Cross-party agreement to consider 'no bedroom tax eviction' policy in Scotland

Last night, a packed Mary Barbour Hall in Govan's Pearce Institute heard the heartfelt concerns from local tenants frightened for their families future with the 'bedroom tax' cuts, due next April.

The cuts will see those who are retired, working, or in receipt of benefits, receive housing benefit cuts of £48 per month from their rent, and in some cases £88 per month.

Humza Yousaf MSP
The meeting heard from a panel comprising of Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Humza Yousaf MSP, Scottish Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Cllr James Adams, Bailie Fariha Thomas, Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC, Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor, GLC, John Flanagan, Chair of Govan Housing Association, and Kenny McLeod, Deputy Director of Linthouse Housing Association.

There was a unanimous consensus from the panel and members of the public at the meeting, that the 'under-occupancy' housing benefit reforms were irrational and morally wrong, would unfairly force families to give up their homes of many years, and would ultimately lead to an increase in evictions and homelessness across Scotland.

Johann Lamont MSP
Both Johann Lamont  and Humza Yousaf agreed that the housing benefit proposals were irrational and would force families to make distressing and unfair choices. Cllrs Adams and Thomas were worried that the bedroom tax would cause misery for many local people and ultimately lead to greater homelessness, with the package of welfare cuts taking £115m out of the Glasgow economy. There was a need for local advice agencies to use the law and provide welfare rights support for those affected.

The STUC's Dave Moxham reflected on the need to look at rent capping in the private sector and much stronger rent regulation. He noted that levels of child poverty and equality of pay was actually better-off in 1979 than it was today, and how we needed a fightback in the spirit of those of the 1915 Glasgow rent strike, which included Govan's Mary Barbour.  Kenny McLeod explained that 75% of Scottish housing associations relied on housing benefit for more than half of their operational revenue, and that many tenants were already borrowing from high interest home credit lenders.

John Flanagan emphasised the need for all stakeholders and campaigners to come together to work with a united front. This was echoed by the chairman of the meeting, John Foster, and the meeting resolved to form a steering committee to take forward a united campaign on behalf of Glasgow tenants. Govan Law Centre (GLC) agreed to provide full support and backing to the steering committee.

Members of the public in Govan's Mary Barbour Hall
Mike Dailly talked to GLC's call for an urgent minor law reform amendment to implement a 'no eviction for bedroom tax' policy* in Scotland, upon the basis these cuts would be affecting tenants within 4 months or so, and we needed a new safety net otherwise we would be unable to prevent evictions based on the bedroom tax.

Mike explained that at the moment defended eviction actions in court can often turn on £3.55 per week payments to arrears, and with £12 to £22 per week being deducted from housing benefit it could become almost impossible to defend such eviction actions in future.

Both Humza Yousaf and Johann Lamont agreed to consider the feasibility of GLC's law reform proposal which was backed by those present at the public meeting. GLC has suggested bedroom tax rent arrears could be pursued as an ordinary debt, and should not be founded upon as a ground of eviction or to establish the reasonableness of local authority and housing association evictions. Such a policy could either be considered on a permanent or transitional basis with a sunset clause.

The meeting was organised by the tenants and residents associations of Govan and Linthouse, and the Govan Communnity Council.

* GLC's briefing paper and proposed statutory amendment is online here (opens as a PDF).

Code Red

It may come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog that I was not always as conservative as I am now.  My parents were very conservative, and I always had pro-life, pro-traditional family values, but when I was in my late teens and early twenties I was much more supportive of welfare and government assistance programs than I am today.  At that time, I held the views of many of the people who now seem to think that I am mean and unfeeling--I believed that the government needed to provide a hand up to people and that those recipients of this federal aid would go on to become grateful, producing members of society.  These views were shaped in part by the fact that when I was a teenager my father lost his job and over the years that followed our family became destitute.  We were never on any type of government assistance--including unemployment.  My father had money saved and after he lost his job, he cashed in his retirement savings which allowed us to live until my brothers and sisters and I were old enough to start contributing to the family's support. From that time on we worked and paid the bills as best we could.  I was deeply aware of how more affluent people looked down on us--and since virtually everyone was more affluent than we were I definitely sympathized with the underprivileged.

