September 2023 POLICY COUNSEL SPEECHES
Founder and CEO
OptimaEd and The Optima Foundation
I am so thrilled to be here. I told Byron last night, “These are my people.” I haven’t been to a CNP meeting before. I know he has. But I described it as the “Christian Policy Activist’s Group.” He said, “Oh, yeah, those are your people.” I am really happy to be here, especially to talk about education. I appreciate the focus that this organization has put on educational freedom and the tough conversations we need to have as a movement to continue to propel this forward. I heard some of the speakers earlier, and I think some of our action steps may be in conflict a little bit. But that’s a good thing, because we need to debate these things on our side of the aisle. The great news is, just like with the elimination of Roe V. Wade, we’re having the nuanced conversations of what pro-life legislation actually looks like. That’s what’s also happening in school choice and education policy, and that means we are going in the right direction.
As a mom, I have three boys. Like many of you, I exercised school choice by purchasing a home in the area where I wanted my children to go to school. That’s what most middle-class families do. I did my research. I was a CPA. I was in investment management for about twenty years so I had it all down to what the statistics were and where the good schools were. We moved into that house, and my oldest son went to the local public school, and he did just fine. He’s more like my husband, very laid-back and go with the flow. You may not know that about Byron. But when my second son went into school, the one we call affectionately “little Erika,” he did not have such an easy time. In fact, he was miserable, and every day he cried. He did not want to go to school. I get upset just thinking about the year-and-a-half he spent in public school where the teacher really had given up on him. I met with the guidance counselor. I met with the vice principal. I met with the principal. In the end, they told me, and I quote: “There’s nothing else we can do for him.” That was after I said no to the drugs that they wanted me to put him on like they do to many children like him. I said, “You’re a public school. What do you mean there’s nothing you can do? You are supposed to serve every child.” I told Byron, “I don’t care anymore. I will go into debt rather than have my son hate school.” I went out looking for school choice, but like a lot of families, I discovered school choice when I didn’t have it. There were no charter schools, and there were no affordable private schools in my community.
I finally found a small classical Christian school in a church that was near Byron’s office. We rearranged our work schedules so that we could take him and pick him up because, of course, there were no buses. I literally put the tuition on our credit card with whatever I had left. So, I take him to this classical Christian school the first day, and I go back to pick him up, and he jumps in the car and says, “Mom! Did you know about the crusades?” And he proceeded to talk the entire way home with such joy over what he had learned that day, and he became a completely different child. You can imagine as a mom what joy that gave me to not have to fight that battle every single day. He loved the classical curriculum. He liked memorizing poetry, diagramming sentences, learning about history, and he loved telling us about it. I thought how many other Darrens are out there whose moms are not as tenacious as I am to meet with everyone and try to find solutions? How many other moms might listen to the “experts” and put their children on drugs when they’re told to do so? That’s what really got me activated in the education movement.
I helped start a classical charter school that is tuition-free which presented an opportunity for many families in my community. When we opened that school in 2014, we had 400 students and 400 more on a waiting list. I found out that I’m not the only one. It’s not my unique child whose school was not working for him. There were lots of families who were dissatisfied with our A-rated public schools. I ran for school board and served for four years. That’s how I met many of my wonderful friends, one of whom you met this morning, Tina Descovich, who has gone on to do amazing things. I decided we must do something to help every single child get the unique educational opportunities they deserve. Unfortunately, the public school system doesn’t agree with that, and being in the minority on a public school board was not the way that I was going to effectuate that change. I decided not to run again, and I started the Optima Foundation. That helped me start the organization OptimaEd where we have created a classical curriculum that is now being distributed to families across the nation, including here in Arizona. It’s accessible to them through their ESA program. In Florida, it is tuition-free, and in Iowa, New Hampshire, and going to many other states, as well.
Families should be able to select the best options, regardless of where they live. But that’s not completely what we’re here to talk about. That’s my journey. That’s how I got here. That’s why I’m here speaking to you today.
I’ve also had the opportunity to be involved in a lot of policy work over the years, and it’s really become a passion for me. As I said, I was a CPA, I worked in investment management, I was a compliance officer. I read a lot of laws, and I did a lot with policy in my career and that’s what I was able to bring to the table as a school board member, serving on the DeSantis Transition Team’s Constitution Revision Commission in Florida, and studying and meeting with legislators across the state to help them to craft good school choice policy that prioritizes educational freedom. We’ve seen some very innovative policies come forth, but it’s really not enough.
What does innovative policy look like? You just heard the conversation about universal choice. One of the main things I want to drive home today is that universal choice is the only free-market option in the education freedom movement. I’m going to say that again. Universal is the only free market choice. Why is that? In Florida, we have had a low-income scholarship program since 2001. That’s 23 years that low-income students have had access to these scholarships, and that’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful program as was said here, and you have to start somewhere. But what happened on the supply-side? What schools came about to serve the students who were able to access those scholarships? I can tell you right now, they’re not schools that I or my neighbors and other families like mine would send their kids to. They’re located in low-income communities, areas that most people would say are unsafe. They only serve low-income students. They don’t have the breadth of services and options that most families want to see. But those students’ families want the type of schools that we offer. They want that for their children. They want a diverse experience for their children.
Look at the charter school sector, which in Florida has been around for 25 years. We have 700 charter schools in Florida of all types. You have schools that are in urban communities that are only focused on low-income families, and they are doing amazing things for kids. You also have very diverse charter schools that are open to everyone, that have a wonderful, diverse experience both for low-income, middle-income, and even wealthy families who choose that option. What I’m trying to say is don’t be distracted by the argument that you shouldn’t give scholarships to the wealthy. It’s not about that. If you’re a businessperson, you know the term total addressable market. What the total addressable market means is that we want to maximize value by giving as many people a scholarship as possible so that the supply-side (the vendors, the schools, the education-innovators) look at the high number of customers to capture with a great education option. It’s going to expand the quality and accessibility of educational options for everyone including low-income families that people want to help the most. Universal choice is the only free market choice.
