Episode 104 With David Barton: Report from Texas and Around the Nation

I am joined today with historian and former vice chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, David Barton. Great to have you here. Thanks so much for joining us.


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Jonathan Schober:
So what I like to know, you have a broad range of experience and context both in Texas, but really nationally as you look at the things that are going on. I mean, my goodness, we are facing, I think only the second time, you’re the historian, but I think only the second time that we may have a president run for reelection. We’ve got all kinds of craziness going on. And right now there’s a lot of focus on legislatures.

Where I’d like to go with this conversation is give us a little update on what you’re seeing, not just in Texas, but really around the country as folks are kind of addressing to the Biden presidency and everything that’s going on with woke culture in our nation?

David Barton:
Yeah. There’s a lot that’s happened, I would say in the last 15, 17 months. I started a little over a year ago, coming down with statues, and statues coming down all over the place. Actually, what occurred did not really match the narrative they were giving us, but that’s a different discussion. And about the same time you have the COVID stuff that hits. So between those two issues, it’s really hit a lot of Americans, caused a lot of people to rethink a lot of things. And it’s interesting that out of that has come a lot of very conservative trends. We’re seeing, for example, a lot of push back against federal overreach and even against gubernatorial overreach.

We’re seeing legislators across the nation saying, “Wait a minute, legislators are supposed to make the policy and not governors.” So they’re stepping up in a very real way. Even just recently, the people of Wisconsin have actually come up with a petition to be able to override their governor who’s not listening to the legislator. So we’re just seeing a lot of stuff where people standing up and saying, “No, no, no. We want limited government. We want government that responds to us. We don’t want to serve the government. We want the government to serve the people.”

So that’s been very good to see that. Out of that, we see a whole lot of, I would say, even realignment of jurisdictions. Federalism is a term that most Americans really don’t know today. In Poland, we find that most Americans think federalism means more federal government. It means exactly the opposite. Federalism means the United States federal government.

Jonathan Schober:
Exactly the opposite.

David Barton:
Yeah, exactly. So this is a concept of the founding fathers to make sure the feds did not get into everything. Federalism means more local controls. So in the constitution, there’s only 17 issues the constitution gives to the federal government. Everything else belongs to the states. So now under the Biden presidency, particularly as they came out with so many executive orders in those first two weeks, and actually I think there were more executive orders issued in the first two weeks than 14 presidents issued in their total presidency. And those executive orders have continued to come. We’ve seen even more in the last week or so. They’re just appalling on the scope of what they’re doing.

You’re seeing states pushback. It was interesting that Texas was one of the first ones to push back on immigration issues. So Attorney General Paxton went to the court and said, “No, no, no. Biden’s overstep this.” A federal judge quickly agreed and said, “This is exactly right. Biden can’t set aside deportation orders just because he’s president. You have federal laws.” So Texas did that, and 17 other states have now joined Texas in there.

We’re seeing the same thing with state standing up on Second Amendment issues where executive orders are overreaching in Second Amendment issues. We’re seeing the same thing, not only with the immigration. By the way, here’s the interesting note in immigration. We often think of immigration as a federal issue, and it’s interesting that the founding fathers made it a state issue. It was not until 1875, 1876, that the US Supreme Court said, “We really think immigration should be a federal issue, not a state issue.” Well, that was the court that said that, not the constitution. So what happened-

Jonathan Schober:
Hold on. Are you saying that that was our first activist court that decided that it was their job to make law?

David Barton:
Well, actually we had an activist court back in 1803 that decided their jobs. At that time, the court got slapped down for what it did. It was considered a very embarrassing moment for the court, but nonetheless, they tried to do it. So the court has tried to do that a number of times and actually had been slapped down often, but they didn’t slap him down in that 1875, ’76 period. The logic the founding fathers had was really simple. They said, “If you’re coming to live here in America, you’re not going to live in the United States. You’re going to live in Texas or Maryland or New York or Wyoming or wherever.”

