August 15 – Manifesto of General Views

To the lost soul who has stumbled on this new Blog site, welcome. As I said in my first post (yesterday), I’ll try my hand at this at least for awhile.

My job as a reporter in Washington was to cover politics, the national government and the people who worked there in government. When I came to Washington two weeks after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, things were very different.

I grew up in a Republican Household on a farm in rural New Mexico. When I was born we had no electricity, no indoor plumbing until Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” began to take hold. Still, I was taught the traditional Republican values of self reliance, hard work and as little Government as possible.

But once out of the army (I served two and a half years on active duty in Anti-Aircraft Artillery) and I started living in the East I began to see other sides of issues I had taken for granted.  For instance, in the conservative Southwest if an able bodied man didn’t work it had to be (we thought) because he was a lazy bum. Looking at things back East I saw sections of large cities where able bodied men couldn’t find work because of a lack of education coupled with the color of their skin. I had to change my mind about them all being bums.

In those days the two parties contended with their different views of the role of government but in the end usually came together in compromise to move the country forward. No one even thought the right thing to do was shut down the government in an effort to get their way. And both sides accepted that a majority vote had to be respected and if the other side had the votes your recourse was to change things in elections, not then obstruct the majority’s ability to put their victory into effect by any means possible.

A most vivid example of how Republicans felt about their responsibility to work with Democrats was the tense and dramatic congressional effort to eliminate legal discrimination based on race in public areas of the country’s life. I covered the great Senate debate on the Civil Rights bill of 1964, which did that.

Southern  Democrats fought hard to continue such legal discrimination but Senate Republicans joined non-Southern Democrats to break the Southern filibuster (and in those days it took 67 votes to stop a filibuster, not just sixty as it does today). The last speaker before the vote and he spoke to break it was not a Northern liberal Democrat but the conservative Republican Senate leader Everett McKinley Dirksen who quoted Victor Hugo “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  On final passage of the bill, all the Southern Democrats voted against it but only six Republicans joined them. That was the Republican Party I knew and watched their members in congress vote the national interest.

Today, of course, it’s almost completely different. I’ve told this little story from 1964, as a way of introducing my views en large. I believe we must return to a bipartisan approach to our problems and we must stop the destructive idea that if I don’t get my way, I won’t play, I won’t co-operate in the democratic process.

When the Founders wrote the Constitution it is said a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of system the Country would henceforth be governed under and he replied “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

I think we can keep it but right now that looks to be somewhat of an uphill battle. Our Country, its Constitutional and moral values , its reliance on the rule of law and of civility are being eroded from the top. I believe we are governed at the moment by a president who is woefully unqualified to hold that office.  And whose willful and stubborn ignorance of so many matters (including the Constitutional restraints on his own power) must be checked and quarantined by all legal and constitutional means.

In making my case through a discussion of his almost daily strange and destruction words and actions I won’t be name calling and if you can beat my arguments with a better argument, well and good. But no one ever wins an argument by name calling so let’s neither of us try.

Thanks for reading this brief explanation of where I’m coming from and why. Soon I’ll begin my regular comments.



Coming Soon

For fifty two years I reported news from Washington as a political reporter, for the last forty seven of those years with ABC News.

Now, here in my native state of New Mexico, I watch everything from afar. Still, the desire to get in on the action remains.

Therefore, I will soon try my hand at commenting on events and if enough people seem to want to read what I have to say, I’ll continue.  Otherwise, I won’t because the old saying”never quite a winning game” has a reverse.

Always quit a losing game.