What changed?  Was it starting my own business and working the long hours and paying the taxes that are part of self-employment?  Not really.  Certainly, owning and running a business for close to 15 years has made me understand much about how jobs are created, how wealth is built and how excessive regulation stifles and smothers initiative and opportunity.  But the experience that really transformed my thinking about welfare and social programs occurred many years before I became a business owner.  What fundamentally transformed my thinking about government assistance was having up close and personal exposure to it.

Shortly before my nineteenth birthday I began teaching at the local community college, where I worked for years.  I was a part-time instructor in the history department but I also picked up additional classes in developmental education studies and English as a second language.  Since I have a Master of Arts in Humanities Degree with a history major and philosophy minor, I was eager to teach what I had learned in graduate school to students whom I was convinced would prove to be eager sponges ready to soak in knowledge.  I taught hundreds of students over the four years that I was at EPCC.  I opened each semester the same way--by introducing myself and then asking each student to introduce himself or herself and tell me what specifically they hoped to get out of the course I was teaching.  I learned over the years that these early introductions set the stage for the entire semester because in the twenty or thirty minutes that it took for me to meet the students and learn a little about them, I could predict who was going to succeed and who wasn't. I had many older students who had come back to school in an effort to earn a degree to improve their chances for promotion at work.  When I taught English as a second language I had quite a few students who were taking those classes because they needed better English skills for their jobs and several students who were the mothers of English speaking teenagers who wanted to be able to understand their children's conversations.  But every semester, in every class, I also had another type of student.  These were the students straight out of high school who were enrolled for only one reason--their parents had told them they had to either get a job or go to school, and they had decided that school was the better of the two options.

Nearly all of my students were attending school on some sort of financial aid. And I did have some very motivated students who actually worked hard and were eager to learn, but they were invariably the older students who had gone back to school because they had some personal motivation for self-improvement. They virtually never came from that young group of students who were the majority of the class.  In fact, after a few weeks, a good number of these would stop coming to class.  They were still physically going to the campus--I would see them hanging around the halls smoking and chatting with their friends. They might even attend the minimum amount that they had to in order to keep from having me drop them from the class.  But they weren't learning anything because they were not interested in working or studying or doing anything that they needed to do.  They were simply kicking the can down the road a few years on the taxpayer dime--using federal financial aid to give themselves a place to crash so that they could delay going to work and accepting adult responsibilities.  Seeing this colossal waste of opportunity in the form of grants and student loans handed to a group of people who did not appreciate them or take advantage of the education offered taught me the first simple principle of conservatism--what is obtained without effort is not valued.  People only appreciate those things that they work for and sacrifice to get; they never really appreciate anything that is just given to them.

Twenty years later, we have just gone through a horribly disappointing election in which a majority of Americans--though not a very big one--voted to give President Obama a second term.  Young people, minorities and women overwhelmingly voted for big government, more social programs, and more welfare.  In the wake of this election, we see the GOP now trying to figure out how to reinvent themselves to make our party more "relevant".  The GOP leadership appears to be bent on making our party more liberal so that its principles will more closely align with the desires of the electorate. 

I am very certain that the problems that the GOP faced in this election are not the result of being too conservative.  And I am equally certain that the solution is not to try to rebrand ourselves into a more marketable entity.  As long as we continue to make our elections about which candidate gets the most or best looking celebrity endorsements, we are never going to be able to address any of the real issues that are plaguing either the party or the country.

As I see it, we need to start addressing a couple of fundamental truths:

1. Liberals have a better understanding of human nature than conservatives.  As a result they are able to manipulate people using our basest instincts.  They also have a better understanding of the laws of physics as they apply to humans--specifically the law of inertia which says that an object in motion has a tendency to remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force while an object at rest has a tendency to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.  (This principle of inertia makes it difficult to transform welfare recipients into productive workers overnight since they have a tendency to want to remain at rest.)

