This is the 6th profile of this type that I have done. As I fine-tune this process, I learn about what I appreciate while simultaneously gaining knowledge on what each of our featured personalities contributes to the conversation on conservative philosophy that transpires daily on Twitter. One distinctive has emerged that characterizes everyone I have interviewed so far: An authenticity that manifests itself in a fearless adherence to principle and an approach to life that is fresh and invigorating.

                There are a plethora of reasons for me to be fond of Emily Borkholder, rooted in common aspects of personality and preference. We’re both Christians. We come from Indiana. We both blog for Hoosier Access, a premier political information roundup Web presence in our state. We’re deeply conservative. We draw energy from being around people. On and on it could go.

                But what a…PRESENCE…Emily is. No one ever has to inquire whether or not Emily has made an appearance on the scene; she either is very much THERE or else leaving us all wishing she was. She is so vibrant and ALIVE…with a radiantly intelligent spirit and unfailingly humorous outlook.

                I always come away from a conversation with Emily, knowing my intellect has been sharpened, whether I agree with her opinions or end up shaking my head in bewilderment at her conclusions. (Trust me; the majority of the time, the former occurs.) And I have found Emily to be gracious, irrespective of either outcome. This is high praise for our youngest subject to date, but at age 25, Emily models a standard of exuberant mental dedication to many of us who are…um…several years her senior.

                Emily can be located on Twitter via her distinctively memorable handle: @hostagehoosier. See if you can become her 1,786th follower…and then, everybody else follow suit after the first one jumps on the Borkholder bandwagon! Hang on for a wild ride!!! Love ya, Em!

10 Questions for Emily Borkholder

1. The first question is just too easy. Please explain the origins and genesis of your Twitter handle (@hostagehoosier)! 

First of all, I would like to say I love the state of Indiana.  I love the Midwestern stubbornness and I don’t think I would be who I am without a childhood in Indiana. A childhood in the wide open farmland found in the rural parts of northern Indiana makes me appreciate small things, even now. My family has been in the state since the mid-1800s and my great uncle still lives on the land that was originally homesteaded. I find something beautiful about having that connection to my family’s history. So, I was less than enthused when I realized that I would be moving to the crowded, busy, crowded, rat-racing, crowded slime hole of the greater Washington DC area.  Did I mention it is crowded here?                                                                         

A view from the front yard of the property where Emily grew up.

I am in the state of Virginia by circumstance, rather than choice.  When I became engaged to my husband in 2006, I knew that the chances of staying in the state were slim.  Indiana’s economy was entering the recession just as we hit our senior year in college.  The brain drain in Indiana is real, my friends; Brandon had several job offers in California, Iowa, Texas and Virginia.  Being the logical and methodical person he is, he worked out cost of living and what his salary would be. And, with my blessing chose the job in Virginia.  He has his computer science and math degrees from Rose-Hulman; I have a history degree.  Do I really need to tell you who is making the money in this relationship?  It has been a running joke since I got married that he is holding me hostage in a crappy east coast state.  Naming my twitter handle as such only seemed natural.  I have been pretty pleased with it as a handle.  I seem to attract a lot of followers who are curious about its origin and it is much more memorable than my real name. No one would look at a twitter handle called @emilyborkholder, much less be able to remember it.   

This is Emily. Need I say more?

2. WHO is Emily Borkholder?

I grew up in the heart of northern Indiana Amish country on about 6 acres where we had cats, dogs, dirtbikes and a lot of land to run around on.  This should explain why I dislike northern Virigina; it is entirely too crowded here.  Think country and then add a lot of buggies and horse crap on the road; that is where I am from.  Growing up and still today, most of my parents’ neighbors are Amish and buggy/foot/bike traffic outnumbers cars.  My road was the one that tour buses like to drive really, really slowly down, so people from the big city can take pictures of manure spreaders and such. I can’t tell you how many times people driving by pulled into our driveway to ask if we were Amish.  Really, the huge diesel truck and motorcycles everywhere didn’t tip you off? Anyway, I digress.

