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A Few Words About America

Vicki McKenna

Welcome back to the program – Vicki McKenna Show.  Another break here on the program. I’ve been hearing a lot since, basically, the Obamacare debate about various, different organizations that are out there looking to represent the interests of senior citizens, particularly senior citizens with regard to retirement benefits, like Medicare, Social Security, that are conservative alternatives to AARP.

One of the ones that has gone kind of above and beyond some of the other groups out there is an organization called AMAC – The Association of Mature American Citizens – I think I’ve got it – I just call it AMAC. Bobby Charles is on the phone with me, a spokesman for the organization to talk about it. A vigorously conservative organization that actually makes sure there are members to lobby individual congressional representatives as opposed to just, you know, raising money, doing ads, and doing email campaigns. It’s good to have you on the program.

Robert Charles

Well, thank you very much Vicki. When you… when you say you’re vigorously conservative as an organization what do you mean by vigorously concerned, because you know there’s some other conservative alternatives out there, but you guys you do tend to take it further? Well, I would say that AMAC really is the standout. They’ve got more than two million members, and when they talk about being conservative… So, the reason I’m working with them is that I worked in the Reagan White House and Reagan – really, they always said Reagan was elected on six words. And those words were strong defense, smaller government, lower taxes. Of course, he had a great moral compass and he also had a great self-deprecating sense of humor.

And, so, and then later I litigated for some years and clerked on the US Court of Appeals for Reagan-appointee and then I ended up on the Bush White House – Bush 41 – and later ended up working as the assistant secretary for Colin Powell managing Iraq and Afghanistan issues and, eventually, AMAC is sort of the next evolution in my thinking, because I think there are a lot of organizations – AARP is one of them – that say, well, we represent older Americans, and what do they do? They really have a twin agenda. They do some things that are favorably disposed to things like keeping Social Security solvent, but most of the time they’re off on a liberal sort of, you know, a liberal direction, and what AMAC said is, look there are some things in the world that really matter.

Whether this country stays solvent really matters. Whether the southern border stays secure really matters. A lot of older Americans, over fifty, are veterans. I spent ten years as a Navy Intelligence Officer. You know, my father and grandfather are buried at Arlington. There is a strong disposition toward believing that defense of the country’s sovereignty matters. In the generation that is, sort of – well, the generations above fifty – a lot of them are also frankly, nine-out-of-ten over-fifty still have some affiliation with their faith. That’s not true in the lower age cohorts. The lower down you go, the more people sort of separate themselves from faith. And there are other issues. One of the things I find most interesting is that older Americans tend to be very patriotic.

So, what does that mean? It boils down to advocating in Washington for the First Amendment, free speech, freedom of worship, free exercise, that is, of religion, as well as association. The Second Amendment, pretty straightforward, if you don’t have that one you don’t have any of the others. The Fourth Amendment, you know, which is, again, you know protections against search and seizure, among other things. The Fifth, the Sixth, the Ninth, the Tenth. And I think what happens is, Constitutional Conservatives – we know what that means when we’re over the age of fifty. We have a grounding in history. We know America is not a mistake, it’s not an accident. It is the function of a lot of sacrifice and a lot of risk-taking. Some failures and, ultimately, resilience and success. And this organization, AMAC, is really about the idea of keeping those very fundamental aspects of being America, and American, alive. So, do they represent and argue for medical benefits? You bet they do. Lower prescription prices, etc. But they also argue for fundamental conservative thinking, which I think of as sort of all-American common sense.

McKenna

I’ll tell you what, you’ve got people over the age of 50, I’m 51, so Gen X. And we kind of look at what’s going on with the younger generation and we say, what the hell? I mean, now, they’ve got various – they’ve got Twitter, they’ve got whatever, in ways that they can organize themselves and we really don’t. When you think of, sort of, mature Americans that – we couldn’t necessarily say senior citizens, because that hearkens to retirement age – it’s older Americans. It’s late middle age and older Americans that we’re talking about here. How do you organize the enthusiasm for first principles, as you were saying? How do you organize enthusiasm for patriotism? And you’re an organization trying to do just that?