Because of these truths, conservatives can never win public relations battles using political theory.  Liberalism simply sounds better.  The idea of a big, benevolent cash-rich government spreading wealth around to make sure that all citizens are happy, well educated, fed and fulfilled is too good a sales pitch.  It is certainly more appealing than a message that tells people to get up early in the morning, go to work, provide for themselves and their families and live as productive, contributing members of society.  As a theory, liberalism will always prevail.  But that leads me to the second truth:

2. Conservatives have a much better grasp on reality than liberals.  In reality, socialism produces sloth and poverty. Government handouts disincentivize individual effort and achievement and produce a society where no one is productive. And the big government that can meet your every need can also strip away every freedom--enslaving the people who looked to it for protection.  History teaches repeatedly that collectivism is a disaster and big, out of control governments become totalitarian and dictatorial. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

Because of this truth, conservatives can win political battles by demonstrating the  real world differences between conservatism and liberalism.  Conservative principles produce prosperity, limited government and personal freedom.  Liberal principles produce poverty, and bloated bureaucracy and destroy personal freedom.  The question for us as conservatives now is not how we better market this message or how we rebrand ourselves.  The question is whether we are willing to stand up for our principles and live under them.

Unlike many Americans, I do not support secessionist movements, for two reasons. 

1.  As a student and teacher of American history, I know that the last secessionist movement in America ended with over half a million Americans dead and the secessionist states being forced back into the Union under less than favorable terms.  The southern states remained second-class states for many years after the Civil War.  That is not a model that any of us wants to follow.

2. We have enough conservatives states that we can demonstrate the superiority of conservative principles if we are willing to do it.  If we have the desire, and the will, we can prove in a real world setting that our principles still work and always will. But in order to do this, we have to be willing stop focusing on national politics for a time and instead we have to focus on what we can do within our own states.  By fostering conservatism on a state level, we can showcase its strengths while highlighting the weaknesses of liberalism.  This show and tell approach is going to be the best weapon against the growing popularity of socialism in the U.S. and I believe that it is our only real hope for turning the tide of American opinion.

The rest of my posts for this year will be devoted to some simple ways that I believe we can foster and grow conservatism on a local and state level.  None of the ideas is very radical, and many are currently being explored.  But I think that if all of us who believe in conservatism are willing to stand together and work towards our goals, we can make a big enough impact in our nation's thinking that when we do face liberalism again on a national stage, we can defeat it soundly.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me A Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

UK housing benefits cuts: public meeting tonight (27 Nov) 7pm, Pearce Institute, Govan Road, Glasgow - all welcome

Pre-Action Requirements in rent arrears cases may make it easier to evict

Govan Law Centre (GLC) is launching an advice leaflet today aimed at local tenants in Glasgow who get into financial difficulties and accrue arrears of rent. Although the Scottish Government's new 'Pre-Action Requirements' (PAR) for rent arrears came into force on 1st August 2012, the PAR only apply to eviction actions where a notice of proceedings was served on or after 1 August. 

Because of the time it takes to raise court proceedings we are still seeing cases calling in Glasgow next week with notices served before 1 August. Accordingly, GLC expects to see the PAR feature in most rent arrears eviction cases in Scotland shortly. The PAR are well intentioned and designed to prevent eviction cases being raised in the first place by requiring councils and housing associations to undertake a number of activities to attempt to avoid litigation. 

Flaw in the Pre-Action Requirements for rent arrears
However, we believe there is a major flaw and weakness in the PAR which may have the perverse effect of making it much easier for landlords to secure a decrees for eviction in those cases which come to court. All of the PAR activities must take place before a notice of proceedings is served, such as negotiating a repayment plan. Some of the duties, such as the landlord's requirement to help the tenant with a housing benefit application only engage 'if requested' by the tenant. 

Need for free independent advice 
Unless a tenant obtains independent advice at the time of the PAR there is a very real danger they will enter into an unaffordable repayment plan, fail to formally request housing benefit assistance or fail to engage. We know this from our casework experience over the last two decades; landlords invariably want arrears repaid more quickly than tenants can realistically afford. And we also know that tenants do not seek out independent advice at the early stage of the PAR - typically law centres and advice agencies are approached just before or when proceedings are raised.

