It is the day after Martin Luther King, Jr day and for many that means time to forget and move on with life. Yet King’s words in this quote still resonate today – “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
There was much consternation and condemnation of some Republican politicians who used King’s words in Tweets or other pronouncements yesterday, while at the same time voting against the voting rights act now before the Senate. Yet not all Republican Senators may be against strengthening voting rights in the face of some changes in voting laws in several states – they just chose to stay silent on the matter. Remember them.
I have a yard sign that I put out in the summer months that has this quote from Dr. King – “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” While the quote does not specifically say anything about political lives, perhaps it should. A politician who is so consumed with remaining in power that he/she will compromise their integrity and the trust that was placed in them by not taking a stand on this issue should see their political lives end. Remember them.
I am not solely advocating for the current wording on this bill, but for the ability of all politicians to seek compromise in order to further the intent of the bill – that all people be allowed to vote. We do not see that in today’s political environment, where the two sides dig in to hardened positions on most issues and lob insults at each other. These are people who choose to fight rather than to seek compromise and they are on both sides of the aisle. Remember them.
I think the important message to get across to members of both parties is that we chose them to create laws in the best interest of all of the people and not to adhere to the extreme positions of radicals on either side. If they are unable to stand up to the pressures of extremists within their own parties, then they are unable to put our collective interests before their own. Remember them.
It is telling that efforts by the leadership of either group in Congress towards compromise for the common good are attacked by extremists members of their own party. It is also telling that those attacks most often result in the gesture towards compromise being withdrawn and positions are allowed to harden into stalemates. Remember them.
We have the opportunity to change all of this when we vote on the serving members of Congress. We have an obligation to look at the performance of the people running for reelection from both parties and determine what their position on important events has been and whether or not they made those positions known or decided to stay silent on things that mattered. Remember them.