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In Living Commentary

Like it or not, history usually designates a "right" side to issues and a "wrong" side. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Let history guide our political compass


The concept occurred to me recently as I was watching a television documentary about the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1960s. The program featured black and white footage of Southern men with horn-rimmed glasses protesting the uprising of "the negroes."

I wondered what became of those guys, and are they ashamed of what they believed back then, or are they still firmly entrenched in their hatred today? Many, I'm sure, carried their hatred straight to their graves.

Fast forward. Documentaries 40 years from now will examine many of the political issues we're debating today. I wonder if today's political servants are capable of applying futuristic historic lenses to their current positions, or are they so blinded by the fogs of special interests, money and political party alignments that they cannot comprehend how they will need to account for those positions to the next generation?

American history will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over health care reforms.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over whether background checks should be performed to prevent guns from being sold to the mentally ill or convicted felons.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over efforts to ban military-style assault weapons and 30-clip magazines.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over gay marriage.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over the status of illegal immigrants in this country.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over changes to the formulas for Social Security and Medicare.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over raising the minimum wage.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over whether the law should guarantee that wages should not be determined by gender.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debates over fiscal austerity and federal budget sequestration.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over climate change.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over Wisconsin's Act 10 that revoked collective bargaining rights for public employees.

History will show there was a right side and a wrong side to Wisconsin's decision to reject $810 million in federal funding for high-speed rail.

History will even show there was a right side and a wrong side to the debate over efforts to reform the structure of Milwaukee County government.

I'm not telling anyone where they should stand on any of these issues. But special interests and political party affiliations be damned. In the end, the only questions that will matter are which side of history will you want to say you were on when you're defending your stances to your grandchildren 30 years from now and did you have the courage to do the right thing?


Talkbacks

emills81 | May 17, 2013 at 3:07 p.m. (report)

You did miss a couple issues but I'm sure it was an honest, non-partisan mistake. I wonder what history will say about Benghazi, fast and furious, The Milw ATF debacle, the abuse of power by using the IRS as your own personal attack dog, illegally wiretapping of the A.P. and the Chicago murder rate. Are just to name a few.

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AndrewJ | May 17, 2013 at 2:28 p.m. (report)

@rufus - that is an outstandingly typical response from someone who is blinded (or brainwashed) in Liberal-speak. When someone disagrees, just accuse them of "not liking what they see in the mirror". Trust me, I'm perfectly fine looking in the mirror and saying it was a fine idea to not take the Federal bait money for high-speed rail. And I'm even more comfortable looking in the mirror and stating that Milwaukee County Board is as useless as tits on a bull.

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rufus | May 17, 2013 at 11:37 a.m. (report)

Obama reformed health care and the U.S. banking system . Saved General Motors. Killed Bin Laden. Ended Iraq War. Created 6.8M private sector jobs. Restored your 401(k). The stock market soared to record highs. Talk about being on the right side of history!

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rufus | May 17, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. (report)

The man obviously struck a nerve here. He forced some people to look into the mirror, and they don't like what they see, because they know they are on the wrong side of history, so they blame the mirror. This is a great, thoughtful piece. But those who need the most introspection are not capable of thinking on such a plane. They are blinded by their own preconceptions to the absolute morality of issues like people's rights, the environment and reasonable gun controls.

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jeffjay60 | May 17, 2013 at 9:33 a.m. (report)

It starts with responsable citizens inside the voting booth and their followup calls and emails to the people they put into office.And that means voting in every election not just the year we vote for president or governor. I always ask people who are upset with MPS, who they voted for to represent them on the school board. Now some body is lying to me or I've talked to every one who voted in the dismal vote count for school board. As voters, we've got to stop the game playing that politic's has been become and think as Steve has suggested. "What is the right thing?" Sometimes a tough thing to determine and reasonable people will disagree, but how many think through the consequence of voting for a one issue candidate, as opposed to a candidate that can be principled enough to vote against his caucus because it does ot reflect the beliefs of his/her constituency. Winning an election is not a mandate for everything the candidate has campaigned on and if let them know that they will respond or...there is another election.

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