You learn a lot on the campaign trail. And not just about the people who you’re asking to vote for you. You learn a lot about yourself.
Running for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District, I have had several occasions when people have said to me, "I cannot believe you are a Republican." I often drive home wondering what do people think Republicans are?
I have come to realize that the Republican Party has failed at defining itself and its marketing plan truly gets an "F", kind of like the Army going from "Be all you can Be" to "Army of One." Being a retired Army officer, that caused me some consternation because the first meant something, and the second didn’t.
And that’s where I think the Republicans are this year. Obama’s “hope and change” mantra is empty, but what do we have that beats it? Lest I digress, this is what I think is the key issue of this campaign season, the perception of what the Republican party is, and its relation to America.
In my campaign so far, I had the pleasure of having a number of prominent conservatives travel to Florida to endorse me. Former Maryland Lt Gov Michael Steele, Senator Fred Thompson, and Congressman Duncan Hunter all graced our campaign with their support. As I considered their appearances I asked myself a simple question, "What are the fundamentals which brought us together as Republicans"? Actually, I thought about what is the legacy of the Republican party?
When I consider the Republican Party and its legacy I go back to its inception in the 1850s. It was a time when the major party at the time, Democratic, stood for the institution of slavery and its expansion. There was but one issue for the Republican Party as it broke onto the national scene and that was to end slavery and ensure all Men, received the inalienable rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. As the Republican Party grew and ran its Presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln, it was evident that there was an ideological schism, one which would create the first major challenge for the new political party.
It fell to Lincoln and the Republican party to embark upon a grand endeavor to preserve our Union, to preserve our freedoms, our Republic. During the American Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history, it was this Republican party and President Lincoln who made decisions to change and unite our country forever.
The Emancipation Proclamation and allowing blacks to become uniformed members of the Union Army gave those who previously had to hope, to evidence their desire to fight for our America. Such was the decision which made it possible for my Dad, older Brother, myself, and my nephew to wear the uniform of our American military.
In 1871 the State of Florida had its first (and so far only) black Republican Congressman, Josiah T Walls. . The Republican Party had come onto the national scene and had achieved some momentous objectives which to this day still resonate.
When the civil rights movement went full tilt in the early 1960s it was not the members of the Republican Party which stood in the way: guess who did? And when it came down to the Civil Rights legislation passing, it was Republican Senator Everett Dirksen and the Republican senate members who stood against prominent Dems such as Sen Robert Byrd and Sen. Al Gore Sr, enabling the legislation to pass.
It became easy to pigeon-hole the Republican Party as the party of the "rich", "of big corporations", and of "country club whites". The party stopped trying to connect to the black community and allowed the Dems to steal their legacy. It lost its compass and strategic vision, which was not found again until a President named Ronald Reagan came along, and resurrected the conservative values and principles which made the Republican party that which America knew and understood. The Republican Party had a resurgence in 1994 when after some 45 years it retook the majority in the Congress under the mantra of a "Contract with America". All seemed well, but by 2006 the Republican Party had again lost its way, and was punished by losing in the mid-term elections.
Now there is a new challenge for the Republican Party and it remains to be seen if it will step up. We have seen the legacy of the Republican Party be forged by standing against slavery, secession, and segregation, now we have the fight against creeping socialism in America.
This time the adversary is a Democrat party which has moved so far to the liberal left it is unrecognizable to many. It is a Democrat party which seeks to consolidate power through creating a complete dependency of the American people upon the "nanny-state". It is a socialist movement which promotes the collective over the individual.
Can the Republican party find itself, define its goals and objectives? Or shall it be as such vitriolic left wing bloggers as Daily Kos say that conservatism and the Republican party is dead? My assessment is simple, the party which was born out of standing against the Democrats on slavery, secession, and segregation, shall stand and confront this post-modern liberalism/socialism, and defeat it. Will this be an easy fight, no, but if this Republican Pparty can remake its image, restore itself to its conservative values and principles, and create a new generation of young, savvy, and energetic leaders it can be done.
I am sure there will be many "chuckleheads" from the left who will get this piece and start their typical ranting and vile attacks, to which I say bring it on! I am a black conservative, and member of the Republican Party because of my ideology and values which are not consistent with far left liberalism.
I believe in equal opportunity, not guaranteed equal achievement. I believe in individual rights and freedoms, not collective design. I believe in individual responsibility and accountability, not victim mentality. I believe in promoting the general welfare of the American people, not a transfer of wealth from the American taxpayer to an inept, inefficient, incompetent, and corrupt government.
And most of all I believe that a limited federal government exists to protect the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the American people, not wealth redistribution.
That is why I am running for US Congress as a Republican because I would not be here if not for the legacy of this party. I am capable of making a clear decision, and shall not be a part of the 21st century plantation of kool-aid drinkers.
And I am really looking forward to winning Florida Congressional district 22 and giving Pelosi, Hoyer, Emmanuel, Clyburn, Frank, Waters, Rangel, and the other House lefties fits every day.