Primaries, Executive Orders, Aristocrats And More – On Foundations Of Freedom: How and why do you practically primary a candidate? Must Congress abide by the same tax laws as non-members? Is it constitutional for executive orders to make new laws? Is it really fruitful for states to sue the federal government? Tune in to hear the answers to these questions and more on today’s Foundations of Freedom program!

Air Date: 07/29/2021

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith and the Culture

President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think they’re not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s Thursday here at Wallbuilders Live, so we’re looking at foundations of freedom Thursday. Thanks for joining us. 

Visit our website today at wallbuilderslive.com and you can get recordings of previous programs that have a lot of Foundations of Freedom Thursdays, where you’ve asked the question. So send your questions in to radio@wallbuilders.com. 

And speaking of those foundations, David and Tim Barton, you guys have been doing American Journey Experience all week, you’ve been diving into foundational principles with the documents and the artifacts right there in your hands. So before I give you the first question, catch us up on that. How are folks liking it, and how can folks learn more about being part of the American Journey Experience?

Tim:

Well, Rick, right now we’ve been doing a college program, it’s called the Summer Institute, and we have 18 to 25 year olds from around the nation that come. We have about 30 students we’ve been working with, and it’s been great. It is been very long a couple of weeks. It’s actually been a long summer, as we have done many programs, and we’re kind of wrapping stuff up now.

But it’s been a really unique experience being able to take kids through American history. We’ve had a lot of guest speakers, a lot of congressmen and senators and different personalities in the media like Charlie Kirk, or Glenn Beck, and just so many great people who are out fighting for constitutional values, fighting for Biblical values, and culture. And this is just one of many things we do. 

A Special Family Experience

We do a family seminar throughout the year where people can go to wallbuilders.com, they go to mercuryone.org, and they can find out about some these training sessions where they can come. And they can listen to my dad, to me, to Glenn, to other people, give lectures and do a crash course through history and get to see and do a lot of hands on with original documents. So it really is a unique time and opportunity. We are fairly exhausted right now as we’re having this conversation. But it’s been a really great summer.

Rick:

Well, and you guys, I mean, people see you on video, or they see you online or they see you on a TV show often holding those documents or standing in the library or in the museum or, you know, so they see that stuff, but I don’t think they realize how many people you actually take through that and give them a chance to participate with it. And just really, really cool stuff. More information at wallbuilders.com, folks. We have both David and Tim Barton with us today.

David is America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders, Tim Barton is a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator, and it is time to dive in to your questions, regarding the foundations of this country and how to apply that to our world around us right now when things are so crazy.

So David, Tim, first question is going to come from Paul in Pennsylvania. Hey, that’s appropriate. We have a question for Pennsylvania, the cradle of liberty. 

It’s where it all started with the Declaration of the Constitution both, so I think we timed that. Well, here’s what he said. “Thank you for what you’re doing to get truth out in today’s world. 

I’ve been listening to your podcast for about 10 years now and I’ve appreciated the truth. The last year I’ve been hearing a term more about primary a candidate. My question is, would you be able to describe the process of primary a candidate such as when to start that process, who to contact? 

It is a term used frequently, but how to practically do it is more ambiguous for some of us not familiar with the lingo and the process of elections. Thank you and keep up the good work. Paul, from Pennsylvania.”

“Primarying” a Candidate

God bless you, brother, thank you for sending in that question. We’re sometimes bad about that, guys. We’ve been around the political thing for so long. 

And I always get on to my Patriot Academy students when they’ve worked at the Capitol for a while and they use all the acronyms, you know, in government. And you have no idea what they’re talking about unless you work at the Capitol, and you deal with that over and over and over again. It sounds like French to me when they start going that direction. 

So this is one of those terms, maybe for a lot of people out there. What does it mean to primary a candidate?

David:

Primary a candidate is a reflection of purely partisan politics. It only happens when you have political parties involved. If you had an open ballot where you put everyone on the ballot, you don’t have this. 

