Gun control wasn't a scheduled topic at a local conservative forum Thursday evening, but it crept comically into the conversation anyway.
Local attorney Daniel Hernandez addressed the crowd at the Best Western Atrea in Bryan, asking rhetorically, "How do you determine if you're in a safe place?"
One of about 80 audience members piped up, "There's guns!" to resonant laughter.
Hernandez quickly recovered from the small tangent, laughing himself, and said value and trust are what creates safe environments in day-to-day relationships, business relationships and in politics.
Hernandez, who focused on integrating Hispanics into conservative culture at the forum, joined Tom Pauken and Dr. Dave McIntyre as the featured speakers at the event, which was hosted by the Republican Party of the Brazos Valley.
"The main reason we are holding this is because I think conservatives nationally, statewide and locally, we're all -- shall we say -- depressed after November," said Paul Rieger, chairman of the party. "I think we're all searching for answers and I think a big part of the reason we invited these particular presenters here tonight is because each of them has an expertise that we want to look to in the conservative movement, both locally and nationally."
Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission and an official in the Ronald Reagan administration, offered solutions for "marginalizing the left."
"We can't undo what's happened, so what do we do now?" Pauken said. "Our job is not to represent the issues of big government, but represent the forgotten Americans -- middle class taxpayers and families. We've got to begin to re-frame the debate."
Pauken said when he served under Reagan, the administration's focus was on common sense solutions that Reagan said were simple, but not easy.
"We have to be the party we once were," Pauken said.
McIntyre, former head of homeland security at Texas A&M and a national speaker on homeland security and conservative issues, said there are problems with the plan of action in the conservative movement.
"Every good strategy is founded on a narrative," McIntyre said. "It's the narrative that is missing from the conservative movement -- it's the absence of the message about how the world works."
When Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake" after learning that peasants had no bread, she was missing the narrative, McIntyre said.
"No wonder they cut her head off," McIntyre laughed. "Conservatives don't have to create their narrative from scratch -- it's in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution ... it's a balance of rights and responsibilities."
Hernandez stressed the importance of relating with individuals of various ethnic backgrounds to communicate and spread conservative ideals.
"We've got to find ways to connect with people who are different than us," he said. "People become conservative when they have something to conserve, like their family values ... It's about adding value and seeking to understand."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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