Saturday, October 18, 2008

Harry Taylor & The New Political Awakening

Harry Taylor, candidate for U.S. Congress in NC District 9
In this photo, Mr. Tayor is interviewed for WGIV radio
by Donna Jenkins Dawson
Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention, April, 2008
(photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell)

Harry Taylor Has Sparked
A New Political Awakening

Mary Newsom said, in her McClatchy column this week, that "something profound is happening" - both in North Carolina politics and all around the nation. She credits a tiny flutter of a butterfly's wings for starting what has become a tidal wave. I think she's right.

This campaign is different. It isn't just a campaign with opposing sides, like 2004 and 2000 and 1996. Something profound is happening. It's as if a slow-building fire got lit sometime in the past few years and finally is blazing.

But the kindling was glowing as early as April 6, 2006. That day in Charlotte, a gray-haired real estate broker named Harry Taylor, attending a speech by President Bush to an applauding audience, stood and said into a microphone: "In my lifetime I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened, by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency.

And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself. I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak." Many in the audience booed. Letters to the editor in the Charlotte Observer flayed Taylor as "embarrassing," "boorish," and "wimpy." But that day in 2006, some subtle shift was already occurring in the political atmosphere, and Taylor's remarks were the fluttering of a butterfly's wings. His words rippled around the globe. He was interviewed on national TV and deluged with calls and e-mails. Seven months later, the Democrats captured Congress.

Now Harry Taylor is running for Congress.

For a while, America seemed to have lost its collective soul and mind. Harry Taylor warmed my broken heart on one of my own chilly April Upstate New York mornings in 2006 when he stood up to an American emperor who had been clearly naked for a long time with too few having an opportunity or the guts to say it.

On that day over two years ago, I sensed that nothing in American politics would be the same again.

My own cartoon, created on the 2nd anniversary of what has come to be thought of as the tipping point in the new American political awakening, shows the truth of the matter.

Click HERE for larger view

The people who surrounded George W. Bush never wanted to let someone like Harry Taylor in to one of their exclusive town-hall meetings. Harry didn't look like what they thought of as a typical protestor. He looked a bit like Abe Lincoln - tall, thin, a face lined to show many years of life and experience; a calm voice speaking from common sense.

One quietly intelligent, honest, and bold fellow certainly surprised the powerful [and the wrong] in Charlotte on that fateful day. It's only now that Americans are seeing the fullness of just how wrong a road down which the country has been led. A recent public poll of Americans showed that only 7% believed the nation was on the right path.

I hope, come November 4th, they'll continue to ask "who let that man in here?" I hope, this time, the "here" will be the halls and the chamber of U.S. Congress. Our country needs thousands more Harry Taylors in Washington DC.

Can the citizens of North Carolina's District 9 start by electing the original?