A Tale of Two Roads
By David Drake
I’m involved in trying to build a grass roots organization in Montgomery County to bring balance back to our local government. Working every day to get support from registered Republicans, I see a lot of negativity, ambivalence and even rejection, but what discourages me most is the silence, the quiet decision not to participate, not to admit their party affiliation.
I see it in candidates that won’t put “Republican” on their campaign materials because they are afraid they’ll be rejected without being heard. I see it in professionals who won’t post Republican lawn signs in their yards and won’t openly support grassroots Republican organizations because they fear clients will reject their services for their political beliefs. But where it disturbs me most is in our young people, our high school students, who fear making their opinions known by participation in conservative clubs will ostracize them now and handicap them when they apply to college.
The problem begins with misinformation. The broad majority of Montgomery residents – professionals, would-be volunteers and students – believe they are in the minority. The political Left has successfully used that misinformation to effectively take away their freedom of speech through open, strong and sometimes offensive opposition. This is furthered by an historically liberal press.
The facts are that – at least in my part of Montgomery County – registered Republicans and Independents together outnumber registered Democrats, albeit only by a percent or two. It is also a fact that Independents generally tend to vote for the more conservative candidate. So the perceived majority is not nearly as large as the Left would have us believe.
As for the press, you may have noticed that since its sale, The Washington Post has been moving to the middle. It has been surprisingly supportive of positions taken by our newly elected Republican governor. A recent Post editorial even supported Governor Hogan’s refusal to shortchange the state employees’ retirement fund, to the dismay of legislative Democrats and their backers in the teachers unions who wanted more spending on schools beyond the governor’s already historic high.
Recently, I have become aware of the choice between two contrasting paths: submission or leadership. The former accepts the decision of high school students not to participate in Republican clubs for fear of being banished by their peers now and rejected later by liberal colleges. Understandably, they just didn’t want to deal with it.
The second, less traveled, path was pursued by a student who formed a Republican club at a local high school. No teacher would agree to sponsor the club so he went to the school security staff and found a sponsor there. Once formed, the club was subjected to repeated audits that in his experience other clubs were not. Posters displayed in approved areas were defaced. The club’s application to take part in the public service “Adopt a Road Program” was rejected, supposedly because of a policy of not accepting applications from political organizations. The club appealed to the county and the application was accepted. This young man has now built a club with some active 30 student members, a mailing list of 150 and more conservative Democrat members than the school’s Democratic club!
This young man has now been accepted to several highly rated colleges and will attend one of them in the fall. In his applications, he included a citation and letter of appreciation awarded by the local Republican Party organization for his leadership and perseverance in establishing, building and leading the school’s Republican club. He will leave behind a strong and durable organization. I admire and applaud this young man and the road he chose to take.
Which road will you choose? Silent submission, or principled participation?