You Ask, Amit Singh Responds

A couple weeks ago, in response to some reader requests, we compiled some questions for Amit Singh, GOP Primary Candidate for the 8th District in Virginia. As with the first interview, questions this time around spanned a pretty broad range from the serious to the, uh, not so serious.

Between Amit’s campaign schedule and my travel schedule (I’m currently posting from yet another airport lounge…) it’s taken a bit longer than we wanted but we finally have the answers to your questions below the fold.

It’s also worth noting that although I’m a supporter of Amit’s campaign, the questions were selected by Amit from the original Post’s comments. Although not every question / statement was covered, he did hit a wide spread and the answers below are straight from his keyboard. I added a wee bit of post-production formatting to hopefully make the nearly 2000 words here a bit more readable and, in particular, highlight the mutineers who supplied the questions…

And, as with last time around, if you like what you hear, I’m sure Amit would appreciate your support. His website has a lot more campaign material and you can join up, buy a t-shirt, watch his YouTube channel, or join the facebook group.

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anthroguy: All good Indian sons become doctors, what went wrong with you?

Where do I start?! My mother always wanted me to be a doctor not because of the money or status but because her father was a doctor and my bedside manner always reminds her of my grandfather. Regardless, I have always enjoyed making and building things. My father used to buy old radios at yard sales for me to take apart and “try” to put together when I was a kid. Now of course he gets upset when I don’t help him with all of his computer problems!

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p>yabadaba: What would you do to tone down the rhetoric of hate towards immigrants from some of the members of your party, when they call children of immigrants anchor babies or call for repealing the 14th amendment.]

I am extremely concerned with the language some Republicans are using and hope that they would learn about the issues instead of resorting to nativist rhetoric. I will admit, I was extremely disturbed to hear this language used by some in my own district; some who apparently believe that immigrants come to America and take jobs “…without having to do hard work and earn their way into the system.”

To those who continue to besmirch the welcoming nature of America and refuse to recognize the diversity which makes this country great, I would say a last name like Singh is just as American as a last name of Smith.

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p>MoorNam: What is your view on the Indo-US nuclear deal? Do you support it?

I support the deal because I believe it will benefit both countries. India’s demand for energy is growing and nuclear technology has proven to be clean, safe and cheap. The United States will also benefit from being able to provide more services to India and improve trade relations with the world’s largest democracy.

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p>MoorNam: What is your view on increasing H1-B visas for techie work?

One of the biggest problems with H1-B visas is that they are not being processed quickly enough and the backlog continues to grow. The United States has a large demand for high-skilled labor which is going unfilled, and talented engineers from all over the world who used to come to America are now headed elsewhere. The US needs to maintain its technological dominance, and we need to foster the best talent from here at home and recruit from all around the globe.

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p>MoorNam: What is your opinion regarding using taxpayer money to bail out troubled financial institutions and individuals who bought houses at the market top?

I believe there is already a self-correction happening in the market and the federal government should not interfere with the process.

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p>lurker: Amit, what’s your position on Roe v. Wade and the right to choose an abortion?

I believe Roe v. Wade was an over-extension of federal powers and should be decided by the states.

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p>SkepMod: What changes, if any, to the current system of taxes and economic incentives would you support?

I support an overall reduction in tax burden for our people and businesses. I would make the 2003 tax cuts permanent and reduce the corporate tax rate, which is the second highest in the world and has driven businesses and jobs away from the US. I would also migrate tax incentives for health insurance from employers to individuals to allow for better competition, which in turn will raise quality and reduce prices.

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p>Pagal Aadmi for debauchery: How much do you love America?

More than watching old Amitabh Bachan movies while eating my mom’s pani puris. That should make it pretty clear.

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p>Rahul S: Since you’re from Virginia, what do you think about George (Macaca) Allen?

I think his campaign handled the situation poorly. He should have simply apologized immediately but hindsight is 20/20.

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p>desiricksha: Immigration is bad for Americans. Please stand up for the well being of Americans and do something to end the lax immigration laws which have transferred wealth from the middle class to the super rich.

Correction: ILLEGAL immigration is bad for Americans, and I will use a comprehensive solution to resolve it. The solution includes securing the border, penalizing companies for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, an exit visa program, and a guest worker program that allows workers who do not wish to move their families to America to maintain their families in their native countries instead of illegally bringing them into the nation and burdening American schools and hospitals.

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p>tipiyano: A few weeks ago, NASA announced massive budget cuts to their mars program. Many have criticized that projects as large as these cannot be privatized because of the large amount of resources needed. As an engineer and a libertarian republican, what are your thoughts on private space programs? Do you think that projects, such as manned mission to Mars, can be carried out by private enterprise or do they need multi-national government collaboration to have any realistic chance?

