One Good Thing I Can Say

Today, I rise in support of the Gentleman from Missouri.

This morning, when I received a challenge from my friend Mark of Exile on Pain Street, well, I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  I tried, really i did.  But I just didn’t think I had it in me to answer his challenge:

I defy you to say something positive about the GOP. One thing.

When I look at today’s GOP, well, I don’t see anything positive.  I see a lot of hate.  I see a lot of stupidity.  I see a lot of folks in office that, well, really should just go back to where they came from.

And I feel compelled to write about it.  To shout from the rooftops, actually.  To get one more person out to vote against the folks who really should not be in positions to impact our lives.

But, you know, I felt bad when I realized that Mark is right.  Because I didn’t always feel this way.  I wasn’t always anti-GOP.  In fact, under the right circumstances, I might have become a Republican.  And today, a Republican showed me exactly why I might have joined the GOP.

Then I found my one positive thing!

Have you heard the news out of Missouri?

A leading contender for the GOP ticket for Missouri governor died last week.  Of course, that’s sad news.  It’s sad when anybody dies.

But of course there’s more to the story.  Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R) killed himself.  And suicide is a whole different ball game.

Mr. Schweich had believed himself to be the victim of a whispering campaign, by state GOP chairman John Hancock who was “off-handedly” spreading the word that Mr. Schweich was Jewish.  [It’s a sad statement of life here in America that that should be seen as a problem.]  There was also a nasty radio ad.  And Mr. Schweich was, by reports, a sensitive man.

These tactics have become part and parcel of our political “debates.”

But today, somebody stood up against it.  Against what politics has become.

Former Senator John Danforth was that man.  REPUBLICAN of Missouri.  Senator Danforth is part of the old school of Republicans.  Honorable men — they were all men.  Men who stood up for what was right and what was good.  Men who believed in their country and what we as a nation could do.

In his eulogy for Mr. Schweich, Senator Danforth called out all of us on what we’ve let politics become.  Anything Goes.

I have never experienced an anti-Semitic campaign. Anti-Semitism is always wrong and we can never let it creep into politics.

As for the radio commercial, making fun of someone’s physical appearance, calling him a “little bug”, there is one word to describe it: “bullying.” And there is one word to describe the person behind it: “bully.”

[…]

Indeed, if this is what politics has become, what decent person would want to get into it? We should encourage normal people — yes, sensitive people — to seek public office, not drive them away.

Senator Danforth continued:

We often hear that words can’t hurt you. But that’s simply not true. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said just the opposite. Words for Jesus could be the moral equivalent of murder. He said if we insult a brother or sister we will be liable. He said if we call someone a fool we will be liable to hell. Well how about anti-Semitic whispers? And how about a radio ad that calls someone a “little bug,” and that is run anonymously over and over again?

Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state.

He explained why it happens:

There is no mystery as to why politicians conduct themselves this way. It works. They test how well it works in focus groups and opinion polls. It wins elections, and that is their objective. It’s hard to call holding office public service, because the day after the election it’s off to the next election, and there’s no interlude for service. It’s all about winning, winning at any cost to the opponent or to any sense of common decency.

And then an idea, a promise.  A pledge:

Let’s decide that what may have been clever politics last week will work no longer. It will backfire. It will lose elections, not win them.

Let’s pledge that we will not put up with any whisper of anti-Semitism. We will stand against it as Americans and because our own faith demands it. We will take the battle Tom wanted to fight as our own cause.

We will see bullies for who they are. We will no longer let them hide behind their anonymous pseudo-committees. We will not accept their way as the way of politics. We will stand up to them and we will defeat them.

This will be our memorial to Tom: that politics as it now exists must end, and we will end it. And we will get in the face of our politicians, and we will tell them that we are fed up, and that we are not going to take this anymore.

When Senator Danforth was in the U.S. Senate, it was an institution filled, more or less, with people of principle.  Some of the members I respected the most were Republicans.  They believed in cooperation and compromise.  The loyalty was to America, not to the GOP.

*     *     *

It is vital to have people in office who hold different ideas, different principles.  But it is time that we elect folks who have principles.  Wouldn’t that be great?

* If you are unfamiliar with Mark’s blog — run, don’t walk over to his blog. He’s a gifted writer.

54 Comments

Filed under 2016, Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Disgustology, Elections, GOP, History, Huh?, Hypocrisy, Mental Health, Politics, Taking Care of Each Other

54 responses to “One Good Thing I Can Say

  1. I had not heard about this. Yes, words can hurt and they can kill. I’m saddened by this news but glad people are speaking out. I think we get to a better place when people speak out at wrongness, in whatever form it arrives.

