(Denver Post, Dec. 29) Unlike Washington, DC, where divided government will continue in 2013, the new year in Colorado will bring a return of unified control by Democrats. On Jan. 9, Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) takes the speaker’s gavel from Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch), whose GOP majority was ousted by voters in November.
If you visit the state House that day, you’ll notice that Democrats are mostly seated to the Speaker's left, Republicans mostly to the right. The custom dates from the French Revolution, when legislators enthusiastic for political activism massed on the left side of the chamber, while those more skeptical massed opposite them.
As Ferrandino assumes power alongside incoming Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s party of the left has another chance to show what it can do with dominance under the Gold Dome, an advantage Dems last enjoyed in 2007-2011. My housewarming gift, as a friendly opponent, is a memo from voters they probably didn’t persuade this time.
Colorado Christian University, where I work, polled some 1300 Coloradans shortly before the 2012 election with an automated phone survey by SmartVoice.com. We went for a center-right sample, with 44% of respondents self-described as conservative and 30% as moderate. Their views on the role of government may help caution Democrats against overreach while providing Republicans a roadmap to relevance.
The CCU-SmartVoice poll asked about the best way of fostering prosperity, protecting liberty, helping the less fortunate, improving the schools, and encouraging people to treat each other decently. That is, most of what we want in living together. In prioritizing what civil society can do voluntarily, over what activist government might promise, respondents reminded us the left isn’t the whole ballgame – not yet, at least.
What’s the key factor in higher living standards? Free enterprise, said 45% of center-right Coloradans. Better education was next with 38%. Government programs were named by only 9%.
What’s most important in improving America as a free society? “Revival of our founding principles,” said 54% of poll respondents. Federal, state, and local government were named by 28%. Just 18% chose “progressive reform like most other countries.”
What factor matters most in providing for children, the elderly, and the disabled, the poll also asked. Families and churches were cited by 46% of those polled, voluntary private charity by another 18%. Only about one respondent in three, 36%, said government programs matter most.
The citizens typified in this particular survey obviously weren’t the voting majority that gave Democrats a 37-28 edge in the Colorado House. But Speaker Ferrandino would be unwise to ignore them if he seeks to govern with broad consensus. And House Minority Leader Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) should forcefully advocate for them during the upcoming session.
The teachers-union agenda, for example, calls for raising taxes by a billion dollars and softening tests, while blocking vouchers and charter schools. But the center-right agenda for education, as reflected in CCU’s poll, finds parental choice prioritized by 42% and higher standards by another 27%, whereas more spending is favored by only 31%. Jam-downs from the left will backfire.
Culture warriors on both sides, meanwhile, should take pause from the survey finding on how best to ensure decent treatment of one another. A mere 7% of respondents said it’s up to laws and government. Eighty-three percent said they’d rather look to families, churches, and schools for keeping America morally strong.
Polls can mislead, of course. Remember the statistician who drowned while wading across a lake that was an average of 18 inches deep. Our center-right survey respondents were older, more religious, and more female than Coloradans overall. But they count as much as their leftist neighbors – and one day they’ll be in the majority again.
(Denver Post, Nov. 25) Show me a sore loser, and I’ll show you a loser. This has rung in my ears since the election, as I listened to some fellow Republicans and conservatives weeping, whining, and caterwauling. Not to mention griping, blaming, and sulking. Enough already.
Good losers being similarly scorned, who does that leave? Political party animals who rebound from a loss with humility, humor, and honesty. Happy warriors who take a setback in stride, undaunted yet undefensive. Those are the comrades I’ll share a shell-shocked foxhole with. The authors of anguished obituaries for America and the GOP need not apply.
For a couple of days after Nov. 6, it’s true, I was bluer than the MSNBC presidential map. Then I stumbled on one of those websites, PoliticalDefeatTherapy.com, with a guaranteed offer to dispel the darkness and put you back on daylight time after voters clean your clock. Click, pay, and my Republican Rehab Kit was on the way.
When it came, I was initially disappointed. No Kryptonite to reduce Reid and Pelosi to jello. Not a word about Obama’s real birthplace. The envelope contained nothing but three toys – a magnifying glass, a telescope, and a small mirror – plus a pocket edition of the Declaration of Independence and U. S. Constitution. My $19.95 for this?
