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  • Last modified 35 days ago (April 24, 2024)

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Now is not the time to come to the aid of our party

He’s been replaced by Amelia Earhart and Dwight Eisenhower, but Kansas’s original representative in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall should never be forgotten.

Edmund G. Ross looked down into his open grave and cast the lone decisive vote against removing President Andrew Johnson from office in 1868. Ross wasn’t a Johnson lover. He was, in fact, a radical Republican of good standing — a member of a group diametrically opposed to Johnson, a Southern Democrat who had the impossible task of succeeding Abraham Lincoln after being elected vice president on a national unity ticket.

At Johnson’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, Ross surprisingly voted against conviction because of his concern for how removing a sitting president for largely political reasons would destroy the fragile checks and balances of the American democracy.

A newspaperman by background, Ross returned to Kansas, was forced out of the Republican Party, and ended up moving to New Mexico, where — his courage finally recognized — he eventually became territorial governor. Later, he was one of a handful of heroes featured in John F. Kennedy’s book, “Profiles in Courage.”

Many of House Speaker Mike Johnson’s positions on issues are repugnant to traditional, non-radicalized Republicans, not to mention Democrats and independents. But Johnson moved himself a step closer to Ross’s legendary status this past weekend when he put aside party politics and personal feelings and allowed what he knew to be the majority of the House to vote on providing aid to invaded Ukraine.

It’s that type of courage and commitment to the greater good, not just the good of party factions, that can pull America out of what increasingly seems a death spiral of partisan bickering.

I won’t blame our congressman, Jake LaTurner, for announcing last week that he won’t seek re-election because of such turmoil. But I have to think that LaTurner took the easy way out — just as he did when he refused to condemn our being ejected from a public meeting he had invited us to attend last August and for failing to comment on the illegal raids on our office and home afterward.

Too few politicians have had the courage to speak up for the First and Fourth Amendments after the Aug. 11 raids. Our senators and congressmen have been silent. Our legislators tried to support us but so watered down their support that it never mentioned our case. We’ve heard nothing from local commissioners, council members, or others. The only one we did hear from was retired Senator Pat Roberts, who took great pains the day after my mother, Joan Meyer, died to find my phone number and call to express his outrage and sympathy.

What America needs are more people not beholden, as Roberts no longer is, to radicalized special interests who force them to worry incessantly about transgender abortion doctors sneaking across our southern border to stuff our ballot boxes, take away our guns, and — if you can believe what you hear this week — steal 30% of our land.

Radicalized groups, intensified by the echo chambers of social media and TV talking heads, are a far greater danger to American democracy than any of the demons they constantly seek to exorcise.

It’ll be hard to find anyone worth having who might willingly jump into the hornet’s nest of a hyper-politicized and radicalized Congress. Fighting the system might be an exercise in futility. But that is precisely what we need — people who are willing to challenge what tears us apart even though they know doing so might ultimately result in their being torn down.

At this point, I can’t name a single official representing any part of Marion County who doesn’t shy away from challenging what many of them, in their hearts, must know is wrong. We need a Don Quixote willing to sacrifice himself for our country’s good. And if such a person comes forward, the rest of us need to support him — and challenge ourselves as to whether we’ve done enough to help his cause.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified April 24, 2024

 

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