Charles

Yeah, excellent question, and in fact, it’s an important question, because the older you get – I mean, I’m 58. Actually, my mother’s 83 and she does use social media, but most folks in their 80s aren’t used to social media, so how do you organize them? I think one of the most remarkable things is that there is a hunger and Trump gets it, but a lot of people don’t get it. There is a deep hunger for these core principles, the sort of natural law principles that are embodied in our Bill of Rights, and the Democrats have largely abandoned this fight. You know interestingly, this organization organizes people in a sort of a simple local basis. Yes, eventually they come to Washington and eventually they spend time talking to members of Representatives, but they – at members of Congress – but they are also in many ways, crystallizing what already exists.

They’re putting the puzzle pieces together and allowing older Americans to simply recognize in an interactive way, every day, with everything from – they’ve got a great magazine by the way, on top of all the benefits, 40% off here and there, they have a quarterly magazine that I also write for that I think is really spectacular, AMAC Advantage, but they also have, you know, website, they have newsletters. They’re very dedicated to whatever it takes to get to the American that still cares about America, they’re going to get there. And I’ll just add a footnote by contrast. You know, I write several columns a week, I write for Fox, I write for AMAC, and I just wrote one on this business about these two congresswoman going over to Israel and just making a farce of their role, and I argued – which I think is quite accurate, having spent five years running a committee on the hill – that there ought to be some kind of censure for the kind of blatant anti-Semitism that they’re pushing.

And yet, ironically enough, you don’t hear any Democrats speaking up to say, yeah, we shouldn’t be doing that. That’s really not – that’s not what we’re made of. And I think it betrays something quite interesting and that is that this President, who of course did stand up for Israel and has stood up for a lot of the early principles as well as early allies and longtime allies, is slowly peeling off a lot of the old Democrat coalition. He first went after the working class at large, which Reagan did, incidentally, in the early 1980 ‘s. He completely realigned the Republican party so that blue-collar America lined up behind him.

I just saw a poll that says that twenty percent more Hispanics favor Trump’s policies and would vote for him today, than voted for him in 2016 , and a similar number, twenty percent, in black America, and now you look at what are the Democrats doing, they always tended to be the default for a lot of the Jewish community in America for reasons that probably had to do with social policy, but now they’ve kind of abandoned any defense of Israel and who’s stepping into the gap, or the breach, and that’s the President.

He’s saying, look, we have our allies around the world and it may be Taiwan and it may be Colombia and it may be Europe and it may be… it may be, you know, a Scandinavian country or it may be Israel, and we’re going to stand with our allies, and we’re not going to back away from them, which is a return, very much, to the Reagan-era thinking that there are core principles. And they need to be defended. And they, if you don’t defend them, they don’t get passed on to the next generation of leaders and they don’t get passed on to the next generation generally. So…

McKenna

I’ll say this too… I also don’t see a lot of just specific groups are out there and saying, we are for patriotism, we’re for first principles, we are for classic American values – there’s different groups and that’s great. You’ve got the NRA, you’ve got pro-life groups out there, you’ve got these, you know, then they do their thing. But you don’t have someone just, kind of, trying to coalesce all of these sorts of basic American issues. Trump does a very good job of telegraphing that. You know who doesn’t do a very good job of taking that Telegraph and broadcasting it, and that is the Republican Party. From time to time they get scared, so where do we go to sort of coalesce our beliefs about first principles? This is one of the very few sorts of holistic groups in that respect.

Charles

Yes, that’s right. Well, I think what’s beautiful about this group is that they are what they say they are and that leads – you know, authenticity goes an awful long way in a world of plastic and mirror. And, I think one of the things this group is doing to coalesce is they’re really, in a way – I’m trying to think of the right word for it – but it’s like taking this diffused light and putting it through a magnifying glass and illuminating certain, very specific issues and I think they’re giving courage to others in the Republican Party and elsewhere, frankly, even conservative Democrats. I think one of the things people forget, in working with Ronald Reagan, they forget the kind of character he was and I saw it every day, and I think one of the most remarkable things about him is that he was so clear in his understanding of the core values of this country, almost like one of the founders, that every time I watched him walk into a room, and speak, I really thought that he thought that the people he was speaking to either already understood the enormity, that the magnitude, the significance, the rightness of what he was about to say, whether by the time he was done they would.

