Politics & Policy

Interview: PA Coalition for Responsible Government

The Pennsylvania Coalition for Responsible Government is one of the many new, grassroots organizations working to influence the political state of the Commonwealth. Battle ‘10 spoke with Gregory Wrightstone and Bob Howard about the PA Coalition’s activities.

Battle ‘10: The PA Coalition for Responsible Government. The name implies that government — either in this moment, or inherently — is prone to irresponsibility. Can you speak to this? What motivated the founding of your group, and what are your primary activities?

The lessons of history demonstrate time and again that government is inherently irresponsible. Mr. Madison said it best in Federalist 51.

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed: and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.

We are motivated to limit government to its just powers with the consent of the governed and then to oblige the government to control itself.

Like many other recently formed grassroots groups, we were created in response to the election of Barack Obama, a Democrat takeover of Congress, and a very real perception that our nation was on a direct path to Marxism and Big Government. Our main goal is the promotion and advancement of the principles of limited government.

Battle ‘10: How are the politics of Pennsylvania’s different regions (Pittsburgh versus Philadelphia, the Northwest and Erie versus the Northeast and Scranton) going to impact the senate and gubernatorial elections? Are voters everywhere looking for the same things?

Often voters rally around the larger state issues of taxation and spending. However, politicians (especially incumbents) attempt to rally the voters around regional issues. In 2010, the larger issues of taxes, jobs, government spending, corruption, and competence appear to be trumping regional issues.

This may be the influence of new grassroots organizations, the fact that both gubernatorial candidates are from the same region of the state, or that there are no incumbents in the senate and gubernatorial races. The only major regional issues to emerge surround development and taxation of the Marcellus natural-gas industry.    

We see the major cultural differences to be a stark difference between the overwhelmingly Democrat urban areas and the generally conservative Republican-leaning suburban and rural areas of the state.

Battle ‘10: What differentiates your group from the myriad advocacy and political groups already on the scene? Aren’t you all working toward the same goal?

We are different than most groups in that we view our mission as mainly informational. This information includes original research and commentary. In addition, we organize and advocate for political activism.

We encourage our members to be investigative journalists. Just recently, the PA Coalition was responsible for an expose of a no-bid contract between the state government (Rendell) and Anadarko Petroleum which cost the taxpayers between $30 and $50 million. The coalition filed “right to know” requests of the governor and several top officials to uncover this abuse of authority, which was featured in a front page report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Are we working toward the same goal? For the most part, “yes”. Those goals are smaller, more efficient government, radical reduction in government spending at the local, state, and federal levels, lower personal and corporate taxes, less regulation, a strong military, and a strong adherence to constitutionally limited government with particular emphasis on the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Battle ‘10: Further thoughts?

We are rolling out an exciting new website that will go active on Monday, Sept. 13, and can be accessed at www.thepacoalition.com. It will feature an interactive map of each of the 19 congressional districts and our analysis of each district that “political junkies” will find interesting. The website also features a regional map of Pennsylvania that IDs all grass roots groups in the state, so a person can find one in his or her area.

Our goal is to empower individuals and grass roots groups so that they can help to elect candidates that support our vision of limited government.

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