A friend of mine, Claudia Frantz, recently sent to me an essay she'd written about a subject she has been struggling with for a long time. As do all conservatives.
With her permission I have posted it to my blog page.
"In November, I plan to vote conservative, and that may mean that most of my votes will fall in the Republican boxes on the ballot. I am not naïve enough to believe that all Republicans are saints, but I do believe that conservatives are taking stock of the situation in this country and realize that we must, as a country, tighten our belts and do what it takes to preserve our nation and our freedoms. In other words, we must be responsible and must take responsibility.
All of us.
Almost without fail, the first and loudest criticism one hears about conservatives is that they do not care about the poor. This is a prime example of a “talking point” type criticism. The truth is that we do care deeply about the welfare of the poor and about providing opportunity for all citizens. This is what makes a nation great – nurturing all elements of society and encouraging the strengths and talents of all to rise for the good of all. Remember, also, that many, perhaps most, conservatives are people of faith who take very seriously God’s instruction to care for “widows and orphans” – and that phrase implies caring for all in need.
Americans have proven time and again that their hearts are so tender that they are willing to reach deep into their pockets for all kinds of need, be it domestic or foreign. Look at all the money that materializes from free will donations for needs ranging from disaster relief to personal tragedy. It happens every day in America. This phenomenon is like a modern day miracle of the loaves and the fishes – it seems to be part of our national nature. Charity works best when we can help by sharing what we have freely, as needs touch our hearts. What riles a conservative is the pirating of our right to give – by over-taxation and dictated behavior – to the point that many people have nothing left to give from the heart. They are in survival mode.
What are other traits that conservative Americans believe in? I have ideas about a few of them. Perhaps you will be moved to voice your own ideas after reading mine. That is one element of a healthy Democracy: We have the right to think, to develop ideas and viewpoints, to consider the opinions of others, to work together in a system of checks and balances to preserve a strong, healthy society.
I believe in respect. Respect for people of all ethnicities, all ages, all races, all beliefs, all sexual orientations, all walks of life. Is my respect ever shaken? Yes it is – when those I respect do not respect others equally. When they take advantage of others. When they threaten the lives and welfare of others. When they seek to limit the rights that are guaranteed in our Bill of Rights, our Constitution and our body of law. When they deface public property and damage the property of other citizens. When gangs rule the streets with their drug trade and inflict fear in the hearts of entire neighborhoods. When they ensnare youngsters in sexual slavery and other abominations. I am irked when people in power in our government refuse to follow the rule of law because, in their opinion, “it is bad law”. (This phrase is routinely heard in Washington, DC these days.)
I believe in racial equality. Growing up during the civil rights era, I well remember the mistreatment of minorities, the restriction of rights, the riots and burning of cities. It’s been well over 100 years since we fought a civil war that focused on the horrors of slavery. Since then, as a country, we have made great strides to provide opportunity and education for all (who were willing to take advantage of these opportunities), welfare for the needy, meals for hungry students and adults. During the last presidential election, we conservative idealists felt that the day had finally arrived when we had overcome the injustice of the past and could look forward with love and pride to a nation that had grown and matured enough to elect a president of color.
How disheartening, no - depressing, that these hopes have been dashed by use of the race card, by increasing racial division and anger, by name calling. What could be worse than to be called a RACIST? But, that is the name that is given to anyone who disagrees with decisions and economic policy coming out of the White House. What has happened to the ideals of free speech and respect? They are negated by that one nasty word – racist. How sad that we have fallen this far that we cannot see beyond skin color to look realistically at serious economic and political problems that threaten the security of this great nation. A nation divided against itself cannot stand. We must be vigilant about this issue.
I believe in responsibility. At some point, almost every human being has to take responsibility for their own life. Of course there are exceptions: the mentally or physically challenged, the seriously ill, etc. But, the rest of us must do our best to be independent – and to help those who cannot help themselves. The whole point of growing to adulthood is to develop one’s independence and to take responsibility. We must find a way to earn a living and must tighten our belts in order to live within our means. Those who have found fulfillment in life beyond basic existence are generally those who have found a way to serve others in some way, either by their profession or by their avocation or volunteer activities.
The United States must also take responsibility for its own survival. What wisdom is there in continuing to build up a national debt will cripple our country and our people for decades to come? What wisdom is there is weakening our military to the point that we could be overcome by enemies? What wisdom is there in weakening our people by making them dependent on the government? What wisdom is there in perpetuating a political system in which elected officials spend most of their time positioning for re-election and life-long government careers, to the detriment of fulfilling their governing responsibilities – while allowing un-elected staffers and clueless political appointees to make decisions that are crucial to the welfare of the nation?????
I believe in truth and in telling the truth. Truth is not really relative. I realize that our government and our system of economics is so complex that, at times, it may be difficult to discern the truth about certain issues. However, the conscious distortion of the truth in order to gain political advantage is simply disgusting. This behavior is not about working for the good of all citizens – it is about establishing and maintaining power over others. This is the whole basis for the practice of circulating “talking points” to political activists and pundits. This practice is rife with ignoble goals, not the least of which is mind-control – to establish the tenets of propaganda in the minds of those who are naïve about the political arena. The sound bites constantly repeated in the media by political guard dogs stick in the minds of the uninformed and are so convincing as to discourage citizens from thinking on their own or challenging the ideas by doing some research. Is this the kind of mindless citizenry we aspire to in this country? In addition, the talking points we hear daily often seem like juvenile name-calling. Shouldn’t we be building the intellectual muscle of our citizens by encouraging them to think? To reason? To debate in order to come to solid, workable decisions?
I believe that the people of the United States have what it takes for renewal of our nation. It is time to lay politics aside and to tackle the enduring challenges that face us: economic security and opportunity; energy independence and renewable energy solutions; equal access to health care; upholding our freedoms (including freedom of speech and freedom of religion); equal access to education; building a unified citizenry; protecting our nation and our borders; etc. Americans are strong, talented, caring and committed. We can do whatever we commit to do – and have proved it time after time.
If I were running for office, I think I would be tempted to change the name of my political party to reflect my beliefs. I might maintain the first letter of the word Republican, but use words that describe my goals: Respect, Responsibility, and Renewal. The Respect, Responsibility and Renewal party! I like it. It sounds REAL – based in reality, not in talking points. Please join me. Think. Write. Dare to share your ideas before November."