Rudolph Fillinger | Character Matters in Election

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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As a true politician, Mr. Stephen Smith (commentary, Sept. 12) couldn’t resist taking a few cheap shots at the Biden-Harris campaign while campaigning for Republicans Suzette Valladares and Lucie Lapointe Volotzky for the Assembly’s 38th District. While I agree California could use a few more good Republicans in the Assembly, I vehemently disagree with his characterization of the Biden-Harris ticket. Mr. Smith claims Biden has lied to voters while Harris has implied that a COVID-19 vaccine approved prior to the election would be unsafe. 

President Donald Trump has pressured scientists and the FDA to approve a vaccine prior to the election to improve his chances of winning reelection. Trump claims to support people’s health care, including those with preexisting conditions, while his lawyers argue to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Mary Trump wrote, “While thousands of Americans die alone, Donald touts stock market gains. As my father lay dying alone, Donald went to the movies. If he can in any way profit from your death, he’ll facilitate it, and then he’ll ignore the fact that you died.” (“Too Much and Never Enough,” Mary Trump, 2020.)  

Mr. Smith falsely claims the current racial unrest is due to the divisiveness of Democrats over the last 11 years. According to Stuart Stevens, a long-time Republican political operative, “in the Trump years Republicans have sent a message that lying is useful and productive, racism is acceptable, the press is the enemy, and a strong-man authoritarian head of government is ideal.” (“It Was All A Lie — How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” Stuart Stevens, 2020.) Remember, Trump stated, “there were good people on both sides,” following the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which Heather Heyer was killed by a 20-year-old Ohio man. The suggestion by Trump is offensive. I suggest Mr. Smith reconsider his suggestion that the Democrats are divisive.  

Reading Michael Schmidt’s account of the Trump presidency as told from the perspective of two critical characters, namely former FBI Director James Comey and former White House Counsel Don McGahn (Donald Trump V. United States, Michael S. Schmidt, 2020), I was struck by Comey’s reflection on government, “during Comey’s time in government, he had been struck by the reality that the conduct of institutions — which can seem from the outside to be massive and monolithic – was actually entirely dependent on the conduct and character of individuals. There was a president, his few top aides, and the leaders of Congress. If they went along with something, good or bad, that was it; their acts would be the acts of the U.S. The direction of the country turned much more on what those few leaders were like as people than he had ever imagined.” I couldn’t agree more.  

I truly believe character matters. Integrity, honesty and respect for one another matters. “To start with, we need to restore a climate of truth by clearing the air of misinformation and changing how we report, consume, and share news so we aren’t living in different realities.” (“A Warning, Anonymous: A Senior Trump Administration Official,” 2019.) Too often our politics become tribal in nature, something Jon Meacham, in “The Soul of America, The Battle for our Better Angels,” warns us to avoid. “Wisdom generally comes from a free exchange of ideas and there can be no free exchange if everyone on your side already agrees with one another.” Our country faces incredible obstacles as we fight for our democracy, our economy, our very existence. Now is the time for honesty, respect and unity. 

Good luck to Ms. Valladares and Ms. Volotzky as well as all the candidates in this year’s election. God bless America. Vote!  

Rudolph Fillinger


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