Twitter Personality of the Week #31: 10 Questions for Kristina Ribali (@ORLibertyGal)

If we are to recapture this country for the cause of freedom…well, just take a look at the verb I employed in the previous clause. “Recapture” implies not only that something valuable has been lost, but also that the exertion of intellectual and spiritual effort will be required in order to retrieve it. No one I know in the conservative movement today understands this more intuitively than does Kristina Ribali. 

Kristina has been on the grassroots’ front lines in the struggle for liberty for nearly two decades. (Yes, a highly youthful beginning, in case you’re compiling the math figures.) Kristina epitomizes “beautifully persuasive” on so many levels…an arrestingly attractive lady who also happens to be a relentlessly articulate polemicist. Whether the argument at hand is for school choice, the pro-life cause, the fiscal insanity raging in the nation’s capital, Kristina is armed with facts and prepared for vigorous combat. 

Kristina Ribali should not be underestimated, but she has been and will be again. The liberal glitterati she opposes masquerades as diverse (pro-woman), but time and again, demonstrates the insidious colors of soft tyranny towards those who dare to defy their stereotypes. This is, of course, a perilous pitfall. But since when did that ever dissuade a progressive? 

I have learned in the last year that Kristina is a loyal friend and tireless booster. This fact is all the more gripping when paired with a bit of behind-the-scenes info. I won’t delve into all the details, but suffice it to say that Kristina and her husband have experienced the ravages of Obamanomics firsthand over the last couple of years. I marvel, though, that this only seems to have renewed her determination to expose the follies of Keynesianism and wage the battle for conservative principles. It is one thing to theorize on the efficacy of market capitalism. It is another matter altogether when one has suffered through its diminution. Both have emboldened Kristina, and sadly for the Left, we’re all better off for it. 

We’ll all be seeing a lot more of Kristina Ribali in the days ahead in her new role at a leading grassroots organization, FreedomWorks! Get to know her now and you, too, will grasp why she is a valued ally to our cause.

10 Questions for Kristina Ribali

1.      As a conservative in one of the bluest states in the nation (Oregon), we automatically deduce there has to be a story that led you here! What aspects of your upbringing made you the woman you are today?   

Oh, Oregon…I love you, even though you don’t make much sense at times.  I wasn’t raised here in Oregon.   I was actually raised in California.  My parents sacrificed much to put my sister and me into a top private school in Los Angeles County.  We lived in a dump (sorry Dad, but it’s true) and our private school payments were more than our mortgage. My parents believed in the value of good education, and even back then, the LA public schools were a mess!  My Dad discussed current affairs quite a bit at home.  He’s an attorney and loves our Constitution.  He never told us how to believe, but he’d always pose questions to us about whether or not we believed government should have control over this part or that part of someone’s life.  My dad was a Goldwater Republican; today he’d probably say he was a small “l” Libertarian.  Like many of us, he’s ticked at the growth of the government and our debt under both parties.  I’m a lot like my dad. We love our country, but in many ways, we’re ashamed of the Republicans and how they lost their way.  I’m a fiscal and social conservative, and I believe that the government should adhere to the powers enumerated by the Constitution.  This puts me at odds with many inside the party who would like to see the federal government legislate over activities it simply has NO power to legislate over.  I’m a big state powers girl, as opposed to states’ rights.  States don’t have rights; people have rights, with which they have been endowed by their Creator.   The Creator didn’t give rights to the states, the Constitution enumerated powers to them. (Just a pet peeve of mine!)                                                                                                     

With a conservative movement hero at the 2010 9/12 March in DC...Indiana's Congressman Mike Pence.

2. You have been involved in conservative Republican politics since your early 20s. What drew you into the political scene and what keeps you there today?   

