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Friday, August 01, 2008

Working Together Despite Differences

The issue of Republican values has been a recurring theme for several years now, not only on the national stage but here at home in South Dakota.

Of late, it has become an intense topic on the Right side of the South Dakota blogosphere, with several posts from Sibby Online, SD Wingnuts, some from the South Dakota War College, and the South Dakota GOP Republican Tide.

I think it's understandable for a political party to be a bit stand-offish or distance itself from members who represent more of the opposition's values than the values of their own party, or who work actively against members of their own party while going out of their way to help the opposing party.

Ironically, however, it seems that sometimes money can overcome even an obvious divergence of philosophy. This should not be.

It is equally disappointing when the party apparatus fails to support their own candidates who uphold party values, just because those candidates may not be as polished as they would like. If party operatives would prefer candidates with more polish and finesse, then they should be proactively working to groom such candidates; if they fail to do so, they should wholeheartedly support those candidate who are willing step up and uphold party values--even if that candidate wouldn't have been their first choice.

Thankfully it hasn't happened too often, but seeing how some Republican candidates have been treated in recent years has been disappointing and heartbreaking. The way the Party has treated them, you'd think they lacked adherence to Republican ideals, instead of just lacking fancy clothes and a glossy presentation.

Because philosophy is what really counts--or should really count.

We can work together to advance the Republican agenda, even if all of us aren't advancing all parts of it.

The "Big Tent" philosophy is not and never has been about assimilating all the values and agenda items of every person who joins the Republican Party. The Big Tent philosophy says people from all walks are welcome to come into the tent and work with us on the issues where they agree with us--but not come in and try to liberalize the party.

If a Big Tent attender who doesn't embrace the entire Republican agenda can't honor the fact that they're a guest in someone else's house, we need to point to the door and let them know it works both ways if they don't like our home. They're welcome to stay as long as they don't try to take over the place.

We don't need a purge, but we need to be clear on the party's foundation and it's intended destination. A cold shoulder to those who insist on a detour will usually work just as well as a boot in the hind parts.

If we're advancing a particular conservative value, I'll work with people of other Christian denominations, other religions, other political inclinations and even sexual proclivities. But I will not embrace their values that I don't agree with, especially those which are contrary to conservative ideals.

When I was in the military, I worked with people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds, political philosophies, education levels, and even nationalities. Our common goal was the defense of the United States and her allies.

I'll work with Democrats--and I do, on pro-life issues, because some Democrats, while embracing mostly liberal values, still recognize the value of human life.

But I won't stand idly by when someone whose values are more in line with the Democrat Party comes into the Republican Party and tries to make it Democrat-Lite.

If someone wants to advance liberal values, there's a place for that: the Democrat Party.

If someone wants to belong to a liberal party with liberal values, there's a place for that: the Democrat Party.

When people are given a choice of the genuine article or a cheap imitation, at the same price they'll take the genuine article every time. The Republican Party won't influence people and win elections by trying to imitate a liberal political party.

Look at the South Dakota Republican Party platform; you won't find a liberal agenda there.

Look at the South Dakota Republican Party resolutions for 2008; for the most part, you wont' find a liberal agenda there.

Look at the core values of the Republican Party, which concisely define what it means to be a conservative and a Republican (you won't find a liberal agenda there):

I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

I BELIEVE Americans retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

Finally, I BELIEVE the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

Our South Dakota Republican Party is still a good, conservative political party, despite a few missteps and reprobates in our number.

Though some have tried, our state party has not become the inept, compromising, elitist group we see on the national front that is often working harder for the values of the other party than they are their own.

But it won't stay that way if we fail to remain vigilant. It won't remain strong if we compromise on our core values. It won't retain it's value if it doesn't remain a distinctive vehicle for conservative ideas.

Conservatives of all degrees, let's work together where our philosophy aligns with the Republican Party.

And where it doesn't...you're entitled to your opinion, but you're not entitled to liberalize the Republican Party.

Now let's all pull together to send a couple of good conservatives (Chris Lien and Joel Dykstra) to Washington in November, and fill the halls and chambers of the capitol in Pierre with good candidates who uphold Republican values.


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