Frank Hill

Frank Hill has worked on and off and around Capitol Hill for 22 years and currently resides in Raleigh, NC. He was interviewed because of his long theoretical and practical experience as an observer and participant in national, state, and local politics, and his connections to and knowledge of university and secondary schools.

What are you doing now?

Frank Hill:

Well, I’m Frank Hill, long-term friend of Doug’s. And right now, I’m running the Institute for the Public Trust, which you were really helpful with to start. And our vision, basically, is to find better people to run for public office, try to find the next Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, male or female, and get them off the sideline, and get them to run for public office at any level, local, state, federal. We’re doing it in the state of North Carolina right now. We’d like to do it around the south, give them some resources. And so far, we’ve had classes at Carolina, Duke, State, Davidson, Wake Forest, and now we’re about ready to go to East Carolina. And we’ve trained about 218 people. We’ve got about 160 lined up this fall. So we’re real excited. It’s a good way to fill the pipeline, and hopefully, help save the Republic in the process.

What led you to this? What problem are you trying to solve?

Doug Monroe:

How is it that you were able to con your way into doing this? Why would anybody think you’re qualified?

Frank Hill:

That’s a good point. Well, a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was in Washington for 22 years, and I was Chief of Staff with Alex McMillan for 10 years, and saw what really a great public servant can do once he’s in office. And then later, I was with Elizabeth Dole, very high profile lady, Chief of Staff with her. And when I came back to Charlotte, I had a position down there that crumbled somewhat. And when I was going around talking to people about what to do next, I was asking, “What happened? What was wrong?” Because that was right about the time we had the crash. And they were all blaming Bush, and then they blamed Obama, and then they blamed Congress.

And because I’d worked for Alex McMillan before who’d been a CEO of Harris Teeter and his next job was Congress, I’d say, “Well, why don’t you run for public office?” And they’d say not only no, but hell no. And so after you hear that 20 or 30 or 40 times, you start to think. And then it wound up being already 300 to 400 different times that nobody of quality, high quality was willing to run for public office. So our buddy, Frank Dowd, and I started talking about it. I talked to Alex McMillan about it. And Frank Dowd said something was pretty funny. He says, “You got a lot of ideas. This is a good idea.” And so he was willing to help fund it. And that’s why we started. And I think everybody intuitively feels that there’s a void out there, but this is really a practical way to change it and bring people back into the political world.

What is wrong with America today politically?

Frank Hill:

I think if you look at history, our politics were much worse 200 years ago. They were much more intense, much more vicious. I mean, they used to have duals. Take people out and shoot each other. Vicious. Where I think the difference is, is they had men and well, until the 20th century, mostly men, of high intelligence and somewhat of high integrity and constitutional fiber where they could somehow come to reason. And right now I don’t get the feeling that there are many people that can sit down at a table and like it says in Isaiah, let’s reason together.

You got to have some experience, you got to have some intelligence, you got to have some integrity, and you also got to be willing to tell your constituent groups, “I’m going to do the best thing for the country. I appreciate your support, but I’m going to cut a deal here and I’m going to vote for it. And if you don’t like it, you can run against me.” That kind of thing. But Alex McMillan do it. I saw him do it 100 times. Elizabeth Dole could do it. I wish she had been a better Senator, more comfortable, but she had that kind of gravitas, which I think we’re missing. That’s the word. Gravitas.

So filibusters and all that kind of stuff. That’s just procedural. It’s more do you want to have Michael Jordan and LeBron James playing basketball or do you want me and JC Cohen coming off the bench? As great as we think we are, we’re not those two guys. You want to have good people, your best people, doing legislation.

Your Act II? What can make a difference?

Frank Hill:

Well, when you go through a period of time when your employment situation is uncertain, you just hope for an act. It doesn’t have to be a second act. That’s interesting. And you and I have talked about this before. I’ve had people say, “Why don’t you just run for office?” And because I like it. I don’t think I’m Cary Grant. I’m not the most eloquent person out there. I don’t think I’m Henry Clay or anything. But I think it’s so much more important to get thousands of people off the sideline instead of just one person trying to be Don Quixote. I’ve done that. When I ran for Congress in 1984, I was 28, and I really didn’t know what I was doing.

But one person can’t change it, 350 people can in Washington, 200 in Raleigh, Richmond. There are 10,000 elected positions in North Carolina. And I bet we have 200 people that are really pretty good out of 10,000. So I see this as a second act of helping to improve the Republic in a logical way and not just saying, “Okay. Let’s just throw money at it. Let’s raise money. Let’s do a 527.” This actually could make a difference because you get good people in there. And it’s led to some other things. I mean, I’m doing some consulting right now. There’s some companies that have asked me to help them in Raleigh, which I didn’t think I’d ever do, but it’s worked up pretty well.

Experience in DC with McMillan

Frank Hill:

When I got to Washington, because I was ready to get out of what I was doing, I was selling bottle caps, which was fun, but I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life. I’ve told a lot of people, it was like putting your hand in a glove that fit perfectly. And I was chief of staff for a Congressman who I really admired, you know McMillan, but he loved history and he loved talking about a lot of different, big grand things in a really nice way.

But I felt like a kid in a candy store because the Library of Congress was right around the corner and there was no internet in 1985. But we could call up them and say, “We need this reading from Gibbons”, or, “We need this book from Franklin,” or, “We need this book,” and the afternoon it would show up and it’d all be notated and here it is. I think that was really cool because you had all that knowledge that was just right around you come, coming… And the thing I liked about Washington was you didn’t have to go look for it. It came to you. People walking in and, “Here’s my issue on banking deregulation or financial disservices or healthcare,” and I didn’t have to do anything. It just came across the office.

Doug Monroe:

So you were basing politics on the liberal arts right there in Washington.

Frank Hill:

Yeah. So that was really innovating, I guess is the best word for me. I loved it. I loved the whole 10 years I was with McMillan. But a lot of it was just because of all the intellectual curiosity that was going on.

A Life Changing Moment

Frank Hill:

My history was, I didn’t really want to do what I wanted to do after college because I shifted gears. Thought I wanted to go to divinity school or something. That didn’t work. And then I worked with my father’s business for a while, traveled around. Then I went to business school, but talking about a life… This is probably a life-changing moment. I’m not sure I’ve really told you this, but I got married in 1982. I was in the middle of MBA school. I had one more semester to go and I got sick with walking pneumonia. So walking pneumonia, that still kind of felt like I was walking in mud. But the doctor said, “Oh, don’t worry about it’ll go away.” Well, after three weeks, it didn’t go away, in four weeks, five weeks. And my eyelids started drooping and I was running one day and I thought I tripped, but I didn’t. I just fell over. And I was cutting the grass one day and I just fell over. And I went, “This isn’t normal.” Because I was always proud of myself on trying to stay in shape.

And I went to a doctor. I was talking to Blacknall Presbyterian in Durham and I was helping with the reading or something, and my eyelids were dropping significantly. And my mother was there for some reason. She didn’t normally come, but she said, “You got to get your eyes checked.” So I went to go get my eyes checked at Duke. The doctor said, “Look, you got perfect eyesight. It’s 20/20.” He said, “I think you have myasthenia gravis.” And I went, “What is that?” He said, “You need to get…” So he sent me to a hospital, and the doctor said, “Well, we think you have myasthenia gravis.”

And I said, “Well, what is it?” And he said, “It’s where your thymus puts out defective T-cells and it gets into all your muscles. And so repetitive firing, after about four or five things, your muscles just freeze.” And I said, “What do I got to go in the hospital for?” He said, “Because we’re going to operate on you tonight.” I said “What?” He said, “Because if you’re sleeping and your breathing stops because your muscles stop, you’ll suffocate in your sleep.” I went, “Wow, God almighty.” I was 28 years old. So of course I burst out in tears in the car. Called my mom and said, “I need to come see you,” because I was in Durham at the time.

So I went in the hospital that night and they monitored me. And then they gave me a couple tests. They found out that it wasn’t as severe as they thought it was. And they thought it was Guillain-Barre, which is another thing. And I said, “Look, I got six more weeks of MBA school. I can’t…” Because the operation would be to open up your chest, take out your thymus, and you’re laid up for three months. I said, “I got to finish MBA school.” They said, “Okay, just take this medicine.” And it helped. So I finished that and we had graduation on a Monday night, August 25th, 1983. August 26th, my wife’s birthday, I was in the hospital at six in the morning getting cut open.

Running for Congress at Age 28

Frank Hill:

Well, this is the defining point. Okay. So, I was thinking, you go to MBA school, I wanted become a venture capitalist or something cause I thought that’d be fun and interesting. And all of a sudden, just to bring in my faith a little bit, I was going, “Okay, Lord, I’m getting the picture that maybe this isn’t what you want me to do.” And they opened me up and it took me about three months to recover. It was really a painful thing. I was in the hospital for a week. That’s how long it took. So I was kind of thinking about what to do.

I really didn’t want to stay with the bottle cap company, and Bill Cobey and Tom Fetter, who we knew from previous campaigns, came in. Talked to me in January of ’84. And they said, “Well gosh, Frank, we know that you’re interested in politics.” Because we worked on their campaigns, Judy and I had, “and we think you ought to run for Congress.” And I started laughing. I said, “Are you kidding me? I’m 28 years old. What am I going to run for Congress for?” Ronald Reagan’s running for reelection, Jesse Helms running for reelection, Jim Martin’s running for governor. And they said, “No, there’s an open seat here in the second district for Republicans, because it’s 91% democratic and it’s 42% African American.” I said, “Well, that’s a Kamikazi mission.” They said, “Yeah, but you’re the guy to do it.” I said, “What?”