The instruction sheet - which I read last; typical man – quickly clarified things, however. To get past the superficial “optics” of the Democrats’ big victory, it advised, we Republicans can regain clear vision by putting the 2012 results under a magnifier, then scanning history and the future with a spyglass, and then, above all, looking hard at ourselves in the mirror.
But at no point in this perspective-recovering process, the instructions warned, should a shaken GOP entertain the temptation of abandoning its 150-year fidelity to individual liberty and personal responsibility, limited government and rule of law, free enterprise and private property, human rights and moral truth as gifts from God – the principles in America’s founding documents – first voiced by my party in behalf of the African slave.
This country doesn’t need, in other words, two liberal parties. Nor does it need a quixotic third party, a neo-Confederate secession craze, or a John Galt dropout movement. It needs the Republican party to continue our historically indispensable – and resiliently effective – role as the conservative party for these United States.
The magnifying glass that came in my rehab kit showed the Dems’ retention of the White House and Senate, as well as their Colorado legislative gains, to have been a tactical victory won on intensity and execution, not a repudiation of conservatism. The telescope, looking back, revealed many a political pendulum swing after all seemed lost – think 1964 for my side, 2004 for their side – and likely the same when looking ahead.
Then there was the mirror. Gazing into it was painful, but what a reality bath. Had the GOP, me included, often forgotten that politics is about people no less than principles? Was the other side’s edge in intensity and execution, securing reelection for Obama, baggage and all, partly our fault? Who could be to blame for the tarnished Republican brand but us? Ouch and ouch again.
Inviting a number of conservative audiences to try the mirror exercise has been interesting. There was pushback. “Nobody in this room bears any of the blame,” insisted a friend in Denver. “That’s moderate talk, RINO talk,” said another friend in Grand Junction.
“Death of a Nation,” went an online whine from Colorado Springs. “GOP, DOA, RIP,” moaned an email from Evergreen. Oh really? Time will tell. I’m betting that 2014 and 2016 will prove the reports of conservatism’s demise, like that of Mark Twain, to have been greatly exaggerated.
('76 Contributor) How fragile, very fragile, is our democracy, our free market economic system, and our country. For the first time ever, I am concerned that America's best days are behind it.
The Supreme Court decision on Obamacare upheld the most far-reaching, burdensome, and intrusive legislation in the history of our country. It will destroy the genius of our founders who had a clear understanding of how to best utilize the natural human condition, our incentive-based behaviors, desire for freedom, and limited government with specific enumerated powers to achieve a better overall collective society.
There should be virtually no dispute that this genius created the most prosperous, generous, non-imperial world-protector, and overall successful society in the history of the world.
No one in Congress read the health care bill's 2,700 pages, with 1,700 references to new rules, and 21 tax increases drafted by 20-30-something year-old staffers with virtually no experience in the business world. The Supreme Court decision strikes down the mandate and the heavy coercion of states to expand Medicaid with our hard-earned tax dollars, which has now created an untenable and ugly piece of patchwork legislation.
.To get a sense of the destructive magnitude and controlling nature of this legislation, I suggest that you link to the Crawford Radio website and read the articles entitled PPACA Obamacare (3/28, 4/11, 5/17, 5/23, 6/6, 7/17, 7/18, and 8/8).
I would guess that, if you read one article, you will want to read more. It provides an insight into the liberal thinking about how to control the most important aspect of our lives, our personal health and well-being. It is a clear manifestation of the insidious accumulation of rules and regulations over the past 30-40 years, which have stolen our personal liberties and freedoms that our founders knew to be so important to each individual.
The legislation is job-destroying, innovation-stifling, and grants the government unlimited power to tax you for not buying something you don't want, creating a slippery-slope for future legislation that is beyond comprehension. The legislation was all about insurance and control of our lives, not about access to quality healthcare at the lowest cost. Virtually no effort was made to find ways to reduce costs through free market solutions, tort reform, mitigation of fraud and waste, or elimination of bureaucratic and reporting red-tape that are so burdensome to every doctor and hospital and ultimately the greatest healthcare system and medical innovator in the world.
The bottom-line is that, not only is the doctor/patient relationship destroyed, but the best and brightest will simply not suffer the control and negative income consequences of joining a profession that used to be the most highly-regarded in our society. However, we will likely get 16,000 new IRS agents, while documentation already exists about a pending doctor shortage.
