A little over a year ago, I heard murmuring about a guy named Greg Brannon who was going to run for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. A bunch of the Liberty activists I knew were pretty excited about him.
I met him first at the NC GOP Convention last spring, where he spoke passionately about restoring government to its original Constitutional intent, not utilizing the law to punish or reward one class of society over another, but rather applying it to protect the liberties of the individual. (Incidentally, this libertarian notion of not hurting other people and not taking their stuff sometimes gets called “extreme right wing” by the establishment in both parties—that’s right, the political class who loves wielding the power of government to hurt people and take their stuff.)
As I grow in Christ, I find dangerous where the state tries to fulfill the role Christ gave to the church. It is troubling to watch a coercive force try to establish “fairness” through redistribution rather than free markets. Through the lens of history, it is axiomatic that socialism leads to poverty, whereas freedom leads to prosperity.
Anyhow, Greg was not part of the political class, but an ob/gyn who had spent the last five years studying the Federalist Papers and founding documents, growing in conviction that he would pass on to his posterity a less free America than the one he was born into. This is a bona fide statesman in the mold of Samuel Adams, I thought. And at the state convention he was asking folks to host house parties and come bring their friends out to meet him. A liberty U.S. Senate candidate in my house? Oh yeah!
And the only picture I got with Greg was focused perfectly on my kitchen cabinets.
As the months of the campaign unfolded, I discovered that the Brannon family also homeschools, and later that they use the same curriculum we do! His family adopted 3 children from China, and just last week I heard that he attends a Reformed Baptist church! Crazy, the connections we had with his family from the outset!
During the campaign, I actually had a dream one night that he was elected a U.S. Senator and called me up to be some kind of economic policy advisor for him in Washington. I woke up unsure if it was a good dream or a nightmare to relocate to the District of Criminals. I thought, the Brannon family isn’t totally like the Gjertsens, in that they feel called to restore and reform that mess that is the culture of Washington, while I am most of the time content to try to ignore it.
While I didn’t actually get that call, I did get a call from their campaign to check out an office space in downtown New Bern for a regional headquarters. Sure, I can do that. The next day: could you pick up the keys from the landlord. Absolutely. After the grand opening, who should I give the keys to? John, we think you should hold on to them.
Like Bilbo Baggins was swept out of the Shire by a crew of dwarven strangers to fulfill a dragon-killing quest, I was thrust somewhat unaccountably into a crew of activists statewide busting their butts to pull off a grassroots victory. There were Pattie and Pat in Winston Salem, who I believe may have worked harder than any of us. Donna in Raleigh. Jay in Wilmington. Vallee in Charlotte. Many other activists statewide I’m forgetting.
I became John in New Bern.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t just vote for a candidate and tell my friends about him. I made cold calls. I distributed flyers and posted yard signs. I gave money on more than one occasion. I wore a button everywhere I went in public. I created memes and shared them on Facebook. I took a vacation day to work the polls and witnessed how many people were content to just ask me how they should vote. Anyhow, fast forward to last Tuesday. In a crowded primary of eight candidates, Greg came in a very respectable second, with the crony capitalist, pay-to-play establishment favorite bankrolled by progressive lobbyists winning the primary.
It’s hard to imagine a worse candidate to represent the Republican Party in the fall. Big Government Right vs. Big Government Left. Oh well.
I can’t say it was unexpected. When you’re a Ron Paul Republican, you get used to seeing people buying the storyline about the left vs. right that the media feeds them, unaware of the Constitutional crisis we’re in, preferring instead what Samuel Adams called “the tranquility of servitude” over the “animating contest of freedom.”
When Greg set out to win a Senate seat five years ago, I’m sure he never considered it to be an easy task. He did it because he felt God calling him to run. He did it as a servant citizen who loved the cause of liberty more than his own comfort. In his first foray into politics, Greg Brannon did not win. He was obedient, but he didn’t get the outcome he was hoping for.
In our first attempt at rescuing frozen embryos, we did not get to see our baby grow or hold him/her. We were obedient, yet the unfinished calling remains in our hearts. Next week, we try again (please pray for us).
And I suspect a man of Greg’s character does not view his first election defeat as the end of a calling, either. Whenever he decides to run again, this hobbit will be better prepared to join him on the journey.