Dare They Tell us How to Mourn
November 1, 2002
For more than a year they've been telling us what we're supposed
to think, what we're supposed to feel, what we're allowed
to believe in as Americans. And now, while we grieve the loss
of one of our best, they have the chutzpah to dictate to us
how we're allowed to mourn?!
And to punish us for not doing even that by their rulebook,
the holier-than-thou governor of Minnesota is going back on
his word and will not appoint a Democrat in Wellstone's stead.
That is a slap in the face of Paul Wellstone, his family,
Minnesotans, and other good people nationwide still grieving.
How dare he and the Republicans take advantage of our grief
and berate us for how we choose to express our sorrow?
No, we will not apologize for remembering Paul Wellstone
by exhorting his ideals, crying out for justice, and reminding
people of the cause for which this man gave his life. This
is how Paul Wellstone's family chose to celebrate his life.
How dare they stand in judgment? How dare they sit in their
ivory towers and tell us that we have no right to invoke the
cause championed by the man we mourn?
That, while the unelected Republican president campaigns
for Wellstone's opponent at taxpayers' expense in Air Force
One. That, while Newt Gingrich not only attacked Walter Mondale
before he even decided whether to run, but shamelessly lied
about his record and his stands.
They, whose leader has taken the reigns of government not
by popular vote but by appointment by a partisan Supreme Court,
have the nerve to tell us that we're too partisan!
They, who stand to gain from this tragedy, have the nerve
tell two grieving sons who lost their parents and sister how
to remember their loved ones!
And they, who have called Wellstone unpatriotic for daring
to vote his conscience, are striking back at his memory by
attacking a memorial service!
Republicans control every branch of government but the Senate.
They rule with an iron fist, allowing no dissent, putting
our Constitution through the shredder, intimidating people
from voting, and starting wars in our name. Don't Democrats
have a right, on the occasion of this devastating tragedy,
to came together under one roof and remind us that this is
not what Paul Wellstone stood for?
Wellstone's friends and family, overcome by grief and emotion,
asked but one thing: that we continue his legacy, and that
we win one more election for Paul. How many times have Republicans
asked people to win one "for the Gipper"? And now, in our
hour of grief, we are demonized for asking Democrats to win
one for Paul.
Yes, the public memorial service for Paul Wellstone resembled
a rally. Few would deny that. Paul Wellstone wouldn't have
had it any other way. Maybe emotions ran higher than they
do at most memorials. But we are not living normal times and
this was not a memorial like all others.
Every person in that crowd hurt desperately, not just for
the loss of those they loved, but for having lost their voice
in Congress, for having lost someone to stand up for them,
for having lost their senator only two years after their vote
for president was voided.
There was real pain and anger in that hall -- despair almost
at times. These were real feelings. How dare they put us down
for hurting? It was one of our heroes who died. Can't they
show Paul Wellstone enough respect to allow his friends, family
and supporters to mourn their way?
Tuesday night's event was a time for those who loved and
respected Paul Wellstone to come together and be themselves.
This was one event that could not be orchestrated or ruined
by Republicans. So much so that the family asked that Vice
President Cheney stay away. This was not the GOP's event,
and no one asked their opinion on how to run it.
The Republicans stand to benefit from Wellstone's death by
having this resounding voice for reason and common sense silenced.
They didn't wait until Wellstone was in his grave to start
attacking his successor. And they have the nerve to tell us
there's only ONE proper way to mourn?
They tell us all this was inappropriate. We ask: TO WHOM?
Tens of thousands of people came to pay their respects. None
but a handful who never understood what Paul Wellstone was
all about found anything disrespectful about the memorial.
They had one last chance to recall his ideals and share the
stage with the Democratic Party's best, those whom Wellstone
most admired: Gore, Kennedy, Clinton, Harkin, Mondale, and
others who championed his ideals.
To Ventura, and the Republicans, and the media who stand
in ruthless judgment, to them all we now say unequivocally
and unapologetically: We will mourn any way we like. In Paul
Wellstone's name we will continue to fight his fight. And
yes, in his name we will ask voters to elect other people
like him, who stand up for the old and the poor and the sick
and the disenfranchised. Those who try to deny us our right
to mourn sure as hell will not. In Paul Wellstone's name,
we will, as his friends asked us, stand up and keep fighting.