Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk.
— Margaret Chase Smith
One more word on the current political scene and then it’s back to business as usual here– a little Sunday Morning Music tomorrow and basically art thereafter. I promise.
Donald Trump is the Republican Party’s Presidential candidate. We know exactly who this man is now and who he has been over the past 30+ years he has spent in the public eye– an immensely vain and amoral blowhard and bully with little regard for those who cannot serve his selfish personal interests. He has appealed to the electorate with a blend of ugly rhetoric rooted in division, fear and anger and has assembled a fair sized group of equally angry, fearful and hateful true believers behind him.
But you know something, I don’t blame Trump for who he is, as much as I deplore him. There have always been and will always be figures like him. That can’t be helped.
No, the people who are most responsible for his rise are those who enabled the intolerance, group thought and uncompromising partisanship that has taken over the Republican party over the past few decades and created an environment that gave him the opening he could exploit
I’m talking about those Senators and Representatives and other politicians who simply went along, never taking a stand or speaking out against even the most egregious and often hypocritical actions of the party as it tried to gain short sighted political gains, ones that only served their own selfish interests and not the general welfare of the American people. They were against any form of compromise, entirely intolerant of any opposition to their short term goals and would remain quiet as the most outrageous claims were repeated and repeated to the American people, their notable silence acting in itself as an acceptance of those claims.
Their silence allowed a demagogue to grab the helm of their ship away from them. Some sheepishly have gathered behind their new ship’s captain and shamelessly assented to much of his nonsensical babble. But shamefully there are those in that party who are horrified by the words and actions of this man as well as the direction in which he takes their party who still refuse to speak out and denounce the man. Perhaps they hope he will somehow avoid the rocks towards which he is steering them and that they will be able to rip back the helm from him and come out unscathed.
But their silence and inaction could lead to more dire consequences not only for their party but for this country and the ideals on which it was formed.
Speak up. Put aside your self-interest and serve your constituents, not your party. Be a citizen first and protect those ideals.
Below is an excerpt from a speech, Declaration of Conscience, that is considered one of the great American speeches of all time. It was given by Maine Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith in June of 1950 when the dark days of Joe McCarthy and his Communist witch hunts were taking hold. She saw what McCarthy was and the great harm that could come to this country if he was allowed to continue his campaign of rampaging character assassinations. She spoke out against him and those in her party who remained silent and simply went along. She did not endorse the other party but pointed out that any victory for their party that was based on ignorance and fear and that came at the expense of their true principles would be a disaster for their party and the country.
If you don’t know who Margaret Chase Smith was, it is worth taking a moment and looking her up. She was a tough but moderate Republican who made a habit of reaching across the aisle and of backing bills that often went against the Republican ideology of the time. She believed in doing what was right for the American public first, regardless from which party an idea emerged. She was also the first woman to be placed into nomination for the Presidency by a major political party.
Margaret Chase Smith would most likely not be welcome in the current Republican Party.
Read these words from her Declaration of Conscience in 1950 and I think you will see how they apply to this election over 65 years later. While I don’t agree with the assertion that our current Democratic administration needs to be replaced I do understand that there are those that do. But to replace it with a morally dishonest alternative is not the change that will best serve the American people.
Surely these are sufficient reasons to make it clear to the American people that it is time for a change and that a Republican victory is necessary to the security of this country. Surely it is clear that this nation will continue to suffer as long as it is governed by the present ineffective Democratic Administration.
Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation. The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.
I doubt if the Republican Party could — simply because I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely we Republicans aren’t that desperate for victory.
—–Margaret Chase Smith, Declaration of Conscience speech, Delivered June 1, 1950
This is perhaps the most important election of our lifetimes, folks. Pay attention and speak out against fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear.
Back to our regular scheduled programming tomorrow. I promise.