Based on what I do know about this district, it is extremely conservative (much like most of the state) and extremely pro-Republican so in my opinion (unless something really strange happens) whoever gets the Republican nomination in the July primaries, will be the 5th District's next Congressman.
Rick took some time out of his busy campaign schedule to answer some questions for Otter Limits so here is a transcript of that interview:
Why are you running for Congress?
Steve, I have a great deal of concern about where our Country is headed. When I left the Navy, I was proud to have served my Country and performed my Civic duty. So for the last 20 years I have felt that all I had to do was try and make an informed vote, and that our elected officials would take care of the rest. I figured that even if we end up with a not so great politician that surely they couldn't mess it up too bad in only 2 years. Well I think most of us realize now that "yes they can". When I took the Oath to protect and defend the Constitution I meant it. Our Constitution gives us the best form of Government ever known to man, and we must defend it from overzealous career politicians.
As far as your Republican opponents go, what makes you different from them? Why should someone vote for you as opposed to James Lankford, Mike Thompson, Shane Jett, Kevin Calvey or Johnny Roy?
I have never been involved with politics before. Most of the guys in this race have been politicians in one way or another most of their adult lives. I have no political experience. Now some folks feel that is a bad thing, but the way I see it is that I have no political baggage. I have not made my living off of the backs of the taxpayer since I signed my discharge papers. I owe no favors and no one owes me any. But let me tell you about the experience that I do have. I started my business from scratch at the age of 24. I have actually signed the front of a paycheck. I listen to all of these politicians talk about government creating jobs, well I know that government does not create real jobs. Sure they can pull a little more from the taxpayer or worse yet borrow it from our kids and grand kids and use it to create a temporary make work program, but real jobs come from real people who are motivated to make a profit. Real jobs come from main street not Pennsylvania Avenue. Now, I realize that I lack some of the qualities of being a good candidate. For example I am not great at tap dancing. When someone asks me a question I tend to be a little too blunt, but I feel that if you wanted a sugar coated answer you would have asked Willy Wonka. But I would ask you, which do you prefer a good candidate or a good Representative.
If you were elected to Congress, what would you priority be in your first term? That is, what is the #1 issue that concerns you and how would you address it?
We are on a path to oblivion if we continue to spend money the way that we have been. The problem with most politicians these days is that they do not look at it as money. It is just numbers that they can use to get votes for their next election. Every dollar they spend on a pet project came out of another persons pocket but I wonder if they even think about where that dollar came from. The forgotten man must be remembered by those in office.
How do you feel about term limits?
I strongly support term limits. Sure, I understand the arguments against them. This was an issue that was hotly debated during the Continental Congress and the same arguments are being made today, but I believe we have far too many examples of what happens when you leave someone with ambitions of power in office for too long. Serving in Congress 200 years ago was a duty and not the most comfortable way for someone to spend their time, but today it is a little too comfortable. Power is like poverty in that if one is comfortable in it, one is less likely to leave it.
On another note, Oklahoma voted 3 decades ago for term limits, but the Supreme Court overruled it for Federal office holders. I think that the people of the Oklahoma made it clear that they do NOT want their Representatives to serve more than 12 years and for any one to do so is disingenuous to the voters of Oklahoma. I WILL NOT SERVE MORE THAN 12 YEARS.
How do you feel about salary caps for elected officials?
In my previous response I mentioned that I believe that it is a little too comfortable being in elected office. I believe that US Representatives are over paid. Elected office is a Duty and an honor; it should not be a path to wealth. I favor a complete restructuring of Congressional pay. Perhaps it should be similar to Military pay. Some will make the argument that it is more expensive to maintain two residences; I would answer that if barracks are good enough for a Marine sent TDY to Korea for a year then surely it is good enough for an elected official who just wants to serve the public.
Do you support legislation that would make English the official language of the United States? Why or why not?
Yes, I do support English as the official language.
Along the same lines as that last question, what are your thoughts on the new law recently passed in Arizona that makes being an illegal immigrant a crime? How would you go about fixing the illegal immigration problem?
Illegal immigration is a crime pure and simple. It is no different than some one breaking into your home. There is no excuse that I find acceptable. Imagine some one breaks into your home and when you call the police, the officer says to you that he is going to allow the trespasser to stay in your home because it is hot outside and your AC works really well. Sure he is a trespasser but he is just looking for a more comfortable environment. I hear folks talk about amnesty, well my understanding of amnesty is forgiving someone for a crime that they committed not for a crime that they are still committing, and being in this Country illegally is a crime in progress. People are her illegally because the reward is greater than the punishment. Things like free health care, free education, welfare, etc. work as a lure to encourage an illegal activity.
There are a few things that must be done immediately. We must secure our border; we must remove the incentives to commit the crime. No law can be enforced if there is no punishment for committing the crime so there should be a punishment for illegal immigration. I would propose something similar to the no fly list. We can call it the No Visit list. If you are caught here illegally, you will be deported and you will never be allowed to be here again. I believe that a large majority of those who come her illegally have dreams of amnesty one day granting them the privilege of becoming legal residents. So we give them a few years before it goes into effect, so that they have plenty of opportunity to leave on their own.
What are you thoughts on tax reform? Do you support the Fair Tax? Why or why not?
I do support a fair tax or national sales tax. The current tax system is out of control. I have personally spoken to people who would love to start a new business but are terrified of the Federal tax system. When you consider that nearly every private sector job that is created is created by either a small business or a big business that started as a small business, an over burdensome tax code actually decreases new jobs.
What do you think is the best way to fix the failing education system in our country?