But when you have Republicans and Democrats and Green Party and constitutional libertarians, etc, each party runs their candidates under a primary system. So if you go to vote and you’re registered a Democrat, you will vote for the Democrat candidates in that primary to see who emerges in that primary as the single Democrat to represent the Democrat Party in the general election. The Republicans will do the same. All the parties do the same.

Tim:

So essentially, this is an election that happens within the party, and then whoever wins the election within the party, they go up against whoever won the election from other parties, right. So in the Democrats, there’s election among the Democrats, is called the primary. And if you want to, for example, let’s say in Texas, we have Governor Abbott right now who’s running in the Republican party for reelection and there will be other Republicans who want to run on the Republican ticket. 

Look at Texas

They want to defeat Governor Abbott. But if they’re going to on the Republican ticket, they have to defeat Governor Abbott in the primary, and then it’ll go to the general election. The general election is where the contender from the Democrat, from the Republican, from whoever else will go against each other.

And for some of you, I know, this might seem very elementary, but the reality is all of us learning this process somewhere along the way. And so the primary is your lower level elections that happens within the party before it goes to the general election where you have the winners from the party elections face off against each other.

David:

Well, one other thing about when you say primary a candidate, that is often a word that is associated with this content of that party for the current candidate they have. Typically, the incumbent candidate, pretty much you get out of his way, you let him have a free run to run again.

So in the case of Greg Abbott, which you mentioned, oftentimes to your incumbent governor, you don’t put up other candidates against him for reelection, you generally let him run. When you’re dissatisfied with the incumbent and you want somebody that you think is better than the incumbent, that’s called primary. 

So it’s not being part of the primary. Primary a candidate says, I’m discontent with the incumbent, I don’t think he did a good job, or she did a good job, so I want to get somebody from the party to run against him.

So Greg Abbott has been now governor twice, he’s running for reelection again. But because of the way he handled COVID, there are now three other candidates who are running against him. And so they are primarying Greg Abbott. And so that’s generally where you see the term use, is when you think someone is not pure enough to your principles, or whatever, and you want them out, and you want somebody better.

Getting the Best Candidate

Rick:

And a lot of times whenever, you know, it’s just a way of getting the best candidate on the ballot for your team to go up against the other team. So you might think of it even like for baseball fans out there, the American League, they play amongst themselves until they get their best team, and then they go up in the world series against the champion from the National League. Even the Olympics, kind of the same thing, you have your national championship in each country to find the best one at that sport to then go compete against everybody else around the country.

So the primary is where your team gets their best candidate to go up against the other side. The best analogy is if the Barton family decides to take on the Green family in ping pong, then all the Greens would play each other to find the best player and then all the Bartons would play each other to find the best player. And then whoever on the Barton family won would definitely end up beating whoever the person is in the Green family.

But anyway, so that’s kind of how the primaries work with the major two parties out there. And just to confuse people even more, if you’re dealing with something like a school board, or a city council situation in a lot of states like ours, it’s not a party position. So there isn’t a primary, Everybody runs for that office. And you got you said that at the beginning, David, but just to reiterate this. Some races don’t actually have a primary, so you just run straight up against whoever the incumbent is in that position, if there is no primary.

David:

Now, if you want to get involved in primary, that means you have to go get involved with a party. So let’s say I want to run for state rep and I want to primary someone, I’m going to have to decide do I want to run at the Democrat primary or the Republican primary, or the Independent or the Libertarian or whatever. So to get involved in that kind of primary as a candidate, you got to decide which party you want to represent, in other words, which group you’re going to get into.

Jungle Primaries

Now, there are some states that have what are called “jungle primaries”, like Louisiana and California. And that means everybody goes on the same ballot, you don’t have party ballots, and the top two candidates that come out, they’re the ones that are going to be on the final ballot. So it could be the two Democrats come out in California or two Republicans come out in Louisiana, but that’s still primary.

