'...and awaaaaaay we go!"
"I guess there is nothing that will get your mind off everything like golf will. I have never been depressed enough to take up the game, but they say you can get so sore at yourself that you forget to hate your enemies." - Will Rogers
As some of you may or may not know, I had the privilege of going out for a round of golf with Bob Miller of WFMD radio. Being the giving sort of fella I am, I ensured my foursome came out well behind me in scoring. Thinking of others before myself – that’s my motto.
What does this have to do with politics? Well, everything. I golf, not because I am good at it, but because I like the company and to play with others. One of the aspects of golf is making "good fun" when someone muffs a shot and giving people an "atta-boy" when they make a good shot. We tend to forget this when thinking of politicians.
Somehow in our minds, we elevate politicians to a level beyond human beings. We have expectations that cannot be met. Of course, there are and always will be shysters – those people who declare one way of being, yet act in a totally different manner. But these folks are the minority and reveal themselves fairly quickly.
What I am speaking to are those people who have let us down, but are still in the good fight. Republicans held a majority for some short periods over my lifetime – the Gingrich Revolution and most recently during President George W. Bush's first term.
Inevitably, the Republicans let us down both times. I predict this same occurrence will happen during this period of Democratic power. There is nothing insightful about that prediction; it is a simple read of history. Whenever any individual or group obtains too much power, they inevitably abuse it.
But that is not the point. What to do in the meantime is the point. We have seen time after time the predicted demise of the Republican Party and so far this has not come to fruition. But, whenever a party is out of power, they begin the difficult task of self-reflection and consider what direction they need to move forward.
We have seen many pundits and even the press tell us we must embrace the moderates and begin to compromise our standards. Bull hockey! Did the Democrats win by embracing conservative values? On occasion you heard some pandering – but in reality they closed ranks and promoted even stronger liberal policies.
We are seeing various Republican groups meet to determine new courses of action. Unfortunately, those paths include embracing policies we abhor. We are not the party of progressive policies; we are the party of less government, the freedom to allow every person to aspire to whatever they choose, and the party that recognizes capitalism is what changes lives and communities for the better - not government.
We are looking for some grand leader to reunite us and that is a serious mistake! Throughout history, grand leaders have appeared on the stage and brought forth necessary and useful change. But this did not happen by looking to the stars in hopes of such a leader appearing. This happened because of grass roots work and groups working together. The stage was set for people to come to power and make the difference.
We must stay in contact with our elected officials. We need to give them credit for when they have stood up for us. A handshake if you see them, or a quick email can make that necessary difference. We forget they are regular people who struggle and question themselves just as we do. They need an "atta girl" just as much as the next person.
But, this is a two-way street. I honestly believe most people who are drawn into politics do so out of a desire to help make a meaningful and useful difference. This type of person is generally self-confident and has a history of getting things done. This is both a benefit and a curse.
We need people of strong personalities who will argue our ideology passionately and make the ever necessary wise compromise of politics. But, we also need people who are not isolationists – believing they are the only ones who know how to tackle this or that problem.
We are a party for a reason. We have general principals we all share in common. So often we see multiple bills presented in Annapolis with very similar foci. And very often the reasoning for this occurrence is so one representative or another can have their name attached - or worse, they have "issues" with another Republican.
Unless or until our representatives at every level of government can begin to think in terms of the group and less in terms of their own promotion, we will remain a minority without relevance. This does not mean we follow another's lead simply due to an "R" by their name. But it does mean that our representatives begin to work together as a force to make a meaningful difference.
This will not happen by itself. We must be engaged and promote our leaders to follow this course of action. We must require information from them. They have the inside track to writing letters to the newspaper or getting interviewed on the radio. We must promote these kinds of actions and require they follow these methods.
The Democrats have embraced the various technologies of the Internet and media in ways we have yet to scratch the surface. We do not have to change our standards or ideology, but we do have to keep up with how to get our message out.
But first, we need to work together. Dissent is not an ugly word in the Republican Party and that is how it should be. But, individuals working only for the individual is an ugly practice and that is how it should not be. We are a party and our representatives need to start embracing that truth – just as we need to start acting in a similar vein.