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Pearce, progressivism and my party’s future

US flag constitutionThe recent comments regarding forced birth control made by Russell Pearce, while certainly unacceptable and wholly inappropriate, uncover a fascinating insight into the nature, philosophical underpinnings and outlook of modern day conservatism and the Republican Party’s future.

There is a distinct group of Republican elected officials (that I, myself, am proud to be a part of) that embraces Constitutional Conservatism with roots in the Classical Liberal tradition. Classical Liberalism originated in Lockean justifications for the role of government in a free society. This philosophy was first applied in the American Revolution by greats like Jefferson, Madison and Mason.

Adam Kwasman

Adam Kwasman

To Classical Liberals, the concepts of “self-evident truths” and “unalienable rights” mean that our liberties are grounded in reason and natural law. Government exists, in its entirety, to protect those liberties. Modern Constitutional Conservatism is the 21st century application of Classical Liberalism as it contextualizes the realities of a century of welfare state growth, federal domination of the individual states and increasing coordination of government and the economy.

Constitutional conservatives reject the progressive machinations of both early 20th century Republicans and mid-to-late 20th century (and current) Democrats. Our aim is to keep the scope of the welfare state as narrow as possible, protecting the civil and economic liberties of the citizens, while reforming existing public programs in order to increase efficiency, maximize utility and reduce costs.

The progressive legal ideal for social engineering hit a low in 1927, with the Buck v. Bell U.S. Supreme Court decision. In the court’s majority decision upholding forced sterilization of individuals by a state, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (in)famously wrote “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Holmes’ bold statement was a milestone in the 20th century progressive movement. Social engineering was legally legitimized as a role of the states.

The eugenics movement in the United States hailed the Buck v. Bell decision as a victory for their cause. This movement had support in both parties, as Classical Liberalism’s philosophical dominance gave way to Progressive political economics. It was not until the emergence of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan (on the political side), and Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman (on the economic side) that the political economic winds shifted back toward liberty.

Upon learning that Russell Pearce said, “You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligation,” what comes to mind to Classical Liberals, like me, is an apparent deep-seated progressive inclination. What is striking about such words coming from Pearce, is that he has normally been aligned with the Constitutional Conservative wing of the Republican Party – currently made up of legislative leaders like Andy Biggs, David Gowan, Eddie Farnsworth and Steve Montenegro. Such statements wouldn’t surprise me if they were made by those Republicans in the big government, regulatory/spending-wing of the Republican Party, but insofar as they came from Pearce, I’m astonished.

Let the record show that Pearce’s comments were profoundly progressive and, in my opinion, betrayed a problematic misunderstanding of the proper moral justification of government. Rather than defending liberty, Pearce appears to prefer his own version of planning a society. Constitutional Conservatives reject such planning, finding beauty and compassion in defending life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

Constitutional Conservatives in Arizona should look toward our House and Senate leaders in finding a new champion for our cause. Pearce was right to resign from his leadership position in Arizona’s Republican Party, and I, for one, hope he is replaced by a leader who will proudly stand for the Classical Liberal principles that are the cornerstones of our party and our free society.

Republican Rep. Adam Kwasman of Oro Valley was a candidate for Congress in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.


  1. This commentary is incredibly stupid. I though the Arizona Capitol Times had higher standards than this.

  2. The sad sorry musings of Adam Klansman… err, Kwasman. The entire nation may remember this dishonest hack from his failed stunt at the border when he purported to read the emotion of the faces of a bus load of immigrant children but was busted for fabricating the event when others who were alongside him pointed out that it was a bus of kids off to camp gleefully snapping pictures on their smartphones of the assembled cadre of media and jackasses. He was caught lying on television and became the fodder of late night talk show hosts. Adam disgraced himself and the state of Arizona.

    Now, let’s take a look at this piece for what it is. Adam’s buddy said something disgraceful and now Adam is trying to distance himself from the comments and screaming to try and get voters to associate it with the word “progressive.” Yeah, I’m sure it would be real nice for Adam if voters thought Pearce was just being a progressive rather than the die hard Republican crusader he has always been. Adam’s historical account and analysis cleverly omits the dramatic shift in the political parties following the civil rights era in a sad attempt to make you think his friend Russell was somehow more aligned in his dream of sterilizing the poor with the Democratic party. Of course, that’s just more dishonest Adam. The truth is, sterilization campaigns have never been too popular outside of social Darwinist camps. However, the philosophy that Adam, Pierce and others like them espouse is just that- social Darwinism. They feel that those in society who need a helping hand are somehow inferior to those who have means at present. They use words like “moochers” and “takers” to refer to such people. After all, they’re part of Romney’s famous 47%. Sure, he cloaks his behavior is pseudo-intellectual gibberish and drops popular names like Reagan and Goldwater to try and fool you into believing that he is more like them than he is like Pearce but come on now- you’re not actually dumb enough to fall for that, our you?

    It doesn’t take a genius to see that after a district comes together and ousts an extremist from office in a historic recall election that it wasn’t a good idea to put that extremest in a leadership role. Adam is now forced to feign surprise that Pearce said what he said but truly, everyone else saw this coming a mile away. Pearce let the cat out of the bag and said what he, Adam, and pretty much all of the current Republicans at the state house actually believe.

    The voters in district 1 would do better to not send anyone at all to the Hill than to send this embarrassment. Adam should do the state a favor and go get himself a real job.

  3. Astonished that Rep Kwasman is astonished by Pearce’s views. Naïve doesn’t begin to describe it.

  4. Interesting that Kwasman believed the Liberal lie that Pearce generated this statement. He was reading from a well circulated letter from a Texas woman. Pearce went on to state that though he didn’t agree with her rant, he certainly understood the anger of people that continue to circulate the letter via email.

    Kwasman mixes progressive with conservative thought. Progressives chant that they want reproductive “choice”. As a result, now there is free female birth control, even though it was very cheap prior to Obamacare. And of course, they celebrate abortion.

    Yet we have millions of families with many children they cannot, nor could ever afford. So those of us who made good choices about when and how many children to have are forced, with NO choice to fund these children. Something is very wrong with picture.

    So Pearce tried to make the point that many of us Conservatives are so angry, we lash out with wild statements such as the one he read from. Liberals constantly make similar statements such as “old white people need to die, maybe we’ll help them do it.” Where is the outrage from media?

  5. For a guy who can’t distinguish a happy YMCA camper from a frightened illegal alien, I’m not terribly surprised that Adam Kwasman thinks Russell Pearce is “profoundly progressive”.

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