December 2008


Editor’s Note:  Reclaim Our Heritage is not a Republican entity, but a conservative one.  However, the political party that most aligns with conservatism is the Republican Party and as such most of those who contribute to this blog are active within the Republican Party.  We do not endorse every Republican, but we do endorse conservatives.

By: Brian Sikma

The upcoming Republican National Committee Chairman election is unlike any other RNC Chairman race in the history of the Republican Party.  While past Chairman elections were affairs limited to Party insiders and RNC Committee members (those who actually select the Chairman), this race has seen an unprecedented effort on the part of almost all of the candidates to reach out to party activists and those who may be insiders in their own right at the local and state level.

No doubt the innovations in information sharing and networking spurred on by the further development of the internet as a tool of communication and activism have contributed substantially to the increased openness of the internal process.  Also the very public embarrassment of two election cycles in a row that were progressively worse for Republicans has stimulated a widespread debate about the future of the party.   This in turn has lead to a debate among the RNC Chairman candidates about the best way to bring the party out of the political wilderness and into the position of governing.

Although I am not a member of the Republican National Committee and will not be voting on who the next Chairman will be, I am endorsing a particular candidate in this race.  After giving each of the candidates careful thought I have concluded that Katon Dawson, the current Chairman of the South Carolina GOP, is the best candidate for the job of leading the Republican National Committee for the next four years.  Accordingly, I urge Indiana’s voting delegation to the RNC to vote for Katon Dawson as the next RNC Chairman at the January meeting of the Committee.

My reasons for endorsing Dawson are both principled and pragmatic.  As Chairman of the South Carolina GOP the Republican party won 80% of the races in which it fielded candidates.  Under Dawson’s leadership the SCGOP raised record amounts of money for its candidates and saw new breakthroughs in outreach to constituencies too long overlooked by the Republican Party.  But winning elections and raising money only count for something when you stand for something, and that’s where Dawson’s commitment to the principles of limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional bedrock values come in.  Not only has he successfully led a state party organization to success, he has also stood for a message that is worth  standing for and believing in.

One of Dawson’s greatest strong points in this RNC Chairman race is his Project 3,141 is a positive step forward in rebuilding our party from the bottom up.  Having worked on Republican campaigns and seen county parties in action, I know that an organized county party is a tremendous asset to Republican campaigns and I know that a disorganized and ineffective county party can be a needless and unnecessary drag on Republican campaigns.  There is no substitute for an effective campaign organization, but strong county parties will help us develop the vital local, bottom-up network that we will need to take back the Congress, the Presidency, governorships, and state legislatures.

In endorsing Dawson I have not chosen to disregard the contributions that his competitors for the office are making to the debate.  Saul Anuzis of Michigan has successfully harnessed the internet as a form of political outreach, Michael Steele has a vigorous approach to the issues that is certainly needed in our time, Ken Blackwell has experience as an elected official and elections overseer that is definitely a strong point for our party.  While my endorsement goes to Dawson, I hope that these individuals chose to continue to contribute their knowledge to our party so that together we can forward with and rebuild a party much in need of rebuilding.

Years from now it would be good to look back and say that after the disastrous outcome of the 2008 election, we set out to rebuild and renew our party and didn’t stop until we renewed and revived our country.

Over the weekend Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio, appeared on ABC’s This Week” and appeared to blame President Bush for being partly responsible for the conflict that is taking place between Israel and Hamas right now.

Brown: “But I’m hopeful that with a new president — you know, you look at President Bush is now in a pretty weakened state, and countries around the world know that. I’m hopeful that as this transition comes, as we look to January, that strong presidential leadership can make a difference here.”

Does Senator Brown actually think that the inauguration of Senator Obama on January 20th will lead to a more peaceful and stable situation in the Middle East? Certainly the period surrounding a presidential transition can give rise to a more unrest in certain regions of the world. But I think the world knows by now that President Bush, for whatever other flaws he may have, is not someone who tolerates terrorism by radical Islamic groups.

If anyone is being tested during this transition period it is probably Senator Obama. The incoming Vice President, Joe Biden, declared during the campaign that shortly after taking office a crisis will occur somewhere in the world to test the resolve and strength and skills of the new president. Of course, the current conflict between Israel and Hamas does not have as its focal point the US Presidential transition, there are other political and historical factors far more important than the recent U.S. election at play here. But if the transition has anything to do with the conflict, it seems that Senator Biden, and not Senator Brown, has a more likely explanation.

