Sunday, January 11, 2009
Urban Conservatism Touches Michigan and the Global Market by Akindele Akinyemi
Today in urban, suburban and rural depressed areas people feel increasingly hampered by what we know to be the free markets and capitalism. Just because we have a few thieves, and a few more merchants of greed, do not actually represent the system of free enterprise, no more than people in my family's decisions and values represent my own.
The same could be said for those CEOs running these large corporations. Just because your title can say CEO does not necessarily mean you are a leader, nor one truly creating unique and empowering "value" within an institution or organization. Certainly, if your focus was money and short term profitability above all other considerations, you were lost from the very start.
Our children seek ways to get rich quick. What many of them do not understand is the fact that most fortunes were actually made on the back of an incredible idea, a lot of hard work, over a sustained period of time, and rooted in empowering and serving others.
In fact, most millionaires I have come in contact with over the years the focus was, remains and always will be "the power of the idea." Ideas is also what made America great, and every other great nation the world over.
These ideas should be presented to the next generation of urban conservatives in communities such as Detroit, Benton Harbor ad Highland Park with a silver rights platform.
Silver rights is not just for minorities but for those who want to seek to empower themselves. While urban areas are being impacted the worst in Michigan's economic crisis, which is increasing delivering unbelievable levels of personal pain on the average family today many concerned about a possible challenge against the modern model of capitalism and free enterprise itself in the short years ahead.
This is why I am passionate about urban conservatism within the framework of silver rights. You see the present Republican Party is still stuck on President Ronald Reagan. They are seeking answers from the graveyard. For example, I listened to the RNC debate last Monday on C-SPAN and I heard nothing significant from none of the candidates that are running for the RNC Chairman (on a side note I cannot believe that we do not have a WOMAN running for RNC Chair). To my disdain when asked who were their favorite conservative President they all said Reagan. Are we moving into the 21st century or are we going to take our party backwards to 1981?
Urban conservatism is wonderful because it is based on the power of an idea. The idea of reaching out to those who have been alienated due to Reaganism. This movement helped revitalize the GOP and ushered in a conservative era in the United States. However, my party has become stuck in its past, unwilling to change as the nation changes, and that past has become highly fictionalized. The KILLING part of this is most of the young people in the GOP do not even remember Reagan because many of them were born in the 80s. So Reagan is George Washington to many of our new and upstart young GOP leaders. Truth is Truth.
We have to be able to touch people and pray with those who are seeking to join in the big tent. Children in schools I often visit are intrigued about me being a Black man and Republican. These children are not kids who belong to Jack and Jill. These children come from the most deplorable conditions you can possibly find within the inner city. If the GOP want to create another generation of leaders don't just look into West Bloomfield but look at Muskegon, Ecorse, River Rouge, Detroit and Benton Harbor.
The reason why I can help students and parents connect with the GOP message is because I preach it under urban conservatism.
Last week in a K-8 school I visited in Highland Park I discussed how money and free enterprise works, and how each of these 8th graders could gain a measure of dignity and self-reliance for themselves, and their families too, by making it work for them. I was trying to educate these young people on what I believed would be the most important tool, or "idea," in and for their future lives. The hook was for me was to show them how the global market worked and how they could be empowered to work within it, and to their benefit.
Mind you there were several parents in the room when they heard me talk about this. At the end of the day the parents talked about how I was a "different" Republican and my message connected with them in a language they could understand.
Oftentimes you will hear me say education eradicates poverty. The strategy I used was this....if I could educate, empowered, give them the dignity of inclusion they would feel no need to feel threatened by the global market. The children realized that their real wealth was internal, not external.
Messaging is critical in urban communities. A weak message can lose votes for the GOP.
While many Republicans felt that Reagan was a good President our mistake in 2009 is focusing on him too much. To me, its a fashion in the Republican Party that is very narrow, when in reality there are many different forms of conservatism, that have had a place in the GOP at some point in the past.
In urban conservatism its not about the person or personality but the IDEA. If I get stuck on the person then when that person dies the ideology dies with it. But if I can give birth to an idea that idea can evolve with the times.
Ideas and policies are what the GOP needs right now. Our party promotes the free market. However, the free market came to a screeching halt when President Bush signed off a $17 billion loan to the Big 3 automakers. Also, the $700 billion bailout on Wall Street.
Therefore, the immediate challenge before public policymakers both here in the US and the world over, over the next 3-5 years, will be convincing the majorities of the world that capitalism and the free market is not evil. While some individuals have badly abused and even harmed the system of capitalism and free enterprise for sure, and they need to pay a significant price to society.
Urban conservatism in Michigan and abroad includes a vision of making capitalism and free enterprise finally relevant to, and work for, all people. We cannot exclude Hispanics or other people who come here seeking opportunities. Urban conservatism is also global. It's not just limited to those in North America but globally. You will hear me say connect with the African Diaspora. Yes, these are people who are descendants of Africa who are all over the world conducting business economically. If the Chinese invests BILLIONS of dollars in the Caribbean and on the continent of Africa how come we cannot open imports and exports right here in areas like Detroit who has a Port Authority or Benton Harbor who sits on Lake Michigan?
Keep in mind I am just using the Diaspora as an example. But if this party will not reach out to ALL minorities in a NON-ELECTION YEAR and do this as if we are going to church service on a weekly basis we will fail for the next 15 years no matter who is running the show. This includes young people between 18-35 years old. It's time out for excuses and focus on solutions.
Today, our party needs to engage young people to make them global policy makers. It's not about your local area anymore. You have to reach out and touch everyone. Our youth in this party should be part of important global organizations such as the World Economic Forum, and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, to help reboot and re-energize the very idea of capitalism and free enterprise itself.
Meanwhile, we need leadership to help us reframe the debate in the party; on what it is, how it works, who it benefits, whats our ultimate aim, and what we stand for. The debate needs to be focused around what we are all for, and not simply what we are all against.
I am seeking to work with serious leaders, from government, community and the private sector, who can help us all re-imagine our possibilities in depressed communities across Michigan. Education should be our immediate, and critical TOP agenda for the next TWO years in this state and I hope and pray that people would ban together to tackle this by getting their hands dirty when it comes to serious educational reform in Michigan. The GOP cannot, by ANY means, be quiet on this issue in urban communities across Michigan.
The GOP has a lot of work to do. Republicans seem to have misconstrued the premises upon which they based their decision to sanctify Reagan in the first-place. The GOP platform such as a strong national defense, tax cuts and unable to interpret immigration reform becomes a liability when the party faces a surge of young people, under President-elect Obama, who seems better prepared to meet the complex challenges of a complex world right now, not the challenges that faced the United States nearly 30 years ago. Not to mention that there are an influx of young adults wanting to create an ownership society within the city limits.
Urban conservatism is a vision that we can all embrace under silver rights. This form of conservatism is not just based on money but including an idea to create spiritual wealth from within you inner self. The rest will take care of itself.