My friends,

 

I would like to address you as your elected Republican Precinct Committee Officer, but I also address you as a neighbor, a Washingtonian, and of course as an American. 

 

Today our country is facing some of its darkest times. After a year of extreme difficulty for our persons, our families, our businesses, and more we are experiencing one of our lowest moments today. One of our nation's cornerstones, the Capitol Building was stormed during session. Our government officials, feared and respected throughout the world, were forced to cower under desks. We are diminished by this. 

 

Many of you know that while I was born an American, I grew up mostly overseas as my parents were both serving our country as Foreign Service Officers with the department of state. During my formative years, I looked forward to our annual visits to the US. Compared to the tumultuous countries where I lived, where governments buckled under every election, coutes were common, and I had to fear even going to store, I saw our country as the shining beacon of safety, freedom, and order. Where our country had peaceful debates, others had shouting matches, where we had concessions others had accusations of fraud, and where we had peaceful transfers of power other countries had riots and sometimes wars at every election. Today, I saw something unbelievable, I saw the shining beacon of democracy become like all the others. I saw rioters take down American flags at our capitol to hoist Trump flags, I saw others marching the halls of that symbol of America with confederate flags held high, something that millions of Americans died to prevent during our civil war. 

 

Many have said these people are Republicans. In fact, many of those marching claim this as well.

 

I am here to say that this is not the Republican party I know. 

 

We are the party of Lincoln:

We fought to free enslaved humans, bring human rights to all, and keep our country together. 

 

We are the party of Teddy Roosevelt:

We built the Panama canal, brought order to our economy, created national parks, and made our country a world-respected power.

 

We are the party of Reagan:

We ended the cold war peacefully. 

 

But we are more than a party of personalities, we are a party of principles and conscience. These are simply men who demonstrated those principles to us. But today I watched our party be co-opted by different kinds of men. Men who see the power in lies and accusations. 

 

Make no mistake, these tools have power. In the hands of dictators, strongmen, and the enemies of democracy, lies, and accusations have power and can sway countries and people into real horrors. I have witnessed the regular process by which many "democracies" resolve elections, a process involving the favorite of the military using a riot to ensure a transfer or a hold in power. Votes are simply roadblocks to be thrown out as "fraudulent". We must also know that there is no way to eliminate these terrible tools from use by leaders as by the very nature of lies and accusations they can be used to undermine any truthful and regular process yet devised. It is only by active choice of the leaders we choose and by our choice of whom we choose as leaders that truth and law rule our country. Unfortunately, some of our leaders finally decided to use these tools to hold onto power and we witnessed the terrible results. 4 people have died, likely millions of dollars of damage were done to our US property that will have to be paid for by more of our taxes. 

 

I believe this may be the end of our beginning. Most democracies survive on patriotism and dedication for a "honeymoon" period. Leaders make decisions for the people, people put country and community above themselves. It helps that people remember what it took to create the country or the sacrifices that were needed to protect it, but eventually, those memories fade, and people and the leaders we elect begin to think only of themselves. This has happened slowly, but now we face the consequences. 

 

This is not just happening at the national level, I have been here in our community fighting many of the same issues for years. We have all watched as our democracy at every level has slid away from the issues that bind us (infrastructure, jobs, education, and others) to issues that divide us. 

 

Today, I would like to stand and say that hope is not lost. I choose to stand for the country we built. I choose to stand for you within the party that stands for honesty, efficient government, personal freedom, and democratic republicanism. I choose to help my party refocus on the ideals and issues that actually matter again. I choose to be honest about why we lost this election because we stopped focusing on the real issues that matter to our country. 

 

I am the lowest level of elected official in our country, but like everything in our system, the top cannot function without the bottom functioning. Today I ask that you, my neighbors and friends, join me once again in working together so that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

 

Thank you for reading,

 

Al Merkel

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© 2017 by  Albert Merkel. Proudly created with Wix.com

Pictures provided by JANUARY D PHOTOGRAPHY, a valley resident owned small business. see more of her work at januarydphotography.pixieset.com  

Video produced locally by artist Micaela Halpin