Try It, You’ll Like It (A Response)

(This comes in response to multiple editorials, diaries, news articles, and general mudslinging regarding Jeb Bush’s comment about nostalgia for the Reagan era.)

Not to be très stupide, but I took Jeb’s words in a completely different context.

Take another look at what is possibly his most scandalous point, only outside of the understandably defensive context in which it has been taken:

My reason for being here is that I think ideas have consequences and we that ought to have a thoughtful discussion about those ideas. And from the conservative side, it’s time for us to listen first, to learn a little bit, to upgrade our message a little bit, to not be nostalgic about the past — because, you know, things do ebb and flow, and it’s nice to remember the good old days when the good guys, if you’re a conservative, were in power. If you’re a liberal, you remember nostalgically when they were in power. None of that matters right now. What we need to do is to listen, to learn, and then there will be a new generation of leaders that will lead. Listen, learn, lead.

To not be “nostalgic about the past” is not the same as forgetting the past and disregarding history. Jeb Bush may be less than a bastion of Conservative might, but that does not render his point moot. He is right. We do need to have thoughtful discussions, and especially now, listen and learn about people not in our happy little tent. I haven’t been playing politics as long as some of you have, but I just escaped from liberal/squish hell, and if I learned anything, it’s that getting inside the head of the left depends upon lending an ear to what they’re thinking. That doesn’t mean agreeing, or being receptive, or trashing the Reagan doctrine, but it does mean taking a time out to consider how they’re thinking and why they’re thinking it. We need to keep Reagan in mind as we look forward, and formulate modern policy based on his core principles.

I cannot speak for the grown-up world quite yet, but I can speak for a chunk of my generation (and hopefully beyond…) and I know for a fact that the GOP’s message needs an update. I do not in any way advocate a shift to the center (reading my older diaries will make you well aware of this fact, so put down the small projectiles) but I do advocate tailoring the conservative message to current issues. It’s time to apply conservative values to the world we live in, instead of just focusing on what the lefties are up to on the Hill. Realize that it’s okay to sit down with a liberal and hash something out respectfully; if you’re talking to a person worth debating, the fact that you are interested in what they have to say will absolutely drive them wild. The way I see it, if someone—even someone whose beliefs are polar opposites of mine—is legitimately mad, or scared, or frustrated about what’s going on in this country, I want to hear about it. Hate the war in Iraq? Let’s hear about it! Feel like abortion should come down to a woman’s right to choose? Lay it on me! Think I’m a fascist loon who hates black people and women? Whatever, just be creative in your insults, if you please.

My point is, if you don’t listen to the people you represent, how can you possibly know what’s important to them? I have had respectful, insightful political debate with whites, blacks, immigrants, expats, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, anarchists, socialists, communists, Zionists, and one very friendly fascist, and the reason that those debates were respectful and productive was because I listened to what those people were telling me, instead of just passively hearing them. The key to winning this war is responding, instead of just sticking to just talking points, or just history, or just how the Left needs a reality check. It’s productive, I promise.

And I’ll just add, I never conceded one conservative point in four years, and I heard an awful lot of “Oh…I understand you now. I never thought about it that way before!”

Music to my ears!