The fight for freedom can be bruising, but thankfully, there are folks along the way who serve as welcome oases of quiet strength. There is something about Kathleen McKinley that exudes serenity and peace. She is one of the most centered people I know, firmly settled in her principles, with kindness that is rejuvenating in its warmth.
From the time I introduced this series, there were a few Twitter personalities I hoped I could profile sometime. Among them: Kurt Schlichter, Melissa Clouthier, Caleb Howe…and now, I proudly add Kathleen McKinley to that accomplished list. Kathleen proves herself repeatedly adept, both on Twitter and in the columns she publishes, in addressing dynamics within society from which many of us shy away. She is direct and persistent, but never rude…one of many traits Kathleen manifests that I admire greatly.
Kathleen’s personal story is not only quintessentially American, but also deeply moving. She meaningfully recounts her philosophical journey from a pro-choice mentality to compelling advocacy for our obligation to protect human life that has no voice. She is refreshingly candid and sincerely compassionate about her faith. And Kathleen is a devoted wife and mother and loyal friend.
Without exception, whenever I finish reading one of Kathleen’s columns or perusing her Twitter feed, I walk away having absorbed new truths—elements of wisdom that apply in the gritty reality of workaday living. There is something authentic and appealing about analysis that combines an approach to the world as it is with a soft-spoken, yet keen determination to act as an agent of common grace. That kind of writing makes a difference that lasts.
Kathleen is a beautiful and gracious woman with a gentle soul and a heart the size of her native state of Texas! Follow her work and I’m confident you will reach the same conclusion.
10 Questions for Kathleen McKinley
1. You were one of my earliest Twitter follows because I was attracted to your writing! Your platforms include Right Wing News, Newsbusters and the Houston Chronicle. When did you start writing, WHY do you write and do you write on other subjects in addition to political issues?
When I was at home with my four babies in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I was the one who wrote letters to the editor constantly. I still l have a stack of them saved. I was very much into the pro life movement. I saw what abortion had done to women of my generation. I went to high school in 1975, just 2 years after Roe v. Wade. My heart broke for all the women who suffered through abortion, and then later realized they had been lied to. Ronald Reagan made me realize this with his essay while in office, called “Abortion and The Conscience of The Nation.” I was a Democrat at the time and pro choice, but that essay knocked me into reality. I saw clearly that my friends, who had had abortions, were not feeling relief, but extreme pain, and I also realized that a life had been taken from them. I came from a political family, so issues were always discussed around the dinner table. I learned early on to care about the community around me. I learned how precious our liberties and freedoms are. About 6 years ago, I realized my children were no longer little. They didn’t need me as much. I had more time. I had loved being a stay at home mom and I had done a lot of volunteer work, but I felt it wasn’t enough. I had to do more. That is when I found political blogging. The “Houston Chronicle” started linking me, and then asked me to be a featured blogger for them. If you look through the first few years of my blogging at my old site, Rightwingsparkle (now KathleenMcKinley.com), you will see posts on the personal side. I wrote about my father, and what his life was like growing up poor, and then making a success of his life. I wrote about my first love, and summers growing up. I wrote about the influence of my Grandma. So, there were personal things at first. I feel too much writing is about mistakes people make, and not about those who made the right choices. I think they were things I needed to write. But I don’t really do that anymore. I focus on politics.
2. You tend to openly address topics that some avoid or simply neglect to emphasize! (Recent examples I can call readily to mind: a series of tweets on “Raising girls who avoid sexual promiscuity”, as well as your piece on how conservatives are viewed in the Muslim community!) What factors contribute to topics that seem to latch onto your attention?
It’s true. I don’t avoid the most controversial topics! I write about what I’m passionate about. I write a lot on the homosexual issue. Because I feel that even if one believes that homosexual activity is wrong, it doesn’t mean we turn our backs on those who are gay. As a Catholic Christian, I believe in this life we are all called to love one another. Sometimes that is VERY difficult when we disagree, but love always wins. Always. You will never change anyone’s mind by being rude or ignoring them. One of my big passions is bringing blacks and Hispanics into the GOP. I write a great deal about that, as well. Our beliefs and values aren’t defined by our skin color. Growing up in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, I learned that we can never isolate one group from another. We are all one in the human race. We are all Americans. We need to make all feel welcome in our party.
3. What is a conservative? When and how did you know that was the label that applied to your philosophical bent?
It began and ended with being pro life. I realized early on that there was no room for someone who is pro life in the Democrat party. I also believe deeply in personal responsibility. I saw my father bring himself up out of poverty in rural Mississippi, and make a success of his life. That is what conservatism is all about. It’s about hard work. It’s about taking responsibility for your choices in life. Every second of your life is just one more opportunity to turn it all around. I also know that Democrat social policies have created a generational underclass trapped in poverty. I feel that is immoral. No matter what good intentions it began with, it has destroyed the black family and others by making them dependent on the government.
One might be surprised to know that I am more “progressive” on certain issues. I am against the death penalty. I am for legalizing marijuana. Even though I have never tried it, I feel young people being arrested and having a criminal record for it is absurd. I do believe that there is injustice in the criminal justice system, against black men in particular.
4. You’re a proud Texas resident! I would assume that you grew up in the Lone Star State. How has that shaped your outlook today?
Like the bumper sticker says, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” I was born in Mississippi. My father was a state senator. He was a Democrat. I grew up around politics. I don’t think anyone influenced me more than my father except maybe the times I grew up in. I was born in 1961. I saw the civil rights movement from my front porch, so to speak. I was a child of integration. I went to a formerly all black elementary school, and I graduated from a formerly all black high school.
