Wednesday, December 30, 2020

"The courage to change the things I can ..."

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Dear Friend of TJI,

The “Serenity Prayer” describes the challenge – and the conflicting advice – in what we do here at the Thomas Jefferson Institute.

On the one hand, our defense of freedom must be without reservation. We should not accept less.

On the other, the path to defending freedom demands focusing on what we can change first. The Left wins the policy chess game not because they put us into “checkmate” now … but because of what they did 18 moves ago putting them into position to win now.

That is how we seek to operate at the Thomas Jefferson Institute.

Fighting for that which cannot be immediately achieved certainly gets our blood going, and do “lay down markers” making clear the dangers of liberal policies.

But what really gives us a thrill is actually winning on policy in an adversarial environment, reducing the influence of the Left, and preparing for the time when an informed electorate will truly understand the dangers of big government and its natural extension in socialism.

That is why we are thrilled to see Governor Northam take a pass on again raising gas taxes this year through the Transportation and Climate Initiative … but we will keep up the fight to have Virginia withdraw from that program.

It is why we are thrilled to have created the program, educating teachers about their right to leave the leftish NEA to join an independent, non-political teacher association – and to see more than $100,000 in dues money leave with them in just four weeks.

It is why we are thrilled to have had nearly 100 commentaries or news articles published in real newspapers with a circulation of six million Virginians – because it means we are reaching not just those who agree with conservatives but also those who would agree if they clearly understood what we stand for.

Which brings us to this:

I know you will receive many emails today and tomorrow, urging you to make an “end of the year” gift to a non-profit. There are a great many worthy non-profits.

But I hope you count the Thomas Jefferson Institute among those worthy non-profits. We have long considered you a partner in the battle to preserve liberty in Virginia and we’d welcome your financial partnership as well. 

Knowing of your support and knowing that you share our goal of strategically advancing the fight for freedom … will strengthen our team as we head into the next General Assembly session.

You might even say we would be thrilled to have your financial partnership in the battles that lie ahead.

Christian N. Braunlich

PS -- President Trump has made these donations easier this year by signing a law permitting even those who take a standard deduction to deduct $300 per taxpayer ($600 per couple) in charitable deductions – so you receive credit even if you take the standard deduction. Please consider making your gift today by clicking here.

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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Monday, December 28, 2020

Fwd: Help Flip the 2nd District!

Your Servant,
Robert Bruce Alexander
(757) 593-1719

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Rob Wittman <>
Date: Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 8:35 AM
Subject: Help Flip the 2nd District!
To: Alexander <>


If you live in the 2nd District of the Virginia House of Delegates in Stafford or Prince William counties, I wanted to make sure you were aware that we have a chance to flip a seat to our side on January 5th.

My friend, Heather Mitchell is running in the special election to represent District 2 in the House of Delegates. Former Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy resigned to fully dedicate herself to fundraising and campaigning to be the Democratic nominee for Governor in 2021. During this time of crisis when the 2nd District needs a voice the most, she abandoned the district to seek higher office. Heather previously ran in this district in 2019 and is running now to bring common sense solutions to Richmond. With Election Day less than 2 weeks away, I am asking you to support Heather as we flip this seat.

Below is a little biographical information  I encourage you to connect with Heather and share your thoughts and ideas.



Heather has tirelessly worked and successfully managed the demands of three jobs as a single mother in order to provide a quality life for her young daughter. Heather's determination for a better life led her down a path of public service. She has fought to provide answers that make sense in order to solve the real issues facing our community.

As a military wife, she understands  the sacrifice that the members of our military and their families make serving and protecting our freedom on the most personal level. Heather has personally worked through many of the frustrating barriers military families face each day. As a senior aide to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Heather has incomparable knowledge of the transportation, education and financial needs of our region.

Contact Information
Twitter: @ Mitchellforva



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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Governor Northam Blinked!

Dear Friend,

“The Governor blinked.”

That’s what one pundit told me when Ralph Northam decided this week not to sign the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) documents that would have pushed Virginia fuel taxes above 50 cents per gallon , imposed gasoline rationing, and reduced funding for roads.

And he was right. But blinking is not quite the same as saying “No.” 

The battle is not over. You and I cannot stop our efforts until Virginia withdraws from TCI, so that it cannot arise again. There are legislators eager to impose this carbon tax and spend the money. Until we convince them to abandon it, the TCI carbon tax hike can come back to hit us anytime.
You see, the Thomas Jefferson Institute has been the only broad-based state-wide policy organization fighting against the TCI carbon tax hike. Our Senior Fellow, Steve Haner, has written on it extensively. Even our new Chairman, former House Speaker Bill Howell weighed in in a Richmond Times-Dispatch commentary, calling it “a tax increase, taking money from one group of citizens to spend on another group of citizens.”   
Our voice has been a lonely one – yet it was heard, and we’ve been able to do it only because of your help. 
My friend, there are more battles to come: 
·     Proposals to impose California’s electric vehicle requirements on Virginians …
·     Union efforts to force high-cost monopoly union contracts on each of Virginia’s 312 local governments …
·     Legislation to repeal Virginia’s Right To Work law …
·     And more … always more … rules, taxes, and challenges to the free enterprise system.

