The Right Persuasion

The Right Persuasion

Let us welcome 2011 with open arms! 2010 was a great year for conservatism, with a sweeping victory in November and the knocking off of Queen Pelosi from her political perch. But the work has hardly begun, and if the GOP and the Tea Party think they’ve accomplished anything, they are beyond naive. The heavy lifting is ahead, but to accomplish the once-impossible, a 2012 presidential victory, the conservative movement needs to focus on these five resolutions or it will watch all its progress go down faster than Congress’ approval ratings.

1) We will not run Sarah Palin for president. While Palin is an engaging force within the Tea Party and conservative movement, she is not the political leader the GOP needs. Her folksy routine will hurt her in the primary debates, and the media will be brutal. Of course, you and I know she can’t win. There’s not enough political polish, and her inability to work across the aisle will get nothing done in Washington. Unlike other conservative leaders, she didn’t see the tax-cut compromise bill as a positive, showing that she would not be able to accomplish much if she became the leader of the free world.

2) Obamacare must go. When the newly elected Republican House enters the halls of Congress in January, they must start with a big move, and that move is to repeal Obamacare. Already, judges are seeing the constitutional flaws within its structure, and numerous states are talking about opting out of the most radical legislation ever to be signed into law. In fact, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., are working to create a way out by 2014, showing the bipartisan hostility towards the bill. Healthcare is a serious issue, and reform still needs to be evaluated, but this current health-care plan would bankrupt small-business owners and force many to pay more than they were before.

3) We are not about social issues as much as economic issues. I voted yes on Prop 8. I am anti-abortion. I believe in the death penalty. I believe in fighting evil overseas. But those are not the pressing concerns today. If the Republicans are smart, which they sadly aren’t always, they will put the moral majority agenda on the back burner and fight the good fight of old-school conservatism. Hate to break it to everyone, but the national debate on social issues is over. I will not convince you that abortion is wrong, just as much as you won’t convince me that redefining the definition of marriage is truly progressive. In the words of James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Conservatives win when they remind the American people that it’s their money, and they can do with it as they please.

4) Glenn Beck is not our leader. While I enjoy Glenn Beck and find him smart and entertaining, that is exactly all he is: an entertainer. He is not our leader, nor does he want to be. While his Restoring Honor rally was a huge success and his Fox News show continues to grow, he needs to be a “rally the troops” guy and not a “lead the troops” guy.

The way to fix this is to find a charismatic leader who speaks to and for the Tea Party and the old dogs of the GOP.

My nominee is Chris Christie, the closest thing conservatives have to the genuine article. He’s smarter than you and I are. He’s a giant in a world of dwarfs. He is the best man for the job, and let’s hope Glenn Beck can convince him to run in 2012.

5) The 2012 election began yesterday. When the primary debates start, every conservative with a pulse will be up on stage. You’ll see Ron Paul and Sarah Palin trading barbs, Newt and Mitt arguing health-care reform, and there are even whispers of Jeb Bush throwing his hat in the ring. But we cannot divide to conquer. This is where the GOP must use “strategery” to make President Obama a one-term wonder. So when you lose a few primaries in a row, get out!
Let’s not beat a dead horse. Let’s beat a dead donkey.

The Right Persuasion

The Right Persuasion

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Christmas season and my love for it, both religiously and culturally. Of course, the reason for the season is another story, and it causes more uproar and debate than any other issue facing the world today. Right now in New York, a billboard war is taking place between the Catholic Church and a group known as the American Atheists. This happens every Christmas, when atheists decide to play party pooper and put up signs about how Jesus’ life and death is simply a myth, which prompts some Christians to follow up with a reactionary sign. But why such hostility toward “a myth”? I ask. Why not put up signs concerning other religious groups? During Passover, you don’t see “The Exodus never happened” banners, nor during Muslim holidays do these anti-deity groups feel inclined to question Muhammad’s writings. Only Jesus appears to be their target, and the fiery darts they shoot come out blazing during this winter season. Ironically, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord this month, these groups who do so much to knock down Jesus should be the very ones most interested in his message and mission.

From a religious point of view, Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus, a Jewish carpenter’s son who came, according to all four Gospels and the writers of the New Testament, to live a perfect life, die an unjust death, and rise again to defeat death and sin in the world so all could spend eternity with Him in the next life. If someone can explain what is so offensive about the story, please, I beg you to do so. While on earth for 33 years, the Reason for the Season taught his disciples and those living in the Middle East that they should love one another, take care of the sick and poor, and feed those who have no food and clothe those who have no clothes. Don’t most atheists believe those things, too?

