by Kit Lange and R. Clayton Strang
The Republican Party is broken. This is undeniable fact. It is no longer the effective machine for liberty and freedom that we grew up with. The party of Ronald Reagan, who stood and fought for the right things, seems to no longer exist. Grassroots conservatives, however, refuse to give up. For some time, we have been trying to find something —anything, that can restore the national GOP to a party of integrity and values, and it is a national restoration that is necessary.
The GOP platform is barely workable and growing more liberal by the day. The GOP lawmakers in Washington sell us out to the Socialist Democratic agenda at nearly every turn. It seems as though there is no justice, no value, and no integrity. The real power of the Republican Party, however, is not the Washington fat cats or the state “leadership,” all of which have been corrupted by power. The heartbeat and the conscience of the GOP is the grassroots conservative. It is the average American who believes in a core set of values and is willing to stand for those values. In the rural towns of the Midwest, or even the urban liberalism of the big city, you can find us. We know the difference between right and wrong, and we are willing to fight as long and as hard as necessary against that which is wrong. If only we knew we were not alone. If only we could find a group of people who believed in the same things we do: small government, privacy, the right to bear arms—and above all, the defense of life. We could band together for these things, and in time, perhaps even see a return of a truly Constitutional government through the election of liberty-minded officials. If only we patriots could find such a group.
We thought we had found it: The Republican Liberty Caucus. We were dead wrong.
The RLC, as it is called, “supports individual rights, limited government and free enterprise,” according to its website. They “believe every human being is endowed by nature with inherent rights to life, liberty and property that are properly secured by law…[and] support a strict construction of the Bill of Rights as a defense against tyranny; the expansion of those rights to all voluntary consensual conduct under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments; and the requirements of equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.” To the conservative American patriot, this sounds like exactly the group to be in. Active, loud, and blatantly open about their mission to reform a bloated and corrupt GOP, the RLC sounded exactly like the place for ballsy, ready-for-the-fight “small l” libertarian conservatives who believe in liberty, defend life, and fight with integrity.
We could not have been more mistaken. The RLC’s actual, practiced belief system and tactics is anything but pro-liberty and anti-corruption. In fact, this article will show you that if you are a pro-life, pro-liberty social and fiscal conservative who has signed on with the RLC thinking it is a vehicle for reforming the GOP and restoring liberty, you haven’t just been duped–you’ve been co-opted and used.
The RLC’s origins are fairly controversial. Founded in 1991 (or 1990, depending on who you ask) by a somewhat varying list of contributors (again, depending on who you ask), the RLC was intended to serve as the “libertarian wing of the Republican Party.” Regardless of any confusion and/or murkiness over its beginnings, the RLC has had several national chairs over its lifespan, and these are not in dispute. The most famous, of course, is Ron Paul, who served two terms (1995-2000 and 2001-2002). Some people even think of the RLC and Ron Paul as being synonymous. The RLC’s true viewpoints, however, differ significantly from both the views of Ron Paul, and the views of any liberty-minded conservative.
RLC Leadership History
The first National Chair of the RLC was Barbara Rittberg, one-time spouse of Eric Dondero (who also went by the name Eric Rittberg). Dondero, according to the RLC’s history brochure found on their website, was part of the original group that decided to “develop a national RLC organization.” While not much exists specifically stating Barbara Rittberg’s political positions, you may remember her ex-husband as the former Ron Paul staffer who made a ruckus in 2011 by writing some critical remarks about Paul. The former senator stated that Dondero/Rittberg (he uses different last names depending on the situation and timeframe) was “literally put out” of his organization, a fact which Dondero denies. In December of 2011, the Atlantic took another look at Dondero, and found some interesting things that shed a not-so-favorable light on his integrity. Interestingly enough, this writer actually had Eric Dondero on The Front Line radio show as part of a debate on immigration back in 2007. Dondero loudly and at times rudely defended a very pro-illegal, open borders stance against both a Texas resident who was in a position to disagree about the effects of illegal immigration, and a National Guardsman who also had eyewitness information about the dangerous situation on the border. Dondero’s viewpoint was, quite frankly, appalling and highly misinformed.
As for the issue of abortion, one that Ron Paul is strongly against, Dondero has an opinion on that as well.
