Mark Pulliam: Lawyer, Writer, and Activist

Spread Great Ideas
Spread Great Ideas
Mark Pulliam: Lawyer, Writer, and Activist
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Mark Pulliam podcast coverPlease welcome Mark Pulliam, an award-winning lawyer, writer, and activist living in East Tennessee.  His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, the Federalist, and many other publications.  He writes regularly at Misrule of Law and is also a contributing editor at Law and Liberty.

As a “political refugee” from blue Austin, TX, today he’s joining me to discuss the ups and downs of building a grassroots conservative movement as a local activist in a supposedly “friendly” area.  After all, the part of East Tennessee in which he lives, Blount County, voted by a 71% to 27% margin in 2020 for Donald Trump.  Yet in building this grassroots movement which, you’d think, would be welcomed by the political establishment that purports to also be “conservative” he has run into the local version of “The Swamp” – a long-standing good ole boy network filled with RINOs that demonstrates the same clannish behavior which the original Scotch Irish settlers of East Tennessee brought with them.

Is it possible for an “outsider” to inject a sense of urgency into the local populace and wake them from their slumber to defend their values and way of life from local leaders who say one thing and do another?  Let’s find out.

Who Is Mark Pulliam?

Mark Pulliam is a legal commentator and writer known for his conservative viewpoints on law, politics, and society. Pulliam has made a significant impact through his writings and public commentary. His work often focuses on critiquing the liberal bias in legal academia and the judiciary, advocating for a return to the original principles of the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

Pulliam’s articles and essays have been featured in various reputable publications, including Law & Liberty, The Wall Street Journal, and National Review, among others. He is recognized for his ability to dissect complex legal issues and present them in a way that is accessible to a broad audience. Pulliam’s critiques extend to topics such as affirmative action, judicial activism, and the administrative state, highlighting his commitment to conservative legal principles.

Aside from his legal commentary, Pulliam is actively involved in grassroots movements and conservative activism. He often speaks about the importance of local political engagement and the need for conservatives to be more active in influencing policy and legal education. Pulliam’s dedication to his beliefs and his efforts to mobilize others speak to his role as not just a commentator but an active participant in the political and legal discourse.

Throughout his career, Mark Pulliam has established himself as a thought leader in conservative legal circles, championing the causes he believes in while encouraging others to take a stand for their principles. His work continues to inspire and provoke discussion among legal professionals, students, and the general public interested in the future of American law and governance.

Key Takeaways

  • Grassroots Movements in Politically Homogenous Areas: Even in areas where political leanings seem homogenous, establishing a grassroots movement can face significant challenges from established local networks and political establishments.
  • Adaptation to Digital Platforms for Advocacy: Traditional forms of expressing opinions, like writing letters to editors, have evolved. Activists and individuals now leverage blogs, social media, and digital platforms to voice their opinions and rally support.
  • Local vs. National Influence: The impact of activism can vary significantly between local, state, and national levels. While national platforms might offer a larger audience, local activism can directly affect community policies and the daily lives of individuals.
  • Election Integrity and Participation: Confidence in the election process is crucial for active political participation. Efforts to ensure election integrity and encourage voter participation are essential, especially in the context of concerns over election security and fairness.

Favorite Mark Pulliam Quote

Mark Pulliam quote on taking action

 

“One person can’t change the political direction of a county… It requires a movement, it requires broad-based community participation… I’m hoping that others will step up and pick up the baton also.” – Mark Pulliam

This quote emphasizes the power of collective action over individual efforts in effecting political change. It acknowledges that transforming a community’s political landscape is a complex endeavor that demands the engagement and participation of a broad base of individuals. By expressing hope that others will join the effort, Pulliam highlights the importance of shared responsibility and collaborative work in driving social and political progress. This call to action serves as a reminder that significant change is often the result of many voices coming together, rather than the efforts of a lone individual.

Additional Resources

Final Thoughts

My interview with Mark Pulliam provides invaluable insights into the realm of political activism, grassroots movements, and the importance of broad-based community participation in effecting change. Pulliam, through his experience and actions, underscores the limitations of individual efforts in transforming political landscapes and the critical need for collective action. He emphasizes that significant shifts in politics require not just the vision of one but the concerted efforts of many, rallying together for a common cause.

Pulliam’s reflections on his journey from focusing on local issues to engaging with national and state matters shows the dynamic nature of activism. It’s a reminder that while local engagement is crucial, maintaining a balanced perspective that encompasses various levels of governance can amplify impact.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey of discovery as I explore compelling stories from around the globe. From movements for sovereignty to breakthroughs in technology and more, the Spread Great Ideas Podcast delves into a diverse array of subjects designed to enlighten, provoke thought, and educate.

Ensure you’re up-to-date with our freshest episodes by subscribing. Voice your opinions through a review, and engage with us on social media platforms (X, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) for lively debates and previews of what’s next. We value your input highly, so dive into the dialogue and become an integral member of our community.

Join the conversation, become part of the movement, and help drive the change you wish to see in your community and beyond. Your voice matters, and together, we can make a difference.

Full Transcript of Our Conversation

Introduction to Mark Pulliam’s Journey to East Tennessee

00:00.00 – Brian Crane
Please. Welcome Mark Pullham an award-winning lawyer writer and activist living in East Tennessee his work has appeared in the wall street journal the la times the federalist and many other publications he writes regularly at Misrule of law and is also a contributing editor at law and liberty. As a political refugee from blue austin Texas today. He’s joining me to discuss the ups and downs of building a grassroots conservative movement as a local activist in a supposedly quote unquote friendly area after all the part of East Tennessee

Challenges in Building a Grassroots Conservative Movement

00:20.28 – Mark Pulliam
The whole. With.

