Last week-end, I got together with Texas Governor Rick Perry for an interview. I found him to be an extremely impressive guy over the phone. He has a great personality and is a terrific ambassador for the state of Texas.
What follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation. Enjoy!
Now you actually wrote a book about the Boy Scouts. Can you talk a little bit about the attack on the Boy Scouts launched by groups like the ACLU and what you think of them?
The Boy Scouts have been going through a host of attacks since the late ’70s. It started because of the word “God” in the pledge. Then it moved into the issue of girls being allowed into Boy Scout troops, and then the third attack, of course, was over having gays in the Scouts – so you had all three of those issues. Scouts are being attacked for their principled stand as a private organization and the ACLU wants to force their agenda on the Boy Scouts.
It has cost millions of dollars over the course of those years, defending against those lawsuits, making sure that the Scouts could still use “God” in their oath. Girl Scouts are there for a purpose and they serve a great purpose, but Boy Scouts should be able to be all-male, particularly at that age — and obviously, I strongly feel, as do most Scouting parents, the vast majority, that an openly gay Scout Master is not necessarily a productive thing to have in Boy Scouts. Scouting is not a place for sexuality to be taught, period. Not heterosexuality or homosexuality. That’s the reason the Scouts took that stand.
Now the latest attacks are an attempt to keep Scouts from being able to use “public facilities”. The most egregious one is in Philadelphia. It’s at a building that was built in the 1920′s, 1928 to be exact, by the Boy Scouts. It used Boy Scout labor and Boy Scout money was used to buy the materials. The building was finished and given to the City of Philadelphia by the Scouts with the understanding that they could use it at a dollar a year, or some other very minimum amount of rent. Then the city could use it for their purposes.
A couple of years ago, the Philadelphia City Council, calling the Boy Scouts a group that was discriminatory towards gays, stopped that building from being used by the Boy Scouts for the minimal amount of rent. Then they told them, listen, we’ll let you use it for $380,000 a year in rent. Well, obviously, that was just blackmail and the Scouts are fighting that in the courthouse and hopefully they’ll be successful. But it has cost a lot of money. That is one of the reasons I wrote the book. All the proceeds of On My Honor: Why The Values of the Boy Scouts of America Are Worth Fighting For go to the Boy Scout Legal Defense Fund.
Now over the last few years nationally, there have been a lot of very loopy conspiracy theorists who nevertheless got a lot of attention in some quarters over a local Texas issue, The Trans-Texas Corridor. They claim it’s part of a sinister plot to merge the United States, Mexico, and Canada into one country. Can you talk a little bit about the Trans-Texas Corridor, and put these people’s minds at ease?
If we had a federal government that was doing its job of protecting our citizens and protecting our border, the idea that there could be an interstate highway system that ran north and south as there is one that runs east and west, wouldn’t even be an issue other than, “When can you hurry up and get it built so we don’t have to be stuck in traffic when we hit Dallas, Texas or when we hit Austin, Texas or we hit San Antonio, Texas?” Yes, we have illegal immigration and illegal activities moving through our states, but not because we have a highway system. It’s because we have a federal government that has been an abject failure at protecting our borders. That’s the real issue here.
We all know we’re going to have to have highways — highways to move our loved ones from one point to another point, to move the commerce that occurs in our country. Texas is the number one exporting state in the nation. We obviously know we’re going to have to have some roads that go from the place we manufacture all those products to our ports, whether those ports of entry are along the Mexico border or whether they are at the Port of Houston.
The conspiracy theorists out there on the Trans-Texas Corridor, if they would turn their efforts towards the real culprit here, Washington D.C. and Washington D.C.’s absolute lack of support to defend our borders, to keep our borders safe and the citizens safe, then we could be making a great deal more progress rather than thinking and talking in terms of something that’s really not an issue.
Now there’s some talk that Kay Bailey Hutchinson may enter the primary this time around. That may happen or it may not, but if it does, what would you say to the Republicans voting in the primaries to why they should choose you over Kay Bailey Hutchinson?
Well, regardless of who may end up as my primary opponent or my general election opponent, I’m going to run on my record. Let me just tell you what some other people are saying about Texas.
