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Q&A: Buckley Merrill on state House

Republican Buckley Merrill discusses running for the state House of Representatives.

Buckley Merrill
Buckley Merrill is running for District 26. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo)

Name: Buckley Merrill

Party: Republican

Running for: State House, Legislative District

Previous Experience: political blogger

State Press: Why are you running for office?

Buckley Merrill: I've been involved in discussing political principles for the past 20 years, so my very first multi-day political event, I attended when I was 13 years old. When I was 13 we really didn't discuss all of the political ins and outs and policies and procedures and stuff, because that changes from year to year. Basically we focused on the political principles. Basically, for ten years, knowing and understanding political principles I could make predictions and say "Oh, you know what? The stuff that I'm seeing on the news, if they did that it would be better; if they did the other thing it would go wrong." And, quite typically, they did the other thing most often. So, basically, that was ten years of being aware of the principles. And then from 23 to 33 — I'm 34 now — I've been trying to teach those principles to other people. So, my understanding of those principles is higher than most people.

But what really got me to run for office is that at the different tea party events I would see different candidates come through, and I'd hear the questions and hear their responses, and they were saying different answers, and my answers were closer to the Constitution than their answers. And seeing the other candidates, I thought, "I'm like totally more charismatic than those guys. They're in office, I'm not. What's the problem?" So, basically a combination of those two things, saying the people in office don't truly understand the principles of politics, they're appealing to this group or that group or the other group, but they're not doing their job which is to protect life, liberty and property.

SP: Over the past few legislative sessions we've seen a lot of bills proposed having to do with guns on campus. How would you vote if a bill like that came up again?

BM: Well, the second amendment is there for a reason. Some people say it's for hunting and sport — no, not at all. You have a natural right to protect yourself, point blank. Basically, it's an unalienable right that no one can take away from you. There are two schools of thought. Some people think the government is there to give you rights, and that's opposite of how the founding fathers thought. So the opposite school of thought is that all unalienable rights are, well, unalienable rights. I guess Martians might not have those rights.

But the thing is, you have the right to protect yourself. Now, would I want to diminish somebody's right to protect himself because the only people who obey the laws are the good guys. The bad guys don't obey the laws; that's why they're bad guys. So, basically, bad guys can bring guns on campus and good guys can't? Now, of course, the way I would do it legislatively, is if they are getting tax dollars from Arizona I would say go for it. If, however, the schools are completely privately funded, then guess what? It's none of my business then. It's their prerogative to make those kind of choices. But my personal opinion is that I want people to be as defended as possible.

SP: We've also seen several bills dealing with reproductive issues, such as whether employers should be obligated to pay for birth control in their insurance and defining when a pregnancy starts. What is your stance on some of those?

BM: The entire thing with the employer — if it's the employer's money, why should the state decide what happens to it? I don't see where the state can come in and tell one person, "Hey, you need to do this, you need to do this, you need to do that" with their own stuff. I mean, say for example, if in your bedroom you have a poster of Johnny Depp, is it the government's prerogative to come in there and say, "No, you have to have one of Harry Bailey."? No, it's your stuff, it's your prerogative, and it's the exact same thing with employers. This is a right-to-work state; no one is forcing anyone to be employed by someone, it's nothing like that. So, the employee has the free choice to go from one place to another, wherever they feel best suited. If the employer isn't accommodating, guess what? They can leave, they can start their own business, whatever. Now, of, course, that ties into the entire creating a better environment for businesses.

SP: And how do you think the legislature could work toward creating a better environment for businesses?

BM: Fewer restrictions, fewer regulations. Say, for example, the board of cosmetology, there's eyebrow-threading. Now, what is the purpose of government? If you pay attention to the Declaration of Independence, the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty and property. Now, eyebrow-threading. Have people died because eyebrow-threading has gone wrong? Has anyone's liberty been threatened because eyebrow-threading was done wrong? Now, pursuit of happiness, if an eyebrow threading is done wrong, you have to wait a few months before it looks okay. But, point blank, life and liberty are not threatened by eyebrow-threading. So why in the world, would the Board of Cosmetology be forcing people to go to so many hours of school?

There are a lot of these boards across the state, and the more boards there are, the more restrictions there are on business, the more hurdles there are. So, the fewer hurdles there are, the more streamlined business will become, and therefore the economy will improve.

SP: How do you think the legislature should be working to keep college affordable or make it more affordable for students?

BM: Well, is it the government's job to do that?

SP: Do you think so?

BM: Well, let me put it this way. There is a tremendous different between schooling and education. I am all for education. Schooling, on the other hand, I don't see the benefits. You can go to school and never truly become educated, and you can become educated without much schooling. Say, for example, George Washington. How much time did he spend in school? Less than two years. Abraham Lincoln? Eighteen months. Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison were both kicked out of school. So schooling is not necessarily needed for education.

I'm all for education. Education is vital in order to have growth and progress. People need to learn, people need be inspired, but schooling is outdated. In fact, the current school system that we have now is much more geared toward the industrial age as opposed to where we are now, which is the information age.

SP: How do you think schools should be reorganized, then?

BM: This goes back to the political principle that lots of small is better than one big. I think if school's want to appeal more to education rather than just schooling in the industrial age, they would become smaller and closer to home. Closer to things like community colleges and trade schools, because lots of little is more powerful than one big.

SP: What do you think needs to be done regarding immigration?

BM: Well, what can we do in the state? Not that much, because immigration is a federal issue. They're the ones that are given the responsibility for naturalization of citizens and protecting the border. The thing is, though, the entire reason that SB1070 came about is while it is the federal government's responsibility, they're not doing it.

We have borders so everyone on this side falls under the U.S. jurisdiction, and everyone on their side falls under theirs. We cannot solve problems with a porous border, because than we'll be solving their problems. The federal jurisdiction is basically the border; once they're in Arizona it becomes Arizona's problem. Now, what is the right step? Ultimately, the right step is to make sure we send people to Washington to do their job. Until that's fixed, if the federal government doesn't enforce the laws that are on the books, it falls to the state.

SP: What are some of the biggest challenges you see facing you during the campaign and if you end up being elected?

BM: LD 26 is the most contested district. There are eight different candidates — four Republicans, two Democrats, a Libertarian and a Green party. And part of the reason is that none of us have held office before. So, that ultimately is not only a challenge for me but for everyone else. One way I've been trying to combat this is my Declaration of Independence blog series. Basically, I've broken the Declaration down into forty parts, and I have the actual text, what it meant then, what it means now, and what I will do about it in the state legislature. I guess the challenge is to getting more people to read that, because then they'll see that I know what's going on and understand political principles.

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