So those states ought to have a say in who lives in those states to some degree. So that’s why it’s interesting to see that we’ve seen just in the last couple of weeks, South Carolina and Iowa, the governor said, “Wait a minute, you’re not going to send unaccompanied minors into our states. That’s not what we’re taking in our states.” That’s really going back to the original intent of the constitution where the states have a voice in immigration. They get a decision on who gets to come in and their states and how they get there.

As Jefferson said way back with immigration, the federal government’s duty with immigrants is to make sure that they’re healthy when they get here. And after that, it’s the states. So we’re seeing that kind of pushback. We’re just seeing it in so many areas. We’ve even seen 21 states now pass resolutions that are saying, “Hey, there is a 10th amendment of the constitution that says anything not in the constitution explicitly belongs to the states, we want the federal government to get back inside this box.”

So 21 states doing that. We’ve seen 17 states that have now established commissions either with the state attorney general or with the legislature said, “We’re going to review every executive order that comes down from the president. And if that’s outside the constitutional box, we’re not going to put up with that.” So this, I don’t think would have been possible without the cancel culture and without the COVID stuff that happened where you had so much executive overreach in so many areas. It’s just good to see people pushing back at such a really widespread level.

Jonathan Schober:
Yeah. One of the things that I think at evidence of the pushback is the number of grassroots activists that are coming in. I feel like one of the true believers. I’ve been following this for a long time, but I’m seeing more and more of my friends and people that have been kind of apolitical historically. I know that you’re connected with a lot of different grassroots organizations. What are you seeing as they’re kind of enabling sort of new people that are coming into the process? What are they doing? How can we sort of welcome these new fighters, new believers, if you will, into the fold so they can actually be effective in their activism?

David Barton:
Well, one of the things that we’re seeing, and I just see really good stuff happening right now, and there’s plenty of bad stuff, sure. But one of the things that we’ve lacked is really a strong presence of younger generations. Here, I’m sitting with white hair. But Gen Z and Millennials have not been actively engaged. They tend to under vote in every election even though that’s always hot that there’s going to be a youth turnout, voter turnout, a Millennial turnout. It not been there.

And yet I’m seeing now things change. I was just in DC last week and there was probably 40, 50 pastors there because there are… As folks know, the Republicans are only five seats away from having the House of Representatives. So Democrats have to keep that coalition together if they’re going to be in charge. But what they’ve done in the first three to four months had been very unpopular.

Now, the thing that Democrats typically do is they typically cram everything down your throat in the first six months, and then they give you the next 18 months to forget what they did. So right now, the numbers are very negative. Very negative in what’s happening at the immigration. Very negative on the concept of expanding the courts. Court packing is this called. Very negative on repealing the tax cuts of 2017, Trump tax cuts. Very negative in so many things.

So at this point while Republicans need five seats, there are 46 battlegrounds seats that are now out there. And at the meeting that I was at this past week in DC, of those 40 or 50 folks who were there that were leaders, state leaders must have more Millennial. They’re pastors, they’re young people and they’ve been evolved to say, “This is not the direction we want to see America go.”

So that’s very healthy, very good. That’s very encouraging to me to say that. And what is starting to happen now is we’re figuring out this is not just a need for a president or a governor. This is a need for local school boards and city councils. So we saw the recent Biden order come down where he’s saying, “From the federal government, I will give money to any school district that will teach 1619 or teach critical race theory.

Well, guess what? You may have a great state law that says you can’t do that, but when you’re offering money to local school districts , they’re going to pick stuff up because they want the money. So now the battle is shifting for the future of the nation. What we teach is shifting the local school districts. I’m talking to legislators in one of the states recently where their new standards in their state say, “We’re not going to teach the American revolution or the Civil War. We’re not going to teach World War I or World War II, or the Holocaust, but we will teach 1619 and how America is flawed from the very beginning.”

