Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Jeff Flake knew his criticism of Trump would cost him. He couldn’t stop himself." Life Imitates Art

That headline in the Washington Post had more meaning for me this morning than it would have yesterday morning.

Last night we saw a play called "Church and State" put on by a group of folks called RKP Productions.*

SPOILER ALERT:  I don't think I can make my point here about being compelled to tell the truth without revealing a bit too much of this play.  And I'd encourage people to see the play and stay for the discussion. It plays two more times:  tonight (Saturday) and Sunday afternoon at the Alaska Experience Theater.  You can get ticket info here and then jump down to "Spoiler Over"  in this post.

In the play, Southern Republican US Senator Charlie Whitmore is three days from the election, when his New York campaign manager and his wife are asking him what's wrong?  Why is he so jumpy?  They're back stage at some venue where he's due to talk to a large crowd shortly.

He's trying to tell them, but it's hard.  It comes out in dribbles.  He's told a blogger that he doesn't believe in God.  His wife freaks out - how can you not believe in God?  The campaign manager wants to know specifically what he said so she can prepare some damage control announcements, give him a statement for the speech that's minutes away.

Slowly the whole context comes out.  They'd just been, earlier that day, to a funeral for the child (children?) of  family friends, kids who were killed in a school massacre.  The blogger had asked him if he had prayed for the kids and the Senator said 'No' and went on to question the existence of a god who would permit such things to happen.

The debate then ensues among the firmly Christian wife, the Jewish campaign manager, and the Senator about what he's going to say when he gets on the stage.  He tells them he can't lie.  They tell him that questioning the existence of God and mentioning tightening gun laws will cost him the election.  He insists he can't lie.  He'll let God inspire him in his talk.

Will he tell his 'truth' or will he read the prepared speech?

Spoiler Over

People will debate whether dropping out of the election was the right move for Flake.  Clearly Republican primaries are toxic these days plus lots of dark money would be poured into the race to defeat Flake.  Was dropping out now the dignified thing to do?  Is dignity more important than fighting for what is right, even if that doesn't win the election?

Democrats may laud Flake for standing up against Trump's boorishness, but they must keep in mind:
"If anything, [Flake] held on because he is a strong supporter of most of Trump’s policies and personnel decisions. He voted for his judicial nominees, his regulatory rollbacks and the GOP health-care plan."
Church and State, written by Jason Odell Williams,  ran off-Broadway until June of this year and so Alaskans are getting a relatively early look at this play.
Retired Judge Karen Hunt interviewed a representative from Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (MDA) and then moderated a discussion (she emphasized it was not a debate) among audience members.  They've had such discussions after every performance and included NRA reps.

I think it's telling that when someone asked about where the MDA meetings were held, the speaker said that for security reasons, that info is only given out after people sign in to their Facebook page.

*I'd also note that RKP productions was put together by longtime Anchorage theater folks:  Bob Pond, who recently passed away, Richard Reichman, and Audrey and Bruce Kelly.  The program says that RKP
"has achieved what we consider to be meaningful theatre  programs by 'partnering' with other fine organizations:  Anchorage Community Theater, Cyrano's Theatre Company and Out North  Contemporary Art House . . "
Last night's performance was at the Alaska Experience Theater, the new home of Out North, and the large (only in comparison to the small) theater makes a much better space for live theater than it does for movies.  The closeness that makes the screen overwhelming, is great when there are live actors.

While the power of the NRA over gun issues seems insurmountable, it's helpful to remember that no great power exists forever.  As more and more Americans are personally affected by gun violence, extreme Second Amendment rights will be whittled down to a more sensible balance between the right to life and the right to own guns.

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