The second innovation in policy has been accountability. I couldn’t have said it better than Speaker Toma did earlier about what the Left wants to do to kill choice. They want to add accountability and a lot of times that means bureaucracy including reporting and restrictions. We’ve seen it in Florida. Florida has added a lot of restrictions over the years to our choice programs. Today, where we have what is supposedly universal choice, it’s September 16th and families still don’t know what qualifies for the scholarships that they have been awarded. That’s not working for kids. Arizona, some will say, is a free-for-all. It’s the wild west of school choice, but you know what? Those families are in school on time, because they are not navigating a bureaucracy of someone in the government telling you what class you can take.
In Optima, we offer on-demand courses and live courses. For the first entire month of school, we were told that families can only take courses on-demand, and they cannot have a live teacher if they’re using a scholarship. I thought, that’s insane, why? And so, we were able to move those kids into live courses, because someone in the bureaucracy realized, oh, that doesn’t make sense. They should move over. That’s what accountability and too much of it does. It blocks the families from being able to navigate the system. I fully support the system that Arizona has put in place which allows parents to be the ones to determine what courses and what schedule and what academic options are going to be best for their children.
Finally, an education solution that we need to see more of across the state is reform in teacher credentialing. If you ask me, we should get rid of teacher credentialing. That is the reform. Teacher credentialing is simply a barrier to entry that the unions continue to support. It does absolutely nothing to help students perform better in their studies. I talk about these elite private schools in my community and yours, many of those teachers are not certified in the state and they’re the top-performing schools in the state. Then you look at public schools that are failing students for decades, and every single one of their teachers is certified. So, what is it really doing? All it is doing is stopping great people who are passionate about a particular subject, who can teach it, from teaching. It’s stopping the physics teacher who teaches at the community college from teaching one level down in high school without going through a ten-step process and a bunch of exams. It’s not that these people can’t take the exams and pass them, of course, they can. But they don’t want to jump through the hoops, and why should we make them? Once again, the free-market solution says let them teach, and if they do a great job, we will know it. Why? Because we will have accountability through transparency.
Let’s get rid of teacher certification and instead have accountability through transparency. What does that mean? Parents do need information. They need to be able to make informed decisions about these options. Instead of saying you can only go to a school that looks like x, y, z, we could say these schools need to include certain things on their websites. They need to give parents this information. What are the credentials of your teachers? I’m not talking about certifications here but rather information about them like college degrees or relevant experience. What’s your turnover? What’s your attendance rate? What information do parents need in order to make informed decisions? Then leave it in the hands of parents and the free market to make those decisions. Accountability through transparency is where we must go if universal choice and the free market is really going to work in the education realm.
I envision the long-term way we’re going in education in America as something that’s never been done before. That’s what we do here in America, right? We are the innovators. We are the ones who, because of the founding of our country and the principles that we’re founded on, we’re the ones who do things that no one else does. We do them better than everyone else if, and when, the government stays out of the way.
As a parent, I envision that I can get an education scholarship account, or an education savings account, from the state, and there is a free market of options that allows me to customize my child’s education. Maybe, one of my three boys, I send him to the local private or public school. He goes there from 8:00 am-3:00 pm. He plays sports there. He has a great time. He’s the oldest child, and he’s the easy one. But my next one, he needs something different. He loves math. He can do math so easily and learn it so easily. I enroll him in an on-line math program. It’s a little more expensive but it lets him move quickly. He has access to a really sharp teacher who is very well-appreciated in that field. But I’m going to teach him English because I love literature and I love the great books. I’m going to do that in the evenings because I work during the day. Our local museum has an accredited U.S. History course, and so he and his friends will go to the museum twice a week and take U.S. History there. For science, he’s going to be in a VR headset and do experiments and go to the moon and use OptimaEd Optima Academy Online to do his science work. He is going to wake up every day excited about his day and able to learn in the ways that fits him best in the different subjects that I was able to customize for him as a student. Can you imagine, with that type of purchasing power, across the state in every family the type of educational innovations that would come about? The offerings that would be available to you. We can’t think of it. We’re in 1988 trying to define what a smart phone is going to look like in 2023. We have no idea what the education system is capable of if we allow the free market to work.
The last thing we have to do, that you all have to do, is to help de-stigmatize profit in education. Right now, if you have a profitable company in education, you are demonized by those on the right and the left. We cannot have that if we are going to have the innovation and the educational entrepreneurs to pour into this system when the free market is available. That is a major issue that I think we can lead on. When people are doing something very, very well, especially teachers, I want the teachers to be able to operate in a good economy. I want the very best math teacher in the entire country to have a YouTube channel, that they’re making a million dollars on, and they’re teaching a course that thousands of kids attend every day. They can have tutors around the country that are meeting with these kids and helping them to make sure they do their work properly. Why not? You know why not? Government, teacher credentialing, approval processes, government funding, that’s why not. Let’s get rid of all that.
Let’s free the free market, allow universal choice across the board in every state. One hundred percent on board with ALEC. Twenty-five states by 2025. Complete universal choice–no bureaucracy–allow parents to drive the customized education of their kids. Open up education, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Create the demand-driven credentialing of teachers and people who teach our students who parents can trust. I didn’t even talk about the values that we can choose for these teachers to teach our children and get away from the values that we don’t want taught to our children in the public schools.
I want to leave you with those things. To advocate, join me and many who you will hear from later today advocating for universal choice as the only free market option as we move into education freedom in America. Less bureaucracy, more free market accountability in education. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you.
Arizona Christian University
It’s my distinct honor to welcome you to the great state of Arizona. I am Len Munsil, President of Arizona Christian University in Glendale. This is an anti-woke, conservative university that is America’s premier, biblical worldview university. And also, one of the fastest growing universities in America.
