After the Rubicon-crossing raid at Mar-a-Lago, Inez Stepman speaks to one of the lone voices in Washington who has consistently tried to starve and strangle the illegitimate administrative state, Congressman Chip Roy (TX-21). Congressman Roy and Stepman discussed what “making law” in the USA truly looks like in an age where Schoolhouse Rock’s Bill on Capitol Hill seems a fanciful notion, and how to combat the many-headed hydra of the public-private regime.

High Noon is an intellectual download featuring conversations that make possible a free society. The podcast features interesting thinkers from all parts of the political spectrum to discuss the most controversial subjects of the day in a way that hopes to advance our common American future. Hosted by Inez Stepman of Independent Women’s Forum.


TRANSCRIPT

Inez Stepman:

Welcome to High Noon, where we talk about controversial subjects with interesting people, which I always mess up. And I’m really pleased today to have on Representative Chip Roy. He is the Congressman from District 21 in Texas. He also was previously Ted Cruz’s chief of staff. He has had roles as well in the Executive, so he has seen government from the inside, from the outside, and he’s my favorite Congressman. I wish he were my congressman, but I don’t think he would ever set foot in Manhattan. But welcome to High Noon.

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well, first of all, you’re a lot more like Grace Kelly than I am to Gary Cooper, but I always love the name of your podcast and appreciate what you do and what you’re standing up for: liberty and limited government and trying to expose what’s going on in DC. And I love stepping foot in Manhattan, actually. Recovering investment banking life and I used to go up to a bunch of Giants games, but it’s been a few years, and I don’t think the New York of today is quite where it was 10 years ago, but hopefully, we’ll get it back.

Inez Stepman:

Well, the first thing I really wanted to ask you just on background, because you come at this, I’d say you’re one of only a handful — I’ve met a fair number, at this point, of representatives, people in the House, in the Senate, in the executive branch — you’re one of the people who definitely comes at this from the principled and ideas side. You really wanted to change something about the country and how the country operated. Now that you’ve been in office since 2019, I just want to get your take vis-a-vis sort of the bill on Capitol Hill kind of Schoolhouse Rock story of how our government works, right, what we’re taught in civics class, that there are three branches of government: the Congress legislates, the executive signs the legislation and then executes, and then the courts adjudicate questions of federal law and of the Constitution. I mean, how have you observed how Washington actually works and how the law that ultimately gets enforced against the American people, how does that whole process work and how does it compare to the textbook version?

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well, it’s a great question. And look, let me first start with the positive. Okay. I mean, the positive is the Founders gave us a system and we have managed to keep roughly, at least the structures of the system for almost 250 years, that hold those checks and balances, that make it difficult to get a bill through, that, frankly, work to put the barriers up to quick action, which the Founders didn’t want, right? They didn’t want the tyranny of a majority. They didn’t want one individual in the executive branch to have too much power. So it is actually difficult to do things. And so the structures are in place and still work that way. And the broad contours of how a bill becomes law still works. And actually that frustrating process is why it ends up getting end-runned so many times.

So when you actually go to now the bad, the bad is that we don’t really debate. We don’t really amend. When you think of Mr. Smith goes to Washington, or you think the Schoolhouse Rock video, or just basic civics where it’s like, okay, Congressman Roy has an idea. Congressman Roy files a bill and he goes to the Floor and he introduces a bill, and then there’s a bunch of debate and people offer amendments, and they vote it up or down. And then they can decide if they like it or not. And then they move on and try another bill, or they pass it. That’s not really what happens.

What really happens is a handful of select members, usually the leadership, top two on either side, the top Republican and Democrat in the House and the Senate, they get together and they figure out where things are going to go and they go, and then they in the House, for example, they go to what’s called the Rules Committee. They jam a bill through, it could be 2000 pages. It could’ve dropped the same day. There’s a rule that prohibits amendments, or it allows only two or three or five or ten select amendments by select people. We go down, we vote on it up or down. I push a button yes or no. I might get a minute to debate it. It passes. And then I have to put out a press statement saying why I voted, usually no. That’s no way to do business. And then, worse than that, the bureaucratic or administrative state has been given so much power that effectively Congress just throws a bunch of money at a bunch of bureaucrats to do all the stuff that you and I are experiencing every day, whether it’s IRS or whether it’s health care, whether it’s education, whether it’s the FBI, DOD, whatever it is. And that bureaucratic state is effectively running things.

I have lots of stories on that, and I’m happy to go down that road. But if I were just putting it in simple terms, we have got to get back to representatives going to Washington. We put forward ideas. Congress does its job to oversee the government and stop the executive branch from just running over the people. And then we get more control for the people. Right now, we don’t have that. A few people on Capitol Hill and a whole bunch of bureaucrats are calling all the shots. And then the President comes in and does a few things every four years.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, I was listening to John Marini do an episode over at the Claremont Institute. And of course, John Marini has been a scholar, not only of the larger political system, but of the actual, practical way that government has functioned. And one of the things he said that really surprised me, or I guess reminded me, is that the centralization of power in the House in leadership came in the 1990s under Newt Gingrich. And that it leaves very little room. Whereas before, one of the concrete examples he gave that really struck me was before that centralization happened, foreign delegations to the United States would actually be meeting, sometimes primarily, with individual senators, sometimes with members of the House. But sometimes members. They basically had to actually meet with a large swath of Congress. And now foreign delegations very rarely do that. They go to the executive, or they go to a couple top people in leadership. And I think that just demonstrates what you just said. They know where the decisions are actually being made.