And they almost always did. And I think that if you approach things, as AMAC does, with that sentiment, that notion that right is right and wrong is wrong and moral relativism is wrong, then you’re going to bring people around you naturally. They’re going to say what can I do to preserve that truth. You know, and I’ll just say one last thing, and that is that truth is really what dialogue and discussion and politics was always about at the founding. People didn’t criticize each other for changing their minds, because they were in the pursuit of truth. And that truth was embodied in the Bill of Rights and was made functional in our Constitution. And if we walk away from that, we’ve walked away from the very cornerstone of what this country is, and I truly hope – I truly wish – that every generation, not just the AMAC generation, but every generation understands that we are blessed beyond belief.

This particular country is, in-fact, unique in the world. It is exceptional. We’ve gone to war twice to save the world and, frankly, we’ve, in peripheral ways, dedicated our young men and women to that same purpose and I feel very proud every single day to wake up and work with this group, AMAC, and I think most people would be to be members, and I think most of us are to be American.

McKenna

You know, I think the idea of trying to find a way to pass along the heritage of American exceptionalism – just that on its own – is a noble and laudable cause, because I’m telling you, I don’t know, when you have a – we in my generation, the boomer generation as well, abandoned their kids to government schools, to indoctrination process, and trusted that the government would somehow, you know, keep the flame. And then we woke up one day and it crept up on us, to be to be sure – I remember Rush years ago called it Creeping Incrementalism – it crept up on us one day and we said what the hell just happened? And now we have an entire generation of young people – I just saw survey; 14% of them call themselves Republicans, 23% of college students call themselves independents, leaning-left, the rest of them call themselves progressives or socialists, and that’s what we’ve- I don’t know how we let that happen, but it’s good to fight back.

Charles

One way we reverse that is by being courageous enough to boldly speak the truth and that’s true in our families and communities. It’s true of those that have the courage to run for office. I wrote a book last year, which I encourage anybody to get, it was written in 2018 called “Eagles and Evergreens” and actually, if you do a five-year membership to AMAC, you get a signed copy of it, but it’s a book about – took ten years to write – it’s about the World War II veterans and their values and how they pass them on in a small town in Maine, to me and my generation, which was, sort of, two beyond them. And it’s the critical nature of this self-sacrifice and selflessness. The risk-taking. The idea that it is okay to fail.

Everyone will not get a trophy, but you do better the next time, and work harder the next time, with the lessons you’ve learned this time, and it’s a book that is actually 45 stories – they’re real all true stories – about all those things that make character in a way, growing up in a small town and the values that actually remain timeless. I’d like to think a thousand years from now most of the Bill of Rights and most of the values that are taught – the best values that are taught today, and we’re taught to us by that World War II generation, will remain values of significance. But they only they only remain values of significance if we pass them down intentionally and talk about them. As Reagan says, they’re not passed down through the DNA. So, that’s what this group AMAC does and I’m very proud to be working with them.

McKenna

And it also implicitly, does not take 50-plus for granted like so many other political groups do. You know, we’ll just pat the senior citizens on the head, and we’ll expect them, you know what I mean, we’ll expect them to still vote for us. We won’t take their concerns seriously either. But, again, it’s also not explicitly a group that is only saying things that are relevant to people in my generation and above. So, everyone should check it out. If you haven’t already heard of the organization, I know Glenn Beck is a big supporter of the organization, a lot of other people have – I know Rush has talked about it. I just wanted to, you know, I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about these groups out there that are sort of first principle groups. You know why? Because there aren’t that many of them, so thanks.

Charles

No, AMAC is the – is leading the charge and thank you for doing what you’re doing.

McKenna

Thank you very much for coming on the program today, I appreciate it. Bobby Charles, on the show, I have to take a quick break, we’ll be back to wrap this up in just a second.

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