One wonders what liberals will be able to complain about after January 20th. There will be no more President Bush to blame for the problems of the moment. I’m sure they will think of something, but the “Bush’s fault” line was a nice line for them when they wanted to short-circuit a careful explanation of their opinion.

As for the ongoing developments in the Middle East, I strongly support Israel’s decision to take decisive action against Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has not chosen to adopt peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve the problems that it is facing. It is simply unacceptable for any organization, group, or country to continually assault a neighboring country day after day while violating basic standards of morality and international laws of warfare.

Benjamin Netanyahu makes the case for Israel’s actions much more eloquently here:

By: Brian Sikma

What if we were to learn that in the state of Indiana in 2007, 11,150 avoidable deaths occurred as the result of a very identifiable cause? What if this statistic were not a one-time statistic but instead an annual figure that changes only slightly from year to year? Think of all the potential that these people had but were never able to realize because they died as a result of something that was avoidable. Think of how our communities and neighborhoods were tragically deprived of these people’s full contribution to life.

If these deaths were the result of poorly engineered and unsafe roads, we could probably expect there to be a group of highly frustrated citizens forming a coalition to pressure local and state highway officials to undertake a massive redesign of our transportation infrastructure. Studies would be commissioned, expert engineers sought out for their opinion and government revenues appropriated for the purpose of building newer and safer roads.

What if these deaths were the result of school violence? We would see a public uprising as parents, citizens and school officials rightfully demanded immediate action. School regulations would change, more police officers would be deployed to schools and teachers and students would be trained in how to be alert for imminent attacks and how to respond if the nightmare did become reality.

What would be the result if these deaths occurred because of medical malfeasance? If health care professionals engaged in such egregious carelessness as to cause this many deaths, surely a day of reckoning would be called for them. Prosecutors would review cases to determine if criminal activity took place while grieving loved ones properly brought civil wrongful-death claims against those who so utterly neglected to live up to their professional duty.

Fortunately, none of the preceding three scenarios is true, yet the statistic still stands. You see, every year in Indiana 11,150 people lose their lives as a result of aborted pregnancies. True, these people are unborn, but that does not minimize the fact that every year we lose a resource that has great potential to contribute to the society that we live in. Every year we deprive ourselves of the creativity and ingenuity and joy these people could have brought to our lives. Every year we deny them the same basic, unalienable rights we demand that our government respect.

We cannot ignore the moral, economic and social implications of abortion in our state any longer. Those we are aborting could have been a part of the next generation of problem solvers who develop the vitally important solutions and cures that our society needs.

Identifying the cause of death for these 11,150 people is simple when we look at the statistics and reported data. Doing the right thing to solve this problem, however, is not necessarily easy. Women seeking abortions often do so as they struggle through a period of serious crisis in their lives. Unfortunately, our laws do not mandate that certain safeguards be in place to protect women as they ponder this life-and-death decision.

Our ultimate goal, if we are to protect human life from a legal standpoint, should be to pass legislation prohibiting abortion except in the very rare case in which the life of the mother is at stake. We must look toward that future while working now to make sure that women are given every opportunity to understand that by having abortions they are allowing medical professionals to kill children. Through the use of three-dimension ultrasound technology, the provision of medical services and the sharing of information, advocates of the pro-life position can do much to further the cause of protecting unborn life.

As we consider the human cost of abortion in Indiana, let us commit to graciously and courageously seeking to end this practice that hurts both women and their unborn children.

This column was originally published here and here.

By: Brian Sikma

If you listen to the right combination of pundits and talking heads, you can be forgiven for concluding that the conservative movement is a thing of the past. As a political force it is a dinosaur outsmarted by the concepts that brought us the election of Senator Barack Obama as our next president. Americans are tired of the economic, national security, and social policies that flow from a conservative governing philosophy. They are ready for a change from these policies and they emphatically rejected these ideas at the ballot box. At least that is how the thinking goes.

In one of his more memorable lines, the great American wit Mark Twain declared “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” when he responded to the New York Journal’s premature publication of his obituary. Reports of the death of the conservative movement are greatly exaggerated. Conservatism is alive and well and thriving despite electoral setbacks that hit Republicans harder than the unhappy election results of 2006.

