Politics: Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa
Joseph Stalin, Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill in Potsdam
U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays
The first time I registered to vote in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1954, I declined to choose a political party, even though I had campaigned for -- read that "wore a lapel button for" -- Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.
Wanting to be sure I wasn't jumping to any conclusions, I took on the status of "independent" -- read that "unaffiliated."
It did not take me long, however, to realize that there was no way I could ever consider being a Republican. I thought Roosevelt was a wonderful president who, despite his personal wealth, fought for the little guy (me.) April 1945 was a tough time for Harry Truman to become president, having to take office at the death of a popular president in the waning days of World War II.
The Best President We Ever Had
Truman turned out to be what I believe historians will someday rate as the best president we ever had -- even better, I think, than Thomas Jefferson (or Abraham Lincoln) because the United States was a far more complicated country in the 1940's.
I learned very early in life that there is a chasm between Democrats and Republicans that is impossible to cross over. If you're a Democrat, you can't sit by and watch people suffer -- whether it be from hunger, unemployment, lack of medical care, unconscionable working conditions or inability to finance education. If you're a Republican, you merely declare, "If I made it, so can you; fend for yourself."
It became essential, therefore, to vote Democratic; to do otherwise would be foolish for it would be giving support to someone who believes nearly the exact opposite of what I believe. Voting for "the man" -- or "the woman" -- instead of the party would have the same effect -- no matter how good that person may be on a personal level.
In line with this thinking, I have always voted Democratic.
Until last November!
A Tragic Mistake
Last November I voted for U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays. It was a tragic mistake. I should have known better.
I have no excuses to offer. I was wrong. I was stupid. I went against everything I believe.
By way of explanation, however, I can only say I was swayed by a debate I watched on local television. The candidates opposing Shays appeared so lackluster, so ill-informed, so unqualified that I led myself to believe that Shays would do a better job representing the 4th Congressional District.
Mea culpa! I was so wrong!
Shays, who I thought was making an effort to travel the middle of the political road, has not only signed the unholy "Contract With America," but also has hooked his star to its author, the wild-eyed ultra conservative Newt Gingrich, speaker of the House of Representatives.
Shays wants what Gingrich wants. Take money from the poor, the elderly and the disenfranchised and give it to the wealthy, the influential and the powerful. Make students, low-income workers and retired persons pay more and get less. Allow the rich and powerful to pay less and get more.
The Right Is Wrong
Of course, I shouldn't be surprised. This has always been the philosophy of the Republican right. And they've always been successful in getting middle income Americans to believe that they'll get a piece of their pie. Most middle class, middle-income Americans, unfortunately, never catch on.
My grammar school teachers, who were Sisters of Charity, often said that everyone makes mistakes, but the important thing is to make every effort not to repeat them.
Believe me; I will never make that mistake again!
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaperof Norwalk, Conn., on Oct. 28, 1995.