"A believer in Christ,
a servant of the Lord God,
A teacher of what I know,
and a man on a journey to light
Is what I think I am,
and if I am not that yet,
That is what I hope to be."
I found these words unattributed in a Word document on my father’s computer last June - the day after he passed to glory. I do not know if he wrote them or found this poem in a long forgotten book, but they describe him completely. If they are not from his hand, they might as well be. From the time of Barry Goldwater until the end, he spent his life fighting for his beliefs – as a Christian first and as a Conservative second - never surrendering his ideals, no matter the consequences.
With 2017 (the worst year of my life) now gone, it seems that now is as good a time as any for some reflection. So, please bear with me in this article as I do that here.
As I planned his funeral arrangements, the question crossed my mind - why we do what we do as conservative activists? Do any of our efforts matter when we pass from this life? What are we leaving behind?
We fight day after day from trench to trench, but it often feels that we slip backwards even when we advance. Often, victories feel pyrrhic and losses insurmountable.
How many campaign promises have our elected Republican champions in D.C. broken over the years? How many marriage referendums did we win in the 2000’s, only to have the Supreme Court make a mockery of the will of the people? How many pro-life bills have been shredded by ludicrous rulings, only to be met by shrugs in Washington D.C.? And on and on. How many times can our hearts stand the disappointment of our work being thrown away?
As conservatives, we sacrifice personal and professional opportunities to go campaign, taking time away from our families to knock on doors, phone bank, put out signs, etc. Yet often it feels like we lose even when we win. Why not go home, enjoy our short time on this Earth, and forget it all? Why do we continue fighting? I ask as a campaign operative, who rose to be a state Co-Chair for Ted Cruz 2016. In the face of death, they’re questions worth asking.
It can’t be for immediate policy success alone. The scarcity of conservative legislation in recent years is proof of that. And even
when we gain some small political victory, we still see the culture slipping away.
We don’t do it for the money. Amongst conservatives, almost no one is paid to fight. Only a few will ever earn a paycheck. Like many, I have always volunteered my services, because I believed in my candidates and what they stood for. We are not liberals, who astroturf protests or draft union members to canvas the city. Most of us pay to participate. We pay with our time, campaign donations, sore feet, and broken friendships.
If not these, then what? If it is for something greater – a higher, more noble cause – let us ask what is it, because recently it seems some have forgotten it.
Often we get so lost in the minutia of the 24/7 news cycle that the tempest of life sweeps us off our bearings. We forget there are larger things at stake than tweets and clickbait and R vs D.
In this world, there is right and wrong, revealed by our conscience, the natural world, and God’s Word. Right remains right, and wrong remains wrong regardless of political expediency. In the struggle for power, it is easy to throw away moral clarity, since that is what the culture encourages. After all, we are told to think of all the good we can do if we just compromise here and there to win the next election. Without a vision for the country based on our Judeo-Christian heritage and conservative philosophy though, there is no route to a better America – one that is great regardless of the man in the Oval Office.
Headlines are fleeting, but as conservatives, we fight for something more lasting. We fight for what is just and good whether we win or lose. We fight for our families, those we love, the helpless, the unborn, the lost and confused. We fight to preserve an inheritance passed down by men and women greater than ourselves.
America was born from the self-sacrifice of our Founding Fathers, who risked certain death to establish a nation founded in liberty. They fought against far worse odds than we do and suffered far greater hardships. Many died on the battlefield. Some had their houses burned down, others died in poverty, and some were even tortured to death. Injustice and unfair taxation initially motivated them towards rebellion, but it was the pursuit of their God-given rights that was worth fighting and dying for.
Through them, God has entrusted a heritage of faith and virtue to us. Just like the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), our duty is to preserve and grow that inheritance, teaching the next generation. “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Matthew 25:29
I live in the world my father helped shape, if even just a little. Our choices will shape the world our children inherit. It’s a blessing from God to have the opportunity to make that world a better one.
We will never know the full impact of our actions, at least not in this life. My father certainly didn’t. Even if we fail in our immediate goals, perhaps we can shape the landscape to give our children the opportunity to restore the lost glory this generation has squandered.
If we hold our conservative beliefs seriously, let us fight for them fiercely, no matter the odds or the outcome. Then, let us teach them to others and allow the righteousness of God to be “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
This was the case for my father. He was a man of deep Christian faith and conservative ideals. He spent his life aiding others and in pursuit of a greater reward that is not of an Earthly treasure. As a physician, he placed the well-being of his patients first. He rejoiced with them in good times and comforted them in hard times. He despised wicked men who mistreated the innocent – thieves, conmen, adulterers, blasphemers, abusers, etc. – and never hid his contempt for their sin. He preferred that people would say he was honest and just rather than rich and powerful. I am blessed he taught me to follow in his footsteps.
My father spent his life fighting for conservative principles, unknown and unheralded like countless others. Like most of us, he never sought political glory. He had no ego in it. Despite having three professional degrees and being a former examiner for the American Board of Ophthalmology, he never avoided grunt work such as trudging through farm fields to put up campaign signs
in the dead of winter. (Though, I am proud to say I helped him get elected as a Cruz delegate to the Republican National Convention.)
But even if he had achieved all the political success in the world, what good would it have been when life was over? A plaque? A road named after him? In death, what good are these? A dead man cannot appreciate a monument built to him. No, his lasting legacy would have still been the same one that he holds now. Let people say he feared God and loved others.
He fought for principles greater than himself without fear of failure or retribution. In doing so, he held the Faith until the end, aided those in need, and taught others to do the same. That is what ultimate success looks like.
In my eyes, he was and always will be my best friend and the greatest of men, and I pray that I can be half the man he was. I can only hope I have a son one day, who sees me in the same light and can say the same of me.
Until I see him again…
“\*For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.*
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!\*”*
Job 19:25 - 27