I didn’t pay much attention to politics in high school; in fact, I barely paid attention to anything in high school.  While I was dating the man who is now my husband, his friends always called themselves the “conservative rebel counsel.” They were all leaders in our church youth group. They talked about Reagan, politics and current affairs; they also loved it when their girlfriends wore “Republican Red.” It re-awakened what I knew I believed, and I realized many of our friends were conservative, as well.   We got involved in Young Republicans and we continued even after we married and moved to Oregon.  My husband and I started volunteering for local Republican candidates who were running for Oregon House and Senate seats.  That was over 16 years ago.  I realized quickly that Oregonians are an independent bunch and that elections here were hard to win for conservatives.  We’ve had many successes, but I’ve been involved in trying to bring even more every year.  

3.      You are a woman of deep faith. Tell us how your relationship with Christ has impacted your involvement in politics, as well as how it has enabled you to navigate the valleys of life.    

Navigating the political waters as a Christian isn’t easy.  You come across all types of people, many of whom want you to compromise your principles for political gain.  That really bothers me.  When people know you’re a Christian (whether in the political world or not) people expect something of you that just isn’t possible, and that’s perfection. I’m not perfect, I never pretend to be, and I’m grateful that I have a God that doesn’t require perfection either.  God requires a contrite heart and the willingness to learn, forgive and pass on His grace to others. That’s what I try to do on a daily basis.  I’ve had some pretty difficult circumstances to overcome; the most recent was the loss of my mother in 2009 to alcoholism.  My faith sustains me.  Knowing that I don’t have to have all the answers, but that my God does, sometimes is all I need to get me through tough days.  Romans 12:2 speaks directly to this. 

4. What are some of the favorites you enjoy in the following pursuits: Books, music, movies, foods…and a few more of your choosing?   

One of my favorite books has to be the one I’ve just finished reading, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I love history, and I had read so much about Bonheoffer, but for some reason this book helped me see him in a way I never had before: someone who, in the face of insurmountable odds, made a huge difference in the lives of oppressed people.  It gave me even more hope for humanity today.  Food? That’s easy!  I’m a sucker for a thick steak and a glass of red wine, paired with pretty much any type of pasta.  I’m an Italian girl through and through! As for music and movies, well, I’m a mom to two wonderful kiddos and our radios and TVs seem to blare whatever the latest teen pop song or popular movie happens to be.  This too shall pass!         

With Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks.

5. Within the last month, you have experienced a tremendously exciting career development! Tell us about your new position, what it involves and what it means for your future?   

I am so blessed to be the newest part of the great team at FreedomWorks! I was recently hired as their New Media Campaign Coordinator, and am focusing on our new website www.freedomconnector.com. My primary role is to connect, activate and engage grassroots volunteers from all over the country, using our new site and the power of new media.  I will be training activists how to best utilize the site, informing volunteers of events, campaigns and action items that we need their help with, and supporting our campaign staff in any way I can.  I am so thrilled to be a part of this team, I can’t even tell you!  I’ve admired their relentless pursuit for freedom for a very long time, and now I’m officially on board!  

6. How do you juggle being a wife and mother with the busy life you lead as an activist?  

I am an incredibly lucky woman! My husband has been my biggest cheerleader and encourager all along.  When my work, activism or other passions take me away from my number one role as wife and mom, he’s always there to help.  He literally does whatever it takes for my endeavors to succeed. He shares the same political views, but he doesn’t like to be the focus, so he gladly plays the role of my supporting superstar. I couldn’t do 1/10th of what I do without him!  He’s also great about telling me when it’s time to scale back and refocus.  I have a habit of diving in full speed, and he’s the one telling me to come up for air.  We’ve always worked well as a team, whether in our business, our hobbies or our passions. We try to support each other any way we can.  

Kristina and the man behind the scenes...her husband, JD.

7. You have been heavily involved over the years in a cause that is gaining currency across the country: the school choice movement. What animates your advocacy for this idea? 

