As you may have noticed, Glenn has been increasingly focusing outside of Washington, DC for solutions. Yes, elections are still important, but the primary battleground is at home and in the culture. That said, it remains vital to elect good people to represent us in DC.
First off, we're introducing you to Ben Sasse, a Tea Party favorite who is running for a vacant Senate seat in Nebraska. Glenn has interviewed Ben Sasse on the program before, and it was on the radio show that Sasse's primary opponent Shane Osborne revealed his relationship with progressive Republican Grover Norquist.
Watch the interview below:
We have Ben Sasse now from Nebraska, running for an open senate seat. He's dirt strong, a constitutionalist. If the GOP wouldn't have destroyed all the other constitutionalists, we would have had more races like this one, I believe. He's now up 20 points. They are not taking polls anymore. It's like why waste the money on the polls. Ben is with us now. How are you?
SASSE: Hi, Glenn. Good to be on. Hope my wife isn't listening because when you refer to me as something to get out of the system she will call and say amen.
GLENN: How are you doing as a family? You never know. It all depends on who goes out to vote. If everyone thinks you are going to win, they may not go out and vote, but the idea of now being the guy going in to the lion's den, how is it sitting with you and the family?
SASSE: We have been blessed this year. We are nearly out of our voices, having lived 13 Mondays out of the campaign bus, so we are tired, but we have had a blast. Our kids, are 13, 10 and 3 and they have gotten to see every nook and cranny of 93 counties in the state but also subsector of agriculture and they have -- it's been an encouraging learning experience for us, so we are doing really well.
GLENN: How's that affected the kids?
SASSE: We live a mile from where I grew up in the eastern part of the state. Nebraska knows that's the row crapping part of the state, corn field, bean fields. Central America Nebraska is becoming cattle country. Nebraska is the largest cattle state now, and my 13-year-old daughter jokes that we spent so much time with ranchers this year, she could deliver a breach calf.
GLENN: The president needs to fill Eric Holder's spot. He nominates someone you think is qualified, but not someone you think believes in the Constitution. Do you vote to confirm, seeing your duty as simple advise and consent or do you vote against someone you don't feel as qualified to be the chief law enforcement officer in the land?
SASSE: The oath of office is to uphold and defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. So if your hypothetical someone who doesn't believe in the Constitution as actually written is not the right guy to be enforcing the laws. We need a Constitutional recovery in this country. We only have, according to recent poll, 36% of the elect rat even knows we have three branches of government. We have a crisis. The founders wouldn't think we could exist in that vacuum. We need every moment possible to help hour folks understand what the glory the Constitutional system is, so we need to pass it on.
GLENN: Another hypothetical. You are in the senate and the president is pressuring these states to not take and quarantine Ebola victims. This is happening now. You believe that hypothetically speaking, we should stop the air travel even from West Africa, not necessarily to, but from West Africa, without a quarantine. What do you do?
SASSE: I think there are two different parts of that. The first one is we are fortunate to have a federalist system where you have layers of government, so we don't want in the American system to consolidate power at this distant place called Washington, D.C. Washington exists for a limited number of things. There are really important duties, but they are enumerated. So most decisions, wherever possible, should be made at the state and local level. If governors and mayors think a quarantine is in order, they are closest to their people and know the circumstances. So we'd want to respond to the lowest levering of government where possible.
Obviously, on something like a public health pandemic crisis, isn't contained inside some geographic border, so Washington has important responsibilities. Right now the administration can't explain with any clarity why they are opposed to a hiatus and pause on granting new visas from the three most affected countries. It is really bizarre.
Your hypothetical lays out the distinction between travel from and travel to. One someone asks why would we grant new visa, when we don't understand what's happen October ground in Liberia, why risk the pandemic coming here. And the administration responds with this bizarre kind of "run out the clock" by pontificating about how you don't want to solve the problem. The best way to solve the problem is on the ground, closest to the point of origin, so that's in Liberia, the U.S., particularly through the CDC has important responsibilities, and we should deploy folks, public and private sector, to Liberia, but the administration doesn't answer with any coherence.
GLENN: Next hypothetical. Baghdad falls. We have the largest embassy, larger than the Vatican, the largest embassy in the world cost us --
PAT: I think several billion.
GLENN: Hundreds of billions. Maybe three-quarters of a trillion dollars. Most expensive. It's bigger than the mall in Washington D.C., bigger than Vatican City. It's own country.
STU: Real estate in Iraq can't be that expensive.
GLENN: Spent at lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of bloodshed --
STU: $1 billion, by the way. That's a lot of money.
SASSE: It's early Monday morning. Who's going to argue about three more decimal places?
GLENN: So we spent money, time and treasure. We are days perhaps within the fall of Baghdad. What do you do in the Senate?
