Tough Choices: A Heartfelt Message to You

You know, it is really hard to stick to your principles when times get tough.

The RNC and the Tea Party movement -- the movement was the community that built itself up, rooted in principles with a -- with a new authentic voice. And when the Tea Party spoke up, the RNC said, "We hear you. We're with you. We're all working towards the same place." And the movement trusted the party, and we joined with them and we accomplished some of our goals and moved the ball a little way down the field. And we got some good guys elected. And we were told we were making progress on tax reform and on Obamacare.

But as things progressed, we start to notice that some of the actions from the RNC didn't match their words. That the RNC was telling us what they thought we wanted to hear, but they were just going forward with their own agenda and doing exactly what they wanted to do. And it was all about money and power. It had nothing to do with the people.

We thought as a community -- we as a community, we wanted -- we wanted something that was important to us and something that had been promised to us. But we wanted it so badly, we began to believe -- and we kept working and kept trusting and volunteered more hours and got even more guys elected. Until finally, it became clear that even some of the new guys were falling into step with the old party line, and none of the things we hoped for or sacrificed were actually happening. It was an illusion. And you can give up or you can pick yourself up.

We see now the reality is that the managers at the RNC were not heading in the same direction that we were. They never intended to go that way. They don't hold our same principles, our same values. And that's why so many people are angry and disillusioned today. We're aware now of what the RNC was really up to. And we can see that they are headed into a different direction and a different goal. In fact, I don't even think we're playing the same game.

So now we have to make decisions. What do you do? You can -- you can say a lot of my work has been for naught. Or you can make hard decisions. Are we going to stick by our principles and continue to be honest with ourselves and stand for what we believe in, or are we going to give in, give up, or give in to the status quo, go along to get along?

I know for me and I think for everybody in this community, we are making the hard choices. We're choosing principles over power. We're staying true to the Constitution, even in the face of hardship and derision. But even when many in our own party are calling us names and trying to pull us down, it gets tough, but we keep going. And when others try to drag you into the mud, that's when you have to stand the strongest, maybe even push back a little.

Remember who you really are and keep working towards your goals. I wanted to start there today because there's a story that maybe you have read that came out yesterday that is talking about how yesterday my company, TheBlaze, laid off 40 people. And my media empire is crumbling. And part of it is because I'm traveling around with Ted Cruz.

Well, I want you to know, yes, I've lost a lot of money traveling around with Ted Cruz. I've lost about half a million dollars. That's my choice. I believe in something.

Did that cause the 40 people to lose their job? No.

I want to talk to you today because we're in a community together, and I trust you. And I tried to be trustworthy. And when I make a mistake, I own up to it. And I'm a trusting guy.

I think anybody on the show will tell you my biggest problem is I trust everybody, until they prove otherwise. And I try to live my life in a transparent way. And I try to surround myself with others that I believe are trustworthy.

And then I went on to build my own company with an authentic voice, a trustworthy company. And one of my main principles -- and you heard me saying Isaiah it a million times: We take on no debt. Root ourselves in principles and people. Live within our own means.

And I trusted the people that ran my company, that they wanted the same things. And in the beginning, maybe they did want the same things. But a couple of years ago, I realized there were problems in my own company, and that even though the managers were all saying the right things to me, those things were never getting done. And you know this to be true. Because I would talk about things that we were going to do on TheBlaze and everything else, and then they never seemed to materialize. And I was losing credibility with you, but behind the scenes, I was a holy terror for about a year because I couldn't find out what was going on.

Without saying anything bad about anybody because we just have different principles, the people I had moved down to Dallas and the rest was in New York and Los Angeles and Washington, DC -- and we were working now towards being, I guess, a normal, status quo kind of media company, a big media company, and I didn't ever want that.

But because our team was split from Dallas, Los Angeles -- I think we had people at one time in Chicago, Washington, and New York -- I didn't know who really got the vision and who didn't, who got it and who didn't.

It was almost two years ago when we had a museum here at the studios in Dallas. And we invited you to come and just see the museum. And I bet there were 10,000 people here that came through -- and I loved it. And everybody kept telling me, go home. Go home. Go home. And I wouldn't go home. None of us did. Nobody on the show went home.

We were there and we spent that whole weekend with you because we love you. We love you.

But I noticed one thing about my company. Not one single person from the management team actually showed up that entire weekend. And I realized, they didn't love the audience like I did. They weren't connecting to the message like you did and I did. I'm not sure they were part of the culture of the principles. And I knew I had to get a hold of my company again, and that would mean making really hard choices.

First one was, are you going to stick to your principles? You going to be honest with yourself? Stand for what you believe in, or are you going to give into the status quo and go along to get along? Because these people were my friends, they were my partners, and I don't know at the time, I thought maybe they were right. But I knew they weren't in my gut.