Two words: My son! You’ve already read about the sacrifices my parents made for me to get a good education 30 years ago.  It shouldn’t surprise you to know that public education has only gotten worse since then.  I never thought I’d take this battle on, but when my son began failing in a traditional pubic school, it became my battle.  After fighting endless bureaucracy and finally settling on a virtual charter school, we then realized our fight to keep that school open was going to be the David and Goliath story all over again.  Here in Oregon, Virtual Charter schools (and every other charter school) have been the target of national and state teacher’s unions every legislative session since 1999 (when they became allowed under Oregon law.)   I became fully engaged in the fight over 3 years ago, and I have no intention of stepping aside any time soon.  I believe that we have an obligation to provide equity of access to high quality public education for EVERY American child.  Currently only those who have the means to afford private schools or those lucky enough to win a lottery for a charter school have that choice.  I find it incredibly ironic that the supposed party of “choice” is the party who stands in opposition to school choice, vouchers, and scholarships that would give our poorest and often most forgotten children choice in education and a chance at success. It’s the civil rights battle of our lifetime.  Every American child deserves and should be granted the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed, and they shouldn’t have to fight the teachers’ unions or other special interests in order to get it either.  Who speaks for them?  I believe we MUST! This is a winning issue for conservatives, Republicans, and most importantly, we MUST win this issue to ensure that generations of Americans aren’t left in the dustbowl of failing schools. 

8. Besides immediate family members, who are 3 people, whether celebrities or folks whose names the broader public will never know, who have been influential on your philosophical journey, to date?  

I know you said not family, but I’m kind of a rebel…so… 1. Definitely, my dad.  He always tried to get us to think for ourselves, question everything.  He told me never to be afraid to speak your mind, but when you do, back it up with facts. Nobody cares how well you speak if it’s all nonsense.  2. Thomas Jefferson, affectionately known as “TJ” in our home.  I know…it’s cliched, but when I read his writings, and how brilliantly he understood the human condition and the capacity for self-governance I just can’t help but love him.  I remember the first time I went to the Jefferson Memorial and stood at his enormous bronze feet, I wept.  The Declaration of Independence hangs in my office and I read it often.  He was a brilliant and imperfect, yet ingenious man.  3. Ronald Reagan.  What I love about Reagan was the personal growth of his ideology.  He was once a liberal Democrat, yet with age and wisdom, his belief system grew and changed.  He realized that many of his early political decisions (such as legalizing some abortions and tax increases) were wrong, yet he worked to right those wrongs later in his life.  He wasn’t an ideologue that was incapable of reason.   I believe he never lost sight of the job that God had called him to do.  I don’t agree with every one of his policies, but I love his humility.  I believe God uses the humble for great works, and I believe Reagan is an example of that.                                                                                        

With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on a campaign swing through Oregon in fall 2010.

9. You are the first “10 Questions” profilee to receive a question that I’ll probably pose every few weeks, going forward…so feel privileged! But who do you see on the horizon for 2012 who makes you feel a modicum of energy…and how does that person beat Barack Obama?  

Frankly, I wish we had a stronger field.  I keep waiting for the “perfect” candidate to appear, but there won’t ever be someone I agree with 100%. What I see now is a field of candidates who are simply building their resume.   I believe we need someone with a long record of fiscally conservative votes and leadership in balancing a budget.  I love the examples we are seeing out of governors such as Christie, Walker and Daniels.  I know Christie has said he won’t run, and Walker is too new. The only one from that group who has a long record of great accomplishments is Daniels.  He’s not a super exciting flashy talker but he has the record to run on.  Daniels has taken on the unions and has balanced budgets and people in his state love what he has accomplished. What you are seeing across our nation are people who are desperate for leadership. When they see it (ex. Christie, Walker, Daniels, Brewer ) they support it.  I hope our elected officials are taking notice. How does Daniels (or anyone) beat Obama?  Point out Obama’s record of failure.  There is plenty of material there, I do believe. 

10.  Name three still unaccomplished objectives in life that you have a legitimate chance of achieving in the next 20 years!  

1.  Write a book. 

2. Start a charity/non profit that adopts families over the Christmas Holiday. An anonymous way of giving gifts, food, toys etc to families that struggle to have joy at the most joyous time of year. 

3. Travel for pleasure with my husband and our two beautiful kids.

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