But anyway, the whole calculus was that Tim Valentine was the incumbent, and Ken Spalding was a young African American lawyer who was a good guy. He looked like he was going to beat Valentine. And then it would set up the first democratic African American in North Carolina and a young Republican. Well, we went to bed that primary, and Ken Spalding was up by 5,000 votes at two in the morning. And we went, “Man, we got a race.” But when we woke up, Tim Valentine apparently had a lot of dead people that voted from Nashville County, Nash County. I’m serious. And he won by 3000 votes, which is weird. From midnight to six, 5,000 people. That’s a big swing. Not that I’m accusing anybody.

So, I had guys come down from Washington. They said, “Hang it up. Don’t waste your time. You’re just going to get murdered.” I said, “I know.” But I had some other friends, and Judy said, “This might be your only chance. Let’s see what happens.” So we rolled the dice, we started raising some money. We got on TV with a guy from Duke who was a real clever young man who did these ads. And he got us on TV at very cheap prices, like on Dallas, 60 Minutes, NFL football. And all the sudden everybody said, “Man, you’re going to win this race.” And we said, “No, we’re not.” But it looked like it. It was all this…

And the NRCC came in at the end, they put $150,000 in the race. They said, “Well, we want you to help turn out.” Well anyway… So all that… If that had not happened, if I hadn’t gotten sick, I would not have… Because that was nuts. But I said, “Lord, I thought I was going to do this when I was 54, 53. I might not make it to 53.” Which is what I tell a lot of these students. I say, I was 28. I could have waited until 50 and had everything set up and finances, waiting for the good time. You might not have a good time. And that’s kind of my sense of urgency for people to do it.

Five elections with McMillan

Frank Hill:

But-

Doug Monroe:

But you all had a lot of elections with Alex McMillan.

Frank Hill:

I had five with him.

Doug Monroe:

You went through-

Frank Hill:

Yeah, five.

Doug Monroe:

Like six, seven elections, right?

Frank Hill:

Well, let me tell you about the first one, because this is probably more pertinent to what you might be interested in looking at-

1st job with McMillan

Frank Hill:

My first job was with Congressman Alex McMillan in Washington. The day that I got up in Washington, we found out that he was going to be the Number One targeted race the next election, two years later, because he had won his first election by 321 votes out of 220,000 votes, which is ridiculous. That’s just tiny. It was basically a Republican district. And the same Republican guys that were telling me to get out of the race, they were coming in the office and saying, “Well, how do you feel about being the Number One targeted race?” I said, “What do you mean?” They said, “Well, the DCCC, Democratic Congressional Committee just named their number one target, is to defeat Alex McMillan in 1986.” “Oh, my God. What am I doing?” So, I’m giving up a job, moved to Washington, hadn’t even bought a house yet. And I said, “June, we might not be up here in two years. This is going to be tough.”

So they said, “What we’re going to do is we’re going to hire Lee Atwater to be your consultant, Lance Tarrance to be your pollster, Chris Anet to be your campaign manager. We had the A-team. It was the A-SWAT team of Washington. And we started getting McMillan ready for reelection on January 2nd, 1985.

So, every single day, every letter that went out had a to be perfect, had to be for the right reason. We ran a two-year campaign and he won by 4,200 votes the next year, when it really wasn’t a good year for Republicans. And that was when I really got cemented into how this process works, and learned how to do it.

A lot of those people are the people we pulled down to the Institute now because we’re like the Confederate soldiers. We talked to everybody. We were in the trenches. We got shot at.

Elizabeth Dole

Frank Hill:

… But that led to meeting McMillan. He asked me to be as chief of staff. I went up there, really enjoyed it. Got to be on the budget committee, entitlement commission with Bill Clinton. Learned a lot, did some lobbying after that. And then Elizabeth Dole. Found out that she was running, and Ed Gillespie, who was the Republican committee chairman. He and I were friends. And he said, “Yeah, we need some help, because she hadn’t been in North Carolina for 40 years. So I want you to be her debate prep person.” I said, “Great.”

Well, what I found out later, I was with her Mondays and Fridays for eight months. And basically what I was doing was I was keeping her occupied, because she was kind of a meddler, and it freed up Ed and the other guys to do all the work, because when I had her, she wasn’t calling them.

But we prepared her. I played Erskine Bowles 15 times in mock debates, and she …

Doug Monroe:

She beat Erskine Bowles?

Frank Hill:

She killed him. She beat him 56 to 44. It was amazing. Just in terms of political campaigns, it was an amazing thing, because Erskine’s a great guy. I admire the heck out of him.

Doug Monroe:

He taught me how to do that.

Frank Hill:

But he got massacred through that thing. And I learned a lot about camera presence from Elizabeth Dole. She looked at him and went, because he said, “Mrs. Doll.” Or something like that. This is on camera, she goes, “Erskine, we’ve known each other for a long time. Call me Liddy.” And it just evaporated him. He just went right into the thing and then she kind of stuck a little dagger in his back, and that little Magnolia lilt of hers, and just, “Well now, Erskine, you know that’s not true.” I’m telling you, you just feel it.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:

And so, that’s when I kind of learned the magic of presence. And she was a great candidate, but …

Doug Monroe:

Why do you care?

Frank Hill:

I kind of look back, and well, you always hope you could do better. Did I tutor a lot of kids at Carolina? No. Did I start a lot of clubs? No. Some of it came from my upbringing. My mother really was just a really gentle soul, because she was a saint to put up with our family. Besides going out and always saying, “Well, if you don’t like it, do something about it,” she, more than anybody else, was always concerned about how are you treating other people? “How do you… Are you dating the homecoming queen? Well, okay. That’s great, but are you being nice to everybody in the classroom? Are you reaching out to the person that’s a little bit outside of the cool crowd? Are you being kind to people?”

I pretty much got that from her. I still don’t think I do that all the time. I’d like to, I’m interested in people. I like to be around them. It’s just that sense that life’s just not fair, I don’t think, when there’s certain people that get all the good things and some people just don’t. It just kind of bug me for some reason.

Doug Monroe:

A one-

Frank Hill:

I appreciate you noticing that, because I didn’t know if it ever came out or not-

Early Integration: Jordan High School in Durham

Frank Hill:

A lot of was the pub… We were the first wave of integration, which really helped because it forced you to get along with different people. But it’s interesting. Jordan was a great high school. I found out we had four PhD teachers my senior year. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and English. I don’t know if you can get four PhD people teaching anymore-

Doug Monroe:

No.

Frank Hill:

… in a public school, or a private school for all that matter. I don’t know. And they were terrific. The whole school… Jordan was interested because it’s the rednecks, the African Americans, and then the research triangle, and the Duke people. And so you bring all that in and you get all this intellectual curiosity mixing with all the different people. I had an African American woman tell me one time, she goes, “What you white dudes don’t remember or don’t think about was that you helped us.” Because we were able to see people that actually played football and basketball and then went home and studied, and it made us want to do it. So I understand that part about the peer pressure that works. But until she told me that, I was thinking I’d never really thought about what you do when you get into an integrated situation, and they start doing what you’re doing, that kind of thing.

Our co-captain on our high school team, African American named Bill Maribel. And I don’t know where he is now, I think last time I saw him, he was at Bowie State University. He graduated and was going to summer school at MIT, after we graduated. Well, first of all, I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m going to summer school.” I said, “Well, where?” He said, “MIT.” I said, “Massa… Is that where you’re going?” He goes, “Yeah.” “So what are you going to summer school for?” He said, “I’m boning up on my calculus.” I said, “Really?” I had no idea he was that bright. He was in a couple classes of mine. Anyway, he goes to MIT. I come to Carolina.

Doug Monroe:

Really?

Frank Hill:

He goes to MIT, my co-captain. He gets a degree in Physics from MIT. He gets a Masters in Nuclear Physics from MIT. He gets a PhD in Plasma Physics. So you told me who was a more accomplished person coming out of Jordan High School. I won a Morehead, I’m very fortunate. Here’s a guy, had all this… But that was cultivated in that mix during that time. So it was really kind of neat to watch. But-

Doug Monroe:

Well, you were in un… Because it really was a research triangle even then.

Frank Hill:

When you think about it was almost like a magnet school because you get the sons and daughters of all the RTP professors who are doing genetic research in the ’70s, and then all the Duke professors. So there’s some bright people there.

UNC and Frank’s Crisis of Faith

Frank Hill:

Well, like I said, I grew up going to a more liberal high school at the time and thinking I wanted to be a Nader’s Raiders kind of guy. So during Carolina, about my junior year, I had one of these… I think it was Socrates that said, “Unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, I had a very examined life my junior year. We might have talked about it, I don’t know. I think I was taking Dr. Daniel’s existential class, which freaked me out. I mean, I couldn’t believe that life was… We’re here…He used to say, “Well, and women grow hairy legs and hairy underarms, and men have bad breath, and then you die.” That was the essence of life. I was going, “God, that’s just a miserable way to think about going through.” But I was going through kind of a crisis of faith and trying to figure out what did I believe. Was there anything beyond what we have here?

So that year was a pretty deep period for me to just think. So I started going to church, which was kind of unusual in college. Went to a Bible study at the Beta house. Randall Williams, Doug Alexander, and we were over there with Tim Stump and we had a Bible study our senior year. So that was kind of unusual, but it really helped me kind of figure out what I believed in, what I didn’t, how I wanted my life to try to be. And then after that, I read a lot of religion courses when I was here, a lot of history, we did a lot of military history.

Doug Monroe:

You were a religion major.