Another point on which most atheists would agree with Jesus of Nazareth is His take on organized religion. Jesus was the world’s biggest critic of religious hypocrisy. He constantly bashed the religious right or the moral majority of his era, calling them liars and thieves in the book of Matthew, and went on to mock their manmade laws and rules, adding that they should be focused on taking care of “the least of these.” If anyone hated the actions of the self-proclaimed pious, it was Jesus. He demanded that people be perfect and love their neighbors as themselves. He would have been disgusted with institutional racism, mistreatment of homosexuals, and the neglect of the needy.

Don’t most atheists believe those things, too?

Jesus also enjoyed the company of those who rejected his moral standards, and ate and drank and talked with those who had been mistreated by the religious clergy. When the moral majority saw him in the house of Levi “eating and drinking” with unbelievers, they became angry, causing Jesus to tell them to back off because the Son of Man came for them, too. It’s an ironic idea that Jesus was brought here to talk and to love those who were the least believing people, and he did it by enjoying the parties and festivities of the evenings. Don’t most atheists enjoy those things, too?

Of course, we don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus because he rebuked religious people and for how he chose to spend His Friday nights, but for the crux of His mission, which was to go to the cross on our behalf. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5 that “Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So to those this Christmas who still feel inclined to mock the Reason for the Season, may I just remind you that it was for you that the story was written down in the first place. And that is the greatest Christmas gift of all.

The Right Persuasion

The Right Persuasion

If there is one universal belief that unites all groups in the Western World, be it Christian, atheist, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, cowboy or Indian, it is the idea that Christmas is over-commercialized. Let me now alienate myself from the rest of the pack and pre-emptively declare not just my love for, but my desire to promote, the over-commercialization of the Christmas season!

Numerous groups ramble on about how Christmas has become too commercialized over the years, and every year we get commentary after commentary making people feel guilty about indulging and enjoying the winter holiday. Each group has its own beef with Christmas: Pharisee Christians claim the glitz and glamour of red and green overshadow the birth of the Lord, well-meaning liberals want to end the capitalistic consumerism attached to the gift-giving day, and family values conservatives bark about how the spirit of community has been lost in the hustle and bustle. Each of these groups, while not focused on the same issue, is lined up against the same target, and all are equally wrong.

Christmas is a twofold holiday. Obviously, its religious roots line up with celebrating the birth of Jesus, but its western evolution is more culturally connected with presents, Christmas trees and Santa Claus. And stop this nonsense about simply celebrating the winter solstice. The pagans lost. Santa won. Get over it. No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday — with a baby in a manger or old Saint Nick — don’t feel embarrassed or guilty for giving gifts, buying presents, lighting a tree, or watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time. Christmas is an American holiday that does more good and causes people to do more good than any other holiday we mark on our calendars.

Many complain about style over substance, yet it is the over-commercialization of Christmas that creates seasonal jobs at Macy’s and Walmart. It is the over commercialization that helps stimulate the economy and helps small business owners. It is the over-commercialization that unites families to trim the tree, eat meals and sing songs. The Christmas festivities create a unique blend of grateful hearts and the giving spirit, making the Christmas season a beautiful relationship blending Christian tradition and capitalistic Americana. We cannot deny that Christmas brings out the best in those we see very little of for most of the year. People smile more with Christmas music playing in the background, and driving around town is more fun with giant Santas and glow-in-the dark nativity scenes on the front lawns in suburban towns.

For those who argue that we spend too much money on Christmas and believe that money could have gone to the poor, I would retort with the idea, since when did buying friends and family members gifts become wrong? By this logic, any form of giving unrelated to the bottom percent is unjustified, so let’s hope the pious are not spending a dime more on themselves than necessary, or else they are nothing more than hypocrites so busy trying to pluck the speck of dust out of their neighbor’s eye that they can’t see the log jammed in their own.

I love the idea that people are not thinking about how to spend money on themselves but instead on their friends, family members and co-workers. It brings a smile to my face thinking about people spending hours putting up Christmas lights and giant decorated trees to bring children joy as they pass by. Or how about the baked goods passed around from neighbor to neighbor? Then there are those who volunteer in soup kitchens and give toys to tots. It is the over-commercialization of Christmas that helps make this happen.

So this December, embrace all that is Christmas. Buy gifts and decorate. While I could leave you with words of my own, I’d rather leave you words of the master Charles Dickens from his beloved classic A Christmas Carol: “And therefore, uncle, though Christmas has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!” 






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