I do believe private space programs can work. After all, the Wright brothers did not use the government to fund their endeavors into flight. We have also seen private companies launch global communication satellites. Private space programs have a lot of potential and I would love to see a space hotel one day, maybe run by some of our fellow desis?

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p>abdul: Like me, do you as a Republican find Ann Coulter attractive?

No comment. :-)

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p>Dave: No offense, but I’m not too impressed by Mr. Singh’s resume or policy positions and articulations, as a congressional candidate. I feel like the desi community could offer a lot better, in terms of candidates at this level. Where are the constitutional law experts? The economics Ph.D.? How about someone with a masters degree in a relevant field … or at all? Mr. Singh deserves credit for a good campaign website layout, and for being willing to run. But he seems to me to be a place-holder for a more credible desi candidate. Which is a shame, since there’s a lot of talent in the desi american community.

No offense taken. I’m an engineer that builds prototypes for counter-terrorism and military problems that do not have current solutions. My job has a number of unique challenges and the experience I have working with others to arrive at optimal solutions is a talent I would bring to Congress. I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to run office desi or non-desi to run because we need more qualified candidates and leaders with real world experience, not just professional politicians.

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p>HMF: What will you do to prevent the health insurance companies from further sucking the life blood out of both doctors and patients?

Get away from employer based health care and force insurance companies to compete for business from individuals directly. That way we can stick it to the insurance companies when they don’t give us the service we want.

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p>MD: what do you think you can do if elected to confront the ethical lapses and general mismanagement that have played such a part in turning the public away from the GOP (and I say this as a registered Republican!)? Perhaps expanding your comments on earmarks from the last post might be helpful. Thank you.

It is the duty of everyone to raise the issue of ethical lapses and general mismanagement. As a Congressman, I will have a stronger voice and more ability to highlight abuses which I fully intend to do regardless of the party guilty of them.

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p>Rahul S: If we truly had a free market health-care system, then states wouldn’t place restrictions on buying insurance over state lines. This legislation prevents a Walmart of Insurance Comapnies to exist within the U.S. Government regulation shafts the small guy once again.

Agree! We need to stop the government from preventing the consumer from getting affordable healthcare.

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p>Rahul S: What do you think about torture? I’ve read accounts that our torture system is preventing potential terrorist attacks from occurring; in addition, I’ve read that our torture cells treat the prisoners unlike the Arab prison cells. What is your take on this?

I am against torture not only because it is un-American but also because I do not believe it is effective. Those who undergo torture can give false intelligence and mislead our efforts.

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p>HMF: Do you think we can get the diwali stamp made?

Sounds like a good idea to me!

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p>AlokAlok: Amit,

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p>I was a big Ron Paul supporter (still am) and I imagine you are, too.

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p>No question, just want to say thanks for running and to encourage you to embrace the term “Ron Paul Republican”! It is the future for America (and India, too, BTW — as victims of the License Raj will tell you)

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Thanks!

Thanks for your encouragement. I believe that the idea of an accountable and responsible government which trusts the people to make decisions is appealing to all Americans.

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p>UberMetroMallu: How soon will you answer your phone if it rings at 3 am?

I have learned from late night calls from my relatives to turn off my ringer when I go to bed.

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p>Rahul S: What’s your stance on pro-life issues (abortion, stem-cell research, Death penalty,etc)?

Abortion is a local level issue to be decided by the states and not the federal government. I do not support federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research and believe that private entities can often produce a higher level of innovation than the federal government. And I am against the death penalty.

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p>Raman G: What will you do to limit the power of the executive branch – Bush has illegally appropriated many powers to himself which will be carried forward unless these powers are specifically revoked. Will you at least bring attention to this issue (Why is nobody asking any of the presidential candidates this question, btw)?

I will not vote to expand the powers of the executive branch. Congress was designed to be the most powerful branch of the government for a reason and we need to return the balance of power back to Congress.

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p>Lily: Boxers or Briefs?

Chuddies ;-)

82 thoughts on “You Ask, Amit Singh Responds

    1. If I oppose the Iraq War, why are you taking my taxes and paying for it? Atleast Stem Cell research will do the Country a lot more good than the current war.
    2. Opposition to Slavery was considered an over-extension of Federal power.
  1. I hope Amit does win. I have a lot of respect for people who are true to themselves, even if I disagree with them. No Piyush to Bobby.

