In the heat of the moment we often lose sight of challenging events of America’s history. I know and appreciate the emotion the attack on our nation’s capital provokes in all of us. That may well be President Trump’s legacy. However, once you step back from all that is going on, this is democracy working. This fight has been going on since the beginning as to who will make the rules, who will control, and who will be in charge.
Democracy is being challenged every day. Most times it is in little bites like a squabble over charter schools or environmental policy. Other times it can become a national sensation like the nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice. Or a peaceful demonstration that turns into a riot such as occurred at the U.S. Capitol. And of course, our news media will fan the flames of the controversy on both sides. You may not like the smell, the tone or the picture of what has happened, but still, that is democracy at work.
After the War of Independence, our history began with Jefferson v Hamilton as to the form of our government, and the fight continues – John Maynard Keynes v Milton Freedman, WSJ v NY Times, MSNBC v FOX, Harvard v Hillsdale College, left v right, market-based economy v socialism, Democrat v Republican. This fight for control has been going on since Adam and Eve.
We have had these kinds of disruptions in our history before and survived, including the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean conflict, the sad events leading to the civil rights movements, the Great Depression, 9/11, Eugene McCarthy period, Million Man March on Washington, and the political turmoil that took place during the Vietnam War.
Further examples saw the Chicago riots of 1968 with thousands of protesters to the Democratic Convention and more than 48 hours of rioting left 11 Chicago citizens dead, 48 wounded by police gunfire, 90 policemen injured, and 2,150 people arrested.
I was in Los Angeles and witnessed the Rodney King beating, the trial and Watts burning. And this is hardly the first impeachment. Don’t forget, the threat of impeachment drove Richard Nixon from office. President Bill Clinton was impeached. My history is rusty, but democracy has been challenged many, many times and it/we survived. Democracy is a fragile form of government that depends on a balance between competing philosophies. We have watched from the 1960s as our government move toward the left with the creation of programs to take care of people. If this continues, we may wind up with more takers than producers. That is what worries me and should worry you.
Donald Trump is not the messiah. I do not endorse his character or behavior. That said, I am still going to acknowledge what he was able to accomplish in his four years. So did 74,222,958 voters. I am a Republican who believes in conservative principles. Like so many, I am ready to work to restore the party and elect Republican candidates, for the Congress, Senate, and White House in 2024.
Donald Trump will fade away and the Republican Party will still be around, hopefully smarter and better organized with new, fresh leadership. Let me further suggest that the Republicans should leave Cindy McCain alone. After what Trump said about her husband, she has every right to speak out.
So, don’t get your feathers all ruffled. Speak out, get involved, stand up for what you believe. Democracy is alive and well. A bit bloodied, but still alive. And we need to keep it that way. That is my take.
Barry M. Goldwater Jr. is a retired congressman.