Speak Up!

US Flag and Constitution of the United States of AmericaThis post was originally written in 2013 for The Conservative Treehouse, then reworked for publication here in early 2016. I think it deserves another viewing.

We are all aware of frightening and profoundly unsettling events that are happening in our world.   We discuss these matters often here and at other sites on the internet.  We have been voicing our beliefs, and learning from one another and, I hope, each of us has been reading and studying as much as we can do about the events of the day, about the founding of our country, the causes of The American Revolution, what our Founding Fathers thought and did, and the basic documents – The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  History is important, because it frames our perspective of current events.  It also reminds us why the United States of America is unique and great, and why it is important for us to do whatever we can to preserve it.

Watching the PJTV roundtable on the death of Andrew Breitbart, something was said that I think is important about the difference between conservatives and progressives – Lionel Chetwynd said, “We all met Arianna [Huffington] when she was a right-wing conservative; she was so far to the right of everyone at this table.  When she realized that wasn’t going to do it for her, that there was a requirement over there that you understand what’s going on, she drifted to the place where information was an encumbrance, rather than enlightening.”brain-tree-learning-490x622It is important for conservatives to be prepared for argument with progressives.  Their guns are empty; all they have – most of them – are talking points and insults and vulgarity.  Truth is our most important tool (or weapon!)  With truth, we can convince the undecided and silence the uninformed.  We can plant seeds that will grow in receptive minds.

Yesterday someone [actually, it was Jack Cashill, when he interviewed me for his book, If I Had A Son] asked me when I first became more politically aware.  For me, it was the Clarence Thomas hearings.  Up to that point, I really didn’t question what I saw on the News.  From that point on, I realized that the “news” was presented through a warped prism much of the time.  I learned to question what I heard, to seek out other sources, to filter what was presented through a more developed skepticism, and an increasingly better informed frame of reference.mainstream-media-poster

I was further asked how I progressed politically.  That’s a more complex answer.  Certainly the birth of cable news was a big help, and an eye opener, as was talk radio.  Events that shaped my political progression were the Florida vote recount, the years of constant demonization of George W. Bush, then the crazed attacks on Donald Trump.  It has become increasingly clear that many members of our “media” personalities are left-wing party hacks, and that the “news” is anything but.

What’s the next step?  For me, gradually, it has been “speaking up”.  I mean, speaking to people who don’t necessarily agree with me, or who are just plain ignorant of the facts and what is going on in our country these days.  My approach is to be polite, and well informed.  After all, most of the people I am speaking to are friends, relatives, and coworkers!  It doesn’t always work.  I lose my temper sometimes, especially when the person I am speaking with is abusive and nasty.  I lost a Facebook “friend” over such an encounter after the last Presidential election.  Pffft!  No loss there, I’m happy to say.

I guess what I’m saying is that we have to become more politically engaged, whatever that may mean to you.  I started out exchanging ideas on political blogs. I speak out on Facebook, at work when I think it’s appropriate, to my relatives, friends and neighbors.  I work on this blog; that’s another thing that I do.  I support candidates with donations to their campaigns, and words of encouragement too.  A next step is to volunteer as a poll watcher, or maybe even a precinct delegate.

blogger2One of the things I have learned by working on a blog is that many times our words are heard and taken to heart, but we might not know it – maybe never, but we hear later enough of the time to know that our readers who aren’t commenting are taking in what we are writing.  Sometimes we get an email.  Others finally begin to speak up on the threads, and tell us that what we write is appreciated.  There are many times more readers than those who comment.  It’s a fact.  That keeps me going!  Another thing I have learned is that each of us has something we can contribute.  Not one of us is alike, and that is a positive thing, not a negative.  The sum of the parts is far more wonderful than any one of us!

Please don’t think that I am criticizing anyone who is reading.  I know that most are already out there learning and doing.  Take this as a public confessional, and an encouragement to the readers who may still be timid about talking about their beliefs to those who don’t already think the same way.  After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen?  You might stop hearing from your stupid cousin in Indiana!  Or someone at church (or work) might disagree with you.  That is where the importance of all the reading and studying you are doing (you are, right?) will pay off.  You will be able to argue your point calmly, logically, and intelligently, with the facts at your fingertips.

The “older folks” here have an advantage over some of the younger ones.  We attended school – public school for most of us – while history and civics were still taught, and we either learned the subjects, or we didn’t graduate from high school, because there was a civics test (mandated by the state, usually) that must be passed first.  I am pleased to say that some states are reinstating such tests, as I found this article from last year, published in the Tampa Bay Times:  http://www.theledger.com/article/20120708/NEWS/120709398

FTA:  “A third of Americans can’t name any of the three branches of government. Fewer than half understand what separation of powers is, and twice as many can name a judge on American Idol than the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Survey after survey has shown that Americans lack basic knowledge about how their government works. That’s something Florida lawmakers hope to change.  The state is introducing a new end-of-course exam in civics for middle school students, the first high-stakes test required for middle school promotion. Students now have to take a civics class in middle school. By the 2014-15 school year, they’ll have to pass the end-of-course exam to attend high school.”

That’s good news!

low-information-voterUnfortunately, there are so many of the “lofos” (as Rush calls them) in the United States, and they vote (omg).  All I can say is, educate those who can be educated.  Say what’s true, talk about what is really happening, and how this country is supposed to work.

I’ll end on a fun (well, sort of) note.  Everybody likes quizzes, right?  Here’s a good one that we have posted before and, I warn you, it isn’t easy.

Intercollegiate Studies Institute – Full Civic Literacy Exam

Take the test, and see how you do compared to the average American:

“In 2008, ISI tested 2,508 adults of all ages and educational backgrounds, and once again the results were discouraging. Seventy-one percent of Americans failed the exam, with high school graduates scoring 44% and college graduates also failing at 57%.”

Have Fun!

PS:  Another resource you might want to investigate are the free online courses at Hillsdale College.  Here’s a link:  https://online.hillsdale.edu/register

Hillsdale_College_Clocktower_xlarge

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