April 22, 2024
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In my email today was a survey from the U.S. Congressman from the district where I live. One of the main questions had to do with the first GOP Presidential Debate that was held on Wednesday (the 23rd), in Milwaukee.

Of course, a basic question was (I paraphrase): Did you watch the debate, the rival interview offered at the same time, or neither? I watched the debate. I couldn’t not; I’m interested. I’ve said before that the day I look forward to a repeat of the choice we faced in the 2020 presidential election is the day I’ll be eager to choose between a root canal or a hemorrhoidectomy.

That debate was a chance to check out some of the (at least) theoretical choices. Choosing between it and the rival event was not difficult. Our 45th president had chosen not to be at the debate, and I was glad. I wanted the chance to hear somebody else, even though I knew he’d be, as co-moderator Bret Baier said, “the elephant not in the room,” and his absence would speak rather loudly. Nice double play on words, by the way. A missing elephant among the other Republican elephants. (You know, Republican elephants as opposed to Democrat donkeys).

So, I wanted to hear from the folks who were there. And, I admit, I wanted to watch my own reaction and see if I missed the guy who wasn’t there. I soon found that I didn’t, and that I’d love to try not missing him for a lot longer. I went to bed that night thinking that, though there were certainly many canned and plastic answers—as always at such events—there were also some questions and answers that helped me learn something about those folks.

Several I could happily vote for as they seemed to show the kind of character, integrity, wisdom, experience, knowledge, and maturity we should demand. One of those I’m thinking about, well, she’s always been impressive. (I don’t know if she’s won my vote, but I think she won that night.) Personally, I like the guy who tells the truth and serves it straight up whether you like it or not. A backbone is good (and all too rare). One of these folks stood up when our Constitution and our nation desperately needed his courage. I honor that deeply. He, and I think, most of the rest seem to be good human beings. (We still care, right?) One of the candidates just rubs me a little wrong (as do a couple of his positions); smiling seems to be painful for him. One rubs me a lot wrong (an incredibly naive rookie) and when he smiles my retinas burn (man, those teeth!). And so on.

Yes, at the very least, I found watching that debate quite interesting. I actually ended up thinking that some of these could be good choices. I’m glad I watched it.

But there’s another reason I watched it. I watched it because I’m the brother of Ruth Ann Shelburne. Ruthie, my fifteen years older sister, passed away a number of years ago, but I’ll always remember that, if anything seriously political was coming on TV—such as a national convention, etc.—woe to the person who tried to change the channel. My sister was extremely intelligent, seriously interested in history, government, and politics, and not terribly patient with younger brothers whose desire to watch Star Trek might interfere with her quest for knowledge.

I guess I caught the bug. From her. Which is why I was sitting on the patio with my iPad on that Wednesday night watching the debate outside. In my home, I do not have my sister’s clout regarding the TV.

A few days after the debate, I read an excellent article by Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal. The bad news is in the title: “America Is Often a Nation Divided.” Rove gives reams of historical evidence. The good news is also in the title. If we think our nation has never before faced and survived times of deep division and disunity, we’re wrong, as this article, and the history we easily forget, makes clear.

Some perspective helps. A lot, I think. Social media rarely provides any. This may be strange, but, for me, thinking about my sister provides some more. I smile when I think about her voracious appetite for televised political conventions and such. But I smile a lot more when I think about her life focus and the King in whom she truly trusted.

Perspective.

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Columnist

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