by E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher
As Appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Kenny Rogers’ classic tune about the “Coward of the County” concludes with the pearl of wisdom that “sometimes you’ve got to fight to be a man.” As much as we wish otherwise, there are times when fighting cannot be avoided, especially when our safety, families, or even country, are threatened. That’s why many leaders, from Lincoln and Churchill to Wilson and Bush, came into office with high hopes on domestic issues, but instead spent their tenure fighting wars.
Remember Churchill’s famous call to action, “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets…” He was referring, of course, to the Nazis, the greatest threat to the survival of freedom in his century. He would never have used such incendiary verbiage to describe common disagreements on public policy, between members of different political parties in his own country.
How far we have fallen since those days of such precise language, to a time when the rhetoric of “street fighting” is used precisely that way. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is now famous for proudly boasting that he brings that “street fight” mentality to issues of “environmental justice.” Asked by one environmental reporter to explain the comment, he said, “My motivation was to primarily get into a street fight using power on behalf of the public interest.”