Frank Hill:

I finally wound up in religion. I had to declare my major my senior year, and the counselor said, “Well, Mr. Hill, you got four in economics and three in history and four in English. Why don’t you…” I said, “Well, I don’t think I really want to…” This is after I decided I didn’t want to go to law school, because I’d worked with a judge that summer on the internship and said, “I can’t do this.” And he said, “Well, what class did you like the best?” I said, “Dr. Bernard Boyd,” who was here at Chapel Hill. And I had him for a month in a religion class. And he said, “Well, why don’t you major in religion?” I said, “Okay, so I will.” So I took seven out of 10 classes my senior year in religion.

But, it was… Now the Presbyterian part of me comes out and says, “That was for a reason,” because I learned a lot and I enjoyed it. Dr. Boyd… Two years before that, I had him for a month, and he died. He had a stroke. But I remember that first month. This man had a charisma. I mean, it wasn’t like an aura or anything like that. He just effused integrity and faith and gentleness and intelligence. He combined the whole thing. And I remember thinking, this is the most unusual guy I’ve ever been around. So then he died, and I felt like I had really got cheated.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and “Religionless Christianity”

Frank Hill:

But anyway, it came around my senior year because then I had to take a class on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and I read all of Bonhoeffer’s books and wrote a paper and basically about religionless Christianity is what the thing was. And I wrote this stuff and talked about the struggles I was going through and the examining of my life. And I got an incomplete on it from the professor. I said, “Well, I thought it was pretty good.” He said, “No, this was great.” He said, “You were very honest and open about your search and all that stuff,” he said, “but you didn’t put enough footnotes in it.” I said, “Well, how many footnotes do you need?” He said, “Well, it’d be nice to have like 30.” But I was picking up things from all the stuff we’ve been reading. So I went back and put 30 down there and he gave me a A minus or B plus or something, I don’t know what. But that was a real cathartic thing for me. And it really kind of helped pull stuff together.

Frank Hill:

So college helped develop me personality wise. And then since then, Bonhoeffer has a real big impact on a lot of things. Because I think he had a lot of guts and he acted on faith. He acted on belief and faith. And he cared about the poor. He wasn’t a particularly mean person. He was national champion of Germany in tennis, a concert pianist, a theologian and a poet, kind of like Jefferson and Madison. You kind of start to see-

Doug Monroe:

And he chose to go back and die.

Frank Hill:

And chose to go back and confront Hitler. And he was hung nine days before the freedom. So I’d say he is someone I’ve spent a lot of time reading about.

Finding Public Service in Family and Paycheck

Frank Hill:

It’s funny, because I never ran for anything in college or high school. I don’t know if part of it was I didn’t want to get jaded by it. I think that was part of it. But a lot of it came from my family. My father was a very strong-willed father. He was an All-American at Duke a long time ago. He played on a football team that not only went undefeated, and nobody scored against them.

Doug Monroe:

That’s unbelievable. That just doesn’t happen.

Frank Hill:

So when you have someone coming home and you say, “Well son, how did the game go?” “Well, we won.” “Well, did the other team score?” “Well, yeah, it’s a basketball game.” “Well, back in my day, nobody scored against us. If they don’t score, they don’t win.” So it was very high standards and he was very opinionated.

And my sister, who became a women’s rights activist… Matter of fact, she was honored in this house one time… she was very strong-willed, and my brother was strong-willed, and my mother was strong-willed, but she was Dutch, so she was a little calmer than rest of us. And my other sister was the sweetest person. She’d cry all the time because we’d be fighting. And she wound up being a first grade teacher. She was really sweet. This is what really… besides that high standard of not only win, but did the other team not score… My mother, more than anything else, if we were complaining or bitching about something, she would say, “Well…” She wouldn’t say, “I’m sorry. That’s terrible.” She goes, “Well, I hear what you’re saying. What are you going to do about it? Because I really don’t want to hear you bitching and bellyaching about it.”

And so, when you hear that all the time, instead of bitching about something and someone saying, “If you don’t like it, you got to do something about it,” at a certain point in time you say, “Well, I guess she’s right.” And so, like I said, I didn’t run for anything in college or high school, but I got my first paycheck when I got out of college and a third of it was gone and I went, “Hmm.” Because I thought I was going to be a Nader’s Raider. I thought it was going to be an antitrust lawyer.

Doug Monroe:

Oh really?

Frank Hill:

Yeah, that’s what I wanted to be… I don’t know why… until I went on the Coors internship with the Moreheads, and that kind of started chipping away a little bit at it. But I got that first paycheck, and I said, “I just worked my butt off for two weeks,” and I got paid a thousand bucks, I think, for two weeks, maybe 500 bucks. Yeah, 500 bucks and $333 were there. And I said, “Well, so what’s this FICA check? What’s FICA. What is the UI, the unemployment insurance? What is all this stuff?” And that’s when I really decided to get involved.

The Bell Curve and the “Dumbbell” Curve

Frank Hill:

Here. Here’s what I think. And if I had a whiteboard, I’ve done this. I call it the bell curve versus the dumbbell curve. Just get that image in mind.

Doug Monroe:

Okay. Okay.

Frank Hill:

You got the bell curve where America always has been. It’s a center-right country. You’ve always had Southern Democrats, kind of more moderate. You’ve had moderate Republicans, libertarians, Whigs, whatever. For hundreds of years, we’ve had this middle that has voted and also had been represented in Congress for the most part. And beginning in 1994, I can almost put a date on it when the Republicans took over, I’m not blaming it on them, but the rise of extreme partisanship happened and the Republicans decided to purge their party of moderate Republicans. I mean, they were running conservative Republicans against moderates in the primaries.

The Democrats weren’t purging the Southern Democrats, but they were ’91 Southern Democrats in Washington in 1982. They are five right now. The blue dogs are gone.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:
Just by the way, the party has moved left, okay, the bell curve is right here, standard deviations. That’s where it’s always been, one or two standard deviations. Now, it’s like the center of the Democratic party is four, five standard deviations. Republican party is five standard deviations. You got the representation, nobody in the middle. You can’t.

Doug Monroe:

It’s a barbell.

Frank Hill:

Yeah, I call it a dumbbell. You got the dumbbells on both sides, and it’s not that… I don’t consider people to be moderate if they believe in small government. But I do believe that people who can compromise and be rational like McMillan did… He would take a deal. If he could cut spending by 10 trillion dollars, he’d say, “Well, let’s raise taxes by a dollar on everyone.” That’s a deal. And I would think it’d be responsible. The Republicans will not do it because they said, “Well, Grover Norquist got us to sign a pledge. We can’t break it.”

For a dollar a head? Are you kidding me? And McMillan says, “Well, who the hell is Grover Norquist?” He’s not even elected. Hopefully, what we’re trying to do is bring enough sentient people from both, all sides, and get back in the game and learn how to get elected. But then once elected, be leaders and say, “I agree with you 85% of the time, what are you upset about?” We’re going to disagree. If I agree with everything you said, I’d begin to worry about myself and you ought to worry about agreeing with me. That’s what we’re trying to do is kind of rebuild that. I hate to call it moderate-center, but it’s the thinking, rational, reasonable majority of American people. That’s where the majority of people are.

The #1 Issue: The Federal Budget Deficit

Frank Hill:

I think the federal budget is the most important thing that we have to solve now, but I’ve always thought it was important. And I really don’t know why I thought it was important. That’s the weirdest thing that someone at 28-years-old would get involved with politics because they’re worried about the budget. But in 1984, when I ran, the federal deficit was $338 billion out of a $900 billion budget. And we got 3.7 trillion now. So it’s about 30%. It’s about the same. And I have no idea why that bugged me, but it just didn’t seem right. And that’s another reason why I decided to run.

But the reason why I think it’s so important is it’s like carbon monoxide poisoning. You can sit in the car all day with the windows open. As soon as you shut the windows, the carbon monoxide will keep. That’s what happens with these budget deficits and the debt and the accumulated interest and the inflation. Just slowly just permeates, and then it kills. And that’s what I’m really concerned about. And since that time, I’ve done a lot of reading about history. There’s a great book called “This Time Is Different.” I think you’ve read it, but it’s-

800 Years of Financial Folly. And they’ve gone through every nation that used to be a superpower 800 years ago, Ming Dynasty, Soviet Union, United Kingdom. And it’s not that they evaporate. They just cease being superpowers, and they cease being generators of great opportunity. And that’s what I’m scared about with this situation. So what I’m trying to do with my blog and when I talk to people is I’m trying to take a really dry subject. If you look at any budget, accountants, they’re not exciting people. But I’m trying to take the federal budget and put it in context as someone who doesn’t care about it will read it.

And that’s the reason why I use the “Animal House” references or music or cartoons or pictures, and grab them, and then try to write in a language that what I learned on Capitol Hill is you have to write in a language that an eighth grader will understand. So I’m trying to take entitlements and social security reform. How do you do that so an eighth grader will say, “Oh, I get it. I get your point”? So that’s part of what I’m trying to do. And hopefully, enough people will start looking at it and agreeing.

Average Voters and the Importance of Leaders

Frank Hill:
There was a guy, Bill Nye the Science Guy, gave a commencement speech at a college or somewhere. And he said, “You high school students or college students today know more about physics than Albert Einstein did or Newton.” Because we have so much more information and it’s all so much more developed. So we said, it’s not a question of the knowledge that we have available, it’s how do we use it and how do we use it in a constructive way? Just to bring it back to the Institute, I think a lot of it is leadership. And you’re always going to have superior people leading any society, people who just work hard and good people moving along, and then you have people who are maybe poor and then you’re going to have the criminals. That’s just going to be part of the society.