But I want to return to the administrative state question. I think that question has gotten all the more pressing in the last week, given the fact that the FBI has now raided the home of a prior political opponent, potentially future political opponent of the administration under what I think it’s fair to say is a pre-textual reason, right? The Presidential Records Act, there might be some classified documents, even if all of that was true, it wouldn’t justify breaking this 200, nearly 250-year tradition that’s so fundamental to the peaceful transfer power in a republic, that we don’t prosecute our political opponents and we avoid even the appearance of prosecuting our political opponents.

What has your experience been with working with these bureaucrats that you say have so much power in Washington, DC? And to what extent do they even reference, I mean, you specifically, or any sort of member of Congress outside of a handful in terms of deciding what they’re going to do with all of that language that keeps getting passed and those big bills that you’re talking about, that a lot of it says “The department shall dot, dot, dot.”

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well, it’s a great question. First of all, on the issue that you brought up about the FBI and the warrant delivered to the former president: I’ve commented very little on this because, as a former prosecutor, I like to sit back, look at all the stuff, and then decide how I’m going to comment. One of the few things I’ve done is retweeted you when you were pointing out how much of a departure this is from norms and what that means with respect to the republic. In other words: this is different. It matters. It matters when a current administration takes the political appointee, AG. And then that AG makes a decision to approve going after the former president, a former president who may be running against the current president. That’s a different situation than a normal warrant. And when you go down that road, you’re really changing the way our system of government has been working for the last 250 years in inserting politics into prosecution.

That, then, you pull back to your larger question about, well, who makes decisions? What do these bureaucrats do? How much power do they have? And look, I say this as somebody who’s not against federal employees executing what we the people have given them power to go execute for a reason. We want an FBI to go after bad actors, and we want United States attorneys to prosecute them when they’re violating federal law, assuming that federal law is appropriately passed, and it’s a power of the federal government. We want, to the extent you’re going to have taxes collected — I’ve got some more libertarian views about how much we should be collecting taxes from the people and maybe a flat tax or a fair tax would be better. But if you’re going to have a tax system, you do need to at least make sure it’s being applied fairly and equally.

So I have no problem with there being some IRS agents to ensure that’s happening. But when you weaponize these things and when the bureaucrats basically take significant amounts of power, and they’re able to go use that against citizens, whether it’s targeting 501(c)(3)s because of their religious faith or their belief in marriage, whether it’s going after parents. If you’re in the FBI and you’re saying, “Oh, we’re going to create edu-officials tag, because some teachers’ unions are complaining that school boards meetings are having, oh, oh no, parents show up and get angry about, I don’t know, their daughter possibly getting raped in a bathroom in a high school in Loudoun County, Virginia.” These were real things with real Americans with real bureaucrats going after them. That’s a problem.

I used to work for Governor Perry. When he became Secretary Perry, he had a guy that was running his policy who’s a friend of mine. And we found out that there was a thing going around about Green New Deal type stuff that the previous Obama administration had put in place and basically had said, if nobody signs saying they object, it’s going to become in effect. And they buried it. The deep state over at the Department of Energy buried it. We had to go find it. I was on the outside, my buddy was on the inside. We had to go track this thing down because some bureaucrats over there had killed it. I could give you hundreds of those examples. When I took over as the first Assistant Attorney General in Texas, not a federal thing, but still a bureaucracy of 4,100 people. These are great people. I loved having them work for me, but there were some people there that felt like they were the ones running the show.

And the fact is, when you elect an attorney general in the state, in the feds, when you elect a president and the president appoints an attorney general, or a Secretary of Homeland Security, they’re running it to carry out the policies that the people elected. And the bureaucrats have got to respect that, and then go execute on it. And you got to have checks and balances. And then here’s the last point I want to make, and I’m going too long. I’m sorry, Inez. Congress has to check these bureaucrats, and I’m going to tell you the best way to do that is money. We keep writing blank checks and then complaining that they’re using it against us. It’s insane. Why do we give the DHS an unlimited amount of money to not secure the border? Why do we give the IRS an unlimited amount of money to go target Americans? Stop doing that. And that’s my biggest message to my Republican colleagues: stop funding the bureaucratic state.

Inez Stepman:

So that’s one method to try to reign in the power of these bureaucrats. Another method that I know you’ve introduced a bill on and have been vocal about, goes to something that Axios reported a few weeks back on. And basically then the entire media picked it up as like, this is a transfer. Somehow this is a coup or whatever, a planned coup. And the report was that Donald Trump was potentially talking about a second administration, whether or not he’s going to run, and what he would do in that administration. And one of the things that came up was the so-called Schedule F reform of essentially the civil service, right? To reclassify some of these bureaucrats as essentially what they are, which are policymakers, right, who ought to be directly responsible to the elected officials. I mean, you’ve had your own civil service reform proposals that, the phrase in Washington is pretty ubiquitous, right? Personnel is policy.

