Why I Get Involved

I am Leondray Gholston. I am a husband, father, citizen, and GOP activist. I’ve worked on and or managed several campaigns with great success. I believe Colorado Republicans have suffered needless defeat upon defeat of late. The remedy for our condition is sound leadership, solid vision, and service above self mentality to make that vision reality. I believe I possess all three qualities. I believe freedom is a most precious right granted by the Creator. We must guard our freedom vigorously and be especially watchful of government. Together we can take control of our government and restore common sense to our laws.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Heads We Win... Tails We Win

There seems to be an internal war being waged with the very soul of the Republican Party at stake. In the wake of November's nearly complete collapse of the Republican Party in Colorado and even nationally, the battle lines are drawn. On one side stand the social conservatives and on the other, the fiscal conservatives. Each side claims to understand better than the other how to galvanize the party faithful and to advance the Republican standard. Each side blames the other for being too orthodox in their thinking or not Republican enough in their attitudes. We appear to desire and openly call for a mutual excommunication of sorts. Over the last three election cycles we have become masters of the "circular firing squad" and our aim is deadly accurate. I say enough is enough.

The Republican party is not a monolithic entity. There are various, independent, and equally relevant points of view. Typically these reduce down to social and fiscal conservatism. We must understand that each of these are but two sides to our Republican coin. We must further realize a coin that is blank on one side isn't worth a dime. Republicans in either camp are inextricably linked together. Imagine a Republican party without social conservatives. Where would the backbone, moral compass, and courage come from? Were the fiscal conservatives to be jettisoned, who would pay the bills, cut taxes, and meet the budgets? Each side places a high premium on self-determination, individual freedom, and providing greater opportunities for all. I believe firmly that jointly these two schools of thought are what is best about and best for this Republic. Any attempt to discredit or diminish one side or the other serves only to push the entire party toward oblivion. We must change our way of thinking and quickly or the last three election cycles will be appetizers preceding the entree of Republican defeat in years to come. We must learn to be and to trust Republicans. We must offer the greater electorate the whole coin of Republicanism. When the currency of a united Republican party is placed before the people, the "side" of the coin will not matter. With our principles and practices, whether from the obverse side with social conservatives or from the reverse side with fiscal conservatives, we will carry the day. In short, heads we win tails we win. Frankly I like the odds.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Other side of the Pancake"