But, when you lose your leadership and you lose your identity of a team or an organization or a country. Ronald Reagan inspired this explosion of American free enterprise in the 80s. A lot of that was just because he gave us confidence. We’re confident. We’re going to do this. We can beat it. So I’m not so sure the American people are completely destitute. I know that a lot of them are doing things that are dangerous to them. Obesity is one of them, smoking too much, a lot of stuff, but I’m not sure we’re inspired. A lot of people haven’t been inspired and a lot of them are political leaders, but they could be business leaders, church leaders, any leader. And that’s what I think is so important about leadership, which gets back to the whole Morehead thing. It’s a leadership scholarship. We got a lot of responsibilities to help lead. And that’s what I think people respond to.

How do we choose our candidates?

Frank Hill:
Yeah, well, there’s a lot of barriers to entry for good people, and if you don’t know where all those levers are … Because there’s stuff going on in the background of every campaign that is really complicated stuff. We got pollsters, you got consultants, you got media advisors, you got social media bombs.

Well, let’s just take Obama for a case. He’s charismatic, handsome. 50% of the reason why people vote for someone is how do they look on TV? Has nothing to do with their policies. Doesn’t have anything to do with where they’re from, birth … nothing. You know, “Ma, looks like a nice young African American man. He’s got a nice family, intact family, nuclear family, good for him. I think I’m going to vote for him.” What’s he going to do about your taxes, budget, overseas, foreign policy? That stuff just doesn’t fit.

So, if that’s the case, it’s really, really important to get really good people who … Let’s say the next African American good-looking young man is not as far left as Obama is. Maybe he is a moderate Democrat, or even possibly a conservative or an independent, who people say, “You know, he’s a good guy.” But then when he gets into office, he enacts growth policies, fiscal responsible policies. That’s what I think. It’s so much of a visual environment right now, but the good people have got to get into those slots or else the other people that you disagree with are going to lose. And just think of the difference of what Obama could have been if he’d been like a Bill Clinton, even, kind of in that mold?

Doug Monroe:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Frank Hill:

Well, he’s … tends to enter deviations to the left of Bill Clinton.

Doug Monroe:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). All right, let me-Is government too complicated for democracy? Those… Those-

Frank Hill:

No.

Doug Monroe:

…issues, or is it too complicated for democracy?

Frank Hill:

Well, I think it’s too complicated for democracy, and we’ve had this discussion before. I don’t think it’s too complicated for representative democracy. Which is exactly what the founders wanted, right? Now they were a little bit more snooty than maybe you and I are, in saying, “Well, you got to own property. You got to be kind of wealthy. You got to be white. You got to go to Princeton. Those are the only people we want to be able to vote.” They didn’t even let anybody else vote, but now we’re in a modern age.

After being in it for 22 years, or 30 years now, there’s no way the average American’s going to understand the budget or any of those issues. It’s so complicated. Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley. I can’t even pronounce it. But it really is… I can’t remember the exact word. It’s really so critical that we get the right people to run and then learn how to run so they can use some of the shallowness of, 50% of it’s visual. 38% of it is your voice. Think about that. 38% of the reason why someone votes for someone is your voice. Well, that’s why I don’t think Hillary Clinton’s going to win. She’s got this shrieky… It’s like-

Doug Monroe:

Lincoln wouldn’t have won.

Frank Hill:

Lincoln wouldn’t have won. Jefferson wouldn’t won. But you got 50% visual, 38% audio. Well, you got to get someone to fill those two slots and the rest of it’s some policy. It’s usually one issue at a time.

Doug Monroe:

That drives an election.

Frank Hill:

Yeah. You’re either a pro-life candidate or you’re anti… candidate. You’re a… I don’t know what the last one was. It’s going to be gay marriage coming up. It’s going to be pro or against gay marriage. All the hot buttons. That’s what people can kind of identify with.

The Fraternity Experience

Frank Hill:

Well, it’s interesting, and I don’t want this to come across sounding haughty or whatever, but a lot of things in the fraternity were fun, but I remember thinking, “They’re kind of trivial.” And looking back on it, they are kind of trivial. But they’re part of growing up. You were talking about me being 83 years old, a lot of it, I think, and I’ve learned this over time, but my father was domineering, but he also was an alcoholic. So, if you grow up in that environment, you do tend to grow up quickly because you don’t really…

Doug Monroe:

Yes, sir.

Frank Hill:

A lot of the stuff that’s just not that important, you just don’t want to be around it.

Frank Hill:

Okay. Well, then we’re simpatico there. But, looking back on it now, it was good for me because I really didn’t have that growing up. Because the tensions in the house were so high that the best times we had was when dad was gone traveling, and mom was there, my sisters were there, and then it was kind of joyous and all giddy and happy. That was playing into some of that stuff. So, I might have not participated as much because I was looking down on it a little bit.

The Juke Box – Beer Box Elections

Frank Hill:

But the juke box election, I remember that because I remember everybody got so, the beach music crowd and the prep crowd and the Washington crowd that I got to know because of basketball, because we all tried out for the freshman basketball team.

Doug Monroe:

You were all great athletes.

Frank Hill:

Yeah, it was Mitch and J.C. and Natty Corrigan and Kevin Hartley. And J.C. and I made the team somehow, but we liked those guys a lot and they were in our pledge class. We were the worst pledge class ever, because we didn’t do anything. We didn’t do a panty raid or anything.

Doug Monroe:

You were in the spring class, not the fall.

Frank Hill:

The spring class. Yeah, we were horrible. Ralph Womble and Jim Manley took us out front and said, “Do you guys want to be part of this fraternity?” We said, “Yeah, why? What’s going on?” He said, “Well, you don’t do a damned thing. Y’all aren’t.” “Well, we like each other. We already know each other because we played basketball.” And they said it was more to life than playing basketball.

But I remember Mitch looked at him and he said, “Look, we’re from Washington, DC, and y’all are screaming at us all the time and calling us a bunch of bad names. If we wanted to do that, we’d go in downtown DC and let the brothers do it. We don’t need.”

So that was always kind of fun to see the difference but the thing I really do remember, though, was the beer box thing. Because I think I partnered with J.C., maybe, or Klinger, Charles Wilson, sorry, Klinger. He and I were making a bin and you had to buy it, right? You had to purchase it and then you had to do it. And Allen Corey and Saperski were the other ones. And then there was some other people. And I think it had a combination. You had to have the right amount of money but you also had to politick. Who was going to keep it refilled? Who was going to make it accessible? Who was going to bring in Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of Schlitz?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, really.

Frank Hill:

The really important stuff. And we got down to the final vote, this was kind of the first thing I guess I really remember about politics. And I thought we had it but I think some of them might have lied to us because we lost by one or two votes. I remember being really ticked about that. I mean, I thought that maybe somebody paid off Tripp Womack or something. I don’t know, there was something about that that just bugged me. I think it was just the fact that we lost.

Doug Monroe:

Well some of that’s playacting for later in life. Do you remember the pledge raid by any chance?

Frank Hill:

I remember you guys.

Doug Monroe:

But maybe you weren’t even in that then.

Frank Hill:

I remember it, now, well I remember you guys had a great pledge raid.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:

But we didn’t. Because we didn’t do anything.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.

Frank Hill:

But I remember y’all set off stink bombs and-

Doug Monroe:

All right, well-

Frank Hill:

William Sutherland was run around town.

The Yellow Mustang Discussion and Diving Deep

Speaker 1:

I think it’s story time. I particularly want to hear you’re telling us the double date that happened in the yellow Mustang.

Doug Monroe:

May not remember.

Frank Hill:

I may not-

Speaker 1:

And you may not remember it-

Frank Hill:

Well, let’s see. Tell me who the characters were. It was probably you and Cammie.

Speaker 1:

You, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

It was you … It was me and Cammie and you and the girl you dated in high school I think that followed you that … It was in your yellow Mustang…

Frank Hill:

Oh, Robbie, I think. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I’ll give you a hint. It didn’t end great.

Frank Hill:

Well, if it didn’t end great, I probably forgot about it. I do remember we-

Doug Monroe:

You may not remember.

Frank Hill:

I think we talked a lot about-

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, about-

Frank Hill:

… subjects.

Speaker 1:

The fun part of that story for me, and some of this is just fun.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

The fun part of that story is that you got to talking about politics.

Frank Hill:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And you guys were on a date, and the girls started-

Frank Hill:

Getting bored. Now-

Speaker 1:

Maybe even some buttons were pushed, political buttons.

Frank Hill:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

But if you recall-

Frank Hill:

No, no. Well, that might have been just-

Frank Hill:

That might have been one of many, because here’s what I know about Doug, just to be a mutual admiration society, besides being a meticulous planner and developer and executioner like we talked about, Doug was always the one that was drilling six layers deep, and I remember it didn’t really matter what it was. We’d be talking about Russian history and you’d get into all that stuff and I’m kind of going, “I don’t know anything about Russian history.” There were a lot of guys that we went to Carolina with who were satisfied at the top or the second level, and I don’t want to name the name, but I remember one guy who was a business major and I was taking philosophy courses or religion courses, and I remember saying, “Well, what do you think about Kant or Sartre or Camus?” “Don’t bother me with that. I don’t care about that stuff. I’m just trying to get a business degree.” I’m going, “Really? That’s all you want is a business degree?” Well, he had a family business to go back and run, and we know tons of guys who did it-

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah, a lot, a lot.

Frank Hill:

And I still like a lot of them, but I remember thinking, wow, that’s missing a lot of what we’re here for.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:

And so, while I might not remember that exact moment, but I do remember that you were always one that we could spark off of because you wouldn’t just say, “Oh, I’m just a business major. I don’t want to talk about it.” We could talk about ecology, and Doug would want to talk about it and go deep.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

The Institute for Public Trust:

https://institutepublictrust.org/

Alumni Free Speech Alliance:

https://alumnifreespeechalliance.com/

UNC Alumni Free Speech Alliance:

https://www.uncafsa.org/

Overview

Frank Hill

Frank Hill has worked on and off and around Capitol Hill for 22 years and currently resides in Raleigh, NC. He was interviewed because of his long theoretical and practical experience as an observer and participant in national, state, and local politics, and his connections to and knowledge of university and secondary schools.
Transcript

What are you doing now?

