David Reynolds: So long for awhile, that’s all the songs for a while
Column by David Reynolds
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So long for a while. That’s all the songs for a while. So closed the old “Your Hit Parade” radio show every Saturday night. This might also be a good way to say that until its proprietor and the weather cools off, this marketplace of ideas is closed.
How does after Labor Day sound? Labor Day is the true start of the new year, not that pseudo date that serves only to stretch out the holiday season. Or maybe October? The Supreme Court always rules in favor of October’s first Monday.
As you suspect, there is a real reason behind every one given for public consumption. Let’s try this one: You don’t need me to tell you how off course government has sailed. You already know about the big tanker stuck on the shores on the Potomac. It can’t turn itself around. And you know about the boats in our local waters. They are stuck in personality conflicts.
Which brings me to a second reason, maybe the real one for this short sabbatical. When you can no longer be optimistic and suggest a solution to a problem, it is best to keep your own counsel. Don’t allow those two terrible ism’s of modern life to creep into your head. Pessimism and cynicism are not good for one’s health – nor the health of one’s readers. No one really enjoys reading what is wrong out there, whether you are liberal or conservative.
Therefore I refuse to go down a dead end road with whiners and complainers. The power of negative thinking should never be underestimated. I remember a young federal government worker fresh out of college with the title of “Budget Examiner” in a lofty place called “The Executive Office of the President.” His job was to tell experienced agency heads charged with balancing good management and political directives exactly where and how much of your money should be spent. Oh, how arrogant!
It is well past time to put away such childish behavior. It is past time to put away the notion that if very brilliant, well educated, technocratic people get together they can adjudicate our policy differences to everyone’s satisfaction. Yet we have a house full of such people. It is painted white.
We just celebrated America’s birthday. The nation that we built (still undergoing renovation), requires the respect of each of us. The USA has a foundation based on mutual respect between the government and the governed. We are losing that respect. When it is gone, the great American experiment is over.
In our democracy it is more important who decides than what is decided. Consider just one town hall meeting last summer when a constituent said this to his congressman, Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash.: “I heard you say that you are going to let us keep our health insurance. Well, thank you! It’s not your right to decide whether I keep my current plan or not. That’s my decision.” The constituent received a few cheers in the hall; the congressman was hit more than 1.3 million times on You Tube.
Yes, many have dropped out of reading print newspapers, but with the help of electronics we possess better recall as of what was said in past campaigns. Fooling voters is getting harder with each video camera sold.
May I make a request? Before our own hot air consumes us, consider Mr. Jefferson’s plea that “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind is needed.” Weigh the views with which you disagree. They may have some weight. And if they do, find a patch of common ground. It may melt away your anger.
But finding common ground is difficult when a nation of states sues one of its own. Try feeling “united” while being sued. Maybe you will second my motion that the Commonwealth of Virginia be a friend-of-the court with the State of Arizona in its attempt to enforce federal law. (Eight states have already become such friends.)
We fight costly wars overseas to protect our individual freedoms. There is no need to also conduct class and gender warfare at home. You either believe that every individual is unique — and sacred — or not. If you do not, go play elsewhere – where you are just a member of a group with only one card to play.
So, let the human spirit soar. It alone has made us what we are. Take care. Keep the experiment going. God willing, I’ll see you in the fall.