How do we ensure that if we are going to have these, millions at this point, over 2 million bureaucrats, working in these various agencies, how do we ensure that they’re actually in any way responsible to the elected officials who, after all, that’s the premise of our representative government, right? That the people elect folks like you and then we judge you on the votes of the jobs that you take. And then we decide whether or not we want you to continue to represent us, right? That’s the basic small-D democratic functionality of our republic. How do we make sure that that functionality has any way to touch people who are not just political appointees at the top? How do we touch the rest of the iceberg at the bureaucratic state?

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well, it’s a great question. And I’m going to repeat real quick, stop funding it. Stop giving a blank check. It is the most powerful weapon we have in the House of Representatives where all funding bills are supposed to originate closest to the people. We give that power away every year. We just say, “Here you go, here’s more money.”

But put that aside for a minute. The main thing you’ve got to do is empower the people who are coming in to fire bureaucrats who are carrying out policies contrary to the wishes of the elected president and his appointees, contrary to the wishes often of the majority or the block of members of Congress. Heck, half the time we can’t even get good answers in hearings. We call them up and they stonewall. They say, “I can’t answer that.”

And you really can’t get good answers out of that. You’ve got to give the ability of the secretaries of these agencies to fire people on an at-will basis. Currently, they really can’t. Between the EEOC rules, between whistleblower protections — which we should have whistleblower protections, right? I mean, in terms of people showing, “Hey, this bad stuff’s going on,” they should be protected. But the combination of whistleblower protections, EEOC claims and other protections, the power of the unions and the federal government, you can’t fire anybody. I’ve seen all sorts of studies. I saw one that said that of the federal managers who tried to fire people and submitted evidence of people that were watching porn for six to eight hours during the day, operating private businesses from their computers, not showing up, being ineffective, laundry lists of just offensive and troubling things.

78% of them said nothing happened. Literally, I could get no change out of when I submitted these very terrible things through the process to try to remove them. And so it’s a real problem. It takes six months in the federal government often to even get a claim dealt with when you’re a manager trying to get rid of some bureaucrat. So I introduced legislation, and I don’t care whether there’s mine or somebody else’s, doesn’t matter, to make sure that we have the ability to have effectively at-will employment.

I preserve some protections for whistleblowers that if, ultimately, whistleblower claim is adjudicated, you can be reinstated and have back pay, but that’s like less than 1% of the issues of the claims. It’s a tiny fragment. The EEOC claims that are put, it’s like less than 3% that those ever come through. We’re allowing those small things to basically completely take over and make it impossible to remove the bureaucrats who are carrying out these egregious acts, and frankly acting either criminally or incompetently or offensively, sitting at their desk watching porn or running a business.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. And unfortunately that’s the least of the problems, right? Like the fact that they can’t fire people for watching porn. I actually, it makes me laugh, this just slightly before you were elected, but I’m sure you heard about it and worked on it to some extent. There was an entire act of Congress to specifically address the porn at work issue, because the system to fire bureaucrats is so protective and convoluted that they needed an active Congress to attempt to give the managers the ability to fire people because it was impossible before. And from what I’ve heard, it hasn’t actually made it much more possible. So even an act of Congress has not really empowered managers in the federal government to fire their employees for watching pornography on work computers while they’re on the job. [crosstalk 00:17:33]. Go ahead.

Rep. Chip Roy:

You said it. It’s not really that, I used that as just an example of how egregious it is that you can’t even fire that person. Now, if the person, if you’re trying to go in and just say, “Look, I’m the manager. I have an objective to accomplish. This employee is terrible, or this employee is targeting a citizen they shouldn’t be. Or this employee’s ineffective.” I mean, good luck getting that person fired if you can’t fire somebody for literally sitting at their desk, watching porn or running a private business. That person should be summarily dismissed the day of, right? But no, we don’t do that. And if you’ve got a bureaucrat there, who’s actually doing their job poorly, well, then you’re really up against the wall. And that’s why 80% of these managers say nothing ever happens when I submit a problem.

Inez Stepman:

So this is, what I was going to say is that’s only half the problem, right? And in some sense, it’s a less worrying problem. It’s enraging that we the people are paying these guys to not do their jobs, or to not show up or to run their own businesses or any other number of prurient interests they might have. But that’s really only half the problem, right. The other half is that we’re really seeing, I think, especially with this raid in the last week, the end reputation of this idea of apolitical administration of government, right. That really comes out of the progressive era that says, essentially governance is a science, right? Even somebody like Wilson would’ve said, “Okay, Congress, and the elected officials, they set the general direction and then this apolitical machine, bureaucratic machine puts into motion the directives and general directives that ultimately come from the people.”

And that is modern governance because our actual constitutional structures are not up to the job of, essentially the complications of modern life. And I think what we’re seeing in the last, really during the Trump administration, but especially in this last week with the raid is, the obvious, obvious fact, bureaucrats are people too. They’re often people with very strong political opinions, and they are implementing their own political policy. They’re not apolitically administering what elected officials are telling them to do.