My dad is a truck driver and mom is a homemaker. I have two younger sisters; they are skinnier and taller than me. I despise them for this.  We were homeschooled (yes, I am one of those awkward, unsocialized, jean skirt wearing freak children, be afraid).  I went to public middle and high school; it was uneventful and boring most of the time.  I don’t feel like I was challenged till I reached college.  I read at a senior in high school level in 6th grade; let me just say the curriculum in my local public school system never caught up with me.  I entered the University of Indianapolis in 2003.  I was heavily involved in College Republicans and worked on the Carl Brizzi and Mitch Daniels campaigns.  I also worked in the writing lab while a student at UIndy.  I must say: working with other students made me acutely aware of how badly public schools are preparing students for college and the real world.  It was pretty eye- opening to see how far behind many of the students, even ones that claimed to have good grades in high school, were in the realm of writing skills.  I graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in History (specifically, museum work and archival stuff.) I decided that I didn’t want to spend the money to go to grad school to get my masters in Library Science.  But if I did ever go to grad school, it would definitely be in Library and Information Science.  I belong locked in an archive room doing research somewhere…as long as I could tweet from there.

I worked at Nelson’s Port-a-Pit (if you have never had Port-a-Pit, get into your car, drive to Wakarusa right now and get some chicken. Do. It. Now.) for a year after college, got married in 2008 and moved to Virginia the week after the wedding. I currently have a job on the outskirts of DC…but if there is some Republican who is looking for a fantastic, motivated staff member after their election to the House or Senate in November, I am your girl and I have my resume waiting for you! 

3. I’ve met Brandon Borkholder and for those who haven’t had the privilege, he’s a little…uh…quieter than some of us! How did the two of you meet and end up together?

Speaking of being married, yes, Brandon and I have probably the most opposite personalities of any couple you would ever meet.  Where I am all snark, sarcasm and boisterousness, Brandon is quiet, calm and rational.  Being right 100% of the time would be difficult with someone who was just as loud and snarky as me, but Brandon usually lets my brilliance go through undisturbed. If you couldn’t guess by my last name, Brandon was raised Amish and then Mennonite for part of his childhood.  His family left both communities to become English (yes, this is what Amish call non-Amish).  Yes, he can speak Dutch. No, I can’t and refuse to learn. 

Brandon and I began dating late in our senior year in high school.  We didn’t consult each other when choosing colleges, but it turned out that Rose-Hulman and UIndy are only about 70 miles apart.   He proposed in 2006, we graduated in 2007 and got married in 2008.  We have one child named Daphne; she is black and white and covered in fur. Don’t judge.                                                                                                             

Emily & Brandon on the Mall in Washington, DC.

I think his ability to remain unflustered and clear-thinking in most situations is the best characteristic about him.  If you want a calm, collected, thoughtful answer go to Brandon.  If you want the same answer full of sarcasm, I’ve got that covered.  It also helps that he is smarter than me when it comes to basically everything besides sewing, political writing and wall painting.  Word to the wise: Marry someone smarter than you. It will make your life enormously easier.  

4. When did you know you were a conservative and what does the term mean to you?

I will give you a little fact about me to show you the genesis of my conservatism.  When I was in elementary school, I couldn’t have told you who the New Kids on the Block were or what a Smurf was, but I could sing Rush’s Homeless Update song word for word. My mom used to put a piece of paper on the TV during President Clinton’s State of the Union addresses that said “Everything this man says is a lie.”  It should be no surprise that I turned out how I did. There wasn’t ever a time when I would have considered myself a liberal.  I have always been the smart-aleck student telling the teacher they are wrong. 

Some say if you aren’t a liberal while you are young, you don’t have a heart.  I am offended by this statement.  I say if you are a liberal, you have neither a heart nor a brain. Standing strong in conservative values is the most compassionate thing you can do.  Expecting someone to rely on themselves from a young age on is the best thing you can teach a child.  I am 25 years old and many of my peers have known nothing other than a bailout society.  Between the Good Going awards, self-esteem classes, participation trophies, parents calling a teacher to change an “unfair” grade and getting partial credit on tests for just attempting to answer, it is no wonder that our society thinks the best way to deal with failing business is to bail them out. 