But you have to decide what you’re going to run out. And so the question was, how do I get involved in primarying? Well, you decide what party you want to be affiliated with, and you put your name in for that party, and then you run as a candidate for whatever position you choose.

Rick:

And even, David, if you don’t want to be the candidate yourself, but you know that that person that’s been in office, needs to be primary, that you need to take them out in the Republican primary, so that you have a good candidate in the fall because they basically become like a Democrat, let’s say in the primary, you may not be the one to run.

But what a great opportunity to go recruit somebody else about to run. So yeah, great question. And man, I love getting back to how the system works so that our folks understand so that they’re not intimidated.

A lot of times you hear these terms thrown around, or you hear about the process, you go, wow, it’s just too big of a process, or it’s got all these things I don’t understand so I can’t make… No you can make a difference. You just get involved. The process is not that complicated, and you’ll learn it very quickly. And we need you involved. So Paul, thank you so much for that question from Pennsylvania.

And while we’re in Pennsylvania, we’ve got one from Laurie in Pennsylvania. She said “Back during the election and again, in one of these ridiculous bills, Biden’s proposing the tax on the rich, wouldn’t that require Nancy Pelosi and all other rich politicians to pay that as well?” Here’s the real question. 

“Is the House and Senate treated differently like their benefits than other citizens when are they exempt? Why would they agree to be taxed so high? Typically, the Left does not donate or give up any of the money to help people. Thanks for considering these questions.” That’s from Laurie in Pennsylvania. Lori, thank you. Great question.

The Aristocracy

David, Tim, we’ve talked about a lot this aristocracy where they Congress has exempted themselves from certain regulations. Does that apply to taxes when they want to raise everybody’s taxes, especially what they call on the rich which typically to them that’s anybody that makes a decent living, do they exempt themselves out of that?

David:

Well, actually, that the idea of exempting congressmen and treating them differently was something that Republicans really took on as a target back in 1994/1995. And when Gingrich came in, and he had that revolution, therefore, six to eight to nine years they really worked on making Congress accountable that they couldn’t have a better health care plan than the average person could, that they couldn’t have all the loopholes the average person did, that they had to live like the average people had to live under the same laws. 

And so a lot of that was done then. Some of it has been repealed in recent years, as going back the other direction.

And so what happens now is there is a lot of special treatment that Congress people give themselves that they don’t give to others. Now, by and large, they don’t mind taking more money away from the people to give them trillions more to spend, because they want to spend more and create more social programs, more progressive ideas into policy, etc. And they find ways to make up for that oftentimes. 

They may become a lobbyist, and they get paid six figures. And so being taxed a little more doesn’t hurt them, they’ve got ways of making deals with others.

And we’ve seen that even with what’s going into President Biden, Hunter Biden, etc, keeps coming out more and more and more and more family deals that have raked in millions and millions that their average American could not have access to. So they generally find ways to make up for what they pull in. And it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you say that they’re taxing themselves, except you see that they get some pretty plump positions that they’re able to give themselves among their friends. 

Eric Swalwell

And that’s usually how they get around it. But again, it’s unfortunate for Congress at any time to be treated differently from the people. Republicans really made some good progress. But again, that’s been lost in the last few years.

Tim:

Well, guys, it’s also worth noting, one of the things that politicians do to exempt themselves on some level is they use a lot of their campaign finances for a lot of their lavish lifestyle. One of the things that we saw in last couple weeks was Democrat congressman from California, Eric Swalwell, who also was noted earlier, I believe it was this year, when it was discovered that he was sleeping with a Chinese spy, and there were just lots of issues involved.

But now it’s come out that he has spent $500,000 of his campaign finance just on his lavish lifestyle, on meals, on hotels, on travel, $500,000. In Congress, he’s been doing all this. And so one of the things that they can do to exempt themselves on some level is he can say, well, this isn’t my money I’m spending rights, you can’t tax me on this money.

So there are some ways that they navigate even around some of the wealth taxes by using a lot of their campaign finances, which doesn’t fall in the same tax code or category. And it allows him to live at a certain level that other Americans aren’t living at making the salary they’re making. And so there’s a lot of ways they navigate even around this to exempt themselves in many capacities.

