Interview With Christian Berrigan
Interview With Christian Berrigan
Christian Berrigan is running for the GOP state chair in Washington State. Why should you care? If you’re in WA, you absolutely should, because this man has the guts and the principles to change the back room deals, lying and corruption that are so prevalent on the Republican side here in WA. What’s most important is that he’s a conservative. Not a panderer, not a liberal, not a “social libertarian,” but a real conservative who understands what this state in trouble needs so desperately. He was nice enough to sit down and answer some questions for us so folks could see where he stands on the issues. I think you’ll be impressed—we are.
VG: One of the expected things from candidates is a list of endorsements and name-dropping, if you will forgive the term, of people who support the candidate. You have an impressive list, but you’re going up against the current vice chair. What, in your mind, specifically makes you a better candidate for the state chair position than, say, Van Werven and Walsh?
CB: I look at my endorsements not as something upon which people should base their decision, but as evidence of being a credible candidate worthy of their scrutiny and consideration. In my case they even more importantly indicate support and respect from a variety of the groups or factions within our party. While no candidate has been a bigger friend of the liberty movement – something I’ve proven with ACTION not mere words – I also have broader support as a team builder which will enable me to prevail in the second round of balloting. I believe our party is in desperate need of leadership – the kind which will bring a spirit of cooperation among our various groups. We need a leader willing to embrace and empower our grassroots, and who brings innovative thinking with respect to brand building, voter ID and expanding our ground game. On these points I believe I’m hands down the best candidate for the job. Whether the State Committee will accept what I’m offering is their decision. But more important than friendships, loyalties or tenure, the success of our party should be the one and only criteria a committee member uses to determine their vote. If that happens, I’m confident they will entrust me with the success of the WSRP.
VG: You make a point to define “pro-life” as being anti-abortion in seemingly all cases besides the mother’s life. A lot of people call themselves “personally pro-life,” but still claim that abortion is something that “other people” should have the right to do. In your opinion, is this a conservative/pro-liberty position?
CB: In a word, no. While I’m heavily influenced by the Liberty Movement, I’m not agreeable with the Gary Johnson socially liberal brand of libertarianism, largely due to the abortion issue. If an unborn baby is a human being, a person, then they are afforded the same rights we all share – those unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, enumerated in our Declaration of Independence and protected by our Constitution. In order for a constitutional conservative, libertarian or otherwise, to justify a pro-choice position you have to believe an unborn baby is not a person. I find no evidence that is the case.
VG: You mentioned in a Facebook thread that you don’t see the “big tent” concept the same way as many Republicans do. Can you explain that? What’s “big tent” mean to you?
CB: Usually when we hear talk of a “big tent” party, it describes the idea that we have to adjust our principles in a manner which will include the broadest section of people. I totally disagree with that. People who are willing to compromise their principles to acquire or retain power are the problem in our government today. I’m ALWAYS willing to compromise politics to advance my principles, but am unwilling to compromise my principles simply to advance politics. So my version of a big tent is one where people are welcomed for the goals we have in common, and are not ostracized or treated with distrust or hostility because of the 20% where we differ. We can have biennial battles for the supremacy of our ideas, but the rest of the time we agree to advance the 80% we have in common. The key is to treat the people with respect even if they have some ideas which we may not respect. Bottom line is – you don’t have to agree with everyone on everything in order to be in the tent. You don’t have to compromise your principles in order to be in the tent. You simply have to agree to fight for whatever percentage we have in common, and do so in a fair and forthright manner.
VG: What is your position on some of the gun control measures put forward by State legislators in the last year (background checks, registries, etc)? What will you specifically do to guard our 2nd Amendment rights?
CB: I would direct your attention to the second amendment resolution passed by our Central Committee in February. I authored the original draft which was refined with a group of PCOs. This has already been submitted to the committee in charge of resolutions for consideration by the state committee. Please let me know if this leaves any part of this question unanswered.
As Chairman I would use the bully pulpit wherever possible to educate our fellow citizens on this and other important matters.
VG: What will you do to combat the corruption and back room dealings so prevalent in the WSRP and RLCWA?
CB: First and foremost, be intolerant of it when it occurs. Culturally, educate our party leaders as to how that kind of activity demoralizes, deflates and discourages our grassroots. Show them examples of how some of our best people get alienated when they are treated unfairly. Demonstrate how fair play makes defeat more palatable, and makes it easier for people to cooperate after a loss. Systemically, codify reforms into our state bylaws where appropriate, and encourage counties to take similar action appropriate to them. Personally, I will not tolerate the temptation to use power or position to manipulate an outcome. Our intra-party battles must be waged on a level playing field or we will continue to alienate members and thereby destroy ourselves.
VG: What do you think the biggest reason is for the high rate of lost elections for the Republicans? What can you do, as state chair, to change that?
CB: The strategy toward playing to a small slice in the middle of the electorate is a proven failure. There are statistical results in elections which prove this. Instead of taking a poll and conforming to whatever a segment of the electorate is thought to believe, we need to inspire and lead them into a direction consistent with our agenda. Reagan didn’t win the “Reagan Democrats” by compromising his principles. He led the way with compelling arguments and leadership. I believe there is a large portion of our electorate which has been discouraged and alienated from the process, and their numbers eclipse that slice of the middle. Even though they agree with us philosophically, they feel disenfranchised and are quite cynical about political parties in general. When a party changes its strategy to one focusing upon leadership and the advancement of our agenda, this group will be re-activated and victories will follow. I hope that our history of failure in this state will be sufficient motivation to cause our members to be willing to try a different and more productive strategy.
VG: What is your position on illegal immigration and amnesty?
CB: I believe we need to secure our border first, before doing anything else. Next, I believe we need to sell a crackdown on illegal immigration by making the argument that our legal immigration quotas are too low, and could be expanded if we simply stopped all the illegal immigration. Sing the praises of how waves of LEGAL immigrants have built this country, and it is unfair that law-breakers are preventing others from immigrating here honestly. This will immediately get immigrant citizens who have family members waiting in line for years to support us in this cause, and will attract them to the Republican Party. Change our rhetoric to use different terms. “Legal Immigrants” and “Illegal Residents” are ways to remove the word immigrant from the negative side of the equation. Never use the word immigrant in the negative context of illegal immigration. Only use the word immigrant in the positive context. As to those who are already here, I disagree with amnesty under any cloak, façade or disguise. This is just thinking out loud: but perhaps we could approach “amnesty” by demanding illegal residents plead guilty under a plea bargain which leaves them on probation. They plead guilty, we make a deal, as happens every day for many crimes. Make the probation strict enough so there is a sense that punishment has been meted and a debt has been paid for their lawbreaking. The process requires arrest, fingerprinting etc, and subjecting them to immediate deportation if they violate their probation. Any deported people who come here again illegally can be identified from their earlier arrest record, prosecuted and properly punished. Clearly, if they are being honestly punished under the law, they have no amnesty. Though it does seem deporting millions of people is justice under the law – to be intellectually honest, I don’t see how it is logistically possible.
VG: In your opinion, what’s the biggest issue facing our nation right now? How do you believe WA conservatives can help?
CB: We face many challenges and threats to our nation — the national debt, terrorism, illegal immigration and lack of economic opportunity. This is where many of us get side-tracked. Although each of these poses threats to us in unique ways, they have one common denominator. Ultimately, they all threaten our liberty. So while we see direct threats to our liberty coming from the NSA, the IRS, the EPA, and even the Presidency and Congress itself, most of the other significant issues of the day boil down to us failing in our primary responsibility: The preservation of our liberty, acquired by our ancestors with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, for the sole purpose of bestowing it to us as an inheritance. This is our solemn duty and our utmost responsibility to our posterity. The biggest issue facing our nation is the loss of our liberty, as evidenced by the soft tyranny under which we now reside.
VG: Any closing statements or things you’d like to bring up?
CB: I hope enough of our committee members will share my vision, and entrust me to lead our party to the success which has eluded us. There is too much at stake. The current status quo has failed. We need a new status quo of success. My prescription for it has been laid upon the table for your consideration, and I encourage the state committee members to accept the offer.