I mean, so how do we solve this problem? Because it seems to me to be, along with the collapse in institutional trust generally, the most dangerous aspect of the governance that we currently live under, and it’s the aspect that frankly makes me wonder if we do live at all in a republic when so much of this apparatus is essentially run — let’s be frank — it’s essentially the arm of the Democratic party that doesn’t ever have to stand for election. It’s very strongly one direction in terms of its political beliefs, and it’s enforcing those political beliefs against Americans. It makes somebody like me want to throw up my hands and say, “Well what’s the point? Why do we vote?”

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well, this is why Donald Trump was elected in 2016, in my opinion. This is why there is deep frustration among the people that I represent, because people are throwing their arms up. They’re saying, “Look, no matter what I seem to do, no matter who I seem to work to get elected, not only do things not change, they get exponentially worse.” And particularly in this vein you’re talking about, Inez.

In other words, when look, it’s not a small thing that Donald Trump, whatever you think of him, whatever you think about pros, cons, whatever, that he came in riding a horse, coming into Washington to drain the swamp, right? I mean the American people reacted very strongly, divided as we are as a country, to the idea that this place, the swamp, Washington DC, the establishment, all that needs to be drained. I’ve never heard anybody make a really credible case that it does not need to be drained, but the fact is the swamp and the establishment on both sides of the aisle — I want to be clear about both sides of the aisle — protect the structures, protect that because it’s what they know. It’s not even the revolving door. People think, oh, they’re cynical about lobbyists. People come in and they go out and make money. That’s not even really it. It’s about the power structures, about people wanting power for the sake of it, right? You’re a Republican saying “We’ve got to take back the house so we can get the chairmanships. And then we can have lots of hearings and well, I’ll have the gavel.” And okay. But what are you going to do to transform this place for the people, right? What you were just talking about, Inez. That’s I think what people are frustrated about. And so you say, okay, you’ve got these bureaucrats and they’re doing all these things. You throw up your arms. I look at it and I say, well, what, what do we do? What can we do right now? I go back to, empower someone to come in and actually fire people, which Trump ran into walls and buzz saws and couldn’t do. Ran into the bureaucracy. Stop funding it, right? If we don’t stop giving them money, we’re never going to win. Right. I think there are tools that we can deploy. But — and I also want to say this — there are a lot of good people up there doing work, but one word you and I haven’t mentioned is federalism, right?

And the fact is, you said, well, do we have a republic? Well, I’d say one of the biggest problems we have is what the founders regarded against. We got all this power emanating to Washington, all of these laws that these guys have to enforce, all of these dollars they have to collect, all of this infrastructure they have to run. And we’ve ceded that ground to these far away nameless bureaucrats, which are every bit as tyrannical as King George III, right?

It’s just, go look at the train of abuses in the Declaration of Independence and go write those down on a piece of paper. And now write down what you would consider the train of abuses today. Right? Tell me which ones, tell me if they line up. I would argue that today, there is a rather sizable long train of abuses going on against the American people, whether it’s the power of the FBI or the power of the IRS, or going after threat tags against parents who complain at school boards, an open border with no sovereignty, just wide open, purposely being done, where Americans are dying in Texas and migrants themselves are dying in ranches in south Texas.

I could go down a laundry list of things where the federal government is directly and purposely, at least under this administration, purposefully bureaucrats under even the Trump administration, sticking it to the American people all for the sake of power and the leftist organizations that you talked about, Inez. When you talk about the IRS, like 90 something percent of their union dollars go to Democrats. They that’s what they’re doing. It’s purposeful.

And a friend of mine talked about the public education system the other day, going, “Man, it’s broken.” No, it’s not broken. The public education system is doing exactly what the left wants it to do: indoctrinate American children to believe leftist ideology, to believe America’s evil, to teach things completely contrary to what their parents believe. This is purposeful. The unions are doing what they want to do. The bureaucrats are doing what they want to do. The American people need to do what we want to do. That’s why I think we need to fire these bureaucrats, stop funding them, and try to transform the place. But you need Republicans with the spine to do that. But that’s another conversation.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I mean, it is part of the same conversation in a way, but I wanted to ask about perhaps how hard, even if we, if I assumed that we had a cadre of Republicans with spines who were serious about some of this stuff, and frankly, my worst fear about this raid on Mar-a-Lago is it’ll engender a series of tit-for-tat, right? That actually partisan interests will come into play, and I think the worst outcome of this would be if Biden leaves office and a Republican president indicts him and his family, right? That will just, I mean, that’s going to set that ball rolling. Even if it’s a target rich environment, I just think the forces involved are so fundamental.

But the best thing that could happen is maybe we get a cadre of Republicans who are serious about, for example, looking at the structure of the FBI, looking at the structure of these agencies and dismantling those structures, understanding that they are now primarily set up, it appears to me, not to do the very necessary work, for example, of the FBI, that the FBI is supposed to do, but gearing up to prosecute political dissidents.

