Where to start as I wrap up my account of my "first" redstate gathering? Right where I left off in Day Two am. As I stood in line with the new friends, all of us fanning ourselves in the heat (Charleston in August! Really?), I could feel the excitement in the air, and it was easy to get caught up in it all. Press and scary looking security detail were everywhere. George Will breezed by. Not to say we actually felt a breeze. Did I mention it was hot? Just to say that Will looked in a hurry and wasn't stopping to chat with anyone. Certainly not us Hobbit looking conservatives. By the way, I was representin' the Hobbits the entire weekend by wearing a jute ribbon held together with a U.S. Flag pin (see picture in previous diary). Homemade and cost around $.35. I'm thinking about selling them at our next tea party. But back to the redstate party.
We scored some seats on the front row near the door through which Perry and family would enter and made another new friend, this one from Texas. She said she had been urging Perry to run for months. Having already heard some of the attacks on Perry, I asked her about the comparisons to the last President from the Lone Star State. She was pretty emphatic in her assertion that Perry is no George Bush. Before you could say Perry for President, the man himself entered the room to the refrain of Brooks & Dunn's Hard Workin' Man. Great campaign song. Easy to understand the lyrics, at least for 50% of the country.
Governor Rick Perry's announcement speech was everything a conservative could have asked for, starting with the "Howdy" and the moment of silence to remember our Navy Seals. His personal story is not unlike that of many conservatives I know around the same age. Hard-working parents who sacrificed for their children, often a dad or mom or both who served the country. Perry spoke of his love of family, God and freedom. This was not a speech of details, although it included a pretty good outline of do's and don'ts (do create jobs; don't go socialist), but there was no doubt about the conservative direction in which Perry wants to lead the country. Now, to be honest, I haven't made up my mind who I will vote for in the Alabama primary, but I can tell you that based on Perry's speech and everything I've read in the last few days (thank you izoneguy), coupled with what I've learned from folks I know in Texas, he's at the top of my list. I encourage you to watch his speech. As Hard Workin' Man blasted the room again, Perry exited stage left, shaking hands down the line. (One of my all-time pet peeves is a weak handshake. Thankfully, the Governor's was firm and steady.) And it was time for my moment. As we shook hands, like any good Alabama fan would do (especially considering the 2009 BSC AL vs. TX game because even though Perry is an Aggie, he is from Texas), I had to give a shout out to my home state and to my fellow redstate friends from Alabama (RepairManJack) in the best way possible, so in my best southern drawl with a smile on my face, I said, "Roll Tide, Governor!" (He laughed.)
<a href="">Roll Tide!
Now, at any other run of the mill political conference, you might think it was time to pack it in and head home, but not at redstate. There was more. Much more. Like the conversation with Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring and Max Pappas on the Balanced Budget Amendment. They hammered home the point that it's imperative to pay attention to any and every BBA that's introduced. Sure, the Dems may get on board with a BBA, but we must be vigilant in making sure that if we pass any BBA, it must be one with teeth.
I spent the next couple of hours listening to the candidates. Do yourselves a favor and take the time to listen to Don Stenberg, Ted Cruz, Adam Hasner, Michael Williams, and Richard Mourdock. Talk about diversity. Stenberg is a mid-westerner, Cruz is a Cuban who says y'all, Hasner was born to liberal, Jewish school teachers in Brooklyn but found his conservative roots through Reagan, Williams is a larger than life black conservative who worked the crowd like a preacher at a revival, and Mourdock who has a wicked sense of humor. But more important than their diversity is their commonality. They are all conservatives at heart, with conservative records, and they are proud of who they are. When they are elected in November, 2012, I'm going to be proud to say that I helped. Did I mention there wasn't a teleprompter in sight?