What does this mean in practice? 
GLC is concerned that many tenants will fail to properly utilise the PAR without good independent advice. If this happens the perverse affect of the PAR is to give the landlord a powerful audit trail and new argument for why it is now reasonable to evict. A key flaw in the PAR is that even if a tenant approaches us before their case calls in court it is purely a matter of discretion on the part of the landlord whether to re-engage the PAR.

The 2012 PAR Order clearly states the landlord's duties are pre-notice of proceedings, yet five months may have passed after that point in time before a summons is raised, and it may be another two months before the case calls in court. Scottish Government guidance recognises this weakness, but simply states it is up to the landlord to decide whether to engage the PAR activities.

There is a very real risk the PAR could become a formal box ticking exercise which enables a landlord to demonstrate how reasonable it has been.

The PAR will only have any traction and policy impact if tenants obtain advice when the PAR engage. Accordingly, GLC will undertake local awareness raising through a variety of channels. We need to get the messages across that tenants need to take up their PAR rights and take independent advice. Our new leaflet attempts to sets out these messages in clear and accessible terms.

Ultimately, we believe the best solution to ensure the policy intention of the PAR is achieved would be to amend the 2003 Homelessness etc., (Scotland) Act to require housing associations to notify the council - akin to section 11 notifications - when they engage the PAR in any case. That would enable the local authority to facilitate an independent intervention. GLC intends to take this initiative up with the Scottish Government.

Why, as an Evangelical Christian, I Stand with Israel.

I wrote this in October as a pre-election post, but now with Israel and Gaza in the current conflict it seems even more relevant than it did when I first wrote it, so I have edited it a little to remove the election references and I am re-posting it today.
In the summer of 1997, my two youngest brothers were attending seminars at BYU in order to earn their undergraduate degrees. I took a two week vacation from my job and went to Provo, Utah, to be with them and with my mother during that time. Stefan and Judah spent every day in school from morning till late afternoon, and so Mother and I had to find ways to entertain ourselves during those hours.

During that two week period, BYU was hosting an exhibit of the artifacts from Masada, which was on special loan to the campus via the BYU Jerusalem Cultural Center. The exhibit traveled under guard with posted signs that the 1997 trip was the first time that these artifacts had ever been in the United States.

As I went through the exhibit, I was amazed. We saw portions of the book of Isaiah contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls, pottery from the Holy Land, and artifacts which had been excavated from the fortress at Masada, where the last Jewish rebellion against the Roman government occurred about 66 A.D. The residents of Masada had lived in the fortress for five years, before they finally committed suicide to avoid capture and execution by the Roman army.

Cassette tape recorders were provided to each visitor so that we could tour the displays while listening to an explanation of each item that we saw. We saw replicas of Herod's palace and the last temple, artifacts left by the Roman soldiers, and shards of pottery and makeup brushes and brass mirrors left by the women who had lived at the fortress. When we came to a collection of very small clay lamps which were about the size of the palm of an adult hand, Mother motioned to me to turn off my tape recorder. "Look," she pointed. "This explains the parable that Jesus told about the ten virgins--five had enough oil for their lamps and the other five did not. This explains why the five with the oil could not share theirs with the others." I looked more closely at the lamps and saw what she meant--each little lamp was made like a nightlight with only enough supply of oil for one night. When we had finished talking I clicked my cassette recorder back on to hear the narrator explain, "These oil lamps would have been the ones referenced in the parable of the ten virgins."

Of all of the experiences I have enjoyed over the course of my life, seeing the artifacts from Masada is in the top 5. The exhibit was a profound reminder that the nation of Israel was completely gone for almost 2000 years. As the child of parents who were in the Jesus movement, I grew up in a house where the star of David was prominently featured, and I learned from my earliest youth that the Jewish people are precious to God. To see the belongings of these people who were exterminated and scattered by the Romans was a profound reminder of the struggles of the Jewish people throughout history and particularly the long struggles of Israel as a nation to maintain its sovereignty.

As evangelicals, we believe that Israel is a nation that has a special and unique history and an important future. We believe that the promise of God in Genesis to Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you and the entire world will be blessed because of you," extends to the entire nation of Israel. We also agree with Benjamin Netanyahu that the reestablishment of the nation of Israel May 16, 1948 was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that it was God who re-established this nation as an independent state. Therefore, we reject statements such as the one made recently by Henry Kissinger that within ten years the nation of Israel will cease to exist. We stand against Iran's anti-Israel rhetoric not only because it is racist and genocidal but also because it stands against the purposes of God.

