Senator Ron Johnson Is No Senator Arthur Vandenberg

The latest word salad from Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is another example of what is terribly wrong with the Republican Party, at a time when there must be a higher appreciation for the needs of the nation.

Our divisions are deep, but it is incumbent on elected officials to rise above their partisan nature to mend fences following a rough election season. Instead of unifying words Johnson veered off in the other direction. He stated half the country will not accept the outcome of the presidential election should Joe Biden be sworn into office.

The senator also implied voter fraud is taking place, but when pressed for evidence, like others who have made similar allegations, could offer no evidence or proof of what was claimed. Johnson even went further by refusing to say if he thought the election was legitimate.

Let us all acknowledge that undermining the integrity of the voting booth and the process for counting ballots is dangerous to our democracy and political institutions. What is happening to our nation based on this type of reckless language needs to be addressed.   

For partisan purposes a most determined attempt is underway to besmirch the electoral process. Johnson has added his words to that effort. This is happening at a time when there is much to be proud of given the huge turnout of voters who cast ballots. We must have a national conversation about better access to voting locations, and stopping voting suppression efforts, but the process that played out during a pandemic this fall speaks to the hopes of a nation, and should not now be impugned.

Which brings me to Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg, and why Johnson’s words do not echo with what history tells us is a far better road to travel in Washington.

President Franklin Roosevelt had played tough political ball during the creation of the needed New Deal. Some Republicans felt that upon his death, and his replacement being the novice Harry Truman, that it might be political payback time. But Vandenburg saw things differently.

Vandenberg wrote to Democratic President Truman saying “Good luck and God bless you. Let me help you whenever I can. America marches on.”

The two men, both vocal and determined from opposite ends of the political spectrum, bonded and shaped the international policy of the nation following World War II.

It seems quaint to write of political opposites seeing their role on the national stage being about the higher requirements of the nation. Upon the the death of Vandenburg the former president described him as “a patriot who always subordinated partisan advantage and personal interest to the welfare of the Nation.” Can there be a better tribute for a senator?

I fully grasp the highly-charged atmosphere that exists following this election. But with the people so divided means it is critical that leaders in each party step up and place the needs of the nation above partisan whims.

It is vital we not crash through the barriers of common sense with baseless allegations that will result in still more erosion of faith among the electorate in a national political institution. The price for the undermining of electoral integrity is too high to pay.   Politicians need to get their tongues under control.

As such, Wisconsin’s senior senator might take a lesson from one of Michigan’s shining examples of how to pull back on the partisanship so to meet the larger needs of the nation.