In the March monthly meeting of the Broward Republican Party, one of the local party’s leadership made a profound speech. Not a call for “Unity” as some less-genuine Republicans have admonished, or worse a call for “necessary compromise” as some establishment-GOPers have advocated, but instead a call for “tolerance”. It was a speech that was a heartfelt request for a return to the Republican Party’s roots.
Ryan Anderson, State Committeeman for the Broward Republican Party, has been quietly working to bring new Republicans in to the local party, and as he spoke, his frustration was evident. He’s reached out to the younger generation – the people in his own age group, the generations X and Y, and brought them to Republican meetings, only to watch them leave before the meeting’s end. Not because the Republican message is wrong, but because of intolerant comments and actions.
Anderson stressed that the differences between the “baby boomer” generation and the younger generations are far fewer than the similarities, and stressed the need to find commonality with other Republicans “ONE issue does not define you as a Republican…” Using an example of a young person in favor of “constitutional, smaller government” and less intrusion into an individuals daily life, but also supporting gay marriage or abortion, Anderson pointed out that focusing on the similar views could strengthen the party stating,
“You don’t have to agree with or like… the points of view, but if they’re willing to fight next to you on the grounds of restoring the constitution, and for limited government, then I suggest we fight side by side…”
Anderson spoke on the strength of the Republican Party, “We are a party of independent thinkers, and that is what makes us great…”. He also pointed out that Republicans can be divided by a single-issue viewpoint.
The speech given by Anderson should have met with robust applause, but a few in the audience, with heads shaking, stood to go. Though there may have been that small measure of disagreement in the audience, the sentiment of the speech expressed by the young state committeeman was not wrong.
The Republican Party was founded on ideals of self-determination, personal freedom, and a free-market, stressing the idea of individual sovereignty. Those same values and ideals were presented again by Barry Goldwater throughout his career in politics and most especially in his bid for the Presidency. Those values were represented again in Goldwater’s ideological disciple, Ronald Reagan. The speech given by Ryan Anderson was a call to revisit those ideals: Dedication to the Constitution, Limited, smaller government, and respect for personal liberty, personal beliefs, and personal sovereignty.
Ryan Anderson’s speech was not a call for blind “unity”, it was not a call for “compromise”, it was a call for rediscovering the shared ideals that are sorely needed in the Republican party, and for standing strong on those ideals. That call was well stated by the closing of his speech.
“If we want this party to grow, I beg of you to be more accepting of those around you. When we appear to be a welcoming group and not a hostile group, then I can assure you we will grow as an organization. That translates into winning elections.”
I doubt that Ryan Anderson and I would agree on every issue facing America, and more specifically, the Republican Party, but I have no doubt whatsoever, that we share a common commitment to Constitutional governance, smaller government, and liberty – which puts us on the same side, and that is a significant start. At least, that’s the way I see it. Hopefully you will too.