The gathering storm clouds of political dissent should frighten all Americans, all Kentuckians. A quick look back in history should remind all of us that there was a time in our nation, in Kentucky, when political disagreements were argued and settled on the debate stage and settled at the ballot box.
Sadly, over the past years, months, weeks, and yes even days, once reasoned debates have turned into shouting matches, threats, intimidation, and even worse, mob rule. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “There is no grievance that is fit object of redress by mob rule.”
Instead of charting a course which will allow our nation and Kentucky to arrive at a safe harbor, we have chosen to chart a course of political dissent which will only result in the ship of state crashing on the jagged rocks of political discourse. Consider a few words from “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, words which paint a cruel word picture of where America and Kentucky are headed if we do not change the course we have charted as a people.
The breakers were right beneath her bows,
She drifted a dreary deck.
And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.
She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull.
All too often we witness the horns of an angry bull, an angry bull which believes it is appropriate to question the religious beliefs of a political opponent in an effort to portray the political opponent as evil. All too often we witness the horns of an angry bull, an angry bull which believes it is appropriate to attack the reputations of others in an effort to move forward a political agenda which has little support from the people.
All too often we witness the horns of an angry bull, an angry bull which believes it is appropriate to use a gun to disrupt a baseball practice of the political party which the angry bull does not support. And now, we witness the horns of an angry and cowardly bull intent on causing harm to a former president and his wife.
As Americans, as Kentuckians, we need to ask ourselves who was responsible for charting this course of political dissent which will result in America’s and Kentucky’s ship of state finding itself being tossed and crashed on the cruel rocks, cruel rocks which will rip open her side as she sinks to the bottom of a raging sea. Just exactly what did those responsible for charting this dangerous course intend to accomplish when they poked the angry bull?
As Americans, as Kentuckians, we need to ask whether those responsible for charting this dangerous course of political dissent considered for a single moment that once the angry bull was let out of the barn that the angry bull could not, and would not, be stopped before the angry bull gored the side of civility which was once the foundation of our great nation and Kentucky.
As we consider the future of America, the future of Kentucky, as a people we need to consider and ponder for a moment the last lines of Longfellow’s poem when he wrote:
At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
Lashed close to a drifting mast.
The salt see was frozen on her breast,
The salt tears in her eyes;
And he was her hair, like the brown seaweed,
On the billows fall and rise.
Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
On the reef of Norman’s Woe!
In the end, as a people, do we want to continue on the course of political dissent which has been charted by a handful of political dissidents, or do we want to abandon the charted course which will only destroy our nation or Kentucky.
The answer should be simple for all Americans, the answer should be simple for all Kentuckians, that regardless of political disagreements we should all demand that the charted course of political dissent should be torn up and a new course should be charted, a charted course which returns us to the days when political disagreements were argued on the debate stage and settled at the ballot box.
So as I often do, I will ask each of you to join me on my imaginary mountaintop, a place where all Americans, all Kentuckians, can consider whether as a people we want to continue on the charted course of dangerous political dissent, or whether we want to abandon the charted course and draft a new charted course of civility, a charted course which will return the angry bull to the barn, and end the destruction which looms on the horizon, a horizon filled with gathering storm clouds.