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The logo for the Republican Liberty Caucus

The Republican Liberty Caucus is a political action organization dedicated to promoting the ideals of individual rights, limited government and free enterprise within the Republican Party in the United States.[1] It is considered the right-libertarian wing of the Republican Party. It also operates a political Action Committee, RLC-USA PAC.

Contents

History

The roots of the Republican Liberty Caucus can be traced to three precursor organizations from which it derived most of its early memberships: the Libertarian Republican Alliance [LRA], the "Radical Caucus" of the Libertarian Party [LP], and the Libertarian Republican Organizing Committee [LROC].[2] That organization disbanded in 1981 in light of the growing successes of the Libertarian Party during the same period. The "Radical Caucus" split from the Libertarian Party, but failed to develop into a viable organization. The Libertarian Republican Organizing Committee developed a large mailing list and supported several Republican federal campaigns in California, but its efforts to expand into a national organization were not successful. Although the LROC was active for seven years, publishing "The Libertarian Republican" newsletter, participation in the organization dwindled and it eventually lost financial support.

Later in the 1980s, the North Carolina affiliate of the Republican Liberty Caucus was listed for a time as a state chapter of the Libertarian Republican Organizing Committee (LROC). The North Carolina RLC disaffiliated from LROC in 1988, but then became inactive after the elections in 1988.

The organization as it exists today traces its beginnings to 1990. During a Young Republicans state convention in Tallahassee, Florida, a meeting of the leaders of the Florida Libertarian Republicans was convened to discuss creation of a new libertarian Republican organization. At the meeting, it was decided to break with LROC and form the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida.[2]

On April 6, 1991 a meeting was held to formally organize the national RLC and plan for a July 1991 "coming out party" at the National Young Republicans Convention. Amongst other things it was decided to launch a Republican Liberty Caucus newsletter and to create the RLC "Council of Trustees".[2]

Today, the Republican Liberty Caucus is a national organization with over 25 chartered state affiliate chapters and members in every state.[3] As a result of the Ron Paul Presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008, the RLC has seen a resurgence in activity and membership across the country. Many of the key Ron Paul county leaders across the country have subsequently become active in the RLC.[citation needed]

Organization

The RLC is governed by a National Committee and divides into four regions.[4] It also has an honorary Board of Advisors. In the states, the RLC is governed by state Executive Committees.[5]

The RLC National Committee's elected members currently include Dave Nalle (Chairman), Mark Cross (Vice Chairman), Eric Wall (Secretary), Bill Westmiller (Treasurer), 3 at-large board members and 4 regional directors who hold voting positions on the board, as well as five alternate board members who can vote if a regular board member is absent.[6]

Principles

On May 22, 2004, delegates of the Republican Liberty Caucus adopted an official and binding Statement of Principles and Positions at the organization's bi-annual Convention.[7] The Statement of Principles and Positions declared the RLC's stances on a wide range of issues, from matters of domestic concern to international affairs. The resolution served to better clarify and solidify the organization's mission, purpose, core principles, and beliefs.

"The Republican Liberty Caucus supports individual rights, limited government and free enterprise. Every human being is endowed by nature with inherent rights to life, liberty, and property that are properly secured by law. Supporting 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."

Governmental powers

The Caucus supports constitutional restrictions on federal government powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8 as an "absolute limit on all government programs and functions." The organization strongly opposes what it perceives as "the adoption of broad and vague powers under the guise of general welfare and interstate commerce." The RLC condemns all restrictions on "the voluntary and honest exchange of value in a free market." The RLC is greatly in favor of what it deems "minimal, equitable, and fair taxation for the essential functions of government." The Caucus stands in firm opposition to legislation that cedes Congressional power to "any regulatory agency, executive department, or international body." The body acknowledges the U.S. Constitution as "the supreme law of the land, the republican government it requires, and the right of all citizens to fair and equitable representation."

Bill of Rights

The Republican Liberty Caucus holds that "The first ten Amendments to the Constitution enumerate, but do not limit, the natural rights of every individual. These rights are intended to limit government action beyond the specified powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8 and should be broadly construed to recognize privacy and liberty rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence." The group strongly opposes all free speech restrictions, particularly emphasizing political free speech. The RLC opposes any public campaign financing and any law that permits an organization to contribute political donations against the desires of the organization's individual members.

The RLC supports the right of law-abiding individuals to bear arms. The Caucus supports any initiatives that protect "medical, racial, and banking privacy." The RLC opposes eminent domain except for "essential government functions." Equal protection of law is supported by RLC members, and the Caucus stands in opposition to the "invocation of 'sovereign immunity' to "protect illegal and unethical government conduct."

The Caucus seeks state and local government alternatives to the War on Drugs, while still acknowledging the negative consequences that drug abuse causes. The Republican Liberty Caucus believes that "the sole function of courts is to interpret the Constitution."

Government reform

The Republican Liberty Caucus seeks the immediate abolition of "the Department of Education, Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities."[citation needed] The organization believes that these government departments violate the enumerated powers of the federal government in the Constitution.

