Sinking feeling in Puerto Rico
By Cal Thomas
Tribune Content Agency
“Puerto Rico, my heart’s devotion. Let it sink back in the ocean.” — West Side Story
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is drowning. The island, so popular with tourists, is...
The selection of Donna Brazile to replace Debbie Wasserman Schultz as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee is a good choice that should be made permanent. As a conservative, I hope that recommendation doesn’t harm her prospects.
I know Donna. We have traveled together on the lecture circuit. There’s an old song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, which goes: “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.”
Isn’t this what is missing from much of our tightly wound, slash-and-burn modern politics? When the attitude is the “other side” must be painted as the enemy of America and thus must be destroyed, how does that strengthen the nation? And if someone must be put on the other side, make it ISIL, which seeks to destroy us. Why help it?
Question: How many people do you know, really know, who are of a different political persuasion than yourself, or do you only listen to voices that reinforce what you already believe?
Donna is not my enemy. Neither should she be seen as the enemy of any Republican or conservative. She is pleasant, funny and, if I may so without being charged with sexual harassment, attractive. She is also smart and articulate. Her policies for making America better may often differ from mine, but if I start by respecting her and seek to learn how she came to her positions on issues, the chances of her hearing me improve greatly.
Our joint appearances are more conversation than debate. It is clear to audiences that we like each other. We sometimes hug at the end. That sends a message to people used to screaming pundits and “strategists” on some TV programs. Could either of us get elected to office if a picture of us hugging were used by an opponent in a campaign commercial? We would probably be accused of consorting with “the enemy.”
On a recent flight, we sat together and she took from her purse a copy of the Christian devotional Our Daily Bread. We discussed faith and how each of us came to believe in a power that is above government.
Yes, politics is a combat sport, but that doesn’t mean we can’t like each other and practice it using some generally accepted rules. But as long as we put people in categories and label them as less in love with America than someone who disagrees with them, we further divide ourselves. As Abraham Lincoln famously noted in 1858 in the run-up to the Civil War, quoting Scripture, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Unlike her predecessor, Donna is likable. She doesn’t have to raise her voice to make a point. She speaks with a sense of authority and experience, whether you agree with her or not.
Shouldn’t the things that unite us be more important than what divides us? The problem in our modern era is that we no longer focus on what unites us, leading to further division. Division brings TV ratings and raises money for the parties and candidates, but it also damages our common bond, which has been the source of our strength.
I might not vote for Donna should she ever run for president, but if I had a vote I would cast it for her as DNC chair. Why? Because I’ve gotten to know her, and that means I like her and I hope she likes me.