I believe the most destructive force burdening our society is seldom talked about, and that is the endangerment of the spirit of American individualism. Unlike any other country, our system provided each individual the opportunity and the necessary human condition to work hard and to be productive. The result is that an individual then leads a purposeful life, with a sense of accomplishment and human dignity, and hope for the future, regardless of compensation. Those elements strengthen the human condition and then nurture the individual spirit, thereby improving our local communities, and ultimately the spirit and soul of our entire country.
I believe that this spirit and soul, as well as its very heart, are in peril. This, combined with our enormous deficit-spending and incomprehensibly large accumulating debt, provides a immoral assault and theft on future generations, who currently can't even vote. I am personally heart-sick to think that America, as we knew it, our parents knew it, and our grandparents knew it in such a positive way, will not be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren with the same blessings.
Elections matter. This upcoming election will unequivocally be the most important one in the history of our country. Never again should one individual, in this instance Barack Obama or Chief Justice Roberts, have ultimate power over our country's future. Additionally, having this great country's President publicly excoriate and diminish earned success and achievement, the rugged individualism and entrepreneurial spirit, which is the very essence of what has made this the most prosperous society in the history of the world, should be of grave concern to everyone.
Unfortunately, it illustrates that people either simply do not understand achievement, success, and creation of jobs and wealth, or it is just a threat to their vision, thereby justifying their continued attacks and tax increases on this group that is essential to the future of our country. This critically-important job creation, with the attendant reduction of government dependency, has multiple layers of benefits beyond government revenues.
Alexis DeTocqueville's extensive tour of America yielded great insight, including the memorable words often attributed to him: "America is great because America is good." With the diminishing individual spirit and soul of our country and continued secularization, America is ceasing to be as good and may cease to be great!
In contrast, consider this newly coined word whose definition would be amusing if weren't so painfully and frighteningly true: "Ineptocracy, (in-ep-toc'-ra-cy): A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers and job-creators."
I ask you to think about the above and recognize that participation and vigilance in the upcoming election are critical, not just the presidential election, but at all levels. I offer these thoughts to everyone, regardless of party-affiliation or ideology. This is simply about whether we are concerned about America, as we know it, and its existence in the future.
If you are compelled by what you have read, I suggest you forward the link to a handful of additional friends and acquaintances, children, grandchildren, etc. prior to the election. On the other hand, as in our great society, if you disagree or find fault with what I'm doing, I would appreciate hearing about it.
Want to read more? Here are some additional links you may want to view:
Buz Koelbel is a leading Denver businessman in the field of land development and commercial real estate, one of the founders of the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, and a member of the Centennial Institute Business Council.
At the conclusion of the Washington Week trip I am left physically exhausted though intellectually and civically energized! Led by Professor Schaller, Dr. Krannawitter, and Dean Saxby, students visited think tanks, memorials, monuments, historical battlefields, renowned authors, museums, both chambers of Congress, the Becket Fund, and other influential D.C. individuals. We learned about foreign policy, education, our founding, the civil war and the ideas that led to the conflict, political persuasion, and many more issues facing our generation. [More]
Wednesday night, Washington, D.C. – American Enterprise Institute & Heritage Foundation scholars, media members, writers, donors, Congressmen gather along with 20 CCU Washington Week students & faculty. The occasion; Arthur Brooks, president of AEI, is speaking about his new book, “The Road to Freedom”. The lecture focused on the battle between conservatives & liberals in the public square. Brooks explained that as president of AEI it is clear that the truth and statistical backing rests within the conservative ideas and policies. Despite this, the left is winning the battle. Brooks believes this quandary is caused by the failure of conservatives to make a strong moral argument for our beliefs and our ignorance of the neuropsychological proof that moral arguments affect human brains in a way far more powerful than solely logical arguments.
To illustrate the failure of strictly logical arguments versus a moral case Brooks tells a joke – ‘Three friends go out golfing; a psychologist, a priest and a free market economist. They find themselves playing behind two incredibly slow golfers. These golfers are painfully slow and are ruining the friends’ day at the golf course. After several holes of impatiently waiting behind these two men who are shooting upwards of 12 strokes per hole, the three ask the caddy to allow them to play through. The caddy replies “you guys are free to play through, but I want you all to be aware of how rude you’ve been… Remember the fire at the schoolhouse last year, and the two firemen who lost their sight while rescuing 13 children from the blaze? Well that’s them and this weekly golf game is their most coveted source of fun since losing their vision, and you three have been heckling them this entire time.” The psychologist replies, “Wow, here I’ve devoted my life to trying to help people and I just learned a valuable lesson today.” The priest says “Oh my, I have a contrite heart and I have been humbled by these two great men.” The free-market economist pauses for a moment, and then says, “It would be more efficient if they were to play at night!”’(Paraphrase Quote)
Clearly the economist in this joke has made a factual and relevant argument, but he has completely failed to address the moral reality of this situation and thus ignored an integral element of human nature. This anecdote masterfully illustrates the climate of political discourse between the right & left today. Brooks went on to show that the right is not devoid of moral substance. Rather he showed that every claim has moral implications, and that we must reach towards those implications in our argumentation in order to reach others with the truth where it so often is overlooked.
