Patrick B. McGuigan
Star Parker, the activist writer, brought a message of hope and possibility to a recent stop in Oklahoma’s capital city.
She discussed with CapitolBeatOK her motivations for leaving home to travel to a conference where she detailed her hopes to draw “swing voters” toward the conservative philosophy – one she adopted nearly 25 years ago, after spending nearly a decade in welfare dependency.
Parker is both critical and hopeful about that philosophy’s promise. She is one of the most visible and passionate African-American critics of President Barack Obama.
She reflected, “In the states, we are doing fairly well in advancing conservative principles. Many of the things I believe are largely accepted in states around the country. A challenge conservatives face is messaging. It is important to explain what our proposals, our ideas, mean to the personal lives of people who are not as ‘into’ politics and policy as we are.
From my personal experiences, my life, I know how hard life is some times. I don’t sneer at that. I can relate to the lives of people who do not think about politics too much. Republicans often speak in generalities, and that approach does not connect with average people.
So, I’m giving a lot of thought to messaging, and reaching individuals. Another way to put this is that I have insight into those who are poor, or minority.”
She summed up this way: “Compassion is an overused word. Maybe empathy or insight are better words to express it.
When you understand that life is hard an complex for so many people, it might be easier to ‘sell’ the idea of new beginnings, of ways in which a person can start over. There is a level of trust that comes when people know you ‘feel their pain.’ I apologize for echoing Bill Clinton, but there it is.”
This reporter shared with Parker one of the most combative comments the late Joseph Sobran wrote during his career as a commentator: “Liberalism, of course, professes to speak for ‘the poor,’ even though, given a choice between the poor themselves and a program whose real effect is to hurt the poor, it will choose the program.”
Parker riffed” off Sobran’s words, telling CapitolBeatOK, “I see that phenomenon right now in the Medicaid debate. Liberals are willing to spend all that money for a program that doesn’t work.
Socialism does not work in the real world, it does not work in the lives of real people, those near us and actually right there in front of us. And yet, the liberals and the president actually want to expand the program dramatically.
That feeling of personal connection with people, and an important issue like Medicaid, that’s what gives me the motivation to get out the door and try to make a difference, and to come again to Oklahoma.”
Parker has been in the Sooner State a few times over the years, including when she promoted her late Reagan-era book, Pimps, whores and welfare brats,” a memoir of her transformation, after embracing Christianity, from a life of poverty to a determined pursuit of education.
Now a syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, she is also the author of “Uncle Sam’s Plantation,” and “White Ghetto.
Parker’s comments came the evening before a “Policy to Share” conference, convened in an effort to think though public policy issues and controversies with a feminine perspective. The women’s leadership committee of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), the Sooner State’s leading “think tank” advocating economic liberty, sponsored the conference.
Parker now works as founder and president of CURE (the Center for Urban Renewal and Education), her own “think tank advocating market-based policy reforms to fight poverty.