Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

What a fabulous night we had at the Lincoln Tribute Dinner! It was a very special evening as we honored Ron and Ruth Wiser for their longtime service to the local party and we were honored to have RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel return to Kalamazoo and give the keynote speech to us.

A near-capacity crowd filled the room as we celebrate the heritage of our party for the 122nd time in Kalamazoo County. I never get tired of reminding people that Abraham Lincoln gave his only public speech in the state of Michigan right here in Kalamazoo County.

On Aug. 27, 1856, during a busy political rally that included four separate stages going simultaneously at each corner of Bronson Park, a tall and stern senator from Illinois took one stage and delivered a 10-minute speech that day in stumping for the first Republican presidential candidate John C. Fremont. In that speech, Lincoln aligned this party against the slavery issue – and he even alluded to supporting women’s voting rights.

Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” It seems these days that his prophetic words are coming true. The only time the political stage has ever been more divisive than what it is now, would probably have been when President Lincoln was fighting to preserve the union. Rules and laws don’t seem to carry any weight anymore. Our friends across the aisle are fueled by the hatred and bigotry that they say they are defending. The times are truly tumultuous.

It can be tempting to just throw up our hands and walk away from opportunities to turn our party and our nation around. But that’s not going to happen. Your Republican Party has leadership that is working hard to empower each member to participate in what we do. Our work together is building a new sense of energy that is already resulting in good things.

It is this energy that brought Republican control to the White House and Congress. There is a conservative now seated on the Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Kalamazoo County has four of our five legislators that are Republican – in a county that is only 46 percent Republican. We are over-achieving and will continue to do so! Our party is stronger and will be prepared for success in the 2018 elections!

It is these things we celebrate as Republicans each year during our Lincoln Tribute Dinner. Our Republican heritage runs deep in Kalamazoo County and in Michigan. We learned from Ronna that the rivalry over the founding of the Republican Party between Ripon, Wisconsin and Jackson, Michigan has finally been settled. She replaced the painting from Ripon at the RNC office with a painting “under the old oak tree” from Jackson signifying the Republican Party was borne in Michigan!

My spirit is renewed after a celebration like that and I wish all Kalamazoo Republicans would attend and see the energy we have right here in our own county.