My time in D.C. with the CCU and Centennial Institute Washington Week clan began with not the greatest of surprises – after driving 1,670 miles from Denver my car’s fuel pump failed just twenty miles short of our destination. Sparing you further details of the dilemma; I had a very interesting discussion with the driver of the tow truck, Kevin. Kevin made it very clear that he backed Obama for re-election. After unsuccessfully prying into his reasoning for such a stance, I began to lose hope for the discussion. Then Kevin introduced the idea of term limits for Congress. Kevin was highly in favor of a possible limit of service on the Hill for both chambers. This proposition is not foreign at CCU, Centennial Institute, or conservative dialogue in general, and provided a needed common ground between Kevin and myself on our short ride to the garage. This conversation would not be the last time that term limits would be raised during this trip.
On Friday, former Colorado Congressman and Senator, Hank Brown led CCU students on a tour of the Capitol. Senator Brown has extensive knowledge of the Capitol’s art, history, and symbolism. As a former Senator, Hank Brown provided CCU students a nearly unlimited access tour of both chambers. One very special place we found ourselves in was the House Appropriations Committee room. In this room, a portion of the fresco is composed of a painting of the Roman Senator and leader Cincinnatus being called from his plough to defend Rome. Senator Brown told us the significance of this lies not in the fact the Cincinnatus heard the call of duty and went to save Rome, but that he returned to his farm and denied the dictatorship of Rome after completing his service. This historical event was repeated in the life and service of George Washington. Both men loved their country, they left their home to serve and defend but returned when their service was no longer required, turning down dictatorial power.
These two men, Washington more commonly, are cited by those who argue for a Congressional term limit. We have seen a handful of men go to congress and serve valiantly at their posts as Senators of Congressman then return to their homes and occupations, imploring others to do the same. But are these self-imposing term limiters to be compared to Cincinnatus and Washington? To know this we must know the enemy in all three cases. In Cincinnatus’s time the enemy was the attacking Aequi forces. During Washington the threat was the British Empire. But today the greatest fight in front of a conservative congressman or woman is the fight to stop & reverse government growth and defend constitutional government. And while universally imposed term limits would theoretically aid that pursuit, Conservatives are not raising the memory of Cincinnatus or Washington when they leave the government in the hands of the entrenched spenders while patting themselves on the back for showing restraint. I applaud the honorable service of these Senators and Representatives, though I feel this is one area where leading by example hurts our cause. These strong conservative members should fight to the end of the battle; until term limits are instated, then leave their posts with dignity.
(Denver Post, Jan. 1) “Let us eat and drink,” said the beautiful people at last night’s glittering parties, “for tomorrow we shall die.” Maybe they thought their insouciance fitting as 2011 ticked away, but they could not have thought it original.
It was Obama’s favorite economist, John Maynard Keynes, the original Mr. Stimulus, who remarked coldly in the 1930s that in the long run we’re all dead. And Keynes was echoing the dissipated elites of ancient Israel 2700 years ago, says the prophet Isaiah. Fatalistic irresponsibility endures though nations rise and fall.
Our fall may now impend, as 69 percent of those polled believe America is in decline and 57 percent expect our kids will live less well than we do. Yet you saw little evidence of that somber outlook in the prosperous holiday bustle at suburban malls and downtown theaters. A psychologist might call it cognitive dissonance. I’d call it either rank denial or good old American gumption. But which?
On this first day of a fateful election year the choice is entirely ours – and I choose gumption. Notwithstanding our fiscal and economic woes, political polarization, slumping demographics, nukes in Iran and North Korea, global jihad and sharia, the USA has the potential to come roaring back in 2012 and onward to 2020. It starts with deciding we can.