00:31.76 – Brian Crane
In which he lives, Blount county voted by a 71% to 27% margin in favor of Donald Trump in the twenty Twenty election yet in building this grassroots movement which you’d think would be welcomed by the political establishment that purports to also be conservative. He has run into.

00:44.15 – Mark Pulliam
.

00:46.10 – Mark Pulliam
Of the school.

The Impact of Local Politics and the ‘Good Ol’ Boy’ Network

00:49.13 – Brian Crane
His local version of the swamp is a longstanding good ol’ boy network filled with rhinos that demonstrates the same clannish behavior which the original scotch-irish settlers of East Tennessee brought with them. Is it possible for an outsider to inject a sense of urgency into the local populace and wake them from their slumber in order to defend their values. And the way of life from local leaders who say 1 thing and do another let’s find out Mark thanks for joining me.

01:15.65 – Mark Pulliam
, but, my pleasure to be here.

01:16.91 – Brian Crane
What? Okay thank you? Yeah excellent I thought there was an ah ah blurb there with the audio. , yeah, so did you want to just briefly describe how you wound up in East Tennessee, you and your wife, what’s but what? How did you get there?

Adapting to Digital Platforms for Advocacy
01:33.68 – Mark Pulliam
Sure. Well first of all, I don’t want people to think that I’m all that remarkable . I don’t consider myself a political activist and what I’m doing here in East Tennessee is not. You know, trying to build a grassroots movement per se I feel like I’m a pretty ordinary boomer albeit an opinionated. You know, conservative minded boomer and what I’m doing here isn’t really any different than I’ve done any other place I’ve lived. You know when I lived in Los Angeles or San Diego or Austin Texas you stay informed and you express your opinions. It used to be that somebody with opinions would express them by writing letters to the editor of the local newspaper. Unfortunately these days newspapers are dying people don’t read them and. Technology has moved in a different direction. If you have opinions you want to express, you start blogging, you write for some platform and that’s what I know you get on Twitter or x and and I have adapted to some of those technologies. But. I started out as just a guy who used to write op-eds for the local newspaper, write letters to the editor etc and I think I’ve just sort of carried that on and now that I’ve retired from practicing a lot I have more time on my hands.

03:02.20 – Mark Pulliam
And I kind of decided about ten years ago to make writing a second career and so I started developing more digital platforms and writing for a greater variety of publications. Started my own blog Misrule of law and so to answer your questions. What brought us to East Tennessee? You know I grew up on the East Coast. I’m from Maryland originally and had practiced law in Southern California and after I retired. In 2010 and had the opportunity to relocate I decided to get out of dodge things were just becoming in my judgment you know too liberal too multicultural and so I moved back to Texas where Rick Perry was still governor and. Unfortunately the place in Texas I picked was Austin where I had gone to law school and in the seven years that I lived there Austin went from being kind of a funky fun college town to being the epicenter of this democratic socialist revolution where they. You know curbed the police and unleashed the homeless and it really became pretty chaotic and so my wife and I decided you know this isn’t where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives and so we looked all around the country. , you know, literally from. Ah.

04:37.92 – Mark Pulliam
Ah, Alaska to Arkansas to a bunch of places you know Utah and we were drawn to East Tennessee because it’s so beautiful. But mostly because it was you know, normal. It had not been influenced by. These, you know, sort of crazy events that had really developed on the coasts and in the major cities and you know there’s plenty of water. Plenty of electricity. You know, temperate to four season climate etc. You know, no state income tax and so. We moved here. You know one of the things we looked at was how do people vote and we saw that people here voted very conservatively and so we thought okay this is a place we could move to. That’s not going to change under our feet. Like Southern California had changed under my feet in the thirty years that I lived there going from Reagan country to Gavin Newsom country and the same thing in Austin Texas and so once we got here. ah we realized that we weren’t you know Blount County Tennessee is not like living in Southern California in 1995 or 1990 you know it’s a different place and I’ve never lived in a small town before and so it has taken I guess 4 years for us to really figure it out.

06:11.56 – Mark Pulliam
How different it is and to kind of understand those differences and to you know, learn to to deal with them.

06:20.81 – Brian Crane
Okay, got it. Thank you and so once you got your feet underneath you and you learned the differences. What then led you into setting up. The Blunt County Conservative coalition.

Forming the Blount County Conservative Coalition

06:35.26 – Mark Pulliam
Well so one of the things that you know I had been involved in in Southern California and then also in Texas was republican politics and because every place I’ve ever lived if you were a conservative person. You got involved in republican politics so you could hang out with people who shared your you know your values and your attitudes and you know and that the purpose of the republican party was that you could work together to you know influence. Ah politics you know candidates. Ah.

07:08.46 – Brian Crane
Yep.

07:10.00 – Mark Pulliam
Platforms et cetera so we got here and the first thing we did was you know figure it out. Okay, so where are all of the conservative activists you know and where’s the republican party because we want to get involved and. Yeah, and we had been involved in it in a significant way in Texas we were delegates to the state republican convention and had been involved in some activist groups both within and without the you know auspices of the republican party and we got here and. You know it was they either didn’t exist or to the extent that they appeared to exist they were moribund and so we thought well they just need you know they just need some help and we thought that surely they would you know? value. Our volunteer efforts would welcome us with open arms and it turned out that they weren’t and this took us probably longer than it should have to figure out. Just because it was so counterintuitive to you know what we had expected. And what we found is that they were not interested in reviving ah, or you know breathing life into the county republican party because and you know and this is my.

08:40.63 – Mark Pulliam
You know this is my opinion. That the establishment of the chamber of commerce, the prominent businesses and the longstanding families that have power and influence in Blount County wanted to preserve that. And that if you had a grassroots ah dynamic grassroots organization such as a local republican party that was registering voters and getting out the vote and recruiting candidates and so forth that that influence would encroach upon.

