UPDATE: The campaign now has an official website. You can see it here.
Thanks to my friend, Rod Dreher, the news is out that I am running for the 8th Congressional district seat in West Tennessee. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of friendship and goodwill that has arrived from friends and brothers and sisters in Christ in the wake of the news. Their good opinion and encouragement helps me to walk out on the field and to run the race.
I am not running out of a desire to check a career box. My goal in life was to write books and to teach and speak. God has been gracious to allow me to achieve those goals and to enjoy a loving wife and children. I do not crave office or the difficulties of coordinating a life in Washington, D.C. and a life in Jackson, Tennessee.
I am running because I feel called to do so. The people in this district hold the same values and beliefs that are dear to me. I have spent much of my adult life trying to represent their views in the court of public opinion and in academic discussion. It is important to me that their convictions are well-advocated and strongly defended in the American capitol. I believe that I am prepared to do that work.
As Chief Justice Roberts warned in his dissent to the Obergefell decision, a right not found in the Constitution (gay marriage) is now likely to threaten one that actually is present in the text of the First Amendment. Religious liberty is already under attack as Christians in the wedding trades are discovering. But see also non-profit organizations such as the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor. Without a vigorous defense, it is entirely possible that orthodox Christian organizations will be severely marginalized as part of the non-profit sector in American life. I think that result is wrong because religious liberty helps us to live together in peace whereas the lack of it puts us into conflict with each other. It is also wrong because government should try to avoid putting its citizens into a crisis between God and Caesar. The state must not overreach.
I should add that many of the large corporations in the United States are not friends of religious liberty. They are not friendly to accommodations for religion and conscience. Part of that is because they are slaves to elite opinion in many cases. And part of it is simply in their nature. Big Business tends to be pretty comfortable with Big Government.
While religious liberty is the issue that most strongly drives my sense that I should run, I will also be as good an ally as the pro-life cause could have. Likewise, I will be an implacable foe to the agenda of Planned Parenthood. While I recognize that people of good will believe strongly in abortion rights, we cannot escape the reality that the unborn deserve to be protected as members of the human race and not as merely a part of the mother.
Another reason I am running is in an attempt to moderate the appetites of the state. I look at the virtual printing press of regulations that pour out of Washington and the thousand page bills few can read and understand and see threats to freedom and self-government. If we make our government too complex, too unwieldy, and too expensive, we will sap the initiative of our people and cause them to wither under the weight of something that overpowers them. We need a simpler government that does fewer things better. It should be easy to work, easy to do business, and easy to pay taxes. Government is first and foremost a hammer. It is the one entity in our society that operates with a legal monopoly on the use of violence. We should resort to it as little as possible. There is good that government can do, but it should rarely be our first answer.
I also believe economic freedom is critical to the future of our young people. Every year, I watch a new group of graduates leave our university in search of opportunity. The same process occurs across the globe. Opportunity tends to shrink as government spending dominates the economy. The more free and dynamic our economy can be, the more likely it is that the young and generations following them will be able to make a good start in life.
Something We Should Expect from Candidates
Office holding too often becomes a device for generating great fortunes. We might look to the Clintons as a grand example, but there are many others on both sides of the ideological divide who turn office into millions. We deserve representatives who do not see Congress as a career or wealth-building opportunity. With my yes being yes and my no being no, I will tell you that I will not go to Congress only to become a lobbyist and influence peddler when I’m done. I will go to defend life, religious liberty, and to moderate the appetites of the state so that freedom and self-government remain. That will be the whole of my mission. When I am done, I will return to the district and take up my old life if I am able.