Jena Benscoter writes in her article in the Daily Caller on December 5, 2012, "Lone Republican running for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s House seat: No to voter ID, yes to affirmative action" that Lenny Mcallister "supports affirmative action...won’t agree to anti-tax pledges in the face of the fiscal cliff...spoke against voter ID laws...and is no fan of efforts to roll back Roe v. Wade."
Is she reporting Mr. Mcallister's stands accurately? Yes...and no. Let's just say that Lenny's stands are not exactly simple and not typical Tea Party, but nothing about a Republican trying to connect with voters in the 2nd Congressional District will be simple and the Tea Party—as much as I love and believe in it—couldn't come within 1000 miles of the 2nd without someone like Lenny Mcallister.
Here's what I know as someone who knows Lenny personally:
Regarding affirmative action, based on what he's told me, Lenny's stand on this is that he is more interested in erasing the need for it than he is about ending the practice itself. I don't think Lenny is about trying to end anything abruptly, for the same reason you don't throw a lobster in a boiling pot. It's not a pretty sight. Lenny has said he wants to see it preserved for just "one more generation." But he isn't someone that wants to see Black people hired or promoted over someone else more qualified because of their skin color. He is someone who understands why the vast majority of Black Americans believe Affirmative Action is justified and why they would not trust someone—especially a Republican—who wanted to end it abruptly.
From what I've seen, Lenny approaches everything from a constituent-sensitive point-of-view. He is a Black man who grew up in a working class neighborhood in Pittsburg, has had many trials in life and can relate to people of similar background. He is not hoping for discrimination against white male job applicants, he is trying to bridge the divide between them and their Black counter-parts—something that is desperately needed in this country—and soon. His compromise on this is the "one more generation" statement. And seriously, Patriots, affirmative action is the least of our worries at the moment!
Anti-Tax pledges: Even as a Tea Partier, I find myself secretly wondering if a small compromise wouldn't be in the best interest of the party, and subsequently, the people. I understand that Republican compromise—too much compromise—of core principles is largely responsible for getting us to this miserable place. I do believe that the Tea Party's job is to stand our ground and hold our elected leaders feet to the fire. I fully understand the importance of these things. But at the same time, I also understand what just happened to us in the election.
We found out we aren't quite as large a majority as we thought we were. It's not our principles that need to change, but how we communicate them and how we act on them. I can't honestly say I have a solid understanding of the ramifications of the "Fiscal Cliff," but I do think that a small compromise on the tax rates of the wealthy—not a cave, but a compromise—could ultimately get us closer to where we need to go.
The Democrats win either way. If we go off the cliff, the Republicans—especially Tea Party Republicans—get another flogging in the media and among the millions of political independents who only know that nothing is happening in Washington because no one will compromise. I respect the representatives who signed the pledge and are now struggling with honoring that pledge. I respect that a lot. I'm sure either way they go they're going to be punished harshly, but that's what they signed up for. I can understand worrying about honoring a pledge but if worry about whether they get re-elected is part of their decision, that's a huge part of what the Tea Party is trying to end. I can't say with confidence either way that I know a compromise—not a cave—on the tax rates of the wealthy would be right or wrong. But I respect Lenny's opinion on it and based on the constituency he is asking to elect him, I think it's a reasonable opinion.
Voter ID laws: This is what Lenny has said, “I believe in voter validation. However, I believe that all voter validation efforts must protect both the citizen’s right to vote and the process of the vote simultaneously. Pennsylvania’s law in its current form overreaches its intended goal by way of flawed legislation and implementation. I welcome future efforts that will encapsulate the need and insightful implementation of voter validation efforts moving onward." Nuff said.
Rolling back Roe v Wade: As I said, I know Lenny personally. He's pro-life through and through. He's Catholic and a God-fearing man. His stand on Roe v Wade is another example of his desire to ultimately end the problem using a leveled approach vs throwing that poor ole' lobster—again—into that boiling pot. The question isn't are we right. The question is, can we win? As with all things Conservative, our fiercest enemy is ignorance. Lenny said, "The most effective way for pro-life Republicans like me to weaken Roe v. Wade is to make Roe v. Wade irrelevant through education, advocacy and respectful activism. Through those efforts, one day Roe v. Wade may fall off the books without much notice or divisiveness.” Is he right? Personally, I doubt it will ever "fall off the books" and especially "without much notice or divisiveness." I think he's probably dreaming on that point. But I know he is pro-life and I know he will work harder to protect the unborn than any pro-choice Democrat who would sail into that seat without any opposition.
I've known Lenny for about two years now. You might wonder how I could feel that I know him personally in such a short time, considering we've only actually spent maybe three or four days together during that time. The time I've spent with Lenny in person hasn't consisted only of listening to him speak to my Tea Party in prepared statements—though you might feel like you know him after such an experience because he is so good at articulating his heart and connecting with people even from a podium. But our time together has been mostly driving in a car or sitting waiting for a train or eating lunch in a half empty restaurant and just talking. And for two people as verbal as the two of us, that's a lot of conversation! On top of that he is remarkably available on Facebook at 1:00am for somebody who gets up at 5:30am every day to work out!
Lenny wears his heart is on his sleeve. I would never, ever have considered supporting a candidate with as many middle-of-the-road stands on so many issues if I didn't know and believe in him personally. That and understanding the constituency he is trying to reach. The Illinois 2nd Congressional District race at this unique juncture in time could bring about a turning point to end the ideological civil war our nation is embroiled in. Lenny has told me since the day I met him that he was waiting for God to give him a greater opportunity to lead Black Americans away from the toxic idealogy that has ensnared them. I remember sitting at a table over lunch, less than a year ago, with Lenny and trying to convince him to run for an office. He said, "When the time is right."
I believe the time—and place—is right. If Lenny wanted to run for my district, I wouldn't encourage it. "Why not?" you might ask. Not because I don't think he would do a terrific job, but because of what I call the "Bearing Point Principle." The Bearing Point Principle is my way of explaining what the Conservative movement needs to accomplish. There is a political pendulum that swings back and forth every 8 or 12 years in this country, from Conservative to Liberal and back again. The "bearing point" is the point at the top of the pendulum where the suspender connects the bob to a fixed object. Our bearing point has moved so far Left now that when the pendulum swings back to the Right, it doesn't go as far as it needs to in order to right the ship, so to speak. The way to move that bearing point back to the Right again is to make full use of the Conservative talent we have and in the right places.
I wouldn't want Lenny to run for Congress for my district because a Bobby Schilling or a Joe Walsh are actually possible here. But Bobby and Joe aren't electable in the 2nd...Lenny is. In a more Conservative America, candidates like Lenny may be able to move further right too, but not yet. Our greatest challenge is to debrief and deprogram millions of Americans that believe Conservatives hate unions, poor people, Black people and women. Seriously, this is going to take many varied approaches on many different battle fronts. Lenny is one of those varied approaches and the 2nd is one of those battle fronts.
The next phase of this war starts now. Embrace new warfare or take your muskets and go home.
God Speed from the Mad Tea Partier
Sheila Devall submitted these thoughts for publication on Illinois Review from her Mad Tea Partier blog, where they were originally posted.