09:17.56 – Mark Pulliam
Their influence and they felt like we have a monopoly over this influence. We basically decide who runs who gets selected, what policies get adapted and we don’t want the people getting in our way and so they had over a period of many years effectively, Neutered the the Republican Party. It doesn’t essentially do nothing and it exists on paper only and so when I decided like I said well Geez I like to volunteer I Want to be on your board and so forth.

09:54.86 – Mark Pulliam
At the end of the day sort of a door was slammed in our face and and so because you know we had wanted to participate and become part of the republican party when that avenue was closed to us. We decided. You know first to create this Facebook page blunt county conservative sentinel which now has over 2100 followers and then set up an organization called the blunt county conservative coalition which started having monthly meetings. And we did that for the better part of 3 years just to try to get the ball rolling with community activism. Get people to start paying attention to what was going on to get involved and get engaged and so we did that and. We sort of reached a point where we’re waiting to see if there’s enough time to form a true grassroots participation because you know what my wife and I were doing is basically having these monthly meetings bring in speakers and I would. You know, talk to the audience but 1 person can’t change the political direction of a county. It. It requires a movement, it requires broad-based community participation and I have over the last four years sort of become.

11:24.27 – Mark Pulliam
Identified at least in the establishment’s mind as a troublemaker and so this grassroots coalition if 1 is going to coalesce has to have a public face that is not my public face and so I’m kind of hoping that somebody will step up and.

11:27.97 – Brian Crane
, yeah.

11:43.46 – Mark Pulliam
You know, basically pick up the Baton and go with it.

11:48.37 – Brian Crane
Makes sense and so when you think about your efforts both at a let’s say a local level and also your writing efforts which one do you believe has a bigger impact. Maybe that’s not the right word but which one do you feel like that actually drives influence right? So like with the monthly meetings you’re able to get these people together and the Facebook page you’re able to spread a message locally.

Local vs. National Influence: The Role of Writing and Community Meetings

12:16.89 – Mark Pulliam
Sort of.

12:19.81 – Brian Crane
It is really kind of Tennessee Centric from what I’ve seen but like let’s assume it’s local plus statewide and then you also write for a national audience. So yeah, if there is, there is a tier if you think about it .

12:24.19 – Mark Pulliam
So. Are.

12:36.53 – Brian Crane
Like a lever which Lever are you pulling that actually has the biggest ah biggest influence.

12:41.26 – Mark Pulliam
, well so I know I’m primarily a writer. I’m not somebody that goes around the state giving speeches. I don’t do a lot of podcasts. You know if somebody asks me I’ll do it but I don’t have a publicist who’s out there trying to line up dates and. And so your influence as a writer depends completely on the size of your audience and so obviously a national publication is going to have a bigger audience than, you know, a blunt county audience and so on. You know you’re also a national audience who wants to hear about national things. They don’t want to hear about you know what? your county mayor is doing or what the library is up to or whatever. So I try to let you know I do. Toot time to all three levels. So and you know I have a national platform for you know, sort of national topics some of what I have to say is you know, impactful statewide. So there are. You know digital platforms, Tennessee conservative news, a Tennessee star, there’s radio shows that have a big audience in Nashville which is sort of our statewide media center for political things and so I weigh in.

14:02.70 – Mark Pulliam
And then locally you know what? What can you do? You can have a Facebook page that people locally can follow. But that is you know a relatively small group of people. TwentyOneHundred people out of a country that has a population of 135000? So in terms of the payoff you get a bigger payoff for the buck. You know, talking to national or statewide audiences than local. You know part of what we’ve done in the last four years is try to show people the way that you can make a difference at the local level and hopefully people will sort of follow. That example, we we arrived here in late 2019

The Phenomenon of Political Transplants in East Tennessee

14:53.48 – Mark Pulliam
And since and and we were I wouldn’t say the tip of the spear but you know we got it right before covid and as a result of covid and the George Floyd s mer a lot of people all around the country started reexamining. Do I really want to live in Chicago? Do I really want to live in New Jersey? Do I really want to live in California or wherever? And a lot of people said no I don’t you know I don’t feel safe. This is not trending in the right direction. It costs a lot of money to live here and so there’s been quite a few people. That we’ve met who moved to East Tennessee from various places in the country for exactly the same reasons that we did and you know these people are referred to and now refer to themselves ironically as the transplants and the transplants ironically are much more. Concerned about current events and trends and so forth then the natives because if you’ve lived in a state that has turned into a state or city that turned into a hellhole. And then you move to some place, a sanctuary , a refuge like East Tennessee. You are very motivated to try to keep things from happening here and you kind of look at things as the early warning signs and you try to tell your neighbors to be concerned about this. You know you don’t want to be attracting homeless people to your library. You don’t want to be, you know, doing tutorials on.

16:26.23 – Mark Pulliam
You know how you know illegal aliens should get amnesty and so forth because those things translate into bad results. Well unless you’ve seen it happen a lot of you know the locals are kind of skeptical they say you’re just being hysterical about this. And so you do have 2 camps here. You’ve got the people that have seen it happen and are seriously motivated to prevent it from happening here and you have the people who because they’ve been insulated from these things. Because this isn’t you know an isolated somewhat isolated community. You got the great smoky mountains behind you. The nearest big city is Knoxville which is not really that big of a city and it’s not, yeah, anything close to Nashville in terms of it. You know sophistication or its trendiness and whatnot and so people like to believe and I don’t really blame them that life has been good here for so long. How could it ever go bad? Well, that’s what I saw in sunny San Diego, that’s what I thought in Austin Texas. But lo and behold these things will happen if you don’t resist them so I do feel sometimes like I’m a local Paul revere and people basically not really believing that the British are coming and so I you know I kind of devote my time to you know.

17:37.67 – Brian Crane
Yeah, or.

