Speak Your Conservative Mind

By Jedediah Bila

Jedediah Bila

I recently had a conversation with someone in publishing. I was discussing how I hope that an unconventional piece I’ve written will resonate with people of different political persuasions.

“Don’t even bother thinking like that,” he said. “The truth is that it’s only conservatives who pay attention to conservatives. Same for liberals. You’re really just preaching to the choir.”

I reject that idea. And I think it’s absolutely imperative that we all do.

I’ve been a conservative for as long as I can remember. In fact, a friend of the family recently told me that I used to lecture her on spending wisely at the supermarket when I was small enough to fit in the front compartment of a shopping cart. Mom often reminds me of how I used to snatch my dad’s pay stubs when I was in grammar school, highlight the tax deductions, and calculate all the money we’d have if the government would – as I so eloquently put it back then – “stop stealing mommy and daddy’s money.”

Although I’ve always been a conservative, I certainly haven’t been surrounded by conservatives throughout the years.

As you may know, I’m a native New Yorker. Although I was raised in Staten Island – the conservative New York City borough, so to speak – I spent quite a bit of time during middle school and high school in Brooklyn, as well as most Saturdays in Manhattan with my mom. I attended college at a liberal school in Staten Island and spent many evenings with friends in Manhattan, catching an occasional film at The Paris Theatre and sampling coffee shops and eateries in the East Village. I went on to earn an M.A. from Columbia University while living on the Upper West Side and – with the exception of a few years between grad school and now – have called Manhattan home ever since.

Ninety percent of the people I’ve encountered in New York City have been liberal. But, guess what? I’ve never stopped speaking my mind. The response to my ideas isn’t always friendly – to put it mildly – but every now and then, someone stops and thinks about what I’ve said. Every now and then, someone goes home, does a little research, and comes back with some questions. And every now and then, I notice a look in the eyes of the person I’m talking to, a look that says, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

The notion that “it’s only conservatives who pay attention to conservatives” is nonsense. I’ll grant you that rigid, far-left ideologues likely won’t pay me much mind. But what about independents? What about those who don’t consider themselves overly political, but care about their freedoms and are concerned for the future of our country? What about the college kids who hear nothing but “progressive” rhetoric in class? Are those kids not worth speaking to? Even if they’ve bought into that rhetoric, can some of them not be reached?

You bet they can be. And they must be.

Growing up in New York City, studying at far-left Columbia University, and working in liberal New York City schools have taught me that engaging those of different world views is possible – and essential. The alternative is to take the easy way out and to preach to the proverbial choir.

It’s too dangerous a world and too important a time to take the easy way out.

Every adult you reach is a potential voter. Every teenager just might take a minute to ponder your words. And the ability you have – just you, all by yourself – to effectuate positive change in this country is immense. All simply by speaking your mind, even to those you’ve been told it’s a waste of time to talk to.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a New York City conservative, it’s that you have the ability to reach those you never would have dreamt you could.

So, speak up. Be proud of what you believe in. Wear your patriotism on your sleeve. Talk about liberty and our Constitution and American exceptionalism.

You just might be shocked by who’s listening.

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Adam F. Kohler
10 years ago

Great article. I was born in Manhattan and grew up in Flatbush and Bergen County. I attended a Catholic elementary school where John F. Kennedy was idolized and many in our town were liberal Democrats. I didn’t know I was a conservative until I joined the military. I married a moderate and are now both ultraconservatives. I learn to speak my mind and never apologize for being a principled conservative.

Robin Gibson
10 years ago

I’m behind you all the way, if you need some one to run interference I’ll jump in front. I personally believe that most of the problems come from the UN. In the charter it states ” We can have our Constitution so long as it does not interfere with the terms of the charter”. Look out for the back door deals our leaders are doing with the UN. They are calling the shots. Little by little we are loosing our rights. OK, I’ll get off my soap box now.

John Higgens
10 years ago

The problem is that some conservatives like Mark Levin, won’t even try to get through to them. He just yells at them and hangs up- I know he’s a friend of yours- maybe you can send him your column.

Mike McGlon
10 years ago

Thank You Jedediah – As usual, you have penned an ‘excellent’ article!!! I 100% agree with you – you are ‘right on’….. Please keep up the great work that you do…

10 years ago

You’re right on the money, Jedediah. Living in the bay area presents communication challenges as high as what you describe in NY. However, when I speak about such things as politics, I punch right through the facts to get the listeners into a “yes” mode. By constructing an “if this, then that” argument, it becomes difficult for even the most diehard lib to deny the facts staring them in the face. Keep up the good work!

Juan Lulli
10 years ago


Con = fighting for.
serv = serving with.
ative = acting in the present

To be conservative is to be perpetually conserving our brightest principles, renewing our futures.

Walt Ely
10 years ago

My sister is a lib. And she does everything she can to shut me up like telling me to ‘put a sock in it’ or shussing me when we are with her friends. I told her: “Do not trample on my 1st Amendment sister.” It’s really not about making friends or maintaining family relationships anymore. It’s about saving the values and way of life that made America the greatest and most unique country in the history of the world. And I mean that both from the standpoint of possibilities to succeed for each and every citizen and from the standpoint of our economic and cultural success overall as a country!

Walt Ely
10 years ago

I think this point of ‘we the people’ need to converse and dialogue on issues is the only way our country will ever get to the truth … which is this: we were not founded or successful because of socialist values. We were successful because of small limited federal government, free market enterprise, rule by law, individual rights to property and ideas, and American ingenuity and elbow grease! Welfare, social justice, redistribution of wealth, retribution payments to minorities, central federal control of almost everything, socialized medicine are all socialist/Marxist ideas. We’ve KNOW how that goes in Russia and China. There it just shows that this inevitably leads to a tyrannical elite oligarchy (sometimes wrongly called communism). The fact is our current path lead to state owned and controlled everything. That’s pure communism. This is the conversation the liberals need to absorb. They have bought into the phony socialist argument that it is the governments job to manage and care for it’s citizens. That concept is totally foreign to the American way of life. We work to support ourselves and we individually can care for the needy. We shouldn’t be so lazy to ‘contract’ this responsibility to government. It’s not their charter according to logic and the Constitution. If our majority (of dumbed down brainwashed zombie) population wants socialism then they shall reap the result: a two class slave system: we the slaves and they the masters! And guess what? Some people REALLY want to be told what to do, where they can live, what they will receive for the work they are told to do. That is un-American!

Megan Carroll
10 years ago

I was one of those “college kids who hear nothing but “progressive” rhetoric in class” – and now, thanks to listening to my wonderful fiance speak intelligently and eloquently about conservative issues and ideals, I, too, am a conservative.

Someone reached me, and I know you can reach others like me.

David Loeffler
10 years ago

If you don’t try you’ll never know. Don’t let naysayers take over your ambition. Go For It, Jedediah!

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