“No matter how flat a pancake may seem, there are always two sides”. Unknown

This rural colloquialism illustrates exactly where Black Americans find themselves with respect to the greater political landscape of today’s America.
When one looks at a pancake on a piping hot griddle, a person can easily assume or take for granted that there is nothing more than what meets the eye. However what is almost always missed is what is going on just beneath the seemingly calm exterior. Heat and steam build terrific pressure causing batter to bubble and violently burst the surface. Subsequently the chef then realizes that it is now time to see the “other side of the pancake”.
Well I think that with the recent “bursting” to the surface by Black Conservatives it is now time for this nation and in particular my brothers and sisters in the Black community to see the “other side” of the American political pancake and our storied yet heretofore hidden history.
For far too long the overwhelming majority of Black Americans have almost unwaveringly supported people, policies, practices, and platforms that are at best incongruent with our values, and in the worst case constitute the primary obstacle between us and the complete realization of our freedom in this nation. Simultaneously we harbor unfounded mistrust and deny the sacred history between us and the people, policies, practices, and platforms that have and will most benefit our community. The true social and political legacy of Black Americans almost never sees the light of day.
In the interest of full disclosure I offer the following information: I am Black, Catholic, and Republican. I am not a trust-fund baby and I have almost always had a job. Now that we have that out of the way we can explore some of the reasons behind my point of view.
I stated that the majority of the Black community supports people, policies, practices, and platforms that are not in line with our values. For clarification of this point I offer a page from my own upbringing. As a child, my playmates and I had certain principles drilled into us. There were many. However the most common and universal lessons were those about personal accountability, faith, family, education, and work ethic. These lessons came in various forms but here are my most vivid recollections.
An older cousin found some matches and encouraged us to make “flaming paratroopers”. Granny caught us; my defense was “he made me do it”. My Granny responded with “can he make you jump off a bridge?” she immediately answered herself with “no because you know better than that just like you know better than to play with matches.” She drove her point “and us” home with a switch. To this day I believe that this lesson was less about fire and more about not blaming others for your condition or “personal accountability”.
We were also taught from very early on “a man without faith and family was no man at all”. We were taught to never deny or be ashamed of our devotion to God. I for one still believe that faith and family are the “mortar and brick” this nation is built on.
As for education and work ethic, no one expressed and lived this example for me than my grandfather. He worked 6am-6pm Monday-Friday. Sometimes he even worked 6am-12pm on Saturday. In the fall during harvest he often worked until 9pm. I never witnessed him miss an hour of work due to health issues or even poor weather. With fever or during hailstorms, flooding, or 125F heat he was in that cotton field. When I was about 13 I mentioned the preceding to him and I asked him why he worked so hard? He had two replies that seemed odd to a child but are now guiding principles for the man I am. He said he worked so hard because “in life no one owes you anything except an honest chance”. He further stated that “when a Blackman gets that chance he must be 5 times as good to be seen as equal”. The second thing he said was “I couldn’t go to school like you kids can, if I could only read I’d be a millionaire!” These are the principles and experiences that guide my professional, personal, and political undertakings.
My point is twofold. First I was not alone in how I was raised. Second there is but one political party and platform that most matches my upbringing. Hint it is not the party that most Black Americans vote for. Furthermore almost every advancement of our people has come with and due to the support of one political party. Hint number two it is not the party of the Congressional Black Caucus. The seldom spoken truth is that it has been Republicans as individuals and as a party that have made the national advancement of Black people possible.
From 1863 to present and every era in between, Republicans have been partners with black Americans. With President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation an undeniable relationship was forged between Blacks and the GOP. This partnership did not stop with emancipation it continues to this day. It has produced the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments, the Ku Klux Klan act, several civil rights acts (starting in the 1800s) the Civil Rights Commission, the NAACP, and the EEOC. In fact it was the hated Richard Nixon that received a young reverend by the name of Martin Luther King jr. on his first trip to the White House. It was that same Richard Nixon that is responsible for a little something called Affirmative Action. This is but a fraction of the accomplishments of Republicans on behalf of Black Americans. This list as impressive as it is does not include the rolls of Black Republican elected officials and Cabinet Secretaries. Not only in the administration of George W. Bush but as far back as Reconstruction. Through the last century and a half it has been my party the party of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, James Weldon Johnson, and Colin Powell that has led the way for our people.
I’ve also stated that our support of certain people, policies, practices, and platforms has become our chief obstacle in our plight to achieve complete freedom in America. For confirmation of this one needs only to look at the principles guiding the two primary political entities in America today.
One platform states that to acknowledge the presence of God and religious principles in our founding documents is both reasonable and healthy for our Republic. The other platform attempts at every turn to hide and erase the rich legacy and heritage of faith in this nation. One platform recognizes and champions the family as the building block of our society. The other platform readily supports and pushes extreme notions and concepts onto the electorate in attempts to alter what is only reasonable. One-platform asserts that since education is compulsory and necessary to reach one’s full potential, all children must have access to the best education possible. Furthermore all educators and institutions must meet the high standard of excellence we desire for our children. The other platform has a vested interest not necessarily in our children but in the “institution” of education as a donor and constituent. One platform understands the desires of an individual worker and his or her hopes to one day go into business for himself or herself. Through a reduction in taxes and a pro-growth approach to the economy this person can more easily move from employee to employer. The other platform at its core is predicated on the principle of the redistribution of wealth.
So you see, with reckless abandon many Black Americans have unwittingly (I hope) supported, strengthened, and nourished the very breastwork that impedes our people from assuming our rightful place in all areas of the glorious fabric that is American society.
When will the day come when Black Americans search for and find the truth about our history and finally see the “other side of the pancake?”

