A Great Loss
We have lost a very good man. I was informed over the weekend that Tom Jenkins passed away last week. Tom was a steadfast supporter of the Clermont County Democratic Party and a reliable source of wisdom. Tom served on our Executive Committee at the time of his passing as he had done for many years. Tom chaired the County Party’s audit committee and served as Treasurer of the West Clermont Democrats. I understand that a memorial service is planned for January 15, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Terrace Park. Tom will be greatly missed and long remembered.
Excepting recounts for Loveland Council, Jackson Township Trustee, and the Milford City Charter amendment, the 2021 election is finished. One bright spot was the election of Emily Mason to the Milford Exempted Village School District Board of Education. Three candidates were elected. Emily finished third, 117 votes ahead of fourth place and only two votes out of second. As we all know, the far-right targeted school boards and that was evident in this race. While Emily was an excellent candidate, what I think contributed most to her election was the tremendous amount of work she, her husband Bill, and others did on her campaign every day. I’m sure it was a huge sacrifice, but it paid off, not just for Emily but also for the students, parents, and teachers in the Milford schools. Congratulations to Emily and her supporters for an outstanding effort.
The 2022 election has started. I have petitions to put several statewide candidates on the May 2022 primary ballot, including Tim Ryan for U.S. Senate and Jennifer Brunner for Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. We need people to gather signatures on these petitions so we can return them by year-end. If you can help, please call me at 513-236-5426.
A Constant Thread
I am currently re-reading the late David Halberstam’s 2007 book The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. In part, the book is a history of the Korean War, but it is also a history of American politics during the administration of President Harry S. Truman. In 1948, Republicans were very frustrated at having been out of national power since Franklin Roosevelt had first been elected President 16 years earlier. Republicans and many others were certain that their candidate, Thomas E. Dewey, would defeat President Truman in the 1948 election. We’ve all seen the famous picture of a grinning President Truman holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune with the erroneous headline “Dewey Beats Truman.” The 1948 defeat left many Republicans, particularly those on the party’s right wing, enraged.
Shortly after President Truman was inaugurated in 1949, the Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong won the Chinese Civil War. This inspired many Republicans, most famously Senator Joseph McCarthy, to start attacking the Truman Administration with the charge that American had “lost China” because the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations were riddled with Soviet spies, Communists, and Communist sympathizers. Of these Republicans, Halberstam writes at pages 248-49 of his book something which I think remains relevant today:
“So the loss of China was merely the visible part of the iceberg, the issue that might help them recover control of the country, making it once again their America. . .. They neither liked nor trusted the America that had elected Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the big-city America of Catholics, Jews, Negroes, and unions. They distrusted anything or anyone that was different; and now it was time to get even.”
With slight changes in wording, that same passage could be written about today’s Republican Party. The irrational devotion to donald trump and the call to vote for Republicans to “Stop The Madness” comes from a distrust of anyone different from them and a fear of losing “their America.” This distrust and fear were exacerbated by the election and re-election of a black man, Barack Obama, as President of the United States. Republicans are determined to get even, to create an America described by a trump supporter from northern Ohio interviewed on NPR in 2016 as the place where, “No one ever heard of gays or lesbians and blacks knew their place.” The only difference between 2021 and 1950 is a willingness by the Right, as evidenced by the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, to resort to violence to obtain “their America.”
“Their America” has never been the real America. The real America has always been a land of diversity, a melting pot of different races, ethnicities, religions, and peoples. As Republicans like Robert LaFollette and Teddy Roosevelt once espoused, the real America is not a nation where wealth and power are meant to be concentrated in a few hands. As Democrats, we cannot be afraid. We must fight for the real America. We can never let it become “their America.”