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Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII

Pinky Swears and the Very Red Right

 Remember the pinky swears you made with your best friend when you were six?  You linked your little fingers and swore to whatever promise the other demanded, because you were best friends and, well, a kid. 

As silly as this seems now, this is evidently the way the Republican party operates.  Leaders make promises to those in the House, and those members hold up the business of the American people if promises aren’t kept.  Then we’re all in pinky-swear limbo. 

But members of congress aren’t elected to keep promises to each other; they‘re elected to keep promises to the American people.  

So, as distasteful as this idea is to the right wing of the Republican party, members of congress must negotiate. This means no one gets everything they want, but the government moves forward and American life goes on. 

Yup, Republicans:  compromise is the name of the congressional game.  

Evidently, nobody sent Matt Gaetz or Nancy Mace the memo.  They believe they are entitled to every demand they make, or they will simply blow the place up, which they did several weeks ago.  Now, even though the world is embroiled in several wars, the U.S. is kept on the sidelines due to a lack of leadership and a childish gaggle of congressmen who want everything they were promised. 

Compromise can work, even with this group.  For example, the budget was a negotiation that did not meet the strict standards of those from bright red districts. But Republicans and Democrats worked together and developed a bill that would not only pass with Democratic support in the House, but would pass the Senate as well. Neither side loved it, but both realized the devastation of a looming default that would have negatively impacted all of us.  

But even then, a handful of House members didn’t get it; they thought their election entitled them to everything they wanted.  After all, the Speaker promised, and they believe in pinky swears. So, like six year olds, they removed the Speaker and consequently shut down a functioning government. 

So here we are, weeks later with a government in limbo, no sign of a new speaker anywhere in sight, and no chance that any bill that moves out of this house will pass the senate, even if congress starts working again. 

Maybe government won’t temporarily shut down;  it might decide to stop working altogether because the very red right won’t negotiate, with themselves or any one else. 

November 7 is election day in Virginia.  Two candidates in the Staunton area support the extreme right and its ideals.  They would like to take that philosophy to the General Assembly in Richmond next year and work with our very right-wing governor to crush women’s health care, LGBTQ rights, and educational freedom.  And they aren’t looking to negotiate. 

If you haven’t already, vote for Randall Wolf, Jade Harris, and Adam Campbell.

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Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII