Another night with not as much time to write as I would like. I have found myself in the position of having an extremely sore back, which makes it difficult to sit in one place or position for too long, and impossible to sit in certain positions. Oh, the lament of doing a job that put my body through the ringer at one time. I am not complaining, as it will be better in a day or so. I was watching a video this evening over at HuffPo that was about the incident involving the Geico voiceover guy who lost his job over a message that he left on the machine over at FreedomWorks. I will recap that shortly below, but it led me to start looking a little bit closer at the group in question. Having not researched FreedomWorks in the past, I was dismayed to find that they are not exactly on the up and up, at least not from first appearances. In fact, I am wondering whether they are really nothing more than the conservative version of ACORN….
Just a quick blurb on the Geico guy. His name is Lance Baxter, but he is also known as D.C. Douglas. He left a message on the machine of FreedomWorks CEO and President Matt Kibbe. In the message he first referred to Tea Party protesters as retarded. His second question was valid (at least in my opinion) as he asked what FreedomWorks was going to do when one of their fringe folks did something violent. He left his name and phone number. Kibbe’s response? He posted the message online and asked everyone to contact Geico and have Douglas fired. Geico did so. Douglas doesn’t fault Geico for making a sound business decision, but does fault FreedomWorks for making the message public and asking folks to take the action to get him fired. I found Douglas, while I disagree with him politically, to come out as the good guy in the whole exchange. My personal opinion is that FreedomWorks came out looking like Douchebags.
So what about FreedomWorks? Are they really a “grassroots” organization as they claim? Do they really espouse the things that they claim in the literature and media they put out there? Who’s side are they really on? I ask these questions because I don’t have all the answers. I will attempt here to provide some insight into what I could easily find on them. But I won’t claim to know everything that they have done or that they represent. I am hoping that some readers here will add to the conversation and provide a little more insight as well.
What They Say
From their own website, Our Mission | FreedomWorks
FreedomWorks fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans.
FreedomWorks combines the stature and experience of America’s greatest policy entrepreneurs with the grassroots power of hundreds of thousands of volunteer activists all over the Nation.
FreedomWorks, led by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, has an unrivalled ability to reach opinion leaders and elected officials with innovative policy ideas and effective strategies for change.
FreedomWorks drives policy change by training and mobilizing grassroots Americans to engage their fellow citizens and encourage their political representatives to act in defense of individual freedom and economic opportunity.
Well, I won’t surprise any of you when I say that I like the idea of lower taxes, less government, and more economic freedom for all Americans. I can tell you that they are not kidding when they say that they have stature and experience on their side. On their board is Dick Armey, former Majority Leader in the House of representatives. They are also partnered up with Steve Forbes, yes that Steve Forbes.
They seem to say a lot of the right things on their website. For example, they claim that they are followers of the Austrian School of Economics, a fact that would endear them to a certain pirate around these parts if it weren’t for all the other pro-state stances that they seem to take. They claim to want to get to a smaller government. That is a stance that many of us would like to see, except that I get the impression that when they say small government, they mean small government in the way that the GOP means small government, not in the VDLG way of meaning smaller government.
As a quick sidetrack, I think that it is important to make that distinction here. We hear a lot of folks in the political spectrum who claim to want a smaller government. It is a pretty common theme, especially from the conservative side of the spectrum and the GOP. I caution all of you to refuse to accept this mantra at face value. Because the GOP and conservative operatives in government do not mean small government in the same way that Just A Citizen or I do. They only mean smaller government in terms of social programs and intrusion into the private market in business. In every other way, they are absolutely for a very large damn government. They know that failing to make that stipulation means many in the movements like the Tea Party will accept them at face value. After all, both want “smaller government.” But they are not seeking the same thing any more than the GOP and Democrats are both seeking “fairness”. Their version of small government is very different than the version espoused by people who value freedom. Allow me to present an example:
I noticed that throughout their website they like to use the phrase “grassroots” as this gives the impression that they are just regular joe’s who got together and had some good ideas and formed a non-profit to further their ideas and principles. This is not the case, obviously. Their President is a former staffer and operative for the GOP. Their chairman is a former House majority leader. Do those sound like regular joe’s to you? And let’s take a look at some of the known backing that they receive: They survive on private donations. Some of their “private donors” include Verizon, SBC (now AT&T), Philip Morris, and the Scaife family. They apparently also get money through some form of insurance policies that they sell which automatically makes you a member (I admit that I read this and don’t really understand what they are doing here or how they are doing it. If anyone has more insight please provide, thanks).
I dug further into their website and found that I support what they believe on a vast majority of issues. As I stated earlier, they seem to say all the right things. On many issues they have taken the stance of the GOP. Things such as border security and international trade find them right in line with the Republican party. However, on many others they are far more on the libertarian side of things that I thought they would be. For example, the support a flat tax rather than the progressive tax system. And they are right in line with me in their call for more private competition in the public education arena (although I would like them more if they outright called for the elimination of the Department of Education).
So what is my conclusion on FreedomWorks? As yet, I remain undecided. I have come to the conclusion that they are anything but grassroots, despite their constant use of the word. They are an organization that is from the top down immersed in political figures and adept at the political gamesmanship of Washington. But a lot of their stances on the issues are a bit more radical than the GOP traditionally pushes. They are decidedly conservative, without a doubt, but do they lean more towards Neil Boortz or Rush Limbaugh? That is the question.
So I now pose the question to the group. What is it that you think of FreedomWorks? Are they really a group that should be listened to or are they merely a conservative version of ACORN. They obviously are not getting federal funding like ACORN has received, but that could simply be because their side doesn’t control government. I eagerly await everyone’s take on them.