The classic tale of David and Goliath is being modernized for us this year in Oklahoma politics.
Tom Cole, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002, is being challenged for his seat representing Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District by another Republican.
Anna Flatt, currently serving as the Chairman of the Carter County Republican Party, announced her intention to run against Cole during last month’s filing period. Anna is a “libertarian” Republican that believes wholeheartedly in limited government. Anna also made local news when Dave Weston, the current Chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party, demanded that she resign her post as Carter County Chairman or drop out of the race and was more or less told to go suck an egg.
The following interview was conducted with Mrs. Flatt via e-mail:
Otter Limits: What made you decide to run against somebody as reportedly powerful as Tom Cole?
Anna Flat: No one else had filed as a Republican against him. I believe the party and its members should be holding their incumbents accountable. Primaries are excellent ways to keep officials paying attention, as well as to let the party know there are some, and maybe many, who are not satisfied with the incumbent’s representation.
RDR: As a Republican, what sort of things do you believe in that make you stand apart from Republicans like Tom Cole?
AF: I believe in the Golden Rule, that we should do to others as we would like to have done to us.
For example, I want to be in control of my own life, even if that means making bad decisions, as long as I’m not harming anyone in the process, and so I must allow others to be in control of their own lives, even if that means making bad decisions, as long as they are not harming anyone in the process.
It’s about being consistent in applying your principles.
A tip Randy Brogdon used when he was serving the State (Revised for Federal Gov.) has helped me to know how to filter everything that I could possible vote on:
1. Is it Constitutional? No? Vote no. Yes? Go to #2.
2. Do we really need it? No? Vote no. Yes? Go to #3, because there actually are legitimate functions of government.
3. Can we afford it? No? Vote no, Yes? Go to #3.
4. Should the Federal government or should the state be doing it? State? Vote no. Federal? Go to #5.
5. Does it grow government, or expand liberty? Because it can’t do both. If it grows government, vote no. If it expands liberty, vote yes.
Looking over Rep. Cole’s votes, I can’t really see any principles that he consistently follows. I don’t think it’s wise to cast votes this way because what can end up happening is that you get suckered into making decisions that benefit special interests and big business.
RDR: Why do you think Dave Weston (Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party) asked you to either step down as Carter County Chairman or drop out of the race?
AF: Chairman Weston does not have a good grasp of the Republican Party rules. While I completely understand his concern of a Chairman “campaigning” from his or her position, he does not have the authority to make that determination, nor to do anything about it if it were so. The authority lies with the County Committee to decide if their chair is capable of keeping his or her campaign separate from the Chairman’s duties.
The fact that he called many candidates, before they ever filed, to discourage them from running, leads me to believe that he is not simply concerned about me doing a good job as Chairman, but is more concerned with keeping the Republican power in place that has helped get us where we are today with bailouts, indefinite detention for US citizens, more debt, etc…
RDR: Do you think that the powers that be in the Republican Party feel threatened by candidates such as yourself?
AF: Yes, the Republican Party is experiencing growing pains. Republicans who are unhappy with the direction the party has taken us (Tea Party Republicans, libertarian Republicans, etc…) are realizing they can get involved in the party to effect real change. It’s natural when one faction out grows another faction for there to be difficult times. In the end, everyone who believes in limited government, individual liberty, and personal moral responsibility is a Republican and deserves a place at the table. We need leadership who will apply the rules fairly and encourage growth in the party from all members, not just ones in agreement with the controlling faction.
As Chairman of Carter County, I’ve tried to make sure that every Republican voice is heard, even the ones I disagree with. Then the voters vote, according to the rules of the Party. When one faction loses, they lose fairly, but do not feel they were pushed aside and cheated.
RDR: Do you support making it easier for foreigners to live and work in the United States?
AF: Yes. Many times in the Bible, Christians are told to be kind, not oppress, not mistreat, etc., the foreigners in the land. Some scriptures place them in the same category as the widows and the orphans. Just note that making it “easier to live and work in the United States” is different than giving handouts to people (foreigners or otherwise) who do not work, which I do oppose.
RDR: Along the same lines as the last question, what should be the ultimate goal of immigration reform?
AF: Many people I speak to are concerned about illegal immigrants who come here to “freeload” off the system. These same people are upset about US citizens freeloading. Doesn’t it make more sense than to remove the incentives for all people (citizen or otherwise) to freeload, rather than to discourage people from coming here for a chance at a better life?
People “vote” in many ways, in elections, with their money, and also with their feet. i.e. by choosing which restaurant to go to, or what store they want to frequent. This tells the non-frequented businesses that they might need to change something or else they are going to fail. People also “vote” with their feet by leaving a geographical location in favor of another, better place to live. This tells the government left behind that they might need to change something or else they are going to fail.