As Floyd mentioned, our enrollment has tripled in the past decade and, in part, it is because parents and grandparents are realizing that it doesn’t make a ton of sense to pour eighteen years of conservative values into your kids and then pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition to institutions dedicated to tearing down the very values and faith that you have been building in them.
I’m also a native Arizonan and a third generation Arizonan. In fact, my father was born in Phoenix before air conditioning. It was a small town then, as you can imagine before air conditioning. Full of strong, independent ranchers and farmers, cowboys, and merchants. In fact, it was small enough that my father, growing up poor in central Phoenix, was in a Boy Scout troop led by one of Arizona’s wealthiest merchants Senator Barry Goldwater.
Senator Goldwater was my first political hero. I read this copy of The Conscience of a Conservative when I was twelve years old. I know that’s weird. But I was captivated by the concepts of individual liberty, limited government, a strong national defense, based on a Constitution intended to protect the people from a tyrannical government. This made it really ironic when, about seventeen years later, I became the only person to defeat a Goldwater in a statewide race in Arizona, winning the GOP primary for governor against Barry’s nephew Don Goldwater.
Winning that primary for a republican was sort of like winning the last ticket on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. It was the massive blue wave election of 2006. Not a single republican challenger in the country defeated a democratic incumbent, which was what I was up against. I was not the exception, but here’s what really happened. We had eight kids between ages nineteen and ten at the time. After I won the primary, I found out there was no governor’s mansion in Arizona. I sort of lost my motivation at that point and kind of mailed it in. But, you know, timing is everything in politics, and it turns out that I had great timing to be a college president. They always told me that you had to be a governor before you could be a president, but the reality is, I was never governor, but people call me President Munsil. And I didn’t have to move to Washington, D.C.
As someone who has been attending CNP on and off since the late 1980s, I want to say thank you for coming back to Arizona. I think Arizona remains a critical state. It remains a center right state, but it’s close enough here politically that we’re strongly affected by national trends and statewide seats, and our congressional delegation are often in play. When conservatives are in control in Arizona, some amazing and innovative things happen. Twenty-eight years ago when I founded the Center for Arizona policy—that’s Arizona’s Family Policy Council—Arizona was very pro-abortion. We could not get a pro-life bill out of the republican-led legislature. And, since that time, in the last 30 years, we’ve become one of the nation’s most protective of innocent life, passing dozens of restrictions even during the Roe v. Wade era, and now fighting to uphold greater protections for innocent human life.
We have led the way on state efforts to combat illegal immigration under my friend Governor Jan Brewer, and I know we’re going to talk this weekend about the incredible progress for educational freedom that is happening in Arizona.
When we were raising our eight kids in this state, at various points, and with various children, we took advantage of every bit of educational freedom that this state provides. We home educated for 14 years, used the public school system for athletics and speech therapy, used public charter schools at times, and used private Christian schools through an incredible tax credit that’s available here. Now, in 2022, we became the first state where your own tax dollars can actually follow students to whatever form of education you choose. Arizona has a great history and heritage of innovative, conservative governance.
To win the presidency and to win back the Senate, we need Arizona. So again, thank you for coming here and focusing some time and attention and prayer on this key state where the preamble of the Arizona Constitution says, “We the people of the state of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our Liberties, do ordain this Constitution.”
There is a lot of bad news in the headlines today, and it’s easy to be discouraged. So, I want to start our weekend together on a hopeful note. Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” We’re all familiar with that quote. And it’s true, but so is the converse. I want us to think about that this morning as we begin this meeting. I want to challenge us to recognize that we are also only one generation away from reclaiming the greatness and the glory of the American Dream—a dream of family, faith, freedom, and opportunity.
How do we do that? How do we win the future for our people and restore what has been stolen from this generation? For one thing, we have to start thinking longer term than the next election. I know a lot of people, and I’ve been talking to them, they think we’re in an inevitable death spiral. There’s a lot of discouragement in our movement and among our people in the sense that we’re just going to be deteriorating until Jesus returns. Jesus told us He didn’t know the day or the hour of His return. If He didn’t know, I’m not going to spend a lot of my time thinking about it. What I do know from scripture is that we’re never told—never told—to cower and hide in the corner and beg for Jesus to come back and rescue us out of the mess we’re in. Instead, we’re told repeatedly in scripture to be courageous, to be salt and light, to stand, to be lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. We know God can turn enslaved people into free people, sinners into saints. He can say to nations as well as to individuals, “Return to me, if my people will humble themselves and pray…” It always begins with us. It begins with the remnant.
How do we think longer term? It’s actually really simple. Three things I want you to remember today. Number one, keep building institutions that will outlast us, to which many of you in this room have dedicated your lives. Second, focus on the biblical worldview development of children. Third, and this may be controversial, encourage young people to marry and have children. When they do, help them to be successful.
First, start building schools and universities and churches and families and non-profit organizations that help people flourish. This is what the Left has done over the past century. We have to recognize that they’ve been playing the long game. They’ve captured our schools and universities and convinced young people that we’re an evil nation with an evil history and no wonder they grow up and want to burn it all down. If we care about elections, let’s not just care about what will make a difference in 2024. Let’s get behind things that will help us win in 2044 and 2064. Ronald Reagan thought that way. When he was running for office as an elderly gentleman—not so much by today’s standards—but as an elderly gentleman traveling around the country, you know he was thinking about 2020, 2040, and the future of our nation to make that commitment.
Our friend the legend, Richard Viguerie, I hope he’s in the room, has been hammering us on this. The Left has so many more organizations than we do and so many more donors. We’ve got to start investing in the future and building things that will last. Don’t just worry about the next election cycle. It’s not either or, it’s both and.
