Congressional District 36’s runoff between Ben Streusand and Brian Babin is the subject of controversial and acrimonious debate. Whilst Babin supporters decry Streusand as a furtive finagler and “Washington insider” set on “buying” a House seat, Babin is lauded as a honest East Texan who has spent most of his life within the arbitrarily drawn district lines which allegedly bear cultural and ideological significance. (Or so say Babin’s supporters, who impute these qualities to the administrative borders.)
Meanwhile, Streusand—who has spent two decades studying political figures, honing his debate skills, probing into laissez-faire economics, and working with the conservative organization Americans for Prosperity—is not only underestimated, but attacked for qualities and experience worthy only of praise.
Supporters attempt to portray Babin as a working man’s hero and a conservative steady. Babin is an honorable man, and as far as ideology and policy goes, a fairly faithful conservative. However, there does seem to be more to the story.
While it’s clear that Babin isn’t comparable to Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, or Eric Cantor (any such comparisons or attacks are merely speculation), research makes evident that Streusand is the more dependable and strategic of the two—and as a plus, Streusand’s economic knowledge makes him a firm favorite from a Misesian standpoint.
True to the last
Babin and Streusand hold many things in common; in the past both of them have had governmental leadership positions, but the similarity ends there—these men responded to their roles in dramatically varied manners.
Appointed in 2002, Streusand served on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and in 2011 became a member of the Texas Pre-Paid Higher Tuition Fund’s board of directors. Raising taxes a total of six times—and on one occasion by as much as 187%—Babin apparently betrayed his conservative principles during his time as Woodville’s mayor, city councilman, and later as a member of the Lower Neches Valley Authority.
As far as policy, positions, political actions, and votes go, the Babin camp can find nothing substantial with which to attack Streusand—who can best be described as “true to the last.”
Only a pea shooter?
In matters of economic knowledge and ideological thought, Streusand holds a strong advantage over Babin. Economic arguments will be at least one crucial factor in these candidates’ effectiveness in Congress, equipping them with the ideological strength they need to oppose Washington’s debacles. Sending a man with little or no economic knowledge to Congress is like sending a soldier armed with a pea shooter into enemy territory.
Streusand, as his volunteers are quick to add, places a high priority on explaining why he believes what he believes. Well-versed in 20th and 21st-century free enterprise economists, he is familiar with not only Misesian theory but the Austrian School of Economics, Adam Smith’s theories of capitalism, and likely the most relevant Washington issue, the ins and outs of the Federal Reserve. He is well-equipped for the hostile environment in the House.
Principles should not be whimsically accepted, but carefully considered and adopted when reason and morality point that direction. Streusand is the one candidate who appears to have a tangible, logical reason for everything that he supports and additionally, an argument to defend his logic. In campaign speeches and elsewhere, he points to economic concepts, principles of Common Law, and God-given rights that define his standpoints.
The Constitution is not the reason for conservatism, nor should it be treated like one: it’s the supporting evidence for the real reason, and a restraining order for those who would ignore it.
Meanwhile, Babin points to “constitutional” rights and constitutional rights alone. If a piece of paper (albeit an important one) is the one thing that defines Brian Babin’s arguments and political views, it does not bode well for his potential constituents. Constitutional arguments have severe limits: chronological, practical, and logical. Men are fallible and don’t last forever. The same goes for their documents—it’s one reason why conservatives cannot live on Constitutional arguments alone. As a result, Babin would likely be short work in a House floor debate.
The Law of Association
Finally, the political “Law of Association” gives one last contrast between Babin and Streusand: endorsements, supporters, and issues. Who endorses a candidate, who supports a candidate, what issues the campaign brings up, and how the candidates attack the other reveals a plenitude of between-the-lines political knowledge.
The Beaumont Enterprise is head over heels in love with this man’s ideology. If Babin is what he claims to be, what does the Enterprise see in him that’s worthy of an endorsement?
For instance, in 2008 the Beaumont Enterprise endorsed Barack Obama, the most left-leaning U.S. President of all time. In 2012, they endorsed democrat Max Martin for Congressional District 36, the same seat in question on May 27. It should raise a red flag—or perhaps several—that in 2014, the publication has endorsed Brian Babin and is willing to show shameless bias in his favor.
Babin has an impressively lengthy list of endorsements, but there’s nothing impressive about the content.
On the other hand, faithful conservative organizations with prestigious endorsements have shown sincere support for Streusand: Gun Owners of America, Texas Alliance for Life, Pro-Life Nation, and the Texas Home School Coalition are only a few of the reliable nationally operative organizations that have stood behind Streusand and his liberty-oriented positions on gun rights, abortion, and education (to name a few).
Babin attacks Streusand for the location of his residence; Streusand attacks Babin for tax increases and ideological flaws. Babin plays to partisan emotions when he calls Streusand an “outsider” for living outside district lines and an “insider” for having economic and political experience; Streusand appeals to those interested in real and relevant issues. What a candidate attacks is the inverse of what he will defend. Going by what his campaign attacks, Babin seems to have adopted a formula for increasing political tension and strengthening establishment cliques. Streusand, however, should be commended for refraining from personal attacks and focusing on only Babin’s policy blunders.
Good, Better, Best
With even allegedly “conservative” legislators bowing at the altar of cronyism, with lawmakers yielding to the forces of government oppression, and with even the people’s advocates surrendering to corruption and despair, Texas needs a champion to represent the people of District 36. On May 27th, it’s important that you vote not only for a good man, but for the better man—vote for Ben Streusand.