My Beloved Daughter,
Ronald Reagan ran for his second term as president in 1984. This Republican was an incredibly popular president . . . to everyone but our family. His opponent was Walter Mondale, a former Democratic Vice President (under Jimmy Carter, who Reagan had thoroughly spanked in the 1980 election). This election has a special place in my heart as the point when I first became interested in politics. I was nine.
I remember asking your Grandma Pat what the difference was between a Democrat and a Republican. Your sweet, naïve grandmother explained it thusly: “A Democrat takes from the rich and gives to the poor. A Republican takes from the poor and gives to the rich.” I could almost picture Mondale in the green hat with the feather, swinging in with his bow and emptying the coffers of the Sheriff, who looked a great deal like Reagan. If this was really how things were, how could any good person be a Republican?
I resolved to do more than understand things in this way. I resolved to become the best darned Democrat that I could be. I soon learned that Democrats were primarily liberal, so I studied that viewpoint. By the time I was in Junior High, I had adopted a worldview that, frankly, scared your grandparents—despite the fact that I was just becoming what your grandmother professed to being. I thought that guns were evil. I thought that the Government‘s responsibility was to rule us. I thought that a man should be able to be in love with another man and a woman with a woman. I thought that an unborn child was not a human. I thought Jesus didn’t belong in school.
An aside about that last line. I remember, in high school, the day of “See You at the Poles.” A day when people would gather around U.S. flags and prayed for our country. In my pre-Redeemed mind, I was offended to see my classmates flaunting their religion so thoroughly at our school when they did this in the front yard of the high school.
Back to telling this story in chronological order. My freshman year of high school, I had the honor of taking a public speaking class with the ever humorous Tim Hager. Mr. Hager was a young teacher at the time—in his mid-twenties. He was easy-going, joking . . . and conservative.
The two of us enjoyed a four-year political debate during my high school career. I remember laughing at him in glee when Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992. He took it in stride, but I now feel extremely bad about acting that way.
Mr. Hager was an intelligent man. He knew what he was doing. He knew that a person who examines the facts will feel more confident in his position. So he gave me a few assignments:
My freshman year, he assigned me a speech in which I was required to explain why Dan Quayle (George H.W. Bush’s Vice President) should be our next President. I came to realize that he was much more intelligent than we liberals had ever given him credit for.
In a debate class (Junior year), I was assigned a gun control debate in which I was against it. I came to realize that making guns legally harder to get would only hurt people who actually obeyed the law. Criminals are criminals because they break the law.
In the same class, I was given a debate in which I was supposed to show that stronger sentences for repeat criminals were good. I showed how the early release of a hundred criminals in Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois resulted in a tidal wave of violent, preventable crimes.
So, by the time I graduated from high school, my views were starting to change. But I still considered myself a Democrat. In 1992, when I was twenty-one years of age, I voted for Bill Clinton in his second term. He won.
Also that year, I began going to the Assembly of God church in Ellsinore, MO, where I became a Christian. The biggest thing that happened to me regarding my political views was that the minister who led me to Christ, Phil Tanner, challenged the congregation to read at least one chapter of the Bible every day.
I took to this last request with gusto. It took me well over a year, with me usually reading more than the requested number of chapters each day. I read the entire book of Romans in one day.
But, as we’ve always learned, God’s Word does not return void. By the time I had finished, Scripture had changed me. I had already started to become a secular conservative. But I was now a religious conservative, as well. You see, God decides what constitutes romantic love. So two men and two women should not be able to flaunt their passions in the face of God’s design. And God knew each of us in our mother’s womb, so abortion is nothing short of infanticide.
Over the years, I’ve also come to realize that the government should not control the citizenry. We, as adults, are supposed to do everything that we can to support ourselves because citizens who depend on the government for support are easier to control.
When your mother was pregnant with you, she couldn’t travel. So I had to go to my Ten-year class reunion alone. Tim Hager was there. I proudly told him that he was right and I had been wrong.
He told me that he would have waited a lifetime to hear those words from me.