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Let’s Play Two

Ernie Banks

Baseball great Ernie Banks passed away on Friday, January 23, 2015. Banks was the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs and while he chalked some great personal stats in his 19 seasons with the Cubs, an 11-time All-Star and two-time National League Most Valuable Player (1958-59), the team never made a postseason appearance, let alone won a pennant, while Banks was on the team.

Yet, Ernie Banks enthusiasm for the game of baseball and the Cubs never wavered, and he became “Mr. Cub” through his now-famous line “Let’s play two.”

Banks related that the first time he said “let’s play two” everybody looked at him like he was crazy.

"It was about 105 degrees in Chicago and that's a time when everybody gets tired. I came into the clubhouse and everybody was sitting around and I said, 'Beautiful day. Let's play two!' And everybody looked at me like I was crazy. There were a couple of writers around and they wrote that and it stayed with me," said Banks.

Would you look at us here at CHQ like we were crazy if we said, “conservatives are winning, let’s redouble our efforts?”

Well, we are winning and it is time to adopt a more positive, “Let’s play two” attitude.

Many of today’s conservatives forget that when the modern conservative movement began to take shape in the 1950s its leaders could have met in a phone booth. And when what became Young Americans for Freedom met at William F. Buckley, Jr.’s home in Sharon, Connecticut, to issue “The Sharon Statement,” less 100 were in attendance.

Yet, barely a year later, “A Conservative Rally for World Liberation from Communism,” drew a sellout crowd of 18,500 mostly young people to Madison Square Garden in the heart of liberalism’s East coast citadel, New York City.

Just a short two years after that, Republicans nominated the first conservative presidential candidate of the modern era – conservative Barry Goldwater.

And while we saw darkness of Biblical proportions after Goldwater’s defeat in 1964, a mere two years later, in 1966, Ronald Reagan was elected Governor of California running as a conservative.

Although Richard Nixon was no conservative – he ran as one – and was elected President in 1968. Throughout the tumultuous 1970s, Nixon’s resignation and the ups and downs of the Republican Party, during which many conservatives considered or did abandon Republican politics as being hopeless, conservative ideas, and conservative candidates like Ronald Reagan, continued to advance.

And in 1980 Ronald Reagan was elected President, the first conservative President of the modern era.

Since Reagan left the White House – and even while Reagan was in the White House – conservatives grew frustrated that many of the most important issues on the conservative agenda did not get translated into government policy or law.

But many of them have – and what’s more important is that the national debate now turns almost solely on conservative policy and those driving the debate are now almost all conservatives; we’ve gone from meeting in a phone booth to having a deep bench of national conservative leaders and elected officials.

What’s more, we’ve built an infrastructure to support our ideas and candidates that conservative leaders of the '50's and '60's could only dream about.

If you were a conservative on a college campus or in a suburban neighborhood reading the newspapers and watching TV in the '50's, '60's, '70's and '80's you were marooned in a world where the elite opinion makers of New York and Washington found your ideas fit to be ignored or attacked, but not printed or aired.

Now we have FOX News, talk radio with such effective commentators as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Steve Deace, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham just to name a few. We have dozens, if not hundreds of conservative websites, like CHQ, offering news and commentary from the limited government constitutional conservative perspective, and (still not enough) we have hundreds, if not thousands, of conservative organizations doing everything from policy work in Washington, to right-to-life education in cities across the country, to voter education projects in local elections.

We don’t know if the late Chicago Cubs baseball great Ernie Banks was a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal, but we do know that Bank’s infectious enthusiasm for the game of baseball and his perennially “in the cellar” Cubs has a lesson for conservatives in today’s political environment.

Friends, it is a beautiful day to be a conservative. Let's play two!

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