A Sit Down With Roger Hedgecock Part II: Conservatism, Governor Brown, Holding Their Feet to the Fire

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This is Part II of my interview with San Diego’s Roger Hedgecock, nationally syndicated talk show host. He is heard locally on KOGO 600 AM. You can read Part I of my interview with Hedgecock here.

Hedgecock had been a part of “Youth for Goldwater” when he was in high school. I asked him how he formed his conservative political philosophy at a young age:

I think it was reading in high school. The success in the 1950s and 60s, when I was really young, astounded my parents’ generation who had lived through Roosevelt and the War.  I wanted to find out why. The answer really was that we returned to a free market. We dismantled the command economy of World War II. The Republicans in the late 40s in Congress cut the federal budget by 47% in two years.  They dismantled wage and price controls.  They dismantled government control of industry.  They dismantled the rationing cards for gasoline and all the rest of the World War II stuff.  The private economy just exploded.  We had 12 million returning GIs and everybody was wondering in 1946 how they were going to get a job.  By 1951 they all had jobs.

So in the 60s, I am looking back this, and I wondered, “How did that happen?” It happened because the government got smaller, got out of the way, got less expensive, less intrusive. I realized that is what conservatism means. As a high school student, I was in Youth for Goldwater.  I went to the Republican Convention in San Francisco in 1964. As early as that, there was a huge portion of America that didn’t believe in the success.  They wanted a return to the government mandating, guaranteeing, government security, government blanket. They wanted the great father in Washington D.C. to take care of them.   I thought OK, but these are not free people. So it goes back to those roots.

Hedgecock has spent his entire life in California.  As such, I wanted his thoughts on the California electorate choosing Governor Brown yet again:

If I were to pick one of a number of variables that went into that decision by the California electorate, the one probably is: we are convinced now, after Schwarzenneger, that amateurs can’t do it. Brown has obviously been there many, many times.  Now, he may not be able to do it either because he is so beholden to the very interest groups that have a stranglehold at the state level. Of course they are the public employee unions, and the teacher unions in particular. There was a feeling that Schwarzenneger didn’t know what he was talking about. That feeling was accurate. It is going to take sophisticated politics, as well as policy, to try to craft, at this late date, a plan to save California from what looks like inevitable insolvency. Can Governor Brown do it?  I put the chances at about 30%. He was terrible the first time around. He was young and foolish. He’s older. He’s gone through a lot in Oakland.  His best characteristic is he does know how to talk to all sides. He isn’t afraid to talk to all sides. That’s a great beginning.  Now he hasn’t gotten beyond that beginning yet.  But it is a great beginning to have a governor that can talk to everybody and really have some clout with everybody.

For 16 years now, Hedgecock has traveled with his listeners to “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” in Washington D.C. Hedgecock explained the emphasis of this year’s trip, and the genesis of this idea almost two decades ago. The current “Hold Their Feet to the Fire XVI”, where Hegdecock listeners lobby Congress with the host, ends today:

We are going to be there at precisely the moment the current continuing resolution expires. We want spending cuts.  We want the budget balanced. We want these guys to stop spending more than $4 billion a day they don’t have. That’s the deficit spending rate right now, $4 billion a day.  In a month they have already exceeded the federal deficit spending of 2007… in one month. Something has got to change. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, I don’t care what you call yourselves, this thing is out of control.  Stop. Don’t increase the debt ceiling.  Don’t pass any more of these temporary continuing resolutions.  Bite the bullet, stop the spending.  We are there to say:  Control the border. We are doing this in conjunction with FAIR, the Federation of American Immigration Reform. Fifty talk show hosts are joining in this effort.  So we just about cover the country. I have a small group of listeners paying their own way to come with me and lobby. We are asking everybody who can’t come with us to e-mail, write and call. Make sure your representatives know. This is it. This is what the 2010 election is all about. You cannot continue to spend money that has not even been earned by generations of Americans that have not yet been born.  That’s just immoral.  We are going to have a strong stand on this stuff. We are going back there to say enough is enough.

People say, “Well, you are too few and you’re not going to have an impact.”  I remind people, when we went the first time, January of ’95, Gingrich and company had just come into the majority the House… the last the Republicans captured the majority. They were amazed to see us. In a Congressman’s life, the only people you see are paid lobbyists, who want something:  a tax loophole, or a grant or whatever. We came there not wanting anything. We wanted them to do what they said they would do in the Contract with America. We wanted a balanced budget. We wanted welfare reform. We wanted term limits. Sure enough, by the time we got through the decade of the ’90s, we had welfare reform. We had a balanced budget.  In 2007, when we met and went, there was  McCain/Kennedy, the illegal alien amnesty bill… the Democrats supported it. Republicans supported it. Bush supported it, said he would see us at the bill signing. The bill was defeated, because we went there and said, “no.”  We called on all of our listeners to e-mail and write. The Capitol switchboard was shut down. They could not do any other business. Their e-mail boxes, no matter how many times they emptied them, filled up again. We did not allow them to do any other business until they confronted this reality: they, the ruling elite, were totally disconnected from the vast majority of Americans who did not want illegal alien amnesty. They had to recognize it. The bill was defeated.  We are back in the soup now, worse than ever on spending. These guys have to realize the lesson of the 2010 election.  If you don’t get the message now, you’ll get it in 2012. There will be more people like you, looking for lobbying work.

Hedgecock also offered a quick take on the education system:

Our school system has been taken over by the labor unions, lock, stock and barrel. It is now run of, by and for the unions from construction to instruction. The kids are not getting a proper education and that’s a long term threat to the viability to our economy and our society.

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The third installment of this interview will feature Hedgecock’s thoughts on: national political figures, the 2012 Presidential race and social media.

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