There seems to be quite a few stories in the news currently that force people to make decisions about who to support in controversial circumstances.
Many times the people will choose to side with a person or organization that they have a previous history with, or that they feel a sense of loyalty to.
The top national political story of the day has to be the sexual harassment charges that have been made against the leading GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain.
It does call into question why these charges are coming out only after he attained leader status in the race. But he is denying the charges and more women are coming out with new charges. This story is far from over, yet many people have already decided and taken sides.
Since not all of the facts are in, one can only assume that many people are siding with Mr. Cain because he is a Republican. Others may be taking his side because he is conservative. Some may be taking his side because he is a black man. In any case, very few can be taking his side because of the facts, because the facts are still few and far between.
Next we have the disturbing Penn State story. There is the real chance that long time coach Joe Paterno had knowledge of the sexual abuse of children by one of his staff members. And while it is true he did all that he was required to do, by reporting it to his superiors, he did nothing more, even knowing that the man had not been arrested nor charged with any crime.
This story shows that coach Paterno showed loyalty to his staff member and to the University by keeping quiet and not pushing for further action. We are also seeing some in the public who would now protect the coach based on his many winning years as football coach for the University. Again putting loyalty before what is right.
We see the same type of loyalty, before right, behavior here in little old Sussex County, Delaware. First we have the two camps in the Sheriff v. Councilman dust-up that lead to a physical altercation between two Republicans. Their supporters have chosen sides and are now squared off to defend their side. There has been a lot of finger-pointing from both camps.
The conflict over the Sheriff’s office has led to another instance that will force people to choose between right and loyalty.
We Republicans here in Sussex will need to decide whether we will protect one of our own out of loyalty to party, or will we protect the good name of the party by making what may be, for some, a difficult decision.
The 37th Representative District Chairperson Eric Bodenweiser has injected himself directly into the middle of the Sheriff”s office dispute. Last month he brought a resolution to the Sussex County GOP Executive Committee that would have supported the Sheriff’s request for additional training. The resolution was defeat.
Since then Mr. Bodenweiser has been very outspoken about his continued support of the Sheriff and his desire to expand the office. This is fine. But recently Mr. Bodenweiser has made statements both on local radio and in local newspapers that have had a negative effect on the overall image of the GOP.
Mr. Bodenweiser has shown no inclination in the past to heed the warnings of those within the party to tone down the destructive rhetoric.
This begs the question, what recourse is left for the Sussex GOP ? Should we out of party loyalty, defend Mr. Bodenweiser’s statements. Statements such as the physical altercation between the County Sheriff and the County Councilman is, “just how we do things in Sussex”. Statements that encourage the Councilman to offer a deal to the Sheriff to get his expanded powers, “to make this go away”.
Even if these statements were made, “tongue in cheek” as Mr. Bodenweiser has now said during his ” heart-felt apology”, can they be excused?
When Mr. Bodenweiser pays for air-time on the local radio station, and represents himself as the 37th R D Chairman of the Sussex County GOP, then he is representing all members of the GOP. When he makes such statements as he has, then he must be held accountable for them.
Unfortunately the leadership has been silent on this. Though I am sure Mr. Bodenweiser has heard from the Chairman in private, nothing public has been said to distance the party from Mr. Bodenweiser’s statements and actions. This has left the field to the Democrats. In a recent letter to the editor in more than one paper, Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf has commented on this issue.
Let me say that we here in Sussex do not condone any of the actions that occured during the meeting that ended in a physical altercation between two elected officials. And we certainly do not encourage nor condone the peddling of influence.
We have been far too distracted for far too long by such carnival antics. They serve to draw attention to those who seek any and all attention. But more importantly they draw negative attention to the GOP. Attention we neither seek, nor deserve.
I would hope that all involved in this latest distraction would do the right thing. And if not then the Sussex GOP may be left with only one option to clear this stain.