And my gut and my spirit said, "Stick by what you know, even if it's hard and even in the end if you lose."

I had to start firing people, people that I counted as my friends, best friends, partners. And the process that I began was the hardest process of my life. Yeah, almost as hard as picking myself up off of that carpet when I was facing suicide, that carpet that smelled like soup. But this time I had something I didn't have before: I had you. I knew you existed. I knew that you believed in the same principles I believe and that we -- no, that I had made a promise to you. Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

And so I kept going. This has been a really hard five years for me, but the last 18 months have been unbelievable. One thing I had to do was get everyone in my house under one roof so I could look everyone in the eye. Culture matters at a company.

I stopped telling you about the things that were coming on TheBlaze. It's called the Phoenix project. We've been working on it now for about nine months. I haven't talked to you about it, nor will I until we launch it. I'm tired of telling you the things that I think we're going to do. I bet you are too. We're just going to do them. Because I failed you too many times.

The reason the articles like the one that came out yesterday are coming out, part of it is political. Part of it is because Frank Sinatra was right, some people get a kick out of stomping on your dreams. They really do.

Some is, I guess, it's news when somebody loses their job. Unfortunately, my media company isn't the only place in America laying people off. My media company is not the only one that's looking at their balance sheet and saying, "We can't go into debt, or we're going to lose all of the jobs."

They said in this article yesterday -- this has been claimed before that my business is failing. I will tell you, two years ago, it was. It was absolutely on fire. Because when I started to go into the books -- I was a bad steward. And when I started going into the books and see what had been done to my company that didn't ever take on debt, I was first told that we were, I think, $4 million in debt. And then it became $7 million in debt. And then when I got the final accounting, 18 months ago, my company that doesn't take on debt was $13 million in debt.

If I'm going to tell you you shouldn't have debt, how could I have a company that was $13 million in the hole? I made really hard decisions. And in 18 months, my company that is dying and struggling paid our debt down from 13 million to two.

A couple of months ago, we had a great sponsor of ours, about a 7-million-dollar-a-year sponsor go broke. I feel for that company because everybody that worked for that company, much larger than mine, went out of business. And they left us with a lot of debt.

You see, economies, it's -- it's like Jenga. One person pulls one big thing out, and the whole thing could fall. But it definitely weakens. And the more pieces of stress or the more pieces that come out of Jenga, the weaker your house becomes. Somebody -- Delco goes out of business because GM is no longer making their cars in Ohio, and so that hurts Delco. And then that hurts the grocery store down the street and the restaurants in the town.

We're in this together. I'm not going to tell you that I'm not running a fail company because the proof is in the pudding. I will just tell you the old managers got us into $13 million of debt. And in less than 18 months, we've shaved that off by over $10 million. That doesn't seem like a failing business. That seems like a business that is thriving and is doing its best to set its principles right.

But I want you to know, when you read TheBlaze, because I'm not happy with it -- and I've quietly said that recently, over the last year or so. Not happy with it. But it's changing. We just hired one of the guys who put together American Idol, Oreo cookies. We just hired a guy who was one of the main guys at Good Morning America and CNN. We just hired an HR person from Viacom. I'm rebuilding. And it will be a lot better for me honestly -- honestly, it would be a lot better if I would have just filed Chapter 11. But I actually like Harry Truman too much. I don't believe -- Chapter 11, sometimes you have to do. Chapter 7, sometimes you have to do.

But I wanted to pay every single person back because it's not their fault. It was my fault for not watching what people were doing underneath me.

One last thought and then I'll move off: When I first put TheBlaze on the air, it was GBTV. And I won a hammer. It's the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award. It's a disrupter's award. It goes to some of the best disrupters in the world. I couldn't believe I was in the room when I won this award. That year, I earned that award because we broke television and we're the first one to make it an app and put it online.

I haven't earned this hammer a day since. But I will tell you this: Sometimes it takes a hammer to break what is broken so you can rebuild it. And in today's world and economy, if you ever get fat and sassy, if you ever start to put profits over people, if you ever decide, "I really don't need -- I really don't -- I don't care what the people say. Yeah, yeah, they're customers. They'll just keep coming." No, they won't. You have to innovate every day. You have to actually love your customer every day. You have to actually care about them and wonder, "How can I make their life better or easier?" And when you do that and you understand that by doing that you're disrupting the entire system and you'll go places that will scare the living daylights out of you, but you proceed without fear, that's when you will win.

I'm not going to tell you we're going to win. I'm just going to tell you, watch us. Watch us over the next year.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Featured Image: Screenshot from The Glenn Beck Program

It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.