True, historians warn that great nations seldom make it to age 250, and we’re now 235. “Pessimism, materialism, an influx of foreigners, the welfare state, the weakening of religion, the love of money, and the loss of a sense of duty,” Sir John Glubb’s checklist for a country in decadence (from his 1976 book “The Fate of Empires”), fits us all too well. Our advantage, though, is that there has never been an America before.
Are we exempt from the undertow of history and the underside of human nature? Absolutely not. We do possess, however, resilient free institutions and an indomitable fighting spirit. From this fortunate combination – representing for our generation a trust to keep, not a charm to boast on or coast on – a victory for the United States over decadence and decline, against the odds, remains possible.
I’m no Pollyanna. Our state and nation are ill-led by Democrats and Republicans alike. Judges flout the Constitution, producing tyrannous rulings like Colorado’s Lobato school case, and making it unlikely the Supreme Court will annul the disaster that is Obamacare. The spiritual poverty in today’s public square would appall the pioneers who put “Nil Sine Numine,” nothing without the Spirit, on our state seal. We face a stormy year.
But like many Christian and Jewish conservatives, I enter 2012 with a survival kit of ideas and ideals that keep me buoyant, storms or not. Here on the shelf by my desk are wisdom-books giving timeless encouragement in the toughest times. Enemy attack, economic crash, electoral defeat? I hope and pray not. Still in such volumes as these, there is sustenance to persist regardless.
Of course my list of ten titles, compiled years ago for a friend, won’t match yours. But I do recommend compiling your own. It will ground you on bedrock and make 2012 go better. And what are the books on my shelf?
First is the Bible, alongside Chesterton’s “Everlasting Man” and Lewis’s “Mere Christianity,” for an anchor in eternity. Next, “The Federalist” for politics and Bastiat’s “The Law” plus Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” for economics. Weaver’s “Ideas Have Consequences” and Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative” diagnose America’s travails since 1945.
From literature, though a hundred come to mind, I complete my ten with Bolt’s “Man for All Seasons” and Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” epitomizing moral integrity. We’ll need a lot of that, and divine help besides, as beleaguered America turns the calendar page. Happy New Year.
Saturday, 10 December 2011 05:20 by Admin
Centennial Institute honored Mike Kopp, former Colorado Senate Minority Leader, with the Zebulon Pike Award for Colorado Leadership in Fidelity to Jeffersonian Principles at a ceremony on Dec. 6.
The award will be presented annually to an outstanding conservative who has set a high example for Coloradans, providing a landmark as Pike's mountain did for the 1806 exploring party sent out by President Jefferson, said Centennial Institute director John Andrews.
Kopp, who led the Senate Republicans from spring 2010 until his resignation for family reasons in 2011, spoke as follows in accepting the Zebulon Pike Award:
Thank you for this honor. The idea of this particular award is an intimidating one. I hope my attempt to justify my being its first recipient will not fall short. Many of my former legislative colleagues are here, and if I embellish too greatly they’re likely to call a caucus and censure me for perjury. So it is intimidating to me to receive this, especially from people I so deeply admire, for two reasons:
First, Zebulon Pike himself. The man truly lived an extraordinarily courageous life, while it lasted just 34 years. Pike was always ready to risk for the country he loved. He led men in the exploration of the resources of an unknown land. The pattern of his life and leadership was to habitually trade away personal safety in order to accept uncertain leadership assignments fraught with real peril. This compulsion of his to do his country’s bidding ultimately drove him to the battlefield at York where he gave his own life for a fledgling republic in the War of 1812.
Secondly, to be recognized for conservative leadership in a time when Coloradans want reassurance that our best hopes about America can still be gamely pursued, assumes that this recipient has played a significant role in leading that pursuit. A role? Perhaps. How significant? Certainly a small one. In any event, that question can’t be the important one for any leader to ask.
No, the important question is this: what problems in society am I presently analyzing in order to apply trustworthy conservative wisdom to so that conservatism can lay claim on the future just as it has in the past?
If we don’t ask this question of ourselves, regularly, are we not thereby forgetting that the future of a free and prosperous America is both the birthright of our children and a vapor that can quickly vanish if conservative leaders don’t prevail?
And what is conservative leadership if it’s not accompanied by the courage and appetite for risk that Pike’s life so beautifully epitomized? It is nothing. It is only words. It won’t do. And besides, there’s plenty of people already engaging in it.