Frank Hill:

Well, I’m Frank Hill, long-term friend of Doug’s. And right now, I’m running the Institute for the Public Trust, which you were really helpful with to start. And our vision, basically, is to find better people to run for public office, try to find the next Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, male or female, and get them off the sideline, and get them to run for public office at any level, local, state, federal. We’re doing it in the state of North Carolina right now. We’d like to do it around the south, give them some resources. And so far, we’ve had classes at Carolina, Duke, State, Davidson, Wake Forest, and now we’re about ready to go to East Carolina. And we’ve trained about 218 people. We’ve got about 160 lined up this fall. So we’re real excited. It’s a good way to fill the pipeline, and hopefully, help save the Republic in the process.

What led you to this? What problem are you trying to solve?

Doug Monroe:

How is it that you were able to con your way into doing this? Why would anybody think you’re qualified?

Frank Hill:

That’s a good point. Well, a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was in Washington for 22 years, and I was Chief of Staff with Alex McMillan for 10 years, and saw what really a great public servant can do once he’s in office. And then later, I was with Elizabeth Dole, very high profile lady, Chief of Staff with her. And when I came back to Charlotte, I had a position down there that crumbled somewhat. And when I was going around talking to people about what to do next, I was asking, “What happened? What was wrong?” Because that was right about the time we had the crash. And they were all blaming Bush, and then they blamed Obama, and then they blamed Congress.

And because I’d worked for Alex McMillan before who’d been a CEO of Harris Teeter and his next job was Congress, I’d say, “Well, why don’t you run for public office?” And they’d say not only no, but hell no. And so after you hear that 20 or 30 or 40 times, you start to think. And then it wound up being already 300 to 400 different times that nobody of quality, high quality was willing to run for public office. So our buddy, Frank Dowd, and I started talking about it. I talked to Alex McMillan about it. And Frank Dowd said something was pretty funny. He says, “You got a lot of ideas. This is a good idea.” And so he was willing to help fund it. And that’s why we started. And I think everybody intuitively feels that there’s a void out there, but this is really a practical way to change it and bring people back into the political world.

What is wrong with America today politically?

Frank Hill:

I think if you look at history, our politics were much worse 200 years ago. They were much more intense, much more vicious. I mean, they used to have duals. Take people out and shoot each other. Vicious. Where I think the difference is, is they had men and well, until the 20th century, mostly men, of high intelligence and somewhat of high integrity and constitutional fiber where they could somehow come to reason. And right now I don’t get the feeling that there are many people that can sit down at a table and like it says in Isaiah, let’s reason together.

You got to have some experience, you got to have some intelligence, you got to have some integrity, and you also got to be willing to tell your constituent groups, “I’m going to do the best thing for the country. I appreciate your support, but I’m going to cut a deal here and I’m going to vote for it. And if you don’t like it, you can run against me.” That kind of thing. But Alex McMillan do it. I saw him do it 100 times. Elizabeth Dole could do it. I wish she had been a better Senator, more comfortable, but she had that kind of gravitas, which I think we’re missing. That’s the word. Gravitas.

So filibusters and all that kind of stuff. That’s just procedural. It’s more do you want to have Michael Jordan and LeBron James playing basketball or do you want me and JC Cohen coming off the bench? As great as we think we are, we’re not those two guys. You want to have good people, your best people, doing legislation.

Your Act II? What can make a difference?

Frank Hill:

Well, when you go through a period of time when your employment situation is uncertain, you just hope for an act. It doesn’t have to be a second act. That’s interesting. And you and I have talked about this before. I’ve had people say, “Why don’t you just run for office?” And because I like it. I don’t think I’m Cary Grant. I’m not the most eloquent person out there. I don’t think I’m Henry Clay or anything. But I think it’s so much more important to get thousands of people off the sideline instead of just one person trying to be Don Quixote. I’ve done that. When I ran for Congress in 1984, I was 28, and I really didn’t know what I was doing.

But one person can’t change it, 350 people can in Washington, 200 in Raleigh, Richmond. There are 10,000 elected positions in North Carolina. And I bet we have 200 people that are really pretty good out of 10,000. So I see this as a second act of helping to improve the Republic in a logical way and not just saying, “Okay. Let’s just throw money at it. Let’s raise money. Let’s do a 527.” This actually could make a difference because you get good people in there. And it’s led to some other things. I mean, I’m doing some consulting right now. There’s some companies that have asked me to help them in Raleigh, which I didn’t think I’d ever do, but it’s worked up pretty well.

Experience in DC with McMillan

Frank Hill:

When I got to Washington, because I was ready to get out of what I was doing, I was selling bottle caps, which was fun, but I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life. I’ve told a lot of people, it was like putting your hand in a glove that fit perfectly. And I was chief of staff for a Congressman who I really admired, you know McMillan, but he loved history and he loved talking about a lot of different, big grand things in a really nice way.

But I felt like a kid in a candy store because the Library of Congress was right around the corner and there was no internet in 1985. But we could call up them and say, “We need this reading from Gibbons”, or, “We need this book from Franklin,” or, “We need this book,” and the afternoon it would show up and it’d all be notated and here it is. I think that was really cool because you had all that knowledge that was just right around you come, coming… And the thing I liked about Washington was you didn’t have to go look for it. It came to you. People walking in and, “Here’s my issue on banking deregulation or financial disservices or healthcare,” and I didn’t have to do anything. It just came across the office.

Doug Monroe:

So you were basing politics on the liberal arts right there in Washington.

Frank Hill:

Yeah. So that was really innovating, I guess is the best word for me. I loved it. I loved the whole 10 years I was with McMillan. But a lot of it was just because of all the intellectual curiosity that was going on.

A Life Changing Moment

Frank Hill:

My history was, I didn’t really want to do what I wanted to do after college because I shifted gears. Thought I wanted to go to divinity school or something. That didn’t work. And then I worked with my father’s business for a while, traveled around. Then I went to business school, but talking about a life… This is probably a life-changing moment. I’m not sure I’ve really told you this, but I got married in 1982. I was in the middle of MBA school. I had one more semester to go and I got sick with walking pneumonia. So walking pneumonia, that still kind of felt like I was walking in mud. But the doctor said, “Oh, don’t worry about it’ll go away.” Well, after three weeks, it didn’t go away, in four weeks, five weeks. And my eyelids started drooping and I was running one day and I thought I tripped, but I didn’t. I just fell over. And I was cutting the grass one day and I just fell over. And I went, “This isn’t normal.” Because I was always proud of myself on trying to stay in shape.

And I went to a doctor. I was talking to Blacknall Presbyterian in Durham and I was helping with the reading or something, and my eyelids were dropping significantly. And my mother was there for some reason. She didn’t normally come, but she said, “You got to get your eyes checked.” So I went to go get my eyes checked at Duke. The doctor said, “Look, you got perfect eyesight. It’s 20/20.” He said, “I think you have myasthenia gravis.” And I went, “What is that?” He said, “You need to get…” So he sent me to a hospital, and the doctor said, “Well, we think you have myasthenia gravis.”

And I said, “Well, what is it?” And he said, “It’s where your thymus puts out defective T-cells and it gets into all your muscles. And so repetitive firing, after about four or five things, your muscles just freeze.” And I said, “What do I got to go in the hospital for?” He said, “Because we’re going to operate on you tonight.” I said “What?” He said, “Because if you’re sleeping and your breathing stops because your muscles stop, you’ll suffocate in your sleep.” I went, “Wow, God almighty.” I was 28 years old. So of course I burst out in tears in the car. Called my mom and said, “I need to come see you,” because I was in Durham at the time.

So I went in the hospital that night and they monitored me. And then they gave me a couple tests. They found out that it wasn’t as severe as they thought it was. And they thought it was Guillain-Barre, which is another thing. And I said, “Look, I got six more weeks of MBA school. I can’t…” Because the operation would be to open up your chest, take out your thymus, and you’re laid up for three months. I said, “I got to finish MBA school.” They said, “Okay, just take this medicine.” And it helped. So I finished that and we had graduation on a Monday night, August 25th, 1983. August 26th, my wife’s birthday, I was in the hospital at six in the morning getting cut open.

Running for Congress at Age 28

Frank Hill:

Well, this is the defining point. Okay. So, I was thinking, you go to MBA school, I wanted become a venture capitalist or something cause I thought that’d be fun and interesting. And all of a sudden, just to bring in my faith a little bit, I was going, “Okay, Lord, I’m getting the picture that maybe this isn’t what you want me to do.” And they opened me up and it took me about three months to recover. It was really a painful thing. I was in the hospital for a week. That’s how long it took. So I was kind of thinking about what to do.

I really didn’t want to stay with the bottle cap company, and Bill Cobey and Tom Fetter, who we knew from previous campaigns, came in. Talked to me in January of ’84. And they said, “Well gosh, Frank, we know that you’re interested in politics.” Because we worked on their campaigns, Judy and I had, “and we think you ought to run for Congress.” And I started laughing. I said, “Are you kidding me? I’m 28 years old. What am I going to run for Congress for?” Ronald Reagan’s running for reelection, Jesse Helms running for reelection, Jim Martin’s running for governor. And they said, “No, there’s an open seat here in the second district for Republicans, because it’s 91% democratic and it’s 42% African American.” I said, “Well, that’s a Kamikazi mission.” They said, “Yeah, but you’re the guy to do it.” I said, “What?”