Next up was the conversation with Ben Domenech, Josh Trevino and Erick Erickson. Isn't is amazing what a couple of guys with a dream can accomplish? It's always fun to put a face with the names, and this was no exception. Egos must have been checked at the door because each of them was quick to give the others credit. And then they called in the cavalry - the front pagers who volunteer their time and talents. That pesky group of non-unionized workers who demand little but the opportunity to have their voices heard, who inform us, who entertain us, who encourage us, who represent us, who make us think, who debate us, and yes, who ban trolls and Luap Nor supporters. I think what surprised me most of all was how young they all seemed. I've commented elsewhere that redstate is my political family. It was fun to actually meet some of my political relatives like Tabitha Hale, a warm, engaging young woman whose prayers I felt when she wrote about the tornadoes in my home state a few weeks ago. Moe Lane, who is surely one of a kind. Aaron Gardner who, as I said before, had a smile on his face every time I saw him. And Erick, who holds the line and who took a couple of minutes out of his non-stop schedule to sign my copy of Red State Uprising. "To rightwingmom52. Keep fighting the good fight. Erick Erickson" Yes, I was a little star struck, but what's not to love about a group of fun-loving conservatives? Beats Hollywood any day of the week.
What better way to end the day than dinner and a movie? My new friends and I ended up sharing a table with a couple from Perry, Georgia. Having lived in Atlanta and then Macon for a while, I traded a few stories about my time there, but mostly we all talked about the various events of redstate and how we all plan to come back next year. We heard a few comments from Stephen Bannon, the director of The Undefeated. Then a few comments from Jamie Radtke, a tea party candidate running against George Allen, for Senator in Virginia. I can add little to Ben Howe's review "Palin" other than to say I agree with him 100%. Throughout the movie, I was alternately moved to anger, tears, and pride. Anger at the vicious, vile attacks on Sarah and her family. Tears by her passionate speeches about America's greatness. Pride because Sarah takes the punches for me and gives it right back to those who would destroy us. The crowd embraced Sarah all over again as evidenced by the applause throughout and the standing ovation at the end. I mentioned earlier that I had found another reason to be grateful to Andrew Breitbart. It's because he, in his own unique way, put to words what I had thought time and time again about those who stood by and watched the media and the liberals and the ignorant villify Sarah and did nothing. Policies and record aside, what I
had have in common with Sarah Palin is a love of my family, my freedom and my country. Every attack on her is an attack on me and every other conservative woman out there, and I agree with Breitbart that those who stood by and refused to defend Palin, the woman, are eunuchs, to use his words. Thank you Mr. Breitbart for taking on the bullies and chauvinists, and thank you, Mr. Bannon, for reminding us what the truth is about Sarah Palin.
And with that, RSG03 was over. I said goodbye to my new friends with promises to stay in touch (which we've already done through emails and Facebook). The last 36 hours had been a whirlwind of activity, and despite the late hour, I was wide awake, so I started reading my new copy of Senator DeMint's book, The Great American Awakening. Eye-opening but I finally got some sleep!
My last day in Charleston, Sunday morning, started the same as my first day. Alone with my thoughts. Normally, I would be at worship, but the timing of services and my flight home and the distance of church from the airport wouldn't permit, so I grabbed my vanilla latte and walked across to the park to read my Bible for a while. The days leading up to RSG03 were nothing if not depressing. The deaths of the Navy Seals (watch the moving interview with the family of TN native, Aaron Vaughn here), the downgrade, the stock market fall, etc., but I was done being Debbie Downer. I turned to Psalm 25 and read, "Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul, O my God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me." Then to Psalm 95, "In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land." Finally to Psalm 100, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands." My generation had gone to sleep, thinking that the greatest country on earth could withstand anything, but I've learned that she cannot withstand her citizens lack of awareness of those who would destroy her or lack of participation in the process through which we maintain our liberties. I sit idly no longer. I am engaged in the process, and I expect to be in the fight for a good bit longer. I am joyful in knowing that
I am we are not alone. I entitled this series "A Weekend of Firsts" because for the first time in a long time, I have a renewed sense of hope for my country and her future. We have a lot of bright, young stars out there who are armed and ready for the fight, figuratively speaking, of course. Plus we have the truth on our side. And we have redstate to help us get it out there. Now, when can I register for RSG04? I'm ready for seconds.