By Ruth Gadebusch
A troubled nation is a nation in trouble. History tells us that all great empires fall sooner or later. Is it our turn? We are not doing a good job respecting each other and the structure created to make peaceful living possible. Thereby too many feel they must resort to street demonstrations to produce justice. Make no mistake, unity does not require agreement, but it does require respect.
In our self-confidence that our founders had the magic formula, we have long considered our nation immune to the vagaries of overthrowing governments no matter the method. We thought that it could not happen here. After all, we have had a peaceful change of leadership for more than two centuries. It is time for us to take a cold hard look assessing if we are too late or if we can successfully reverse the current trend.
The so-called leadership that has given us—or at least given any sensible caring citizen—the wake-up call did not attain office with the majority vote. One would have expected a much greater outcry than happened when that unique Electoral College designed for another era put men into office without the popular vote majority. With its many steps that few understood, we came perilously near an overthrow on Jan. 6. It can only be designated as an insurrection, an attempted coup.
The scene was set with false charges of fraud for which no evidence, much less any credible evidence, has been produced. Worse yet, it was led by the outgoing president and his followers. Now Republicans resist any efforts for an impartial investigation to ascertain just how it was promoted, who led it, the expectations and consequences.
What do they fear? Normally, the innocent are the first to want an investigation to prove their innocence. Innocents do not fear the truth because it works in their favor. Objection to such an investigation can only come as a pure power grab. That results in a divided nation, and that means trouble.
At least the Civil War was based on a belief that states had willingly united and could willingly withdraw regardless of how erroneous the idea might have been. Likewise, the issue of slavery could not be justified despite its commonality, its acceptance, at different times in different cultures. We might not call it slavery, but what else is it when one group and their ideas have complete control of another? Isn’t that what a successful insurrection produces?
What has it come to in this nation, founded on the principle of one person, one vote, when a recognized political party exerts every effort possible to prevent voting by those who might express a different opinion with their vote? Isn’t the notion of no vote/no power denying the victim the ability to change his/her position a bedrock issue of slavery?
Granted, our forefathers did not include all humans in their definition: non-landowners, followers of the wrong religion, those with a different color skin and absolutely no women. All were totally excluded. However, in the ensuing years the nation seemed to have painfully, slowly expanded that definition and was on the precipice of recognizing—beyond words on paper—a much broader concept of human justice. Was that idea ever challenged on Jan. 6!
Making matters worse, one political party has chosen to continue that challenge in completely abandoning the ideas of responsibility and compromise.
Not only has it chosen not to participate in an investigation that would pinpoint the guilty instigator and participants possibly producing lessons to prevent such a danger from occurring again, but has blocked anything and everything suggested by the Democrats and the duly elected President regardless of its merit or even congruence with its own program. This is irresponsible, non-democratic, unjust, inexcusable, implausible and perhaps traitorous. Certainly, it is not in the spirit of our constitution.
A nation divided cannot survive. Nor can it thrive with a large segment, the self-anointed, completely devoid of any consideration, any concern of those with whom they are supposed to govern and likewise lacking integrity.
How has it developed that the Republican Party is willing, not just willing but eager, to suppress any thoughts not 100% in step with its platform? Although we did not expect cooperation from the defeated party, we did expect acceptance of the results of the properly, honestly conducted election.
Close call that it was, we gained hope in the 2020 election but we cannot rest on our laurels. How many more birthdays will we celebrate? Do we care enough to make the Herculean effort to meet the challenge? Only time will tell.
Community activist Ruth Gadebusch is a former naval officer, Fresno Unified School District trustee, Governor appointee of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and president of the Association of California Urban School Districts. She is an emeritus director of the Center for Civic Education and remains active in a variety of community activities.