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Letter to the Editor: What’s In a Name?

Jim Lundstrom’s commentary, “An Elephantine Solution to Partisan Politics” begs for responses even if, as I hope, it was written tongue in cheek. He proposes that we all “give up” and join the Republican Party to be rid of all this pesky dissent.

His recommendation presupposes, for starters, that there is no dissent within the Republican Party. I hope, however, that there are still some Republicans who believe, against the record of the Republican President, in freedom of speech, the right to protest peacefully, freedom of the press to be critical, and in the protection of religious freedom. If they do believe in these Constitutional rights, they may want to seek an umbrella outside the Republican Party until their leaders act accordingly. I certainly hope they will dissent from the assault on these rights.

The recommendation that we collapse into one party is remarkable since we spent decades of the 20th century in fear that the Communist Party would take over the world! While our Constitution does not prescribe political parties to accomplish the business of democracy, it has been our practice in the U.S. to keep at least two on hand to act as checks and balances on unwanted or unworthy power.

The two main parties have not, however, always had their current names. The names have changed to reflect their members’ values and policies. I would gladly have enrolled in Lincoln’s newly named Republican Party, for example, but I could not do so now that it has embraced white identity politics. Nor could I have been a Southern Democrat before the Civil Rights Amendments changed the face of the Democratic Party. Names matter because identity matters. What we believe in and what we stand for matters. It is worth fighting for, even if fighting makes us uncomfortable. I hope it does not literally make us sick.

I am sorry that the problems we face are not simple and are not solved by giving in to power or giving up our right to dissent. The possibility of unifying discussion, however, may exist in a new movement called “Indivisible.” Look it up.

Estella Lauter

Fish Creek, Wis.