Although I am, and have been for many years, a registered Democrat, I have always held former President Herbert Walker Bush, the first Bush president, in the highest regard. Through the presidential campaign of 1988, Bush referred many times to “a thousand points of light,” primarily in reference to promoting volunteerism in American Society. As the years passed I believe it may have taken on an even broader connotation and referenced who we are and the work we still need to do to become a more giving and kinder society.

There were any number of policy disagreements between President Bush and the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate when he was President, as a Democrat majority held both houses. That said, there was a lot of “working across the aisle” and much got done because during his one 4-year term the concept of bi–partisanship worked quite well. President Bush was known for kindness, gentility, and empathy and worked hard to find common ground.

In the past few years and especially in the past two, most elected officials and voters, have taken hard line positions and have been unwilling to compromise. In many cases we have so maligned folks on the opposite side that any kind of conversation has become all but impossible.

It seems odd when I think about it, but my most enduring politicians over the past 20 years have all been Republicans. Two are still living; they are Richard Lugar, former Senator from Indiana and the key reason I went to Graduate School, and of course Jim Leach, former Congressmen from Iowa and one of the brightest elected officials I have ever met. With the passing of Bush One, he along with former Governor Bob Ray round out my favorite group of politicians, and funny as it seems they were all Republicans. Whatever happened to their party is definably a conundrum.

As we move toward the 2020 elections, I would encourage all sides of the political debate to remember Bush’s thousand points of light speech and allow his thoughts to become relevant once again. By doing so we might be able to return to some semblance of civility thereby returning to a kinder and gentler democratic process that works for all.

 

by Dick Goodson
Photo via Wikipedia
Posted 12/4/18

3 thoughts on “Remember Bush’s Thousand Points Of Light And Its Call For Civility

  1. It’s interesting, that, Dick. Now, I was born and grew up in Illinois, and the three most memorable (for good or ill – mostly good) politicians I remember are Ev Dirksen, Chuck Percy, and “Big Jim” Thompson, the longest-serving governor in Illinois history. I was a “staunch” Independent back in those days, and I even voted for Thompson once (then I moved away…). Never got to vote for or against either Dirksen (now THERE was a politcian’s politician!) or Percy. One Dem stands out in my mind, though, only becuase of my extreme regret in voting for him – Dan Walker. Turned out to be one of the most corrupt of a long line of corrupt Illinois governors.
    Never cared for HW, though. But my distaste was not one a personal level. His politics and mine just didn’t jibe. Yet, I fully-supported his handling of the First Gulf War. (and that’s one thing he was excoriated for – unfairly, imho).

  2. And he did later apologize for the tenor of his presidential campaign, Willie Horton and other back-stabbing references to Dukakis. But the Repubs by then were playing hardball, or rather, mean ball, ever since Lee Atwater’s role in the Reagan campaign. Even HE apologized before he died. Jeff Kaufman, Repub State Party chair, and others like him are just plain disrespectful, mean and downright uncivil.

  3. I started reading Jon Meacham’s book about Bush called “Destiny and Power” written in 2015.
    This is a comprehensive and well-written biography, and gives us a clear picture of Bush’s life.
    After a president dies, his accomplishments are often given more importance than they really
    are. We will have a better view of Bush in 10 years after his life is studied more closely by historians.

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