I had a thought the other day when I was describing my neighbor to a friend. I was going to invite this neighbor to an event, and I was e-mailing my friend about it.
It suddenly struck me as I was writing the e-mail how completely different my neighbor is from me. She's about as old as my mother--maybe a few years younger. She has five very grown children and grandchildren that number into the 20's now. I still have children at home, but I am a grandmother as well. She is very frugal by nature, and she doesn't like animals. I don't think anyone would call me frugal, and I practically went crazy with grief last year when I had to put my two beloved poodles down. She is a very devout Catholic, and, while I am a Christian, I am far from being Catholic.
You wouldn't think we had anything in common, would you? Even so, she has been a rock for me to lean on when I need it most, and I go to her often with questions about morality, life and God.
We have one thing that binds us together: conservatism. When I moved into this neighborhood about ten years ago, I noticed she had a pro-life bumper sticker on her car. I don't even remember what was on it. We were checking our mail at the same time one day shortly after George Bush was elected. One of his first acts as president was to block U.S. funds to international family-planning groups that offer abortion and abortion counseling, which reversed a Clinton administration policy. I said to her, "Isn't it nice to finally have a pro-life president?" She agreed and we began to talk about the sanctity of life.
Most of our early conversations were about just that, and we have delved very deep into the subject. We don't agree on every little thing, but we agree on the vast majority of the issues that surround respect for human life.
Then I began to find that she had other conservative ideals, if I remember correctly, around the time we went to war in Iraq. We have tiptoed carefully through the minefield that is political conversation with someone you don't know well, and we came out the other side unscathed. Not only unscathed, but as friends.
Now we trade conservative e-mails, talk about the issues when we run into each other, and I have invited her to come along to many conservative events, including events for candidates we both support. She'll let me know if someone stole my lawn sign, and she has even had one replaced before I knew it was gone.
Though we are different, we are very much the same. We have the same worldview, the same value system, similar opinions. We are conservatives.
If we conservatives had the guts to reveal our true selves more often, we could find more friends. In Minnesota (the land of ten thousand liberals), we are often reluctant to say we are conservative. Liberals seem to have a talent for thinking everyone around them thinks like they do, and we just nod and smile while the they spout their rhetoric at parties and family gatherings. We are polite people by nature, so we don't like to rock the boat.
We need to stop hiding behind our polite smiles and our silence and speak up. Especially now, when our freedom is at very real risk, we must say who we are and be proud of it. I don't advocate rudeness; we should always talk about our conservative opinions in a respectful manner. We can reveal ourselves in other ways as well.
We can wear clothing, like the shirts made by Cool Conservative, an Eden Prairie company. You could drink your coffee out of a Cool Conservative mug. This company has made conservative wear you can be proud to own and that isn't offensive to anyone.
Or you can put a bumper sticker on your car. If you don't want to mess up your bumper, put it in your window. I have one that reads, "Women deserve better than abortion" from Feminists for Life. A liberal I know declared that a car bumper is no place for a discussion about abortion. But until we can just come out and talk about it, I think a bumper is a place to start--and anyway, I don't take orders from anyone.
We have to start somewhere. We need to find each other. We need to band together. We need to be strong, now more than ever, and there is strength in numbers.
Open your mouth. Put on a T-shirt. Put a Sarah Palin book on your coffee table. As for me, I think I'll put that bumper sticker on my car.