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(LifeSiteNews) — Many candidates for political office like to tell voters that they’re different, but when it comes to Kathy Barnette, there may actually be some truth to the statement.

A Republican, Barnette is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania in a race that’s anticipated to be among the most competitive (and expensive) of the 2022 midterm elections. If she wins, she’ll hold several notable distinctions: Pennsylvania’s first ever female U.S. senator; only the 10th woman ever to have served in both the Military and in Congress; and the first black Republican female U.S. senator in American history.

But Barnette doesn’t allow any of these traits alone to define her. “The color of my skin is the least interesting thing about me,” she told me during a recent one-on-one interview. “I have lived a very full life.”

Born in rural Alabama and raised in a home without insulation or running water, young Kathy learned the harsh realities of poverty early on in life. “I grew up in dire poverty, and yet, by the grace of God, I was able to carve out a life for myself,” she expressed with pride but also humility. “It is my lived experience.”

Her mother, Mamie Jo, who was only eleven years old when she became pregnant, was a victim of rape, the gravity of which Barnette did not fully grasp until later on in life when she sought out her birth certificate to register for the Army Reserves, where she served for ten years.

Nonetheless, the circumstances surrounding her conception have played a monumental role in the development of Barnette’s own sense of personhood. “I did not become ardently pro-life because I inherited it from my grandparents,” she explained, “I arrived at this point of being very strong in my support of life because it’s a part of my own personal journey, and to deny that life in the womb would be in large part to deny myself, to have self-hate.”

Though not always easy to talk about, Barnette has made a habit of sharing her story with others — even those who identify as “pro-choice” — and while she has yet, to her knowledge, to convince anyone to make a full, on-the-spot jump to pro-life after just one conversation, she has picked up on a new willingness from many of those individuals to at least reassess their priorities and, in some cases, walk away from the exchange sounding more like a conservative than even they would have expected, including with respect to issues beyond life.

“I think that sometimes, as pro-lifers, we believe we have to convert people right on the spot, but life is more complicated than that,” Barnette told me. “By the power of telling our stories and my story, specifically — because that’s the kind of culture in which we live in now, one that responds to stories that are told convincingly — people begin to reprioritize.

Likewise, Barnette expressed optimism about the apparent willingness of the Supreme Court to revisit life as a legal/constitutional matter in its current term.

“Our country does not exist when one side gets to tell the other to shut up and go somewhere and sit down,” she said, “so I am very grateful that we are beginning to have a conversation again about a topic that is very important, and I am hopeful that our side will take to the streets, take to the airwaves, and begin to use our voice and begin to speak loudly for these little people.”

But an area in which she expressed less optimism, at least for the short-term, is the COVID crisis, or, more specifically, the ongoing government response to it.

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It's official: Joe Biden has announced that his Administration will be forcing COVID vaccinations on nearly 1/3rd of American citizens, blatantly disregarding the personal objections of millions of people and moving America ever closer towards a medical dictatorship.

We cannot stand for this unprecedented overreach, and we will not submit to Biden's tyrannical public coercion efforts.

Please SIGN this urgent petition informing the President that you will NOT comply with these unconstitutional vaccine mandate orders issued by the Biden Administration, and that elected officials should act in their capacity to block these intrusive demands.

On Thursday, September 9th, Joe Biden announced the latest round of federal orders meant to further coerce large swaths of the public into getting the COVID vaccine -- many against their will.

While the legal standing of these measures is, at best, dubious, the Biden Administration appears more ready than ever to gut our individual rights and practically erase medical autonomy in our country.

This latest escalation in overreach was announced via a televised speech in which Biden outlined a new "six-point plan" that includes far more than just six avenues to achieve mass medical compliance.

Among the most egregious new federal mandates are the following:

  • A requirement that all private businesses employing more than 100 people mandate their workers get the Covid-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing (to be implemented by way of a new Department of Labor rule)
  • A requirement that all federal employees and federal contractors get the COVID vaccine
  • A requirement that all healthcare workers in facilities that receive reimbursement from Medicare and/or Medicaid (an estimated 17 million) get the Covid-19 vaccine without an alternative testing option
  • A requirement that all Head Start teachers get the COVID vaccine
  • A federal effort to lobby states to implement vaccine mandates for all school employees, and require regular testing of all students and school staff
  • A federal effort to lobby entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing in order to grant entry to the public
  • A continuation of mask mandates on all federal properties and during interstate travel (i.e. planes, trains, buses)

All in all, these new vaccine mandates, which will go into effect within the coming weeks, will affect an estimated 100 million American workers -- 2/3rds of the entire workforce!

