Given extremist power in GOP right wing, Democrats can best uphold Constitution | Opinion

Michael Walther, Guest columnist

Published in the TCPalm, May 16, 2022

What is “Woke”?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “woke” is to be “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

To be “woke” is to be empathetic and aware of how we treat others — a desirable trait to anyone who truly believes in the Golden Rule, a fundamental precept of most religions. To Christians this commonly means to “love your neighbor as yourself,” as commanded by Jesus or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — per Matthew’s gospel (7:12).

Republicans commonly characterize “woke” as undesirable. Former President Donald Trump withdrew support for U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, after Trump claimed Brooks made “a horrible mistake” and had gone “woke.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis aggressively promoted and signed into law the “Stop Woke Act,” despite pushback from businesses and chambers of commerce.

Republicans predominantly foster an ongoing and aggressive clash over what kind of civilization and government we seek for our society. Our differing and polarizing personal values are commonly characterized as “culture wars;” this too frequently leads to violence to resolve conflicts rather than empathy, understanding, debate, and acceptance — expected elements of a democracy.

What kind of government do we want? During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, our country’s founders actively debated over four months what kind of government would be formed. The preamble cites our government’s intent to ”promote the general Welfare;” Section 8 of the Constitution empowers Congress to collect taxes to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

Our Constitution reflects the purpose of our government is to benefit all citizens — consistent with the Golden Rule — not particular or limited individuals or groups. As cited at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, our government has historically supported our “general Welfare” by providing public “transportation, promoting agriculture and industry, protecting health and the environment, and seeking ways to solve social and economic problems.”

Republicans, with a few exceptions, offer no legislative measures to support our “general Welfare,” but are focused on political theater to feed and satisfy their far-right base. Republicans frequently disregard facts and avoid debate on important public issues.

Democrats consistently promote legislation and government action to provide positive solutions benefiting everyone based on facts and sound science. Democrats welcome proactive and rational debate of ideas. Democrats believe every person should be treated with dignity and respect.

As identified on their website “About Our Party | GOP,” “the Republican Party has always stood for freedom, prosperity, and opportunity.” Unfortunately, the Republican Party is now dominated by extremists who seek to control our morality, maximize their “freedom” and influence, and suppress the freedom of others whose ideas Republicans dislike

“Democrats believe that the economy should work for everyone, health care is a right, our diversity is our strength, and democracy is worth defending” — as identified on “Where we stand — Democrats” — a “woke” stance supporting our “general Welfare.”

The future of our democratic republic depends upon the ability of our elected government officials to honestly confront, address, and debate the issues surrounding our common interests to drive appropriate government action. For the foreseeable future, election of Democratic candidates is our best path forward to fulfill the intent of our Constitution to provide for our “general Welfare.”

Michael Walther, the state committeeman for Indian River County Democrats, is a 40-year-plus resident of Vero Beach, and a licensed professional engineer.