by Jeff Lukens
I often think about Bob Seger's song 'Against the Wind.' To be a change agent, we must be running 'against the wind,' both culturally and politically. As conservatives, it is what we are called to do.
I entered first grade as the Vietnam war was beginning, and I graduated from high school as the war ended. So I guess you could say the war was a formative influence in my life. I grew up near Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the counterculture movement was in full bloom. There would routinely be anti-war protests, and hippy events such as the annual Hash Bash. It was cool to protest, and it was cool to be against everything.
I dabbled in it a little bit, but deep in my heart I knew that this was all wrong. There was no purpose in any of it. It was mainly about self-gratification that leads nowhere. Something deep inside was telling me that if I were to live a meaningful existence, I had to live my life running against the norms of culture and politics -- to run against the wind, so to speak.
So six weeks after the fall of Saigon, and four days after my high school graduation, I found myself on an airplane headed to U.S. Army Basic Training. This was completely outside the realm of anything my friends or anyone I knew were doing. Later, I was fortunate to gain admission to West Point and graduate there four years later. At the Academy, I met some of the finest people I would ever know. But the Army was messed up in those years after Vietnam. I witnessed firsthand the transformation of the military from the Carter years to the Reagan years, and it was like night and day.
Suddenly, in the person of Ronald Reagan, I could see hope for America and what it should be. The strength, optimism, and humor he brought to the land were amazing. The morbid 1970's economy boomed in the 1980's and on into the 1990's. I have ever since been a Reagan Republican. Even today, my liberal friends and family still do not understand the positive impact Ronald Reagan had in the world. They do not get that he won the Cold War without world apocalypse, without even firing a shot. It was truly astounding. Reagan's life and presidency were the embodiment of America at its finest.
For years afterward, I have just tried to live my life in a private way. Time passed, I became a Christian, and I watched from the sidelines as the world slowly spun out of control. Then, I about lost my mind when Obamacare was passed in 2010. I knew if the government can control our health, it can control our entire life. It threatened our very way of life. I knew then I needed to be involved, if only in my own small way.
I started going to Republican and Tea Party meetings regularly. I volunteered for everything I could. I soon became a president of a local Republican club, and now I am the Vice Chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. But this is not about me. It is about the United States of America. Serving the nation is why I serve in the Republican Party. I do what I can as a volunteer with the free time that I have available. I encourage you to do so also.
It is what the Founders call us to do. At least culturally, it is what Christ Jesus calls us to do. It is what we as Republicans need to do the save the nation for our children, and our children's children. We all need to be involved. We need to be running against the wind. If you feel as I do, please join us in our effort to save the promise of America.
Jeff Lukens is the Vice Chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party.