And that sounds really radical, and I would’ve laughed at myself for saying that five years ago, but I don’t see any other conclusion based on the way that parents, as you mentioned, were characterized by the FBI. And again, that’s not to say that every agent in the FBI is out to get people, and actually to your point about federalism, I suspect that the offices, for example, the DOJ, but the offices that are out in various outposts of the United States, probably considerably less politicized than Washington DC’s.

But I look this beast, right, this Leviathan, and I think about it. It’s not just the agencies anymore, right? It’s also, there’s this huge private component to the way this is enforced. I mean, I use the more classical term regime, which sometimes ruffles people’s feathers because it sounds like, although I think increasingly those connotations are coming true, but I don’t necessarily mean regime with the connotations that we talk about, like authoritarian regimes abroad or something like that. I mean, in the classical sense, regime meaning the entire system and how it functions outside of a single politician, or even outside of government. I think Curtis Yarvin uses the term the cathedral, right? Whatever you want to say connects, not only these bureaucrats who have overwhelmingly similar views to each other, but also a large part of the Fortune 500 as well as Hollywood and of course the large part of the corporate media.

It seems like there’s increasingly, and again, five years ago, I wouldn’t use these terms. I’m not instinctively inclined to class analysis, but it seems like there is a class that is developing that’s credentialed through all the same places that holds largely the same, especially, cultural views and can coordinate without directly coordinating. So here, I’m thinking about like, for example, this lawsuit about censoring people about COVID on Twitter, for example.

And now there’s Philip Hamburger’s outfit and UCLA is going into basically trying to sue and to get the full correspondence between government, because they think there’s enough evidence that essentially bureaucrats and the government were emailing people at Facebook and Twitter and saying you need to censor these people. You need to censor these views. And they were carrying out what the government was requesting them to do, but they were already inclined to do in the first place because of that cultural similarity. So it starts to look, even if we have people with spines that come in, I mean this problem is starting to look like a Hydra, not like a mere expansion of government, for example, that the founders imagined.

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well, you’re not wrong. And you’re referencing, I think Alex Barrington and some of the others that have been targeted and very specifically referenced in the White House, right? I mean, that starts to be troubling, right? When the White House is specifically telling Facebook, or Twitter, I think in that case, Twitter, are you not paying attention to Barrington? And what about him? That’s a problem. Right? Former New York Times reporter, who’s basically trying to put out what he believes is the truth about COVID.

And let’s focus for a minute on COVID, right. I mean, I don’t know that there’s a better example than what we’ve seen unfold in terms of the information flows surrounding COVID. From the very beginning, whether it was gain-of-function research issues in China and our culpability and engagement in that, whether it was right out of the gate, the dangers associated with it. And a lot of us were trying to give deference to people, say, “Okay, what do we need to do to protect people?” But then immediately saying, “You can’t shut your economy down and we need to be engaged.”

Then you have all this stuff about the vaccines. And then now there’s a whole lot of questions about the vaccines, whether they’re beneficial. And we’re not here to debate all that, but these are legitimate questions. I mean, I know, and I’ve been going and diving into this stuff, and there are very legitimate questions from beginning to end on all of these issues. And in a free and open society, you should be able to have those conversations. And we haven’t been able to, for a host of reasons, from the technology free speech issues, which we’re not really here to talk about, but it’s all related.

You said hybrid term. But also just the straight up bureaucracy of the National Institute of Health, our public health agencies, the power that someone like Fauci or Birx has had to be able to just, by almost edict, using social media, using the power of the media, using all of that to then amplify, but the CDC, right? I mean, you count on them to just give you some degree of direction and information on a good faith basis. But these bureaucrats have an agenda. And when you have an agenda, well, now you’ve lost faith in the very thing you’re supposed to get out of public health, which is a common direction, a common good belief, that we need to make certain sacrifices for the common good. Right? And now you’ve lost that. And not to get too far afield, but that’s what we’re dealing with here.

And I go back to, if you want less of something, tax it, right. If you want less of something … Or put it to you this way. We right now, I go back to the funding issue, not to overstate it. But if we want to go to say, pick your agency that you’ve got concerns with, right? The FBI. I think you and I and a bunch would agree that most of what the FBI’s focused on is probably good and beneficial for the country. Federalism issues notwithstanding, there might be some debates there, but if you’re going after organized crime, mafia, the FBI’s going after knock down the legs of any tentacles of cartels in the United States, whatever it is. Going after porn rings. Great. Right. Go do that across state lines, international.

And that’s good. But we want them doing that. And we want them doing that well, okay. That limited function well. Most stuff we want to be at the state level. State cops, state law enforcement agencies. If you want that, then say here’s what we expect, and give them the just basic resources to accomplish that and nothing more. But instead we throw gobs of money at them, so they can go hire endless number of people to put them in endless number of roles. So they can just sit around, coming up with edu-officials tags for parents going to a school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia, right. We have to stop feeding Leviathan in that way. I think it’s the only way to pull back on it. And I know that sounds simple, but I try to look for simple solutions in a complex world.

