ET TU, SEN. BURR: GOPer shows political and moral courage

May 16 • FEATURE BOTTOM, FEATURE SIDEBAR, NEWS & VIEWS, Op-EdNo Comments on ET TU, SEN. BURR: GOPer shows political and moral courage

First, my eyes lit up when I got the mailer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Next, I saw the ad for “Beer, Bill and Bowie,” a June 3 benefit at Waterline Brewing Company for another Wilmington summer Shakespeare production. Finally, I fact-checked Senator Burr to find out exactly what he said about FBI Director Comey’s recent firing.

Even though I forgot to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day on May 10—and we had another crazy full moon in the meantime—news of Shakespeare productions and of Senator Richard Burr’s statement were more than enough to get me through the week with a smile. (Anyone who isn’t from here—or from a free state, or from Russia, while visiting on summer holiday—or checking investments—may not realize parts of the South still celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. Cultural healing is a painfully slow process.)

On the brighter side: Wilmington may never rival the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in scope, and we have lost some film incentives, but we do strive to bring out the best of the Bard whenever we can. Our Shakespearian culture is no longer limited to Cherri McKay and her outstanding troupe of Cape Fear Shakespeare on the Green (performing the Bard’s best works most nights between Memorial Day and 4th of July). Dram Tree Shakespeare recently completed their third show since upstarting a few years go, “The Comedy of Errors.” And another Shakespeare group, led by Christopher Marino, will launch this summer with “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Wilmington’s classical drama is a source of pride. Along the Cape Fear, elegance of iambic pentameter now counterbalances the crass dialogue and inane tweets playing in our modern political theater. Classical sensibilities are much needed. The ratings are in. Modern political theater is killing us.

But in one brief statement, Senator Burr took a small step out of the shadows to a potential rebirth of classical drama. I was so shocked I had to check the Senator’s website. There it was in black and white: Senator Burr expressed he was “deeply concerned with the timing and reasoning” behind FBI Director Comey’s firing.

If it seems like a small statement from a small actor, remember: “There are no small parts, only small actors.” A drama can turn on just a few lines.

I was moved to write Senator Burr a heartfelt “thank you.” Even though I disagree with policies he supports, I believe he has the best interests of our nation buried deep in his heart. It takes at least some political and moral courage for a Republican senator from North Carolina to be so bold as to break ranks. If there is a chance for the political system to become less toxic and perhaps even functional, it will require a lot more boldness. Politicians will have to break ranks with party and corporate donors for the good of a slightly larger constituency: the country.

Party-line voting in Congress hasn’t been this polarized since the Civil War. Senator Burr didn’t exactly cast the deciding vote to pass universal health care, but he didn’t exactly stand behind the president either. It’s not a good sign for POTUS 45. Remember, Julius Caesar reigned only as long as the Roman Senate figured they were better off standing beside him than sticking a knife in his back.

Impeachment isn’t sticking a knife in anyone’s back, but it is something I asked Senator Burr to work toward. When the current administration took office, I hoped the president would learn the job quickly. Given his lack of experience as a public servant, I hoped he would show he has the best interests of the nation in his heart by surrounding himself with folks possessing historical, military, political, legal, and diplomatic expertise he clearly lacks. Instead, he has selected unqualified family members, drained the swamp of public servants that oppose or investigate him, listens to no one, and selfishly scorns the rule of law. The Emoluments Clause, nepotism laws, obstruction of justice, election tampering, and the 25th Amendment provide a basis for formal congressional inquiry.      

Even if Senator Burr recants in a future news cycle, his initial statement is a small but hopeful sign that it would benefit others within the Grand Old Party to heed.

Et tu, Senator Burr! Thank you.

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