  2. Unfortunately, you’re on the wrong end of the spectrum Amit to be a ‘small’ government person.

    The expansion of the Federal Government that has occurred with the past 8 years has directly been a result of the Republican Party and it’s massive mandated percentage based effort to privatize government services. More so, it’s come as a result of defense contractors competing for contracts outside the defense arena. There is no need to look further that the financial reports of the top 5 contractors in the DC area to understand where Federal money is flowing.

    Additionally, the entire growth of the non governmental private industry intelligence industry has resulted in companies like Blackwater which for all practical purposes have been above the law.

    I would hazard a guess that your own company listed as a minority business has gotten awarded contracts on that basis and you subcontract out the work to other companies.

    The Republican Party is the “Big Government” Party or perhaps I should say the Corporate Welfare Party.

    1. Torture is an acceptable tool to extract information. Classifying your enemy low-life and dehumanizing them is part of all wars, don’t fall in that trap. Finally read up on Chamberlin (see the Chris Matthews interview?)
  3. 48 · Jane Roti Doe said

    Those born & raised in economically distressed situations, I could understand (including hickvilles as well). Here’s equal opportunity for you, my liberal friend.
    Liberal? Ha. Ha. That right there shows you don’t know what you’re talking about. Funny, nobody who knows me in real life would ever refer to me as “liberal”.

    Piyush would say that you’re a lib.

  4. amit was a very good sport for participating like that! he’s a very moderate and enlightened republican, and like many of you, one that i could live with. he’s not the “old-money, former-frat boy, bully with the trophy wife” republican. also, he’s so proud of his brownness, unlike piyush.

    if i could ask amit some things it would be: 1. bomb pakistan’s baluchistan/nwfp province? 2. should we increase the number of seats in medical schools in the usa? 3. energy independence – would you support a more stringent gas guzzler tax to, perhaps, offset the price of gas? 4. less tax cuts for rich and more for middle/lower classes?

  5. 51 · DesiInNJ said

    2. Opposition to Slavery was considered an over-extension of Federal power.

    and the racial eugenics movement was pro-choice. so its a wash.

  6. Another man telling us women what we are allowed and not allowed to do. Sounds very familiar from his party. I’m tired of it and that is why I vote Democrat.

    No actually its another man telling the Federal Government what they have no jurisdiction over. People apparently just want their preferable result with little regard for procedure. That is how a Republic dies and becomes a Federal Democracy. I am a man who doesn’t want to tell a woman what to do but it should be done in the proper manner.

  7. 2. Opposition to Slavery was considered an over-extension of Federal power.

    The 13th Amendment, ratified December 6th 1865

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime where the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

  8. How come so many conservatives who talk about smaller government rely on government contracts for their revenue?

  9. 60 · UPS said

    How come so many conservatives who talk about smaller government rely on government contracts for their revenue?

    also, a party which hates government can’t possibly do a good job managing government. republicans hate government.

    at what point does state’s rights supercede a federal law? if he feels this passionate about the constitution, then doesn’t this nullify his respect for the constition?

  10. Piyush would say that you’re a lib.

    I’d prefer to be a lip, drinking that nectar.

    Rahul S., I’m curious about your opinion regarding sex selective abortions in India and elsewhere with regards to the Indian diaspora.

  11. 62 · Jane Roti Doe said

    Piyush would say that you’re a lib.
    I’d prefer to be a lip, drinking that nectar. Rahul S., I’m curious about your opinion regarding sex selective abortions in India and elsewhere with regards to the Indian diaspora.

    It’s wrong to abort a child (in the case of most Indians) because she’s a female.

  12. My disagreement with the Roe v Wade court case is that it is an over-extension of the powers of the federal government and, thus, un-Constitutional in my opinion.

    Amit, much respect to you and I do like your overall positions and even the part you talk about after this quoted sentence. However, it does bug me when people get overly excited about unconstitutionality of things. Frankly, if a state decided to ban abortion, aren’t they imposing their beliefs on others. I say beliefs because irrespective of what the loony bunch of the social far right believes, decisions should be based on the best information at hand which in this case is what science provides and thus there is no reason to form laws or allow states (which would be a group of people again) based on premises that life begins at conception. In that case, even if something is unconstitutional but incorrect, should we follow the constitution? You seem to be suggesting that independent of what is right or wrong, if its unconstitutional you would never support an issue. You seem to be quite good on most other issues and thus I suspect you are following this line for political reasons, which I guess is fine. Better be elected on compromises than not at all.

    Good luck!

  13. How come so many conservatives who talk about smaller government rely on government contracts for their revenue?

    probably b/c they’re not anarchists.

    at what point does state’s rights supercede a federal law? if he feels this passionate about the constitution, then doesn’t this nullify his respect for the constition?

