This is interview #31 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Kristofer Lorelli. Kristofer is an American former political organizer and fundraiser, residing in suburban Toronto, Ontario. He is a self-described ‘Goldwater Conservative’. Kristofer is the publisher and business affairs manager of the conservative news and opinion website, RightOSphere.com. In that capacity, Kristofer has been a courageous and leading voice persuading conservatives to call for an end to the failed drug prohibition.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the best part of being the co-Publisher of Rightosphere?
Kristofer Lorelli: It allows me to interact with and learn from the grassroots, which is significantly more desirable than speaking to political insiders and members of the media. I view it as a privilege that the Rightosphere platform allows me to communicate with interesting people from across the United States and the world, as they provide me with far superior insight to current affairs compared to what I absorb from mainstream periodicals and the talking heads on cable news.
On a selfish note, it has allowed me to make better use of my 25+ hours of weekly reading and an opportunity to work closely with my good friend Kavon W. Nikrad and our Editorial staff, who’s coattails I plan on riding for many, many years.
I am very satisfied that finally we all have a fully dedicated networking site for conservatives!
Josiah Schmidt: How did you become a conservative, and what does conservatism mean to you?
Kristofer Lorelli: I was influenced the most by my 94 year old Grandfather, who for as long as I can remember has displayed color photographs of Ronald Reagan at his home in Hackettstown, New Jersey. I was very lucky that he retired early and spent many summers with us, protecting me from my liberal friends, liberal teachers and the liberal media.
Most conservatives of my age group (I’m about to turn 33) were heavily influenced by the reform movement in the early 1990’s. The early success of the Contract with America and the wave of Governors elected to office (Engler, Thompson, Johnson, etc.) created a new generation of conservatives, which sustained the GOP majority for over a decade, until our leadership lost its way.
I am very interested in learning about the next generation, which is one of the reasons why I have your web site and Facebook page bookmarked. I am fascinated and encouraged with how young libertarian-leaning Republicans are engaged in the political process and leading the path to change in our party and political system.
As for what conservatism means to me? I’ll let a former conservative leader http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GITwqqE72N8 and a future http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94lW6Y4tBXs conservative leader speak on my behalf.
Josiah Schmidt: Do you think there is a place in the GOP for small-l libertarians?
Kristofer Lorelli: I most certainly do. I know the term “conservative fusion” is very much overused, but it is the most accurate way to describe the modern conservative movement in America. When libertarians and social conservatives (and everyone in-between) compromise and unite, the American conservative movement is unstoppable. Unfortunately for the last several years, one wing believed it could go it alone without the other. I believe this attitude has changed.
I describe myself as a minarchist, which is about as close as one came come to being a small-l libertarian, while maintaining many modern conservative foreign and economic policy positions, and I can tell you that not unlike the feelings that have been expressed by many of your members, it has been a long and lonely last 10 years in the political wilderness. Finally, we have been welcomed back (or forced ourselves back) inside the jalopy.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the significance of the burgeoning Tea Party movement, in your view?
Kristofer Lorelli: The Tea Party movement is having little effect on the progressive movement and its leaders, who truly view the Tea Party movement as a fad. They make this assumption at their own peril.
The real value of the Tea Party movement, is that it is positively influencing the Republican agenda and its leaders. To the core, most Republican politicians are not Tea Partiers themselves (yet), but most have been awoken to the power of this grassroots operation.
I believe we have yet to experience the full impact of the movement.
Josiah Schmidt: Do you think the tide is finally turning against the Drug Prohibition within the Republican Party?
Kristofer Lorelli: I do in the case of soft drugs. Our overall approach to the drug war policy of the last 40 years and the failure of our governments and non-profits to focus on prevention. I recognize that generation ‘Y’ and generation ‘X’ have a significantly different opinion on this matter than their parents’ and grandparents ‘ generation, but I believe the movement from prohibition we are seeing in polling on this issue is coming from young parents.
President Reagan said; “All great change in America begins at the dinner table”, which is true in this case. Parents do not want their children to face an uncertain future, because they were convicted of smoking pot or experimenting with ecstasy at a young age. I do not believe the majority of Republicans are ready to adopt the legalization policies found in The Netherlands, but they are ready to look at alternative solutions to the existing possession laws and how our government allocates resources to the drug consumption and trafficking issues.
