The perfect ticket
by Hal Sundin
With the nominating conventions of the Democratic and Republican parties rapidly approaching, attention will be focused on John Kerry’s choice of a running mate. One hundred and forty years ago, the country was closely following the choice of President Abraham Lincoln’s running mate.
With the election of Lincoln as the first Republican president in 1860, the schism between the North and South over the issue of slavery, which had been increasing for 40 years, finally reached the breaking point.
In three months, the Southern states had seceded, and within a few weeks after Lincoln’s inauguration the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter started the Civil War.
By the summer of 1864, more than three years of bitter conflict had divided the country so deeply that it was uncertain whether it could ever be reunited.
At the Republican convention that year, after nominating Lincoln for a second term, the party took the unusual step of nominating a Tennessee Democrat, Andrew Johnson, as Lincoln’s running mate in an attempt to bridge the gap between Northern Republicans and Southern Democrats and facilitate the reunification of the country when the war was over.
The convention was called the “Union Convention” rather than “Republican Convention,” to prevent Johnson from being seen as a turncoat.
Once again, our country is deeply divided and polarized over a broad range of issues ranging from the war in Iraq to a whole variety of ideological differences.
The situation calls for a bold unifying action to bring the Democrats and Republicans into a less confrontational attitude. For the good of the country, I am suggesting another Unity Convention this summer to nominate a ticket of John Kerry and John McCain.
These two leaders both have honorable military records and are good friends, making it possible for them to work together to reunite the country by getting the two parties to work more in harmony rather than as bitter enemies.
This would obviously ruffle the feathers of members of both parties: Democrats would feel that a Democrat should be nominated to be Kerry’s running mate, and Republicans would consider McCain to be a political traitor.
It would, rather, be a case of McCain putting his country before his party. And if the convention is a “Union Convention,” McCain would continue to be a Republican, just as Andrew Johnson continued to be a Democrat.
As long-term good friends, it should be possible for Kerry and McCain to work together as a team to bridge party differences, restore civility to government, and bring the country back together.
This probably appears to you to be a far-fetched ” even crackpot ” idea, but the need for unity increases with every day, and you let me know if you have a better way of bringing us back together for the future good of our country.
As a footnote, I would like to let you in on my political background. For many years I considered myself a solid Republican.
Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans stood for fiscal responsibility and decried the Democrats’ deficit spending, which was running up the national debt.
Then I began to question some of the other policies of the Republican Party, particularly those relating to the environment and the well-being of the majority of Americans, so I became an Independent.
As time went on, I became more disillusioned with the domestic agenda of the Republican Party, and when they abandoned fiscal responsibility and made the Democrats look like pikers at running up the national debt, I had could no longer remain neutral, and became a Democrat.
Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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