It’s past time to put country first

Akron Beacon Journal

Nov. 17

How did America get here? This fractured place where facts matter less and less, and neighbors can’t even share how they really feel.

How did we become a nation split by extremists on both sides of the political spectrum, people willing to say and do anything to win and hold power? Witness the shameful defense of President Donald Trump by those who privately know the facts show his unforced Ukraine error replaced national interests with personal ambitions.

And, more important, why do the many Americans who fall in the middle of most political debates tolerate the insanity we see daily in Washington, D.C., and even in Columbus at times?

Elected Democrats actually called for impeaching Trump before he took office. Republicans had similar plans for Hillary Clinton that magically disappeared when she lost.

Both sides exploit every perceived political opportunity while finding more brazen ways to punish or embarrass the other for putting it through the last so-called scandal. Sure, deny us a Supreme Court candidate until a new president arrives, we’ll show you.

How would Republicans be handling the Ukraine affair if Clinton was linked to the same set of facts? Unless something miraculously changes, the next Democratic president had better make sure he or she never tiptoes near any problems.

We can blame partisan cable news coverage filled with talking heads and extremist websites masquerading as legitimate news operations. Facebook surely has done plenty to spread false and highly partisan information. The mere ability of people to find others with similar prejudices online creates opportunities for once niche causes to gain momentum.

Perhaps it’s the fault of the two-party system that consistently produces partisan presidential candidates a significant number of Americans will dislike or even despise. Primary victories require promises that impress the left or right, with the winners trying to convince moderates they didn’t mean what they said a few months before.

Yet, the blame really rests on all of us. We continue to allow elite power brokers to play games with our lives. We’ve allowed them and rich special interest groups to drive wedges between young and old, even families.

Does anyone believe pre-existing medical conditions should be excluded from medical insurance coverage? Does anyone believe universal health care is possible without higher taxes? Do we want to deport children brought to America by their parents? Do we want our border to be a lawless waypoint? Don’t we wonder why our government failed to stop the opioid epidemic?

These are not Democratic or Republican issues. They are American issues that reasonable people should be able to resolve with respectful dialogue.

Many of us are too busy with life to navigate beyond the partisans’ carefully crafted talking points — including outright lies — designed to exploit our prejudices and get us angry at the other side. Repeat the same lie enough times and it can become fact to those who don’t consider other viewpoints inside their political cocoon. If you don’t think that’s dangerous, just wait for a deep-fake video putting words in a leader’s mouth.

And, worst of all, we’re willing to explain away unacceptable behavior by our side just to preserve power.

Democracy can’t be a spectator sport. Being a citizen demands more than just voting. It requires our engagement in our communities and nation. It demands a willingness to put country and community before one’s self-interests, especially if you hold public office.

It’s time to ask, what’s best for America or your town? When will we say enough is enough?

Online: https://bit.ly/359xT7m


A dozen years later, Jim Jordan has not changed

Nov. 16

The Lima News

Republicans never made it a secret they wanted Jim Jordan to be one of their nine members on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The panel’s hearings will determine whether President Trump’s behavior warrants impeachment, and Jordan has clearly defined himself as the person who will go toe-to-toe against any and all of Trump’s critics.

His unflinching loyalty actually comes to a fault, we believe. Yet it is exactly what’s wanted by those who voted him into office seven times in the highly conservative 4th Congressional District, which snakes all the way from central Ohio to the shores of Lake Erie. It’s been called a district where the name of a potted plant could win an election as long as the plant’s name had an “R” beside it. The 4th District has voted Republican in all but 16 years since the Civil War.

While Jordan is beloved by most in his home district, he’s loathed elsewhere. The accusations against him are many: He’s been criticized for being bombastic, too combative, being accusatory, playing up to the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world, and even for not wearing a suit or sport coat to hearings – on Wednesday and Friday, Jordan showed up to the impeachment hearings wearing his trademark look: shirtsleeves and a yellow tie.

What people don’t understand about Jordan – and probably why he’s such a darling of the Republican’s right wing — is that Jordan doesn’t just drink the conservative Kool-Aid, he manufactures it. There’s nothing wish-washy about him, which in itself is unusual for almost any politician inside the Beltway.

Twelve years in Washington has not changed the 55-year-old Jordan. If anything, it has invigorated him to the point where he is known as the conscience of the GOP’s conservative wing. That at times has come with a price, even from inside his own party.

In 2013, Jordan and 150 other Republicans broke with House Speaker John Boehner to oppose a compromise to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for families earning less than $450,000. Jordan voted against it because it raised taxes on upper-income Americans and contained puny budget cuts. Later, he joined a group of conservative Republicans to torpedo a House Republican leadership plan to provide health-care coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions.

Some Ohio Republicans were so irritated with his resistance to compromise on both issues that they briefly toyed with eliminating Jordan’s congressional seat during the 2011 redistricting battles.

As recently as the past two weeks, Jordan had to again defend himself against accusations that he had knowledge of the perversions facilitated by Dr. Richard Strauss when Jordan worked as an assistant wrestling coach at The Ohio State University. Is it a coincidence the claims by a wrestling referee came just before the impeachment hearings began? You be the judge.

Jordan’s political rise began in 2006 when he won a surprisingly easy congressional primary over Findlay banker Frank Guglielmi then cruised past Democrat Rick Siferd in the November general election. It was no secret that then-U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley, a Republican who held the office for 25 years before announcing his retirement, favored Guglielmi.

But Jordan, despite overwhelmingly being outspent by Guglielmi, won the old-fashioned way. He knocked on doors, shook hands and spoke to church groups, veteran organizations, Rotary Clubs and women’s groups. Send him an invitation, and chances were good the 43-year-old state senator would make a visit happen.

In that regard, Jordan hasn’t changed. A dozen years later, he’s still highly visible throughout his district. He’ll tell you he was sent to Washington to reduce the size of government, cut the deficit and halt tax increases — “the people’s business,” as he likes to call it.

In recent years, however, he’s spent less time on those objectives. Instead, he’s taken on the role of government watchdog and as the president’s Protector in Chief. That’s made him a frequent visitor of the Sunday morning talk shows, which has drawn the ire of Democrats. But back in Ohio’s flat lands, he still wins elections by double-digit margins.

You can bet Jordan will continue to have strong support across the 4th District as the impeachment process continues next week and beyond.

Online: https://bit.ly/2KzG8Sp

From The Associated Press

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