Memorable campaign slogans abound. These stick in my mind.
There is James Carville’s command to President Bill Clinton’s troops, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
There is Murray Chotiner’s command to President Richard Nixon’s supporters, “The object of a campaign is not to defeat your opponent, but to destroy him.”
This last one seems to be the mainstream media’s post-election campaign slogan. Keep bashing the Romneys in rather sophomoric and unenlightened fashion. (Too many articles to cite.)
By contrast, there is the philosophic hero of the Great Enlightenment, Voltaire, who argued, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.”
Freedom of speech, press and religion landed the No. 1 spot on the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights—the core of what we fight for and defend—for a reason.
After all, it is the dictators, the Taliban and the enemies of democracies that want to bury us. We should not help them by aiding and abetting the suppression of free speech and the free exchange of ideas.
Voltaire’s words are sacred in free societies. Only a healthy and open debate can save democracy. When we seek to silence others (via ridicule, suppression and fear of retribution), we silence our “better angels.”
Time to stop.
So, this post-election season, I want to genuinely thank Mitt, Ann—and the entire Romney clan—for giving voice to nearly 60 million voters who disagreed with the opposing side. Those 60 million may have lost a campaign, but they deserved and earned the right to be heard.
As Americans, they deserved someone to stand up for them. And Mitt and Ann Romney did. Indeed, anyone who has participated—at any level—in a political campaign knows the enormous toll—physical, mental, even spiritual—that such an effort costs. The Romneys have earned our thanks.
And while congratulations go to the president’s campaign, and kudos to President Obama for lunching with Mitt Romney at the White House, it’s time to stop the “perpetual campaign” against any and all Republicans, and begin the course to reconciliation and governing.
So, as a native San Diegan (one whose sister used to own the house the Romneys now occupy) and a member of a large Irish Catholic family—with strongly held opposing political views—who also deplore the nastiness of modern campaigns, I would like to warmly welcome the Romney family to San Diego.
And to let them know that San Diego is a more gentle town, and a more respectful neighborhood than a plane full of reporters and squabbling advisers.
Furthermore, that San Diego is a place where even a Democrat, like myself, would be happy to take them to lunch and thank them personally for keeping the spirit of Voltaire’s democratic principles alive.
Merry Christmas to the Romneys and welcome home.