David:

Yeah, that’s a great point, Tim, because even remember back to Nancy Pelosi was using Air Force jets, having the Air Force fly her back and forth to California. You could take commercial flights that could come out of your salary. But now you’re spending millions of the government’s money for your own personal transportation back and forth, which is like giving yourself a huge pay raise. 

Not Everyone is a Swamp Creature

You’re not having to pay for that anymore. You’re not having to raise money to pay for that. So yeah, that’s a great point, Tim, and the way that they’re able to circumnavigate some of those things that normal Americans can never do.

Rick:

Yeah, that’s one of those just swampy things, right. It’s like they have a different life. And it’s hard to imagine. 

I mean, not only do they have the ability to get these sweetheart deals behind the scenes, but they’re also using taxpayer money and taxpayer programs, or taxpayer buildings and cars and jets, as you said, so it is a very different ballgame for them. And that’s that whole aristocratic thing that really American people at their core are against it. But so much of that happens behind the scenes.

And that is not to say, look, there’s some really good honest people in that world as well that refused to participate in a lot of those things. You know, we’ve had friends that went to Congress and literally slept on the couch in the office in order to keep expenses down and to not take advantage of the system. So I think it’s a great question from Lori.

I think it is important to recognize that when they put those taxes on “the rich”, technically they’re in that category, but it just doesn’t have the same impact on them. Really good question, Lori, fantastic. Two questions for Pennsylvania. 

That’s just not fair and equitable. So we have to be socialist these days and we’ll be that in radio and try to find another state to get a question from when we come back. You’re listening to elbows live on Foundations of Freedom Thursday.

Abraham Lincoln said. “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts; not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

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Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our States and of the United States assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves. That is their right and duty to be at all times armed, that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property and freedom of press.”

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Send your questions to radio@wallbuilders.com, radio@wallbuilders.com. Next question comes from Keith. And I think I’m being an equal opportunity question answerer here because Keith doesn’t say where he’s from. So we’re going to assume he’s not from Pennsylvania and we didn’t do three in a row from Pennsylvania. Anyway.

Executive Orders

“I have not found anywhere in the Constitution,” Keith says, “a provision giving the president the power to write executive orders when those orders effectively make law. Please point out to me where that provision is and who was the first president to use the executive order? Thank you. 

“And please email me the answer so I don’t miss the answer if you use the question on air.” Well, Keith, if you listen every single day, there’s no way that you would miss the question or the answer today. Anyway, he said, “May God bless you and WallBuilders.” Keith, right back at you, man. Thanks for sending in the question, David and Tim, executive orders, where do we find that in the constitution?

David:

Well, actually, there’s two questions to what Keith asked. And I’m going to make a distinction because he lumped the two together, but they really are different. There’s the question of where do you find executive orders? 

Did other presidents use them? But he was asking not just about executive orders, but about using executive orders to make law. And that’s a second different thing. So let me ask you the first question first.

Executive orders go all the way back to George Washington. George Washington and other Founding Fathers that were actively engaged in writing the Constitution used executive orders. You know, I could go through a list here. 

George Washington issued eight executive orders; President John Adams, one; Thomas Jefferson issued four; James Madison, one; James Monroe, one; John Quincy Adams, three; Andrew Jackson, 12; Martin Van Buren, 10, onto it goes.

Progressive Presidents

Now, if you look at using executive orders to make policy, now you’re starting to think in a more liberal or more progressive direction where we’re not going to follow what the Constitution says about passing a law through the House, through the Senate signed by the president. We’re going to circumvent that because it’s just too cumbersome, it’s just too unwieldy to be able to use executive orders like that.

So if I were to suggest that this is kind of a way that progressive use to make law without following Constitution, you start looking at progressive presidents and how many executive orders they issued. Now, you heard the numbers I just gave you for the first guys. So let’s take a progressive, pick a progressive president, who do you want to pick?