17:55.22 – Mark Pulliam
National State and local issues and and I you know for a while there I was really focusing on the local issues, writing for the local paper and so forth. But I kind of decided that I need to make sure that I remain my. You know that my portfolio remains diversified and that I I don’t neglect it. The national and the state issues as well.

18:20.87 – Brian Crane
So one of the articles that you shared on your Facebook page or is on your blog I don’t remember how I found it, but it was from Glenn Reynolds and it was a review of a book from Roger Simon and he’s talking about these transplants that you were referring to. And he said that there was a distinction between the 2 there’s 1 group that left California primarily due to congestion and high taxes and settled in places like Idaho and Colorado and then you have another group that left for ideological reasons and . California’s ah , I’m picking on it to a certain degree but I think the same will be true for New Jersey or Chicago they left for ideological reasons and that those the people in that camp the second camp are much more like a paul revere and that they’re much more vigilant about trying to defend where they move to.

19:03.71 – Mark Pulliam
After.

19:18.47 – Brian Crane
From the influences that they saw take root or the ideas or the policies that sort of quote unquote ruined where they were coming From. So, And I think that’s from what I can see with your actions. Local activism and I use that term broadly. I know you don’t identify as an activist but local activism gives you a mechanism by which to find your tribe for lack of a better Way. So like if you spend a lot of time Bemoaning. What’s happening at the national level.

19:43.80 – Mark Pulliam
And I like it.

19:52.34 – Brian Crane
And then you find a couple thousand other people or a couple hundred other people. Let’s say but they’re also in a similar camp. Hey, we moved here for a similar reason. Hey, we moved here from a similar place. I think it’s going to be yeah I would I think you would find that more rewarding than. Let’s call it the empty internet calories of somebody like your article in the wall street journal. I don’t know if that’s true, but do you feel that the local activism has, yeah, scratched an itch for you personally that you weren’t aware of.

20:15.86 – Mark Pulliam
Perform.

20:25.20 – Mark Pulliam
Well so whenever I get frustrated about you know the inability to get more traction in Blount County I I look at the larger the state you know so I’m a Tennessee and we love Tennessee. We’ve met a lot of great people since we’ve moved here. The book that you refer to that Roger Simon wrote is called American refugees and I like refugees a lot more than transplants. That you know you go down to you know Southern South Florida and the most patriotic people down there are Cuban refugees and. And so that’s what I would like to sort of you know, see myself in these other people that we are the you know that we are the true patriots who are making our last stand in Tennessee and Glenn Reynolds review was very insightful. I have a review of the same book coming out in the next issue of the American conservative magazine, even though I wrote mine before he wrote it. It’s going to come out later everybody is going to say well you’re just copying what Glenn Reynolds had to say but, but Roger Simon makes some very good points. And he was a Hollywood script writer. He was , you know, traveled in he jewish you traveled in all these liberal circles in Southern California and he moved to Tennessee, didn’t move to East Tennessee, moved to Nashville but he noticed a lot of the same cultural shock.

21:55.79 – Mark Pulliam
We noticed when we moved here from Austin to East Tennessee and so it made me feel better that this isn’t just you know just isn’t me and it isn’t just East Tennessee that this is something that tennesseans in general have this reaction to outsiders in general and so. You know I shouldn’t take it personally and and I don’t take it personally and so one of the themes that Roger Simon develops in his book is that if you live in what basically has been a 1 party red state for a long time where you know. The republicans have supermajority in both houses of the general assembly. We’ve got you know republican attorney general republican governor that you have no state income tax. You know the republican president carries the state by overwhelming. Majorities you sort of ah people who grow up in that environment sort of become very comfortable that we don’t have to be you know at the ramp parts every day you know scouting for the enemy because we’re safe and you know the reality is in 2024 nobody is safe. That you know the world certainly the United States is sort of on the cusp of this existential threat that you know we could be overrun by at any moment by these crazy people who run the media and they ah.

23:29.51- Mark Pulliam
Higher education and all these other influential institutions in the United States and so if you are a refugee from California or from Austin Texas you know that and you really want to you know, kind of we need to.

23:46.43- Mark Pulliam
You know we need to start signing up voters and we need to do this and we need to do that in the locals whether it’s in Nashville or whether it’s here they’re saying well what’s wrong, you know, just you know, chill out. Everything’s good and they have kind of accepted it. In lieu of conservative republican leadership the sort of this rhino establishment chamber of commerce leadership without knowing you know one from the other they they kind of if you have an r after your name you’re okay, now you would think that. Donald Trump kind of exposed all of that in 2 16 with the whole magga agenda and and revealing that the republican establishment at the national level was full of rhinos that had a globalist agenda. And so but a lot of people and you know and people love Donald Trump in Tennessee and particularly in East Tennessee but what they don’t understand is that everything that he was saying about the swamp in Washington DC is also true in state capitols like Nashville. And in your local seats of government and so when you know you call Paul Ryan or these other people rhinos, well they’re not the only people who are rhinos that you know you’ve got.

25:13.45 – Mark Pulliam
Statewide elected officials that can be Rhinos. You’ve got people on your county commissions and your city councils that can be Rhinos but people are less willing to make that connection if they went to school with these people if these people are born and raised in their same community and they sort Of. Trust. Well I’ve known this person all my life. You know how bad they can be. The thing about politics is you know if you’re liberal a conservative. It doesn’t make you a good person or a bad person. But it’s your policies and your politics that can be bad and people. On a personal level in a kind of a clannish community are less willing to separate personalities from politics and so if they know you if you’re a trusted neighbor. They basically ignore your politics. And that’s a fatal mistake because you know ah you elect somebody, You’re not electing them because you like them or because you know them you’re electing them. because they’re going to vote the right way in the interests of the public and so that’s where you know I arrived here and kind of got frustrated that more people.

26:24.32 – Brian Crane
Yep.