At Arizona Christian University, we’re teaching biblical truth to young men and women from all over America and the world. Our core commitments which are signed by every trustee, administrator, faculty, staff, security guard, coach, and custodian require belief in biblical truth related to the sanctity of life and marriage and gender, and also a commitment to limited government and economic freedom, and we all have to sign that every year. We’re the ninth fastest growing university in the country. We’re producing conservative Christian leaders of influence and excellence, and we’re calling them to seek positions of leadership in government, business, entertainment, media, and the church. If you want to learn more about ACU, we’re having a reception tonight at 5:00 pm in Moor 2, hosted by Floyd Brown, Ben Case and Randy Long.
Second, focus on children. We’ve recruited to ACU someone many of you know or are familiar with, Dr. George Barna, whose latest bestseller published by ACU Press is called Raising Spiritual Champions. It calls us in the body of Christ to recognize that most people’s worldview is almost fully formed by the age of 13. We’ve got to have an all-hands-on-deck moment where we focus on teaching biblical principles to children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in the home, in our churches, and in our Christian schools.
Third, and finally, you cannot raise children to be spiritual champions if you aren’t open to having children. Recognizing that some are called to be single, and some may not be able to have children, our general mindset in our community ought to be to encourage young people of faith to have large families and support them when they do.
My wife Tracy and I were blessed with eight children, and we needed a lot of support from extended family and from our church. Young people, even many young Christians today, are not wanting to have children. We’ve so lost faith in the future that we’re literally committing civilizational suicide. We’re not even replacing ourselves according to the latest fertility rates. Think about this as an opportunity. After all, what’s the average family size if you don’t believe in marriage and family? What’s the average family size if you think that climate change is caused by too many people? Not much. Meanwhile, God’s first command to us was, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and govern it.” That command has never been revoked. It’s an actual command from God that Christians today routinely ignore or mock. Imagine what our country would look like in 20 or 30 years—in one generation—if conservative Christians take this seriously, get married young, have larger families, and raise them to be spiritual champions, while the other side is not having children at all.
Today, as you see in the picture, we have 18 grandchildren, aged seven and under. Someday they’re going to out-vote the tiny number of grandchildren produced by woke Leftists. It’s that simple. So, I say again, we’re literally one generation away from a complete political and cultural turnaround. That’s how we win the future. Build long-term institutions that last, raise spiritual champions, and support large families. Thank you again and welcome to Arizona.
Founder and President
Turning Point USA
Thank you, Tom. That was quite the intro. Yeah, I have, I think, twenty days left until I’m 30 so, that 30 under 30 thing is only going to last for a little bit. Thank you everybody for having me. I just want to say I love coming back to CNP. Bob, great to see you. It’s amazing to have so many mentors in this room. I remember the first time I spoke at CNP it was a different world. And, Turning Point USA, I think I was just working the room. I think you all had to hear my sales pitch at the time and get the business card. Thanks to the blessing and the grace of God, Turning Point USA has grown beyond anything I could have ever possibly imagined. Thousands of high school and college campuses across the country. We just finished our Pastor’s Summit yesterday. Where we had 1,300 pastors, praise God, in San Diego, California. It’s just amazing.
There are a couple of things I want to talk about. I ran into my good friend, Michael Jensen, in the hallway and I said what do you think I should talk about, Michael? He said, “Boy, everything’s been so depressing today.” I said, “Well, that’s weird. I actually feel better than I have in the last nine months, and that’s probably because I felt really bad about our chances back in February, so anything beyond that is probably just better.” So, I’ll actually walk through why I think that if the liberals were having a CNP—Do they have CNP for liberals? What is that called? The Oscars or something? CNP for liberals—they actually are hitting the panic button.
I’ll prove it to you. I’ll actually prove to you that we’re in a much stronger position than we might even realize. I was happy to hear that some of the speeches today were sobering, because I can’t stand hopium. If you don’t know what hopium is, it’s hope and opium mixed together. It feels good, it’s not realistic, and you’ll end up dying. I think that there’s a lot of hopium in the conservative movement. There’s also another term called black pilling, where if you take the pill, you die. We have to make sure we’re not overly negative, but I’m glad we’re not doing too much of the “we’re going to win, no matter what.” You have Floyd Brown for that. Where’s Floyd? He’s around here somewhere. He’s the most positive person I’ve ever met. He thinks we’re going to win in 2024. I’ll talk about that in a second.
First, the thing I wanted to mention is that we as conservatives are excellent at building organizations and institutions, but we have to become far better at defending them. I feel like this is the perfect message to share with all of you who run organizations that are constantly under attack. When we go through the list of the last year and see how much of the conservative movement has changed and how the bad guys have been able to remove some of our heroes, or at least put some of our heroes in jeopardy—James O’Keefe comes to mind. James O’Keefe, who had a very well-funded organization. Very stable. Now, I’m sure you all have your theories about what happened there. Here’s a fact: James O’Keefe is not having the best 2023. He’s a good friend of mine, I’m helping him through it, but they targeted him. They were able to infiltrate and destabilize, and, quite honestly, I think we’re in a weaker place when James O’Keefe is not every single day doing the work that James O’Keefe does best. Another one that comes to mind, and I’m not saying that they’re no longer around, but they’ve certainly been weakened, is the National Rifle Association. The New York attorney general made it a total goal to go after the NRA. They had a standing office, and they wore that organization down. I’m cheering for them to continue to remain strong. Wayne and Susan are amazing but, boy, over a period of time you could see that the Left does not build things, they destroy our stuff. I think we need to talk about how we get better at basically inoculating ourselves from the virus of liberalism, wokism, and deconstructionism from taking over our organizations and our whole movement. Another one, just think about this, I miss seeing Tucker Carlson at 8:00 pm every night. I honestly believe that if Tucker was still on the airwaves, we’d be in a much better spot than we are now. I think what a significant loss to our movement. Yeah, he’s doing the Twitter thing, but there is something about seeing Tucker every night, the regularity of it. Why that happened is a longer conversation than we have time for tonight. The Left is expert at infiltration, destabilization and, of course, demoralization and then destruction. I think one of the positives of President Trump being president and leading the movement is that we are tougher now when the Left tries to take out one of our own. We’re not great at it, and I know that some people are going to have mixed opinions here, but the conservative movement ten years ago would have put Ken Paxton out to pasture. I’m not going to defend his personal life, and I don’t encourage you to do it, either. It’s indefensible. But his record as an attorney general was excellent: suing the Biden regime, going after Google, and his own party comes after him. The old conservative movement, I think, would have just kind of cast him aside. He was acquitted today, thankfully, and we can put that sideshow to bed.