My generation does not know how to pick themselves up off the ground after a miserable failure because they have never had to. I don’t find anything compassionate about a system of beliefs that rewards failure, subsidizes bad behavior and redistributes wealth. It is a fact that people and governments alike subsidize the behavior they want to continue. While liberals are busy subsidizing failure, a conservative outlook rewards success. 

So to me, conservatism = 3 things:

  • Smaller government – allow people to make their own choices, take ownership of their decisions and be proud of the success they can achieve.
  • Lower taxes – allow businesses to grow, create more jobs and wealth to be spent where the individual sees fit.
  • Protection of life – protecting the unborn from conception forward, protecting victims through a fair court system and individual protection through the right to bear arms.

    THE Hostage Hoosier in DC, surrounded by a cadre of fellow Hoosiers...in DC.

5. Name some of your favorites: Books, movies, musical artists, vacation spots, holidays and a couple miscellaneous items of your choice.

Books

  • 1984 (George Orwell)
  • Don’t Waste Your Life (John Piper)
  • The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)

    Movies

  • The Departed
  • Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (Yes, the one with Leonardo Di Caprio. Hate on, haters.)
  • The Patriot

    Musical Artists

  • Hymns from the 1800s. Contemporary Christian music makes me want to stab someone.
  • Do podcasts of sermons count? If they do, then anything from Alistair Begg
  • Does talk radio count? If it does, Glenn Beck

    Vacation Spots

  • The Caribbean; that is all.

    Holidays

  • I am kind of the anti-sentimental type. I banned my husband from giving me cards on birthdays/holidays/anniversaries because I think they are lame. So I will say I like Election Day; I get more excited about watching election results than about any holiday.

    Other favorite things

  • Pomeranians. Cutest dogs ever; case closed.
  • Ragdoll cats.  If you don’t know what a Ragdoll cat is, go find one. Best cats ever.
  • Sewing, cooking, cleaning. I should have been born in the 1950s.

6. Who are 3 of your heroes/role models and why and who are 3 public figures who drive you nuts and why?  

Love ‘em:

Dr. James Fuller – Dr. Fuller is my favorite professor from the University of Indianapolis.  He is a Christian, a conservative Libertarian and a generally wonderful guy. I credit him with my arrival at a mostly libertarian outlook on life.  He lectures on early American history and promotes the individual in all of his lectures.  His constant reminder to evaluate historical figures by remembering they were individuals making choices in the context of their time has stuck with me in my years since college.  I have carried that phrase in the back of my mind since college. It does me good in my political writing and my evaluation of those I meet in real life to remember that everyone is shaped by their experiences and the environment in which they live. I have found that remembering these things will give you insight into people’s character that is easy to miss at first glance. In the conservative realm, college professors are often viewed as the enemy. I can assure you that Dr. Fuller is one of the good guys and I encourage you to listen to him lecture or read one of his books if you ever get the chance.

Julie Andrews – Yep, Maria from the Sound of Music…that Julie Andrews. The woman is so graceful and beautiful and elegant.  I admire someone that embraces femininity in spite of a society that says men are the same as women. And it is just wonderful to see a woman aging gracefully with either fantastic plastic surgeons or good genes.  Either way, she is beautiful and I hope I will be that graceful someday.  I doubt it will ever happen, though. Julie doesn’t strike me as the snarky type; I could never give that up.

Andrew Breitbart – It is about time that there is an unabashed conservative willing to stand up to the media. The man doesn’t filter or soften anything he has to say. I love and admire him for that.

Hate ‘em:

Newt Gingrich – Hypocrite, Hypocrite, Hypocrite. The man was cheating on his wife at the same time he was going after President Clinton for cheating on his wife.  Seriously, not cool.  And now he wants to be the new face of the conservative movement. No thanks. There are a lot of things I can forgive, but I have a hard time believing someone who is so flippant with their marriage vows wouldn’t have the same issue with staying faithful to their constituents. I will absolutely blow a gasket if this man runs for President in 2012.  Dear Newt, no one wants your old face to be the new face of the same old Republican Party. GO AWAY. Love: people who hate hypocrites.