26:30.15 – Mark Pulliam
We’re not you know, looking at we’re not taking the maga point of view and applying it consistently to state and local politics now in Tennessee that’s changing we have you know shortly after I arrived not that I had anything to do with it. But. A fellow in Middle Tennessee Gary stands. Ah Gary, he formed a group Tennessee stands and you know made a big pushback against the covid response you know, objecting to emergency powers that state officials had either exercised or allowed locally. People to exercise and then the conservative media platform got started in East Tennessee down in Chattanooga Tennessee conservative news and so we now have fresh voices. Not just my voice. My voice is pretty faint in comparison to. Ah, Tennessee stands and Tennessee conservative news. But it’s all part of the same push to get tennesseans to wake up and recognize that politics has to be taken seriously. Citizenship is something that requires effort, requires initiative and you have to be informed and you have to be engaged. And I think we are moving in that direction. So I , you know, I’m heartened that I may have played a small role in that at least at the local level but that movement is moving forward. In Tennessee and hopefully it will someday catch up to you knowing the maga.

28:06.34 – Mark Pulliam
Attitude nationwide.

28:07.20 – Brian Crane
And what do you see as far as if someone’s listening to this. How to? yeah how to affect change and what I mean by that is that is it through the like. Through the primary system as far as like okay cool this person we’ve identified as a Rhino for lack of a better way to put it or they don’t you know they win the popularity contest but they certainly don’t win on principles. , and so then you want to get a primary challenge to them or is it. Like in your case where you attempted to get on the I think it was the state election commission for the Republican party in order to ask help vet or decide which candidates would actually be on the Republican ticket like what like what?? What’s the line of attack effectively?

28:46.65 – Mark Pulliam
For people.

Navigating State and Local Republican Politics

29:01.15 – Mark Pulliam
Well, you know, we live in ah basically a 2 two-party nation and you know I have acquaintances who you know who advocate third parties or you know independent efforts. You know those are not ever going to be successful. So.

29:15.58 – Brian Crane
Are you?

29:18.24 – Mark Pulliam
I’m a lifelong republican and I continue to believe that if you are conservative and you want your voice to be heard in politics at the you know local state or federal level. You got to know your team is the republican party and you got to get involved and. And so when we moved here. The first thing we did is, you know, try to introduce ourselves to the republican party and to get involved. You know that as I’ve mentioned you know at avenue was not open and you know the establishment the status quo basically mobilized. To prevent. My attempt to reactivate or to mope you know to re energize that party so then an opportunity came up last year to or I guess 2022 to .

30:14.50 – Mark Pulliam
Seek a seat on the state executive committee of the state republican party and so the state republican party is governed by a 66 person committee 2 representatives from each of Tennessee’s 33 state senate districts. And for whatever reason and this shows again a sort of lack of initiative of the you know the local parties nobody had pulled papers to run so each district gets a male and a female representative and the male representative was vacant. Nobody had pulled papers and. And so I decided to run as a write- in and there’s a mechanism for how you qualify to have your name counted if it’s written in the ballot and you have to file certain pieces of paper with certain bodies within a certain time frame and I did all of that. And then I waged a campaign. Ah know, however, feeble. You know, using social media. You know, using my Facebook page I got endorsed by the Tennessee conservative news and I ended up getting 302 write in votes. So you know my name was not on the ballot. So for people to vote for me. They had to type in my name and spell it correctly and 302 people did that which was, you know, pretty remarkable.

31:42.64 – Mark Pulliam
And the election results were certified by the secretary of state and I thought okay I’m going to have a seat on this state executive committee where then you could know they really run the state party and they pick the executive director who runs things on a day-to-day basis. But you formulate policy and you make recommendations. You can revise the bylaws et cetera well. I had annoyed enough people locally including our county mayor whose opponent I had endorsed in the republican primary that they staged a ah campaign to have my election nullified after it had been certified. You know after the election was over after the results were certified by the sex state and they did it. They did it on a Zoom call and and I still scratch my head you know I have voted in every republican primary since I was eligible in 1 76 you know I’ve held positions ah within the republican party at the state and and county level in California and Texas so but they they kind of ended up their attitude was how dare you who do you think you are you know trying to do this as a right? and even though there was nothing that says right in. Can’t get elected to the state executive committee anyway, they nullified my election and appointed somebody that nobody’s ever heard of to fill the position and that’s because they don’t want the grassroots having a meaningful voice in the state party.

33:18.84 – Mark Pulliam
That has to change and I think it will change and it’s in the process of changing but it won’t. It requires pressure and people need to speak up. They need to push people in that direction. They need to let people know that they’re tired of all of this bs ah behind the scenes that. If you are serious about supporting the principles embodied in the republican party platform. Well then start acting like it and who is who is your infantry. It’s the grassroots. So any organization that tries to neuter. The grassroots. Is playing games because that’s why political parties exist is to channel the voice and the energy of grassroots who support your principles and so I think you know this thing that I’ve dealt with locally exists statewide. You know. Bland county is not unique in this regard, but people are finally beginning to pay attention. Tennessee has the potential to be 1 of the strongest republican states in the country. You know we have a more conservative electorate than either. Texas or Florida so why isn’t Tennessee this muscular example of conservative activism instead of being a mouthpiece for the chamber of commerce business interests. So anyway people are waking up.

Future of Conservative Activism in Tennessee

34:54.72 – Mark Pulliam
And we’re moving in that direction and so that’s one of the reasons I feel good about being in Tennessee is that things are moving in the right direction.

35:03.51 – Brian Crane
How did they nullify your election? What’s the story there? How was that done like on a technicality or.

