Written by Club President John Van Wagner, during the recent holiday season:
As 2018 ends, I want to talk about beginnings.
Social media was used, by both anarchist- and PTA mom-types (above, and right, respectively), to create a small frenzy over Montclair Republicans’ rights of association and speech.
We started the year with a fighting spirit, in the face of local political tyranny, when Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers , a top Trump campaign operative in New Jersey, came to speak about the many accomplishments of the administration’s first year. In concert with our frequent hosts at the Greek Taverna, we repelled an attempt to silence us. In so doing we put the town on notice that we matter, that our voices will be heard, and that without freedom of speech, of expression, there can be no community.
In similar spirit we welcomed Dr. Murray Bessette from the Victims of Communism Foundation, who underlined to us the importance of history, and truth, and the need to comprehend the suffering brought to millions over decades by the scourge of totalitarian socialism. Dr. Bessette’s presentation drove home the key role we play in Montclair, where ideological commitments often obscure facts, right before our very eyes.
And speaking of facts, of information, this year marked the beginning of the club’s active commitment to re-shaping the narrative in our schools. In 2018 we proudly issued the first Montclair Republican Club sponsored scholarship, given to two High school seniors who demonstrated commitment to, and understanding of, the primacy of individual freedoms. The scholarship was an achievement both symbolic and practical, and impacted two young lives in positive ways we can’t begin to know as they begin their life journeys.
Another seminal achievement was the inclusion of Steve Rogers, representing President Trump’s initiatives, as a speaker for the Citizenship and Government Institute at Montclair High School, the first time a conservative spokesman addressed the group. Step by step we’re prying the door open on the educational establishment in New Jersey. This is not an adversary for the faint of heart, and my deep thanks goes out to everyone involved in this initiative.
On the 4th of July, we proudly fielded twenty-one marchers in Montclair’s parade. Our group was vital and diverse, old and young, men and women, black and white, all united by a passion for liberty and by the courage to take it to the streets in the most visible way possible. I’ve never been prouder to lead such a fine group of people, and I could see the future taking shape in our contingent. At the end of the parade we were already talking about growing our number of marchers next year. We many have outnumbered Montclair’s Socialist marchers for the first time in years.
This past Fall I determined to help lead the club more directly into active campaigning. The results of our Senate and Congressional elections, while they weren’t what we’d hoped for, don’t reflect the many victories we experienced while campaigning street to street, door to door, reassuring the thousands of Montclair Republicans among us that they have a safe haven. The individual conversations we had, and the insights we gained into the lives of our fellow citizens and conservatives, galvanized a new determination among any of who participated to keep moving, to bring in as many as we can, and to fight for a future day when change will come. And for many, the hope for that change resides in us.
So on to 2019.
Please save the date for our January 31st meeting with Doug Steinhardt, the Chairman of the NJ State Republican Committee, at 7:00 p.m. at Greek Taverna. Chairman Steinhardt will provide guidance on our direction and focus as we rebuild the party in New Jersey. Also, in the first part of the year, we’ll have field organizers from Americans For Prosperity come to outline how their organization can help us with our own messaging in Montclair. We going to start strong in the New Year, so please join in.
A new beginning awaits.