Conservatism as a philosophy of government is not dead because the American people still refuse to embrace liberal values. Even as the 2008 election unfolded, a mere 22% of Americans described themselves as “liberal.” The dichotomy between this self-described aversion to liberalism and the election of the most liberal, major party presidential candidate in history as well as very liberal majorities in Congress can be explained this way: voters were tired of Republicans’ failure to govern according to their stated principles.

The American people are a generally forgiving electorate. They do not demand that their leaders agree with them on every issue, but they do require that their leaders agree with them on key issues and they do demand that their leaders be honest. A politician can win reelection even if he or she casts a couple of bad votes. But if politician casts a series of votes that go against the values of his or her constituents, or somehow fails the trust of voters, they will be rejected at the next election. This is a good thing, even if Republicans don’t like how it impacted them in November.

Conservatism will survive into the future. The question is will a political party and its leaders will step up and embrace its core values? I don’t believe that we can expect the Democrat Party, with all of its ties to the far left, to be the party of conservatism. If Republicans take up the cause of conservatism, if Republicans make the conservative values of lower taxes, limited regulations, smaller government, stronger national defense, protection of unborn life, preservation of traditional marriage, and a respect for liberty coupled with a respect for ordered society, their values, they will make a strong comeback.

For Republicans, the recipe for victory is simple: believe in conservative principles and then stand up for those principles. The American people will stand with you because the American people are a center-right people and they are simply waiting for leadership that stands where they stand.

By: Brian Sikma

In the wake of November’s disastrous election results, Republicans and conservatives have been pondering their future. Pundits with solutions abound. Going forward, it has been rightly noted, the future of conservatism is not tied to the future of the Republican party. In this time of analysis and internal discussion, the GOP is more in need of rejuvenation than the conservative movement, though work must be done in both camps.

In the conservative movement there are some who are advocating for a new conservatism, one that apparently accepts some of the premises advanced by left-leaning cultural institutions. Some observers argue that conservatives need to move beyond issues like abortion and replace them with issue planks dealing with the need for a green energy future and policies to reduce global warming. It is posited that we must set aside our views on some issues in favor of new causes that supposedly have attracted the public’s attention in ways that now surpass its prior fascination with the issues we have traditionally debated.

Do we really need to accept the underlying left-leaning premises of certain fashionable issues in order to be a relevant philosophy and movement of political, social, and economic thought? In other words, with respect to global warming must we accept the belief that man-generated activity is causing global warming? Must we really accept the “fact” that global warming is occurring beyond the very normal cyclical heating and cooling of the earth as a result of human activity? If conservatism is going to be relevant, it does not mean that we must follow the line of thinking suggested by some writers and confuse expanding our appeal with accepting dubious “facts” promoted by the left.

Do not misunderstand the point in all of this. Conservatives should indeed have views on environmental policy. But just as our position on the environment should not be one of simply dismissing the matter, our position should not be one that accepts fallacies that are untrue and make a genuinely conservative approach to this issue very hard. We cannot risk becoming irrelevant by failing to advocate for conservative, common-sense approaches to new issues, but doing that does not mean that we must accept unfounded claims no matter how popular they may be in some quarters.

But what of those issues that conservatives have long cared about but we are now told do not matter? The sanctity of human life, a debate that has taken on new proportions as the dimensions of science have expanded, and the importance of traditional marriage in a stable and vibrant society are two issues that appear to be “on the ropes” right now. Some contend that the matter of abortion is now too gruesome a subject to talk about. It is an old issue that has been hashed and rehashed and since it is no longer as relevant as other issues (so the argument goes), it should be at best minimized and at worst simply discarded. The same argument is applied to the gay-marriage versus traditional-marriage debate. Can’t we just move beyond these prickly issues that involve important relationship decisions between individuals in their private lives? The dangers inherent in following this wisdom should not be underestimated.

As we look for ways to revive our movement we should not cast aside those moral and social issues that helped lead to the birth of our movement in the first place. For fiscal conservatives and those of libertarian leanings, you should not forget the abortion issue or disregard those who are battling to preserve the definition of traditional marriage. For social conservatives, you should not let your deep commitment to demanding that government respect certain fundamental and basic human rights and institutions carry you to the point of ignoring those who work hard to control the size of government and defend economic freedom.

As a movement, we must broaden our appeal without becoming shallow in our thinking.