35:11.91 – Mark Pulliam
Well, they never really you know they never had to articulate a specific reason so they had a variety of bogus reasons. But at the end of the day. How did they get away with it? Well they got away with it because they can’t and. From a legal perspective. This scc position even though it was on the statewide ballot and even though it was certified by the secretary of state is considered an internal political party matter and so the state supreme court. Has issued decisions in the past saying we’re not going to interfere with what the democratic party wants to do with its internal mechanics and we’re not going to interfere with what the republican party does with its internal mechanics. Unfortunately, that gives these party apparatus enormous power. And so you know one of the things that happened and it was controversial shortly before my nullification. The Tennessee republican party removed 3 candidates from the fifth congressional district ballot in Middle Tennessee on the grounds that they weren’t bona fide including Morgan Ortega who was president Trump’s media spokesperson at the state department whom he had endorsed for this fifth congressional district. So the Tennessee Republican Party took Tr p’s endorsed candidate off the ballot.

36:47.80 – Mark Pulliam
Because she wasn’t a bonafide republican which is something that is a creature of the Tennessee Republican Party Bylaws you know in Tennessee and you know Tennessee’s not alone in this regard. But ah, have open primaries. You know I didn’t have to declare my political affiliation when I registered to vote in Tennessee. So if there’s no place you can go and say how many registered republicans are there how many registered Democrats are there in Tennessee because nobody registers by political party and so the only way you can tell who’s republican is by.

37:11.90 – Brian Crane
But now yeah.

37:23.72 – Mark Pulliam
Well, do you vote in the republican primary? You know you don’t keep track in the general election of party affiliation. So this has created opportunities where Democrats can cross over and vote in the republican primary and kind of help the rhinos pick moderate candidates instead of conservative candidates. And it also creates this need for the republican party to make sure that some democrat isn’t running as ah as ah as a republican and so anyway, but it gives opportunities for mischief. And the and the courts sort of say well you know we’re going to let the republican party manage its own affairs. So this falls into the category of if they want to do this they can do it and nobody’s going to interfere with them. So but you can talk about it and I have talked about it. You can complain about it. You can point out. How nonsensical it is and I think most people’s reaction is why wouldn’t they want you on the scc. It’s an unpaid volunteer position that nobody else wants you to get 302 right and vote that they should be happy to have you but instead they treat you like you’re an ax murderer and how dare you have. You know a seat you know you want a seat at the table. You know we didn’t anoint you therefore you’re not worthy. That’s the mentality of the Tennessee republican party and it has to change. It has to end.

38:48.81 – Brian Crane
So what do you think is the let’s say the level of governance that has the most impact? I don’t want to use that word again, but just bear with me. So if you look at school board races, city council races. Mayor County commissioners state representatives state senators like where is the , what’s the one that touches the average citizen’s life the most.

The Role of Local Government in Citizen’s Lives

39:23.40 – Mark Pulliam
Well, the answer is local government makes the biggest difference on your day-to-day life and unfortunately local government is where most people pay the least amount of attention and vote in a way that’s. Oftentimes not well informed if they vote at all. And so you know the national politics you know they do what they’re going to do in Washington d c, but people most voters. Do vote every 4 years for president and they vote republican and that’s true even here in East Tennessee but the elections that really matter are not just the local elections. They’re the local primary elections for the most part. You cannot get elected to anything in Blount County at least on a countywide basis if you don’t have an r after your name. We have 21 people on our county commission. They all claim to be ours and but and so whoever at the general election has the r after their name will win. And so it’s kind of almost a meaningless vote because it’s a foregone conclusion. So. The real action is in the republican primary and that’s where you need to have candidates who will present an alternative to this rhino status quo. But

40:53.41 – Mark Pulliam
Typically that’s the role of a county republican party is to recruit candidates to provide a farm team for people who are wanting to run for office and if you have neutered that type of grassroots organization. It becomes much more difficult, you know. Market entry. You have a cartel that has created barriers to entry so that it’s very hard to disrupt the status quo so that’s what’s happening and so there is political pressure to close the primaries. And that pressure is only going to grow. I think Tennessee is waking up both the natives who live here and then as a result of this significant influx of refugees I will call them rather than transplants who tend to be the good type of transplants. You know we’re not the people from moving from California to Idaho that are ruining Boise. You know we’re not the people moving from California to Arizona ruining Arizona people who don’t pick up and move thousands of miles to a state that you know doesn’t have beaches. You know it isn’t noted for its culinary excellence and its hipster. You know the cultural scene that people move here because it’s still a free state where it’s normal and hasn’t been ruined by the left and so I think you know we will.

42:25.86 – Mark Pulliam
As a combination of the efforts being made by a number of different forces. You know, push republican politics in Tennessee in the direction of meaningful grassroots participation rather than this sort of rhino establishment oriented which is something it’s a tradition. It’s gone. It’s nothing new. This goes all the way back to Howard Baker ah goes to Lamar Alexander you have this whole tradition of you know republican elected officials that have been very moderate ah whereas you have an electorate that is very conservative and you look at. Our senators with Marsha Blackburn are very conservative. Bill Haggerty is very conservative so we’re beginning to catch on that this maga revolution needs to be brought top to bottom throughout the whole political system in Tennessee and you know it doesn’t happen overnight. People here are resistant to change and that’s a good thing. And that’s why they’re not woke like they are in Nashville and we like that but eventually I think they will get on board with this with this movement I’m optimistic about it.

43:34.62 – Brian Crane
Got it to make sense. So yeah, so let’s shift and talk about the 2024 election at the national level and also at the state level and I when you and I have talked in the past I did disconnect. What I see is that you have a large percentage of the republican base that believes that the 2020 election was stolen for lack of a better way to put it and you would implicitly then believe that it doesn’t matter. If you vote or not and so how you see things as far as you know, being active gets people involved in the primaries getting candidates. All of that is built around the premise that the vote is sacrosanct. And that it’s believable and so what do you see happening in 2024 both in terms of turnout but also trying to circle that square if that question makes sense.

