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Congress then and now

Bonnie Simmerman • Jul 12, 2018 at 8:15 AM

During the week of the 4th of July my family and I attended the production of “1776,” the musical which was presented by Jonesborough Repertory Theater. It was very enjoyable, and I am amazed at the wonderful talent we have here in our area. The production brought back memories of high school American history class.

As I watched the play, I thought about how so many things that took place in the Second Continental Congress that many years ago can be compared to our Congress today. You would think that things would have changed over the years.

There are several actions that were shown in the play that we can often see today in our Congress. One thing that stood out to me was the language used by these men. It was certainly not the kind of language you would want your children or grandchildren to hear. Sadly, I remember how we often hear our current political leaders use language just as bad. In 1776, the language would have been heard only by those in attendance, but today the media seems to thrive on airing everything said by politicians whether good or bad.

Another similarity had to do with asking one member of Congress to go and talk another member into voting their way. Several of the men were sent to do just that, and I was reminded of the times we see in the news when certain congressmen are invited to the White House, so they can be urged to vote a certain way.

In the play, some of the members of the group had to be away because of illness when their votes were needed. We hear of that today in our Congress with one of our senators being unable to be there to cast vital votes.

Throughout the drama on stage, the men spoke often about the women in their lives — wives and other than wives. Haven’t we heard a great deal about these matters today? Things seem to be worse now that they were many years ago. Perhaps we feel that way because we see so much on TV about their lives.

Many of the congressmen in 1776 were adamant about how they would vote. Nothing would change their minds. We have some congressmen (and women) who are like that today. Some of one party will never vote for something the other party is in favor of even though it would be for the good of all. One example of this would be the Supreme Court Justice that will be voted on soon

Some of the members of the Continental Congress were asleep when they should have been listening. Some others were very wide awake and did most of the talking. Many of them were very predictable because they always answered the same way. I think we would see the same actions if we were to visit a session of our Congress today.

We can see many similarities between then and now. Some things never seem to change. Perhaps there is nothing new under the sun. Whether then or now, our leaders have a great responsibility to do right. I am glad that in 1776 the leaders finally voted for independence; and even with many things that had to corrected later in our history, I am proud that we have a nation that is still going strong today.

There had to be some compromise. Some things had to be given up to accomplish some other important things. Compromise can be good, and it can be bad. It depends on what you must give up to get what you want. We should hold on to what is true. We should look at what is best for all. We should also hold on to our faith. Let’s hope that our modern-day Congress will take these things into consideration when they make decisions for our country.

Bonnie Simmerman can be reached at simmermanb@embarqmail.com.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed by all Community Voices columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Johnson City Press.

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