Words do not the future make. Actions do.
But our actions, friends, need to be bigger than we’ve ever dared. Decisive. Persistent. Wise. Timely. Consequential. Ambitious. Not just ambitious, transformational.
Because anything less has us acting as mere managers stuck in a system we feel powerless to change. Let’s not be that generation of conservatives.
Pike may well have been the kind of transformational leader we need today. Why not think of ourselves as scouts just as he was? In all situations, let’s force ourselves to look beyond our circumstance. Let’s grasp the whole context, not just a few of the interior parts, and further assume that it can be shaped by us into something different than it is as the moment. Something that more closely aligns with a conservative worldview.
This is the legacy of a Pike, or a Madison, or a Lincoln, or Goldwater or Reagan. That’s the shadow that we have been blessed to labor in and that we ourselves now must help enlarge for the sake of our posterity.
Yes, just imagine if each us leaned into the belief that the Almighty is actually concerned with how we govern ourselves. And imagine the outcomes if we further embraced that understanding as a sign of our personal leadership responsibility to claim the future?
I think that is the work of CCU and the Centennial Institute. That is why I am humbled to participate in some small way with them in that endeavor. It is why we should all be very proud indeed of the quality leadership that is guiding that ship.
In conclusion, while I feel unworthy of an award like this, I do lay claim to Martin Luther King’s brilliant leadership proclamation, when he said: “I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him.”
Fellow conservative leaders, may it be so with us, too. Thank you.
(CCU Student) What is conservatism? Why are YOU conservative? These questions were asked of students attending the Young America’s Foundation National Conservative Student Conference this summer in D.C. (August 1-6, 2011). The conference was an opportunity to explore conservatism today and apply it to our own lives.
The media today is overwhelmed by liberal talk shows, news anchors, and bias; so it’s a good idea to know what you believe and why. This rationale is exactly why I desired to attend NCSC this year. The political realm is an area that I have only recently dared tip my toes into, but I’ve always been a conservative, albeit a confused one at times. I grew up on Biblical principles, often the foundation of conservative thought. But I also attended a public high school, where I learned that Nixon was good and Reagan was bad. The liberal and conservative ideologies were never explained to me or my fellow students, and no policies were ever debated, so I never quite knew what was considered conservative or liberal.
The speakers at NCSC spoke about the values of conservatism through the lens of current events. They helped me to understand the debt ceiling debate, foreign issues, and other current affairs from the conservative perspective. Also, the opportunity to discuss these issues after the sessions with other attendees provided arenas for debate on what the speakers spoke on and solutions for current affairs.
Some of the speakers and topics covered:
· KT McFarland, FOX News’ National Security Analyst– Flash points around the world
· Senator Mike Lee, Republican U.S. Senator for Utah – The debt crisis and a Balanced Budget Amendment
· Joseph Phillips, actor from “The Cosby Show” and syndicated columnist – Current affairs of race today and its implications
· Dr. Robert George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University – Immigration and American Exceptionalism
· Matt Richardson, Executive Director of the Young Briton’s Foundation – Healthcare in the UK
Now, I have solidified in my own mind what conservatism is and what I believe in. My lack of knowledge has been replaced by a sense of awareness of my own beliefs. I stand with many other conservatives and believe that moral relativity is not an option, that national security and defense is one of the biggest priorities for our nation, and that a capitalist free market system is the best way to boost our economy and create jobs.
As Bay Buchanan, former Treasurer of the United States under President Reagan, said in her session, “Do not ever feel inadequate because you do not know. You are inadequate when you are on the sidelines.” Before, I felt as if my lack of political knowledge meant that I could not be an active participant. But that participation is exactly how I learned more about what I believed. So even if you don’t feel like you know much, go out and get involved in politics, whether through campaigning for your favorite candidate or simply discussing current political issues with your friends. You’ll be glad you did!
As conservatives, we feel that we are right. We feel as though the leftist agendas have been practiced to failure, exhaustion, and are not even viable solutions. However, many conservatives lack the ability to communicate with those of opposing viewpoints. I have been to countless conservative speaking-engagements, summits, think tanks, classes, et cetera, but these venues shed a “preach to the choir” ambience. What about those who are different, who vehemently disagree with conservative policies, and/or who label us evil, bigots, fear-mongers, callous, immoral, and barrages of other words? If conservatives’ pervasive trait of “realism” is to be tapped, we must realize these are the real people who need to be reached—and the way we communicate with them is crucial. Now, in the wake of a climacteric political race, conservatives need these skills more than ever. I write this not to accuse conservatives, because all of us are different in many ways, but merely bring some thoughts to attention that may help augment our platform.