Now what if we were forced to purchase from a less desirable restaurant, and not allowed to “vote” elsewhere with our money? This restaurant would have very little reason to change. It’s much the same with our local governments. If the taxes or crime were to get too high in Carter County, many people would consider moving to a better place to live. When enough people left Carter County, the local officials would be forced to take a look at making some changes. But now what if the surrounding Counties built a fence around us and wouldn’t allow us to leave?
My strong belief in the golden rule, and the fact that I would want to be allowed to go to a county or country where I could have a chance at a better life, tells me I want everyone to have this chance.
The comment I hear most about this issue is, “I don’t mind “legal” immigrants, just not “illegal” immigrants.” In every single instance where someone has said this to me, when I ask them, “Do you know what it takes to come here “legally” from Mexico?” the person has no idea, and is astonished to find out that in most instances, it’s simply not possible.
The ultimate goal of reform then should be to remove the incentives of freeloading and to make “legal” immigration actually attainable.
RDR: Do you support the right of an individual to cultivate, distribute and/or use marijuana and/or other narcotics? Do you support the recent actions of the states of Washington and Colorado to challenge federal drug law by making marijuana legal in their states?
AF: I do not use drugs, nor do I wish for anyone else to use drugs. But there are other things I do which some people consider unsafe and wish to restrict my right to do, e.g. consuming raw milk. There are also things I don’t do, and have been proven to be not healthy, but are perfectly legal. e.g. consuming very large amounts of sugar. In either case, I never once thought, “Gee, people don’t realize how bad sugar is for you; I think we should pass a law to limit it.”
One may say, “But Anna, sugar and other unhealthy products don’t alter your state of mind and make you commit crimes.” However, drug use does not by itself lead to crime. Drug addiction is a vice, and like over-eating, is not a crime itself. If drugs were legal, crimes would still be illegal, and officers would be better able to focus on the actual crimes a person may commit while in an altered state, and ignore the multitude of drug users who never commit a crime while using.
There are a lot of things a person ‘might’ or ‘could’ do while under the influence. There are already, and will continue to be, laws against infringing on other people’s rights. If they steal, kill, trespass, destroy property, drive under the influence, etc., while using drugs or not, then they should have their rights restricted because they restricted the rights of others.
I’m also very much against blaming the gun for things a person “might” do with it, and punishing all gun owners. There is a principle most Republicans fully understand when it comes to guns, but have a hard time applying to drug use. A liberal will tell you guns are responsible for many deaths in the same way some conservatives say drugs are responsible for many crimes. A gun rights activist will tell you it’s not the gun which is responsible, but the person who has a mental problem. The vast majority of gun owners never kill anyone, and it’s true, despite propaganda and laws against usage, that the majority of drug users never commit crimes while using.
It goes back to the golden rule again. It’s about standing up for a person’s right to consume something they want to consume, but I don’t want to consume and wish with all my heart that others didn’t either, because I want people to help me in standing up for my rights to consume what I want when others think it’s unhealthy or harmful.
If we don’t have the freedom to make what some consider bad choices (whether it be salt, big gulps, raw milk, or drugs), so long as we aren’t harming anyone else in the process, then we are not free at all. The Oklahoma Republican Party Statement of Principles says, “We believe in limited government, individual liberty, and personal moral responsibility.” How can we say we fight for individual liberty when we are not allowed to decide for ourselves what we put in our own bodies?
Yes, I do support Washington and Colorado challenging federal drug law by making marijuana legal in their states, in the same way I would support any state challenging intrusive federal laws which do not function to protect citizen’s rights.
RDR: What sort of changes need to be made at the national level to improve the state of education in this country? What should the federal government’s role in education be, if any?
AF: The Department of Education should be abolished. There is no role in education for the Federal Government, other than encouraging local control and choices. States, communities, and parents are much better suited to control testing, standards, curriculum, administration, funding, and spending.
I would like to see incentives for parents to have more choices in educating their children. When I first began homeschooling my children, the internet was not what it is today, and there was so little support. Fortunately, it’s getting easier for parents to break free from public schools, if they feel they need to. Because of intrusive mandates, I’m leery of vouchers but support tax credits.
RDR: What are the benefits, if any, if the federal government were to remove all barriers to international free trade?
AF: We would all be a little free-er, have a little more money, and increase our standard of living. The government should not be telling us what we can or cannot purchase in the world, nor taxing our purchases at higher rates. “Managed Trade” really only serves special interests and big business, not individuals.
RDR: How does the United States benefit from it providing aid, either in the form of military assistance or in the form of financial gifts, to foreign nations such as Israel?
AF: The citizens of the United States do not benefit. Israel is well able to take care of herself. We would do good to mind our own business and take care of ourselves. Printing and spending money we do not have is stealing from the poor in the form of inflation. We take it from our citizens to give it to politicians in other countries. I doubt very much foreign aid is going to who it’s supposed to help most of the time.
For more information about Anna Flatt, you can visit her official website at http://annaflatt.com, or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ElectAnnaFlatt
Oklahoma’s primary elections will be held on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Make sure you go and make your voice heard if you are registered to vote in one of Oklahoma’s two major political parties.