Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

December 27, 2012

In the House of Wood

I'll miss them

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville —  

I'd like to extend my condolences to Bruce Neimeth's family. I didn't get to know Bruce that long, but I'm glad I did get to know him. It was great working with him in covering the Salute to Champions events at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum, but the first contact I can remember with Bruce was when he offered me his extra tickets to see the Dalai Lama in Cedar Falls on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. 

I remember the date because I still have the program from that, hanging on my wall here. That's what that experience meant to me. I didn't turn Buddhist or anything, but it was still a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was all thanks to Bruce. 

Bruce was a good man. It was a privilege to know him. He will be missed.

I will also miss working with a group of people I've gotten to know fairly well in my time with the Journal-Express. None of them died, but 2013 will not be the same since I won't have the chance to work with Ron Goemaat, Sam Nichols, Jim VanEngelenhoven, Paul McKinley and Leonard Boswell. 

I am eager to work with the new people filling the roles they did for most of my tenure, but nevertheless, I have enjoyed getting to know these guys and working with them. 

•••

As I write this, we are still set to go off the fiscal cliff. I don't know how drastically it will affect me and mine, but it will likely be unpleasant. 

What's even more unpleasant is trying to find the common ground between working together to get something done and compromising your principles. You may well know that I believe that partisan nonsense should be checked at the door once someone is sworn in as a Congressman or Senator. It just doesn't happen.

At the same time, I believe one should stick to his or her principles, and continue to be the person he or she said they were when they campaigned for that seat. 

Where is the happy medium? I'm not sure, but I am sure both can coexist somewhere. 

The reason I am asking this is because on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, a definite Republican, seemed to indicate to host Chris Wallace that the Tea Party wing of the House Republicans should just give up on the very cause that put them in office, and fall in line with the rest of the Republicans In Name Only (RINOs). 

I have a problem with that. 

You see, regardless of your feeling on the Tea Party, the fact is they were elected by their constituents in the hopes they could affect real change. They are supposed to be the voice of those of us who don't want to see Washington continue to fall into its same bad habits of digging a deeper financial hole for the country and giving in on things they don't believe in, just to save face for the party. 

To me, that is where the problem lies. 

If Tea Party members of Congress, or any other legislator who vowed to go in and change Washington for the better, gives in to peer pressure, can real change ever happen? I don't know what's wrong with the people in the districts, represented by House and Senate leaders, who keep sending them back for more of the same nonsense. Their voices are heard, but are the voices of the rest of the country? If you silence the Tea Party, or others who show resistance, and force them to roll over, play dead and support bad policy, then this is no longer the representative republic it is supposed to be. 

Even if it is unpopular policy, these representatives have the right and responsibility to vote their conscience. They owe the parties nothing. 

So how do we find the balance? Should everyone continue to vote on party lines, to make others happy, or should they stand up for what they think is right? I think it's possible to be an individual and still find compromises where you can. 

When I say compromises, I mean those based on common sense. It is incredibly stupid, irresponsible and dangerous to continue to borrow 40 cents of every dollar spent by the federal government. That has to stop if we're going to be anything more than a banana republic in the future. I think Democrats can agree with me on that. 

•••

I think the National Rifle Association’s idea of having armed guards in every school building in the country is a terrible idea. 

I remember hating school quite often, and even considering it a prison. Why make that perception a reality by locking every single door to the outside world and posting armed guards near them? Do you think that’s healthy for children? I’m not a parent, but I don’t think it is. 

The truth is, when dealing with mass shooters, there may not be a solution. People can blame guns, mental health, etc., but at the end of the day, what we are really fighting is evil. 

Love, goodness, mercy, caring, understanding and God are our best weapons against that. How often are these mentioned in the aftermath of these tragedies? In my opinion, they should be mentioned early and often. 

Thank you to our advertisers, subscribers and readers for a great 2012. Have a safe and happy new year. Take care of yourself and thank you for reading.