As I was being interviewed recently at my Texas ranch by Geraldo Rivera, I thought back over my four decades in acting and how the pool of conservative "tough guys" seems to be drying up in Hollywood. Or are liberal waters just getting too hot for conservatives?
Then I recalled that The Washington Times recently reported, "A group of politically conservative and centrist Hollywood figures (up to 600 at once) organized by actor Gary Sinise and others has been meeting quietly in restaurants and private homes, forming a loose-knit network of entertainers who share common beliefs like supporting U.S. troops and traditional American values." But the article also noted that the secret is out on these clandestine meetings, as conservatives progressively are becoming more and more emboldened.
In a so-called age of tolerance, it amazes me just how intolerant some people are of those who stand for traditional values. For example, if I stand against California's memorializing of Harvey Milk Day or stand for California's Proposition 8, which would create an amendment to the California Constitution to safeguard heterosexual purity in marriage (which I do support and encourage Gov. Schwarzenegger and all Californians to do the same), I'm considered by many to be intolerant and a bigot. But if another actor takes just the opposite positions on those measures, he is considered to be compassionate and a liberator. Or when a liberal candidate, such as Hillary Clinton, runs for president, her candidacy is considered a fulfillment of civil rights and women's suffrage. But when a conservative candidate, such as Sarah Palin, runs for vice president, she's considered a radical right-wing extremist who could usurp the Capitol by toting rifles at her side.
This is America, and we should respect the fact that we will have strong, diverse opinions, and we must allow one another the freedom of speech to air such opines, not suppress them through peer pressure of any type like children. I have many acting friends and many friends in politics. I vehemently disagree with some of them, and that is my American right, as it is theirs. We must agree to disagree agreeably, without blogging about or denigrating someone's life and character before the nation and rest of the world. We must do better at keeping the focus on the fact that we are Americans first; we are not just conservatives and liberals.If we are going to move our country forward, if it is going to survive and flourish for the next generation, then we have to drop the partisan rancor and pick up a unified patriotism -- not the patriotism of the past eight years or even the past 18 years, but the patriotism of unified spirit and passion shown by early Americans. What was important to them, what they fought for, was not the left or the right, but being American and being free. We've got to get back to that form of patriotism -- one that is based upon the Constitution, not congressional corruption, and elects people for their character, not their charisma. These are the type of citizens and leaders who don't go deeper into debt to bail out debt. These are the type of citizens and leaders who will say enough is enough. Like Ron Paul, who, after drawing similarities between the $700 billion bailout and the Great Depression, said, "The only thing we learn from history, I am afraid, is that we do not learn from history." (Getting to the heart of America's Founders' beliefs -- their patriotism and answers to our problems -- is also at the heart of why I wrote my latest New York Times best-seller, "Black Belt Patriotism.")
I admire those in the recent past who were able to represent a respectful conservatism in the liberal-leaning show business industry -- men such as Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Ronald Reagan. And I'm grateful for others today who also have stood for conservative values -- incredible actors such as Jim Caviezel, Mel Gibson, Jon Voight and others. These are the type of men who will go against the grain of the Hollywood status quo. These are the type of men who get the fact that entertainment isn't about playing party politics. These are the type of men who demonstrate what my hero and stalwart conservative, John Wayne, once said: "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway."
Underground or aboveground, we're all "created equal … endowed by (our) Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." On Main Street or Wall Street, in the movie business or the political arena, maybe there's much more overlap in life than we think; maybe we've got a lot more in common than we really know. We're Americans.
(Note From Chuck: My wife, Gena, and I send our heartfelt condolences to the family and close friends of Paul Newman. Newman was absolutely one of Hollywood's finest, not only as an actor but also as a gentleman and humanitarian. Another legendary actor, who inspired us all, has ridden off into the sunset, but he never will be forgotten.)