Saturday, April 28, 2007

Man of Steele

Former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele is delivering a top-notch lunch address. He's asking, "Why do we let others define who we are in that way [as a conspiracy]?"

I heard Steele at a national conference for leaders of state homeschooling organizations. When legislation touching homeschooling was in consideration several years ago, Steele took the time over the course of a month to spend significant time with homeschooling families, really seeking to understand what they were doing and how it worked. He was convinced (I've often thought that those who actually know homeschoolers are almost always believers in the concept, even if they can't make that step for themselves).

That's not the topic this afternoon, but the story shows something of the thoughtfulness of the man as public servant.

Steele said his mother worked two minimum wage jobs for 45 years to make a home for her kids without government assistance, so she could raise her kids, "not the government."

Steele said that one week before the 2006 election, his governor Bob Ehrlich had a 60% approval rating, but on election day, only 48% voted for him. "There is a disconnect," he said, saying that the basic problem is that "We have left the principles of 1994," the "Gingrich Revolution" as Congressman Walter Jones called it a few minutes before.

He looks forward to a time "when each man and each woman is treated as an individual, and not as a member of a hypenated class."

He said we have to be able to communicate the difference "between giving hope and turning hope to action.

"Hope by itself is not a strategy," he said. "Every American has the opportunity to turn their hopes into action ... [and] we have to communicate the concept of ownership -- ownership of their business, ownership of their homes, ownership of their communities."

"Our challenge will not lie in defeating Democrats or liberals; our challenge will lie in not defeating ourselves.

"You and I should focus our energies on this consensus," he says. "I'm asking you to join in this cause and movement to create this mandate, that only opportunity can defeat dependence, and that it is better to elevate those in need rather than consigning them to dependence on that government.

"When that happens, we will 'glory in conflict, that we may exalt in victory,'" he closed, echoing a quotation by Frederick Douglass.*


*He said earlier, "Believe me, as an African-American Roman Catholic conservative Republican from Maryland, I know what conflict is about."


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