As the conflict continues between Israel and Gaza, we pray especially for the peace and safety of Israel.  We pray that God will guide their military efforts and protect this nation which is so dear to His heart.  And we pray for a speedy end to this conflict and for God to intercede in this situation so that the region can live in safety and so that Israel's neighbors will come to respect her national sovereignty and right to exist.

Abraham Lincoln said, "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." When we stand with the nation of Israel in friendship and military support, we are on God's side.  That's why, today, I stand with Israel.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me A Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

Give Thanks

Every Thanksgiving for as many years as I can remember, my mother had a tradition at Thanksgiving dinner. After my father prayed over the food, my mother asked each of us to name one thing that had happened in the last year that we were thankful for. As I got older, knowing that I would have to state what I was grateful for, I started thinking about the year a couple of weeks in advance of the holiday, and I found that even in difficult years, I had a lot to be thankful for. My mother's tradition, which she continues to this day, has helped me to really think about the meaning of Thanksgiving each year.

For many of us, 2012 has been an exceptionally tough year ending in an extraordinarily disappointing election. We have seen so many negative changes and so much bad news, while being painfully aware that that we are weeks away from another onslaught of bad news in the form of massive new regulations,  that those of us who work in real estate and mortgage lending might feel stumped at my mother's dinner table next week. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving week, I have compiled a list of 4 things that all of us in our industry can give thanks for on November 22.

1. We still have low interest rates (for now at least).   For all of the problems we have had with rule changes, underwriting changes and guideline changes, 2012 has seen record low interest rates. When I started in this industry in 1998, I would have never believed it possible that I would be financing people at fixed interest rates in the 2's. I realize that this is mixed blessing at best--a short term boon with long-term inflationary implications--but in the spirit of Thanksgiving I choose to focus on the bright side of the situation. Those low interest rates have allowed those of us in lending to weather tough times and perform a real service for borrowers who now have fixed rates lower than we ever imagined.

2. We are seeing lower housing prices (a trend which is likely to continue into 2013.) Yes, I know that this is also a mixed blessing at best, but think about it. With underwriting standards so tight, many borrowers could not qualify at all if housing prices had not dropped. Lower prices mean that many home buyers who had been priced out of an accelerating market can actually afford a home (provided that they can navigate the minefield of strict guidelines waiting for them.)

3. We still have access to great programs (for now at least). We have seen a huge number of products go away, but there are still some great loan programs that allow borrowers to qualify for financing. Programs like Fannie Mae's Home Path give borrowers an opportunity to buy a home with conventional financing, a reduced down payment and no mortgage insurance. I just finished quoting a loan on the Home Path investment program with 10% down and no mortgage insurance and a 3.875% fixed rate for 15 years. Although we mourn the loss of some of our past programs, great financing still exists for qualified buyers.

4. We are still alive, and we are not alone! "Don't worry about things--food, drink and clothes. For you already have life and a body--and they are more important than what to eat and what to wear. Look at the birds! They don't worry about what to eat--they don't need to sow or reap or store up food--for your heavenly Father feeds them...And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don't worry about theirs. Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't He more surely care for you....So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time." (Matthew 6: 25-34 TLB)

Now that's something we can be thankful for every day! Happy Thanksgiving.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

Guilty until proven innocent through the payment of fees? - access to justice in Scotland

With the second stage of the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill before the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 November 2012) it is important to consider whether a fundamental principle of Scots law - 'innocent until proven guilty' - will remain intact in Scotland if this Bill is passed as currently drafted.

Govan Law Centre does not undertake criminal defence work as a community controlled charitable law centre; our focus is on initiatives to tackle social injustice, disadvantage and discrimination. Yet, injustice is injustice whether civil or criminal in our society; and people are people.

The present proposals by the Scottish Government would see anyone in Scotland accused of a crime having to pay upfront fees for their defence where their disposable income was £68 per week or more to obtain criminal legal aid.

