By Steven Lee
I became the first President of the Law Republicans at the University of Georgia this Fall. My story is unlikely. I was born in Connecticut and raised in New York but now I am a proud Southerner. My parents left South Korea to become Americans almost 30 years ago. My family grew up in a rent-controlled tiny one-bedroom apartment, while my parents took on three jobs at a time to make ends meet.
When I was younger, my parents imposed a strict curfew, clamping down on my whereabouts due to the lack of safety in our crime-ridden neighborhood. The neighborhood we grew up in bustled with immigrant families of different cultures, sending children to school from tiny apartments, trying to live the American Dream. After an exhausting day of work each day, my parents worried and checked up on my schoolwork late in the evenings.
If you have watched those liquid dish soap commercials where a single drop of soap instantly makes the grease scurry to the edges of the sink, you would have found a discomforting similarity to my bathroom wall when it turned from black to white as roaches scurried for places to hide from the light. When I was a child and I went to the bathroom at night, I turned on the bathroom light, quickly turned around and ran into my bed in horror.
More than two years ago, my parents finally scrounged enough money together to buy a home in sunny Georgia. They were fortunate enough to save, buy a small home, and then were lifted out of New York during the housing boom, the way a river floods and lifts the broken in its current.
I believe, one day, I will tell a story about an amazing journey that started in a small humble apartment in New York. In my destitution, I learned the importance of building character, working hard, and being thankful for what I have.
After Election Day, I started writing a blog (http://thenewrepublicans.net) about how the Republican party should “reinvent” itself while staying true to its core convictions. People of all different creeds – Democrat, Independent, Republican and Libertarian – have joined in a thoughtful and engaging discussion on the modern day challenges that America faces now. The forum is connecting people nationally.
From education reform to the economy, each entry invites readers to discuss important issues that will shape our country for generations. If as Americans we start becoming more involved at the grassroots level, we can begin to influence the public debate.
In my forum called New Republican, I recently discussed how the future of America rests on education reform. Only 53% of high school graduates in the US enter college and 35% graduate from college, according to the American Youth Policy Forum. The majority of children around the world are outperforming American children in Math and Science (Center for Public Education). Of all the industrialized countries, only children in the United States are less likely to graduate from high school than their parents were. 17 of the 50 largest cities have graduation rates under 50 percent, with 1.2 million American students dropping out each year.
I respectfully invite you to join in this open-minded discussion. I have been humbled by the interest of so many. The forum received nearly 3,000 hits in the first week, and hundreds of visits per day. With the worst economy since the Great Depression and other challenges that America must deal with now, Martin Luther King Jr.’s words were never truer, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” If we join together, we will confront the modern-day challenges and begin to influence the public debate.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
By Steven Lee
Posted by Georgia Front Page.com at 4:11 PM
Friday, November 14, 2008
(BUSINESS WIRE)--Former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele today announced his candidacy for the position of Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Steele was clear in his reason for running by saying, “the Republican Party must present a vision for the future of America that relies on our conservative values and core principles. It is wrong to believe the voters have suddenly become liberal. They have just lost any sense of confidence that the Republican Party holds the answers to their problems. We must face the fact that our party has failed in recent years to live up to our own principles -- we have failed to be ‘solutions oriented’ in addressing the concerns of all Americans.”
Steele made his decision to run last weekend but delayed his public announcement until today so that he could call as many RNC members as possible to personally discuss the future of the Republican Party and to seek their support. “I have been working the phones for days now in an attempt to reach the leadership of our Party as quickly as possible,” Steele stated. He believes the future of the Party lies with the states and wanted to set the tone from the outset that he will place an emphasis on the members of the Committee to begin rebuilding.
“Having been a member of the RNC, as state chairman of the MD Republican Party from 2000 to 2002, as a County Chairman from 1994 to 2000; I know first-hand the RNC must truly be run as a federation of state parties in order to be effective.”
“I believe the leadership of our party must come from its grassroots because the members of the RNC are the best representation of what direction our party needs to take. The state chairmen, national committeewomen, and national committeemen are the party leaders who are closest to the voters – they know what the voters want – they talk to them everyday. I have walked a mile in their shoes; without them you become out of touch with the issues that are important to Main Street Americans.”
“I want Republicans to get back to winning elections, not just for the sake of winning, but for the sake of our Country’s future. Most Americans today see a Republican Party that defines itself by what it is against rather than what it is for. We can tell you why public schools aren’t working, but not articulate a compelling vision for how we’ll better educate children. We’re well equipped to rail against tax increases; but can’t begin to explain how we’ll help the poor. The success of our Party’s resurgence will come from the states -- from our local leaders and from our Governors.”
We must articulate a positive vision for America’s future that speaks to Americans’ hopes, concerns and needs. It’s time to stop defining ourselves by what we are not, and tell voters what we believe, how we’ll lead, and where we’ll go … how we Republicans will make America better … how we’ll make their families more prosperous, their children better educated, their parents more secure, and all of us healthier, safer, and stronger. That means we must articulate our vision in the local public square, on TV, on Radio, in the local newspapers, on the internet. With God’s help and the guidance of the men and women who give strength to our Republican National Committee, I am prepared to do just that.”
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