I mean, that’s not school district. That’s a state doing that. And already in Texas, we have school picked up 1619, critical race theory, et cetera. So we’re learning, you know what? I need to pay attention to my local district. I need to pay attention to the school board and to the mayor. I need to pay attention to the superintendent of schools. I need to pay attention to the public utility district, whatever it is because so much right now was being fought at a local level, not at a national level.

We all know there’s fights at the national level. But in a very real sense, they’ve come to a local level in a way that we’ve not seen before. And that is causing people to engage and get organized. I think that’s really, really healthy for the future of the country is when people start caring about what happens in their local community, to their local schools already with all the online schooling that went on. So many parents are saying, “I didn’t have any clue if it was this bad, or they were teaching my kids this stuff.”

So we’ve seen now the desire for choice just skyrocket. We’re seeing states pass school choice measures. Homeschool students have gone from 4.2% to 11%. And 40% of the population is looking at homeschooling. So I think it’s good that we’re breaking up the government monopoly on education. Anywhere you have a monopoly, you need to have an antitrust. You need to have competition. We’re seeing that with big tech. They’re a monopoly. And we need competition with big tech. We’re not getting it that they control the message.

It’s been that way with government education for a while. They control the message. We’re not getting competition. We’re not able to improve in areas. I really like what I’m seeing right now in Texas and elsewhere with people wanting a different approach that they don’t want the top down approach. They want my local district, my local schools. I want to choose my education. I want to choose my healthcare. I want to choose my tech provider platforms. I want those choices. And I think that’s very healthy.

Jonathan Schober:
Something to kind of tie this to conversation, the importance of local elections and local issues. And the other thing that you mentioned a couple of times was engagement with pastors, which while historically they were a huge part of our founding, I think that in the current context, a lot of pastors have traditionally been hesitant to engage in politics and in really kind of active ways. With the focus on so many of these local issues, I mean, I’m over here in Leander, Texas. I mean, the stuff that they they’re teaching, I mean, it’s porn. I mean, there’s no other way to put it and it’s open pornography.

David Barton:
Yeah.

Jonathan Schober:
What do you say to those pastors that may be… They’re good people. They love the Lord. They do, but they have not traditionally been engaged, but they’re looking and they’re saying, “Wow, this is a disaster.” What do you tell those pastors to get engaged and to do something? What would you say to those?

David Barton:
What I would say to them is I like to ask questions a lot. I don’t necessarily have to teach people. One of the things as a Christian related to the Bible, one of the things I see that Jesus did was in the gospels he asked more than 300 questions. Now, he didn’t answer a whole lot of them, he asked a lot and that’s to make people think. And I would ask pastors, “Where did you get the idea that you shouldn’t be involved in politics? Because it’s not historical. It’s not biblical. Jesus got involved in all sorts of issues of the day. Called out policies, called out leaders, called them by name. He did that. Where did you get the idea that we shouldn’t offend people?”

Jesus offended people all the time, not because he tried to, just because he told them the truth, and he was very open about what was going on in the culture then. Called out a lot of things in the culture that were not right and made a lot of people mad, including the times of his own disciples. So I would start asking questions. Why is it you don’t address these kinds of issues? I mean, from a Christian standpoint, we’ve seen in America that the number of professing Christians has dropped 20 points in the last 20 years. 20 years ago, 85% of Americans professed Christianity. Today, there’s 65%.

The fastest growing faith affiliation in America is what’s called the nones, N-O-N-E-S. Those who want no religion at all. And when asked people, why are you leaving Christianity? The biggest reason given, two out of three say, “Because it’s not relevant to anything going on right now. I get nothing insured that relates to what’s going on in my life.”

So while these guys don’t want to offend anyone, they’re not talking about anything because you offend people when you start talking about what’s going on in the culture. It doesn’t mean everybody’s going to leave it, it means they start thinking. You don’t get people to change or think until you touch their emotions. So our first reaction is always the defensive. “Wait a minute. I’m not sure about that.” The more they think about it, the more they come around to it. So we’re seeing that with 1619. Initially it was, “Yeah, there’s racism. We needed to deal with that.”

