The Sentiment

This Week’s Hillsdale Collegian

Just in case anyone is interested, I started writing for the Hillsdale Collegian this semester, which is Hillsdale’s weekly paper. I wrote three articles this week, two of which I found particularly interesting. Check them out.

‘The Patriotism of Silence’ is about the rather dubious history of the Pledge of Allegiance. Which, if you don’t already know it, this story is a must-read.

‘Car Explodes Near Campus’ is one that I actually originally gave the tip on. I had a blast (no pun intended) writing it, and it actually made the front page! Yes, you may now call me ‘scoop.’

‘Mauck Water Out’ is a short piece that I took at the last minute. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I am writing a bigger story for next week’s paper on some of the eccentricities of Mauck Residence Hall, one of Hillsdale’s oldest buildings, built in 1927.

I’m having a great time writing for the Collegian and I think I will continue. Let me know what you think in the comment section.

YAF National Conservative Student Conference 2010

Although at the Young America’s Foundation’s National Conservative Student Conference I heard countless speeches on the turmoil of our great nation and how we as conservatives can fix it, one statement in particular stuck out to me.  Mark Tapscott, the Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Examiner, said “[Reagan] was a politician who could be trusted—such a rare thing.”  That statement made a significant impact on the way in which I reflected upon my time at the conference.

Dr. Walter Williams, Courtesy YAF

The YAF National Conservative Student Conference is a week-long summit held on the campus of The George Washington University in Washington, DC.  This summer it was held from August 2nd through the 7th.  While at the conference, the few hundred students in attendance spend the days attending speeches of notable conservative movers and shakers in the American political and business worlds.  Each night is a wonderful dinner banquet where we hear from a special guest speaker.   For our final dinner banquet on Friday night of the conference, we were treated to dinner at the Ritz Carleton with Fred Thompson as the keynote speaker.  This year was my second YAF conference, but I still managed to learn just as much about the promotion of conservative ideas as I learned at my first event.

A recurring theme in many of the speeches we had the pleasure of hearing was the legacy of Ronald Reagan.  A little humorous to me was the response to merely hearing the name Reagan spoken of during a speech.  With every “Reagan” came huge applause from the student audience.  I am not just talking about a part in a speech crescendoing with Reagan being the last word of a sentence either.  The mention of Reagan may have even come in the middle of the sentence, yet conservative students from all across America would stop in applause.  My amazing Texas friends even had a count going of the number of times Reagan was said each day.  That number was pretty high!  Even though I thought that it might be a little excessive to clap at each voice of the name Reagan, I would smile and clap just as much as the next person.  Ronald Reagan was truly a great President and he should be remembered as such.

Ronald Reagan had a way of mobilizing the youth.  His commitment to excellence was show through his leadership.  YAF calls us as young conservatives to follow Ronald Reagan’s style of activism.  Perhaps one of the most important concepts provided to conference participants was the Conservative Battleplan created by Patrick Coyle.  Knowing about conservative principles is nothing if you do not work to combat leftists.  I am so excited to implement the 9-11 Never Forget Project on Drake’s campus this fall! Going to a college with a fairly liberal mindset is a challenge, but with the help of YAF it is easy to get involved in a way that makes a significant impact.

Ronald Reagan

One thing that I have learned through my life experiences is that learning at conference is very beneficial, but the people you are around are what make the experience memorable.  This year at YAF I made a conceded effort to reach out and meet everyone around me.  I cannot express enough how much better that made my conference than the year before.  Last year, I met quite a few people but did not get to know them nearly as well as I was able to get to know the incredible students in which I was acquainted this year.

My favorite experience from the YAF conference was the final night of my stay in DC.  After a long week, some of my new friends and I had decided to spend a relaxing night at the hotel just taking, but after a while we decided to go do something a bit more exciting.  We took a walk to the Washington Mall and spent about four hours that night visiting all of the monuments.  Most breathtaking was the Vietnam Memorial.  As I stood staring into the field of soldiers at the memorial, I could not help but feel my eyes start to water.  Seeing physical structures representing the soldiers made me stop and think about those who have put their life on the line to secure freedom.  The socialism that this country to sprinting toward needs to be hindered or we will never be able to preserve the freedoms intended by our founding fathers.

In Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he said, “and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  I know that with young leaders in the Young America’s Foundation, we can preserve that freedom; however, it is going to take Reagan’s style to make it happen.  We can create other honest politicians, but it is our obligation to make it happen.  Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is not passed down in the bloodstream.  Every generation has to fight for it!”

What Happened to American Universities?

Dr. Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government at Harvard University, utilizes his tenure to “raise hell” by discussing the decline of the American university.

If you agree with Dr. Mansfield, check out this American college.

Take a Deep Breath: The College Application Dance

You know where you want to go to college. If you’re asking yourself, “now what?” This is the article for you. If you are looking for a detailed step-by-step, then this article is not for you. My goal is to get you in the right mindset while completing the step-by-step. Also, the advice below is custom tailored to liberal arts institutions. Which, of course, you should already be considering anyhow…

This whole endeavor was prompted by a good friend of mine who recently emailed me for advice about the college application process—emphasis on the word process. I’m not going to lie: it’s an incredible chore. But don’t be discouraged! It can be incredibly rewarding and educational. The ‘wisdom’ that I am about to impart upon you *coughs* is the very thing I wish someone would have told me when beginning the daze known as my senior year. I will pass along my knowledge to you, anonymous reader, so that perhaps your senior year won’t be a daze for the same reason mine was, or perhaps not even a daze at all…

The key here is to turn that chore into more of a dance: smooth and graceful as you float across the ballroom floor. And what of your dance partner, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. In this situation, it takes at least two to tango. Your parents are a godsend during this process: honor them, cherish them, respect them, laugh with them, cry with them. While they may not know all the fancy new ways to tango, they’ve got the basic steps down. Also, high school counseling has changed a lot since even my freshman year and certainly since your parents crossed the stage in one of those stuffy robes of [insert school colors here and here]. Counselors are better equipped now than ever to guide you through the application process. Get to know yours. He or she will come in handy. Unlike your parents, counselors are probably much more experienced at even the latest and greatest steps in the college application tango.

Like dancing, the college application process involves a lot of courting. Seriously, it does. More on that later.

*Cue record skipping sound FX* Okay, I know you what you’re thinking: drop the dancing metaphor, Jacob. Fair enough—I have a social dance class tomorrow and I’ve been listening to Louis Armstrong all afternoon; I couldn’t help it.

*Cue dream sequence harp* It’s September 2008 and I am a senior at Linn-Mar High School. By this time I had a fairly good idea of where I wanted to receive my tertiary education. Alright fine, just in case my parents are reading this: I had somewhat of an idea where I wanted to go to school… Hillsdale was my top choice, and considering I am writing this from my campus apartment, it’s safe to say I got my top pick. But how did I do it?

Over the course of the next several months, I began the rather agonizing process of gathering applications, letters of recommendation, officials transcripts, unofficial transcripts, ACT scores, résumés, etc…not to mention all of those pesky little application essays. It can be a lot to swallow at once. The proper mindset is crucial to relieve stress and write effective applications.

Now, back to the future!

The extraordinarily crucial element of the ideal application mindset is one that seems oh so obvious on paper, but often times is overlooked. Once I began to understand this, everything else fell into place. Coincidentally, the interrogative that best summarizes the extraordinarily crucial element of the ideal application mindset is exactly the same one of our general mindset: why. In this specific instance, that is, why are these colleges making me do all this seemingly bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo just so you can pay them to do something that you might not even enjoy at the present? Surely it cannot be because they are mean-spirited. Well, the aren’t and it isn’t.

They probably really do want you at their institution of higher learning. They just don’t know it yet. That’s where you come in. Courtship.

You are already interested in the place. If you are truly interested in it for the right reasons, then definitionally you should be a great fit for the place. So, what’s left? Convincing them of that.

Think from the college’s perspective: for the purposes of admissions, they are looking for people who are going places…people who will one day elevate the status and atmosphere of the college even higher than it already is. They are looking for people who will be role models and mentors on campus. They are looking for leaders. They are looking for people of good character. They are hedging on your future, and potential future positions in government, business, culture, academia, and/or community.

The only reason they use records from your past and present is to better predict your future. You are an investment. And they are prudent investors. Once you’re there, they have a vested interest in your success.

