about the author, and why the book?
This book is about the core principles of conservatism. Unfortunately, many think that conservatism is simply white males protecting that which they’ve taken from society. As a white male, I thought it best to share some of my experiences so you can put the rest of this book in the proper context.
Many believe that it’s easy to be a conservative if you’re a white male because white males run society. They would say that because I’m a white male, everything I have was handed to me. They’d say I’ve never faced adversity, never met anyone outside of my own fraternity (which I didn’t join), and I don’t know or care about others.
Many might look at my own life experience and conclude these things about me.
In the interests of full disclosure, I think it best to share some of my background - the events that affirmed my worldview.
I was born in 1969, youngest of four, and grew up in a middle-to-upper-middle class white suburb of Milwaukee. Our family was pretty normal by Midwest standards. My parents are both conservative and are still married. We went to Catholic Church on Sunday. I tried out for many sports and made the team every time - on merit (or, more likely, potential…), as far as I could tell.
I grew up reading Marvel comics - mostly Spider-man. This is worth including because it reinforced a sense of justice in me that would guide me most of my adult life.
There weren’t many minorities in our community. There were a handful of Asians and Hispanics. There were also a few black kids in my high school - including two brothers who both skipped numerous grades and graduated years early. Granted, I wasn’t that politically aware back then, but I’m unaware of any special favors or treatment that allowed them to graduate early. Nor can I recall anyone standing in their way or having any issues with their skipping grades. In fact, it appeared both had many friends. They earned their accomplishments, and people were pretty proud of and happy for them.
During my sophomore year, I dated a Filipino girl who I would remain close friends with to this day. (Incidentally, to my knowledge, she remains a liberal.)
Being one of the two fastest people in my school, I was asked, along with two other members of our track team, to join the Milwaukee Striders. At that time, the Striders were a track club run by Joe Sims in downtown Milwaukee. We were a little worried going to practice for the first time because it was in a “bad” part of Milwaukee.
When we arrived, we were the only three white people on the team, coaches included. We went on to make several good friends and go to Nebraska for the Junior Olympics. Overall, it was a great experience at an early age.
Many stories stick out about high school, as I’m sure is the case for most all of us. One day, I was walking out to the bus, and a bunch of seniors were picking on some freshman kid. They were throwing snowballs at him and not letting him on the bus. I stood up to them and made them stop, but by that time, the kid had run off. I was getting a ride from friends, so we drove around the grounds until we found him. We invited him in, and gave him a ride home. You can thank Spidey for that one.
The day after I graduated from high school, I moved to San Francisco to live with my brother. There, I had two gay roommates who exposed me to an entire culture I had never known. While there, I worked at Monster Cable with a group of Vietnamese guys - one of whom spoke solid English with the rest of the guys speaking broken or no English. I was tasked with auditing and improving their shipping process.
We got to know each other well, and became fast friends. Our working relationship, while challenging with the language barrier, was fantastic and memorable.
While at Monster Cable, I met a black woman who would become both an important mentor and one of my best friends to this day. She befriended me, and we worked a lot together that first summer. I came back the next summer to work for her directly.
She taught me a lot about life, and still does. One lesson that sticks out to me is fairly simple. If you want something, find out who can give it to you, and ask them for it. There was a poster in a bus stop that I wanted. It was for a Disney film. I mentioned to her that I wanted it, and she said, “well, call them and ask them for it.” It sounded so obvious, but I had never thought of it. I called Disney, and a few days later, I had a copy in the mail.
My junior year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I spent the year abroad in Warwick University in Coventry, England. There was never any desire in me to study abroad, but the opportunity came up, and I’ve always been of the mindset that if an opportunity to do something presents itself, I should seize it. When I start thinking of those who don’t have such opportunities, I feel it’s my responsibility to take them and make the most of them. So I went.
At Warwick, I met men and women from all over the world. I heard dozens of languages and met people of cultures from everywhere. There were many conversations, debates and arguments about subjects personal and political. It was a milestone in my development.
While there, I traveled all over Europe and made it into the Soviet Union. This was 1990 into 1991 - shortly after the Berlin Wall fell. In those days, President Reagan had referred to the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire. With that as my knowledge of Russia, I was somewhat anxious about traveling there.
When I got there, I learned an important lesson about people. People are generally the same wherever you go. Most don’t want trouble. They only want happiness, good friends and good meals with as little conflict as possible in life.