But now it’s gone so far. People are saying with the cancel culture, “Wait a minute. You’re taking that statues. You said these were Confederate statues. Then why don’t you take down Ulysses S. Grant who’s the leader of the Union Forces? Why did you take down the Mass 54th that is a black union regiment. Why did you take down David Farragut who was the union commander of all the naval forces? Why don’t you take down to three statues of Abraham Lincoln who’s the great emancipator? If this is about racism, what are you doing? And why don’t you take down in El Paso, the statue of Jesus and just own a ghost? So people, it’s gone too far.

Initially the reaction was, “Yeah, there’s sympathy for this because we don’t want racism in America.” And we don’t want racism in America. But then as you started watching, that’s not what this was about. This was about a hate America movement. I mean, why go after the World War I memorials? Why go after the World War II memorial? Why deface the 9/11 memorial? If this is about racism, why did you do that? So people have now turned against that cancel culture stuff. And Black Lives Matter has lost so much of the ground it had early on because people initially had an emotional reaction. And then as their brain checked in and said, “Wait a minute.”

And that’s the way it is with pastors. Just because people in your church get emotional and say, “You shouldn’t have talked about that.” It doesn’t mean they’re going to leave the church, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about it.” I mean, you should’ve. So we’re starting to see pastors now catch on to that. California for me is a great example. I was in a church out there recently speaking there. That church is the only church in he three county region that they know of they’re still having church. Everybody else has shut down because the governor said to.

Jonathan Schober:
Now hold on just a second. I really want to make the point here. So in America, in California, there is a county that only has one church because of a government shut down?

David Barton:
Yeah, the governor.

Jonathan Schober:
That’s not Canada, that’s not the Middle East.

David Barton:
That’s right.

Jonathan Schober:
That’s not China. That’s here?

David Barton:
The governor said you can’t have church and they said, “Okay, we can’t have church.” Are you kidding me? Do you not know a competition? Oh no, we used to teach that in school. We don’t teach that anymore. I mean, literally these other three counties, they’re the only church they know of in three counties that’s open. So they’ve got huge crowds, but every service they meet, Santa Clara County is fining them $5,000. I spoke there Sunday morning, three services, $15,000. Of course I spoke there for… Their fines are now over $3 million and they’re not backing down, and they’re growing.

I’ve got a friend in Southern California, Chino Hills and he’s not backing down. And he used to have about 7,000 in church. It’s now the 25,000 church because he’s speaking out. He is a leader. He’s talking about what’s going on in the culture, talking about what city council is doing, talking about what the governor is doing. People are flocking to that. They want leadership. They want relevancy. They want people to have a backbone.

These are things they care about. Their businesses are being shut down. Their families are being taken over. They want some help on that. And that’s all we’re telling pastors. I’m starting to see a change, and I’m really starting to see a change with the younger pastors, Millennial guys. And for the last 10 years, that’s been the group that’s been most resistant to that. Now we see the change.

So I just see wonderful, wonderful things happening right now with a lot of them. Now, a lot of them are on the wrong side still. We do a lot of polling work with Americans, and some citizens, and legislators, and churches. And by the way, right now with 384,000 churches in America 72% said, “They do not agree with the Bible’s teachings on basic issues.”

So we’re looking at three out of four churches that just are totally checked out on what scriptural stuff says. But the other one-fourth, those are the ones that are starting to stand up and make a change in the culture. So what we’re seeing up in Wisconsin with, “We want the governor’s orders rescinded.” That’s people of faith standing up and saying, “We’re not going to have a dictator. We’re not going to have that. This is our government.”

So fortunately in Texas, we haven’t had to get to that point. Although, we have had mayors that need to be reigned in. Definitely some mayors are out of bounds. But I’m just saying good things happening across the nation and across Texas too with engagement in local schools and school boards and school districts and mayor’s races. And I think that’s where you get healthiest from the bottom up, not from the top down.

Jonathan Schober:
Absolutely, great. Well, we’re going to take a quick break, but when we come back, I’ve got one last question for you, and the question is going to be what keeps you up at night?

