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Gil Mertz: Judge the content of our character

Posted: March 5, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 5, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Black History Month has passed, but I remain inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that we would not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.

The great civil rights leader was absolutely correct. We should not judge anyone by the color of his or her skin, including the president of the United States.

He should be judged by the content of his character.

The president knows he will never have to run for re-election. He knows the Democrat-controlled Senate will kill any bill raised by the GOP-controlled House.

He knows Attorney General Eric Holder will provide legal cover for any issues that could be problematic. He knows the media is sympathetic to his personal ideology and political agenda.

So his second term as president will be a showcase of his character.

It did not start well with the revelation that one of his major selling points of the Affordable Care Act turned out to be not true. The president promised more than 30 times that if you like your insurance, you can keep it — period.

This was more than a broken promise; it was dishonest. What does it say about a person’s character when the majority of Americans believe that person is not honest?

After years of being shut out of the health care debate, Republicans finally got to weigh in when the Affordable Care Act was being implemented earlier this year.

Their immediate request was to delay the more burdensome mandates of the new law.

Considering Obama was going to eventually do this anyway, this would have been the perfect time to compromise in the spirit of bipartisanship.

Both sides could have gotten something significant and we could finally see some harmony in the toxic world of Washington, D.C. It was another major test of character for Obama.

Instead, Republicans were called “terrorists” and — rather than compromising on mandates that Obama would shortly do on his own — he stood by and watched the government shut down.

Though it was devastating to the country, it polled well for Obama and the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi gleefully boasted that Harry Reid was a “master at work” for not compromising with the Republicans.

Once the shutdown was ended and the political damage done, Obama then began to implement many of the same changes the GOP had requested. Only now he would change the law totally on his own to further stick his finger in their eyes.

When the GOP objected, the so-called “terrorists” were now being called “hypocrites” for objecting to the same changes they said they wanted.

Compare today’s political maneuvering to the words of Martin Luther King Jr., which he wrote from jail in Montgomery, Alabama:

“We must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat.

“But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.”

Our nation is desperate for statesmen who have the character to sit down across the table to discuss and compromise on issues impacting all Americans.

Instead, we’re told that the president has a pen and a phone. The same person who was responsible for the 2013 “Lie of the Year” will act alone based on his own ideology of what he thinks is best for the country.

He’s made it clear that he has no intention of even talking with members of Congress.

This is why our Founding Fathers installed a series of checks and balances in our government. They knew that an individual’s character would be tested when given power.

This is why our nation often prefers divided government to keep each side honest.

I think Martin Luther King Jr. would rejoice to see a black president in the White House. How do you think he would feel about the content of his character?

Gil Mertz is an Agua Dulce resident.



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