Another great example, by the way, I just thought of is the Koch brothers. Oh, my goodness. The Kochs used to be funding all of the right stuff. Have you seen what the Koch network is doing lately? They have DEI and are supporting trans-musicians. Not an exaggeration. You can fact-check me. They have this “stand together” thing trying to find common ground. There is no common ground when we’re at war with Marxists that want us dead. Trump is facing 500 years in federal prison. What common ground is there? I do sympathize in some ways for captured institutions because it takes a spine of steel to not surrender to these people. They wear you down. Tom Fitton, you’re under attack every day. I could go around the room. The Left does everything: they come after you legally, they come after you reputationally, they come after your friends, and it’s tempting to want to do the Koch thing. “I’m actually your ally… you know, we’ll decriminalize drugs and keep the borders open.” You know that things have changed when the Koch brothers get really good articles in The Washington Post. In a sudden shift, the Darth Vader of the conservative movement is now an ally of the regime. When you can look at Charles Koch, again, I don’t think he’s a bad person, I just think they wore him down. They ground him down. While he obviously believes in the Constitution, his network has funded so many great organizations, probably still some in this room, he and his network are saying we’re going to spend $100 million dollars against Donald Trump and all these self-destructive things. The Left have become experts because they’re Alinsky-ites and The Thirteen Rules for Radicals. Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis was written on this: find a target, isolate it, polarize it, keep the pressure on, do a tactic that your people enjoy. I encourage you to memorize the thirteen rules. The book was literally dedicated to Lucifer. Understand, of course, they’re good at this, right? This is the playbook of Satan. Obviously, they’re good at this. They don’t come to give life or life more abundantly. They come to lie, steal, cheat and destroy. This is their playbook. For every single one of you that runs an organization, and I’m also talking to myself, we have to be vigilant against these attacks. You also have to know that it can change in an instant. It can be a new board member or a donor. How do we defend against these infiltrations? You could be the healthiest organization in the whole movement, right? Posting wins. Then nine months later, you could be in board fights and mired in scandal.
The first thing, and this is something I learned from Morton Blackwell, is personnel is policy, but personnel is also culture. Who you hire for your organization really, really, really matters. It’s not just a question of do they agree with you. It’s why are they there? What are their motives? I was talking with some friends beforehand and think of how many churches used to be strong and outspoken and influencing in salt and light that have just gone totally woke in the last couple of years. They want to win approval from the world. They get captured by their own institution. They get held hostage. Growth actually can become a very dangerous thing for an institution or an organization. When you grow, you have to hire people. And when you hire people, you might not be able to vet them all. They might not be part of that core mission. Especially if you’re growing a church, you hire a bunch of youth pastors and they all went to the seminaries and they say “Oh, why can’t we be more like K-Love and open and accepting and open borders and yeah, sure, men can give birth, and we’re just here to talk about the Gospel.” The next thing you know, it’s another captured institution. In fact, they train their revolutionaries and their activists how to capture institutions. So, that’s number one. Who you hire and who you associate with—that’s something I’ve personally learned.
The second thing is if you’re in the movement and want approval by The New York Times and The Washington Post, you’re in the wrong line of business. I see Father Frank Pavone. I mean he had the Pope after him, for goodness’ sake. It’s really something, Frank. I’ll tell you what, that’s really something. Not everyone can say that the Pope targeted you. DOJ, January 6th Committee, the Pope, that is a new one.
I think this has changed, and I want to make sure it changes more quickly. We accelerate the trend when you get attacked by The New York Times and The Washington Post. Don’t send that kind of weak-kneed, vanilla statement of “No, I promise, I’m not a racist” or “Please like me.” No, we are at war with these people. We’re at war with the news editor desk at The Washington Post. We’re at war with all their investigative organizations, ProPublica, and all of them. They want every one of our organizations to shut down. Shuttered. Infiltrated. Deconstructed from within.
That gets to my third point which is why CNP matters so much. When any one of our leaders have a moral bank account in the positive, which means they’ve done more good for the movement than bad, like Ken Paxton, we have to rally around those people when they’re in crisis. When somebody has done more good than bad we need to lean in and pray for them, not treat them as if, “You’re off to pasture or you’re off the team.” Now, if they’ve done something and that balance tips, then obviously we’ll consider it, but most times we are expected to get outraged for something that the liberals tell us to get outraged about. They’re setting the terms for engagement. I think we’re getting better at this, but what drives the Left nuts is when we reject their premise. Right? When they say, “Oh, you can’t hire that person because that person’s a racist.” Which, by the way, I deal with this all the time. These incredible young 27, 28-year-old kids that might have been fired by some other organization because of some ridiculous article that CNN did on them because they wrote a tweet when they were fourteen years old. I love hiring these kids. Then the reporter reaches out and they say, “You have a racist working for you.” Just don’t even respond for comment. Do you know what? Once they write the article, publish the story and they realize they couldn’t control us to get that person fired, they get weaker. The reporter got weaker at that moment. The reporter all of a sudden realized that I’m not able to extort an organization into doing what I want them to do. You do not take your marching orders from Oliver Darcy at CNN. You don’t. You don’t take your marching orders from The Huffington Post or from whatever organization that tries to come after you. No. You know what’s right. You’re accountable to God and maybe your Board. But you’re accountable to, ultimately, your creator and for what is right.
