My wife and I like Arlo Guthrie so much that we named our much beloved (and now long lamented) dog in his honor.
(Full disclosure: Our dog’s complete name was Arlo Gordon Graham. The Gordon was in honor of Ruth Gordon because we also are big fans of her movie, “Harold and Maude.”)
A Keeshond with a mane of silver and black hair, Arlo the dog even bore a slight resemblance to Arlo the singer, and once after a concert we managed to persuade the human Arlo to autograph a picture of our pup.
While our Arlo is no longer living, Arlo the singer is still going strong. Because of our (admittedly one-way) bond with him, Chrys and I were interested to read a short q and a, published last month in The New York Times Magazine, in which Arlo mentioned his decision “five or six years ago” to become a registered Republican. He joined the party, he said, “because to have a successful democracy you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably. We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans.”
In what could have been a truncated version of the full conversations, as q-and-a’s often are, Arlo did not elaborate on that statement. But it certainly raises a lot of interesting questions. Do Democrats agree among themselves on what it means to be a good Democrat? D0 Republicans agree on what it means to be a good Republican? Based on what I saw during the presidential primaries last year, I have my doubts in both cases.
But I do accept the idea that there are “good” people — and some very nice ones, too — who feel allegiance to each of the parties. Based on my personal beliefs and world view, I tend to think that on most issues Democrats are advancing better ideas for a path forward than Republicans. But both Democrats and Republicans are among my friends and family. And some in my circle who are Republicans are among the people I genuinely love and would do (almost) anything for. I say this quite sincerely, and I think that feeling is reciprocated. I also respect them (OK, most of the time, anyway) even when we disagree on issues that are important but can inflame emotions on both sides.
I mention this, in part, because I’m aware a few Republicans have felt some of the more overtly opnionated political pieces that have appeared on Like the Dew are engaging in Republican bashing. Actually, I’ve seen some bashing of Democrats, too. But in tribute to Arlo — both the dog, who I’m pretty sure was a Democrat, because he loved all mankind, and the singer, who is now determined to be a “good Republican” — I’d like to extend a special hand of bi-partisanship.
For a day, or a portion of it anyway, dear readers, let’s everyone just talk about Republicans we like. In honor of this moment, I suggest we create a Like the Dew Republican Honor Roll.
I’ll start with the first nomination, a name that has been in the news again of late: Max Yasgur. Forty years ago this week, the late Mr. Yasgur saved the day with a last-minute decision to allow the Woodstock festival to take place on his farm in Bethel, N.Y., after two previous sites had fallen through.
Mr. Yasgur died at the age of 53 in 1973, but his son Sam has described him as “a conservative, Republican, pro-war businessman.”
At the festival — which was billed as “three days of peace and music” — Mr. Yasgur went on stage, although as he put it he didn’t “know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this.”
“This is the largest group of people ever assembled in one place … “ he told the throng before him. “… The important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids — and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you are — a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and God bless you for it.”
His son later said of Mr. Yasgur: “To him, being a conservative meant defending the rights of others to be heard even if they expounded ideas with which he did not agree. He believed that if he wanted to be heard he had to be willing to listen. A very rare notion today.”
I suspect that Arlo the Republican would approve of this choice for the Republican Honor Roll. After all, he was there at Woodstock.
The nominations are now open.
The Conservative Republican Who Saved Woodstock: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/13638
The New York Times Q and A with Arlo Guthrie: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/magazine/26fob-q4-t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=arlo%20guthrie&st=cse
When We Gave Peace a Chance: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/other-views/story/1181949.html