Matt Mackowiak

I once heard then-U.S. Rep. and now-Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., say something that I quite liked: "I'm a Christian, an American, a conservative and a Republican - in that order." It quite nicely sums up how I feel.

Even if you are liberal, you can substitute liberal and Democrat in and be fine.

Every year around this time, we hear stories about a "War on Christmas." I am not going to defend and personally guarantee every "War on Christmas" story that someone, somewhere has publicized. But we do know that public schools have banned celebrations or mentions of Christmas. Many companies and public institutions formally encourage individuals to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." In 2005 Lowe's began labeling their Christmas trees as "holiday trees."

In many cases, efforts to prevent Americans from publicly celebrating Christmas are dealt with before legal action occurs.

In two specific Texas cases, legal action has occurred:

- In Plano in 2003, three elementary school children became victims of religious viewpoint discrimination in Morgan v. Swanson, what is now referred to as the "Candy Cane" case. These young students brought holiday goodie bags with candy canes that had religious messages on them and they were threatened by school officials. That case is ongoing although an initial victory has been won by the "pro Christmas" faction over the school district for infringing on the constitutional rights of the three students.

- A federal judge found the Katy school district had "unlawfully discriminated" against students in a variety of ways related to celebrating Christmas.

- A Frisco school district PTA email before Thanksgiving outlined a list of "Winter Party Rules" banning any references to Christmas or any other religious holiday. The email even banned the colors "red and green" and outlawed Christmas trees at school parties. Thankfully, State Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, fought these rules and the issue appears to have been satisfactorily resolved. For a time, it appeared that First Amendment Rights in America did not exist in the Frisco district.

The silent majority of America is Christian. I would guess 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas (or other traditional winter holidays) in some form or fashion. An individual or family can decide on their own if the Christmas season should be celebrated with a religious element to it - most people do, but in America you have that Constitutional right to choose for yourself.


Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on ABCNews.com. He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News, FoxNews.com, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site www.potomacflacks.com, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.