The event was scheduled for 7 o’clock in Clark, NJ this Tuesday. By 6 o’clock, I admit I was a bit nervous. The sun hadn’t come up all day, it was now starting to rain. Surely, this would put a damper on an outdoor cookout, even one that was featuring Joe Wurzelbacher (“Joe the Plumber”) and conservative rabble-rouser Steve Lonegan. Several hundred supporters were expected, but would they prove loyal even under these dreary conditions?
For once, I was truly impressed (and proven wrong) by the heart and dedication of New Jersey conservatives, many of whom traveled an hour or more in the rain to attend the biggest rally of Steve Lonegan’s gubernatorial campaign (I mean, who even knew that 685 conservatives actually existed in this state?). By 7 o’clock, I had either forgotten how cold I was because of the excitement in the air, or the energy exuding from the massive crowd had driven the temperature up. Whichever the case, I was thrilled to see almost 700 conservatives waving “Lonegan for Governor” signs in the air and chanting “We need Lonegan” in unified resolve.
The night seemed to me every grassroots activist’s dream: in most New Jersey counties, Lonegan had close to a full slate of candidates on the ballot with him, from those running for state committee to Freeholder to Assembly. Not bad for not being endorsed by the NJ GOP. And it certainly made for a good photo op.
If Shorty Long & the Jersey Horns and German beer weren’t enough to get the crowd going (though judging from their reception, they certainly were), a few of New Jersey best conservatives, including Assemblyman Michael Doherty and Conservatives with Attitude’s own Hank Butehorn, took the stage before the featured speaker of the night was introduced. They touted smaller government, personal responsibility, and a belief in the power of the American people. The crowd ate it up.
And then it was time for “Joe the Plumber.” In a casual plaid shirt and jeans, Joe stepped to the stage fitting his already established image as the quintessential average American. I was instantly impressed with his confident, yet modest and relaxed tone of voice. In layman’s terms, he discussed his support for a limited government and a flat tax, and referenced everything back to the Constitution:
Most of our politicians nowadays try to side-step the Constitution, or they make it say what they want. You know, it was written 200 years ago – it’s not the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s doesn’t have to be reinterpreted.
I respect the hell out of our Founding Fathers. The bottom line is they created the Constitution.
Someone should tell that to our Supreme Court Justices.
Joe spoke the importance of principles in politics, which is all but overlooked today. He spoke of the hard-working American whose American Dream was disrupted by big government getting in the way, and was met with cheers and applause after every sentence. As Lonegan said of Joe, “He reinforces my message.”
I had assumed the best speech of the night was over, but I was wrong for the second time. Lonegan himself took to the stage, garnering a stronger reception than even Joe. And with his usual passion, he spoke of the potential New Jersey had to be a prosperous state, and the tragedy it was that this potential wasn’t being realized. Harking back to the American Revolution, as he is known to do, Lonegan recalled the significance of our state during the war of our Founding Fathers and the battles led by George Washington.
Now, in the year 2009,
It’s only appropriate that in New Jersey we are at the crossroads of the American Revolution.
It’s time to take New Jersey back, he said. It’s time for real change.
The supporters of Obama – good people – chanted the slogan ‘Yes, we can’ in good faith when all they came to be saying was, ‘Yes, we can make government bigger and more intrusive.’
Tired of hearing “Yes, we can” and having it amount to nothing, Lonegan played on the slogan, declaring “Yes, we will” bring back the principles and values upon which our nation was founded. “Yes, we will” keep government from expanding and taking power away from the people. “Yes, we will” cut taxes for New Jersey residents and stimulate the economy with business-friendly policies and fewer burdensome regulations.
His message was resounding, and for once, it was a great day to be a Republican in New Jersey.
Did I mention there were 685 of us?
Cross-posted at Conservatives with Attitude!