But anyway, the whole calculus was that Tim Valentine was the incumbent, and Ken Spalding was a young African American lawyer who was a good guy. He looked like he was going to beat Valentine. And then it would set up the first democratic African American in North Carolina and a young Republican. Well, we went to bed that primary, and Ken Spalding was up by 5,000 votes at two in the morning. And we went, “Man, we got a race.” But when we woke up, Tim Valentine apparently had a lot of dead people that voted from Nashville County, Nash County. I’m serious. And he won by 3000 votes, which is weird. From midnight to six, 5,000 people. That’s a big swing. Not that I’m accusing anybody.

So, I had guys come down from Washington. They said, “Hang it up. Don’t waste your time. You’re just going to get murdered.” I said, “I know.” But I had some other friends, and Judy said, “This might be your only chance. Let’s see what happens.” So we rolled the dice, we started raising some money. We got on TV with a guy from Duke who was a real clever young man who did these ads. And he got us on TV at very cheap prices, like on Dallas, 60 Minutes, NFL football. And all the sudden everybody said, “Man, you’re going to win this race.” And we said, “No, we’re not.” But it looked like it. It was all this…

And the NRCC came in at the end, they put $150,000 in the race. They said, “Well, we want you to help turn out.” Well anyway… So all that… If that had not happened, if I hadn’t gotten sick, I would not have… Because that was nuts. But I said, “Lord, I thought I was going to do this when I was 54, 53. I might not make it to 53.” Which is what I tell a lot of these students. I say, I was 28. I could have waited until 50 and had everything set up and finances, waiting for the good time. You might not have a good time. And that’s kind of my sense of urgency for people to do it.

Five elections with McMillan

Frank Hill:

But-

Doug Monroe:

But you all had a lot of elections with Alex McMillan.

Frank Hill:

I had five with him.

Doug Monroe:

You went through-

Frank Hill:

Yeah, five.

Doug Monroe:

Like six, seven elections, right?

Frank Hill:

Well, let me tell you about the first one, because this is probably more pertinent to what you might be interested in looking at-

1st job with McMillan

Frank Hill:

My first job was with Congressman Alex McMillan in Washington. The day that I got up in Washington, we found out that he was going to be the Number One targeted race the next election, two years later, because he had won his first election by 321 votes out of 220,000 votes, which is ridiculous. That’s just tiny. It was basically a Republican district. And the same Republican guys that were telling me to get out of the race, they were coming in the office and saying, “Well, how do you feel about being the Number One targeted race?” I said, “What do you mean?” They said, “Well, the DCCC, Democratic Congressional Committee just named their number one target, is to defeat Alex McMillan in 1986.” “Oh, my God. What am I doing?” So, I’m giving up a job, moved to Washington, hadn’t even bought a house yet. And I said, “June, we might not be up here in two years. This is going to be tough.”

So they said, “What we’re going to do is we’re going to hire Lee Atwater to be your consultant, Lance Tarrance to be your pollster, Chris Anet to be your campaign manager. We had the A-team. It was the A-SWAT team of Washington. And we started getting McMillan ready for reelection on January 2nd, 1985.

So, every single day, every letter that went out had a to be perfect, had to be for the right reason. We ran a two-year campaign and he won by 4,200 votes the next year, when it really wasn’t a good year for Republicans. And that was when I really got cemented into how this process works, and learned how to do it.

A lot of those people are the people we pulled down to the Institute now because we’re like the Confederate soldiers. We talked to everybody. We were in the trenches. We got shot at.

Elizabeth Dole

Frank Hill:

… But that led to meeting McMillan. He asked me to be as chief of staff. I went up there, really enjoyed it. Got to be on the budget committee, entitlement commission with Bill Clinton. Learned a lot, did some lobbying after that. And then Elizabeth Dole. Found out that she was running, and Ed Gillespie, who was the Republican committee chairman. He and I were friends. And he said, “Yeah, we need some help, because she hadn’t been in North Carolina for 40 years. So I want you to be her debate prep person.” I said, “Great.”

Well, what I found out later, I was with her Mondays and Fridays for eight months. And basically what I was doing was I was keeping her occupied, because she was kind of a meddler, and it freed up Ed and the other guys to do all the work, because when I had her, she wasn’t calling them.

But we prepared her. I played Erskine Bowles 15 times in mock debates, and she …

Doug Monroe:

She beat Erskine Bowles?

Frank Hill:

She killed him. She beat him 56 to 44. It was amazing. Just in terms of political campaigns, it was an amazing thing, because Erskine’s a great guy. I admire the heck out of him.

Doug Monroe:

He taught me how to do that.

Frank Hill:

But he got massacred through that thing. And I learned a lot about camera presence from Elizabeth Dole. She looked at him and went, because he said, “Mrs. Doll.” Or something like that. This is on camera, she goes, “Erskine, we’ve known each other for a long time. Call me Liddy.” And it just evaporated him. He just went right into the thing and then she kind of stuck a little dagger in his back, and that little Magnolia lilt of hers, and just, “Well now, Erskine, you know that’s not true.” I’m telling you, you just feel it.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:

And so, that’s when I kind of learned the magic of presence. And she was a great candidate, but …

Doug Monroe:

Why do you care?

Frank Hill:

I kind of look back, and well, you always hope you could do better. Did I tutor a lot of kids at Carolina? No. Did I start a lot of clubs? No. Some of it came from my upbringing. My mother really was just a really gentle soul, because she was a saint to put up with our family. Besides going out and always saying, “Well, if you don’t like it, do something about it,” she, more than anybody else, was always concerned about how are you treating other people? “How do you… Are you dating the homecoming queen? Well, okay. That’s great, but are you being nice to everybody in the classroom? Are you reaching out to the person that’s a little bit outside of the cool crowd? Are you being kind to people?”

I pretty much got that from her. I still don’t think I do that all the time. I’d like to, I’m interested in people. I like to be around them. It’s just that sense that life’s just not fair, I don’t think, when there’s certain people that get all the good things and some people just don’t. It just kind of bug me for some reason.

Doug Monroe:

A one-

Frank Hill:

I appreciate you noticing that, because I didn’t know if it ever came out or not-

Early Integration: Jordan High School in Durham

Frank Hill:

A lot of was the pub… We were the first wave of integration, which really helped because it forced you to get along with different people. But it’s interesting. Jordan was a great high school. I found out we had four PhD teachers my senior year. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and English. I don’t know if you can get four PhD people teaching anymore-

Doug Monroe:

No.

Frank Hill:

… in a public school, or a private school for all that matter. I don’t know. And they were terrific. The whole school… Jordan was interested because it’s the rednecks, the African Americans, and then the research triangle, and the Duke people. And so you bring all that in and you get all this intellectual curiosity mixing with all the different people. I had an African American woman tell me one time, she goes, “What you white dudes don’t remember or don’t think about was that you helped us.” Because we were able to see people that actually played football and basketball and then went home and studied, and it made us want to do it. So I understand that part about the peer pressure that works. But until she told me that, I was thinking I’d never really thought about what you do when you get into an integrated situation, and they start doing what you’re doing, that kind of thing.

Our co-captain on our high school team, African American named Bill Maribel. And I don’t know where he is now, I think last time I saw him, he was at Bowie State University. He graduated and was going to summer school at MIT, after we graduated. Well, first of all, I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m going to summer school.” I said, “Well, where?” He said, “MIT.” I said, “Massa… Is that where you’re going?” He goes, “Yeah.” “So what are you going to summer school for?” He said, “I’m boning up on my calculus.” I said, “Really?” I had no idea he was that bright. He was in a couple classes of mine. Anyway, he goes to MIT. I come to Carolina.

Doug Monroe:

Really?

Frank Hill:

He goes to MIT, my co-captain. He gets a degree in Physics from MIT. He gets a Masters in Nuclear Physics from MIT. He gets a PhD in Plasma Physics. So you told me who was a more accomplished person coming out of Jordan High School. I won a Morehead, I’m very fortunate. Here’s a guy, had all this… But that was cultivated in that mix during that time. So it was really kind of neat to watch. But-

Doug Monroe:

Well, you were in un… Because it really was a research triangle even then.

Frank Hill:

When you think about it was almost like a magnet school because you get the sons and daughters of all the RTP professors who are doing genetic research in the ’70s, and then all the Duke professors. So there’s some bright people there.

UNC and Frank’s Crisis of Faith

Frank Hill:

Well, like I said, I grew up going to a more liberal high school at the time and thinking I wanted to be a Nader’s Raiders kind of guy. So during Carolina, about my junior year, I had one of these… I think it was Socrates that said, “Unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, I had a very examined life my junior year. We might have talked about it, I don’t know. I think I was taking Dr. Daniel’s existential class, which freaked me out. I mean, I couldn’t believe that life was… We’re here…He used to say, “Well, and women grow hairy legs and hairy underarms, and men have bad breath, and then you die.” That was the essence of life. I was going, “God, that’s just a miserable way to think about going through.” But I was going through kind of a crisis of faith and trying to figure out what did I believe. Was there anything beyond what we have here?

So that year was a pretty deep period for me to just think. So I started going to church, which was kind of unusual in college. Went to a Bible study at the Beta house. Randall Williams, Doug Alexander, and we were over there with Tim Stump and we had a Bible study our senior year. So that was kind of unusual, but it really helped me kind of figure out what I believed in, what I didn’t, how I wanted my life to try to be. And then after that, I read a lot of religion courses when I was here, a lot of history, we did a lot of military history.

Doug Monroe:

You were a religion major.

