Saturday, January 17, 2009

Being the Change II

Listening to South Carolina Republican Katon Dawson, the RNC Chairman Candidate, on C-Span this morning, I felt a sickness in my stomach. Not because he was a Republican, I have no particular love or hate for party affiliates, but because his tone belied his message. There appeared to be meanness in his message when speaking of values and personal responsibility, as if one Party had these things and the other didn't. A caller asked him to explain exactly what he meant by values. The spin began. Of late, partisanship has particularly sickened, considering what we need to do together to move forward. Are the Republicans not responsible for where we are too?

What was unnerving is the necessity to turn the Republican Party around without turning themselves around. The RNC should be asking, "Where have we failed?" Instead Mr. Dawson kept reminding us of the values and conservatism (code for many to be exclusion) of the Republican Party. I continue to be amazed at the RNC's strident tone and the inability to see their failure. I continue to be amazed at a tone that belies an even more sinister message. If the words were written, one may not be able to determine the spirit of the message as readily. This morning, in particular, I could not stomach it.

Perhaps this sickness was a bit of a hangover from the night before when a good conservative Republican friend on the way to a Jazz club in a discussion about the financial crisis and the Israeli war, shouted out, "they're all f@#^ing Jews." I was astonished. "What did you just say," I asked in shock. He caught himself. But it was too late; those hateful words had already left his throat that I wanted to strangle.

I sat there momentarily immobilized. After just getting in the car out of freezing negative temperatures, the hot tears that fell on my face stung slightly. I was incredibly hurt and very angry. He did not want to discuss the matter; but I insisted including the fact that he and many of his executive friends with the auto industry would not be employed had it not been for some Jewish lawmakers, like Barney Frank and Carl Levin, love 'em or not, who pushed for the auto bailout. He is a staunch conservative who was very much in favor of the bailout. Sitting there I reminded him of that dichotomy. His response, "You know, I don't need the money." “But you do need a career you love so dearly,” I retorted. Believe me, the conversation will continue.

Underneath some words is a disdain for some that comes across clearly in language. Even when the language is tempered, we get the tone and message. The words that my friend spoke last night (yes! he remains my friend) is the shadow language that we often feel when we hear strident tones spoke through tempered words. I got this sense listening to Katon Dawson speak. Now, in all fairness to Mr. Dawson, I had never heard him before his appearance this morning on C-Span and my gut feeling could be wrong. But the message that he gave was we that the Republican Party needed to speak differently and not BE different. Ladies and gentlemen, this is simply not going to bring needed change.

"We must," as Gandhi said, "be the change we wish to see."

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