This is one example of where libertarians and social conservatives need to seek compromise and meet in the middle of the issue.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the most important lesson conservatives ought to take away from George W. Bush’s presidency?
Kristofer Lorelli: It is difficult for me to be critical of President G.W. Bush’s presidency, as he served two full terms, which is usually the high level gauge for a President’s political success. All I will say is that the American people are desperate for a President that will not walk lock-step with Congress. President Bush failed to hold the Republican Congress accountable on corruption and spending, which resulted in the Republican defeats of 2006 and 2008, a mistake which is being repeated by President Obama and his Democratic controlled upper and lower Houses.
I supported President Bush’s decision to increase funding of our military, reforming our immigration laws, cutting taxes and appointing Judges that strictly interpreted our constitution.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you think will be the biggest issue in the 2012 presidential election?
Kristofer Lorelli: Domestically, I expect unemployment to remain above 6% and underemployment to remain above 10%. A simple and pragmatic (and easily repeatable) platform that focuses on growing employment through the private sector is what will probably resonate most effectively with voters in 2012.
In addition, I believe a majority of voters will be frustrated by the size of our federal government and many of the intrusive laws that the liberal administration and Congress are planning on passing in 2010.
Internationally, I believe Iraq could possibly reemerge as a critical issue. The most under-reported story so far in 2010 are the set-backs that are being experienced in Iraq. The Bush plan (adopted by Obama) may still yet succeed, but if it does not, similar to the financial meltdown of late 2008, Iraq could be the unexpected issue that turns the tide in the next campaign for President. Although I believe we have a strategic and moral obligation to stabilize Iraq, I am not sure if the American public will be in support of a troop build-up in 2011/2012, so the prospective candidates better be prepared with well rehearsed talking points and a clear strategy.
Josiah Schmidt: Assuming Governor Gary Johnson is running for President in 2012, what advice would you give him if you could?
Kristofer Lorelli: He should not allow the establishment media to portray him as the ‘pro-drug’ candidate. Although I believe it can be a winning issue in 2012, it is not one that has been embraced by a Republican leader who had or has White House aspirations (although I know of one that quietly supports Governor Johnson’s platform). As I believe the Governor will be breaking ground on this policy position, he cannot allow it to be a dominant theme.
It is important that his campaign (and his supporters in the Rightosphere) educate voters on his many successes as Governor of New Mexico. Governor Johnson’s first term in office was probably the most successful results-oriented term of any United States Governor in the last 25 years. Many of the common-sense budgetary and legislative initiatives enacted by Governor Johnson are the same solutions that are currently viewed by American voters (citing 2010 polls) as most favored to help our country overcome the existing economic, corruption and bureaucratic challenges.
The words and phrases that should be plastered on his campaign manager’s wall, are; ‘New Hampshire’, ‘Osama bin Laden’, ’employment’, ‘clean water’, ‘independent female voters’, ‘Romneycare’, ‘nanny state’, ‘balanced budget’, ‘term limits’, ‘over-taxation’ and ‘small business owners’.
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say our readers?
Kristofer Lorelli: I would like to thank you for our friendship and for the efforts of your members to change our political system and for being an example on how conservatives must communicate, network and mobilize in the 21st century.
I would like to encourage each one of them to remain politically active, but to be wary of any politician that has a desire to remain in Washington for longer then two terms. The political proletariat is infected by swine and our only hope of changing the system is through a grassroots intervention in November of 2010 and November of 2012. True conservatives do not view the establishment as an abode to life, but instead as an institution to constantly question. Your members have chosen wisely, as Governor Johnson is one of our conservative leaders that is looking to vicissitate the establishment, not exist within in.
The Republican hierarchy is losing it’s stranglehold on the party to the grassroots, which is led by libertarians, conservative independents and right of center reformers who are not connected to the establishment. Although it is a diverse group, this conservative reformers coalition must not let up until it has won this battle. Even though lobbyists, career pols and the power-addicted insiders are trying to discourage these efforts, discredit its leaders and infiltrate its trickle up infrastructure, we must recognized that this is a historic opportunity to regain control over the conservative movement and the Republican party.
Fight on within the movement and the party, my brothers and sisters.