Furthermore, such upfront contributions for criminal legal aid would have to be collected by the accused's solicitor. At present the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) are paid by the taxpayer to collect similar civil legal aid contributions. Why should criminal legal aid contributions be different?

It makes no sense for solicitors to undertake debt collection work which the taxpayer presently pays SLAB to undertake. Moreover, forcing those who are defending accused persons to collect upfront fees creates an inherent flaw, which requires defence solicitors to cease from acting where fees are not paid. Such an approach introduces a systemic blockage into Scotland's criminal defence system which cannot be compliant with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Ultimately, how can it be just for citizens up against the power of the State in Scotland to be denied access to justice for the inability of paying legal fees? How can it be just for people with disposable incomes as low as £68 per week to be required to pay for their defence in a criminal case? Incredibly, how can it be right that those found innocent or not proven of an alleged crime still have to pay fees?

We believe that the Scottish Government are in danger of undermining a precious tenent of Scots law - the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' - with the risk that many Scots may be deemed guilty in the future unless able to pay a fee to be proved innocent.

For God and Country

Tomorrow is November 6th--a day many of us have been awaiting for several years.  I work in a heavily liberal Democrat district of the United States.  El Paso County, Texas voted for George W. Bush when he ran for his second term as governor, but Bush did not carry the county during his two presidential runs, although he easily carried the rest of the state.  In fact, I cannot remember El Paso County voting for a Republican candidate for president at any time during the past twenty-four years that I have been voting in presidential elections.  But even here, in this stronghold of liberalism, Romney-Ryan signs are appearing throughout the area.  I am also seeing a number of professionally made signs saying some variation of "This is my business; I did build it," coupled with or without Romney Ryan signs.  Yesterday on my way to church I noticed a new banner sign posted at a business that read in part, "I built this business without any help from the government."  That sentence was followed by a crass, unprintable suggestion to President Obama. The tone of the banners and the whispered conversations of my clients who reluctantly tell me that they are not going to vote for Obama indicate to me that there is a huge amount of anxiety, concern and discontentment in the business community and in our society at large.

During the month of October, I wrote a series of posts on various reasons why I am voting FOR Mitt Romney tomorrow and not just Against Barack Obama.  I am completely opposed to Obama's policies--not just in terms of the anti-business practices that he is using to crush the small business community, or the anti-Israel foreign policy that threatens our most important ally in the Middle East.  I am opposed to this "remaking" of America that Obama is determined to impose on all of us.  I stand against this idea that we need to be a socialist nanny state that has no room for God or freedom but plenty of room for an ever-expanding bureaucracy of government that should tell us where to live, what to eat, what to drink, where to work, what we can earn and what we should think. 

Last week, President Obama told his supporters that the best revenge is voting. Revenge for what?  Revenge against whom?  Why does one group of citizens need to plan revenge against another group who disagrees with them politically?  The revenge comments ties in nicely to comments made by White House advisor Valerie Jarrett last week that when the election is over it will be "payback" time for everyone who has opposed this Administration politically.  Of all of the un-American rhetoric that has eminated from the Obama camp over the past four years, these final threats against political opposition have to be a first from our political leaders.  The whole idea of voting for revenge is repugnant; it is the language of an angry, vengeful Administration that has nothing new to offer us and has therefore resorted to bullying and threatening the citizenry.

I will not vote for revenge tomorrow; I do not want revenge.  I want to see freedom expanded, I want to see harmful, abusive regulations turned back, I want to see jobs added, I want to see greater opportunities made available for all Americans.  I want to see the ranks of those on government assistance shrinking as those people who are currently receiving government assistance experience the self-respect that comes only from self-reliance.  I want to see our Bill of Rights defended for all Americans.  I want to see freedom of religion defended so that no one is forced by the government to violate his or her conscience.  I cling to God and guns and Freedom, but I do not do so bitterly as President Obama once derisively commented.  Rather, I cling hopefully to the values and freedoms that founded and built the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.  Tomorrow I am voting for the Constitution and the rule of law--for the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  That's why tomorrow, I am voting for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and I am praying that across this country tens of millions of other Americans will do the same.  Tomorrow is our decision day; it is our chance to take a stand for God and country.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree At Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at