Praying for the rise of the Common Sense Party


Like religion, education, and vocation, my political views were shaped, markedly, by the influence of my parents and grandparents. My parents weren’t showy about their politics, but they were never shy about their respect for our country and its system of government.

Growing up, I queried them repeatedly about their voting choices and party affiliations. On one occasion, one of them had to stop and think about party affiliation, and if I recall correctly, the other parent was not only amused, but surprised by the eventual answer.

They died relatively young, so it’s up to my flawed memory and a fairly creative mind to recreate this scene. I imagine the slightly embarrassed smile from the one who had to think which party to name. I see a raised eyebrow of surprise and a teasing smile from the other that communicated: “Yes, we’ll be chatting about this later.”

Now, there was no more simpatico couple than my folks. Sure, they had differing opinions from time to time, but there was an overriding theme to their views: that of common sense. So profoundly were they attached to this principle, the question of political party was secondary.

Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I wish I lived in a country where the lines between political parties continued to be so innocuous. Were that the case, I’m convinced we would return, or possibly arrive, to the primacy of common sense.

Common sense means I can be concerned with national security, debt and deficit without being labeled a soulless, capitalistic pig.

Common sense means I can maintain that it is reasonable and necessary for the most wealthy nation on the planet to provide a short-term safety net for citizens in crisis without being shouted down as a bleeding heart socialist who only wants to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.”

Common sense knows that “immigration reform” doesn’t automatically mean “amnesty” any more than objecting to an amendment outlawing abortion means that partial-birth abortion is moral.

Common sense tells me that it is confounding to a spiritually searching world for a church to defy one rule of manmade law while simultaneously demanding protection under another. (A blog post for another day: Does a firm stand of commitment mean anything if it comes without consequences or even objection?)

Common sense today will fight, even unto death, for the equality of opportunity for every American while refusing to be held captive, ashamed and forever apologetic for the sins of long-dead ancestors that can never be undone.

Instead of destroying statues to deeply flawed–sometimes to the point of atrocity–individuals of the past, common sense can relocate them to museums and private venues while raising monuments on public grounds to people who exemplify more closely “the better angels of our nature”* and our country. Common sense says a people who subtract history rather than expand it and give it context are human ostriches–heads in the sand with exposed backsides ready for the kicking, or worse.

Yep, I could go on.

But in our 140-character, bumper sticker, manifesto-on-a-business card, QR-coded society, there’s no room to maneuver. There’s no thoughtful, nuanced position.

That’s why, in this writer’s opinion, there never seems to be enough outrage when politicians, pundits and so-called celebrities say persons of a certain color, religion, tax bracket or sexual identification must affiliate with a certain party.

To that I concur with several of these sentiments from MASH’s Col. Sherman Potter.

It’s “us” against “them,” and “they” have the deck stacked–even though the definition of those pronouns might change hourly.

What once was praised as prudence, caution, and intelligence is now tossed aside as spinelessness and ambivalence. Make no mistake, there are times when lines must be drawn, and my folks knew and practiced this, but are we now a nation so eager to polarize we will be unable to unite when the time comes?

What then?

Will there ever be a Party of Common Sense?

Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I miss my parents.


*President Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address March 4, 1861

To the lost GOP: Dump Trump


I really do not like politics, and the politics of the past 10-12 years have left me especially disheartened. It seems everyone is yelling bumper stickers at one another, and politicians, career and would-be, will say just about anything to get elected. Campaigns never end; they remain “suspended” in the political ether ready to be resurrected at the next infusion of cash and outrage.

But, today is different.

Because today, in 2016, the leading Republican candidate for president doesn’t know enough about white supremacy or the Ku Klux Klan to denounce such movements as inconsistent with the foundational principles of our country.

Yep, that’s the world I find myself in today, and it creates a dilemma.

I’m what some people with various letters after their last names describe as an “extroverted introvert.” I’m the person who usually comes up with a question or comment in Sunday school when no one else will because I feel bad for the teacher enveloped by the crushing silence around him/her.

If I’m in a group of strangers, in lieu of standing around like a tree, I’ll usually pick someone out and start asking questions. I’m a trained journalist; I interview.

Additionally, I’m fairly private about my political beliefs. A former boss once asked me on election day how I voted. I smiled and reminded him, politely, of the purpose of the curtain around the voting machine. When pressed, I’ll tell people that I listen to Rush Limbaugh and NPR and have amazingly informed and passionate arguments with myself.

But, today’s a different day, so it’s time to put my cards, such as they are, on the table.

I’m a Republican with asterisks. I’m no party cheerleader, and I make up my own mind about individual issues. I’ve never voted a straight ticket in my life. Within the party, I’d be considered a social moderate and a fiscal conservative. As far as the role of government, I’m downright libertarian. I have very little confidence that government on any level can accomplish much of anything with efficiency and efficacy.

(Feel free to add “cynic” to “extroverted introvert.”)

That being said, for the first time in my life, I am concerned about the future of my country. Consequently, I am doing what I can to encourage fellow Republicans and conservatives to denounce, immediately, loudly and repeatedly, the candidacy of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee.

It is my sincere belief that Mr. Trump’s feigned ignorance of the white supremacist movement/KKK must disqualify him, morally if not technically, as a candidate representing the party of Abraham Lincoln. We cannot tolerate equivocation on such a foundational issue; this must be a deal breaker.

To be fair, Mr. Trump said his misstep was caused by an earpiece problem during the crucial CNN interview that dealt with an alleged (I’ll get to that in a second) endorsement from former Klan member David Duke. Trump explained this in a subsequent interview on NBC’s Today show that began with questions about a childish feud with fellow Republican hopeful Marco Rubio.

For further clarification/damage control on the question of support from fringe groups, Mr. Trump issued this comment with recent endorser and former rival Chris Christie by his side. (I find him brimming with sincerity in this clip, but I have to give him props for staring down a guy at one of his rallies who was wearing a shirt announcing “KKK Endorses Trump.”)

Now, back to Duke. This was pointed out to me by commenters on my Facebook page: Duke says he never even endorsed Trump. A U.S. News & World Report story that followed Duke’s radio broadcast on the day in question seems to shed light on the confusion, but I have to admit, the distinction between supporting someone’s candidacy “as a strategic action” (I assume to defeat Democrats) seems pretty close to an endorsement to me.

At any rate, I have yet to see coverage in the mainstream media attempting to clarify this point, hairsplitting though it may be, for Mr. Duke or Mr. Trump.

So back to my dilemma. Whether technology failed Mr. Trump, or he soft-pedaled the initial response for political expediency, I find enough evidence of his volatility, mean-spiritedness, lack of substance and insufferable pandering, to make me downright worried about the further progression of his campaign. That the other remaining nominees have failed to resonate is no reason to condone, and thus tacitly endorse, someone who has seen success only by appealing to the worst fears amongst us.

I encourage fellow Republicans, with and without asterisks, to go beyond supporting an alternate candidate, instead, please campaign, vocally and tirelessly, against Mr. Trump.

In Kentucky, a good place to start is at Saturday’s Republican caucus.

Time is running out. If you share my concerns, contact Republican leaders and demand they go public and condemn Trump’s atrocious rhetoric and a platform so lacking in substance that the laws of physics are defied each day it manages to remain upright under the weight of such ego and mean spiritedness.

I wondered if a time would ever come in my life when I would feel compelled to tilt at windmills. In Don Quixote, Cervantes wrote: “The fault lies not with the mob, who demands nonsense, but with those who do not know how to produce anything else.”

And as for the Democratic nominee and the general election, that’s a different windmill for another day.

En garde, Mr. Trump.

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