Frank Hill:

I finally wound up in religion. I had to declare my major my senior year, and the counselor said, “Well, Mr. Hill, you got four in economics and three in history and four in English. Why don’t you…” I said, “Well, I don’t think I really want to…” This is after I decided I didn’t want to go to law school, because I’d worked with a judge that summer on the internship and said, “I can’t do this.” And he said, “Well, what class did you like the best?” I said, “Dr. Bernard Boyd,” who was here at Chapel Hill. And I had him for a month in a religion class. And he said, “Well, why don’t you major in religion?” I said, “Okay, so I will.” So I took seven out of 10 classes my senior year in religion.

But, it was… Now the Presbyterian part of me comes out and says, “That was for a reason,” because I learned a lot and I enjoyed it. Dr. Boyd… Two years before that, I had him for a month, and he died. He had a stroke. But I remember that first month. This man had a charisma. I mean, it wasn’t like an aura or anything like that. He just effused integrity and faith and gentleness and intelligence. He combined the whole thing. And I remember thinking, this is the most unusual guy I’ve ever been around. So then he died, and I felt like I had really got cheated.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and “Religionless Christianity”

Frank Hill:

But anyway, it came around my senior year because then I had to take a class on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and I read all of Bonhoeffer’s books and wrote a paper and basically about religionless Christianity is what the thing was. And I wrote this stuff and talked about the struggles I was going through and the examining of my life. And I got an incomplete on it from the professor. I said, “Well, I thought it was pretty good.” He said, “No, this was great.” He said, “You were very honest and open about your search and all that stuff,” he said, “but you didn’t put enough footnotes in it.” I said, “Well, how many footnotes do you need?” He said, “Well, it’d be nice to have like 30.” But I was picking up things from all the stuff we’ve been reading. So I went back and put 30 down there and he gave me a A minus or B plus or something, I don’t know what. But that was a real cathartic thing for me. And it really kind of helped pull stuff together.

Frank Hill:

So college helped develop me personality wise. And then since then, Bonhoeffer has a real big impact on a lot of things. Because I think he had a lot of guts and he acted on faith. He acted on belief and faith. And he cared about the poor. He wasn’t a particularly mean person. He was national champion of Germany in tennis, a concert pianist, a theologian and a poet, kind of like Jefferson and Madison. You kind of start to see-

Doug Monroe:

And he chose to go back and die.

Frank Hill:

And chose to go back and confront Hitler. And he was hung nine days before the freedom. So I’d say he is someone I’ve spent a lot of time reading about.

Finding Public Service in Family and Paycheck

Frank Hill:

It’s funny, because I never ran for anything in college or high school. I don’t know if part of it was I didn’t want to get jaded by it. I think that was part of it. But a lot of it came from my family. My father was a very strong-willed father. He was an All-American at Duke a long time ago. He played on a football team that not only went undefeated, and nobody scored against them.

Doug Monroe:

That’s unbelievable. That just doesn’t happen.

Frank Hill:

So when you have someone coming home and you say, “Well son, how did the game go?” “Well, we won.” “Well, did the other team score?” “Well, yeah, it’s a basketball game.” “Well, back in my day, nobody scored against us. If they don’t score, they don’t win.” So it was very high standards and he was very opinionated.

And my sister, who became a women’s rights activist… Matter of fact, she was honored in this house one time… she was very strong-willed, and my brother was strong-willed, and my mother was strong-willed, but she was Dutch, so she was a little calmer than rest of us. And my other sister was the sweetest person. She’d cry all the time because we’d be fighting. And she wound up being a first grade teacher. She was really sweet. This is what really… besides that high standard of not only win, but did the other team not score… My mother, more than anything else, if we were complaining or bitching about something, she would say, “Well…” She wouldn’t say, “I’m sorry. That’s terrible.” She goes, “Well, I hear what you’re saying. What are you going to do about it? Because I really don’t want to hear you bitching and bellyaching about it.”

And so, when you hear that all the time, instead of bitching about something and someone saying, “If you don’t like it, you got to do something about it,” at a certain point in time you say, “Well, I guess she’s right.” And so, like I said, I didn’t run for anything in college or high school, but I got my first paycheck when I got out of college and a third of it was gone and I went, “Hmm.” Because I thought I was going to be a Nader’s Raider. I thought it was going to be an antitrust lawyer.

Doug Monroe:

Oh really?

Frank Hill:

Yeah, that’s what I wanted to be… I don’t know why… until I went on the Coors internship with the Moreheads, and that kind of started chipping away a little bit at it. But I got that first paycheck, and I said, “I just worked my butt off for two weeks,” and I got paid a thousand bucks, I think, for two weeks, maybe 500 bucks. Yeah, 500 bucks and $333 were there. And I said, “Well, so what’s this FICA check? What’s FICA. What is the UI, the unemployment insurance? What is all this stuff?” And that’s when I really decided to get involved.

The Bell Curve and the “Dumbbell” Curve

Frank Hill:

Here. Here’s what I think. And if I had a whiteboard, I’ve done this. I call it the bell curve versus the dumbbell curve. Just get that image in mind.

Doug Monroe:

Okay. Okay.

Frank Hill:

You got the bell curve where America always has been. It’s a center-right country. You’ve always had Southern Democrats, kind of more moderate. You’ve had moderate Republicans, libertarians, Whigs, whatever. For hundreds of years, we’ve had this middle that has voted and also had been represented in Congress for the most part. And beginning in 1994, I can almost put a date on it when the Republicans took over, I’m not blaming it on them, but the rise of extreme partisanship happened and the Republicans decided to purge their party of moderate Republicans. I mean, they were running conservative Republicans against moderates in the primaries.

The Democrats weren’t purging the Southern Democrats, but they were ’91 Southern Democrats in Washington in 1982. They are five right now. The blue dogs are gone.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:
Just by the way, the party has moved left, okay, the bell curve is right here, standard deviations. That’s where it’s always been, one or two standard deviations. Now, it’s like the center of the Democratic party is four, five standard deviations. Republican party is five standard deviations. You got the representation, nobody in the middle. You can’t.

Doug Monroe:

It’s a barbell.

Frank Hill:

Yeah, I call it a dumbbell. You got the dumbbells on both sides, and it’s not that… I don’t consider people to be moderate if they believe in small government. But I do believe that people who can compromise and be rational like McMillan did… He would take a deal. If he could cut spending by 10 trillion dollars, he’d say, “Well, let’s raise taxes by a dollar on everyone.” That’s a deal. And I would think it’d be responsible. The Republicans will not do it because they said, “Well, Grover Norquist got us to sign a pledge. We can’t break it.”

For a dollar a head? Are you kidding me? And McMillan says, “Well, who the hell is Grover Norquist?” He’s not even elected. Hopefully, what we’re trying to do is bring enough sentient people from both, all sides, and get back in the game and learn how to get elected. But then once elected, be leaders and say, “I agree with you 85% of the time, what are you upset about?” We’re going to disagree. If I agree with everything you said, I’d begin to worry about myself and you ought to worry about agreeing with me. That’s what we’re trying to do is kind of rebuild that. I hate to call it moderate-center, but it’s the thinking, rational, reasonable majority of American people. That’s where the majority of people are.

The #1 Issue: The Federal Budget Deficit

Frank Hill:

I think the federal budget is the most important thing that we have to solve now, but I’ve always thought it was important. And I really don’t know why I thought it was important. That’s the weirdest thing that someone at 28-years-old would get involved with politics because they’re worried about the budget. But in 1984, when I ran, the federal deficit was $338 billion out of a $900 billion budget. And we got 3.7 trillion now. So it’s about 30%. It’s about the same. And I have no idea why that bugged me, but it just didn’t seem right. And that’s another reason why I decided to run.

But the reason why I think it’s so important is it’s like carbon monoxide poisoning. You can sit in the car all day with the windows open. As soon as you shut the windows, the carbon monoxide will keep. That’s what happens with these budget deficits and the debt and the accumulated interest and the inflation. Just slowly just permeates, and then it kills. And that’s what I’m really concerned about. And since that time, I’ve done a lot of reading about history. There’s a great book called “This Time Is Different.” I think you’ve read it, but it’s-

800 Years of Financial Folly. And they’ve gone through every nation that used to be a superpower 800 years ago, Ming Dynasty, Soviet Union, United Kingdom. And it’s not that they evaporate. They just cease being superpowers, and they cease being generators of great opportunity. And that’s what I’m scared about with this situation. So what I’m trying to do with my blog and when I talk to people is I’m trying to take a really dry subject. If you look at any budget, accountants, they’re not exciting people. But I’m trying to take the federal budget and put it in context as someone who doesn’t care about it will read it.

And that’s the reason why I use the “Animal House” references or music or cartoons or pictures, and grab them, and then try to write in a language that what I learned on Capitol Hill is you have to write in a language that an eighth grader will understand. So I’m trying to take entitlements and social security reform. How do you do that so an eighth grader will say, “Oh, I get it. I get your point”? So that’s part of what I’m trying to do. And hopefully, enough people will start looking at it and agreeing.

Average Voters and the Importance of Leaders

Frank Hill:
There was a guy, Bill Nye the Science Guy, gave a commencement speech at a college or somewhere. And he said, “You high school students or college students today know more about physics than Albert Einstein did or Newton.” Because we have so much more information and it’s all so much more developed. So we said, it’s not a question of the knowledge that we have available, it’s how do we use it and how do we use it in a constructive way? Just to bring it back to the Institute, I think a lot of it is leadership. And you’re always going to have superior people leading any society, people who just work hard and good people moving along, and then you have people who are maybe poor and then you’re going to have the criminals. That’s just going to be part of the society.

