Ken Plum: A danger to our way of governing

ken plumMy parents knew of my interest in politics and government from the time I started school. I do not remember their specific reaction in the early 1970s when I told them I was going beyond working for other candidates and was going to run for the state legislature myself. I do quite clearly remember my mother’s question after the 1972 break-in at Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate and the ensuing scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation. She asked if I was sure that I wanted to be in politics, a profession that was not too highly regarded.

My answer was straightforward: now more than ever! I explained to her my belief that if honest people did not want to get involved in politics then the running of government would be left to the scoundrels and crooks. I did not want that to happen.

She would probably ask me the same question today and for good reason. While some will dismiss my views as partisan, I want to make clear that my concern here is with the individual who was able to bully his way to the Republican nomination for President. He is not like other Republicans with whom I am friends or with whom I work. In fact, my feelings towards him were best summarized in a letter from the Harvard Republican Club that has endorsed every Republican presidential candidate since its founding in 1888. They wrote:

“…Donald Trump holds views that are antithetical to our values not only as Republicans, but as Americans. The rhetoric he espouses–from racist slander to misogynistic taunts–is not consistent with our conservative principles, and his repeated mocking of the disabled and belittling of the sacrifices made by prisoners of war, Gold Star families, and Purple Heart recipients is not only bad politics, but absurdly cruel. If enacted, Donald Trump’s platform would endanger our security both at home and abroad…He isn’t eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency…He speaks only in platitudes, about greatness, success, and winning. Time and time again, Trump has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge on critical matters, meandering from position to position over the course of the election. When confronted about these frequent reversals, Trump lies in a manner more brazen and shameless than anything politics has ever seen…His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy…” (HarvardGOP)

If she were alive today I would say to my mother once again that I am glad that I am involved in politics. It provides me an opportunity to publicly stand up against the ignorance of our history, our basic values, and our way of governance that the Trump candidacy represents. My plea is not intended to be partisan; it is intended to be American. Talk to your children, to your family, friends and neighbors. This election is too important to ignore. It is a challenge to our way of governing. As the students at the Harvard Republican Club quoted Alexis de Tocqueville, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.


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