The RLC strongly supports the immediate abolition of federal income tax, believing it to be unconstitutional, to be replaced with a flat tax or national sales tax. The Caucus holds that all other federal taxes should be repealed, including those on businesses, and that only reasonable state and local taxes should remain in place.

The Republican Liberty Caucus proposes a charity and private organization-based welfare program and supports incrementally phasing out all governmental welfare programs save for a poverty line "safety net". The RLC strongly holds that taxation funding government welfare programs is theft perpetrated by the government.

Education

The RLC favors charity and private involvement in the educational systems and a gradual phase out of all government controls.

National defense

The Republican Liberty Caucus believes that, "The defense of the nation against foreign military aggression is a proper constitutional power and burden of the federal government. To provide for the common defense, it is authorized to raise and support armies, declare war, and enter into treaties."

The Caucus limits foreign military action "to only a Declaration of War by Congress in the face of an imminent and clear threat to the United States. We favor a clear strategy for entrance into and conclusion of any foreign engagement and a definable goal that constitutes victory."

The RLC issued a statement against the bombings in Serbia in 1999.[8] The Republican Liberty Caucus supported the military engagement in Afghanistan in the early 2000s. The RLC has not taken a formal position on the War in Iraq.[citation needed]

Foreign relations

The RLC favors open trade with other nations. The Caucus also calls for the incremental phasing out of foreign aid to other nations, except in times of disaster, and the withdrawing of all payments to other nations or international bodies, as it is seen by the RLC as a form of "global welfare and commercial intervention".

Abortion

The Republican Liberty Caucus takes no position on abortion other than that, "We favor civil discussion of this question, but take no position on the merits of conflicting legal, ethical, and religious viewpoints on either side. We oppose any allocation of government funds or resources to facilitate abortions, advocate in the public discussion, or to jeopardize the right of any woman to defend her own life and health. We support a resolution of this issue through the proper judicial and legislative channels specified in the Constitution."

The abortion issue has been one of the most divisive in the Caucus's history. The neutral policy stance was agreed to as a compromise between pro-life Republicans and pro-choice Republicans, but historically, the majority of the RLC's endorsed candidates have been pro-life.

Projects

In 2004, the Republican Liberty Caucus endorsed the Free State Project,[9] saying: "The Republican Liberty Caucus endorses and supports the objective of the Free State Project (FSP), to gather together liberty-lovers in a single political subdivision of the United States, specifically New Hampshire, in order to 'exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property'."

The RLC has an ongoing list of projects and programs that enable members to pursue its mission.[10] These include:

• The Liberty Index: The Republican Liberty Caucus maintains a rating system, The Liberty Index, to track and identify the "pro-liberty" voting records of Members of Congress. The Index began in 1991 and is compiled and distributed annually by the RLC.

• Public Outreach for Liberty: The Republican Liberty Caucus sponsors efforts at state and national GOP events to educate citizens about the Founding principles and recruit new members.

• Candidate Promotion: In addition to sponsoring training and fundraising events for prospective candidates, the Republican Liberty Caucus has a Political Action Committee (RLC-USA PAC) to provide direct financial assistance to qualified, like-minded candidates. When appropriate, the RLC-USA PAC makes independent expenditures on behalf of candidates.

• Issue Advocacy: Throughout the country, Republican Liberty Caucus affiliates and members are engaging their legislators on the issues of the day.

• Liberty Compact: The Republican Liberty Caucus sponsors and distributes The Liberty Compact, a pledge signed by local, state, and national candidates to identify those who support the RLC’s mission.

• Monthly Newsletter: The RLC publishes a national newsletter and works with local activists in all 50 states to restore so-called "core Republican principles" that have been lost in recent years.

• Political Training: The Republican Liberty Caucus hosts, presents and sponsors various training programs for RLC state/local chapters, grassroots activists, party leaders, and candidates across the country. The seminars focus on a variety of topics including voter identification, candidate training, recruiting volunteers, and political messaging.

Additionally, many RLC members serve actively in their local Republican Party organizations and several members have been elected and re-elected to political office.[11]

Endorsements

Since its founding in 1991, the RLC has endorsed hundreds of candidates for local, state, and federal offices. All candidates seeking the endorsement of the Republican Liberty Caucus are strongly encouraged to sign the organization's Liberty Compact and Candidate Questionnaire.[5]

Every election cycle, the RLC-USA PAC donates to endorsed RLC candidates. The first candidate endorsed by the PAC was RLC member William Greene,[citation needed] who lost to Luis Rojas in his bid for the Florida House of Representatives in 1994.[12]

The RLC also ranks members of Congress in a Liberty Index,[13] which rates members of Congress on their official roll call votes during each session of the House and Senate. For each chamber, twenty votes on economic issues and twenty votes on personal issues are selected to rank members from 0% to 100%, with a higher percentage being considered more "pro-liberty."

See also

References

External links








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