Rick:

Let’s see. How about FDR?

David:

Alright, Franklin Roosevelt issued 3,721 executive orders in George Washington…

Rick:

Now wait, is that more than eight?

David:

Yeah, George Washington eight verses 3,721. Alright, choose another progressive?

Tim:

Well, so if we’re going to be genuine, one of the things I would point out is that Teddy Roosevelt was a very progressive president. He was Republican. His executive orders were very different from the founding, but they were also very different from Woodrow Wilson’s and FDR. Nonetheless, he was kind of a leader and ushering in a lot of the progressive ideology. So I would say the shift largely starts with Teddy Roosevelt.

More Conservative Presidents

David:

Yeah, Teddy Roosevelt is a big number for sure, 1,081. And there’s no question that he and Woodrow Wilson are really part of that early progressive movement. And by the way, when you look at Woodrow Wilson, he had 1,803 executive orders. 

Now, when you think of conservative presidents, you don’t think of that. But let me throw a little change here at you. Calvin Coolidge is one of the most constitutionally observing presidents that we have, and yet he has 1,203 executive orders. Any idea why? Why is this so high for conservative president?

Rick:

Now who was president right before him?

David:

It was Woodrow Wilson with 1,803, Warren Harding, with 522, and then Calvin Coolidge with 1,203.

Rick:

See, that number sounds awfully close to the ones before him. So I’m wondering if some of that was saying these guys got it wrong?

David:

Yeah. Most of Calvin Coolidge, his executive orders were repealing the executive orders of Woodrow Wilson.

Rick:

Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, President Trump just tried to do that when he was president with DACA and other things that Obama literally made up law. I mean, these weren’t executing law that had been passed by Congress. He made up law, and Trump tried to reverse it, and the Supreme Court said, no, you can’t do that.

David:

Well, actually, it’s come back now. And we had just a couple weeks ago, the court said, yeah, you can reverse DACA because it was an executive order and not a law. And so the court…

EO’s Should Not Make New Law

Rick:

Oh, because now we have a Democrat president.

David:

Yeah, exactly. Is that the way that works? I don’t think that’s the way is supposed to work.

Rick:

It’s not supposed to. That’s right.

David:

But the point is, executive orders are okay. Executive orders that take the role of the legislature are not okay. An executive order is simply the executive telling his branch, here’s what you’re going to do under the laws given by Congress. 

So it’s like the CEO of Walmart issuing a memo to all employees in Walmart, here’s what we’re doing here. Here’s what Walmart believes. And so when you do that, and to say, well, I’m the president Walmart, and here’s what you’re going to do over Costco, here’s what’s going to do at Best Buy and all big box stores, I’m telling you all want to do. 

That’s the problem. So if he’s simply telling his branch what to do, that’s okay. That’s the CEO talking to his employees. But when he starts trying to tell the House and the Senate and everybody else what to do, that’s where it crosses the line. And that’s clearly what you say, looking back on the history of executive orders.

Rick:

And Keith, he’s looking for that exact language. You won’t find executive order in the Constitution, but you do find in an Article 2, “faithfully execute the laws”, and that’s where we get that phrase. And so the executive order in and of itself, what you’re saying, David is not necessarily unconstitutional, and in fact, could be very necessary. It was necessary for George Washington to use a few to execute the law, to put in place the things that Congress had passed.

Should States Sue the Federal Government?

It’s when you just ignore Congress, and you do it on your own and literally make law with an executive order, that’s when we would say, ah, nope, that’s literally a dictatorship. That’s one person making law with the stroke of a pen, rather than implementing the law that the legislature actually made. So it can be a good thing, but it can also be a really bad thing and we’ve certainly seen a little bit of both in the last few years.

Okay, guys, next question. Actually, we’re going to go back to Laurie from Pennsylvania, because she had another question when she sent in her email. And by the way, she had some nice things to say. 

