The Politics of change


A few years ago, I was asked to introduce Sonny Perdue at a fundraiser in Emanuel County. He was running for Governor as a Republican against then-Governor Roy Barnes, a long-time, dyed in the wool Democrat. Back in those days, most folks would lower their voice and quickly glance around the room before they dared saying the word, “Republican”, so it was in my mind to try to lighten the mood and try to gently ease the idea of voting Republican into the conversation. The setting that day was an old-time, outdoor, political fish-fry. From the plywood podium, I introduced Perdue, to the fairly sizable crowd. I told the story of my grandmother, born in the 1890s, who in the course of four and a half decades had married and buried three husbands. By all accounts, they had been good marriages, but the frequency was a bit unusual. In defense of my grandmother, times were tough back then and she was a very practical lady when it came to providing for her family. So, my closing line of the story was, “You can’t ever be afraid of making a change”.  I had hoped my attempt at a little humor would encourage a sprinkling of laughter in the crowd, but the only response was the late afternoon chirping of the local cricket community. And even that wasn't very enthusiastic. I quickly added a few more anemic comments and then turned to hand the microphone to the Republican hopeful, and for a moment, he didn’t look like he really wanted to take it.  It was cloudy that afternoon, and if a clap of thunder and a gully washer had set in right then, along with my faltering introductory remarks, it probably would have been the end of the Emanuel County Republican Party. Fortunately, the soon to be Governor took the mic and said he never had an introduction like that before, and then went on to be elected the first Republican Governor of Georgia in 130 years.  

Politics is a funny business. You have to try to incorporate a proportionate sense of humor wherever you can and not take yourself too seriously. Nowadays, that is unquestionably becoming more and more difficult. If your candidate or your party was not successful in this most recent election, it’s important to remember that, in spite of what some of our "brilliant politicians" are saying, this country is not heading down the road to destruction. It is not Hitler's Germany, it is not becoming communist, or socialist. It is what it has always been. It is a free democracy. If you don't like how the election turned out this time, you will always have the opportunity to get out, work and advance the cause or the candidate you want in the future. We should not be afraid of change in the search for more enlightened leadership or a more perfect union, but that requires honesty from all and free, fair elections unblemished by false charges of voter suppression and unfounded media-hyped charges of conspiracies in the voting process. Some things are still enduring and unchangeable. This country is still held together by the basic tenets founded 246 years ago, and is not headed for destruction just because one political party is unsuccessful and wildly vilifies everyone and everything else that does not suit them. I don't much care who said it, but our Democracy is not now and never will be “on the ballot”.  That is why we have free and fair elections. And in this country, the ballot itself is, and will always be, the promise and the personification of our “Democracy”.