It seems these days everyone wants to call themselves a conservative. I think this is a good thing. I also think that our supervisor, Sean Walter, said it best at the March Town Board meeting at Riley Avenue School when, referring to his fiscal policy, he said, “I was a conservative before it was cool.” That statement happened to be factually correct as well as witty. It also seems these days that Bob Meyer and his Tea Party group want to co-opt the conservative moniker and its ideology. I think that is a good thing as well, so long as they remember who actually chooses the candidates to run on the ballot line in November.
You see, the Conservative Party in New York State has been around since 1964, the year that Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona ran against President Lyndon B. Johnson for the U.S. Presidency. That was a time of some strife in this country, not unlike today, but maybe not so severe. We were involved in a war in Asia, the economy was showing signs of slowing down and people were concerned that basic rights were being threatened by our government. In uncertain times, one of the hallmarks of our great nation is the ability and willingness of its people to rise to the occasion and remind our leaders and politicians who is in charge, the citizens.
It is in this context that I would point out to Mr. Meyer that, while his organization and its energy are admirable, his wanton attack and threats last week against our supervisor are unwarranted. I refer to the Equal Time piece in the Aug. 19 issue in which Mr. Meyer threw down the gauntlet and threatened to withdraw his support of the supervisor in 2011. It is unfortunate that Mr. Meyer chose to adopt such a bullying approach. Supervisor Sean Walter will probably receive the endorsements he will need to win re-election next year, depending, of course, on his performance, rather than whose opinion he disagrees with. After all, Mr. Walter has inherited a huge fiscal deficit and faces many difficult challenges in the coming year. In the end, he will likely earn our praise and support for how he handled the town’s problems and, hopefully, when the time comes, the Tea Party movement will join that praise. In short, the Conservative Party of New York has been around a long time and we will remain for a long time to come. We have a firm grasp on our ideology, whether it involves choosing a candidate in a hotly contested congressional race or endorsing a local elective office. We welcome the resources and energy of the Tea Party movement to help achieve the common goal of returning government to the people.
Mr. Saladino is the chairman of the Riverhead Conservative Committee.