When I was 11, my father was Circuit Clerk of Hinds County. He ran the court house. I remember handing out voter registration forms to blacks that had been brought to the court house to register for the first time by Jesse Jackson. This is why I am passionate about bringing minorities into the GOP. The black and Hispanic communities share our values and beliefs, and we let the Democrats lie to them about history, about us, and about themselves. I want to change all that.
The day I graduated from Ole Miss, I packed my car and drove to Dallas. I had visited friends there during college and fell in love with it. There was never any doubt that I would live the rest of my life in Texas. That was 29 years ago. There simply isn’t a better place on earth. It has the hospitality and traditions of the south, but it prospers.
5. What are some of your FAVORITES in the following categories and why: Books, Movies, Foods, Musical Artists…and a couple others you want to contribute to the mix?
I like all kinds of music, but I don’t really follow artists. I don’t really watch movies either. And I’m not a foodie! BUT I have always been a book addict. It’s difficult to narrow down what I like. Before the internet came along, I usually read about four books a week. The first three books that had a profound effect on me growing up were “Lord of the Flies,” “The Diary of Ann Frank,” and “To Kill A Mockingbird.” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was one of my favorites as well. All of C.S. Lewis’ books are amazing, but “The Screwtape Letters” kept me a good person, even when I was tempted not to be. I’ve read it many many times. You’ve seen the musical, but the book is even better. Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.” In college my favorite was Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” In modern fiction I most recently read “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” The movie was terrible, the book is amazing. Who doesn’t love “Little Women?” I read everything by Tom Clancy and Anne Tyler. I read a lot of literary fiction. I’ll just list several I have loved. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera. “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole. “Cold Mountain,” by Charles Frazier. “Empire Falls” by Richard Russo. “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb. “We Were The Mulvaneys” by Joyce Carol Oates. “About A boy” by Nick Hornby. “The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells. “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. And of course, “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. I could go on and on. Books soothe me. In nonfiction, “Expecting Adam” by Martha Bec will make you look at life (and liberals) for what it and they are. An astonishing book. On the political side, one of my favorites is “Conservatism in America Since 1930: A Reader,” by Gregory Schneider. Another is “A Time for Choosing,” by Jonathan M. Schoenwald. Recently I read “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark Levin. Every American should be required to read it. I’ve also read the excellent, “Culture of Corruption,” by Michelle Malkin. She was practically prophetic. “Courage and Consequence” by Karl Rove is good too. Last, but most importantly, the book that saves us all, The Bible.
6. This is a new question for this series (You’re only the second one to whom I’ve posed it): Do you feel any enthusiasm for anyone who seriously may run in 2012?
Yes. Herman Cain. I think we are ready for someone who is not a politician, who is wise, who knows success, and who loves America. He is also clearly someone who stands strong in his conservative convictions, no matter what anyone says or thinks. He would make Obama look like the young schoolboy compared to the wise grandfather. Cain is the one.
7. Your roles as wife and mother are integral to the person you are. Tell us about your family.
My husband and I have four children, 3 boys and a girl ages 14-24. My oldest is a Petroleum Engineer like his Dad. My daughter is into politics like I am. She graduates Texas A&M this year and will be working on a Senate campaign. Children make us understand what true selfless love is. They give us a glimpse of how much God loves us. Nothing has ever given me more joy and happiness than my children. They are the most interesting people I know.
8. As a practicing Catholic, would you mind sharing how faith has impacted both the trajectory of your life and your involvement in the public square?
I am a Catholic convert. I became a Catholic at age 24 after many years of my spiritual journey. I studied history and Christian history. I visited every Christian denomination church. I found my home in the Catholic Church. I believe that we all have a path to follow to God. It’s not always the same path, but we all reach the same destination, which is to be with God. Pray and search and you will find your path. My faith is my foundation. There is a moral duty to work for public good. Our founding fathers understood that. They also understood that our freedom and rights come from God. It is when we forget that, that we lose our way. I don’t always agree with everything in the Republican Party, but I do know that it most closely aligns with my values and beliefs. I believe we should work to not only make our country better, but our party as well.
9. Other than immediate family members, who are three people who have influenced you as either a writer, a spokesperson in the public arena or a mother…and how have they done so?
Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul, and Ronald Reagan. Each in their own way stood against evil. They prevailed against evil. Each stood strong in their faith and principles. Each of them gave to the world an understanding of what it means to care about the people of this world. We are all in this together. This life of ours is bonded with humanity. These three incredible people made life better for so many in the world in so many ways. They literally changed the world.
10. This is one of those columns where I regret that I’ve already reached the 10th question! Nonetheless, in closing: What are some accomplishments in life that have brought you joy and a sense of rooted achievement, in any of your varied pursuits?
I’ve gotten a great deal of satisfaction from my writing. If I have changed one heart or one mind, then it will be all worth it. But my sense of achievement comes from one thing, which is how I have loved others on this earth. When I see my children show love to others, I know that I have accomplished what I was put on this earth for, to pass on a heart that gives of itself to my children, so they can pass it on to theirs. Years ago, when my children were small, I delivered meals on wheels to the elderly poor. I took my children with me. My four year old had gotten his favorite cookies that day in pre-school. He was so excited to eat them after lunch. When we went into one of the homes to deliver a meal, he hugged the elderly woman, as he always did, then he reached into his pocket and handed her his cookies. This is love. This is how we teach it. It is in love we find peace. God gave us himself so that we would understand that. If we all did understand that, there would be no need for politics at all.