We libertarians are not obsessed with the abortion issue. Hell, many of us are pro-life…(I’m personally pro-choice). [...] My message to our social conservative friends would simply be: Stand with us on repealing seat belt laws, lowering the drinking age to 18 for military personnel, stopping smoking bans on bars and restaurants, and yes, on legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. These issues are far more important to us libertarians. (emphasis added)
While Eric Dondero/Rittberg may no longer be part of the RLC, his founding efforts had an effect on the organization, on the people it attracted, and on the future of its platform. In short, one of the founders of the RLC is not only currently pro-illegal immigration, and pro-abortion, but finds smoking bans, seat belts, and pot more important than the most basic liberty of all: the right to exist as a person.
The next national chair was Roger MacBride, also an openly pro-abortion advocate who campaigned for the Libertarian Party Presidential ticket in 1976. Even back then, he was outspoken about his support for abortion.
“Abortions, marijuana smoking, supplying arms to some arcane tribe in Angola, that’s none of my damn business.”
MacBride, “adopted” grandson of Laura Ingalls Wilder and hardcore Libertarian, was national chair of the RLC from 1992 until he died in 1995 and Ron Paul took over.
After Ron Paul’s 5-year stint at the top came Chuck Muth, a politician with a long history of shadiness including scamming Republicans and Democrats alike into donating money to have Mt. Charleston’s name changed to Mt. Reagan. The money disappeared, and Muth never delivered. While his history with the RLC is fairly hush-hush, Alan Turin, former general counsel for the RLC, himself said the following in 2004:
“[Chuck] Muth’s mismangment of the RLC bordered on the criminal. He is of the type of smooth huckster that infects campaigns.”
After Muth was allegedly removed from his post, Ron Paul stepped up again for his second term as national RLC chair. In 2002, Douglas Lorenz ascended to the top spot.
While this researcher was not able to uncover anything specifically on Lorenz’s positions outside of his appearances on the “Libertarian Counterpoint” in 2009, it should be mentioned that currently Lorenz serves as the Director of Communications for California Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-44). This is significant because Gorell has repeatedly “refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2012 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.” It might give us a bit more insight about Lorenz if we look at his recent activity in his current position. In 2012, the Los Angeles Diocese of the Catholic Church, on Catholic Advocacy Day, met with several state lawmakers. While Gorell didn’t bother to show up, Lorenz did. Interestingly enough, Lorenz gave a “no position statement” for Gorell on abortion (and three other issues). One wonders how Gorell got elected if no one knows how he stands on issues—or perhaps Lorenz is just that good at his job. The Diocese representatives stated that “Mr. Lorenz did not commit on most of [the issues presented]. While some may claim that Gorell’s positions or lack thereof do not reflect on Lorenz, may it be stated that to the conservatives mentioned at the beginning of this article, it does matter. Aligning and serving a politician either means you agree with his positions and are helping him work toward his goals, or you disagree with his positions and work for him anyway, in which case you have an integrity problem.
As we can see, the first 14 years of the Republican Liberty Caucus’ existence included the following:
- Two openly pro-abortion Libertarians and two unknowns
- Two men with dubious integrity at best
- One man with open accusations of scamming the public and near criminal mismanagement of the RLC
- One man who is pro-illegal immigration and open borders
- One man who either supports a “no-stand” lawmaker or has no problem collecting a paycheck from him
That just brings us up to 2004. The next piece in this series will tackle 2004-2012, and show an even more shocking decline, not only in the quality of leadership but in the tactics used to silence the opposition, discredit detractors, and even knowingly mislead potential members for the sake of growing membership rolls. Also coming up, Victory Girls exposes a current state and national leadership full of liars and corruption…and we follow the money.
It is no small thing to tackle an entire caucus, but truth must be spoken when it is found. This is not the way to protect and defend liberty. This is not what grassroots conservatives and liberty-minded Republicans have searched so hard and long for. Those who have signed on to the RLC in the hopes that they can reform the GOP and stand for rights such as the liberty and freedom to live, have been deceived.
“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” –George Orwell
For part two of this series, entitled “Exposing the Republican “Liberty” Caucus Part II: Fetuses are just like Dandruff,” click here.
Note: An earlier version of this article did not contain the word “adopted” when speaking of Roger MacBride’s relationship to Laura Ingalls Wilder. We regret the error and have corrected it.