Monday, June 23, 2008

Calendar of Calamity

Just as each year is divided into months and seasons, so is the calendar of calamity for our party. Our seasons are: the winter of Confusion, spring Delusion, summer Hubris, and last the fall. The twelve months of the year are represented by a corresponding malady we Republicans seem to face each year.

Imprimis, we look at January, February, and March. These months comprise the winter of Confusion for Republicans and are removed in favor of Foundation Vision, and Marketing.
In our first month we try aimlessly to shift or change our “Foundation”. We tend to look for greener grass on the left, right, and center of the political fence line. This identity crisis is the genesis of the resentment and intra-party fighting that sets the stage for our “November surprise” each year. We can’t we simply be the party of freedom, limited government, lower taxes, even lower spending, and of strong defense?
The focus of month two is Vision. We want a unified vision and try desperately to craft one. However, if we are not standing atop of our true platform or foundation, we will be unable to see the obstacles and stumbling blocks ahead. Our vision is all but useless because it does not take into account nor is it rooted in who and what Republicans are. Subsequently, we fall into a minefield through which a vision devoid of the benefit, of proper foundation cannot possibly navigate.
Month three is marketing (or the lack thereof). If any company or corporation marketed itself as poorly as we Republicans do of late, that business would fold like a cheap dinner napkin. For some reason we as a party have an allergic reaction when it comes time to tell good news. Bill Clinton sang about low unemployment rates so much that some people in unemployment lines probably thought things were not as bad as they seemed. Republicans must learn to speak loudly when mentioning their accomplishments both historical and current if we are ever to return to superiority on Election Day.

Secondary, comes the spring of Delusion. Of the four seasons and twelve reasons, this spring and its months may be the most destructive of all. April, May, and June have been renamed Penumbra, Triassic and Cannibalism.
Penumbra, Ronald Wilson Reagan is dead. “Long live Ronald Reagan”! As a party we have become transfixed on the legacy of President Reagan. We appear wholly incapable of moving past this one brilliant man and moment in our party and nation’s history. No one of any serious intellectual ability can deny the greatness that was Ronald Reagan. However, standing in his shadow and constantly fighting over who can out “Reagan” whom is has a crippling affect on our party. Reagan’s greatest legacy was not the demise of communism, a 600 ship Navy, or even conservatism. His greatest legacy was a potent concoction of conviction and individualism. This was what gave him the guts to leave the caucus of the Democrats and to advance the conservative Republican banner to its apex. If we continue to try and “out Reagan” each other, let that competition be fought in the arena of advancing principles not invoking a great but dead man’s name.
Where there was May, there is now Triassic. Why May and why Triassic? Many states seem to hold their assemblies and conventions during this month. I have noticed a strange proclivity for our party to turn back the clock and attempt to resurrect candidates. Though I am firm believer in the wisdom of elders, there is something to be said for the new kid or kids on the block as well. It is one thing to for an elder statesman or woman to seek another office. It is a horse of an entirely different color to have young candidates and not support them because they are untested or not widely known. We must realize that unknown is not synonymous with unable or incapable. The sphere of Republican influence is best increased when the reins of power and the collective mantle of leadership extend to all Republicans.
Cannibalism rounds out our GOP spring. The term is quite self-explanatory. We eat our own. This does not always take the form of a nasty, protracted, primary. Quite often, the eating of Republican young is a function of what I like to call negative networking. For example, a candidate for a State House or Senate district is introduced at a Lincoln Day Dinner. Then a potential donor or constituent expresses curiosity in that candidate. This interest and possible support is quickly crushed with a comment such as, “I don’t know if I’d die on that hill” or commentary casting aspersions on the individual’s work ethic, respective to campaigning. The words viability and “electability” usually work their way into the conversation. No matter what phase or course of action is chosen, the well has been poisoned for that candidate. There is room for disagreement among candidates and ideologies. However, I say there is no room for a Republican to obstruct the path of another Republican by any means other than a civil, non-accusatory, exposition of the fundamental principles, and practices of each. Anything else creates rifts, factions, and intra-party strife, ultimately resulting in our own demise.