You said, if we have a spine, what do we do when we come in? I would argue, let’s pick 1, 2, 5, 10 federal agencies and say, here’s what we expect you to do. Here’s what we agree. Almost like a zero-based budgeting kind of thing. Here’s what you’re supposed to accomplish. Here are the dollars we believe are reasonable to accomplish that on the low end. Go. And make it tight, right. Make them squeeze blood out of a turnip to get it done, and nothing more. And then a lot of things die on the vine, but that’s … We have to have a plan if we’re able to be given power back in the House to go after this stuff. You can’t just have hearings and then go, whoa.

Inez Stepman:

How do the hearings, I guess, how much power do the hearings have? Because I can see the utility of dragging a particular bureaucrat in front of Congress and sort of lambasting him in front of the nation or her in front of the nation. But they don’t seem to actually usually end up with any consequences. And, and here I’m actually thinking of a throwback that I think I’ve brought up so many times actually just because I’m never going to forget it. And I think it was in many ways, the beginning of this kind of political targeting. Lois Lerner went through a bunch of hearings. She was the former, just for folks who have not been paying attention to politics in the 2010s, but Lois Lerner was the head of the IRS.

It seems at this point basically incontrovertible that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups for auditing. So politically selected groups of Americans for tax auditing and pulling of their tax-exempt status based on political views. That was at that time, and I think still, is the beginning of a huge breach in the way things were supposed to be conducted. And she suffered no consequences for that. I mean, she sat through some hearings, some guys yelled at her, right. And then nothing happened to her. And that seems to be more the model for hearings going forward. I mean, do you think that hearings can be used for actual consequence? Do you think that putting a spotlight on particular people is worthwhile? Is it just completely grandstanding for the sake of getting a YouTube clip or a Twitter clip? Or, I mean, what is the purpose of the hearings today?

Rep. Chip Roy:

Unfortunately, I think a lot of hearings that will be conducted are going to be conducted because, frankly, our base expects it and demands it. And so a lot of it will be for show. They’re not wrong to expect or demand it, but what I want are hearings that will expose very real problems that we then use every tool we can to elevate and explain to the American people why that problem is a problem that is undermining the republic and the health and wellbeing of our country and issues that cut across ideologies. Like a lot of these, I do think there’s an opportunity here to make very clear that the expansive use of power by the federal government is a two-way street, and it is going to undermine liberty and undermine the wellbeing of people across ideologies in this country.

That’s just a fact. And it’s a fact that is borne out across history. I always laugh at all these Democrats that were just freaked out about Donald Trump. Oh my God, he’s going to use the power of the government to go kill people and all this stuff, right. For four years, right? I mean, what is he going to do? But they want to keep increasing the power of government, right. Or they want to take away our ability to have Second Amendment rights to defend ourselves, or whatever. You want to say, wait, do you realize what you’re saying? But I think there’s an opportunity with hearings to expose that. If we have unorganized, you have dozens of hearings, it’ll just be congressional noise.

But if you have three, five, maybe 10 focused hearings, 10’s probably a lot, in this world we live in. But to really expose key areas, right? One of which has to be COVID, right. You have to go through and make sure that we’re able to elevate truth and put people before the cameras that the American people have not had a chance to see. You’ve got to do that with the power of things like the IRS, FBI, et cetera, where there are places where we need to go identify that.

But I don’t want it to be a tit-for-tat thing like you just said, as opposed to let’s expose something for the sake of trying to preserve and protect the republic. And I’ll be blunt, I believe we’re in a very critical tipping point in our country, sitting here staring at our 250th birthday in 2026. I talk a lot about in speeches America, 2026, are we going to embrace freedom or are we going to fracture?

Because I think as a country, that’s the reality of where we face. Our freedom is a broad word. For me, I mean freedom in our sense of having a republic that respects institutions and the structures we have in place to protect freedom. If we don’t embrace that, if we don’t embrace the ability to agree to disagree, state to state, embrace federalism, embrace our ability to have the energy of our choice and the school of our choice and empower parents and stop this thing where the left just says, “We decided you’re going to bow down” — and it’s not just a left-right thing, but it often is. That we’re in trouble. The country will fracture. I mean, there is no guarantee we keep this country. And I think one way to get there to is to expose for the American people what is really happening.

But Republicans have to do it. You have to come forward and show them, here’s what’s happening. Here’s how your tax dollars are being used. Here’s how you’re being harmed. Here are the people being targeted. The consequences, in my opinion, are less about Lois Lerner getting slapped or penalized or put in jail or something. It’s more about a massive change in policy to undermine the thing that allowed that to happen in the first place. The left’s strength is power. And to me, you want to diminish that and use hearings to expose that so the American people can get excited about freedom again.

Inez Stepman:

What you’re really talking about is institutionalization, right? The fact that, because when you say that it’s not about particular people, right, it’s about an entire underlying structure. I think there’s been a consensus that’s actually building across ideology, which is not to say that we have the same solutions at all. But I think, I keep saying five years ago, five years ago, but I don’t think five years ago, I would’ve agreed that the American government and the system generally in America is quote unquote “rigged.” Right.