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  2. Pingback: Our Apathy Pays Dividends – QBG_Tilted Tiara

  3. I wasn’t aware of the suicide and the events that led up to it. So very sad. Interesting how the money trail seems to lead back to the other GOP candidate… but I’m sure she will deny all knowledge. Funny how we now look at old-time republicans with a bit of nostalgia.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a sad, sad business, and a lovely tribute. I can’t agree with you more:
    “It is vital to have people in office who hold different ideas, different principles. But it is time that we elect folks who have principles. Wouldn’t that be great?”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The last time I found myself in a heated debate with some young folks, while trying to convince them why it is so important that they become involved in the voting process, they repeatedly went back to a common mantra of “they are all crooks anyway, so why does it matter”.

    Their understanding of politics, and those that make the laws of our country, is that the most vile and affluent of the population buy their way into office so that they can abuse the power that comes with their position. These young people kept doing their best to convince me that votes have zero significance, if all we are doing is using our votes to help crooked people gain power.

    I made all the usual arguments, but sadly, I left that conversation knowing that I had very likely not changed even a single mind amongst the group, as they fervently vowed to refuse to vote in any election. I failed at enlightening them to the fact that their choice of refusing to vote will most assuredly buy them a future that is not an accurate reflection of whatever it is that they hold true, and that their freedoms will continue to be stripped away, one by one, until they wake up one day and find themselves screaming and angry, or worse yet, crushed into silence.

    I once believed I had the ability to reach others in a deeply personal way, at least on some occasions, but that day, in the face of trying to awaken the need to vote amongst those young people, I realized I had lost my ability to reach across the bridge that kept us standing on opposing sides of the argument about why that is either false or true. I wonder sometimes if they didn’t end up convincing me that their argument was the better argument.

    Sorry for the ramble, but the idea that we, the people, will effectively force the politicians to abandon the practice of attacking one another during their election campaigns seems about as likely as a fifty-five year old woman convincing those young people why it is so important that they get out there and vote. Sure, I would like to believe that if we all raise our voices and say that enough is enough, the tide will turn, but in truth, often we’re all so involved with the business of being heard, that everyone is talking, and no one is listening. The spirit of cooperation and compromise requires that both sides of an argument make a reasonable attempt to hear one another, and then move towards common ground, but what we see happening, all too often, is finger pointing and histrionics. So much noise, and so little action. Heartbreaking, really.

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    • Actually, 99, I think that with all the negativity in politics and in political discourse today, that we are all in that boat. We all feel unable to convince because nobody is willing to listen. I will admit to that myself, too. I often have a hard time believing that anybody could be so stupid as to believe X. That is not the best way to convince someone to believe Y.
      And so people dig deeper. People who vote against their own interests double down and do so again.

      I do have some hope, though. Lord knows why!

      And you didn’t ramble — you don’t really, although you often think you do. Your comments are always thoughtful. But even if you did ramble, you’d be welcome to do so here. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nicely done, Elyse. It’s good to be reminded that we can’t paint any group with the same broad brush.

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    • Actually, Lorna, I struggle with this. Because Sen. Danforth is old school. He’s of the generation where public service meant something and when compromise was the norm — how things were done.

      With this eulogy, he was saying we have to get back there. But he is retired — he isn’t going to be getting us there. Who will? I don’t see folks of his caliber in today’s GOP. I see more of them in the Democratic party, but still not enough. And look what happened to Obama every time he tried to compromise. He was screwed and pegged as weak.

      So while I am hopeful, I’m not gonna stake the house on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, you have to look hard to find integrity and grace among politicians. They may have had it once, but they lose it along the way if they want to stay in their elected posts–which is so counter-intuitive it makes my head spin even more than usual.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. There are several people who I know or am related to that make a lot of sense to me, and I feel that I agree with them on a majority of points. There are others who are so loud, confrontational, opinionated and irresponsible… and I have trouble agreeing with them.

    During my life, I’ve encountered more Republicans in the first group and more Democrats in the second group. I am a moderate for sure… and I would have to say that I lean more Republican of the two. I don’t know about all this GOP business and etc, but I kind of see the whole batch of politics as a wash… it’s a nightmare, and one I’d rather not get involved in for my own health.

    Even though I still can’t get behind abortion being legal… I also feel that morality is a personal choice, and that it’s a cluster-f*** if you start trying to legislate morality. So, in my opinion, those types of things shouldn’t have government hands all over them.