Moving ever forward on our calendar, spring delusion gives way to the summer of Hubris.
Beginning this season is the month of Hypocrisy. As a whole we Republicans love to say things like party of family values, fiscal responsibility, and less government. These are the buzzwords and catch phrases that seem to be omnipresent in our platforms and talking points. What is our record with respect to these issues? Well, in a word horrible. Think of the scandals of the last few cycles. Forget about the Democrats our focus is our house. The people know that adultery and other nefarious behavior runs contrary to family values. In like manners the electorate also knows that Referendum C is not in accordance with fiscal responsibility, and adding entire departments to the federal government is not the best way to limit that or any government. We lose with the people because we have lost the peoples unqualified trust that we will do and be what we say we are.
Money stands in the stead of August. One of our favorite things to do is to offer donor fatigue as the reason GOP coffers end up filled to less than capacity. We also make the mistake judging the efficacy of each candidate by the amount of money raised. In some instances further help from Republican entities because of low cash levels is denied. Yes fellow Republican, you are having a tough time let me slam the door in your face and then complain when the Democrat takes the seat. We must grow out of this practice. With respect to donor fatigue, there are 1.1 million Republicans in Colorado. If every one of us wrote one fifty-dollar check every first day of January, our party would have $110 million dollars every election cycle. The trouble is getting Republicans to believe they will get fifty dollars a year worth of Republican governance.
Diligence is the last of our summer months. This is simple. We fail to press home the attack. We get off message and forget that answering an opponent’s attack drains valuable resources and must never take precedence over securing more exposure for our candidates and platforms. We must always drive the agenda, set the pace, and define both the race and our opponent. We stop telling our story during this month. When we do try and tell our story during this time it is usually to other Republicans. This too is a waste of precious resources. Of course we want to turn out the GOP vote and get energy and excitement into our campaigns. However, just as with answering attacks to the ninth degree, we waste time and money selling republicanism to Republicans.

Our last season has no special name. Fall is more than accurate to describe what happens to us. It is in this season that our political demise becomes complete.
Our first month is credit. At this point in the year we tend to reach back to hallowed antiquity, to draw on the reserves of successes from yesteryear. The campaign season is in full swing and we often seek to clothe our own candidacies with articles from previous races. We seem to not understand that claiming or putting on the “mantle of Lincoln or Reagan” does not grant you special powers to win an election. Often we treat the legacy of our predecessors as if they were giant credit cards. This is a practice that must stop. Where is the trailblazing freedom loving spirit that created this third party of ours? In the second installment during this month we give the electorate credit in excess. In no means am I suggesting that the people are not capable of grasping issues. I am saying that most people have a hard enough time getting to and from work, paying the rent, and keeping food and shoes in adequate supply. When we become candidates we must take the responsibility of telling and explaining who and what we are and how and why we should govern. We can no longer afford to give people “ credit” with respect to being able to research issues and or candidates.
Replacing November is the month of Constantine. I call it Constantine because “IN HOC SIGNO VICENT” is a bit lengthy. In 325 A.D. one of the two contestants seeking to rule the Roman Empire received a vision. In his vision God tells him that, “Under this sign you will conquer”. The sign was an X with a P superimposed. This is a representation of the Christ. Well it turned out to be true; Constantine conquered and Rome became a Christian empire. We members of the GOP behave in the same manner. Though many of our candidates and much or our membership are quite religious “self included” the capital letter “R” is not a mandate from the Most High. It is however, a representation of a political choice and philosophy. Being a republican is a charge. Though not necessarily from the Lord, this charge comes from ones own heart and can be almost as compelling. What we have to remember is that, though an honor, being a Republican alone neither guarantees nor entitles us to victory. December, the time for Christmas wishes and looking backward at the previous year is known as Bench on our calendar. For several reasons this name fits better than any other for December. For example, if I had one Christmas wish for Colorado Republicans it would be that we would develop a “bench” of young and capable lions and lionesses to advance our standard, our philosophy and our way of life into the proceeding generations. Where is the future of this party? Have we exhausted our supply of leadership so quickly? Who stands to lift the jack of free enterprise, less government, fiscal responsibility and individual rights? A strong Republican “bench” must be developed for freedom’s sake. Also the bench can be interpreted as the seat of judgment. We cannot escape the ruling of history. Tomorrow’s leaders will write today’s legacy. We must raise and instruct today the leadership of tomorrow. This is not the time to allow a myopic view to prevail and keep us from ensuring that the state of the future and the future of the state is a bright and prosperous one. Our state motto is “Nothing without Providence”. These words could very easily read “nothing without preparation”. We stand today on the brink of insignificance, at the edge of nothing. We must prepare and equip a new generation to lead and arm them with our freedom centric values.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My View on the "Big Tent"

