Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Charlie Rangel Has a Problem: Michel Faulkner

By Mark J. Fitzgibbons

What better message to send to Washington than to defeat an old bull like Charlie Rangel?

Rangel is one of the principal symbols of the tolerance Washington has for corrupt insider politics. He is Chairman-in-school-detention of the House Ways and Means Committee, pending efforts of Democrats to avoid the most devastating midterm election defeat in history.

Because he usually doesn't have a serious challenger, Rangel is able to funnel in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars every election cycle to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Such political largesse protects corruption. Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats dole out committee chairs to, and overlook the offenses of, big-money lieutenants like Rangel.

Last week at the Susan B. Anthony List dinner, I sat with Reverend Michel Faulkner, the career non-politician announced as the Republican challenger to Charlie Rangel. That made a special night all the more special...

Meeting him for the first time just that evening, my first impression of Rev. Faulkner is that he conveys his message in conversation rather than slogans, which struck me as refreshing. There was no "I plan to introduce this bill," and certainly no rehearsed lines. The closest he came was, "The people in my district want jobs, not programs," but he said even that with the conversational sincerity of a friend or neighbor, not a candidate meeting someone for the first time.

He told me about himself. He's a pastor, and he founded a nonprofit called the Institute for Leadership. He works with the poor and the homeless. He fosters leadership within his community. He is -- dare I say it? -- a community organizer, but one who believes in and practices the free market and the Gospel.

Later in the conversation, he said something that made me a sure supporter of his run. Politicians -- Republicans, nonetheless -- who recognized his outstanding work in the community, offered him government money for his nonprofit. Rev. Faulkner declined taking taxpayer money. He has wisdom, for he knows that he who pays the fiddler calls the tune.

Read the full article here.

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