservatives in the way that many have grown accustomed from aspirants for the Presidency, his record of accomplishments speaks louder than lip service.

Greg Alterton

Rudy’s Approach To Social Issues: Federalism

June 1, 2007

In an article entitled “Rudy’s Electoral Math,” a blogger for made the comment that, “The notion that Rudy Giuliani will…mirror the Democratic nominee on social issues is just not correct…We’re running a candidate who, while personally not conservative on many social issues, will govern as a functional social conservative on most of the big issues cultural conservatives care about.” (Click here for full article)

The drumbeat is that Rudy Giuliani is wrong on the “big issues” for social conservatives: abortion, gay rights, and gun ownership. However, consider:

On gun regulation, Giuliani has not proposed any new federal controls, and defers to the localities to determine what or whether to regulate firearms. On this, he is a solid proponent of states’ rights. So much for the “gun-grabber” charge.

The same with gay rights. Giuliani is on record saying that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that this distinction is to be respected. When he did not support the defense of marriage constitutional amendment proposal, neither did a number of conservatives who do not believe that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to address this issue. The voters in individual states – from Oregon, to California, to Ohio, to Michigan…27 states in all, so far – are stepping up to either affirmatively declare marriage as between a man and a woman, or are specifically banning gay marriage. Giuliani’s stance on states’ rights would oppose federal action to overturn the state-led initiatives on this issue.

And the same with abortion. Despite his personal views, Giuliani has pledged to appoint originalists to the federal judiciary. In the 34 years since Roe v. Wade, there has been only one major pro-life legislative victory – the passage and signing by President Bush of a ban on partial-birth abortions. One victory in over 34 years – a span of time that saw two strongly pro-life presidents in Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and 12 years of Republican control of Congress. The partial-birth abortion ban was challenged in the courts, and was only recently upheld by the Supreme Court, which indicates that it is in the courts that these issues will ultimately be won or lost. Hence, Giuliani’s intention to appoint originalists to the courts should be considered the most important pro-life impact that the next president will have. It may be that his appointments to the Supreme Court will be better, and more conservative, than Reagan’s.

Giuliani has said that he would have signed a partial-birth abortion ban which includes an exemption for the life of the mother. The pro-abortion Democrats want an exemption for the “health” of the mother. There’s a big difference. “Life” would provide an exemption where the mother’s life is in danger if natural delivery proceeds (and this should be rendered a non-factor because of cesarean delivery in the event of an emergency). An exemption from abortion prohibitions for the “health” of the mother, as favored by the pro-abortion Democrats, has been used as a catch-all exemption as “health” has come to include “mental health,” meaning that if a pregnancy or having a child might create “stress” for the mother, this is enough to fall within the “health” criterion, and would lead to aborting the child.

Mayor Giuliani also supports parental notification before minors can obtain an abortion, which is a long-time goal of pro-life organizations. His position, from appointment of originalists to the courts, to the distinction in his position on partial-birth abortion from that of the pro-abortion left, is reason to calm the fears, and rebut the hysterical charges of rightist extremists, that he’s a “baby-killer.”

Rudy Giuliani’s approach to these socially conservative issues is to de-federalize the issues, take them out of the gridlocked politics of Washington, and allow the states to decide them. Rudy Giuliani is the most pro-states’ rights presidential candidate we’ve seen in decades…maybe ever. What’s not conservative about that?

It should be clear to all that our nation is deeply divided, right down the middle, ideologically. The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 showed a deep schism among American voters, and that schism is getting harder and deeper. This division has turned America into two camps, and has made each election a nail-biter as results of the last two presidential elections could have turned on the shift of only about 1.5% of the vote. This divide has also imposed a rigid gridlock in Washington on the whole list of so-called “socially conservative” issues. There’s no budge on either side, and consequently the chances of enacting any of the social conservative agenda is worse than slim and none.

The only way to break this political and ideological gridlock isn’t to surrender socially conservative principles, but to move these issues through a different approach. It’s been said that “Only Nixon could go to China,” because of his life-long record as an anti-communist. It may well be that only Rudy Giuliani can move this nation away from the opposing political encampments it’s become, and allow the people – not the federal government, not the Congress – to make progress on issues that reflect what is the inherent social conservatism of the American people.

Greg Alterton