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    • Oh boy. You and I could have a very long discussion.

      It’s funny that you say that the loud opinionated folks you know are Dems — I have the opposite experience. But maybe it just all depends on where one is standing.

      In the early 80s when I was working as a low-level lobbyist in DC, I got to watch the machinations of Congress up close. I came away with a deep respect for members of both sides. I followed environmental issues and so very much progress was made because folks compromised. At that time there was a line in the center and most Senators and Reps were a little bit to the right or the left of that line. There were always a few on the far right and far left. But they had neither power nor influence. Folks in congress looked to independent bodies to tell them the pros and cons of the science — the stuff the politicians weren’t really qualified to figure out on their own. And decisions were made on science based on science.

      Today, I see the GOP with blinders on. Denying science. Covering their ears and saying NaNaNaNaNaNaNaNa. Religion is everything and learning is nothing. yet they want to make decisions that impact MY life.

      I want to go back to where we have smart folks in charge. I go to smart doctors, smart lawyers, smart accountants. I want the folks who make decisions that impact my life to be smarter than me. So I want to elect smart politicians of both parties — because you need both.

      But honestly, I don’t find very many smart people in today’s GOP. I see zealots who think that abortion is terrible, but letting children starve is OK (but allowing parents to let them die because medicine is against their religion is Okie dokie). Or what is happening now in Maine, where the GOP is trying to repeal mandatory seatbelts and permit more folks to carry concealed weapons.

      I feel like we are living in a vortex.

      Sorry. I didn’t mean to take this out on you. This is a decade of frustration here in a little Word Press Comment box.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice… you took the high road… I should try that… someday…

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  9. Julie

    See Elyse? You don’t hate Republicans! That Senator was spot on! It is so hard to wade through what politics has become. To try to explain to my kids why they spend so much time and effort cutting down their opponents. Bullies indeed.

    For a long time I considered myself a Democrat. Then I had a Republican friend ask me some questions, and he said I answered like a Republican. I no longer think I want to identify with either, I just want us to try to do whats right.

    I agree with you too. Mark is a very gifted writer, and a pretty funny guy. Smart too. His challenge to you was played perfectly. And you gracefully came up with an excellent response!

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    • Sen. Danforth WAS spot on. But he is also out of office. Try to find a Republican who would say this. Because if they DO, they are primaried out of office. THAT is a HUGE part of the problem.

      I would absolutely be a Republican if the differences were the way they were 25-30 years ago. But they aren’t. And so I go with the party who is not trying to take food away from children and not trying to control my uterus or vagina.

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  10. Mean and nasty can be found in every political spectrum. It just seems to be shining more brightly (or darkly) from the GOP these days. Glad to know there are a few nice guys left in the Grand Old Party.

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  11. I read Senator Danforth’s eulogy in the Washington Post, and I cheered. In spite of his championship of Justice Thomas (an aberration of his that I can look beyond from time to time), I cheer him for his contribution to a more civil dialogue, tone, and sense of fairness.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I threw down the gauntlet and you picked it up in a big way. Well done. I knew you could do it!

    Seriously…thanks for this. It’s cathartic. It’s enough to fill you with hope. Try to see past your anger. It’s understandable but you’re reducing roughly half the population to a stereotype. There still exists a middle ground in the GOP. It’s just that the lunatic fringe makes better headlines.

    And thank you, very much, for your kind words and the link. Much obliged. I’m getting better at taking compliments. I won’t bother with my I’m-not-worthy routine. It’s old and tired and it lacks gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great challenge Mark! …. and a good message Elyse!

      Liked by 1 person

    • But I kind of cheated, Mark.

      Sen. Danforth is not in office today — and today he couldn’t be. He is of the ilk that would be primaried out of office by the right-wing for not being conservative enough. He is, in fact, one of the Senators I was talking about in my previous comment in a previous post. He was/is a moderate. He worked with folks on both sides of the aisle and did good. (With the notable exception of helping Clarence Thomas become a Sup Ct. justice, that is).

      There is really no such thing as a moderate in the GOP any more. Or at least not in elected office — I know many in real life, but they don’t have any say in or control over our government. The republicans who DO? No thanks.

      We just need to get back to where there are good folks in government on both sides. Until we do, I will go along with the Dems. Because they keep their hands out of my uterus, think that it is OK to feed hungry people, and aren’t trying to throw senior citizens under the bus by cutting social security and medicare. Oh, and as a person with lifelong health issues, the US needs healthcare (a better program than Obamacare would be nice, but this is all that could get through).

