The eternal search throughout history seems to be the search for an honest person; someone who will stand by what they believe regardless of the consequences; someone who will speak truth to power, maintaining their integrity. Mitt Romney was such a man this past week. The news said there were four listeners in the Senate chamber when he spoke, but his words were recorded and now the whole world knows what he said:
As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.
Romney’s humility extended beyond his vote when he concluded
I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong. We are all footnotes at best in the annals of history, but in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.
Unfortunately history does not abound in people of great virtue or honesty, so when they do appear, it is important their words be remembered. It is in literature we see evidence of this search for the greatness of truth. Percy Bysshe Shelley in his poem “Ozymandias” describes a desert scene of desolation wrought by a man who refused to listen to his conscience and instead turned to greed, power and corruption:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
There is nothing left of his kingdom, only emptiness.
And Rudyard Kipling spoke clearly of the vanities of human power. Romney can remain true to what he believes as a Republican, but he felt he answered to a higher truth.
If you can keep your head when all about you others
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
There is nothing that can destroy an honest man or woman. We wish our leaders at every level of power, and the promise of our children could take on this value and keeping it alive and burning ever brightly.
It’s a grey day on the prairies today, at least in my corner of the world. After nearly a month of almost Spring-like temperatures today we see snow. Sometimes the later winter storms can be the worst. A lady in town told me her daffodils were breaking through the soil last week. They might be close to the house and planted on the south side of the house, but green buds the first of February? We all said tell them to go back into the ground, “It’s way too early.” Sometimes the rule of thumb out here is no planting until after Memorial day. But people get “spring fever” when the milder weather arrises and all of us have had to replant our flowers due to a late frost.
So today is dull, no sun. Really pretty quiet after the hoopla of Super Bowl (A Glendive native played for the 49’ers so everyone was excited.). There didn’t seem to be much talk about the trial of the President. Glendive is a small town and no one wants to get on the wrong side of their neighbor. Of course we are in red country but the blues hold their own. After the acquittal some see it as “the second coming” others are sure “Armageddon” is around the corner. I expected the outcome because of the Republican Congress, but as much as I am NOT a Trump fan I distrust Pence even more.
I read an editorial in our local newspaper from a man who served many years in our state legislature on the Democratic side of the aisle. His opinion was that both political parties are to blame for the chasm separating people in this country. He had some good reasoning on both sides encouraging people to use common sense (shades of Thomas Paine), and work for the good of the country. I believe the Constitution calls it “the common welfare.”
It’s unusual to hear a strong Democratic voice out here on the plains. When I was growing up there was the not-to-be forgotten Mike Mansfield from Butte who led the United States Senate with such quiet leadership that he is heralded as one of the greatest. And Montana gave Lee Metcalf and John Melcher to serve in the U.S. Senate to name a few. The States surrounding us are solid red — North and South Dakota and Wyoming. The common expression during election time is I’ll vote for anyone who is not a Democrat or a Republican. But we live together pretty well recognizing, I think, that we need each other.
I think more than any political candidate we share common wariness of too much money and power. We like people who are practical and down-to-earth. Most of us are “by the bootstraps” people and we admire hard work, taking responsibility for your mistakes, and wanting to be left alone to live and let live. It isn’t perfect and sometimes we prefer to stick our head in the sand and just tell people and issues to go away.
That doesn’t work anymore and perhaps this election more than any in a very long time, “We, the people” have to stand up and be heard. We have to speak truth to power, greed, and corruption. We need to get the balance back between the judicial, executive, and legislative branches. Too much has been done for the rich and well-born. The idea of entitlement belongs to no one. Out here we believe in equality. No one is better than anyone else.