    10th amendment. powers not specifically delegated to the federal govt are left to the states or people. a key aspect to federalism, a part of separation of powers and limited govt which protects us against tyranny.

    not a small deal.

  14. In that case, even if something is unconstitutional but incorrect, should we follow the constitution?

    Ardy:

    Under your philosophy the social contract is no longer possible, and presupposes a world where right and wrong, or just and unjust laws, are “known” beforehand, not argued thru the democratic system. So, by your own argument, since anti-abortion laws are considered unconstitutional right now, should a pro-lifer, certain in her views, disregard roe vs. wade and try to ban abortion in her state anyway? Under your disposition, what basis do you have to argue against that?

    Or look at it purely politically. roe v wade took one of the democrats most popular platforms off the table, relegating the matter to constitutional law as opposed to state legislators. this, ironically helped usher in the age of conservatism, as it solidified a core base w/i the conservative movement (pro-lifers) while simultaneously allowing moderates to vote for them, since they where no longer afraid of conservatives banning abortion. oh, the irony.

  15. 57 · Manju said

    51 · DesiInNJ said
    2. Opposition to Slavery was considered an over-extension of Federal power.
    and the racial eugenics movement was pro-choice. so its a wash.

    Two wrongs do not make a right. Also, I see no difference in an unwanted child and an unwanted girl (sex-selection) abortion. One cannot be pro-choice and anti-sex selection abortion at the same time.

  16. I certainly don’t agree with Ardy’s claim that something that is constitutional should not be followed if it is incorrect. But the real problem is that he didn’t put constitutional in quotes.

    Constructionism is one of the biggest loads of hooey I’ve seen bandied about. I give credit to right wingers for skillfully taking control of the public discussion and defining it with terms like “pro-life”, “climate change” and “constructionist”, but it doesn’t make their positions any more valid.

    When the commerce clause was going to force the state of Florida to negotiate with Indian tribes, it was seen to violate a quite expansive reading of the Eleventh Amendment, a position that was quite effectively rebutted by Souter in his dissent in that case – which was based on a strict constructionist reading of the eleventh amendment.

    However, the constructionists on the court took refuge in the self-same commerce amendment when it was seen to help the right-wing “war on drugs”, by using the risk of some marijuana floating across state lines to override the right of the State of California to legalize medical marijuana.

    These same constructionists saw no contradiction of the 24th amendment when the state of Indiana decided to impose a voter ID requirement, an effective poll tax on its poor, minorities and elderly.

    And will find completely ignore the phrases “well-regulated” and “militia” when it comes to their literal readings of the second amendment.

    I bet that if conservatives, for whatever reason, were on the other side of this abortion debate, would see an overarching right to privacy in their “constructionist” readings of the first, third, fourth, and fifth amendments, and use the ninth amendment to argue that the enumeration of certain rights in the bill of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.

    So, let’s not delude ourselves: Constitutionality is a right wing excuse to prevent people from having a nationwide right to abortion. It is convenient to bandy about a states’ rights excuse in a different context than the anti-minority sense that Reagan liked, but the conservative propaganda that their reading of the constitution is correctly interpretive of the founders’ intent is a baldfaced lie.

    The only hope for individual rights to be upheld in the immediate future is for Scalia to pop off during the next democratic presidency, and for the president to not succumb to convenient invocation of a rhetoric of “unity” and “bipartisanship” – something that has completely been forgotten in the last 8 years – while appointing a young liberal judge.

  17. Also, I see no difference in an unwanted child and an unwanted girl (sex-selection) abortion.

    The difference is the same reason you might support the right of the police to stop and search, but not to racially discriminate in that act.

  18. Or to put #68 in simpler terms, “states’ rights” and “constitutionality” are just conservative dogwhistles.

  19. 69 · Constructionist nonsense said

    The difference is the same reason you might support the right of the police to stop and search, but not to racially discriminate in that act.

    the police don’t have inalienable natural rights, only enumerated powers. so they are bound by the equal protection clause in a way that individuals are not.

    a better analogy would be th right to free speech. you can’t say you support it but want to ban racist publications. so, the right to an abortion should include the right to discriminate on the basis of gender, or it is no right at all.

  20. 71 · Manju said

    a better analogy would be th right to free speech. you can’t say you support it but want to ban racist publications. so, the right to an abortion should include the right to discriminate on the basis of gender, or it is no right at all.

    Not really. This is like saying that the right to consume alcohol should allow the right to drive drunk too. Potential misuse of a right is no excuse to ban the right. There are ways to prevent misuse without banning the right itself.

    The real problem with the selective ban in the case of abortion is enforcement: How do you divine intent?