SASSE: I'm not duck your question, but I think your crisis is a lot bigger than that, so I'll back up one step. I think the crisis is we don't have any coherence about what the medium and long-term U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives are in the Middle East. When you travel all day on a bus, as we have been doing for months, talking to Nebraskans, some people, if they came and rode the bus and listened to our folks on the ground, they may hear isolationism, but that's not what I think our people are saying. They are saying they are really, really aware that the sword a dangerous place and there are blood-thirsty terrorist organizations that will fill vacuums that arise and the kind of miniaturization technology that exists, where you can port nuclear technologies across the globe in stuff the size of a large travel suit case, the U.S. has responsibilities to stop terror networks and jihadi groups of global terror reach, but our folks are skeptical of giving any authority to politicians of either political party that are driven by the next media economical rather than articulating a long-term policy. When we make a commitment, our allies should know they can trust us and enemies should know to fears. Right now we don't have that with Israel. Israel doesn't think they can trust us and our enemies don't fear us. I think the bigger problem is the ungoverned regions in Pakistan, large parts of Afghanistan, and these kinds of places can swallow the vacuums could expand and swallow a place like Baghdad and making a single city decision is not the right choice. The right choice is we need to be articulating a long-term policy that explains that if a jihadi group believes they kill in the name of religion, we opposed to them, no matter on if they are on this side or that side of Afghani-Pakistani border. That doesn't mean we can eradicate everybody, but it does mean if one of the terror groups has global reach, they should know to fear us. Right now they don't.
GLENN: None of these are really hypotheticals. All of these are going to happen with you as a senator, most likely. The election is over, the president decides he's just going to grant amnesty. He's already printed 9 million green cards. More are supposedly on the way, but he's already ordered up 9 million green cards. He grants amnesty. What do you do?
SASSE: Yeah. I sure hope that isn't where we are headed. Hope we are not headed to --
GLENN: We are headed towards that exact place.
PAT: I think it will happen by executive action.
SASSE: His pen and phone a speech from last year sets up the predicate for those kind of actions, but it is a direct attack on his constitutional responsibilities. Our big problem, though, is that the president can say, if the Congress doesn't pass the laws he wants them to, it is not that big of a deal to him because he has a pen and phone. Even bigger than that act is the belief that so much of the American electorate doesn't understand he doesn't have those freedoms.
So we have to have a long-term civic re-education, but the Congress has to start by affirming the three separate but equal branches. And the power of the purse, powers of oversight as well, but the power of the purse is what gives that teeth. Need to begin by only funding those parts of agencies that have the authority to do that. So the president can't do what you are proposing, but executive branch officials also can't execute those kind of edicts if they don't have fund to do it, so we need to be sure we start to bring the American people along, moving step by step incrementally to funding those parts of executive agencies that are aligned with the missions of legislation that reaction gave them the authority to act. According to one recent study, only about a third of all the activities of EPA actually have any legislative authorization. They just used rule-making process to make up law now. That's a crisis, but the bigger crisis is that the public doesn't understand it.
GLENN: How do you feel about -- where's your support coming from? Because you are very, very clear on who you are. The GOP would say you are an extremist. The GOP is not going your way. They are saying people with your point of view is the reason why the GOP is in trouble, yet, you are one of the only senators running that have any real support and real run-away poll numbers. What do you attribute it to?
SASSE: We don't pay a ton of the attention to the polls. There are numbers out there that are pretty gaudy. I have never run for anything before. I'm a 42-year-old nonpolitician, so I won't believe it until the election is over, but we have been running hard in all 93 counties. No one's ever really, in the history of member politics built a field structure in all 93 counties. We have a campaign in every county. I have done town halls in every county. When you travel 93 counties, our people believe great American stuff. They just draw that basic fundamental distinction that all Americans used to be able to draw between federal programs and bureaucracies and the meaning of America. They are not the same thing. Washington has some responsibilities, but America is a lot bigger than Washington's mandates and tacks and prohibitions. The meaning of America is neighbor helping neighbor. It's small business people and farmers and ranchers that build the future. It's what happens on Sunday morning the motivation that has people want to put on the uniform and serve to defend our freedoms and pass it on to the next generation, but all that is so much bigger than the small subset of America. So there's a danger of saying this in a way that sounds -- my 10-year-old was on a bus with us one day, there was a reporter riding with us and she tried to frame up this question. It had so many caveats at the front that it said the only people who must support you are right wing crazy people that want to shut down the government. She framed the question that there was nothing you could really say. She has parsed everybody by gender, race, socioeconomic class and job type and whether they like green or red bicycles. Almost nothing left to say. I just paused. And my daughter looked at her and said ma'am, we want all the votes. And what she was getting at is I really believe that there are lots of sensible democrats in Nebraska. I disagree with them on certain things about federal policy, but you should be able to agree with them about the larger constitutional structure. I think that's what's happening on the ground.
STU: He's going for a unanimous vote here.
GLENN: Ben Sasse from Nebraska, running for the open Senate seat running away with it at this point. We wish you all the best, Ben. Thank you.
SASSE: Benfornebraska.com, if your listeners are interested in more.