Think About It: I am shocked

As much as I would like to live and be part of the future, especially if it included husband Paul, I would not give up my life for a future life. Born at the end of WWII, I entered adulthood in the 1960s, one of the most dynamic times of change in our country’s history.

I was on the cusp of the silent generation that fought wars and lived through economic depression and the baby boomer generation that influenced cultural, economic, and political revolutions.

I was part of the change and what I was not part of, I observed.

Seismic shifts took place when Congress passed society-changing acts such the Medicare/Medicaid acts that opened healthcare for the elderly and poor and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ended segregation and banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The world of women changed as contraceptive methods evolved and became more available to all women. I supervised the opening of a family planning clinic run by the Seattle-King County Health Department, it was a first and significant because a government agency provided the service.

Later Planned Parenthood would pick up family planning services, including when abortion services became legal, and preventative reproductive health care such as cervical pap smear tests and breast exams.

The sixties also live in my memories as a time of enormous turmoil. President Jack Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; his brother Robert Kennedy who was running for president and civil rights icon Martin Luther King were assassinated in 1968.

The mid to late ’60s had two significant protests that spread across the country.

Black people formed groups of protests to demand the fulfillment of equal rights and opportunities. Some protests developed into riots in areas of cities dominated by Black residents. I visited Seattle’s Black Panther headquarters to discuss establishing a medical clinic in our area.

Federal legislation passed in 1966 as part of President Johnson’s war on poverty. So-called “ghetto” areas began to receive resources through the Model Cities Program designed to allow the community to develop the program to fit it rather than have the government tell them what to do. The timing could not have been better.

Young people protested the Vietnam War, taking their protest to college campuses and the streets. The males risked being drafted into a war that held no reason for them to die. The war did not end until 1975.

I lived this history and was grateful I lived in a democratic country governed by representative leadership, a system of laws and order and potential.

Those hard-won gains and our democracy are in jeopardy now as a movement grows to return to the fifties, only this time without the constraints of being a democratic nation.

Help me understand

I do not mind the controversy and political wrangling in Congress or on the campaign trail. Controversy and wrangling turned to negotiation has resulted in balanced legislation that weighs the views of both Republican and Democrat parties.

I also know the party in power, which is the party that occupies the presidency and carries majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives has a greater influence and power especially if it holds large majorities and the presidency.

The primary reason most people become involved in campaigns is they hold views that fit a party and want to see the party in power.

Democracy includes a constitutional-inspired balance of power between the three branches of government that establishes oversight and limits too much power resting in one branch or when one branch fails to abide by the Constitution and its amendments.

At least, that is what it is supposed to do.

Small “d” democracy is said to be messy, imperfect but better than the alternatives such as autocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy, communism, and monarchy.

I believe democracy to be the best for individuals as long as there is the continual movement toward equality of application in choice and opportunity.

I suspect most readers of this column have read commentators, authors, op-eds, and more that are issuing grave warnings about the coming tide of limits to our freedoms if a person is elected to be an autocrat.

I am shocked we are even having this conversation. I am shocked that there is a growing movement to turn away from democracy and our Constitution toward autocracy.

I am shocked that there are people who want our lives to be controlled by one person and individuals or groups who have the ear of the elected autocrat and who are on position to influence the whims and wants of the autocrat.

The person most likely to be elected autocrat and his supportive party members promise to intern millions of people for deportation, allow women to be punished for seeking health and life saving treatment, eliminate the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare), deploy the National Guard to stop protests, and purge the government of anyone who does not promise loyalty to the autocrat and his policies.

We must face reality when the above represents the party’s platform.

The underlying aims I recognize are to prohibit dissent, assure compliance, and spend less money on people. I am sure there are decent responsible people who disagree with me.

I invite, I urge, those of you who support dismantling the safeguards of democracy to make your case. What is the outcome you expect that will make your life and the life of your parents and children better?

Tell me, write to me, talk with me. I will listen. I will write your column.

Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and is the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 25 years. Reach her at