Everyone that is the least bit politically informed has heard the phrase the “Big Tent” at least once. The interpretations of what this concept actually suggests is as varied as the people who come up with them.
To some the idea of a tent (big or otherwise) appeals to them because you can pick it up and move it to any place or position one might like. For others a political “Big Tent” works because you can add a new stake seemingly anytime you would like. Still others embrace the “Big Tent” idea because unlike bricks, mortar, and marble a tent does not restrict to the choice of either being inside or outside of the structure. In addition to these there are a myriad of other reasons for and interpretations of the “Big Tent”. I have my own conceptualization of how the “Big Tent” looks, feels, and functions.
Imprimis, this is not an Army issued, two-person, simple shelter. You cannot just roll it up and forget about it. This tent holds our collective governing philosophy and guiding principles.
Every tent has something in it to hold it upright. Ours is no different. I believe our tent is given structure by four key pillars. Each pillar is as imposing and steadfast as a California Redwood and all are equally important. These pillars stand together and form the core of Republicanism. They are to:

Strengthen the free enterprise system
Optimize government to the lowest practical level
Advance fiscal responsibility
Protect the rights of the individual

These are the central issues at the heart of what it means to be a member of the Party of Lincoln. The Redwoods do not move with the political wind or change what they are to please onlookers no matter what their number. They simply stand together year after year, age after age, as a testament to the unity of and to serve as a rallying point for those who take refuge beneath them.
The covering of our tent and is equally impressive. Believe it or not it is not red; it is in fact a quilt of a patchwork design. It is a broad as the canopy of heaven that spans Atlantic to Pacific. In this patch-worked canopy are found items such as our Declaration of Independence and its “inalienable rights” granted not by government rather by the Divine. Though not a law we know this document to be the kernel that has yielded the immense bounty that we continue to reap. Our covering is also patched together with our supreme law of the land, our Constitution and her Amendments. This was the great experiment that we have been chosen by our rights and compelled by conscience to perform and perfect. Faith is also in the covering of the “Big Tent”. Though sometimes a controversy, we do not exclude faith from our midst. Not one faith rather the collective right of each to believe and worship as he or she sees fit or not to worship at all, this is part of our covering. Personal responsibility, accountability, and self-determination are in our quilt as well. We republicans do not want anyone else to “do it for us”; we just want everyone else (especially government) to stay out of our way while “get it done”.
This canopy is held and pulled tight by individual cords. Some of these cords are but are in no ways limited to the: women cord, conservative cord, the Christian cord, the Jewish, Black, Asian, Hispanic, moderate, pro-life, pro-choice, centrist, and proservative cords. Each cord is tied to a different stakes of our individual and collective experience, preference, and conscience. These stakes are anchored in our resolve to defend them and they act as lifelines to keep the whole party grounded and in touch with itself.
I suppose an accurate summary might be: the “Big Tent” that is the Republican party is filled with people who have a common set of freedom enhancing principles, united by a healthy respect for the rule of law, are fiercely independent and cherish the right of self-determination as much as freedom. This is what the “Big Tent” is about. It is not a tagline or some transient turn of phrase. It is the very life of our party.
We as Republicans have to remember to enter our meeting tent and get reacquainted with what makes us who and what we are. I believe our pillars make us Republicans and make the idea of our “Big Tent” possible.