I had never made the distinction until then, but Reagan wasn’t saying that the people in Russia were evil. He was saying that a Communist form of government was evil because it made people slaves of the government and sapped their ability to pursue and achieve their potential. According to everyone I met and spoke to in Russia, this was all too true.
Upon my return for my last year of college, I decided I wanted a job with a Major League Baseball organization. After getting written rejection from most teams, I decided to get in my car and drive down to St. Louis, one of the remaining teams who had yet to reject me. When I got there, I drove right to the stadium and asked to meet with the head of Public Relations.
After telling the woman at the front what it was about, and that I had driven 5 hours to see the man without an appointment, she returned from talking with him and said to come back the next day at 9am. By the time that meeting was over, I was set to spend my summer working for the Cardinals.
After college, I moved back to San Francisco and worked in movie promotion for 6 months before I settled in at PC World magazine. At PC World, I worked for three women and one man. Two of those women would turn out to be two of the best managers for whom I would ever work. Experts in their field and able to get the most out of everyone around them, they would form my approach to business.
One day, while waiting for a bus home from work, I heard a scream telling me to stop the man that was about to go sprinting by me. So I threw my bag into the bushes and ran after him. Instead of tackling him, I ran up next to him and told him I could follow him all night and to drop whatever he took. He dropped a wad of cash, and I let him go. It turned out he pushed a woman and robbed a store. The cash was returned, and I had lived up to my sense of responsibility and justice (thanks again, Spidey).
After meeting my future wife in San Francisco, we moved to Madison, WI for 11 years. While there, I worked for ten years at the newspaper, and we had a child. With ten years in at the newspaper, I decided to take a chance on a mature start-up and then a fresh one. Both failed, and I was left looking for a job.
Given the economy, we decided we’d better put the entire country into play. After a few misses, I found a job in Seattle, and we moved our family west, which brings us to today.
You may notice this recap has many mentions of ethnicities, sexual preference and gender. In normal conversation, I would have never made mention of or even noticed these things. But since I’m a conservative, I thought it important and relevant in laying the context for the rest of this book.
In my home and in my schools, race, religion, gender, etc was simply never mentioned. We weren’t told racism is wrong. We weren’t told Jews or Muslims were different from us or bad. They are all simply people, and all people are different. I did learn from my parents that humans are complex, and to think you know any of them without first talking to them for a while is simply wrong. And even then...
For reasons I don’t entirely understand, nearly all of my friends are liberal. I actually have very few conservative friends. But I love and enjoy my liberal friends with all of my heart. (Though it’ll be interesting to see how many I have once they see this book...)
I believe that many of those friends would consider themselves, in some way, conservative, if it hadn’t been for the years of liberal politicians saying at every turn that conservatives are so full of hate toward anyone who isn’t, essentially, a wealthy white male.
It sounds somewhat absurd, but consider that by the time many of us were born, it was already conventional wisdom in liberal circles and in the ever-growing liberal media that we could take for granted the evil nature and intentions of conservatives. (We can think the Republican Party, home of the worst marketing organization in the history of the world, for this persistent brand.)
So, that’s some of my background. Now you have an idea of what helped inform my worldview. Over the years, I’ve been exposed to a fair amount. While I realize that I may not have ever faced some of the discrimination or prejudice that others may have had to fight through, I’ve seen enough to know it exists.
This book was 20 years in the making. It’s about how conservatives see those challenges, and why we think our beliefs are legitimate and the best way to overcome the problems we all face. It’s about what we think is the best foundation upon which to run our society.
We’re all Americans, and we all want to be happy, liberals and conservatives alike. This is how conservatives think we can all achieve it.
Who am i really talking about?
I am a conservative, but I’m not a Republican. To me, Republicans (like Democrats) are a political party who dance around issues and try and say the right thing at the right time to ensure reelection and power.
Conservatives are not Republicans. When deciding between backing the Democrat Party and the Republican Party, many find themselves voting for the Republicans. But as evidenced by Obama’s election, conservatives will vote for anyone who espouses our philosophy. Obama often spoke like a conservative, even though his actions proved otherwise.
In my opinion, McCain was not a conservative. George W. Bush is not a conservative. George H.W. Bush is not a conservative. So when you use those people’s policies as examples of the failure of conservatism, know that more often than not, the policies you’re talking about are liberal policies.
Conservatism is a philosophy, not a party. Far from exclusionary, this book is about the gut-level ideas and intuition that leads us all to do what we do and believe what we believe. I hope if you read it, you’ll come to under- stand what conservatism is really all about and how it turns everyone’s pursuit of their own potential into benefits for all of society.