I’ve been thinking about my post the other day about the immigrant family in Columbus, and what being a conservative really means. I grew up in a conservative town, and have lived in a conservative state my whole life, around people who describe themselves as conservative. For the most part, they’re great people. Here’s what I know about them.
The conservatives I know talk about how great it was to grow up in a town like Sidney, Montana and cheer for the Eagles like they were the most important team in the world;
The conservatives I know can a respect a man or woman on the opposite side of the aisle, even if they profoundly disagree with his/her positions. They were proud to shake hands with men like John Melcher, because he was a Senator representing our state;
The conservatives I know serve in our military, write thoughtfully about their experiences, and know that war is never as simple as a struggle between good and evil;
The conservatives I know read the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard but still teach our children about the cultures of the world and the incredible power of ideas;
The conservatives I know don’t call anyone a traitor unless that person is one, don’t hate someone because of who he loves, don’t blame the poor for their poverty nor the drug addict for his addiction, and don’t disparage the public schools as “government-run” institutions. They tend to live up to what President Bush aspired to be: compassionate.
I’m as a guilty as anyone. Despite knowing these people who disprove the stereotypes, I’ve been guilty of lumping conservatives into one broad swath, cognitive dissonance aside. I wish I hadn’t painted with such a broad stroke at times, but I can’t help but ask my conservative friends, why do you let the hateful, vicious, partisan minority of your party dictate its image and shapes its policies?
If the conservative I know were in power, think what we could do–in this state, and in this nation. Richard Nixon manipulated the Republican Party and country with his “Silent Majority,” but isn’t it time for the real majority of Montana conservatives–honest, hard-working people who care about families and their communities more than partisan politics–to reclaim their party?
The conservatives I know would make the debate productive and energizing once again, not this enervating cynical death struggle we seem to be locked into now. I’d nothing more than to hear their voices in the debates that will shape the future of Montana and the United States.