Tea Party hears panel on how to counter liberals

In the 1980s, Barry Jantz was a member of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom while a student at San Diego State. It was there that he learned how to deal with ideological opponents.

About 45 people, including six candidates for office, attended the meeting in Lakeside. Photo by Ken Stone

After debates, he said, he’d “walk up to the lefties on campus and say: ‘Great job! Nice to meet you.’ And they’d look at you like, ‘Whoa, why are you talking to me?’”

Jantz, a Republican activist and former La Mesa councilman, says treating liberals with respect made it more difficult for them to attack you “when they saw you as a nice person.”

Such was the advice of a three-member panel Monday night in Lakeside, when 45 members of the local Tea Party and California Republican Assembly met to hear about how to counter “the bigotry of the left.”

Local California Republican Assembly president Sylvia Sullivan introduced Jantz and two other media- and politics-savvy experts after recounting instances of what she called liberal attacks on religious freedom, including efforts to force businesses to serve same-sex couples against the owners’ conscience and faith.

“The government has come into certain businesses and forced them to do that … or force them out of business,” Sullivan said at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post near Lindo Lake.

Other panelists were Chris Clark, pastor of East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church and a vocal critic of gay marriage, and anti-abortion activist Mary Moran of Ramona.

Jantz, CEO of the Grossmont Healthcare District, was a top aide to former AssemblymanJay La Suer. He also blogs for “center-right” SDRostra.com.

“Respecting the person is what we’re talking about,” Jantz said in summarizing panel wisdom. “That gets you a long way.”

Clark, a vocal defender of Proposition 8 who has been quoted on NPR among other outlets, said: “We need to remember that right is right — no matter what. … Truth is truth.”

He said the Bible is his “source of authority,” which speaks to “every issue in life.”

Chris Clark and Mary Moran discuss how to deal with liberal critics. Photo by Ken Stone

“We need to stay on the side of truth and be uncompromising with it,” Clark said. “We can do it in a way that shows we’re not angry. We don’t need to be angry because truth is on our side.”

He said that if “you redefine marriage, … the next domino to fall is religious liberty…. And now’s it happening at a more rapid pace.”

Moran, citing the Hobby Lobby case before the U.S. Supreme Court, said: “Our religious freedom is under attack. It’s extremely important for all of us to become well-versed on the issue.”

When conservatives make an argument to “the opposing side,” she said, they need “to present sources.”

Said Moran: “We need to be active because the government is truly running amuck.”

Jantz added that conservatives should not “run away from the media” despite its perceived liberal bias. Their hesitance to answer questions “[end] up being on the evening news — their running.”

He supported fostering relationships with members of the media.

“Can you be friendly and … respectful?” said Jantz, also active on social media. “They will look to you as a spokesperson who is reasonable … and seek you out. Then you can get your point across.”

Mary Moran and Barry Jantz discuss how to deal with liberal critics. Photo by Ken Stone

Moran said some same-sex marriage advocates “go through significant training. … They might try to cause an [emotional] argument … for other people surrounding you to hear.”

She said she’s noticed that activists on the left have been trained to start a statement with a question.

“Folks at the shopping center [may be asked]: Do you feel that everyone should be treated equally?”

She called that a loaded question.

“There’s no right answer for that question,” Moran said. “So … you might respond to them by saying: ‘What do you mean by equality? What is your definition of equality? Try to dig a little more on what they are actually talking about.”

She also said: “It’s harder for [liberals] to attack you when they see you as a person.”

Clark said: “Stop the name-calling and 8-second sound bites. It’s remarkable how people can be disarmed.”

Calling herself a practicing Catholic, Moran said the aim isn’t to convert liberals immediately as much as to “plant a seed” of thought that leads to change.

“God will do that,” she said.

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