The Conservative Cause, Episode 2
Next Steps… Local, State, National
Greetings again to the one or two people listening! Thanks for sticking with me and joining up with the Conservative Cause.
I wanted to take this time to share some thoughts I have about my local and state situation before I add a bit more unwanted noise about the national scene.
If you are desirous of running with my idea of forming local circles for discussion, I would highly advise you to start with topics at the levels that are closest to you…community and city…and then move on to State matters and then apply all you’ve discussed thus far to national strategy.
The first step in moving forward is to educate yourself about what is going on around you. Let me be the first to admit that, as a political junkie, I know a whole lot more about National politics than I do about state or local. And I am ashamed by that. I am working on educating myself on the closer things and…let me tell you. Here in Montgomery and Alabama, navigating the political wasteland is almost more treacherous than trying to understand the inner workings of DC.
I assume it might be this way everywhere…. But, good golly, is it a cesspool here. Between corrupt good ol’ boys and an infestation of lying political operative scumbags, it is hard to ferret out the truth here. The Alabama Republican Party is rotten to the core…and they are certainly no worse than the State Democratic Party here. It is depressing.
Before I delve into some local and state issues, I want to acknowledge up front that a lot of these ideas have been stirred up in my mind by listening to a local radio show in the mornings. Capital Buzz with Mark Montiel. Mr. Montiel pulls no punches and tells it straight. Listening to his show is actually one of the main things that has inspired me to study local and state issues in a lot more depth and to use those things as a primary focus. So, for what it is worth, thank you Mr. Montiel.
So, locally, it is not terribly better than our statewide situation. Montgomery’s Mayor, Todd Strange, has a tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth, depending on who his audience is. I’ve been hearing a lot of harsh critiques about him lately, but I am trying to keep an open mind as I dig deeper into his efforts with this city since first appointed (to finish out former Mayor Bobby Bright’s term when Bright was elected to Congress) in 2009. Strange won re-election in 2011 and again in 2015. I do know that his touting of Crime in Montgomery going down is, at best, cherry-picking some data and at worst a massive cover-up of the actual statistics. But, I think he has been a part of some good developments as well. Overall, his terms seem to have been a bit of a mixed bag…at least as far as I can ascertain, and as I have mentioned, I am still largely and embarrassingly ignorant of local goings on at this point.
There is an air of corporate cronyism and sweetheart deals that put some of our tax dollars into the pockets of Strange’s rich friends…but those issues are better left to be discussed by folks who have actually been paying attention. I have no right to speculate further.
But there is a recent tragedy that seems to be being handled very poorly by the Mayor. We have had a local police shooting that ended in a fatality. The basic details of the case resemble the same types of shootings that have led to unrest and riots in other parts of the country. On the surface, it looked to be a justifiable shooting, as most of these cases are. But, based on the evidence they have collected, the State has now charged the officer with murder. Until all the details of the case are revealed in trial, it is useless to speculate on what actually happened. But, Strange’s actions have not helped this situation which is akin to our city sitting on a powder-keg.
When news of the shooting death first reached him, he was on vacation with some of his rich friends and out of the country. He indicated that – as is proper procedure – the investigation would be handled by the State, so as to avoid even the sense of conflict of interest. Four days later, Strange arrived back in Montgomery and after some details had gotten out to the public, he apparently held a series of tense meetings with all city police officers where he allegedly forcibly told them to clamp down on the leaks. Police moral already being at rock bottom, these meetings did not help. To make matters worse, Strange oddly did not even reach out to or try and meet with the victim’s family. I am a little confused as to the exact timeline…but either right before or right after the State announced they were filing murder charges against the officer, Mayor Strange announced that the city was launching its own investigation as well. Just weird, well, strange stuff. Seems like a lot of second guessing and bad decisions all the way around. I hope I am never put in the same situation to make those kinds of decisions…but, still, I think I am at liberty to suggest that this whole thing has not been handled very well at all but the Mayor’s office.
Branching out a little bit into the state level, our Governor Bentley ran a stealth campaign and tricked a lot of folks into believing he was a conservative, but his actions have proven otherwise. I’m not sure how exactly I feel about his proposed Prison scheme yet… he basically is suggesting we shut down and tear down all prisons in the state and build four new huge ones to deal with overcrowding issues. I suppose it makes me somewhat of an apostate to firm, law-and-order conservatives, but wouldn’t it be better to come up with a two-pronged attack of criminal justice reform and community renewal through creating a growth economy? Those two things would start to hit at the underlying issues behind the overcrowding of our prisons. They won’t solve all the problems (as the actual underlying problems are Heart issues that only the Church can help solve) but, they offer a start. And I do not wish to cast aspersions on the Governor, but it seems clear to me that some large company stands to make a ton of money if we go along with his idea to build four new super prisons. The idea just stretches the credulity of the benefits of public-private partnerships. And again, I don’t have enough information to truly make a final judgment… but, that’s why I am putting this out there so that others in the various Alabama Conservative Cause circles can also discuss and provide their perspectives.