Here’s my guarantee. It might be me, might be you, might be Turning Point, but there will be an organization in this room under attack in the next six months. Guarantee it. How are we going to act? I want us all to overwhelm that person with text messages, emails, shows of support, prayers, and “how can I help?” The little stuff matters a lot. They’re trying to isolate our heroes on an island and balkanize the entire movement. It’s every possible category. Steve Bannon, they’re trying to put him in federal prison. They tried to do it with Dinesh ten years ago. Douglas Macky, who literally is going to federal prison for making a meme. They’re testing us with this January 6th stuff. They’re testing us: are you actually going to rally behind these people? Honestly, I think we’ve done really well. Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani. You just reject the premise where the people say: “Oh, they’re indicted.” We have to support them 100 percent in any way we possibly can. It’s not just the old thing that they’re going to come after you next, but it’s a Soviet show trial. We know what it is. I honestly think this is one of the reasons why Trump is doing better. I think the movement in some ways is seeing it for what it is, which is you’re not going to be able to take any more of our heroes off the chessboard. The only way that we’re going to stop supporting our own is if they stop actually sharing our values. That’s what we’re going to do. Not because some institution tells us.
It’s important to remember, and I’m sure this was mentioned in the last couple of days, that you’re actively living through a cultural revolution. This is only really the second cultural revolution that we know of in the last 70 or 80 years. James Lindsay is the expert on this. When you live through a cultural revolution, you don’t always know it. From fifteen days to slow the spread to today, it has been nonstop. It has been one crisis after the other. In fact, at the cocktail party, I talked to a lot of you. A lot of you say, “Boy, I’m just exhausted; I’m tired,” and that is by design. It is by design to try and demoralize you. One of the tactics of the Soviet Marxists is to try to deprive you and compel you to surrender. It’s helpful to know that you’re actually living through one of those active measures as it’s happening. It went from lockdowns to riots to mass mail-in balloting and cheating and fraudulent behavior to more covid fascism and now you’re living through lawfare. The lawfare chapter is, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous, pernicious threats to our Constitution and traditions that we see in front of us. It’s happening in many different ways. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because I know you all agree. The only way that lawfare gets stopped is not by op-eds in The Wall Street Journal; it’s when our DAs and our Attorneys General start indicting them for their crimes and going after their organizations. I’m not going to spend too much time on this but if this room all got together and started contacting these Republican AGs in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia. Georgia? Not really. But South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and, you might say, “Well Charlie, what crimes have they committed?” I’ll give you a great one. I have an indictment on a plate for you right now. You ready? BLM is a fraudulent organization. BLM lied to their donors, and if anyone in this room ran your 501(c)(3) like BLM, we would be rallying and having a legal defense fund for you and doing a prayer vigil outside your solitary confinement at GITMO. It’s unbelievable, charitable fraud. They raised money from all 50 states. Just investigate them. BLM was the state-run religion of the American Left. Our AGs, when you talk to them (God bless them, they’re really sweet people), you know what some of them would say? “I don’t want to have happen to me what happened to Ken Paxton. I’m good. I’m just going to sue.” If we’re not going to respond to fire with fire, an equal and opposite reaction, and punch back twice as hard, then the lawfare thing…you have to have mutually assured destruction. I don’t rejoice in this, and you shouldn’t either. I don’t like talking about using AGs to settle the score. But if they feel they’re the only side that gets to use political power and we don’t, then we know how that ends. We’re living through this cultural revolution. Everything the Left does is essentially planned.
One of the talking points I hear far too often is, “The Left – they’re out of control, they’re crazy, they’re wild, they believe all these nutty things.” Yes, in their activist base that is clear, but they’re incredibly methodical planners. There is one language take away. Every time you hear democracy replace it with the word oligarchy. That’s what they mean. When they say, “Our democracy is under attack,” it makes more sense when you hear “Our oligarchy is under attack.” Because that’s what they’re saying. When they say, “Democracy dies in darkness,” they really mean, “Oligarchy dies in darkness.” Oligarchy means the rule of the few. Insiders. The leviathan. The well-connected.
The insiders had a plan for 2023. They took a lot of us by surprise, because we underestimated how aggressive and forceful they would be. Let’s see what they thought was going to happen versus what is happening now in mid-September. They had several false assumptions going into 2023. Number one, they were certain that Donald Trump was going to be in a competitive, Republican primary. This is a big one. Very big. They are so confused that Donald Trump is up 55 points. Now I know that people are mixed on Trump or not Trump. That’s fine. Good luck if you don’t support Trump. I mean that. I mean, it’s not going to work out for you. I mean, I’m sure you’ve got great reasons. Go turn off your smart phone and speak with voters. Not consultants. You’ll learn really quickly. I think I met a Nikki Haley supporter. I never met one before. It was really interesting. The fact that it is a 50-point primary makes it harder to divide the Republican Party.
Number two, they’re shocked. They’re stunned that their crossing of the Rubicon with Alvin Bragg and Jack Smith and Fani Willis has made Donald Trump more popular. They’re shocked that the lawfare did not work the way they thought it would. They thought—and it wasn’t totally wrong—that they could force Donald Trump into wounded animal syndrome, in the corner, acting irrationally, and just kind of lashing out at everybody and toxic. It’s the opposite. He is actually, in my opinion, more disciplined, more focused, and gives better policy speeches than anything I’ve seen in the last couple of years. If you really look at it, he’s actually running a far better campaign. Whether you like him or hate him, it’s just a fact. It’s been way better policy ideas, better focus, better interviews, and really outworking his competition. The lawfare thing didn’t work.
Number three, and I know this is going to make you laugh, but they actually underestimated how unpopular Joe Biden was going to be in September 2023. No, it’s a real thing, and I’m going to prove it to you.
