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Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) proudly proclaimed at CPAC the virtues of “democratic capitalism over a centralized government-managed economy.” He called on office-seekers and office holders to put their faith in the American people. If they do that, he said, then the people –including Soccer Moms, Tea Party supporters, Mamma Grizzlies, and small business owners—will stand alongside them in putting the country back on the right track.

Governor Barbour clearly understands that growing the federal government’s size diminishes the powers of the people. He said that the last election was “a stunning rejection” of leftist political philosophy that is  fundamentally at odds with our founding. He said that the $1 trillion stimulus program produced more government to the detriment of jobs and our economic well-being, and he recognized that “every dollar taxed or spent by the federal government” is a dollar taken from the people. A bigger government, he said, equals a smaller economy.

The Governor blasted the Obama administration for curtailing the development of America’s vast energy resources. He criticized it for favoring a European-style approach to energy where gas is eight to nine dollars per gallon.

On social issues, he pointed out that early on in his first gubernatorial term the legislature signed onto his pro-life agenda with the result being that Americans United for Life declared Mississippi to be the safest state in America for an unborn child.

The Governor gave a very promising speech. He has an appreciation for our founding and for the American people. That’s something that is often lacking in office-holders, among both Democrats and Republicans. He is not afraid to use the word “capitalism,” and he understands that it is inextricably related to democracy. He understands, too, the travesty of an increasingly centralized government; it marginalizes the people, and gives power to unelected bureaucrats.

As with the other speakers, I would like to hear more from the Governor over the coming months. How would things look under his administration? What are some of the other ways in which he would return power to the states and to the people? On education, does he agree with those (including some Republicans) who like a strong federal role, or does he favor the American tradition that education policy-making should be close to the people? What qualities would he look for in judicial nominees? What are his thoughts on marriage and life? What are his views on monetary policy?

It is early in the process. But the candidates who first lay out a comprehensive vision will be viewed as leaders. The others will be viewed as followers. And the people will want to elect a leader.

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