This is a bit of advice from an old hand at Redstate. Go to the Gathering, if you can manage it, to have your own Nikki Haley moment.
At the first Redstate Gathering I got the chance to meet, among others, a relatively unknown candidate named Nikki Haley. I had never seen her before. I think she was at about 10% in the polls — it might be more than that, but she was not the front runner and her nomination was highly unlikely.
She spoke at the Gathering. What a speech! Full of personal history and conviction, it appealed to me as a husband, father, taxpayer and American. At the time, I wrote of her:
Head. Over. Heels. A beautiful lady with a soft South Carolina accent and the grit of [then Redstate moderator] Thomas Crown. She said what I wish every other Republican would say: it’s the spending.
I got a chance to talk to her at length at a mixer after she spoke. Had her opponents in South Carolina brought race and religion into the campaign? Yes, they had, but politics is not for the faint of heart.
If you don’t mind my asking, what religion are you? I personally don’t care, because all of the Hindu people I know are good, moral citizens — my demand of a public official is that he or she has a religious faith, so I can draw some conclusions about how they will behave in office. There are no guarantees, of course.
She explained gracefully that her parents are not Hindu but of the Sikh religion. She became a Christian at about the time she got married. Her straightforward answers convinced me that her conversion was real and of the heart, not some political contrivance. I know what a convert sounds like. She is one.
Later in the campaign some supporters of her opponents came to Redstate to charge her with the High Crime of maintaining a non-Christian religion (and probably secretly wearing head coverings on her secretly illegal alien head, as well). I was able to relate the above conversation, and characterize it as a profession of faith. You see, I believe that one person’s claiming Christ as her own is the same as any other’s. Who am I, and who are you, to say otherwise?
It felt good, really good, to defend the ideals of a woman I had heard defending mine. It was also extremely disappointing to have to do so.
It might be coincidence, but the attacks on her religion at Redstate seem to have stopped then and there. Perhaps it was my comment, or perhaps it was the moderators suggesting it. I like to think it was me.
I won’t get the chance to relate that story to Nikki, because I can’t afford the time or expense to attend the Gathering this year. But I suggest that you attend, fellow Redstater, and have your own Nikki Haley moment. I don’t know what it will be — nor even if it will be with Nikki — but I assure you, it will be worth the effort.