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Finding allies across the aisle
Some of my best friends are Republicans. I hang out with people who are Republican. Many are military, currently serving or retired or are LGBTQ+ people raised in military homes. Many are in the banking or finance sector. A few friends are trust fund babies, moneyed people who vote their pocketbooks. We are friends. We can still talk.
I was raised by Republicans in a small town where Republicans governed. Cloth coat Republicans. There was no abundance of wealth. No fur coats. Hardworking, fiscally conservative folks who believed in national service and civic duty. Paint the bandstand, host foreign high school students, and sweep the sidewalk in front of your retail store. Nixon’s Silent Majority.
My parents voted for Nixon. They voted separately and independently. We never discussed their votes. Current events, yes. Their individual voting habits or choices, no. However, I know they voted for Nixon. It was confirmed Nov. 22, 1963. On that day, my school ran a Go Home drill. A Go Home drill is exactly as it sounds. I ran home to find my mother ironing in front of the TV. Not unusual, but this day she was weeping. That was unusual. When she told me the president had been assassinated, I said, some childishly naive thing like, “who cares, I thought you voted for the other guy.”
A lightning bolt hitting me would have had less impact than her response. It was an impassioned yet scorching, civics lesson on how a democracy works, the value of elections, supporting the winner in a democracy and the horrors of gun violence. I was forever changed, humbled by the responsibilities I was to face as an adult in Mom’s America. Mother lived long enough to proudly vote for a woman for New York senator, switching parties to do so.
Another early Republican hero was Jacob Javits. Javits served New York State as attorney general, congressman and senator. Javits, a lifelong Republican, voted with the Democrats more often than not. Bipartisan and liberal, he refused to be a Democrat having witnessed the graft of Tammany Hall in his youth. Later, I listened to and understood the value of Barry Goldwater’s strength, John McCain’s dedication or Jack Kemp’s ideas.
Republicans of moral fiber.
Even with all that, I am a registered Democrat. Yet, in the last 12 years, I have become a small-business owner. My partners and I do business in Washington, DC and California. This experience has exposed me to regulation, compliance and the nitty gritty of some amazingly intrusive and expensive business requirements. We are lucky to be printing and supporting nine full-time staffers. I do my best to comply. As a business owner, I have been reminded of my Republican roots. Republicans might be right about less regulation, if less regulation is a concern or a plank in any Republican platform.
Who are today’s Republicans? Where are today’s Republicans? Do they bring any of the qualities of former greats to their work? Do they carry any of the traditional Republican “planks” to today’s issues? Can any of them put the good of the majority, the good of the country over winning?
I have found a new Republican hero, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). Words I am astounded to write as Cheney voted with Trump 98% of the time. But, Liz Cheney has earned our appreciation. She has gleaned respect and inspired, I hope, the entire country. Unless you have been asleep, Cheney is chairing the Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Insurrection. Most recently her Congressional District and local Republican Party primaried her right off the ballot.
Liz Cheney has demonstrated leadership, courage and perseverance in pursuing a larger democratic vision of what it means to serve all of us. To cross back across the aisle as it were, I am reminded of Robert F. Kennedy’s words:
“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change.”
The only edit I offer to Bobby’s words is an addition, women.