But, when you lose your leadership and you lose your identity of a team or an organization or a country. Ronald Reagan inspired this explosion of American free enterprise in the 80s. A lot of that was just because he gave us confidence. We’re confident. We’re going to do this. We can beat it. So I’m not so sure the American people are completely destitute. I know that a lot of them are doing things that are dangerous to them. Obesity is one of them, smoking too much, a lot of stuff, but I’m not sure we’re inspired. A lot of people haven’t been inspired and a lot of them are political leaders, but they could be business leaders, church leaders, any leader. And that’s what I think is so important about leadership, which gets back to the whole Morehead thing. It’s a leadership scholarship. We got a lot of responsibilities to help lead. And that’s what I think people respond to.

How do we choose our candidates?

Frank Hill:
Yeah, well, there’s a lot of barriers to entry for good people, and if you don’t know where all those levers are … Because there’s stuff going on in the background of every campaign that is really complicated stuff. We got pollsters, you got consultants, you got media advisors, you got social media bombs.

Well, let’s just take Obama for a case. He’s charismatic, handsome. 50% of the reason why people vote for someone is how do they look on TV? Has nothing to do with their policies. Doesn’t have anything to do with where they’re from, birth … nothing. You know, “Ma, looks like a nice young African American man. He’s got a nice family, intact family, nuclear family, good for him. I think I’m going to vote for him.” What’s he going to do about your taxes, budget, overseas, foreign policy? That stuff just doesn’t fit.

So, if that’s the case, it’s really, really important to get really good people who … Let’s say the next African American good-looking young man is not as far left as Obama is. Maybe he is a moderate Democrat, or even possibly a conservative or an independent, who people say, “You know, he’s a good guy.” But then when he gets into office, he enacts growth policies, fiscal responsible policies. That’s what I think. It’s so much of a visual environment right now, but the good people have got to get into those slots or else the other people that you disagree with are going to lose. And just think of the difference of what Obama could have been if he’d been like a Bill Clinton, even, kind of in that mold?

Doug Monroe:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Frank Hill:

Well, he’s … tends to enter deviations to the left of Bill Clinton.

Doug Monroe:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). All right, let me-Is government too complicated for democracy? Those… Those-

Frank Hill:

No.

Doug Monroe:

…issues, or is it too complicated for democracy?

Frank Hill:

Well, I think it’s too complicated for democracy, and we’ve had this discussion before. I don’t think it’s too complicated for representative democracy. Which is exactly what the founders wanted, right? Now they were a little bit more snooty than maybe you and I are, in saying, “Well, you got to own property. You got to be kind of wealthy. You got to be white. You got to go to Princeton. Those are the only people we want to be able to vote.” They didn’t even let anybody else vote, but now we’re in a modern age.

After being in it for 22 years, or 30 years now, there’s no way the average American’s going to understand the budget or any of those issues. It’s so complicated. Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley. I can’t even pronounce it. But it really is… I can’t remember the exact word. It’s really so critical that we get the right people to run and then learn how to run so they can use some of the shallowness of, 50% of it’s visual. 38% of it is your voice. Think about that. 38% of the reason why someone votes for someone is your voice. Well, that’s why I don’t think Hillary Clinton’s going to win. She’s got this shrieky… It’s like-

Doug Monroe:

Lincoln wouldn’t have won.

Frank Hill:

Lincoln wouldn’t have won. Jefferson wouldn’t won. But you got 50% visual, 38% audio. Well, you got to get someone to fill those two slots and the rest of it’s some policy. It’s usually one issue at a time.

Doug Monroe:

That drives an election.

Frank Hill:

Yeah. You’re either a pro-life candidate or you’re anti… candidate. You’re a… I don’t know what the last one was. It’s going to be gay marriage coming up. It’s going to be pro or against gay marriage. All the hot buttons. That’s what people can kind of identify with.

The Fraternity Experience

Frank Hill:

Well, it’s interesting, and I don’t want this to come across sounding haughty or whatever, but a lot of things in the fraternity were fun, but I remember thinking, “They’re kind of trivial.” And looking back on it, they are kind of trivial. But they’re part of growing up. You were talking about me being 83 years old, a lot of it, I think, and I’ve learned this over time, but my father was domineering, but he also was an alcoholic. So, if you grow up in that environment, you do tend to grow up quickly because you don’t really…

Doug Monroe:

Yes, sir.

Frank Hill:

A lot of the stuff that’s just not that important, you just don’t want to be around it.

Frank Hill:

Okay. Well, then we’re simpatico there. But, looking back on it now, it was good for me because I really didn’t have that growing up. Because the tensions in the house were so high that the best times we had was when dad was gone traveling, and mom was there, my sisters were there, and then it was kind of joyous and all giddy and happy. That was playing into some of that stuff. So, I might have not participated as much because I was looking down on it a little bit.

The Juke Box – Beer Box Elections

Frank Hill:

But the juke box election, I remember that because I remember everybody got so, the beach music crowd and the prep crowd and the Washington crowd that I got to know because of basketball, because we all tried out for the freshman basketball team.

Doug Monroe:

You were all great athletes.

Frank Hill:

Yeah, it was Mitch and J.C. and Natty Corrigan and Kevin Hartley. And J.C. and I made the team somehow, but we liked those guys a lot and they were in our pledge class. We were the worst pledge class ever, because we didn’t do anything. We didn’t do a panty raid or anything.

Doug Monroe:

You were in the spring class, not the fall.

Frank Hill:

The spring class. Yeah, we were horrible. Ralph Womble and Jim Manley took us out front and said, “Do you guys want to be part of this fraternity?” We said, “Yeah, why? What’s going on?” He said, “Well, you don’t do a damned thing. Y’all aren’t.” “Well, we like each other. We already know each other because we played basketball.” And they said it was more to life than playing basketball.

But I remember Mitch looked at him and he said, “Look, we’re from Washington, DC, and y’all are screaming at us all the time and calling us a bunch of bad names. If we wanted to do that, we’d go in downtown DC and let the brothers do it. We don’t need.”

So that was always kind of fun to see the difference but the thing I really do remember, though, was the beer box thing. Because I think I partnered with J.C., maybe, or Klinger, Charles Wilson, sorry, Klinger. He and I were making a bin and you had to buy it, right? You had to purchase it and then you had to do it. And Allen Corey and Saperski were the other ones. And then there was some other people. And I think it had a combination. You had to have the right amount of money but you also had to politick. Who was going to keep it refilled? Who was going to make it accessible? Who was going to bring in Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of Schlitz?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, really.

Frank Hill:

The really important stuff. And we got down to the final vote, this was kind of the first thing I guess I really remember about politics. And I thought we had it but I think some of them might have lied to us because we lost by one or two votes. I remember being really ticked about that. I mean, I thought that maybe somebody paid off Tripp Womack or something. I don’t know, there was something about that that just bugged me. I think it was just the fact that we lost.

Doug Monroe:

Well some of that’s playacting for later in life. Do you remember the pledge raid by any chance?

Frank Hill:

I remember you guys.

Doug Monroe:

But maybe you weren’t even in that then.

Frank Hill:

I remember it, now, well I remember you guys had a great pledge raid.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:

But we didn’t. Because we didn’t do anything.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.

Frank Hill:

But I remember y’all set off stink bombs and-

Doug Monroe:

All right, well-

Frank Hill:

William Sutherland was run around town.

The Yellow Mustang Discussion and Diving Deep

Speaker 1:

I think it’s story time. I particularly want to hear you’re telling us the double date that happened in the yellow Mustang.

Doug Monroe:

May not remember.

Frank Hill:

I may not-

Speaker 1:

And you may not remember it-

Frank Hill:

Well, let’s see. Tell me who the characters were. It was probably you and Cammie.

Speaker 1:

You, yeah.

Doug Monroe:

It was you … It was me and Cammie and you and the girl you dated in high school I think that followed you that … It was in your yellow Mustang…

Frank Hill:

Oh, Robbie, I think. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I’ll give you a hint. It didn’t end great.

Frank Hill:

Well, if it didn’t end great, I probably forgot about it. I do remember we-

Doug Monroe:

You may not remember.

Frank Hill:

I think we talked a lot about-

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, about-

Frank Hill:

… subjects.

Speaker 1:

The fun part of that story for me, and some of this is just fun.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

The fun part of that story is that you got to talking about politics.

Frank Hill:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And you guys were on a date, and the girls started-

Frank Hill:

Getting bored. Now-

Speaker 1:

Maybe even some buttons were pushed, political buttons.

Frank Hill:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

But if you recall-

Frank Hill:

No, no. Well, that might have been just-

Frank Hill:

That might have been one of many, because here’s what I know about Doug, just to be a mutual admiration society, besides being a meticulous planner and developer and executioner like we talked about, Doug was always the one that was drilling six layers deep, and I remember it didn’t really matter what it was. We’d be talking about Russian history and you’d get into all that stuff and I’m kind of going, “I don’t know anything about Russian history.” There were a lot of guys that we went to Carolina with who were satisfied at the top or the second level, and I don’t want to name the name, but I remember one guy who was a business major and I was taking philosophy courses or religion courses, and I remember saying, “Well, what do you think about Kant or Sartre or Camus?” “Don’t bother me with that. I don’t care about that stuff. I’m just trying to get a business degree.” I’m going, “Really? That’s all you want is a business degree?” Well, he had a family business to go back and run, and we know tons of guys who did it-

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yeah, a lot, a lot.

Frank Hill:

And I still like a lot of them, but I remember thinking, wow, that’s missing a lot of what we’re here for.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Frank Hill:

And so, while I might not remember that exact moment, but I do remember that you were always one that we could spark off of because you wouldn’t just say, “Oh, I’m just a business major. I don’t want to talk about it.” We could talk about ecology, and Doug would want to talk about it and go deep.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Reference

The Institute for Public Trust:

https://institutepublictrust.org/

Alumni Free Speech Alliance:

https://alumnifreespeechalliance.com/

UNC Alumni Free Speech Alliance:

https://www.uncafsa.org/

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