I Hate To Say I Told You So… by Gerald A. Honigman
But I told you so.
Writing as a former registered Democrat now Independent who saw problems with both mainstream political parties’ real and perceived positions, I penned several articles prior to the election warning Republicans of the mess they’d find themselves in if they persisted in catering primarily to their ultra-conservative base. Being a student of the ‘60s, I was part of the infectious zeal for change that swept across university campuses…Real change--but reasonable change. So, definitely putting it mildly, there was no love lost between radical SDS-types and myself.
Such zeal--indebted to earlier groundwork by cherished mentors--gave rise in the next decade to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, more effective (but still too loose) rules governing the use of dangerous pesticides (FIFRA), the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and its various offshoots, the first serious movement towards the development of alternative energy sources, etc. and so forth. That our nation’s rivers and water sources are much cleaner today than they were before--as just one example--is a result of this zeal…and our children are much better for it, regardless of those who still wish to put smiley faces on dioxin canisters.
I will always be proud to have been part of this movement to turn us into better stewards of this world in which G_d blessed us to live.
As a science teacher going on three decades now, I have taught these lessons to thousands of students …taught, not preached. For me that means looking at issues from different angles, yet not shying away from the bottom line. If we waited for 100% conclusive evidence for practically anything before we acted to prevent potential problems, we’d all be in much deeper trouble.
Forget about anti-smoking actions to protect our kids, as just one example. Think about what just that one industry did to protect its own selfish interests at all others’ expense for decades.
If additional errors are to be made (and they will be) after too long of an era of gross and greedy actions, let them be on the side of caution. Once persistent carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic man-made chemicals are unleashed into ecosystems to work their way up assorted food chains, there’s no issuing a recall. And those type of short-sighted, greed-centered actions were done a plenty in the past--especially during the last century. I like to explain this to students as putting into practice being a part of--not apart from--the world in which we live. A close friend of mine and I fight like cats and dogs over these issues. He won’t want to hear this but, whether he’s right or wrong (he’s wrong), his position is nevertheless precisely why Republicans got trounced in the recent elections.
In Sarah And The Wolves, I warned Republicans of the dangers of downplaying environmental and ecological concerns--so important to millions of newly-registered college students, Independents like me, and so forth. I also reminded them that Teddy Roosevelt--one of the true fathers of America’s modern conservation movement and friend and wilderness companion of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club--was a Republican. Conservative and conservation should not just sound alike…
I must have received a dozen e-mails and brochures from various organizations warning against Sarah Palin’s alleged war against wolves, polar bears, beluga whales, and such. Sarah And The Wolves was my warning that Republicans were once again sending the wrong message to millions of voters for whom such issues had indeed become very important.
What’s even more pathetic is that Senator McCain is not oblivious to all of this. He opposed drilling in ANWR, is not an oil man like some other executive folks we know, and Giuliani, Lieberman, Schwarzenegger, and so forth are his associates. In other words, he’s no unreasonable right wing kook.
The problem thus became a sin of omission not commission.
Not wanting to alienate even further his already alienated ultra conservative base, McCain basically remained silent on the above concerns at the same time that Palin (whom I basically like) was advocating such things as the slaughter of wolves in the only state where they still remained in a natural balance with prey populations and not endangered.
While some still laugh at and belittle such concerns, ecological and environmental issues indeed rank very high with millions of others…especially young, newly-registered, and Democrat-targeted voters.
True, the economic mess couldn’t have erupted at a worse time, but McCain--more than any other Republican--had enough of a well-earned reputation both on national security issues and as a maverick to perhaps have weathered even this storm given all of the nasty, negative skeletons Obama has in his own closet. But added to two unpopular wars and the turmoil in the economy were these other worrisome issues--so the scales tipped beyond repair.
Surpassing the attacks Democrats capitalized big time on regarding ecological and environmental concerns was even a more divisive issue they scared millions on. I wrote about this in another pre-election piece, the A-word (Sweeping It Under The Rug…).
While I’m no fan of abortion and certainly don’t advocate it as a means of birth control, numerous newly-registered young women (and men) were led to believe that a McCain-Palin victory would bring back the days of butchers with coat hangers in back alleys. McCain, again, expended far too little effort to mitigate this perceived problem in order to appease his already distant, non-compromising base.
As it turned out, the economic mess sealed the Republican coffin anyway. But imagine a scenario which actually existed a few months earlier.
What a shame it would have been in that potentially much closer election to have lost it for reasons such as those described above.
There is one truth that Republicans better quickly wise up to…
They now face, as in the ‘60s, a charged electorate with new faces and multiple agendas. And at least some of those agendas represent issues which deserve the support from any would-be occupant of the White House.
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive
doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and
conducted counter-propaganda programs for college youth, has
lectured on numerous university campuses and other platforms,
and has publicly debated many anti-Israel spokesmen. His
articles and op-eds have been published in hundreds of
newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites around the
world. His official website is:
Our special thanks to the author for submitting this article.A. G. S.