Opinion

Democratic caucus rocked

Bob Graef -
Bob Graef
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The Democratic Party caucus for a sliver of Washingtons 44th Legislative District was held Feb. 9, in the Marysvilles Totem Middle School cafeteria. The previous presidential caucus, held at Lake Stevens High School, brought a huge chunk of 44th Districts precincts together.
One significant difference between the two caucuses was attendance. Whereas the Lake Stevens caucus drew but a handful of attendees for each precinct, the Marysville gathering was jam-packed. Extra tables were dragged into position to seat late-comers. The head-count at my precincts table had swelled in four years from six attendees to thirty.
And the mood was different. There was excitement in the air. The atmosphere vibrated with a sense that history was being made and each person was keenly aware that they were part of that change. Never, in all the elections I have participated in has there such excitement over politics.
They want their votes to raise the bar for civil and governmental performance. Theyve witnessed a cheapening of our way of life and image abroad, wondering if the role-modeling of Britney Spears and steroid-abusing athletes arent just symptomatic of a general lowering of the bar for leadership standards. The more prominent the personality, the more potent the example. So when national leaders indulge in bullying or name-calling, the implicit message is, its okay to do as we do. Moreover, they lower the standard for discourse among world leaders, leading foreign counterparts to match them, offense for offense. Real diplomats wonder, as Casey Stengle asked, Cant anybody here play this game?
For example, take Bush diplomacy as stated in a recent press release: The Bush administration is committed at this point to a diplomatic path to force Iran to give up uranium enrichment that could lead to nuclear bomb production.
At this point, allows President Bush to change his commitment at any time. Force is his tool to achieve diplomatic progress. Could lead indicates that Bush may again act on his suspicions. Diplomatic force, when trumpeted to the world, becomes more force than diplomacy.
Yes, Iran is a knotty problem to be dealt with but Bush-type rhetoric poisons the water before diplomacy gets its chance. About Iran, his people said, We would love to practice diplomacy with people who are worth talking to but youve heard it before: Dont reward terrorists by giving them any legitimacy or negotiating with them. Maybe if they came over to the right side of civilization, then there would be something to discuss.
During a recent visit to Saudi Arabia President Bush set the stage for future negotiations with the Iranians. He said, The first choice that I think will work with the Iranians is diplomacy and I think we can accomplish this through diplomacy. When that left his audience wondering, he expanded on his concept of force-diplomacy listing these points:
Iran threatens the security of the world.
Iran funds terrorist extremists.
Iran undermines peace in Lebanon.
Iran sends arms to the Taliban.
Iran seeks to intimidate its neighbors with alarming rhetoric.
Iran defies the United Nations.
Iran destabilizes the entire region by refusing to be open about its nuclear program.
Iran is the worlds leading state sponsor of terrorism.
There is certainly much truth in most of his charges but true diplomats cringed as he charged Iran with everything but that Iranian mothers wear army shoes. It was strange groundwork for establishing communications and a poor model for future diplomacy.
Time was when the GOP had loftier goals and more artful ways of handling issues. One has only to read the following extracts from the 1956 Republican presidential platform to see the difference.
n Our government was created by the people for all the people and it must serve no less a purpose.
n The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. But in all that people can individually do as well for themselves, Government ought not to interfere.
n In all those things which deal with people, be liberal and human. In all those things that deal with peoples money, or their economy, or their form of government, be conservative. (President Dwight Eisenhower)
n The purpose of the Republican Party is to establish and maintain a peaceful world and to build at home a dynamic prosperity in which every citizen fairly shares.
n We are proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances, in matters of basic human needs expansion of social security broadened coverage in unemployment insurance improved housing and better health protection for all our people. We are determined that our government remain warmly responsive to the urgent social and economic problems of our people.
n We have balanced the budget. We believe and will continue to prove that thrift, prudence and a sensible respect for living within income applies as surely to the management of our Governments budget as it does to the family budget.
n We firmly believe in the right of peoples everywhere to determine their form of government, their leaders, their destiny, in peace.
Ironically, Marysvilles Democratic caucus called for a return to Republican ideals of the past when the GOPs statements were charged with pride, confidence and generosity of spirit for a generation that thrived under good leadership.

Comments may be addressed to: rgraef@verizon.net

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