44:39.67 – Mark Pulliam
We haven’t had election problems in Tennessee. You know that we weren’t not one of these states that were accused of stuffing the ballot boxes or doing phony counts. So I don’t think there’s a widespread lack of ah of.

44:55.28 – Mark Pulliam
Faith in our election process. So I think that the biggest issue in 2024 is the volatility of Donald Trump and the fact that the democratic establishment ah hates him. In a way that’s almost scary, all of this lawfare the bogus prosecutions, the lawsuits et cetera trying to keep him off the ballot in the name of protecting democracy. It’s kind of ludicrous. The good thing is.

45:23.97 – Brian Crane
Oh.

45:29.19 – Mark Pulliam
That the more they go after Donald Tr p the more they cement the grassroots loyalty to him and you can say well that’s it’s almost like ah ah a cult movement. Well, it’s a cult movement that the left has kind of created because he’s our figurehead and he’s being persecuted. In ways that overwhelming numbers of republican voters find distasteful even if he wasn’t a trapster before you feel like you’ve got to support him now because if they can do this to a former president billionaire 1 of the most well-known people in the world. They could crush you like a pistachio nut and so you sort of have to get on board and I think people are on board and the question is whether these legal problems get significantly worse and he’s convicted of a felony or whatever and. And would that late in the campaign when it’s too late to switch out candidates would cause some significance. You know, a portion of the voters you know suburban soccer moms or whatever to decide I can’t. I can’t pull the lever for Donald Tr p and so Biden who by far is the worst president not just in my lifetime. But I think in the history of the republic would somehow get reelected even though he’s been a miserable failure and he’s obviously in a state of serious mental decline. So I’m .

47:05.86 – Mark Pulliam
You know I would have preferred a republican nominee other than Tr p not that I have against Tr p I voted for him twice given him quite a bit of money in the past. But I think he knows he does provoke a certain reaction in certain parts, certain constituencies and. The left. You know you think they’re sticking pins in them like a voodoo doll, and at some point he’s going to become a pin cushion rather than a candidate. And so but, you know Ron Desantis didn’t catch on. Ah you know, maybe he’ll. You know he’s he’s a future prospect if Joe Biden gets reelected for another 4 year term you know then I begin to get pretty pretty gl about about the future and maybe that’ll get me off the hook for my political activities I can do what my wife wants and just ah book a bunch of you know long cruises and and not pay attention to what’s going on in there in the rest of the world. But anyway I’m hopeful that president Trump will win because you know you know how Biden could beat him a second time. Ah, if it’s unfair and square and I think that a lot of this mischief that was exposed in 2020 won’t happen again because people are going to be alert to it.

48:38.27 – Mark Pulliam
Not that they won’t try but I think you know you can get away with it once it’s much harder to get away with it twice.

48:43.88 – Brian Crane
Excellent, okay, and you do think that Biden will be the democratic candidate.

48:50.68 – Mark Pulliam
Well, the only thing that could happen is that he declares that he’s really, you know mentally ill equipped to do it and steps down and then Kamala Harris is going to be even easier to beat. Nobody takes her seriously ; she’s literally a clown. And , so they could try to pull some stunt at the convention and put Gavin Newsom in there instead. But Gavin Newsom is not somebody that I don’t think the nation has an appetite for that would create enormous problems in the democratic party. The bipoc constituencies who would consider Kamala Harris being denied her due as vp. So I think they are stuck with him. You know that if they wanted somebody else. They should have let Robert F Kennedy run in the democratic primaries or but you know they’ve rigged it so that basically it has to be Biden. So I think they’re stuck with them knowing that they’ve made their bed. They’re just going to have to lie in it.

49:57.41 – Brian Crane
Fascinating. Okay, we’re in. We’re in for a turbulent I think next ten months up until up until early November I think it’s going to be I already saw Tr p talking about he would love to debate Biden and Biden responding. With a sense that didn’t make any sense about if I were him and then he’s third person or something I’m not getting the quote off the top of my head but it was as if Biden was flipping between the first and the third person talking about himself. And yeah I am yeah good.

50:16.10 – Mark Pulliam
Yeah, just.

50:27.90 – Mark Pulliam
And I don’t think that. Yeah and I don’t think the media has the same ability to put its th b on the scale that they did in 2020 you know he tried to bring up the hunter laptop at the debates and and Biden was able to say oh that’s russian misinformation. Well that turned out to be a lie and everybody now knows that it’s a lie and so you know there’s a lot of baggage that didn’t wasn’t accounted for four years ago but that there’s no, you can. There’s no hiding it now and plus. We’ve seen this horrendous inflation. We’ve seen this disastrous foreign policy mishaps that I think the border is there a single h and being in the United States that thinks it’s good that we have 10000000 unvetted illegal Aliens Roman around the country. You know it. Committing crimes attacking policemen. No, that’s we’ve got the mayors of sanctuary cities in Chicago and New York begging the administration to close the borders and saying this is going to destroy us well isn’t that what Tr p was saying that uncontrolled. Illegal immigration is going to destroy America so you’ve got the Democrats now admitting that Trump’s border policies were you know? well-designed and and and and made sense. So you know maybe I’m being naive but I cannot conceive.

51:54.84 – Mark Pulliam
A scenario where Trump could lose with this I think many people regard this as the nation’s future resting on this election. We cannot survive another 4 years of this sort of crappy administration.

52:02.51 – Brian Crane
, yeah.

52:12.50 – Mark Pulliam
That Joe Biden has brought.

52:14.90 – Brian Crane
Yeah, yeah, I yeah yeah, I I think that the Us involvement in Ukraine has been. Personally, just like an absolute boondoggle and a milk cow for the military industrial complex personally, I think Trump would have kept us totally out of Ukraine.

