Letters to the Editor, May 14
It's time again to cross the aisles
To the editor:
One of the greatest dangers facing our society nowadays is the True Believers. Those who are so convinced of their infallibility, of their righteousness, that they will not waver in their beliefs even in the face of documented facts and statistics. True Believers can come in many political stripes, and many different faiths. But a common facet of the Believers is the unwillingness to seek common ground, refusal to compromise, and the unswerving belief that theirs is the only right path.
A shining example of True Believers is the short-lived Republican take-over of Congress in 1994. For 40 years, since 1954, Democrats were the majority party in Congress. During that time, much progress was made for middle-class workers, civil rights, the disadvantaged, the environment, etc. This was not due simply to the Democrats, but because there was a spirit of cooperation between the parties, when Democrats and Republicans were willing to cross the aisles and work together, to come to reasonable compromises for the good of the country.
That all ended in 1994, with the "Republican Revolution." Suddenly, there was a wall erected, and Democrats soon discovered that cooperation was a thing of the past. Majority leader Tom DeLay famously announced, "If you want to be in our revolution, you have to play by our rules!" Legislation was rammed through with little or no debate, no one crossed the aisles anymore, and shady back-room meetings with lobbyists became common. The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, a billion-dollar windfall to big-drug campaign contributor companies, was pushed through in a late-night session of Congress, when C-Span cameras were turned off.
Of course, that is history now. It's easy to look back and blame our troubles all on one party, or one candidate. The truth is, in America it takes two to tango. While it is true the Republicans went on a power spree for 12 years, there were mistakes also made by Democrats. The deregulation of the banking industry, which led to the current recession, began with Bill Clinton, but was later taken to extremes by Bush and Company.
If the election of Barack Obama and the new Democratic Majority in Congress has taught us anything, it is that America is not only hungry for change, it is hungry for reconciliation. The days of gridlock, of power-grabbing, back-stabbing politics, must end. It is time once more to cross the aisles, to work together for the common good, and, as Martin Luther King so eloquently said, "To join hands around the table of brotherhood." This we must do for our nation, and for the world.
An unforgettable day in Bell Buckle
To the editor:
Bell Buckle, Tennessee -- it's not far from the Interstate.
We came as strangers but left as friends.
Curious about the town name and needing a rest stop during our annual trip from Florida to Minnesota, we were intrigued by the huge American flag suspended high between the ladders of two fire trucks.
As we walked around town, took pictures and visited shops, people smiled at two obvious strangers and asked us where we were from and where we were going.
We met June, and heard some of the local history: The origin of the town name, General Patton training there for Normandy; and about Mr. James Elkins and the reason for the fire trucks and flag display in the center of town.
We respectfully watched the old white fire engine in the silent funeral procession wind through town, under the flag, and over to the cemetery. We listened to the solitary bagpiper at the graveside, and the Army bugler playing "Taps" from the corner of the cemetery. We felt the honor, the respect, and the sadness.
A day we will never forget, in Bell Buckle, Tennessee -- it's not far from the Interstate.
Bob & Marcia Schoonover,
Afton, Minn., and Cape Coral, Fla.
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