Kim of Just a Conservative Girl: On Finding Power in Local and State Politics
It's 2012, and I hope everyone had a great holiday and enjoyed ringing in the New Year, especially as it promises to be a truly interesting one on the election front! I hope you're enjoying BlogHer's "Why I'm Political" series, as I get to talk with women bloggers from around the web about what they're focused on now that the 2012 presidential primary season is in full swing. This month, I had the pleasure of talking with Kim Jossfolk, who writes the blog Just a Conservative Girl. She had some interesting things to say in the essay she contributed to Mothers of Intention, entitled "Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus -- I Just Say No." You'll see from our interview that Kim has an interest in creating change by starting with the issues she sees in her own back yard.
Image courtesy Kim Jossfolk.
1. What motivated you to become political and/or go public with your political views?
I have always been pretty passionate about politics. I had an amazing civics teacher in high school who got us involved in the classroom. It was a presidential election year and we were all assigned a team, I was on a team for a Democrat; that is when I realized I was a Republican. I have been in love with them ever since. But I also would have to credit Glenn Beck as getting me more involved at this point in my life. I didn't watch his show on Fox News, but somehow saw he was doing something called The 9/12 Project. I rearranged my schedule to watch that first show and I have gotten more involved ever since. That is how I started blogging; someone I met through that told me blogging was a good way to organize your thoughts and help you formulate your point of view better.
2. What are the issues you most focused on now going into the 2012 campaign season?
What issue do you think is important that the candidates aren't talking about? While it is still very early in the political process for 2012, I can tell you that I am not happy with the crop of people running for the Republican nomination for president. I don't feel that any of them are willing to do what needs to be done to get back to the founders' vision of a limited federal government and stronger states' rights, let alone get our out of control spending in check. So I have decided that I am not going to concentrate much of my time on the presidential election and will look towards the Congress.
An acquaintance of mine is running for Congress, although it isn't my district, and I am still planning on working to get him elected. My state has one of our Senate seats up for grabs and that is going to be a close race, so I will do work for that race as well. I would have to say that the thing that I find so annoying is what we are willing to waste money on. I live just outside of Washington, D.C., so I know many people who are federal employees. The vast majority of them admit that their jobs are full of inefficiencies and they are unable to get those inefficiencies addressed. We don't spend the money we have wisely. We could do much more to help the poor and the needy and lower taxes if we didn't waste it on excess and fraud. We also need to get past whose fault the debt is. It is time we admit that both parties have spent this country to the brink of bankruptcy and it must be dealt with without blame and party rhetoric.
3. How do you connect your political views or activism with your role as a mother?
I think being a mom is political. There is no way around that. You have a vision of the world you want for your family. Regardless of where you may fall on the political spectrum, that vision is there. I want to leave a world that the next generation can thrive in. I have had many opportunities and I want those same opportunities to be there for them. I want to fix what is wrong, but leave what is right. I think one of the most important things the government can do for their citizens is to protect the family. The core of any country is family.
4. Have you done any additional writing you'd call "political" since you wrote the essay that was included in Mothers of Intention about the Congressional Tea Party Caucus?
I blog daily, or at least I try to. I am writing for four different blogs now. I have been interested in finding a way to make more of a career of writing about politics, but I have to be honest, I have not done much to pursue it after about three or four rejections.
5. What, if anything, else have you done since the writing of those essays to embrace your political voice?
I do try and be "out there." By which I mean in the grassroots conservative movement. I am lucky that this is an exciting time for conservative activists. In years past, there were not many avenues for you to work through. Activism has been a staple with the left, but not so much with the right. But there is so much more out there to involve yourself with now for the people on the political right. I have been connected with different people all over the country. Even in places that are not considered to be conservative areas, such as New England. I have attended conferences; I have been to meetings to learn about different topics that are important to conservatives generally and women specifically. I try to keep up with that and to make time in my schedule, but that is not always easy when you have children needs to attend to. So I do as much as I can with the time that I have.
6. Are you actively involved in any political activities in your state?
I am much more involved on a state level than on a federal level. I truly believe that the problems we have on the federal level stems from the fact that so many are already corrupted by the time the reach the federal level it will be very difficult to stop. I think that the heart of the conservative movement should be concentrated at the most local level to really effect change. The cream rises to the top. If we can cultivate good and strong leaders at the local level, we will have a better crop in which to choose from at the federal level. My state has off-year elections, so we are through with the state elections for the next two years. One of the topics that I am most passionate about is education, and that is a local issue and should be addressed only at the local and state levels.