I find it hard to escape that conclusion today, and I think you’re seeing that both from the left and the right, that a lot of Americans are concluding that this system just doesn’t actually work or take into account the opinions, not just of the ideological left or the ideological right, but things that are 60, 70, 80% issues that get consistently ignored because they don’t fit the priorities of a particular class in power.

And again, I don’t think it’s just politicians and it’s not even just politicians and bureaucrats. It’s, increasingly, it’s alignment with the private sector and it’s alignment with the media. There’s an entire slice of American society that holds views radically out of step with 80%. And I could give you a list of issues, right? The idea that there’s such a thing as men and women exist and are different. Even something like the border and immigration, you find 60, 70, sometimes 80% consensus among Americans about certain basic aspects of the border issue.

Now we might not all agree on how, what to do with people already here, for example, there’s a lot … But you will get 80% of Americans to agree that we need to have a border and enforce it. And yet we have, sometimes for decades, we have this consensus, not only between the political parties, but between, as I said, all these various components of the regime, that that’s not an acceptable view for the American people to hold. And that view will not be carried forward into policy.

How do you, and this is a difficult question. I don’t expect you to have a pat answer to it, but how do we rebuild faith among our fellow citizens that actually they do have a voice in this self-government experiment, that in fact that experiment hasn’t died and that they … Because I’m not sure that is even true, but even if it has died, how do we rebirth any faith that their government, their successful Fortune 500 class, their media, their journalists, their fourth estate, right? That any of these people care at all about the truth or about what happens to their fellow Americans? I mean, I don’t know how to rebuild something that fundamental and essential to citizenship.

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well, that is hard. You just asked a very, very difficult question. Let me just pick two or three areas that I think have to change if we’re going to do it. One, we have to expose and then break down the institutional cronyist coordinated attack on our values that is going on every single day. You alluded to it, whether it’s ESG and all of the environmental, social justice garbage, diversity, equity, inclusion, all that stuff that has infiltrated the capitalistic system, right? The system that when I went to business school in the early ’90s, right, and we’re talking about shareholder value. And they started talking about things like stakeholder value then, that then morphed into now this just full-blown ESG garbage. You’ve got to attack that. Oh, thankfully, some people are waking up to it, right. But is it too late?

Or you go attack it. You’ve got to attack the stranglehold that that coordinated education media, now corporate America and big government entanglement, has against the average American trying to go to work, have a small business, take care of their family, live free, and not be told what to do by the powers that be across all of these entities. We’ve got to expose that. And we’ve got to break down the power base of some of that. The second thing we need to do is we have to totally destroy, blow up, revamp the entire education establishment and empower parents. And we’ve got to do so. I’m going to use a word that’s dangerous in the case of education, we have to do so in with a violence against the infrastructure, right? Not a violence in the sense of physical violence, but we’ve got to break the education establishment and we’ve got to do so quickly. And we’ve got to do so forcefully so that we can empower parents to be able to educate their children according to their values, not the values of the powers that be, that want to inculcate our children with all sorts of nonsense about there not being man and woman, about we should all run in fear about climate change, since that we’re destroying the very benefits of abundant available energy that gives us life and powers life. You have to break that down.

And the third thing I’m going to say, and it’s related to the first two is, I’m just going to be blunt. Men got to grow a pair. I mean, I’m just, sorry, you got to have some men who stand up and are men and go figure out how to protect their kids at school. Figure out that they want to have a sovereign country, that they don’t want to have crime running the streets and that they go retake their homes.

When my great-great grandfather moved to Texas in the 1850s, he had to saddle up a few years later to battle Comanches. Well, you can fight all day long about whether there was wrongs or rights or whatever. I don’t know. All I know is you’re sitting in a house and you’re worried about a Comanche raid, you do something about it. You don’t wait for the federal government. You don’t curl up in a fetal position in the corner of your house. You do it, you figure it out. We are losing that, right. We’re losing the fact that at the end of the day, my job, when I wake up in the morning is to provide for my family, take care of my wife and my kids. Not that my very educated, smarter-than-I-am lawyer wife isn’t fully capable of kicking my rear up and down the table in terms of all things law and education.

I’m just saying, as a man, I need to take care of my family. I need to take care of my kids. I need to protect my community and come together and do that. If men can’t figure out how to find that, then we got a problem. Fix education. Men need to step up and do that. And we’ve got to break the back of that kind of … Again, it’s a coordinated thing. It’s not just big government anymore. You alluded to it brilliantly. It’s all of that. It’s the corporate cronyism meets government meets education meets big media. All of that is at war with the American people. Break that down and empower people and fix our education system and get a few men to stand up.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I got some flak from one of my co-hosts, Emily Jashinsky, on this for saying — and I am a small-R republican. I’m very, I think our system in terms of balancing between the will of the people, the temporary will of the people, and trying to slow that down and balancing it with the rule of law and so on and having different branches. I think that’s all genius. It’s a genius system. But I frankly think that the last 30 years of policy, if it had been set by national plebiscite, probably would’ve led on the whole to better outcomes than our elite have produced in the last 30 years. And I, again, I’m not like a instinctual Democrat. I believe a lot of the, I think a lot of the warnings the founders issued about untrammeled mob rule are absolutely true.