She said, “First, I want to thank you for the podcast, and all the educational materials you provide. You’re amazing. While sometimes the podcast frustrate me, empowers me to talk to people about these issues and facts and contact the right people so that we the people can have our voice heard.”

So Lori, we appreciate you as well for listening, for getting the word out there and spreading the word, and for helping us have good content by sending in the questions. Here we go. First question she had was “Texas has sued the government on several issues. The DOJ is suing Georgia. So you got Texas a state suing the federal government. And you got the federal government, the Department of Justice suing a state, Georgia.” 

She said “Some appear to me to change the laws like with Georgia preventing them from following their laws.” And then she said, “But Texas is suing for damages over the border wall problem and among other things, which I strongly support. But I’m just curious, when they win, does the federal government pay Texas monies then, and inevitably, isn’t that just more money paid out of an already underwater federal budget, and ultimately, the people are paying for that?

So, great question, Laurie. I mean, she sees right through the system. The government doesn’t pay for anything. We pay for whatever the government has to do. Go ahead, guys.

Setting Precedent

David:

Yeah, what you’ve got with this is you’re actually hoping that of Texas wins and sets a precedent so that the federal government won’t try that with any other state. So it’s not just merely the damages you get, it’s the legal precedent. It says you cannot do that, you have to execute the laws. And if you don’t execute the federal laws you’re supposed to execute, and it costs us money, it’s not going to be the state that pays for it.

So in this case, it keeps Texas from having to raise taxes on its own citizens, and it keeps Texas costs lower. It’s going to mean the federal citizen has to pay more, federal tax will go up. But it allows other states to say, hey, what just happened in Texas, that’s us too. 

And so as more states get on, it becomes a turn to the federal government to do it. So that’s really the reason for. You want a declaration that the federal government is wrong and not following the law, that it has to follow the law that it has to pick up and pay for it when it doesn’t. And that’s what all the other states hope happens. 

And she’s right, it’s going to raise taxes on everybody. But hopefully, it won’t raise taxes on everybody at the same degree. In other words, if they get stopped in some states, that’s going to keep the taxes lower than it could have been, if they were not following the law. So that’s what you hope.

Rick:

And you know, guys, I mean, we should recognize too, government does have legitimate functions, and there are things that are going to cost money, that’s why we do pay taxes. And a border wall and protecting the borders, that is a legitimate function of the federal government that they’re not doing. It’s so interesting federal revenue and all these things it’s not supposed to be doing.

But yet, it’s not doing one of the most important things, that is to protect our borders. And since they’re not doing it, that’s what Texas is suing to say, okay, we’re going to have to do it, but we’re sending you the bill. So technically, this would be money that the federal government should be spending anyway. Right?

Primaries, Executive Orders, Aristocrats And More – On Foundations Of Freedom

David:

Yeah, this is part of the enumerated powers kind of concept. This is what the federal government does have proper jurisdiction over. And it’s refusing to do this while it wants to do money on education, in all these other things that the states have jurisdiction over. 

So it really is an attempt to kind of restore the constitutional lines of demarcation between the states and the feds and get the feds to do what they’re supposed to be doing.

Rick:

Well, Lori, we appreciate your questions. And by the way, Tim, she did have a PS. She said, “I remember many podcasts back singing the state songs along with Tim. So I appreciate him mentioning it.” 

So you were talking about learning the states in order, with the song as she said that was a big part of her childhood as well. But we’re not going to let Tim sing here on the air because we like having people listen to the program.

David:

Yeah, Tim may say thank you. I think the listener says thank you more than Tim does.

Rick:

Alright, folks, we’re out of time for today. We love getting your questions. Please send them in, radio@wallbuilders.com. 

We’ll get to more of those next Thursday on Foundations of Freedom Thursday. In the meantime, be sure to go to our website wallbuilderslive.com, you can get archives the program and that is the place to make a donation. If you’d like to help us spread truth across the country and equip people to restore our constitutional republic, go to wallbuilderslive.com today and make that one time or monthly donation. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.

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President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”