I am independent by nature. I follow rules when they make sense but question them when they do not appear to be needed or if they seem to actually hurt a group of people. In politics I’ve never been swayed by the platform of a particular party. I tend to vote for the individual, none of whom ever seem to completely conform to my way of thinking. I look for candidates who appear to be mostly rational, well spoken, dedicated to working for all of the people, not just a particular base. For that matter I’ve never been part of a base for either of our two big political parties. I almost always find areas of disagreement with both the big tent of the group and the leanings of the individual.
I suppose I am a free thinker and I really do contemplate each issue individually. Most of the time I have to find a compromise candidate for whom to vote because I literally abhor the idea of blind loyalty to one person or party. I look for people who appear to really care about our democracy and its processes even if now and again they support some idea with which I do not concur. Over the years my voting record has included an incredible variety of individuals and has rarely been based on a single issue.
I did a bit of protesting in my college years but I always left the scene if it became too rowdy. It was not my style to become abusive in either words or actions. I was a student and a fan of passive resistance. I wanted to make my concerns heard but I was unwilling to do so in an aggressive or hurtful way. This is why the leaders of the fifties and sixties civil rights movement like Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were my heroes both then and now.
Of late the tenor of politics has morphed into a more rabid form. It almost seems passé for some of our leaders to be honest, soft spoken, willing to see differing points of view and then compromise. Washington D.C. is the center of a kind of “my way or the highway” form of thinking that is often eagerly supported by the electorate. In the process Congress has come to more closely resemble a standoff between the Hatfields and McCoys than a legislative body. Issues languish in limbo because so few of our elected officials are willing to work together to do the things that we all know must be accomplished. Instead Congressional sessions have become little more than opportunities to stump for the next election down the road. Our legislators no longer work to get things done for the country but more often turn their work into political rallies designed to please some base or power broker rather than the vast diversity of people that is America.
Democracy itself is being threatened by a kind of bullying designed to keep all of the political players in line. Voting by conscience is considered a breach of trust. When John McCain gave a thumbs down to attempts to abolish the Affordable Care Act without a reasonable replacement this once revered war hero suddenly became a pariah. When Mitt Romney voted to impeach the former president because he deeply believed that it was the right thing to do for the country he was greeted with boos from his party rather than respect for his courage. When former president Trump continues to insist that the election of 2020 was a big lie even after mountains of evidence has proven the contrary anyone in his party who insists that he is wrong is all but tarred and feathered and run out of town rather than being allowed the freedom of speech that our Constitution is supposed to protect.
Enter Liz Chaney, the daughter of a former Vice President of the United States. A woman with a conservative Republican pedigree that reaches back years, she is now being threatened with the loss of her number three spot in the House of Representatives only because she has been willing to push back on the absurd idea that Joe Biden and the Democrats stole the election. She has been brave enough to face reality and refuse to blindly bow in adoration to Donald Trump. She is willing to risk losing her career as a lawmaker to protect our democracy and its processes. The reward for her love of America has been bullying and disdain. I for one believe that she is in fact the best hope for the Republican party to remain viable in our country. We need her and others like her who are willing to alert us when the emperor has no clothes.
In truth I prefer not discussing political issues. I know that I have never changed a single mind by outlining my views. I generally find conversations about the big challenges of our time to be somewhat circular these days, but it has not always been so. I recall a time when the people we sent to Washington D.C. were willing to work with President Lyndon Johnson to carve out the Civil Rights Act. It was an imperfect document but it was a start, much better than nothing at all. Congress used to provide solutions like sending an immigration reform bill to President Ronald Reagan that may not have solved every problem but certainly tackled many of the main challenges. Now it seems that our lawmakers are so afraid of losing votes by using common sense compromise that they simply snipe at each other for the duration of their terms. When one of their members gets out of line they make a big show of shunning that individual lest the voters take our their revenge in the voting booth.
I firmly believe that our beloved country with all of its flaws and sometimes questionable history is wonderful but right now is more fragile than it has been since the Civil War. We the people have created an echo chamber of no value with our votes for only a certain kind of person who is willing to follow the party line like a lemming jumping from a cliff. Until we send a message of support for those who actually have convictions rather than soundbites ruling their comments and their votes we will continue hurtling toward unresolved and insurmountable problems.
We have to tone down the rhetoric and partisanship. We should be embracing those whose courage demonstrates their willingness to sacrifice for the good of the nation. We the people have the power to demand that our elected officials quit preening and arguing and get down to the business of healing our country. Let us hope that we can somehow find the new profiles in courage because we most surely need them if democracy is to survive.