Number four, this is a big one, this is like a subterranean one…in 2016 the green party was on the ballot in all the key states. The Green Party got enough, Jill Stein got enough votes that if Hillary Clinton would have received all of votes of the Green Party, then Hillary Clinton would have been president in 2016. The Green Party was not on the ballot in 2020, it was just Trump and Biden, so no third-party options. Because of that, Joe Biden benefitted tremendously. But it was because of Covid that they sued, and they weren’t able to get the signatures, and they kept the Green Party off. As it looks right now, there will be a Green Party candidate, and his name is Cornell West, and he’s a real force to be reckoned with. He could get one percent of the vote in Georgia; he could get 2 percent of the vote in Georgia and that throws off a lot of different modeling.
Something changed this last week. David Ignatius, who is basically the CIA spokesperson—this guy hasn’t had an original thought in his head in the last 30 years. Whatever Langley wants, he just writes. He’s a scribe for the deep state. Out of nowhere, David Ignatius says, “It’s time for Joe Biden to retire and not run.” That’s a big deal. That’s not some sort of fringe blogger. The New York Times parrots it, and then all of a sudden you see CNN do a two-hour, uninterrupted segment on all the times Joe Biden has lied in the last ten years. We know what’s happening. Here’s what’s happened. The deep state had a meeting with Joe Biden in the last week-and-a-half, and they said, “You better not run.” He said, “No, I’m going to run.” They said, “Okay, watch us.” Ignatius writes the article. The New York Times writes the article. It’s a little bit of what we call in baseball a blowback pitch, a brushback pitch, a little chin music. They’re like, “Hey, are you seeing this, Joe? Do you see this Grabien clip of CNN doing a 2-minute thing? We can come after you, too.” The Biden inner circle is holding on for power. They are white knuckling this thing. They’re like, we have waited our whole life to be relevant, we are the guy and that’s a real thing. That’s a real tension point. Add that all up.
There is a fifth thing, though, and this is where all of you come in. They honestly thought—because they’re arrogant and prideful and always overshoot—they thought they could demoralize the rank and file of the conservative movement. They thought that there would be surrender, discord, animus; a lack of attendance at rallies, that all of a sudden, we would give up, and the opposite has happened. I made this argument a couple of years ago. One of my favorite books is by Nassim Taleb called Antifragile. It’s a very wonky, academic book, but he argues that the institutions or the organizations that are most likely to succeed are ones that don’t only survive under pressure, but they get stronger the more you attack them. These are called antifragile institutions. When you look at it, the conservative movement has actually become antifragile. The old Nietzschean phrase, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, in some ways, that actually is the case. The more they attack us, the more our ranks increase. The more our membership increases. The more our resolve increases. And they look at the landscape—the oligarchs do—and they’re not nearly as confident.
There is a sixth thing, by the way. The sixth thing is that they’re very worried that Republicans are getting very, very wise for early voting and for ballot chasing and secure elections that might close the gap. I only have six minutes so I’m going to do this as quickly as I possibly can. We can win. Not that we are going to win, but we can win. You have to tune out all of the noise. National popular vote doesn’t mean anything. If Donald Trump is the nominee, which he almost certainly will be, he will win Iowa, Ohio, Florida, and he will almost certainly win North Carolina. That means that it will come down to just a few states. Now understand, every ten years the electoral map changes slightly. You can play with this at 270toWin.com. The sun belt has actually increased in population as has Texas, Florida, and Arizona. California lost population. It is easier for a Republican to win in this election cycle than in 2020. It’s easier. It requires fewer states. All it will require is to win Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia. More specifically eight or nine counties in Arizona including Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai; Gwinnett and Cobb in Georgia; Dane, Kenosha, and Milwaukee in Wisconsin.
There is a lie out there that I hear all the time. In fact, one of you in this room told me this. They said, “Charlie, Trump got blown out in 2020.” This is a myth that has infected our discourse. Let’s just correct the record here. First of all, Donald Trump didn’t lose, but that’s a separate issue. Donald Trump fell short in Arizona. He fell 9,000 votes short in Arizona. There were four million ballots cast. He fell 10,000 votes short in Georgia, and there were 5.5 million ballots cast. He fell 22,000 votes short in Wisconsin, and there were 3.8 – 4 million ballots cast. What blowout are you talking about? That’s less than half of 1 percent in the three states that are going to determine the 2024 election. You know who knows these numbers? The bad guys know these numbers. That’s why they launched a preemptive strike. You want to talk about a preemptive strike? That’s why they did what they did this year with lawfare. It’s because they said, “Oh my goodness, if we allow this guy to be untouched, if we allow him to win the primary, if we don’t try to close the primary and bloody him up and turn him into a corner, we’re talking about eight counties. If the Republicans even remotely get their act together and stop our cheating and thievery and do a little bit of low-propensity voter turnout—which is literally three votes per precinct—they win the presidency.” You flip three votes per precinct in Arizona, and you win the presidency. A precinct is 2,000 voters. All of a sudden, the bad guys, they say, “The only way forward is through. We have to play offense.” Their preemptive strike did not go the way they thought it would. That doesn’t mean we’re going to win. That means that they’re scrambling, and we’re looking way more depressed than we should be. We’re actually in a place where we have a coin flip opportunity to win in 2024. The question is, what do we do? What do we focus on? Politically, I think it’s all going to come down to those eight counties. It’s going to come down to precincts. It’s going to come down to grassroots muscle. This is the most influential room in the country. It does not matter if you win Ohio by 5,000 votes or 500,000 votes. Donald Trump will win the state of Ohio. It’s just going to happen. He’s going to win Iowa. Florida is redder than Alabama now. It’s unbelievable.
They’re going to try to distract us. They’re going to be like, “Oh, why don’t you have a field operator in Minnesota?” Sorry. Waste of time. It’s not going to happen. You’ve got to get to 270. Not to mention, just as a side note, they might run this whole No Labels thing, which could totally throw a curve ball into the Democrats’ plan as well. How do I know this? There is article after article of the Joe Biden operatives going in and smearing No Labels and Cornell West. Here’s the kicker, Cornell West announces for president. Two weeks later on the front page of The Daily Beast, Cornell West Under IRS Investigation for Unpaid Taxes.
