By Byron Donalds
Released June 1, 2012
Many of you have wondered – and several have asked – “How does a young black man, growing up poor, at
times on food-stamps, in a single-parent home in Brooklyn, New York, end up in Southwest Florida as a
Conservative Republican running for the US Congress?”
People assume that a story like mine would result in lifetime loyalty to the Democrat party – but for me, that was not the case. As an independent thinker, an avid reader and researcher, and a man who was taught the value of hard work and personal responsibility, I see this outcome as a natural end to a thoughtful journey.
I was blessed with a private school education, thanks to my hard-working Mother and Grandmother. They taught me basic lessons like: “life is not fair”, “work hard and you’ll get rewarded”, and “don’t be envious about what the other guy has”.
Most American parents raise their children under these conservative principles. We want the very best for our children, we want them to be free to achieve their dreams with hard work; we teach them to be responsible with their belongings, to be charitable and appreciative of what they have. Even when on public welfare, most Americans work hard to get on their feet. These are conservative values.
Over time, many fall prey to the progressive thinking of the Democrat Party; to ideas that they are victims of unfair treatment by society. Many become ‘predisposed’ to the Democrat Party – for life. At the age of 18, I registered as a Democrat – the party of my parents, neighbors and friends - without thinking much of it. Like most teenagers, I knew nothing of economics or politics – I inherited my affiliation, as do most young people.
After graduating from FSU with degrees in Finance and Marketing, I moved to Southwest Florida. The post-9/11 economy was causing severe instability both locally and nationally. In 2006, as a Commercial Credit Officer in Southwest Florida’s banking industry, my responsibilities included providing economic analysis to the bank's Board of Directors. I discovered that the financial challenges we faced led to political questions, and the foundation of correct answers could be found in political philosophy. This is what prompted me to begin years of in-depth research into the roots of our nation's domestic issues. I concluded that limited constitutional government and individual liberty are the keys to preserving America’s economic stability.
In 2008, my passion for the cause of liberty became enflamed as I campaigned heavily against Barack Obama – arguing against his ideology with my college friends and family members – lifelong Democrats who were thrilled with Obama as a candidate. I spent hours debating the issues, tirelessly explaining the reasons why Obama’s progressive vision will hurt the very people they are trying to defend – the poor and the young.
My first delving into political arguments led me to become more publicly involved in the defense of conservative principles. I became part of Naples Tea Party leadership, volunteering for the cause and speaking at grass-roots events throughout Southwest Florida. I spoke on the history of conservatism, the philosophy that has made America great. I officially registered Republican in time for the 2010 closed primaries, tired of being left out of the conservative side of the candidate selection process simply because of the letter (D) on my voter registration card.
I am dedicated to liberty and limited government not because of my political party, but because of my beliefs: strong core beliefs that I have come to after much thoughtful analysis.
I know, deep within my core, that individual sovereignty and strict adherence to the US Constitution will preserve the America that we treasure – the America that a significant majority of Americans love and want for future generations.
Our party must begin to reaffirm a Vision of limited government that speaks to all Americans, not just Republicans. The GOP needs someone like me, once a Democrat for the same reason many still are, who can guide others to switch as well. Converts are often the most committed. The Apostle Paul, the former Roman soldier and bane of early Christians, is an example of the commitment of conversion. A converted Democrat Ronald Reagan became the greatest GOP advocate for liberty in modern history. Millions of converts, from Paul to Reagan and dare I say myself, are needed today to restore the liberties endowed upon us by our Creator and etched into our Constitution by our Founders.