I’ve mentioned The Conservative Union before. One of the best political communities I’ve ever been a part of on Google+.
I owe them a lot. In the early days of my political journey, that community was a constant source of information, wisdom, and friends.
That’s why I’m so excited about today. An interview with none other than one of the founders of The Conservative Union… Leslie P.
She knows her stuff. She can discuss the issues. She knows what’s important.
Leslie was one of the first people that opened me up to the idea of political evangelism.
Reaching people is more important than winning an argument.
Helping your friends and family understand politics is more important that feeding your ego.
If we’re going to change America for the better, it has to be through relationship building.
Leslie gets this. She’s been pushing for it.
So, why don’t we get into what Leslie has to say?
Here’s a Few Questions with Leslie P.
Who are you? And what are you known for?
I’m Leslie P redheaded cartoon detective. I’m also one of the founders of The Conservative Union which started out as a Google Plus community and is still mostly that, but we also occasionally reach out into other realms – FB, Twitter, YouTube, blogging, etc. Our goal is to find a way to convert some of the Tea Party / Conservative political interest and concern into real on the ground results – and that is RIDICULOUSLY hard to measure!
My personal area of focus within the Conservative political realm tends to be instructional, sharing my understanding and observations. It bugs me to think that I’ve designated myself an explainer of the news -because that is SUCH a horrifying trend. Don’t call me a Voxsplainer – I’ll cut you!
But the reality is, when I read an article, I see things that others don’t necessarily see. I notice the headline and a bit of the content and how things are skewed by the author or the publisher to obtain a particular reaction. I know that not everyone takes the time to notice that, I know that people are busy and not tuned in to the political maneuvers or the journalistic biases or linguistic twists.
So when I share a post, I tend to put an intro on it that will outline those things. To help people see things differently, more deeply, to catch how they’re being manipulated, and fight against it. Or to help point out the GOOD thing, the motivating thing, the way to counter the bad stuff. I try to be HELPFUL in addition to being informative.
How old were you when got into politics?
That’s a somewhat difficult question to answer. I’ve been deeply interested in current events for most of my life, because my family was into discussing current events. As the government became ever larger and more intrusive, discussion of current events became more and more a discussion of politics, so it’s been a gradual thing.
But my intense (obsessive?) activity dates only to my time on Google Plus. I ended up with a social media presence that has become almost exclusively about politics. It’s clearly my passion at this point.
My age? Why you young whipper-snapper! Did no one teach you that it’s not polite to ask a lady any question that will make her reveal her age?
Kidding. I’m 48 now, so I got DEEPLY into politics in my mid 40s, but was a teenager in the Reagan years – I grew up with an interest in politics shaped by my love for America and pride in our ability to finally win the Cold War.
What attracted you to politics?
The chance to have a teaching approach to it. Since I tend to be a “teacher” in all things, I love that there’s so much opportunity to educate and inform the public, Politics is this mysterious topic that people ignore because they don’t understand it, they think it’s really complicated. Truth is, it’s not. Politicians want you to believe it’s complicated so that you’ll go back to sleep and let them run things. When you start paying attention, they are at risk.
My favorite quote of all time is from Einsten, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
I love to make things simple, because almost everything actually IS simple. When I can help someone realize that politics is simply the name for “how society is organized” they tend to be confident enough to take the time to participate. That’s what I like, helping people become participants.
Was there any person (family member, friend, mentor) who helped you get into politics?
Discussion of current events is my family avocation. Since both of my parents were, at one time or another, history teachers, we never really discussed current events without putting things in context with the scope of human history. Those kinds of discussions, when taken away from the dinner table and turned into “applied science” become politics.
Also throughout the years, I’ve managed to cultivate groups of friends who enjoyed discussing the news of the day and our place in it more than things like sports or movie stars.
What was your process for becoming politically informed (did you read a lot of books, etc)?
I read, far more than I listen to radio, podcasts, or TV. Becoming informed is, to me, a lifelong process of synthesis- not just reading one story, but learning about one event and combining it with a lifetime’s learning and observation. Being informed about a political thing means having an understanding of that event that is helpful moving forward. Because otherwise…it’s just a news story about something happening somewhere that may or may not involve people I know.
I hate to make it sound accidental or happenstance, but for me it is. Over my lifetime I’ve had my phases of fascination with science, history, human nature, religion, lots of different things. So I put current events and current political stories in my brain, let them mix around with all of that detritus, and out comes some sort of understanding or perspective that is, to me anyway, worth sharing with folks.
I suppose I am supposed to say that I’ve studied the philosophers and economic masters and memorized their treatises and was inspired by my reading of Plato in the original Greek or something. But that would be a HUGE HUGE lie.
I’m just a goofball who reads stuff, thinks about it a bit, and then comments on it.
Did any of your friends or family give you a hard time for taking an interest in politics?
Not even a little bit. I’m blessed to have friends and family who understand and tolerate my oddity.
Did you find it unusually difficult to educate yourself about political issues, principles, and the like?
Not anymore, not at all! All of the information we could want is right here at our fingertips, it’s truly an amazing time to be alive and curious about the world! It can sometimes be difficult to cut through the emotion and get to the facts, or to put the emotion into proper perspective. It’s sometimes difficult to slow down the rush of information, to sort through the volume of stuff coming at me and let the worthless stuff just slide past. It’s sometimes difficult to focus.
Years ago, before the internet, when I would have a random question in my head about something, I’d go to the top of our stairs, where we had our bookcase with the World Book Encyclopedia, and the Book of Knowledge. It would take me two minutes to get the answer to my question, and I’d be there sitting on the floor, for hours because I caught some other topic out of the corner of my eye and had to go back to it.
I’ve always been more overloaded with info I didn’t need than I was unable to find the info I was looking for.
Distraction, distraction, distraction!
What did you dislike the most about it all?
What do I dislike most about politics? The cynicism. I’m an optimistic person, I believe that people are good and everything will eventually turn out right. I can understand pessimism, that’s just the mirror image. I disagree, but I get it. What I don’t understand, and don’t like at all is cynicism, because that leads to (or is a result of) apathy – and that leads to victimhood. I don’t understand that at all. And I don’t like it.
Cynics and apathetics are a danger to us all. Yes, we all have our moments, but there are people who are all cynicism, all of the time. And that is like a black hole, sucking all of the energy out of a room. They pull people away from the conservative movement. They pull people away from active engagement in society. They are the bane of my existence.
If you could’ve have done something different what would it have been?
Oh how I hate questions like this! There are, of course, a ton of different directions my life could have taken. But I am a genuinely happy, genuinely content person with my life. I don’t spend any time thinking about “what if” because my life is SO blessed, and SO wonderful, and SO exactly what I want it to be, exactly what it’s supposed to be, for good or ill. I have no idea what the future holds, but as long as I learn every day, love every day, and laugh every day. I’m doing the exact right thing.