First, know that tone and listening are two invaluable communication tools. I once had someone tell me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Do the math.” Listening twice as much as you speak and keeping your tone to an acceptable, “non-threatening”, and un-condescending volume is a great way to carry yourself throughout a dialogue with a Leftist. Just as the left seems to enjoy discerning faults in the world, they also will find fault in your communication if done improperly or “threateningly”.
Second, understand what differentiates Left from Right. Conservatives believe in less government whereas the left believes in more. This is simple but must always be consciously remembered.
Third, be ready for an isolated example. Leftists consistently highlight the unfortunate scenario of a small number. For example, people in favor of Obama-Care, socialization of healthcare, and/or other variances of healthcare entitlement programs often use the “cancer-ridden homeless man” story. Essentially, there is a homeless gentleman who is diagnosed with cancer and goes to emergency rooms (since he cannot be turned away) regularly for some sort of panacea because he cannot afford an oncologist (which is what he needs). Two things are routinely pulled from this story by the left: (1) thousands of dollars are being spent treating the wrong problem and (2) this is an atrocity no one should have to go through. The conservative generally responds in a manner viewed as callus and insensitive in the leftist’s eyes—therefore, how can we, as conservatives, avoid less of these unsuccessful conversations? The answer is simple: articulation, tone, and engagement.
Thomas Lock’s “Second Treatise on Government” suggests that no civilization will ever be perfect as a result of the fall of man—sin. Sin corrupts all humanity. Therefore, if two humans cannot exist in a perfect Utopian society, how can 320 million? Bring something like this to the Leftist’s attention using tone and calmness and ask, “What do you think about this?” Leftists will generally respond uniquely, since, let us be honest and genuine, every person has a slightly different worldview, another detail that must be kept in mind.
All differences accounted for leftists will generally not find it moral to allow the “atrocity”. Maybe then suggest what NGO’s can do for these people and why pry at why this has to be the government. From here, use discernment and follow similar principles. Not using leading questions only, per se, but helping the leftist see how many of these Utopian dreams are merely unfeasible and that conservatism seeks to implement what works best as nothing will ever be “perfect”.
Fourth, strive to instill a sense of trust of humanity as opposed to the government. For absolute power corrupts absolutely. Always keep an understanding that leftists are going to consistently be compassionate, Band-Aids to the broken, and speaker forthe unspoken-for. Leftists may have a stronger desire to be humanistic, humanitarian, and philanthropic than many conservatives. Although this is not true in most cases, it helps going into a dialogue with a leftist assuming that is their perception; helping the Left understand that conservatives consistently fund non-profits but merely prefer the right to choose where their money goes if the next step. Leftists routinely argue that “corporate greed” will prevent money from being distributed and that humanity’s proclivity to sin inhibits our giving, hence why the government is needed. Here, I suggest the theories of expectancy and dependency. For example, a teacher wrote into the O’Reilly Factor saying (paraphrased), “I had a student today respond to what he wants to be when he grows up with, ‘live on welfare and get free healthcare’”. Unfortunately, the “hard-worker” who receives entitlements becomes lost amidst those who treat it as free-money, entitlement, and eventual dependency. Perhaps continue this conservative-leftist dialogue by catechizing a leading question such as, “Obviously this is not right, yes? What would work better?”
Last, as a conservative, you already feel as though self-responsibility is becoming a disappearing attribute of the common man and is being juxtaposed with a nurtured sense of entitlement and being “owed something”. Face it! We are owed NOTHING except life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness. Entitlement comes with an innate sense of “owed”, and entitlements breed dependency more often than not. The government of the United States of America was not established with the mission statement of granting happiness to all.
Fellow conservatives, when you return to your lives, embark with a sense of understanding toward the Left. Understand they want to help, fix, provide, and save but many their ideas are simply unrealistic. Telling them they are unfeasible is impractical and ineffective—as is throwing accusatory statements or putting them on the defensive. When Pilate accused Jesus, Jesus did not respond with the ferocity of the common-Roman-man’s perception of Him. I rest my case in that it is not what you say, it is how you articulate, engage, word, and say it.