In the era of so-called civil discourse among the political parties – that seems to last for about 3 days after the last tragedy – I want to take the high road on behalf of all decent Americans and offer my condolences to the families of Eleanor Mondale and Kara Kennedy – both passed away this weekend at 51 years of age.
Eleanor Mondale, the daughter of former Vice President and presidential candidate Walter Mondale, died Saturday after a long battle with brain cancer. The middle of three children, Eleanor was active in her father’s bid for the White House in 1984, as well as stints on E! Entertainment, ESPN and CBS’s “The Morning Show”.
Kara Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s oldest daughter, died on Friday from apparent heart failure. Kara had battled lung cancer in 2003 and underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor. After several rounds cancer treatments, she recovered, but the stress on her body finally caught up with her. She leaves behind a son and daughter, both in their teens.
Both of these women were daughters of political figures not held in high regard by conservatives, but they did have something in common with those of us on the right – they were human. They had mothers and fathers who loved them and they will be missed. Things like cancer, heart failure and countless other tragedies can strike all of us, regardless of station or political persuasion.
We all talk about civility in the political arena, but do we actually practice it? It seems that someone needs to really make the first move. OK, we will. It should not matter than others won’t. Yes, their hypocrisy should be exposed, but at the same time, it should be those of us who say we stand for compassion and righteousness to offer a hand of condolence and compassion to others, even if they do not respond in kind.
It is often reported that the political sniping has hit an all-time low, but we shouldn’t forget that there have always been two sides fighting for their respective causes in this country, dating back to its birth. Not everyone in the colonies wanted to declare independence fromEngland. Not everyone liked the Constitution when it was signed and distributed for ratification. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two friends who signed the Declaration together, went after each other with such vitriol in the 1800 election, it would make moveon.org blush. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr settled their differences at ten paces!
The point is that it has only been recently where disagreement, even hatred of our opponent’s political views has translated to hatred for them personally. For two centuries, most (not all, but most) political adversaries could spend the entire day yelling at each other from across the aisle, but when the gavel fell, they could meet at the cloak room, walk to Old Ebbitt Grill and share a pint. We need to get back there, but someone needs to take their finger off the trigger. It might as well be us.
So please, join me in saying a prayer for the Mondale and Kennedy families. If moved to do so, reach out to them and offer them your condolences, even if you are on the opposite end of the political spectrum. They were someone’s daughters and there are family members – American family members – grieving their loss.
This is the high ground. This is the spirit of conservatism.