Think of it this way: imagine that your application is a canvas and you are Normal Rockwell. Paint yourself. Paint yourself at the liberal arts college of your choosing. Now give that painting to the admissions office. Demonstrate to them that you are going somewhere, that you are a good investment, and it will be smooth sailing. That demonstration, however, will take much work and creativity. You ought to start. Yesterday.

In the meantime, if you haven’t done so already, turn to your parents and counselor and repeat the following, “care to dance?”

A Time for Choosing

I am now (finally) all settled into my apartment at Hillsdale and I have a few days of classes under my belt. I am really looking forward to my sophomore year. My expectations for this unique place are running higher than ever after completing one of my first homework assignments: watching Ronald Reagan’s 1964 speech A Time for Choosing. I have to admit, I have not previously listened to or read this speech. And boy, do I regret it.

The hair stood up on my neck as Reagan’s words echoed through the room. One might even say that I had a “thrill go up my leg.” But in all seriousness, it is incredible how history appears to repeat itself. The only things that seem to date A Time for Choosing are the players and cultural references; the message is timeless and the content still very much applies to our modern dilemma. Please take a moment from your day to watch at least part of this shining piece of rhetoric. I promise you won’t regret it.

We, yet again, live in a time for choosing.

My favorite quotes:

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down—[up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we’re always “against” things—we’re never “for” anything.

Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So governments’ programs, once launched, never disappear.

Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this—this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits—not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

Thank you very much.

-Ronald Reagan, 1964

Welcome to The Sentiment

An open letter to our readers from Editor Jacob Nieuwsma:

Thank You

We had a great launch-week at The Sentiment; thank you for making it possible. On behalf of everyone at The Sentiment, please know that we greatly appreciate you taking the time to join us on this new and exciting endeavor. We are eager to offer our readers a unique perspective on things that interest them. That said, I want to take a moment to clarify our current plans on the format of The Sentiment.


I encourage all contributors to write about that which interests and is relevant to them. Contributors to The Sentiment are selected based on their unique attributes, experiences, views, and representation of our readers. It is my hope that when contributors write about their interests, that those interests will align with that of our readers’ interests. Please select the ‘Contact’ tab above to let us know how we are doing.

News vs. Commentary

No one can ever truly be expected to “check one’s personal beliefs at the door.” One’s personal beliefs, convictions, and faith to one degree or another permeates every facet of one’s life. There are many in media today who pretend that they are capable of defying this element of human nature; at The Sentiment, we will not pretend to defy human nature. That said, it is my hope that The Sentiment will be a place for factual news reporting, interesting tidbits, and opinionated commentary and analysis. It is no secret that The Sentiment’s contributors are, by design, well-known conservatives.

When writing factual news pieces, they will be filed under the “News” category. The end of every news story is the pursuance of truth and the means is its publication. When the “News” category is used, you can expect at least the following simple standards of journalistic ethics:

Similar standards apply to commentary pieces. The end of commentary pieces is constructive rhetoric. Contributors will have the greatest amount of editorial freedom as possible while still remaining accountable for their words; slander and defamation will not be tolerated.

Welcome to The Sentiment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Thank you,

Jacob Nieuwsma

Vander Plaats Announcement Analysis: Wise Move for Bob, Marriage & GOP

Photo Courtesy of

This morning, Bob Vander Plaats announced that he will not be running as an independent for Governor but instead he will be working to unseat the three justices up for a retention vote.  Vander Plaats made it very clear at the conference that he would not be endorsing any candidate or political party.  The question of endorsement arrived several times because Vander Plaats has yet to endorse the Republican nominee Terry Branstad, a common practice as part of  post-primary unity.  Today’s press conference marked the first time Vander Plaats has made a public appearance since his challenge of Kim Reynolds for Lt. Governor at the Republican State convention in early July.

This Republican primary in particular had been a controversial one for the three time runner Vander Plaats.  The controversy began with his plan to issue an executive order on day one that would place a stay on gay marriages in Iowa.  Vander Plaats pledged he would issue the order directly following the court’s decision in April 2009.  In January 2010, the Iowa Family PAC announced their endorsement of Vander Plaats because of his strong stance on marriage andpromised they would not support Governor Terry Branstad if he won the nomination.  This endorsement began speculation of whether or not Mr. Vander Plaats would run as a third party candidate if Branstad were to win the June 8th primary.  That rumor came to rest during today’s press conference.  However, it is still to be seen if Vander Plaats will endorse Terry Branstad.  It has become known that the two have been in talks since the state convention, but any form of agreement has yet to be seen.