7. Would you ever run for office?
Under no circumstances would I run for office. I have done things in my past that I wouldn't want printed in the papers. While I am not uncomfortable talking about my own mistakes, that doesn't mean that I would want them taken out of context and gossiped about by strangers. I think the political world has gone way too far and has blurred all lines between personal and political. Every little thing about your private life is analyzed and laid out for strangers to examine. That is not something I am interested in putting myself through. I guess I just don't have thick enough skin for it.
8. Who is not running for office that you wish was running?
I had really hoped that U.S. Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana would have decided to run for president as opposed for governor. I truly believe that he would be an amazing president. But holding the office of governor will actually make him more attractive as president down the road as he will have executive experience. But if you are looking for a person who is not running and should be, I guess I would have to say it would be former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. I have an amazing amount of respect for her and how she handled herself during her tenure with President George W. Bush. Even with all the books that have been written about the Bush administration, Rice has steered clear of getting in the dirt about her former co-workers. She has a quiet strength and remains true to herself. I really admire that.
9. Who do you hope will be the first woman elected President of the United States?
I don't look at gender as a big issue as some other women do. So for me it doesn't matter if a person is male or female. I would like to see the most qualified person get the job as president, regardless of their gender. But I guess you are looking for a name here -- I think that there are many women who are fully capable of being president, Sarah Palin being among them. The media was very unfair to her and completely dismissed the things she was able to accomplish by the time she was in her mid-forties. She was portrayed in the media as stupid and, sadly, there are many people across the country who won't even bother to look at her actual record. I think that is very unfair because many voters would admire and agree with her record if they knew what it was. I think the country is ready for a female president, but for some reason the media is not. Hillary Clinton saw a great deal of unfair treatment as well. Although from my perspective, what was done to Palin was far worse than anything that Clinton had to endure; for the most part, her daughter was left alone.
I’d like to see South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley run for president. She is a rising star within the Republican ranks and will be great candidate in a later cycle. She is keeping her promises so far. I am very intrigued by her latest program that is getting the community involved in the needs of its citizens, instead of some big one-size-fits-all government solution proposed by politicians who have no idea what the real needs in different communities are. She's also put her money where her mouth is by contributing a great deal of her own money towards this project. Haley is living the values she has espoused. One can't ask for more than that.
10. What advice do you have for women online and other bloggers about how not to fear writing about important or controversial issues?
The most important thing you can do when blogging about politics (or anything for that matter) is stay true to your own voice. People have a funny way of sniffing out insincerity. If you are true to what you believe in and what you stand for, people will still want to read what you write even if they happen to disagree with it. I know that I don't fall neatly in the conservative box. There are some of my views that are not considered "conservative," such as my opposition to the death penalty. But I still can have a healthy discussion about my view, because I am able to get people to see why I am opposed to it. I doubt that I change many minds, but I at least get them to think. At least, I hope I do. There are ways to blog and still keep your privacy. For some, this is going to be the most comfortable way of doing it. But the only way to get true change in this country is to work for it. So, if you feel that that we need to make changes to the direction that this country is going, you need to get out there.
Blogging is important. Many things don't get the coverage that they deserve from the mainstream media, so blogging is the way that many people find out about things in their local communities. Putting in your personal point of view into a topical subject will also draw people in to what you are writing, and you just may be able to get some to see another point of view, or at least to realize that there are other points of view. One of my favorite readers is a Democrat from New York. He and I agree on virtually nothing, but we have a mutual respect for one another and at least try to see each other's point of view. He and I both feel that we need to have rational discussion and debate instead of the mudslinging that has become such a big part of our culture today. Speech is good. We need more speech in this country, not less. The cure for bad speech is more speech, not less. If we allow ourselves to be censored, we come closer to changing the fabric of this country. If we can find a way to keep it civil, we may actually solve some problems. Wouldn't that be refreshing?
Kim Jossfolk writes the blog Just a Conservative Girl and contributes to the site Pundit Press. She lives in the shadow of the nation's capital and according to her website, she believes in the written constitution, that we are responsible for ourselves and for our families, that we are allowed to fail, and in a strong national defense. Her essay in Mothers of Intention is entitled, "Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus -– I Just Say No."
Joanne Bamberger writes about politics and current events at her place, PunditMom and is the author Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (on sale now at Amazon). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of The Broad Side, a new online magazine featuring women's commentary from around the web. Joanne is also covering the 2012 election for iVillage. In her days as a cub reporter, two of her "brushes with greatness" included interviewing Henry Kissinger and Aldo Cella, but not at the same time!