Forget Washington and cable news. If you want a real discussion about the state of the nation, head to the bar. Andrew Wilkow did. Taking a page out of our Founders’ playbook, Wilkow brought his Srius/XM radio show to Emmett O’Lunney’s pub in Manhattan this afternoon to have an old fashioned town hall over pints and plates.
“We’re getting back to basics – talking about government, economics and having a conversation with real people at a tavern,” said Wilkow, who held court as fans and locals looked on. FreedomWorks execs Matt Kibbe and Adam Brandon were tapped to be Wilkow’s wingmen for the afternoon discussion.
The conversation quickly turned to the Obamacare debacle and how best to communicate the proper role of government to a larger audience. “The Progressive movement, the central planners and the reorganizers of the left have been at this for a long time. They can’t conceive that we can come together as Americans to produce all this wonderful innovation,” said Kibbe. He discussed how government is bent on killing American innovation in health care and other areas of the economy.
Drawing laughs from the audience, Wilkow suggested that the President probably thinks the problem with the system is us: “The problem with Obamacare is that we didn’t comply. It all worked on paper, but apparently we did something wrong.”
The central theme struck by Wilkow, his guests, and the audience was the opportunity to communicate to a larger audience in the run up to 2014 that central planning doesn’t work. Kibbe pointed out that more and more Americans will be receptive to a libertarian or conservative message. He cited a recent event where FreedomWorks joined with Code Pink, the NAACP, and the ACLU to protest the NSA’s data collection.
Audience member Mike Callahan agreed: “Occupiers, young libertarians, and young conservatives are all disillusioned. We have to identify with them and connect with them on the platforms on which they communicate. They are ready for a more conservative message.”
“They can’t find work. They have school debt. They’re seeing that Obamacare is not what they were promised,” said the contractor and Navy Vet from New Jersey. Callahan cited his daughter’s realization that Obamacare will cost her more. “We need more young libertarian and conservative communicators. She needs to hear the message from her peers.”
When it comes to the Federal Reserve and Janet Yellen, the Wilkow crew blasted the President’s choice to succeed Ben Bernanke. “Yellenhas used the word ‘humane’ to discuss inflation. The only thing that inflation does is destroy value,” Wilkow boomed over the clinking of glasses and plates. FreedomWorks’ Adam Brandon cautioned that Yellen’s philosophy regarding inflation and quantitative easing would only serve to weaken the free market in favor of more government solutions.
“Where is investment going to come from? A lot of technology that drove the U.S. economy in the 80’s and 90’s was sitting on the shelf in the 70’s because of inflation.” Kibbe agreed, stating, “This is a huge leap backwards from Bernanke. We should send Yellen to Argentina to see how it works down there.”
In response to another audience member, Kibbe, Brandon, and Wilkow used the immigration debate and the issue of amnesty to sound an optimistic note for the future of the conservative movement in 2014.
“The Senate immigration bill was all about controlling people. It was all about signing them up for the Democrats’ program. All politics is won at the margins,” Brandon stated. “Our strategic advantage is that we do show up. Most of our activists are part of that 47%. This is not a narrow-minded xenophobic movement.”
“I am wildly optimistic about 2014,” said Kibbe. “The first folks who are going to show up are the folks who have been hurt by this administration. It is so much easier to find out what the government is doing and connect with each other about how to make a difference. It is impossible to stop free people.”