For the last four years in a row, Texas has been the number one relocation destination for companies. In 2009, the state of Texas was called the best business climate by Business Facilities magazine. Five Texas cities among the top U.S. metros — that’s from the Brookings Institute, not exactly a bastion of conservative thought. Texas is the number one state for business and job growth for the fourth consecutive year in Chief Executive Magazine.
Look, I can go on and on and I’m only about a third of the way down a long list. The fact of the matter is a lot of third parties are saying the state of Texas is the place to live. It’s the place to grow — and it’s happening because we had good leadership that made good conservative decisions. We’ve kept our taxes low. We’ve kept our regulatory climate fair. We passed the most sweeping tort reform in America and we have a public school system that is accountable and, therefore, a skilled workforce is in place.
Caterpillar is coming to Texas to build every engine that they make in the world because we’ve created that type of climate. Business after business is packing up and moving to Texas. If there is a greater reason to continue that leadership, I don’t know what it is.
Now, I want to ask you about a quotation of yours. “I believe the Federal Government has become oppressive. I believe it’s become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state.” Explain that in a bit more detail.
I’m a very strong believer in the Constitution of the United States and our Bill of Rights. That 10th Amendment is a powerful part of a document that says clearly that the federal government was created as an agent of the states, not the other way around.
What we see today is just the opposite of that. A federal government that because of its size, because of its spending, because of its over-reaching into the lives of private citizens at a rate that we have never seen in the history of this country before…I greatly fear for our country’s future and I stand by those words.
Americans are scared, like their neighbors, that this government and this administration are doing things that are going to put America on a path that might be very, very difficult to change course from. So, my goal is to create a haven, is to put a blueprint in place, is to say, “Listen, other states, if you want to see how to be prosperous, here is the blueprint.”
I happen to believe that the future of the Republican Party and the future of conservative causes are in the states. It’s in places like Louisiana with Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour over in Mississippi, Mark Sanford in South Carolina, and Sarah Palin up in Alaska. Those are the places that are going to lead the resurgence of this country in the Republican Party and the conservative cause.
John, this is where the laboratory of experimentation matters. This is where we put into play our ideas. We experiment and we compete against each other. I go out and compete against those other 49 states every day. I put into place tax policies and regulations and a legal system that basically says “Hey, come to Texas and get to keep more of your money.” There’s a reason we don’t have a personal income tax in this state. It’s because it’s a competitive advantage for us.
So, I think the future of America is with the states. The more that I can help move the decision-making and the power away from Washington D.C. into the states, the more I’m going to try to do it because I truly believe with all my heart that the future of America lies in the states. If we continue to disempower Washington D.C. and empower the states, our country will be better off.
Now you took a great deal of criticism when you seemed to hint at a tea party that Texas has a right to secede and could conceivably exercise that right at some future point. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Here’s what I really think about the issue. It was an effort by the mainstream media to deflect from the discussion, the debate, and the intellectual engagement on the 10th Amendment. They are scared to death to debate and to talk about the 10th Amendment. So, therefore, they try to find this side issue. The side issue for them was that an individual at one of the tea parties said “secede.”
I mean, we sell t-shirts in Texas that have that on it all the time. Come on. It’s a part of the Texas mystique. It is part of what we pride ourselves on in the state of Texas. We’re able to say, “You know what, we’re different. We were a republic on our own. We left the country at one time.”
Now if a bunch of pointy-headed lawyers want to go have the discussion over whether it can happen again — I’ll let them do that. The fact of the matter is that I don’t want to secede. I want to help America heal itself. I want to help get this country back on track and I happen to think our state can help lead that effort.
So, those that want to go off on this rabbit trail of saying “Oh my gosh, he actually almost, almost darn near said the word secession. Isn’t he a strange one?” Well, that’s just a deflection from the real issue.
Let’s have an intellectual discussion of the 10th Amendment, a right that is so simple, that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. Pretty simple, pretty straight forward and the libs and the mainstream media – oh, I guess I repeated myself — don’t want to do that because they know they will lose that discussion. They don’t want people talking about how Washington has become this huge monolithic, over-reaching, overbearing, over-taxing monstrosity.
You did a fantastic job, Governor. Thanks for doing the interview.
Well, come to Texas. We’ll save a place for you. We’ve got a lot of room out here.