52:37.11 – Mark Pulliam
And would have made it unnecessary because Putin would have been so adventurous. So that’s part of it when the United States fails to become feared and respected in the world. Bad things happen and that ah you know so certainly all of this.

52:48.80 – Brian Crane
You know.

52:54.86 – Mark Pulliam
Adventurism by Putin didn’t happen when Donald Trump was president and then this worship of Zelinsky and nobody’s worrying about how much this aid has been embezzled or wasted and we have an obvious military stalemate. It’s been going on for a long time. And people are still talking about a victory. Well you know I think there needs to be a negotiated resolution and we need to start, you know, thinking like this six months ago if not sooner and you can pour an analess amount of money looking at our whole history in the Middle East you know.

53:25.60 – Brian Crane
You know.

53:32.44 – Mark Pulliam
You can spend money over a decade and not improve your result so you need to be much more strategic about what you do and how you do it. It’s ineptitude. It’s ineptitude.

53:43.46 – Brian Crane
You know? yeah and it’s and and it’s a neocon philosophy of we’re going to serve as the world’s police force and also this good versus bad, very simplistic Putin Bad zelensky good Putin Aggressor Ukraine is defenseless and seemingly, yeah, just doesn’t have. There’s no culpability on the part of the Ukrainian leadership. It’s as if, historically speaking, Russia has always wanted a warm water port.

54:12.44 – Mark Pulliam
So.

54:17.64 – Brian Crane
The black sea is incredibly important to them. Sevastopol is part of their geopolitical calculations for the us. It’s like who cares like the black seas know we’re even close to us and so , the Russians have made it abundantly clear that they want to keep. Access to the black sea they were involved in the crimean war they were involved in they got into world war one explicitly to get access to a warm water port. That’s why they declared war on the ottoman empire and in modern you know in the modern history of Ukraine and Russia they’ve repeatedly said like we’re just not going to tolerate having a Nato ally. On our border here and I think the us invited the thing honestly like and and and and from a place of Hubris it’s what’s frustrating about it. So.

55:01.30 – Mark Pulliam
Yeah, and Zelinsky is no Winston Churchill and so the idea that we’re treating him as this icon of democracy where he has suspended elections. He has prohibited certain religions from ah you know, ah holding worship services et cetera that.

55:03.96 – Brian Crane
Now.

55:19.33 – Mark Pulliam
In some ways he’s as bad a tyrant as Putin is. The scariest thing of all as a result of this Iran Ukraine is that you have the American left which has become basically a cheering section for the pentagon and the national security state.

55:23.39 – Brian Crane
Now.

55:36.75 – Brian Crane
Yeah.

55:38.66 – Mark Pulliam
And who ever saw that coming? That’s just bizarre to me, that’s just bizarre.

55:43.91 – Brian Crane
Yeah, yeah, do you want to talk about that for a minute because it’s always I find it very weird that, you know, growing up that there was a vocal. There was a vocal group on the left in favor of free speech and that group seems to have either disappeared or I don’t know what’s happened to them because they now . Are very comfortable. Having misinformation disinformation shut down or this sort of yeah, like very keen to have ah , like like tell you what’s what what like right think effectively like what’s what’s group like what’s what’s what what is permissible where is the Overton window of what you’re allowed to talk about and and and and the the free speech values on the left Bill Myers 1 of the guys on the left who does talk about this.

56:28.00 – Mark Pulliam
Things you love.

56:33.76 – Brian Crane
Like where have all those people gone like what’s happened to them.

56:35.25 – Mark Pulliam
Well is it I guess what it proves to me is that the left was never really as principled and as honorable as they pretended to be and what happened is once they completed their March to the institutions. And they got control of the media and higher education and so forth and then you know for a period of time they were in charge of the federal government. And they decided we really like being in power and if you’re in power then. You sort of view the national security state in the pentagon as well. You know they’re part of our pieces on the chessboard. You know they’re things that belong to us and they can be used to advance our interests and so they’ve just kind of decided we’re all in and. So when you have now it’s pretty clear that you had the federal government manipulating or you’re giving orders to big tech in terms of removing things from Twitter or from Facebook censoring the New York post and deep platforming the oldest newspaper in the United States for trying to cover this real significant story. A Hunter Biden’s laptop with all this incredible incredibly incriminating ah and messages on it and.

58:05.24 – Mark Pulliam
The left is perfectly. Okay with that and they’re advocating censorship. So this is like an Orelian world where they have abandoned all the things that they used to supposedly believe in and are now defending censorship because they view it as important to maintain.

58:06.48 – Brian Crane
, yeah.

58:18.42 – Brian Crane
Yeah, .

58:24.12 – Mark Pulliam
Their power and so what Lord Acton said you know power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts. Absolutely the left has been if it wasn’t corrupt all along has become utterly corrupt.

58:37.57 – Brian Crane
Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I think that there’s this. There’s this. What’s the term for it? It’s both a fascination. For power I would say Megalomania but also there is .

58:51.96 – Brian Crane
There’s just like this absolute quest for equality in all forms and it’s not a naturally occurring equality. It’s sort of this forced equality and it’s and it’s equality of outcome as opposed to a quality of opportunity and they say well if a quality of outcome means that we’re all miserable. And so be it like there’s like it’s totalitarian in nature when you dig into some of the stuff that they have, the policies that they put forward. So I find it super scary Honestly, like sometimes when you dig it too.

59:10.76 – Mark Pulliam
Syria is great.

59:22.92 – Brian Crane
Yeah, that equality of outcome as opposed to a quality of opportunity I think is a big distinction and then also this one just judges me based on my intentions and not the outcomes of my policies or my actions right? like well I intended this or I said the right things.

59:39.52 – Mark Pulliam
Sort of.

59:41.33 – Brian Crane
And actually the outcomes are horrific for those involved. Well it’s well yeah, h