‘Returning power to the people’

Published 9:44 pm Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mel Valkner
CASSOPOLIS — There’s something brewing in southwest Michigan, and it’s not the coffee at mom and pop cafes, kitchen tables and church gatherings.

As public trust in both Democratic and Republican lawmakers has waned, some citizens have been seeking other candidates outside the two-party system.

Enter the Tea Party. Or more specifically, localized Tea Party affiliates throughout the country and Michigan as well.

Tea Party chapters are not united under a specific political party and consider themselves grassroots organizations. Their focus is on limited government, upholding the Constitution and fiscal responsibility, among other principals.

The Cass County chapter of the Southwest Michigan Tea Party Patriots has been active in the area by attending rallies and candidate forums. The chapter hosted Mel Valkner, the U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan candidate for the 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, on Thursday night at the Cassopolis District Library.

“I will shake the establishment up beyond belief,” said Valkner, who said he would be the “defibrillator” of the U.S. government.

The 6th Congressional District seat is currently held by Fred Upton, a Republican from St. Joseph who has been re-elected 11 times. The other candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot are Don Cooney, a Democrat from Kalamazoo; Pat Foster, a Green Party candidate from Fennville; and Fred Strand, a Libertarian from Mattawan.

Valkner, a Kalamazoo resident and Western Michigan University graduate, has career experience as a certified public accountant, small business entrepreneur, health care administrator, business consultant, tax professional and financial executive. He is also a Vietnam War veteran and father of two.

The Taxpayers Party, Valkner explained, is affiliated with the national Constitution Party, the fastest growing third party in the U.S. He became interested in a third party after attending a Tea Party rally in April 2009 and saw that its members “were just ordinary people.”

“I had never joined a political party,” he told the audience of about 25 citizens Thursday. “Since then, I got so absorbed in all of this.”

After about 2,000 hours of research, he found himself drawn to the Taxpayers Party, and “got caught up in running for office.”

Valkner was nominated by the Taxpayers Party in June for the 6th Congressional District. He developed 10 core values important to him, which he coined “The Common Man Principals.”

“Their tentacles have reached places I never thought I would see them,” Valkner said of the U.S. government.

His focus is on “returning the power to the people” and reasserting Constitutional rights. Valkner acknowledges many of his ideas may appear radical, such as repealing the 16th Amendment (giving Congress power to collect income taxes without approportionment among states or basing it on the Census) and the 17th Amendment (direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote).

“It’s tough to ratify an amendment,” Valkner said.

He also supports abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Reserve; using gold and silver coin as stated in the Constitution; and paying off the national debt, a principal Valkner claims only the Constitution Party supports in its platform.

Valkner answered one question he said he hears often: Why vote for a third party candidate when we have a two-party system?

“You have to vote your conscience,” Valkner said. “Quit voting for the lesser of two evils. It’s still evil.

“If you’re not going to vote now, when you know there’s going to be a GOP landslide … my conscience is clear,” he said.

Valkner spoke briefly on his stance on several issues, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It was stupid then, and these wars are stupid now,” he said of the Vietnam War and the recent wars. “This is a no-win deal. Our founding fathers warned us, ‘avoid entangling alliances.'”

On immigration, he said: “The problem is not immigration, it’s illegal immigration.” Valkner does not support granting amnesty for illegals, but approves of securing the U.S. borders.

The candidate strongly advocates and spoke extensively about backing U.S. currency in gold and silver, something he said is stated in the Constitution.

“When your currency has no value … it’s over. It’s inevitable. We the people are at a crossroads.”

The Common Man Power Principals, developed by Mel Valkner

1. Vote third party.
2. Repeal the 16th Amendment.
3. Repeal the 17th Amendment.
4. Abolish the Federal Reserve.
5. States must use gold and silver coin as legal tender per the Constitution.
6. States must reassert their constitutional rights.
7. Restore and respect private enterprise.
8. Retract our military presence from 700 bases around the world.
9. Churches remove themselves from IRS 501(c)(3) status.
10. The Common Man must accept personal responsibility and reassert his sovereignty.