I know it is almost Christmas. It’s a time your thoughts are on things other than the General Assembly, and they should be.
But our thoughts have to be on what this proudly left-progressive General Assembly is planning next.
Will you help us help you by making a tax-deductible gift to the Thomas Jefferson Institute today? You can do so by clicking here.
Your support – no matter how small – will make a big difference in our ability to fight the onslaught of new legislation coming from the Left … and help us lay the groundwork for a new Virginia of growth, opportunity, and prosperity.
Thank you so much for considering this.
Chris Braunlich

PS – The newspapers say the latest batch of $600 COVID recovery checks will go out next week. May I be so bold as to suggest a place you might consider donating some portion of yours? You can make a gift to the Thomas Jefferson Institute and its team of fighters by clicking here. Thanks again!

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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Your December 13th Sunday Summary

Dear Friend of TJI,

Governor Ralph Northam has proposed legalizing marijuana in Virginia, and The Family Foundation is putting together a coalition to oppose the idea. We can’t help but think that if we want to stop letting people have access to marijuana we ought to put government in charge of its distribution, and pretty soon no one will be able to find it.

Meanwhile …

1.) This is how elections are lost: With one week to go, Democrat applications to serve on the new Redistricting Commission had outpaced Republican applications 86-40. The commission will draw the lines for the next General Assembly and Congress … and if they are drawn to the advantage of the Left and conservatives do not put in the effort now, there should be no complaining that future elections were “stolen.” The application is here. Those who have worked for Congress or the General Assembly; held or ran for a public or political party office; or who have been a lobbyist within the last five years are ineligible. Political party leaders will each submit 16 proposed commissioners to a panel of retired judges who will then choose a total of eight to serve on the commission. If you’re serious and need help applying, email the Thomas Jefferson Institute at

2.) The Governor made his report to the General Assembly “money committees” last week and reported that Virginia is awash with an extra $1.5 billion. The Jefferson Institute’s Steve Haner reports on where it came from and how it would be spent hereIn related news, the Reason Foundation looked at the Census Bureau’s quarterly state and local tax data nationally and determined that there’s been made “virtually no change in collections for the first 9 months of 2020 vs 2019.” Read their commentary here.

3.) One thing missing again from Northam’s budget amendments is any support or assistance for parents whose children have been denied in-school education since March. Studies have indicated that students made “little or no progress” while learning from home, and that the learning loss for educationally at-risk children is up to 55 percent higher (here and here). Parents have found themselves spending additional funds for child-care, technology, books and, for children with special needs, outside therapies. The Left’s mantra has always been to do something “for the children,” but when they have the chance, there is nothing there “for the children” in a budget that empowers government, not parents. 

4.) During the special session, Delegate Kirk Cox proposed a budget amendment using federal COVID funds to provide grants to parents for additional resources. It was killed (here). Delegate Michael Webert has introduced legislation for 2021 providing that if a local school board doesn’t offer in-person instruction, the parents can take the state funding for that child and find a better alternative (here).

5.) How does Virginia compare with other states in business lockdowns, mask requirements, and “Stay at Home” orders? Economist Stephen Moore has noted that business lockdowns in blue states have severely impacted their economies and quotes Politico (here) as reporting that minorities and the poor “have been more vulnerable to job and income losses from the ensuing economic crisis, in large part because Black and Latino workers are over-represented in the service industries wiped out by shutdowns.” He also points to charts comparing the COVID regulations in each state here

6.) Over at The Wall Street Journal, Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Sunetra Gupta say the lockdowns could end next month, but it all depends on the prioritization of vaccine distribution (here). This compares with the position of Dr. Harald Schmidt, a medical ethic professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who argues that the elderly shouldn’t get the vaccine because they’re too white (here). “Woke” ethics comes to medicine.

7.) The Virginia Green Economy Act is heavily dependent on solar panels (nevermind the instability of solar and wind power). But local residents are starting to realize it impacts the reason they moved to where they moved, and they are pushing back.

8.) Foreshadowing possible trouble in the House for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has called for new Democratic leadership and faulted the old guard for not lifting up the “Next Generation.” Democrats lost seats in a year they were supposed to win them – largely due to a “Defund Police” and “Socialism” agenda from the Left – but this does not deter Rep. Ocasio-Cortez … and we say it should not. Run, AOC, Run!

9.) Young America’s Foundation, born out of the conservative revival of the ‘60s and ‘70s, saved the Reagan Ranch 22 years ago preserving many of the artifacts within. Now, it has saved Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois. When the pandemic is over, we know what vacation spot we’re heading to …

Finally … for the first time in 39 years, we’ll be spending Christmas at home, and we’ll resume this little letter on January 10. Your traditions are likely upended, too.  For many, this has been the worst year in the life of our nation … but only if our conceit permits us to ignore six years of World Wars, a century-ago pandemic that came and went and then came back even harder, a deep and long 10-year Great Depression, a seven-year battle for Independence and a four-year Civil War that almost tore us apart for good.

The nation has been through worse; the American character will persevere through this, too.  In an effort reminiscent of World War II, companies big and small have pivoted their research and development, redeployed their personnel, and retrofitted factories – all in the service of fighting something they did not even know existed a year ago. By any definition, it was extraordinary. The scientists were white and Black and Asian; American, Turkish, German, French. One came to America as a refugee from communism. But the leadership came from here.

When skeptics doubt the existence of American exceptionalism, they should be shown the receipts for last Monday’s delivery of the first three million doses of vaccine.

But for now, enjoy the holidays. Learn from Alex Trebek what the good stuff was in 2020.  Trade stories with your crazy Uncle Walter. Post on your social media what made the year a good one.  

Happy Sunday, Everyone.

Chris Braunlich
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