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"What is a conservative?" District 13's July 2010 meeting, Part II

Uncle Sam stands proud in a local store
Uncle Sam stands proud in a local store
KCD collection

President Ronald Reagan had said many years ago, "How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

The meeting continued!

David Eastman spoke next. David is Alaska’s state director for and he gave the most thorough definition of what it means to be a true (far right) conservative. Eastman said that all politicians seem to want to borrow the term of being a conservative. Like many of the others would tell us, he expounded on the idea that a true conservative is willing to sacrifice the present for the future. He explained that maintaining the status quo is not a conservative principle and that government should be responsible to the people and not for it. He reminded us that the American dream used to be to own a house but that now the dream is to get a house and let one’s neighbor pay for it. He pinpointed that the conservative goal is for a government that holds itself accountable to the people.

Joe Miller, who is running against Lisa Murkowski for her senate seat, said that there are a lot of labels for conservatives out there, such as true conservatives, new conservatives, real conservatives, etc., but that the problem put into politics today is that there are a lot of people who call themselves conservatives who are not. Miller spoke of bedrock principles. The most important idea that he wanted to get across was that fundamental rights are given to us by God, not by the government. “If the government can give it, then government can take it away.”

Bernadette Wilson of Alaskans for Parental Rights (“Yes on Prop. 2!”) came in from Anchorage and spoke about the importance of conservative values and she spoke a bit about what her group is doing for getting parental consent out there for teens who want have abortions.

Carl Gatto, the representative of District 13 who is running against Don Benson in the primary, spoke about his life and why he is a Republican. He spoke of living in New York where everyone was a Democrat, that there were Democrat offices all over the place and that his father was a proud Republican and indicated that he, Carl, was beaten up a few times over this. Carl summed up his view on what the difference is between liberals and conservatives, being that “A liberal believes in the relentless pursuit of fairness while a conservative believes in the relentless pursuit of excellence.”

Rounding out the talk, Cathy Giessel of District P nodded to Joe Miller and called herself a genuine conservative and told us a bit about her upbringing. Her dad flew for Wien Air Alaska and she grew up visiting villages where people worked a subsistence lifestyle. (This was probably before so much of our state land went into federal management and people were allowed to live a true subsistence lifestyle and go where they needed to go with very little government intervention.)

She said that industry creates jobs which (jobs) in turn create wealth. She expressed that the best social programs that our government can provide will be to let private industry create jobs and opportunities.

Sheldon Fisher was up next. Sheldon is running against Don Young for Congress. He summed up the beliefs of the TeaParty in that fiscal conservatives don’t burden the next generation with present wants. There are rights that we have that are God-given, not government given. There is a right to privacy that many liberal judges do not see as being really a right. He spoke of the government’s role in the lives of people and that it is not good that we have appointed, not elected officials defining the constitution. 

The number of families at the event was inspiring. Parents are taking their kids along to experience the process and to learn about the candidates. Unless there were liberal families there, this was angels preaching to the choir-- the families who I saw seemed to be mostly Conservative and there were no liberal speakers there to counter any statements made and this is just how it was. The speakers gave their versions of what it means to be a conservative. Do they hold a monopoly on the values espoused?

Conservatives have a vision for America that includes governing the country with a set of conservative principles that includes smaller government, lower taxes, policies that promote life and the family, and protecting our country with a strong military.

  • • Conservative principles means that if you don’t need the law, don’t have it. Law can be used as a repressive force as opposed to being a protective force.
  • o People, not laws or bureaucrats, should decide what is best for them, in areas such as education of our children, forced moral beliefs that we don’t share
  • • Lower taxes means that people are deciding how to spend their own money and on their own charities
  • • Policies that promote life and family means that government recognizes that family is the basic unit of society. Laws should strengthen the family and protect it.
  • A strong military means that we can protect ourselves.

The conservatives who I met feel that elitists, be they liberals or the moderates who have come to power, have become detached from the people and strongly support the idea that Thomas Paine said,  "Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions."


  • Steve Wylder 5 years ago

    Ronald Reagan, who read neither Marx nor Lenin, assumed they were one and the same. While a Marxian society is unworkable, it would be a far more humane endeavor than the Leninist one that existed briefly in the pre-Stalinist Soviet Union. Strangely enough, Marx thought there would be no need for government after the class struggle was eliminated.
    And what's with the tea party folks quoting Paine? They need to take a look at "The Age of Reason" to learn what Paine thought about religion. Paine was no conservative, either in politics or theology.

  • Gregory Gusse 5 years ago

    Quoting Paine is an interesting way to end this, as was quoting Reagan at the beginning. I best think this quote of his best describes what these folks are up to: "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

  • James 5 years ago

    I think this is very straight forward definition of a conservative. I think that Thomas Paine's quote succinctly defines the fears the tea partiers have. Our founding fathers believed in individual rights and had a fear of a huge federal government. We somehow abandoned those ideas and built a huge federal government that is no longer there to serve the people but to rule over them.

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