And still, I feel like we’ve done worse than that in the last 30 years in terms of actually addressing a lot of the problems that Americans have in their lives. And I think, frankly, I think you’re right to place your trust there and not anywhere else, because it seems to me that every other basis, every other institution seems unfortunately to be so corrupted, both competency wise and ideological, right? It’s like the thing we were talking about with the bureaucracies. There’s two parallel problems that are intertwined. One is the ideological problem, and they are all buying into this radical ideology on the left. And then at the same time, I think partially because they’re, and this is the old problem, the Soviet Union among other places. But you know, when you’re hiring by ideology, you’re not hiring for competency. You’re judging by ideology. You’re not judging for competency. And things are just falling apart. Do you not have that sense that things just don’t function in this country anymore?

Rep. Chip Roy:

It depends on where I am, and it depends on what I’m doing. 10 years ago, 11 years ago, I worked with Governor Rick Perry on a book, his book Fed Up. And in that book, we wrote a lot of, we wrote a lot about the founding principles and how it relates to the important empowerment of the people through their states, right? This is Governor Perry, it’s Texas. That was what that was about. And the first chapter was titled America is Great, Washington is Broken. Now, fast forward, right, of course, and then Donald Trump runs on Make America Great Again, which of course was pulled from Reagan saying, make America great again. I actually believe, to answer your question now, sorry for that long lead in, that America is great, that people are great. There are lots of problems.

There are lots of people who are not doing great things, and we can go through all of that. But fundamentally, when I go out in this country. Yesterday, okay, I’m driving through Houston. I stop at Buckee’s, this massive convenience store in Houston, Texas. And I had driven from New Orleans. So I won’t get into why. Anyway, driving across the country. So I pull up and the machine wasn’t working. Anyway, the general manager was out there because they’re rebooting the system and [inaudible 00:49:59] no markings on. “Are you Congressman Chip?” I said, “Well, yes, sir,” and then we talked about it. And he’s been in this country for 25 years. He grew up in Venezuela. And he walked me through, we sat there talking for a while about his family story. And he was emotional sitting there at a gas pump in 103-degree Texas, emotional about not losing this country because of why he came here, what he did for his life. What’s happened to his home country in Venezuela. What we’ve seen happen under Hugo Chavez, a once great country, or once becoming-great country, Venezuela embracing a lot of what made America great. Then it blows up going down the socialist utopia, and it explodes. And here we are, this country, he said, we’re doing the same thing. The decision makers in these coordinated cronyist large corporate and government entities are doing that. But the average American is still of the belief that you come here, you work hard, you make your life, and you have the ability to do that here. I don’t know how the numbers shake out, but there are millions of those people.

That guy yesterday gave me, as thousands do throughout the year when I run across and they stop in the airport and they say, thank you for standing up and fighting for me. Thank you for standing up and fighting for common sense and freedom and free market capitalism and what you can achieve in this country because it’s the American story. It’s why all of our forefathers came here.

I’m not going to give up on that. So yeah, I’m frustrated. And I’m not saying this as a politician, Inez, I’m not, I don’t care. This isn’t to get votes. This is you and me talking. I love this country and I believe in its core values and principles, but we’re going to have to fight for them. That’s the bottom line. That guy’s been here for 25 years, he knows why this country is great. Damn it, we owe it for our kids and grandkids to go fight for those principles and not let these handful of idiots take away the greatness. And that’s how I view it.

Inez Stepman:

Congressman Chip Roy, thank you so much for coming on High Noon with me today. I really appreciate you coming on and continuing to fight for exactly those principles you just eloquently referenced.

Rep. Chip Roy:

Well Inez, thank you, thanks for what you do. And let’s visit soon in Texas or New York or DC or somewhere. God bless.

Inez Stepman:

You too. Before I sign off here, I’m going to actually let our listeners know about the Independent Women’s Forum actually has multiple podcasts. We are the leading national women’s organization dedicated to developing and advancing policies that are more than just well-intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and wellbeing. In other words, we are not in it for the gloss, but for the practicality and the actual everything that we’ve talked about on this podcast with Chip and with other guests about, this good life, this human flourishing. For women and men, we are here to bring some news to you as well with our She Thinks podcast, which every Friday at 9:00 AM Eastern, Beverly Hallberg is joined by guests who cut through a lot of the news of the day, and they bring you some facts and policy to go with that.

Or join us, if you like me, you can also join me and my colleague, Jennifer Braceras, At The Bar, where we chat about the latest issues in the intersection of law, politics and culture. So you can listen to past episodes of this podcast, as well as those products at iwf.org, or you can search for She Thinks podcast or At The Bar or, for that matter, High Noon.

And with that, thank you to our listeners. High Noon with Inez Stepman is a production of the Independent Women’s Forum. As always, you send comments and questions to [email protected] Please help us out by hitting the subscribe button and leaving us a comment or review on Apple Podcast, Acast, Google Play, YouTube, or iwf.org. Be brave, and we’ll see you next time on High Noon.