I have written a lot of words about our state of affairs, but one question keeps coming up, the hardest one to answer – what do we do?
I am certainly no authority in such matters, and everyone’s situations are different, but I do think there are some basic things that can be done, things that everybody has the opportunity to do, and can start doing them tomorrow.
- Start by knowing yourself. To thine own heart be true. It is critically important that you know what your principles are, what you believe and how you came to believe it. Remember, reason and logic are our best allies, because you will be challenged in many ways.
- Stay informed. Gather as much credible information as possible from as many sources as possible. Information is power, and power is confidence, something you will need when you are challenged on your positions. Most of our interactions will be necessarily brief an “circling back” will not win friends and influence people.
- -Argue honestly and well. Stay calm and rational in the face of the storm and remember you can never reason someone out of a position they did not reason themselves into in the first place. A well-constructed, fact-based argument is a persuasive argument…and if it does not persuade, you will walk away knowing you did everything you could.
- Spread the word. It is not necessary to evangelize or stand on a soap box in the town square but write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, post on social media, and engage people in discussion if they are willing to have one.
- Patience is required and is a definitely a virtue. Understand what we face is a daunting challenge. Andrew Breitbart said that politics is downstream from culture, so the culture must change if we expect politics to change. It took a century and a half to get here, it is not going to change by the end of next week. Gird your loins for the long haul.
- Focus on the basics. Get involved at whatever level you believe your voice can be heard, whether that means organizing a group of friends for coffee, becoming a delegate, a precinct captain, joining a city, or county organization. There are plenty of local issues that could benefit from your presence and your voice.
- Be present. Volunteer and attend GOP functions, including committee meetings. Show your support by being there. Be a Republican in word AND deed. People are more influenced by what you do than what you say.
- Hold your local, county and state GOP leadership accountable. They represent you, and you have a right to expect that they deliver on their commitments to you and function according to party principles.
Dealing with our current elected officials is a next level task that takes more structure and influence, I tried to keep this to what I think an individual can do.
I have noted that it is my position that many of today’s Republicans are not Republicans at all, and unfortunately, that is not an unusual occurrence for organizations based on principle. Many suffer the same fate. Thomas Jefferson said it well in his 1816 letter to Samuel Kercheval: “A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering.”
Since I consider conservativism synonymous with Republicanism, I often refer to the Sharon Statement, a set of principles adopted on September 11, 1960 by a group of 100 young conservatives who convened at the home of William F. Buckley in Sharon, Connecticut with the purpose of creating Young Americans for Freedom. In it are ideas that I consider the enduring, timeless, and transcendent basics of conservativism.
So when you ask me, “What can we do?”, this is my answer. Perhaps it is not sufficient to completely answer your question but at least it gives you a starting point.