Illustration by Marc Stopeck

The platform of the Republican Party does not exist, according to their leadership. But like so many other false statements, they do have a platform: Donald Trump. He is whom they support; he is whom they follow. Some party members say that although they are Republicans, they don’t like Trump, and will not vote for him. But as long as they leave leaders like McCarthy and McConnell in office, they are just as guilty of moral somnolence as are rabid Trump supporters. Even Christians who have Jesus in their hearts and the gospel on their lips, but who remain silent on issues such as racism, are hypocrites.

Our country is in serious retrograde due largely to Republican opposition to several key congressional initiatives, including infrastructure legislation and voting rights. And in terms of the safety and health of Americans, Republicans deny the dangers of climate change, and the efficacy of vaccinations for protection from COVID-19 (though they are softening that position). Their opposition to federal voting rights legislation is because it’s designed to counter the actions already taken by 17 states to increase voting difficulty. Additional damaging Republican positions include declaring Obamacare unconstitutional, terminating the DACA program which gives illegal immigrant children born here the right to citizenship, implying support of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection by opposing an investigation, promoting tax cuts that benefit only the wealthy, and supporting Trump’s position that the 2020 presidential election results were fraudulent.

These are all salient points that cry out for explanation: How can anyone — Democrat or Republican — embrace such a capitulation to cruelty, obduracy and sybaritism, driving this country further into its dystopian condition? 

America was the world’s leading country among the free world’s economies and democracies. We were admired, and considered a model for others, and when we spoke at the U.N. or European Union, they listened. The Republican attitudes toward the Paris Climate Accord and on nuclear disarmament were seriously flawed and served to greatly unsettle our allies. 

The Biden Administration has moved to correct both positions, but the trust of other countries, notably in Europe, is yet to be fully realized.

The right to vote stands as the golden crown of a democracy. Having voting rights in a dispositive mode is at the very heart of our freedom package. The actions already taken by 17 state legislatures, designed to curtail voting rights, specifically among African Americans, are giant steps that weaken the underpinning of our democracy. In fact, the new laws not only increase the difficulty of voting, but also place the Republican legislators in charge of election administration, including the right to overturn election results. It is reported that 43 states in all either have — or are considering — toughening their voting laws. These shameful, insensitive actions limiting voting rights to specific groups of citizens are considered the most serious threats to our unity and democracy since the Civil War.

Where are the voices? How can any person with a sense of decency support these frightening, thoughtless actions being embraced by the Patriarchy that is the Republican Party. Trump, McConnell, McCarthy — they are the enablers. If the voices are silent, then the silence here in our community, as elsewhere, is deafening. 

Our village had notable voices now silenced by death — Bobbie Raymond, Sherlynn Reid, Ginny Cassin, Vernette Schultz — and others who would never be silenced. We are as much under attack here as across this land. 

The challenges faced by Oak Park are deeper than those visible on the surface. But one notable achievement will never be distorted: Oak Park showed the entire country how to peacefully and productively and successfully welcome racial diversity.

 Let us continue to share God’s glory under freedom’s crown:

 We have a dream this nation will arise,

 And truly live according to its creed,That all are equal in their Maker’s eyes,

 And none shall suffer through another’s greed.

 We have a dream that truth will overcome

 The fear and anger of our present day;

 That Black and White will share Our Common Home,

 And hand in hand will walk the Pilgrim way.

 (Text: Michael Forster)

Tom Lynch is the founding executive director of the Oak Park Visitors Bureau, member and president of the board, and a lifelong Oak Park and River Forest resident.

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