Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Tipping Point - The Sacred Center

As I was writing what became the second "Tipping Point" post, I was brought face to face with the fact that the folks in Elko are pretty much like the folks I grew up with, folks who might vote one way or another on a particular issue, but who all pretty much shared a common core of what I think of when I speak of "Conservative Family Values."

Who would you prefer to represent you; someone who actually does share your best values, values such as guts, integrity, plain spoken honesty, and who actually gave you the respect of coming to your town, whatever his political ad visors might have said about it being a waste of time.

Who deserves your vote more; someone willing to stand up in front of and take your best shot or someone who's spent his entire career in Nevada politics blowing smoke - from Washington, DC.

That is literally the case. It's there for anyone to read, John Ensign's record is damning. For people like you, he's produced the square root of sweet bugger-all, despite all the fine words and hair gel.

Oh, he's a fine figure of a man, looks like a proper church deacon, says all the right things when he needs your vote in between kissing babies and kittens. But when it's time for HIM to vote - here's what you get.

On February 2, 2006, the Senate failed to pass Senate Amendment 2735 to Senate Amendment 2707 to H.R. 4297 by a vote of 44-53. This amendment would have imposed a modest 2-year reduction in capital gains and dividends tax reduction for those making over $1 million per year, with proceeds to veterans’ health – surely a reasonable measure during what Senator Ensign says is the defining war of our times.

On March 14, 2006, the Senate failed to pass Senate Amendment 3007 to Senate Concurrent Resolution 83 by a vote of 46-54. This bill would have closed $1.5 billion in tax loopholes, with proceeds to veterans’ health care.

Then on March 16, 2006, the Senate failed to pass Senate Amendment 3141 to Senate Concurrent Resolution 83 by the same 46-54 vote. This bill would have eliminated tax breaks for incomes over $1 million per year and some corporate tax breaks, proceeds to go to veterans’ health care.

Senator Ensign voted against all three amendments.

There are many other examples that Sara Carter has dredged up from his record, but this one goes beyond mere politics to me. To me, this vote has nothing to do with political values or ideology - it goes straight to character.

I am half Virginian, - my mother came from Lynchburg - and I was raised to respect veterans. The other half is Canadian, and that half from Unity, Saskatchewan, the Conservative heart of the Prairies - where the view is the same.

Unity makes Elko look positively cosmopolitan. In 1974, they finally got around to paving the main street. Just the main street. They were talking about planning for the thought of planning to consider a traffic light one day. And a lot of those folks sitting on those porches were veterans of WWII, Korea, Cyprus and various other places most people never think much about, and most of this talking took place in the Legion hall - the Canadian analogue to VFW. In a very real way, it is the sacred center of small town life.

And the same is true in Virgina, the same was true in Aberdeen. None of that disrespect for vets for us, too many of "us" WERE them, and there but for the grace of the draft were most of the rest. In a small town, both those who came home and those who did not are people you knew.

Every small town, and even village in the whole of North America has some place reserved to remember the fallen. Between all the wars, there are a lot of fallen to remember and they mostly come from small towns much like Elko. So I imagine that in that respect, Elko is not much different than Aberdeen, or Unity, or indeed Lynchburg, which would like to think it's still a small town with unusually fine monuments to a very large number of fallen heroes.

When you hear that dragging march, the bagpipes skirling above the muffled drums, you stop what you are doing, and turn to face the parade. And you put your hand over your heart as a gesture of respect to the fallen.

I assure you, it's not merely symbolic, and I do it even if it's on TV and nobody is watching.
If I could be a single issue voter, this would be my single issue, for I think nothing goes more directly to the heart of our national honor than how we treat our Vets.

Neither of my natal nations would exist were it not for a great deal of blood and sacrifice made by ordinary men - and now women - who took up arms in the service of their nation. Sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, but that makes not a whit of difference. It's not whether history proves that the motives of your leaders were pure, or whether you won or lost the battle or the war; it's that you answered the call. And often the greater honor goes to those who went, knowing the cause was less than pure and far from certain- but also knowing they had a duty to their fellows to stand with them, or indeed to lead them. General Robert E. Lee has always been one of my examples in life as an honorable man.

So, while I'm absolutely opposed to this damn fool war I nonetheless demand due respect for it's veterans of this war and the vets, living and dead of every other war, whether it was a war of honor, a tragic mistake, a failed photo opportunity or "A Project for a New American Century." I will not stand for less than their due and I will not stand next to anyone who would cheat them of it in order to line the pockets of a wealthy patron.

Sen. Ensign behaves more like a Roman senator than an American one, and I want you to keep that in mind, how much more comfortable he'd seem in a purple-bordered toga than in an honest man's suit.

He's the sort of man who'd take a poppy from a blind veteran while dropping nickle to snitch a quarter - all while saying, "Look at what a fine patriot I am!" He's that sort of man, because this is how that sort of man votes!

Some of your sons and some of your daughters will have a harder time recovering from their service in Iraq because of this man's arrogant disrespect for their sacrifices. Yet he has a smug, oily presumption that you will not vote for an honorable alternative, simply because he honestly disagrees with you on a couple of issues.

Well, Jack doesn't disagree with you on this one!

Anyone who went to Iraq in honorable service to this nation and discharged their duties in the face of the enemy deserves the best from us; the best care, the utmost respect, the biggest smile and every damn thing they need to take up civilian life again. So many of our Guardsmen and Reserves have lost so much; jobs, entire businesses and careers, even families. And I do not count in that their wounds.

I will honor that and their MEANINGFUL patriotism over the false-front, lapel-pin, wag-the-dog variety so beautifully illustrated by this man and this vote.

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