Democrats can’t be sissies

Ken Wolf
Ken Wolf

The famous twentieth-century movie star Bette Davis is known for her much-repeated comment that “old age ain’t no place for sissies.”

We elderly or, as we like to say, people of “advanced middle-age,” certainly have both physical and mental “issues” to contend with that require strength and determination, not qualities found in sissies.

Our eyes and ears can weaken, causing us to squint more and talk louder on occasion. We tend to forget things and worry about becoming addled as we age.

We sometimes take naps after lunch.

It takes courage for us to make the best of what we are now without becoming depressed by what we used to be. And, although not all Democrats are elderly, it requires courage to be a Democrat whatever your age.

All Democrats I know including myself, have friends, associates, or family members, who are Republicans; if possible, we need to smile and ask them to explain what they believe. Who knows, we both might learn something.

One also has to combine toughness with conviction to be a Democrat today whatever your age. You certainly can’t be a Democrat, out-registered now in Kentucky, and be a sissy!

And if you were shocked when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2021 Oscar ceremony, you should be dismayed by the Republican-dominated Kentucky General Assembly slapping teachers, poor people, and local public library boards with new restrictive laws. Republicans seem to feel threatened by any ideas or social groups that they fear might threaten their power.

We need to live our values. When we see stupid public comments like the recent one by Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado that LGBTQ people should not be allowed to “come out” until they are age 21, we should post them on large billboards and run TV ads throughout America. Representative Boebert is only 36 years old, and apparently doesn’t have enough non-heterosexual friends to know or care that such a statement is both hurtful and ignorant.

Democrats need to point out how democracy can be threatened when one party seeks power at the expense of an unpopular minority. Nazi Germany should have taught us that.

Democrats also should fight back when Republicans label as “incompetent” a President and a Congress that passed a bill last year that has helped our economy grow for fifteen months, have tried hard to reduce COVID deaths, and stood up to a Russian dictator trying to conquer Ukraine without launching another “forever” — or nuclear — war.

At the same time, we should call out but also avoid engaging in senseless battles with right-wing Republican conspiracy theorists who try to convince us that Trump won the election of 2020, that American scientists are using biolabs in Ukraine to create chemical or biological weapons, and that you should avoid COVID vaccination because it will put a microchip in your brain to control you.

It is no longer good enough to just say “oh, that is so bizarre and crazy.” We must call out craziness!

Democrats need to recognize the current Republican attack on American democracy. We have only a few months left to convince voters that by restricting voting and refusing to pass laws to help Americans because Democrats proposed them, Republicans are refusing to govern and undermining our political system.

Let’s not kid ourselves. By refusing to work with Democrats, Republicans at the state and national level, led by “leaders” like Mitch McConnell, and Kevin McCarthy, are building a superhighway to an autocracy, one man or one-party rule.

Perhaps the best thing Democrats can do today is to hold up a giant mirror to extremist Republicans, and do so repeatedly in hopes that Democrats and patriotic Republican work together to address legitimate grievances and solve real problems. This will require a great deal of courage and a clear, determined focus by real legislators who want to solve problems instead of cultivating hatred as a step to power.

We will not like an America in which voting and free expression are increasingly limited. Winston Churchill said that “democracy was the worst system ever devised, except for all the others.”

Sissies don’t say things like that. Like Churchill, we must stand up to bullies.

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Ken Wolf

Ken Wolf spent 40 years teaching European and World History, punctuated by several administrative chores, at Murray State University, retiring in 2008. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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