New author and Seagrove resident Barbara Olschner will hold a book signing of her first book, "The Reluctant Republican," March 9 at 5 p.m. at Sundog Books in Seaside.
Olschner has been a member of the Republican party all of her adult life, as were her parents.
She ran for Congress on the Republican ticket in 2010.
Even though the ties run deep for Olschner, she is not liking what she is seeing in the direction the party is taking or the attitude of its members.
What Olschner is seeing more and more of in her party, she said, is an attitude of intolerance — intolerance for anyone and their beliefs on any level if they don't align with the conservative fringe. Olschner would like to see that change before it is too late.
Olschner said she ran for Congress because she saw the country hurting, and she believed she could help find answers to the nation's problems.
She won the vote of Walton County's residents, but still came in dead last in the final tally.
"In the primary, I was running against four men — each more conservative than the next. I was more moderate and pragmatic," she said. "I didn't want to be a politician or have a bridge named after me. I just wanted to solve our problems."
Losing because she wasn't seen as "conservative enough" was a problem she saw happening all across the nation because of the right wing control of the party, she said.
After the election, Olschner was told she was the lousiest politician some had ever seen, and that is OK with her.
"I had never run for office before and I didn't try to win. I just told the truth," she said. "I understood the complex issues and what it took to solve problems. When this country was founded, it was founded by men who had other jobs, quit their jobs long enough to help solve the country's problems, then went back to their jobs. They weren't politicians or right-wing nuts."
Olschner's training is as a courtroom lawyer, a profession she practiced for 30 years in Birmingham. She is still licensed.
When she made the decision to run for Congress, Olschner believed she had the training, intelligence, and temperament for the job. However, she realized that on the Republican ticket, a moderate, traditionalist can not win.
"The climate right now does not support people who are honest. There is no center in Washington," she said.
Olschner felt compelled to write her book after her unsuccessful run, but she stresses it is not about her losing.
"I wrote this because we need two strong parties in this country — not one weak and one strong. And because too many people are either leaving the Republican party or are disgusted with the right-wing death grip on the party. When I tell people the title of my book they respond, 'Yeah, that's what I am.'
"It takes a person not interested in a political career to speak this truthfully. I believe that to bring the country back to a place of moderation from a place of extremism will take a battle — one that is best fought by citizens, not professional politicians. We need pragmatics; we need smart people," she said.
The book's subtitle is "My Fight for the Moderate Majority."
One necessary component that is missing in her fight, she says, is that the majority of people don't vote. She believes they don't vote because they don't feel they have a candidate.
"There's a great need for the center to step forward," she said.
Even though she would like to see changes made in her party, Olschner remains a member of the Grand Old Party.
"Some people have asked me to leave the Republican Party, but I am trying real hard not to leave. I don't agree with the 'my way or the highway' thinking, but I do agree with party's principles,” Olschner said, acknowledging that the GOP needs to be a big tent party.
“We have lost the blacks, women, and Hispanics. All that is left is white men over 30. We should allow everyone in who is basically conservative. “
Olschner's book is available at amazon.com, the University of Florida Press, Sundog Books, and at all major distribution outlets. She currently has two other books in the works. One based on her father who was a North Carolina country lawyer.
“I am for fighting for all — left or right. We don't have a right to be intolerant,”she said.