Dear Mr. President,
Usually you don’t find much ‘good news’ in the obituaries, you’re mostly hoping you don’t recognize anyone that has recently passed away. But in today’s obituaries there was an article about the passing of former Senator Mark Hatfield, who died on Sunday, August 6th in Portland, Oregon.
I’m not suggesting that his passing was ‘good news’ because it clearly wasn’t. The good news was that he was one of the few Republicans that was often at odds with his fellow Republicans. Hatfield served five terms form 1967 to 1997, and was an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. His courage in voting against party lines was legendary… in 1995 he was the only Republican to vote against a balanced budget amendment, which left it one vote short of passing the Senate.
In short… Hatfield’s ability to think for himself and vote according to his own beliefs is what’s missing in Washington today. The parties are so entrenched in what they believe, that they have lost the ability to do any critical thinking on their own. They are so intent on ‘the next election’ and how to position themselves, that they no longer represent the people that sent them there. Too many are afraid to go against the ‘big money’ that put them there, too many have signed one pledge or another that says they have to vote a certain way, and too many have lost all sense of independent action in thought or deed.
Hatfield believed that one of his major accomplishments was to help push through the 1987 ban on U.S. nuclear weapons testing. He said that, “Every president other than Eisenhower has been seduced by the military concept that that is our sole measurement of our national security and the more bombs we build, the more secure we are.” He went on to say, “That’s just not true. We are vulnerable in our national security today and we are vulnerable in many ways we are not addressing – the needs of education, the needs of housing, the needs of nutrition, the needs of health, the needs of infrastructure.”
How right he was then, and how right that still is today. So the ‘good news’ is that we still have an opportunity to learn from this very wise man. We still have time to vote for things that will lift the American people out of the abyss into which we have fallen, pushed there by short sighted politicians intent on having their own way come hell or high water. We need to stop the ‘my way or the highway’ mentality.
We are better than that Mr. President, we can honor the legacy of Mark Hatfield by dropping our guard, extending our hand across the aisle, and working on accomplishing the thing that this country needs most… Jobs, Jobs, and more Jobs.
Your Gadfly Granny