Monday, December 22, 2014

Making Room for Conservative Growth

  As a transplant from Liberal Minnesota, I spent much of the early 80s being a college kid and active student of the Oklahoma lifestyle.  What stunned me most is that Oklahomans didn't try so hard to run each other's lives. We didn't see the same mandate for state controls, and we are generally insulted that the eastern liberals in Washington display such an arrogant smugness to dictate every aspect of daily life.
  Then I joined the Republican party when Ronald Reagan used his superior communication skills to help me realize that freedom meant more than just surviving a global cold war. It meant that my own government was a potential danger to my freedom. That I should resist the well-intentioned big govt. fixes, because they often become the worst intrusions. And we can't seem to get rid of added bureaucracy once it becomes entrenched in the federal code and budget.
  Then I joined the Pat Robertson campaign, in 1988. I was not alone. Robertson escorted masses of new Evangelical Republicans into local and state party rolls.
  Did the old party regulars like the new life-blood of social conservatives? Yes, and no. Many were the voices of folks who felt threatened that the OKGOP would become a cult. They were convinced that the Evangelical conservatives would usher in Ayatollahs to rewrite the party platform from a fundamentalist filter.
  The latter 80s & into the mid 90s were a time of uncomfortable party distrust. We overheard so many insulting jokes about our passion and values. but it was also the beginning of a massive wave of political success. It took 25 years, but we learned to get along (mostly) and find our mutual values.
  Now we are met with a new friend, who's really not new at all! the Goldwater Republicans became the base of the Reagan Revolution. There was a time when establishment Republicans (including GHW Bush) used scary rhetoric to seek to diminish Reagan from within party ranks. (remember 'voodoo economics'?)
It was Reagan's Libertarian principles which the moderate factions used in an attempt to paint him as a nut. But after 8 years of Reagan, they all claimed that they were really his allies all along? Hmmm?
  In a 2012 party battle over state delegates, I told several party leaders; 
"I recall a time when I and my social conservative allies were seen a a grave threat to the OKGOP. We were treated horribly by some and much maligned for the reforms we felt passionate about."
I went on to conclude; 
"I don't want to treat the Libertarian faction with the same disgusting behavior that I and my evangelical brethren were treated to!".
  I feel that the 80s & 90s Evangelicals added a lot to the party. And I know we all helped enact a political revolution of the Sooner State.
  I also feel the Libertarians of today are forwarding some good ideas in many areas. They warned us that the 'Patriot Act' could result in some hideous spying and taxing abuses of the federal agencies; which came to be true. They warned us our monetary and lending policy would usher in the 2nd American Great Depression long before the Fall 2008 crash. They warned us that the same social & behavioral morals which we sought to enforce by legal code could be flipped so as to force us to pay the bill for aborting babies, & other contraceptive aids.
  Now we know there are good and bad ways of implementing any ideas. There are brilliant thinkers in every movement. Without good communicators, however; even the greatest principles will fail to be implemented because trust is essential to a democracy. Citizens need to know that a leader cares about the fears and aspirations of folks who feel vulnerable to the effects of the public policy of every level of government.
   So intellectual debates alone, will not win the day. We need to learn from Reagan's legacy and make every effort to communicate in a far superior way, so that all the rhetoric and demagogue of the left will fail to dissuade the public from their trust in conservative policies for governance. 
David Van Risseghem

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