  21. 72 · Constructionist nonsense said

    Not really. This is like saying that the right to consume alcohol should allow the right to drive drunk too

    the ban on driving drunkingg can be justified by the fact that it protects other individuals. in our classic liberal framework, your rights end where another’s begins. the right to abort a female fetus would not fall under that category, unless of course you belive the fetus has rights, in which case the entire foundation of abortion rights comes crumbling down.

  22. 70 · Constructionist nonsense said

    Or to put #68 in simpler terms, “states’ rights” and “constitutionality” are just conservative dogwhistles

    this would be correct if you lose the word just. surely, abortion rights are not “just” dogwhstles for eugenics or ant-black racism, as anyone familiar with margaret sanger knows.

    likewise, states rights is central to federalism, to separation of powers, and to limited govt despite also being a dogwhstle for segregation.

  23. I bet that if conservatives, for whatever reason, were on the other side of this abortion debate

    In India it’s the conservatives who want the right to abort female fetuses and liberals who cry out against it.

    Just a cultural observation….

  24. Couple of quick comments before I run…

    In India it’s the conservatives who want the right to abort female fetuses and liberals who cry out against it.

    I don’t necessarily think that it falls into such clean divides in India, but even if it did, definitions of “conservative” and “liberal” don’t transport even across America and Canada, and certainly not to India. What people want to socially conserve in America is different from what they want to in India.

    this would be correct if you lose the word just.

    Ok. Point taken.

    the ban on driving drunkingg can be justified by the fact that it protects other individuals. in our classic liberal framework, your rights end where another’s begins.

    Well, they have a right to life, and I should have the right to drive drunk, just not to injure somebody. Maybe the fact that I was drunk can be considered a contributor to negligence while sentencing, in case I get involved in an accident. In any case, don’t think it is very productive to argue an analogy, and sorry about introducing one in the first place.

    the right to abort a female fetus would not fall under that category, unless of course you belive the fetus has rights, in which case the entire foundation of abortion rights comes crumbling down.

    You can make a principled argument based on gender balance in society, which has nothing to do with the fetus, but rather about social balance and the value placed on adult women.

  25. this would be correct if you lose the word just.

    Just one last addition: My point, if it wasn’t that clear from #68, is that constructionism, despite its pretense to some superior technical merit, is just an ideology like anything else. And so is deciding what falls under states’ rights. Using them to justify a position doesn’t automatically make the position legitimate, or ethically preferable. It’s just a matter of who’s in a position to define what’s legal and what’s not.

    In that sense, it is indeed a dogwhistle. And often, a red herring. Alright, that’s it with the colorful imagery from me.

  26. You can make a principled argument based on gender balance in society, which has nothing to do with the fetus, but rather about social balance and the value placed on adult women.

    Yes. But social balance cannot come at the expense of individual liberty (to selectively abort female fetuses, in this context).

    M. Nam

  27. 74 · Manju said

    70 · Constructionist nonsense said
    Or to put #68 in simpler terms, “states’ rights” and “constitutionality” are just conservative dogwhistles
    this would be correct if you lose the word just. surely, abortion rights are not “just” dogwhstles for eugenics or ant-black racism, as anyone familiar with margaret sanger knows. likewise, states rights is central to federalism, to separation of powers, and to limited govt despite also being a dogwhstle for segregation.

    Damn that’s good.

  28. Amit,

    no idea if you’re still monitoring this thread, but it’s good to see you on SM, even if this crowd is working at a lower level than is usual lately. I hope you’re doing well, and I welcome the challenge you’re offering Moran. Do you think you’ve got what it takes to unseat him?

    Best wishes, and get in touch when you get a chance. I’d love to catch up. Email is in sig…

    -Salil (or Jay, whatever)

    :-)

  29. 24 · desiriksha said

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    folks – Let’s not lose sight of the question and the answer – Amit indicated in his answer regarding Roe vs. Wade that he believed the Federal government was overstepping it’s bounds and that this is a States issue. This is not a question or answer on abortion, but one of States rights vs. consolidation of power in Washington. His answer was more than correct as he sighted the real issue, not knee jerk reaction to whether abortion is moral or not.

    Whether your are for or against abortion, it should be decided at the State level. This is key to our unique democracy and puts more power and responsibility for decision to either ban or allow abortion with the people most impacted by such decision – you and me.

    State’s Rights and upholding our Constitution is/should be a corner-stone of any Republican running for office. If you believe that Roe vs Wade or other legislation which impacts our children’s education, what identification we carry, etc. are issues better decided/legislated by those closer to us (and more easily held accountable) then you should vote the party that is against further consolidation of Federal powers