What is the take-away? I believe in a God of miracles. It’s one of the few theological things that I will tell you. I believe 2016 was a miracle election. I also believe that God tests us to see if we’ll be obedient and dutiful to him. When things look dire and dismal as if we can’t win at all, what I’m telling you is that there is a chance. I can’t stand it when some people say, “But Charlie, they control the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and Google and Facebook and Goldman Sachs and Citibank.” And I say “Yup, but are they able to win 3-5 more votes in the precincts that matter in the eight counties?” That’s the only question that matters. How are we going to be able to get 3-5 more votes in the precincts that matter? Love him or hate him, he has a magical quality to get low-propensity voters and outperform the polls in huge ways.
What is the major takeaway of everything I said? There will be institutions under attack. We need to rally to them in crisis. I hope all of your minds are on the 2024 election. It’s the number one question I get. What we’re going to be focusing our efforts on at Turning Point Action is trying to make a difference in those key states. I encourage you to do the same. In the place where the attitude that we must have—which is the most important thing—our action must be because we are obedient to something higher than ourselves—God—not just because we think we’re going to win. If I told you I was totally optimistic, you would go home and you would say, “Charlie said he was optimistic, I don’t have do to anything.” If I said I was pessimistic, you would go home and say, “Charlie is pessimistic, so I don’t have to do anything.” I know many of you have your arms crossed and you say, “Charlie, I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me, okay? I’ve knocked on doors, I bought the pillow, I have Relief Factor, I’ve done everything that you have asked of me, okay?” (Promo code: Kirk at MyPillow.com, by the way.) We can do more. We can get off the sidelines. We’re no longer spectators, we are participants. We do it out of obedience. Obedience to the Lord. Obedience to what came before us. And, yes, we can win. Thank you guys so much!
The Honorable Philip Gunn
Speaker of the House
State of Mississippi
Good morning and thank you for that kind and warm introduction. I appreciate your warm welcome. You never know what you’re going to get when you’re introduced. I was introduced one time as a Christian politician and a man in the back yelled, “Make up your mind!” That actually happened—that’s not a joke. I want to quote to you a Bible verse that I hope lays the foundation for what I want to tell you today. It’s Galatians 6:9 and it says, “And do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we will reap if we do not give up.”
From 1876 until 2012, the Democrats controlled the Mississippi House of Representatives. That’s 136 years, ladies and gentlemen. Mississippi was in the wilderness for 136 years. It was not until 2012 that Republicans finally gained a majority and were able to elect a Republican speaker and begin implementing conservative policies. I would like to think that over the last 11 years, we’ve introduced a lot of conservative policies that have moved Mississippi in the right direction. One of the things that was incredibly important to us, however, was the fight to protect the unborn, the sanctity of human life.
We believe God is the creator and sustainer of all life. We believe all life is sacred and worthy of protection. So, we set out to pass a number of laws that were designed to protect the lives of the unborn. We passed a bill that prohibited abortion after 20 weeks. We passed a bill that prohibited abortion after a heartbeat. We passed a bill that said if you are a physician performing abortions in Mississippi, you must have admitting privileges to our local hospitals. All of these bills were designed to protect the lives of the unborn and the lives of the mother. In every instance, every time we would bring one of those bills to the House floor, there would be a three or four-hour debate. Wailing, gnashing of teeth, the Democrats went crazy, and they attacked the legislation. Each time we passed one of those bills, a lawsuit would follow, and an injunction would be entered and each of those bills would be struck down. If you ever follow the legislative process, you know it can be a very frustrating process. Accordingly, a level of frustration entered into my caucus and after passing a number of these bills, some of my members said, “Look, we don’t have to pass any more prolife bills to show that we are prolife; we have done a great job of proving to the world that we are a pro-life caucus. Every time we do this, the bill gets struck down. Every time we do this, it’s a three-hour debate on the House floor. Why are we beating our heads against the wall?”
In 2018, we had yet another bill that came up, House Bill 1510. Under this bill, it said that there would be no abortion after 15 weeks. I stood in front of my caucus that day back in 2018, in room number 113 in the Mississippi State Capitol. There were about 60 Republicans in the room, and we talked about this bill. Frustrations were voiced: “Why are we doing this again?” “It’s just going to result in another lawsuit.” “We’re just going to get struck down again.” “The Supreme Court has not changed; they’re still liberal, and they’re still a pro-choice minded Supreme Court. Why are we doing this again?” That Bible verse that I just quoted to you came to my head. I said, “We should not grow weary in doing good. We believe this is the will of the Lord; we believe the Lord is the sustainer of all life; we believe every life is sacred. We need to keep fighting the fight.” In 2018, it looked bleak. The Supreme Court had not changed. The composition of the Supreme Court had not changed. We knew we were going to have another three-hour debate. We knew that this bill was going to get struck down. What we didn’t know, what God knew, was that by 2020, the composition of the Supreme Court was going to change. By 2020, Donald Trump was going to appoint a total of three new justices to the Supreme Court that would be prolife. We didn’t know that House Bill 1510 was going to work its way through the judicial system and become what you now know of as the Dobbs Case, and overturn Roe v. Wade. As we come here this weekend, and we talk about all of the issues that we’re fighting, and all the things that sometimes appear hopeless and frustrating, I want to bring us back to that Bible verse: “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” I think that should be our theme as we move forward, and we talk about all of these issues that we are fighting. Let us realize that there is one who is in control of all of this; there is one who knows the future, who knows what’s going to happen to this country—and He uses us. He gives us an opportunity to be instruments of His to accomplish great things. Little did we know that a ragtag group of Republican legislators in the state of Mississippi would be the ones that He used to overturn Roe v. Wade. I’ve told my caucus, there is nothing you will do greater in your political lives than passing that bill right there. So, let’s be encouraged, and let us go forward. Thank you so much.