Editor’s Note: The Lake Geneva Regional News presents “Party Lines,” a monthly discussion of political issues featuring side-by-side guest columnists from the local Democratic and Republican parties. The column below represents one side of this month’s discussion. Click here for the other side.
President Trump’s State of the Union address asked us to choose greatness. Greatness, the quality of having extreme merit, certainly is the choice we need to make, as is deciding what greatness entails.
Our Founding Fathers knew that, to achieve greatness, we must dedicate ourselves to the idea that “all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In too many cases, we have failed these principles. It was decades before the Emancipation Proclamation gave the right of liberty to those brought here as slaves. Still, the rights of African-Americans are inadequately protected.
President Trump reminded us of the harm done, especially to African-Americans, by unreasonable criminal sentencing laws. The First Step Act, with sentencing reform for non-violent offenders, passed with bipartisan support. Greatness requires a belief in redemption.
President Trump called our attention to the failure to protect the rights of another group of persons — unborn and even newborn babies. The president pledged to ask Congress for a bill “to prohibit the late-term abortion of children that can feel pain in the womb.”
There is an urgent need for this bill. The Virginia legislature narrowly defeated a bill allowing abortion up to the minute of birth. Virginia legislator Kathy Tran explained that if a woman was in labor and dilating, she could still request an abortion. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam further explained in that case the infant would be delivered and “kept comfortable” … “then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” This is basically “after birth abortion,” i.e. infanticide.
New York recently passed a bill declaring that killing an unborn fetus (child) is not a crime, whether the death is from domestic abuse or a drunk driver. The parents are now deprived of justice for the loss of, what is for them, their cherished child. Vermont is considering a bill clearly stating a “fetus shall not have independent rights.”
In a nation that will extinguish the rights of its most vulnerable, only those with the most power can be sure of having rights. There can be no greatness or merit in such a place. The tyranny of power will triumph unless we can guarantee life and liberty for all.
With liberty, greatness can occur. As our president said, “No force has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom.”
This freedom has allowed for innovation raising the standard of living throughout the world with advances in technology, health care, food production and communications. Although no one “invented” the internet, its first decades of development were here in the United States. With their freedom, our Founding Fathers developed new ideas of government, including a federalism with admission of new states on equal footing as prior ones and full freedom of religion (church and state were united elsewhere).
Greatness of a country must include some sense of common purpose and ability to work together. Our politicians have been able to set aside differences to pass some consequential legislation. President Trump cited some of these. The First Step Act passed with strong bipartisan support, as did the 2019 farm bill, allocating $847 billion for American agriculture, major Veteran’s Affairs reforms, and a far-reaching legislative package combating the opioid crisis.
Politicians set aside their differences in accomplishing the above measures. Surely each of us can do something concrete as well. Try something simple: At an unrelated event, change the subject from politics and focus on the people around you.
We can choose greatness together or not at all. As President Trump said: “This is our future — our fate — and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness.”
Pamela B. Wolfe of the town of Geneva is a member of the Republican Party of Walworth County.