Teachers’ Unions – I hold teacher’s unions responsible for the shambles our educational system is in. They do not have students’ best interest in mind.  They are selfish, greedy and liberal organizations.  I have no intention of sending my children to public school because of them.

Rosie O’Donnell – seriously, ew.

7. You blog for Hoosier Access and tweet regularly. When did you start doing both of those and do you write anywhere else?

I started tweeting in March 2009 when Brandon became so annoyed with my political ranting that he signed me up and then handed over control of the account.  Smart man, smart, smart man.  Josh Gillespie and Mark Warner noticed my flair for snark and commentary on Indiana politics and asked me to start writing for Hoosier Access in February 2010.  I don’t write anywhere else right now.  If I ever start a blog of my own, I think I would focus on sewing and cooking projects, but I don’t really have time for that right now.  Maybe when I am at home with kids someday…maybe not.

8. This is becoming one of my favorite queries I pose in these interviews, regardless of the interview subject’s religion. As a Christian, what are your thoughts on the intersection between your faith and your conservative outlook?

My specific Christian beliefs are Calvinist. Yep: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints…the whole shebang. I think the total depravity part of my beliefs explains the situation our country is in rather well.  We are a fallen race, marred by sin and we can’t do any good on our own.  As our country continues to ignore Christian values, demean Christian leaders and seek salvation in all the wrong places, we have ended up with the Savior, Obama. Turns out, relying on a man to be a savior limits our freedom instead of increasing it.   Dictatorships bring leader worship.  Communism crushes religion. I am fiercely defensive of our First Amendment right to freedom of religion.  I want a society where everyone is allowed to worship in the way they see fit. No one should be forced into a religion they don’t believe; that never works. As Christians, we are commanded to be fishers of men and to spread the Gospel. I am in favor of a government that allows free exchange of ideas, allowing me to fulfill the command to spread the Gospel, while at the same time forcing no one to subscribe to my beliefs if they don’t want to.

9. You’re a prime example of someone with whom I share mostly identical beliefs and values. We’ve had some vocal disagreements (the Indiana Senate primary earlier this year and aspects of the Glenn Beck rally), yet we never stopped speaking or insulted each other…and still liked each other in the end! With the above and the events of the last few weeks in mind, what are your thoughts on civility between friendlies?

The ability to have civil discourse with your friends is where you find out what you really believe.  Those who avoid having arguments with the people they like, just for the sake of being nice, are missing out on a chance to expand and better understand their own beliefs. If you have friends that honestly like and care about you, they are not going to hate you for disagreeing on one point.  Having a disagreement with a friend should be an exercise in explaining your stance in a coherent and cohesive manner.  I would rather have someone who I mostly agree with point out the flaws in my argument than someone I vehemently disagree with on a regular basis.  A smart person will take their friends’ point into account; it would be foolish to ignore someone who you mostly agree with when they point out a flaw in an argument.  I encourage everyone to take these opportunities to examine what they believe, take their friend’s point into account, evaluate if it is valid and use it to either strengthen their own argument or concede that their friend may be correct and shift position on a particular topic.

10.  Finally, the bucket list question: What three things would be on it?

1. I will learn how to bake bread.  I can make pasta, I can bake cakes, I can throw a casserole together and it all comes out beautifully.  But I fail at making bread every. single. time. I think I am too impatient to let it rise and stuff.  I will get the hang of it someday.  In the meantime, you can find me scooping large amounts of sticky dough into the trash can.

2. If I am forced to live in DC, I want to work on the Hill for a while.  I don’t want to work there long, maybe a year or two.  It is an experience I would like to have before I stay at home with kids in a few years.

3. I want to be Keith Olbermann’s Worst Person in the World.  Because seriously, if you are making Olbermann mad, you are doing something right.