Whatever you do, don’t discuss elephants or donkeys in the newly formed group Politics, Facts & Civility in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; the group was formed by local citizens of that same town made famous by an American civil war battle in July, 1863 and a speech made by president Abraham Lincoln four months after the battle in November of that year. The group PF&C was formed to bring together Republicans and Democrats in the small town to try to find common ground in a friendly atmosphere – to try to tamp down the rancor, partisan rhetoric and bitterness in their home town that was a microcosm of the ugliness and downright meanness taking over the political discourse across the country. Family members divided, neighbors pitted against neighbors, and these people wanted to seek a new way forward. The group was small with ten members at a recent meeting, but the hope was for finding more ways in which we were alike than we were unalike, to borrow Maya Angelou’s words. Bravo.
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, a testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war… The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here…” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November, 1863
The world noted for a news cycle what was said by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in her tortured testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The world noted for several news cycles Judge Kavanaugh’s tearful dramatic denials which conjured images of him for me of his being seated next to Clarence Thomas for the Supremes’ official portrait. The world noted briefly the unhinged outburst of Senator Lindsay Graham who I implored on his Senate voice mail this week to please ask the media to refrain from continuing to say Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina — yes, even that blatant rudeness and disrespect will not be remembered by the world (except perhaps by the person who inspired him); but we, the people, will never be able to forget what was done in the United States Senate during the first week of October, 2018. The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was a lifetime appointment with generational implications.
We continue to be involved in a great civil war testing whether our democracy can long endure, don’t we? New divisions, and old ones unresolved…new wounds, and old ones framed in new language continue to test our commitment to each other as citizens of a nation dedicated to beliefs in government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our new civil war is as uncivil as the first one was, and our convictions in the guardians of our democracy through its legislative, executive and judicial branches of government hang by threads as thin as the ones in my favorite pair of pajamas.
The Kavanaugh confirmation process was described by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and his sidekick Orrin Hatch as being dysfunctional to the Beyond Thunder Dome power. While American citizens gathered outside the committee room in the halls of Congress and around the capitol grounds to protest the Kavanaugh confirmation — even had the audacity to confront individual senators in the elevators and in their offices — I found rays of sunshine amid the darkness of the dysfunction. My new heroes as champions of democracy during the hearings were Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Senator Kamala Harris of California for their eloquence in expressing their positions, their calm demeanor while questioning Kavanaugh and their polite refusal to be led down the rabbit hole of disrespect.
Bravo again to the Politics, Facts & Civility group in Gettysburg. My hope is that your membership grows and expands to include citizens in the towns near you… until the movement becomes a wave washing across the entire state of Pennsylvania which then spills over state boundaries all the way to South Carolina.
Pretty tells me all the time we need to start with our own neighbors who haven’t spoken to us since we’ve been here now for 18 months. My attitude toward them has been mostly uncivil, too, as I tend to believe they vote Republican and disrespect the gays. But I know for sure we have common ground in keeping our yards maintained so maybe that’s a place to begin. Gosh, it sure has been a warm October so far, hasn’t it?