And, according to an administration official, violations of these unconstitutional requirements could result in fines of up to $14,000.

While this is clearly a political ploy on the part of the Joe Biden and his team of power-hungry Washington insiders to shift the focus from their disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the American public knows better: After nearly a year and a half's worth of arbitrary, ever-changing, and unconstitutional government mandates in response to the COVID outbreak, it was always a given that the Biden Administration would ramp things up even further when it behooved them.

And now, it would seem that time has officially come.

"This is not about freedom or personal choice," Biden uttered in his remarks, confirming his administration's blatant dismissal of all Americans' right(s) to accept or decline the experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

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As we've said from the beginning, science, basic logic, and common sense should dictate policy regarding COVID and the Delta variant.

But Joe Biden and the federal government have long abandoned those principles throughout this crisis, culminating into this disturbing yet inevitable flurry of intrusive vaccine mandates that use people's jobs, individual autonomy, and livelihood as leverage.

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Upon looking back on the last year and a half, and comparing where we are today to where we were before unconstitutional lockdowns, mandates, and mass government interference into the daily lives of Americans took our country by storm, Barnette summed up how we got to this point with one simple word: “Democrats.”

“Democrats took office, and they want absolute control — to federalize our entire lives,” she warned.

This is most clearly evident in terms of the onslaught of vaccine mandates at both the federal and state levels, Barnette argued, expressing concern about what they could mean for Americans’ religious freedoms going forward.

“If we allow them to force the American people to go against their own conscience, to violate their own freedom of religion, because, for some, not taking the vaccine is a personal, faith-based conviction, this will just be a precursor to other things,” Barnette predicted. “And yet they’re saying shut up, sit down, we don’t care what you think, do what you’re told. And our country doesn’t work that way. So as a senator, I will make sure that that is understood. I will make sure that the voice of the American people is represented.”

But Barnette also cautioned that COVID-19 is no laughing matter.

“You’ll never hear me say that this virus is not serious — this virus is very serious,” she said, “but when you look at the mortality rate for children 20 years and younger, it is 0.008 percent. So why are we forcing our children to wear masks? Why is Gov. Wolf [of Pennsylvania] now saying that the mask mandates will continue until children take the vaccine? Why would we force upon our healthy children an experimental vaccine?”

She was also forthcoming about her desire to see the Republican Party continue to pursue broadening its appeal to black and minority communities in order to sustain electoral success in the future. However, she sees only one clear path forward in doing so: Using the Trump model.

“Take a page out of President Trump’s book,” Barnette advised, “President Trump meaningfully addressed every single issue the black community has ever brought to either side of the political aisle. For the first time since LBJ, someone who happened to be on the Republican side meaningfully addressed the issues of black people.”

And according to the candidate herself, those issues are not difficult to identify. “Black people want what everybody else wants: We want good jobs, we want good schools, we want safe streets, and just to raise our families,” Barnette said.

As for black conservatives like herself, Kathy Barnette, who authored a book about being black and conservative in modern-day America called Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain, sees a bright future in the Republican Party and, more broadly, the conservative movement.
“Ours will be a very loud voice,” she foreshadowed, “and I understand the power of the color of my skin, just like my gender, perhaps, in a culture that tries to qualify everything based on what box you fit in. You know, ‘You’re black, so you must be a Democrat.’ Well, I’m black and I’m gonna use my own mind. How about that?”

So this idea — that Kathy Barnette, if successful, could genuinely be a different kind of senator — may not be as far-fetched as one may think it is when applied to a markedly more conventional candidate for the U.S. Senate, or any public office, for that matter.

From our discussion alone, she clearly demonstrated a unique willingness to engage in discussion with a sort of focused candor that escapes most polished politicians (adding to her own believability and credibility as a candidate) and ability to draw from her own experiences that will go a long way in making connections with those she’ll need to win over in order to secure the Republican nomination and compete against the eventual Democratic candidate in the general election next fall.

“I don’t walk into any room begging to be accepted into the American dream,” Kathy Barnette told me as we closed things out, “I am the American dream. This is my country, as well, and I don’t see myself as a visitor.

“I want to see this country strong, and I want to see everyone being able to do well, and I want to preserve this nation for my children and my children’s children. We have found our voices and we are here. We’re not going anywhere. And I’m very excited about that.”

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