Representative Government vs. the Dysfunctional GOP

Now I have to admit that I have no idea who this Jim Wheeler fellow is (Nevada Assemblyman, District 39) but I like him a lot.

Okay. So his choice of an analogy may (or may not) have been the best possible choice in the world of “political correctness” but in my mind he was “right on.”

In a previous life, shortly after I returned from Vietnam, I was a Race Relations Instructor at Headquarters, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) in Fort Shafter Hawaii. At that time the racial statistics were interesting. Interesting numbers like the fact that more than 90% of all general officers came from south of the Mason-Dixon Line and were white. And strangely enough there was a marked shortage of minority (non-white) soldiers in a headquarters outfit while there was an overabundance of minority soldiers in our neighboring unit, the 25th Infantry in Schofield Barracks. In order to have minority participation in our mandatory one week sessions, we “borrowed” minority volunteers from the 25th Division; our favorite was the self-proclaimed “leader” of the local chapter of the “Black Panthers” who happened to be from Alabama.

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cartoon-cruz-vs-establishment-600Anybody who can recall the ’60s will recall the image of George Wallace, then Governor of Alabama, standing in the doorway at University of Alabama’s Foster Auditorium to block the entrance of two black Americans. His actions were called “political theater” by members of the press and less kind things by others. The confrontation with federal authorities was not about race. Before being removed George Wallace launched into a speech about states’ rights as defined in the 10th amendment to our Constitution; something that ALL governors should be doing today.

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At that time (1963) the voter demographics was predominantly white and yet George Wallace was elected Governor a total of four times (1963-1967, 1971-1979, 1983-1987) three times as a DEMOCRAT long after the voter demographics had turned to a minority majority.

My tour of duty as a Race Relations instructor coincided with Governor Wallace’s back-to-back elections during the 1970’s. And each week someone from our headquarters group would ask our token minority from the great state of Alabama: “How was this possible given the shifting demographic?”

The answer was simple and always seemed to be stated with pride: George Wallace was a man of his word. And when someone in the group would inevitably point out that George Wallace was a racist, our minority rep would point out that nobody actually knew what the Governor’s personal opinion was on anything; he simply represented his constituents.

In his 1963 inaugural promise George Wallace said: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”. And as the demographics changed so did George Wallace’s position on anything one chose to examine.

This Jim Wheeler fellow used what some think is an outrageous analogy to make a point: He represents the people who elected him. In times past, it may have been true that the best exclamation point was a well-placed “hell” or “damn,” but in those days a true gentleman or lady would never use such a term in public. We have moved beyond that to where there are no longer any caveats on one’s choice of words.

And just who are those that would attack Jim Wheeler? The Democrats? Of course; otherwise they would be remiss in their duties to grab at any straw by which they might flog their opposition. But the loudest voices are coming from the other side of the aisle; from Mr. Wheeler’s own party.

To me, and many others, the true adherent of the GOP today fall into two groups; those who bask in the glow of the “Good Ol’ Boys’ Country Club of Crony Capitalists” and those who desperately want to be allowed into that rarefied atmosphere. Then there are people like Ted Cruz and Jim Wheeler, who never lose sight of the idea that they were elected to represent those who elected them and choose to do just that.

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