Pastor Schober:
Promises. God’s promises. He makes them, and he keeps them. Listen to this one. Hi, I’m Pastor Schober and the promises from Proverbs 30:5, it says, “Every word of God is pure. He is a shield to them that put their trust in him.” Let me tell you something. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t need a shield from time to time. There are things that are fired at you that can hurt you and paying you in spirit, soul, body even. But if you’ve got the shield of God’s word, it is a protection. It takes care of you and you will have God’s perfection. I can’t tell you anything better than that. It’s Proverbs 30:5. Remember, God keeps his promises.

Jonathan Schober:
We are with the herd and being heard with David Barton today and having an update on the legislative update, what’s going on around the country. But the question that I have for you is what keeps you up at night?

David Barton:
There’s two ways to take that question and one is kind of allegorical and one is quite literal. So I’m going to hit the literal one first. What keeps me up at night right now is all the good stuff happening in the states. I mean, literally every day seems like we’re on a Zoom call with the state legislature somewhere working on issues with them. My nights go to two, three, four in the morning working on a lot of legislative issues with a lot of states and a lot of legislators. And literally that keeps me up at night in a literal sense.

Now in a figurative sense, and the more rhetorical sense, the things that keep me up at night are things like we’re seeing now with education, because that is the future of everything. I mean, Jesus has a great statement in Luke 6:40, where it said, “Every student, when he’s fully trained will be like his teacher. So what I’m seeing for example, what we’re doing with schools and young people, great kids. But they don’t have the knowledge yet. That’s why they go to school is to gain knowledge.

And if we’re going to tell them that the American constitution has always been racist and always been bad and we need something different, and by the way, the free market is a terrible system, we need socialism. I see all those things being taught and I see how they’re being received. Right now our polling shows that literally 75% of college students say that the free market needs to be replaced with socialism. 69% of Millennials say that America will not survive that transition if that transition occurs. And these are our future leaders we’re talking about.

53% of college students right now say that they disagree with free speech protections. And 19% say that they believe violence is an acceptable response to speech they disagree with. You can’t survive that. 68% of Americans said 80% of Millennials say that there is no absolute moral truth. It’s whatever you decide and whatever you want to choose. There’s no way America survives that. So if there’s anything that keeps me up at night in the rhetorical or figurative sense, it is what is happening in education. And the fact that schools are heading the way they are and the fact that the Biden executive order has said, “Hey, if you’ll take this poison pill, if you’ll teach the 1619 Project, and if you’ll teach critical race theory,” which is guaranteed to kill you in the long run, “if you’ll take this pill, I’ll give you money.” There’s going to be unlimited number of schools that do that.

So the fact that we no longer are thinkers, that we just kind of go with the flow, that’s rhetorically what bothers me the most. I do everything I can to help it go the other direction. That’s why we do all the conferences and places we do, and things we do is to educate people. And I am seeing change, but the future of America really hangs in the balance now because of what’s being done in education.

Jonathan Schober:
So if someone wants to get in contact with what you’re doing, what’s the best website? What’s the best way to stay connected with you.?

David Barton:
All of our endeavors are pulled together on the website, wallbuilders.com and WallBuilders is a name we take from the Bible, Book of Nehemiah. It’s the greatest grassroots ever in the Bible. We lacked that concept of getting healthy from the ground up ,from grassroots up. And so our faith endeavors, our legislative endeavors, our legal endeavors, our educational endeavors, everything is there and we’re engaged in all of those areas very actively.

Jonathan Schober:
Thank you so much. Thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you for your consistency over these many, many decades. Truly an honor. Thank you for being on the show, David.

David Barton:
My pleasure, Jon. Thanks for all you’re doing, brother. Bless you.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, thanks for listening to The Elephant Heard. If you do want to get in contact with us, or you have a question or a topic you’d like for us to discuss, or maybe a guest that you’d like for us to reach out to, you can actually text me directly at 512-729-5712.

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