As a former Vander Plaats employee, I think this was a very wise move for Bob to decide not to run third party, but instead take on the courts.  Vander Plaats’ bold stance on marriage throughout the Republican primary in addition to his stance on immigration drew distinct differences between him and now GOP nominee Branstad. Bob’s stance on marriage also garnered him a lot of support from the Christian right with endorsements from Mike Huckabee, Dr. Dobson, Chuck Norris, Iowa Family PAC, and David Barton.  The differences between the candidates on marriage may be the reason Vander Plaats was able to get 41% of the vote in a three way primary against a popular former governor.  Bob’s decision to continue to champion this issue may be the best way to keep him relevant.

If the campaign is successful in removing the three justices, Vander Plaats will become a popular name in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.  Those seeking the Christian right vote will likely court Mr. Vander Plaats to help garner support.  Success in removing the judges would not only impact Vander Plaats, it would also greatly impact the tone of discussion across the state and country.  Justices may give their opinions a second thought when they think the people may vote to remove them.

Another impact of BVP’s ‘vote no’ campaign will be its assistance to the Republican ticket.  The campaign will surely turn out Christian right voters on election day.  With many of them before threatening to sit out for Branstad, they will now be encouraged to vote.  This will greatly assist down-ticket races including the Republican’s push to take back the state legislatures and in several competitive congressional races.  If this energizes the base like I think it will, Governor Culver and the Iowa Democratic party should be very concerned.  Their base will not likely be nearly as energized.  Overall, a smart move by Vander Plaats.

Morning Buzz

As reported yesterday, Bob Vander Plaats, Sioux City businessman and former GOP candidate for Governor, will be holding a press conference this morning at the Capitol in Des Moines. Both the Iowa Independent and James Lynch of The Cedar Rapids Gazette are reporting that BVP will not be running for Governor nor endorsing Branstad. The Iowa Independent post credits The Sentiment with breaking the story.

WHO radio host Steve Deace says that any hope to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 decision which legalized gay marriage is “null and void.” His comments were made in the wake of a federal judge’s overturning of California’s Proposition 8, which affirmed the definition marriage as between a husband and a wife.

It will be interesting to see if Vander Plaats makes any mention of Deace’s comments when he is expected to announce his ‘vote no’ campaign for judicial retention later this morning. Justices Baker and Streit as well as Chief Justice Ternus are up for a retention vote on the November 2nd ballot. A sufficient number of ‘no’ votes would remove them from the bench.

UPDATE: Well, it’s official, BVP confirmed The Sentiment’s initial report at 10:30 AM this morning in front of the judicial building in Des Moines. A more detailed analysis of the event will be posted later today.

Source: BVP Will Not Make Bid for Governor

Photo courtesy of

Former GOP Candidate Bob Vander Plaats will not be making a bid for Governor in 2010, says a Vander Plaats insider who is familiar with BVP’s plans. Instead, Mr. Vander Plaats will reportedly be launching an initiative to remove from office several Iowa Supreme Court Justices who will appear on the ballot for a retention vote this Fall. The source, who is not authorized to speak on the matter, says that he became familiar with Mr. Vander Plaats’ plans during a private meeting with him “…within the last couple of weeks.”

Vander Plaats excited many bloggers and pundits on Thursday by announcing a press conference for Friday morning on the steps of the Capitol in Des Moines. Rumors have been circulating for weeks about a possible Vander Plaats third-party bid for Governor in the wake of BVP’s bitter loss to former Governor Terry Branstad, followed a month later by an unsuccessful and surprise attempt to gain the GOP’s Lt. Governor nod at state convention in early July. Publicly, Vander Plaats has been unusually silent until today, which further drove speculation of a potential bid for Governor.

Even though Vander Plaats may not be running, it does not necessarily follow that BVP will throw his full weight behind Governor Branstad’s candidacy. “The only one who knows that is Bob,” said the source.

Vander Plaats’ spokesperson, Chris Dorsey, declined to comment on this story.

UPDATE: James Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette is reporting that BVP, “…will neither endorse former Gov. Terry Branstad nor announce a third-party bid for governor when he speaks at a Statehouse news conference [on Friday].” This report confirms the story The Sentiment reported earlier today.