Sunday, November 16, 2008

The New Republican by Steven Lee

I received the article below from Steven Lee, a student at GA State, as a request for a column on the Fayette Front Page (.com). He and I ended up "talking" a bit via email. I hafta tell you, I'm impressed. I hate to sound like some old fogey (but I guess there's enough of a difference in age now that I'm at that point where to a college student I might qualify for that moniker...), but he gives me hope for the future! Geez, that sounds like something that my mother would say, but it's the truth. Shoot, when I was Steven's age I wasn't anywhere near as together and focused!

So, I was impressed enough with his attitude, intelligence and article to share it in a number of places (with permission). I'm going to pass it along to some friends in the Republican Party, too. Steven and others like him are our future, not just the future of the Republican Party. He's going to have a good life and he's going to do good things, too.

The New Republican
By Steven Lee

I became the first President of the Law Republicans at the University of Georgia this Fall. My story is unlikely. I was born in Connecticut and raised in New York but now I am a proud Southerner. My parents left South Korea to become Americans almost 30 years ago. My family grew up in a rent-controlled tiny one-bedroom apartment, while my parents took on three jobs at a time to make ends meet.

When I was younger, my parents imposed a strict curfew, clamping down on my whereabouts due to the lack of safety in our crime-ridden neighborhood. The neighborhood we grew up in bustled with immigrant families of different cultures, sending children to school from tiny apartments, trying to live the American Dream. After an exhausting day of work each day, my parents worried and checked up on my schoolwork late in the evenings.

If you have watched those liquid dish soap commercials where a single drop of soap instantly makes the grease scurry to the edges of the sink, you would have found a discomforting similarity to my bathroom wall when it turned from black to white as roaches scurried for places to hide from the light. When I was a child and I went to the bathroom at night, I turned on the bathroom light, quickly turned around and ran into my bed in horror.

More than two years ago, my parents finally scrounged enough money together to buy a home in sunny Georgia. They were fortunate enough to save, buy a small home, and then were lifted out of New York during the housing boom, the way a river floods and lifts the broken in its current.
I believe, one day, I will tell a story about an amazing journey that started in a small humble apartment in New York. In my destitution, I learned the importance of building character, working hard, and being thankful for what I have.

After Election Day, I started writing a blog ( about how the Republican party should “reinvent” itself while staying true to its core convictions. People of all different creeds – Democrat, Independent, Republican and Libertarian – have joined in a thoughtful and engaging discussion on the modern day challenges that America faces now. The forum is connecting people nationally.

From education reform to the economy, each entry invites readers to discuss important issues that will shape our country for generations. If as Americans we start becoming more involved at the grassroots level, we can begin to influence the public debate.

In my forum called New Republican, I recently discussed how the future of America rests on education reform. Only 53% of high school graduates in the US enter college and 35% graduate from college, according to the American Youth Policy Forum. The majority of children around the world are outperforming American children in Math and Science (Center for Public Education). Of all the industrialized countries, only children in the United States are less likely to graduate from high school than their parents were. 17 of the 50 largest cities have graduation rates under 50 percent, with 1.2 million American students dropping out each year.

I respectfully invite you to join in this open-minded discussion. I have been humbled by the interest of so many. The forum received nearly 3,000 hits in the first week, and hundreds of visits per day. With the worst economy since the Great Depression and other challenges that America must deal with now, Martin Luther King Jr.’s words were never truer, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” If we join together, we will confront the modern-day challenges and begin to influence the public debate.

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