      I look forward to the day when we can take “Republican moderate” off the endangered species list. Truly I do.

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      • Moderate Republican, here. And I would just like to say… (the sound of a single sniper round fires off in the distance and Timinycricket falls down dead)

        Hrm…. good thing that was just a body double…

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        • You are absolutely a rare breed. You also sound damn smart. So keep your head down …

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          • And as if I didn’t already sound rare to you… I’m about to send you snipe hunting… I live in California… the capitol of a state that’s as blue as the ocean! (unless there have been any recent oil spills… which is fine as long as it wasn’t OUR oil! Nobody likes those pesky sea bass anyway…)

            p.s. that was just my conservative side coming out. :p I honestly love the fishies!!… but seriously, it depends on whose oil spilled.

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  13. I’m in awe that any politician said those words. I wouldn’t expect those words from a Democrat OR a Republican. I’ve never heard of this guy before, but he’s right. Politics today is why I loathe election years. Commercial after commercial of politicians attacking other politicians. Politicians stammering on about how bad “the other” guy is instead of espousing his or her own ideals and what things they’d like to accomplish.

    It’s all so very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Principles? Now there’s a thought. Remember when it was an honor to serve your constituents and not yourself?
    Words are Weapons!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You are right Elyse, there was a time when members from both sides had principles, grace, dignity. When we elected members because of their willingness to work for the good of the nation. Some of the greatest men I knew were Republicans (my Daddy).

    That speech reminded me, it wasn’t always this way. It doesn’t have to remain this way. I said to someone recently, this is our fault. I still believe it is true.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Reblogged this on IMD.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Paul

    Interesting post Elyse. As a Canadian I find US politics both abhorrent (the negative ads, etc) and strangely attractive – what will happen next? Here’s the problem as I see it ; in my experience, Americans hold Freedom of Speech as inalienable. I wrote a post asking why anyone would want to draw a cartoon of Mohammed when they knew it would insult Muslims. I got lambasted by Americans who said they would die for Freedom of Speech. Their contemporaries in other countries almost all said that FoS had limitations that included bullying, hate literature, liable or any other speech that was deliberately derogatory or harmful to others. These are laws here in Canada.

    Using FoS for personal gain by running down others has become a way of life in US politics (and some other forums as well). i wish you well in modifying that – it isn’t going to be easy.

    great post Elyse. Thank You

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    • Yes, American politics is just like that accident that you can’t NOT look at.

      As for your comments on the FoS, yes, you have a very good point. I just wish the founding fathers had thought to put the Golden Rule into an Amendment (preferably in place of the 2nd — the right to bear arms). Common sense no longer holds us back from our darker angels.

      This speech made me both proud and sad. Proud, because OF COURSE THIS IS WHAT SHOULD BE SAID. Sad, because people of Sen. Danforth’s caliber and middle-of-the-road political leanings no longer exist in elected office.

      They need to be there. Or we will never get anything done.

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  18. That’s such a sad story about the suicide. I’ve always thought the ‘sticks and stones’ theory was a crock. Just goes to show words can hurt at any age. Thanks for posting parts of Danforth’s speech. It gives one hope.

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    • It is a sad story. And sadder still because the only people who can handle the barrage of hate may be folks with no hearts to break. This doesn’t speak well of us at all.

      It would give me more hope if there were folks in the GOP IN office today who would make such a speech. If anyone did, they would face a primary challenger, because they would be considered ‘soft’

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I rarely pop over to actual blog sites. Generally, I am blogging from my iphone, via the WP app and never realize that I am missing nifty things like your “Play nice, please.” tag over your comments section. I love that! I also love that you posted this positive thing. The second we start believing that all people categorically in a certain group are stupid and selfish and awful, we become part of the problem. I find that I identify with the GOP less and less. I don’t know really where I fit in anymore. I do know this, though: There is good to be found almost everywhere, even in the darkest of places.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so impressed that you have such a lovely site using just your phone. I can’t do much of anything from mine. But I am technologically challenged.

      As to this post, I feel like I’m arguing against myself in all the comments I make back to folks. Because while it is saying good things about someone in the GOP, well, he isn’t main stream GOP. He is retired and of a whole different era.

      I have a lot of respect for Republicans like Senator Danforth. But he is of a rare and dying breed — and most of them are gone from office. The few left have to keep quiet — because if they don’t they are painted as soft on Obama or whatever — and someone will challenge them to a primary — and win.

      I wish I had an answer.

      Liked by 1 person

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