In America, even a man raised by Iowa Democrats can be chair of the South Dakota Republican Party.
I have a confession to make, which might be difficult for some people to accept. I was raised by Iowa Democrats.
My mom and my dad were lifelong Democrats in Iowa, and in fact, my father was chairman of the Democrat Party in Black Hawk County for a number of years. My family actually raised me to be a Democrat and early on in my adult life, that’s how I was registered.
I, Dan Lederman, chairman of the S.D. Republican Party started out my adulthood as an Iowa Democrat.
As my parents raised me to be a Democrat, they also instilled in me the virtues and values of family, small business, community service and a respect for the military. As I was first registering to vote as a Democrat, I was also joining the National Guard, where I served as a medic.
In the intervening years, my parents grew older and I gained education and life experience. And the Democrat party went through many changes in the values that were once important to them.
Two Democrat presidents let our military decline during their tenures and at the last Democrat Convention, Democrats actually booed the mention of Israel. My parents – my father and my mother –were both veterans who strongly supported our military and valued our alliance and support for Israel. If they were alive today, my parents would no longer be Democrats.
I made the realization about the time I moved to S.D., that Democrats no longer were accepting of what I believed in and I registered as a Republican, because the Republican Party reflected my values. And having been raised by two wonderful and politically active people, eventually I ran for office as a Republican, was elected a number of times to different offices and eventually chose a path which led me to become the chairman of the S.D. Republican Party.
Forty or 50 years ago, my parents might have scoffed at the notion I would lead another state’s Republican Party organization, but that’s the great thing about America. You can rise from a humble beginning and be anything you want to be. Even as a now S.D. Republican, raised by Iowa Democrats.
Some groups are trying to create controversy by “outing” a few Republican legislators as once having been registered Democrat 25 and 30 years ago. As the state’s top party official, I can assure you that falls on deaf ears. Because my response is “me too.”
I’ve always been taught that the party of Ronald Reagan – another former Democrat – is a party with a big tent, supported by both those who chose the party from the onset and those who were drawn to it as they examined the values that were important to them.
The Republican Party will always value the contributions and candidacies of those who have chosen to identify with it and true Republicans are not critical of any former party affiliation of those who have invested the time and effort to represent the GOP in the public eye.
If you believe that each person is responsible for their own place within society, that keeping the government as close to the individual as possible, that the best government for the people is one that is closest to the people and that the strength of the nation lies within the individuals who live in the country, then you, too, should be a member of the Republican Party.
And no matter how you are registered today, I’ll be there to welcome you into the GOP with an open hand and an open heart and to support you should you ever choose to serve the public as a representative of your community and the Republican Party.
Dan Lederman is the chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party and former State Senate Assistant Majority Leader. My Voice columns should be 500 to 700 words. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships.
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