State matters are tied up in bureaucracy and corruption. Local schools are in terrible shape due to special interests and teacher’s unions corrupted by Leftist nonsense. City and county government is also largely corrupt and non responsive to the people. It’s a messed up city and state. But I’m sure most everyone else finds themselves in the same situation….except maybe Texans. They always seem to be on the right side of most things. Except the weirdos in Austin. But, they gladly embrace their weirdness (which is basically code for Progressive pabulum).
So Montgomerians or –ites and Alabamians, we’ve got some work to do in our own back yard before we go off trying to fix the country. I’m an Alabama transplant, but for better or worse, you all…or y’all are stuck with me for the foreseeable future. We’ve got to shake things up at the local and state levels. We have to actually come together as a state. You (and I, by inheritance, I suppose) have a deep and dark racial history. The wounds have never been healed and that is terribly evident in everyday life here. Can’t we work as one people and be an example for the rest of the country. Let’s bring back the melting pot concept and stop self-segregating ourselves into our own tightly-walled communities of sameness. I’m not just talking where we physically live… I’m really talking deeper than that. Can we strive to find the common ground that benefits all Alabamians? Can we stop looking at each other with suspicion?
As I said, this rough racial situation is simply very strange to me because I don’t hail from ‘round these parts… I haven’t grown up in the Old South. I grew up in South West Florida, and everyone knows that when you are in Florida, you have to go North in order to get to the South. So, my sensibility is probably pretty thoroughly Floridian. I grew up south of Tampa, went to college in West Palm Beach and also spent some time living in Orlando. About the only place in Florida I am completely unfamiliar with is the panhandle (which is the closest to the South that you can get while in Florida). So… please bear with me. I am basically a darned carpet-bagger but I am not carrying the baggage of Alabama’s racial history. I don’t get it, and I probably never will. All I can do is offer you an outsider’s perspective from within your borders.
The only way forward for us is to unite under Christ. He can heal our wounds…or, I guess maybe more correctly, when we focus on Him, we realize our wounds don’t mean a thing in the light of His glory and grace.
How about some Unity projects locally. Now, statewide, Alabama is about 68% white and 26% black…with various other groups 3, 2, 1 and less than 1%. In Montgomery, that is nearly flipped with 56% black and 37% white. I am not convinced that business development alone in impoverished or high-crime areas is the answer. The Downtown Revitalization Project has largely been a failure (if the intent was to actually create a vibrant and growing participatory economy in our downtown area). Economic Opportunity can only get one so far. They are a nice start, but we can’t leave them at that. Perhaps more important are investments in cultural renewal. Example…Money always gets thrown at our failing school systems with little positive result. And I will concede that the lion’s share of that money probably never gets trickled down to actual Education… but let’s just say it did. Let’s say that we had enough money to cut classroom sizes to a ratio of 15 students to one teacher across the board. Let’s say that our facilities were state-of-the-art and clean and maintained in a pristine condition all year round. Let’s say that every child had free access to learning technology. Would that make a difference?
Some might say yes… I say no. For the simple reason that unless a culture values education, all the other efforts will come to naught. The real trick is figuring out how best to promote Education as an amazing privilege. Fostering a sense of gratitude in students is nigh-on impossible…and there is a fine line between encouraging civic-mindedness and indoctrination into becoming nothing more than cogs in the machine of a supposedly benevolent Government. But there must be a happy medium. The Golden Mean which helps students value their education and actually want to participate.
So, locally, I think our local Conservative Cause circle must take a serious look at improving education.
And with a city as racially mixed as we are…any education discussion will naturally have to be a Unity project.
So I will leave all that there for now, as I haven’t left myself much time to discuss national matters. But, again, I suppose that is by design. Let me start by amending 8two statements I made in my last message. First, I said something about it not being good to “deny” Trump the nomination if he comes close to a majority of delegates. What I meant was if he comes close on the first ballot. After that, all bets are off and there is plenty of precedent to suggest that the person going into the convention with a mere plurality is usually not the one who ends up being the nominee. Granted it was a different system in 1860…but, if the person with the plurality of delegates on the first ballot had then been given the nomination because he was closest, then Abraham Lincoln would never have been President. Secondly, I suggested that both Cruz and Kasich should stay in and continue fighting the good fight against Trumpist populism. Let me strike that. I am now wholly convinced that to really make Trump fight, we need to have a head-to-head contest pitting him against Cruz. There is growing momentum for such a contest and I completely back the idea. So, Governor Kasich, for the good of the country, please bow out gracefully. If you don’t then I will be forced to conclude that you are angling to be Trump’s VP and have struck a corrupt bargain with him. Because, quite frankly, you staying in the race basically guarantees that Trump will come very close, and maybe will even be able to reach 1,237 delegates by the time the voting has ended. Out with you, John.
In closing, I will post here a link to an article you need to read. I think this is a good idea. And we should start building this now…in exactly the way I am prescribing… concentric circles of influence that eventually lead into a national movement. Post-convention, let’s start laying the groundwork. Trump can have the hollowed out husk of the Republican Party with his 35-37% of former Republican voters. Viva la Federalist Party! Onward conservatives!
Let’s make it happen!