The first step to fixing our failing education system is to do away with the Federal Dept of Education and “No Child Left Behind”. We must bring education back to the local level. Teachers spend most of their time today trying to teach to a test and there is no fill in the circle test that can measure a child’s ability to think or solve a problem. We are teaching our kids to churn out answers without any understanding of the why or how. All of life's problems can not be answered with abc or d
Another thing that I would like to see is school vouchers. We must put the power to choose an education for our children back into the hands of parents.
Do you support legislation that would define life as beginning at conception?
I absolutely do. Most people don’t realize this but my wife was adopted at birth. Of course we are unsure of all of the circumstances but suffice it to say that I for one am extremely grateful that Cathie’s biological mother chose adoption over abortion.
What are your thoughts on health care reform? Does the system need to be reformed and if so, how would you go about doing it?
The first step to health care reform should be tort reform but when you consider that 40% of Congress are attorneys, tort reform becomes a huge obstacle to comprehensive health care reform.
Do you feel like the two-party system has lost touch with the American people and do you think a third party would ever have a chance at elected a third party candidate to a major political position?
I do not believe that the two party system has lost touch with the American people so much as I feel that politicians in general are out of touch with the American people. Many of the politicians today have been running for office in one form or another since they first ran for class President in Jr High. That is why we have so many of the problems we have today. Let’s imagine for a moment that you decide in Jr High that you want to be a Dr. so you spend half of your life working towards that medical degree and you finally become a Dr. You did it for all the right reasons and over the years you develop a healthy practice and are making a positive difference in the world. Now imagine that you are faced with a moral choice; if you do the right thing your career is over, but if you do the morally wrong thing you get to continue practicing medicine. The wrong thing goes against everything you stand for and believe in, but you realize that the only way you can continue doing what you love, what you have prepared for your entire life. Medicine is all you know and you have made so many sacrifices, but the only way you can continue is to relinquish the high moral ground you have lived your life on. Suffice it to say that it would probably be a very difficult decision. I personally want a Representative that would walk away from politics before he would sell out. I want a Representative that will always place right before self.
What ideas do you have to control government spending and are you concerned at all with the percentage of the budget that is allocated to military spending? Do you think the percentage is too much or too little?
I believe that we need a fundamental change in the way government budgeting is operated. First we must eliminate the practice of basing this years budget on last years. I have government employees come into my store towards the end of the fiscal year simply to use up their budget, because if they do not use all funds allocated to their budget this year then next year their budget will be cut, but if they use every dime allocated then they receive a budget increase. Have you ever been to a government surplus auction and seen the quantity of brand new, still in the package products? Where do you think that comes from. It comes from you and I. I went to a school surplus auction once where they were selling pallets of copy paper for pennies on the dollar while that same week my youngest sons school was asking for donations so that teachers could buy copy paper to send worksheets home with the kids.
I often hear conservatives use the analogy that Government should be run like a business. Well I disagree. The fundamental goal of a business is to grow. The problem we have today is that Government has been run too much like a business. The rate of growth is off the charts. Every year we add more and more people to the government customer base. I would like to see fewer people dependant upon the government, not more. Sure I would like to see government run with a business like efficiency but NOT with the basic business philosophy of more customers, more revenue and more profits
What are your thoughts about the Tea Party Movement?
I love the Tea Party Movement. It is refreshing to see so many folks engaged in their government. I used to sit at home and throw grapes at the TV, thinking my wife and I were the only ones that feel this way, but the Tea Party events are a great opportunity to be a part of something that reminds us that we are truly not alone. The Tea Party groups have also done a great job of keeping the average Joe informed and has helped thousands of people become more involved. I made my decision to run for public office at a Tea Party event. In April of 2009 I attended, for the first time in my life, a public gathering of like minded Americans on the steps of the State Capital. I was standing behind a guy who in response to a comment from the “stage” hollered “throw all the bums out”. I remember thinking to myself “that won’t do any good, we will just end up with a new set of bums”. On the way back to work that afternoon I realized that I was culpable for the situation our Country was in because I had never worked on anybody’s campaign. I had complained about politicians but I had never put my energy behind getting the right guy elected. I had become content voting for the lesser of two evils. I decided that day that I was going to get behind the right guy. I started looking for a candidate that I believed had the right stuff. I looked into the guys that had announced and the ones who were expected to run. After three months of spending nearly every free minute reading bills they had introduced and analyzing their votes and public statements, I was very disappointed to realize that there was not one of them that I was willing to put their sign in my yard much less take time away from family to volunteer on their campaigns. I would lay in bed at night unable to sleep and that sentence from Junior High Typing class kept going through my mind “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their Country”. You know when you are trying to show someone how to do something and they just keep messing up because their heart is not in it or they are motivated by something other than doing a good job and you finally just reach the point where you say “just move I’ll fix it? Well I had reached that point and at the Tea Party rally on the 4th of July last year I finally accepted that my name should be on the ballot. So here I am, just a normal guy who would rather go to his sons ball game than write an essay, doing what I feel must be done. Sometimes you have to do what must be done instead of what you would like to do.
Any final thoughts?
I can not do this alone. I need the help and support of folks just like me. I have not solicited and will not accept any contributions from PACS or Special Interest groups. You will not see a bunch of TV ads or post cards in the mail from me. I need folks who are as fed up as I am to introduce me to their friends and neighbors. Visit my website at www.rickflanigan.com and then forward it to your friends. Help me to shout it from the rooftops that we are not beholden to career politicians and self serving lobbyist. The time to be counted has passed and it is now time to stand and be heard.
Steve, I thank you for the opportunity to be heard and your efforts and energies to inform and enlighten.
Thank YouRick Flanigan