Columnist Must Give Change Its Due

Jul 18, 2018

To the Editor:

I read Robert Padovano’s column (“Stop Name Calling and Listen – Why I Voted for the Trump Idea,” 7/4) with interest. He was, in my opinion, spot on with many of his observations. But – there is always a but, isn’t there? – I was stopped short by his assertion that nothing in his life had changed no matter which party was in power.

Mr. Padovano is obviously not gay. Things have really changed for the LGBT community over the past years. He is male, so he may not be aware of the changes for women’s opportunities over the years. I have no idea how old he is, so let us take a quick trip to the 1950s. Birth control was banned in Massachusetts and some other states. A woman could not have a tubal ligation without first having a set number of children and then only with her husband’s permission. A woman could be fired after becoming pregnant – even if married. I was.

The conservative, old law firm where I worked did not allow women to remain in their jobs after they became pregnant. When I was expecting my first child there were three of us in the office who were “expecting” (“pregnant” is so out there – literally!). Faced with having to hire three secretaries at the same time (the hires had to have a certain “look”) management let us stay after we began to show. We were, however, told that we must stay on the 10th floor and not venture to the 11th floor, where the offices of the senior attorneys were located, because the clients might catch a glimpse of a protuberant stomach and be offended.

A woman lawyer whom the firm “inherited” when they took over another practice was told she could only socialize with the secretaries and was not invited to the Union League for the firm’s Christmas party. Oh, I forgot, she was invited to the secretaries’ Christmas party, which was also at the Union League, so I guess she didn’t miss anything important.

Lest one thinks that only women met with discrimination, I suppose I should point out that the firm did not hire Jews or African Americans and had a token Catholic. They were quite proud of themselves for being so broad minded! This was in the early ’60s.

Mr. Padovano mentioned “unjust” wars and that some families were “affected” by them. No, Mr. Padovano, some families were completely destroyed by them.

The black community might also disagree with his “no change” premise. Voting rights are relatively new for them, as well as the ability to buy a house wherever they wish, admittance to colleges and much more. Ask an elderly black man who used to have to sit in the balcony at the local movie theater if life has changed for him.

Medicare has made a huge difference in the health care older people receive. Our life expectancy has increased over the years because of access to good medical care. I am glad to have Medicare. Mr. Padovano is welcome to not enroll and also to eschew Social Security, but please do not cite these programs as examples of government’s failures.

I was disappointed that the writer ended his, in many ways well-thought-out, essay with an attack on liberals. It may surprise you, Mr. Padovano, but I see offensive comments on Facebook, too, often aimed at people who didn’t vote for Mr. Trump. “Haters” is the most common. Oh, and I have never seen a picture of Mr. Trump with a bone in his nose or seen a meme that calls the truly lovely Melania an ape. So let’s agree that both sides can be mean, mean, mean.

My religion, Quakerism, teaches that everyone has the light of God within. Everyone is entitled to respect. Everyone is not only a child of God, but also my brother or sister. Therefore, I cannot subscribe to the philosophy of “me.” I have a call to work for justice even if it does not personally affect me or my family. (Yes, I have been known to hum “Kumbaya.”)

In closing, I would like to point out that liberals and conservatives are both necessary for a vibrant, modern and solvent nation. Liberals want change, new ideas, justice for all. Conservatives tend to want fiscal prudence and slower change. These two philosophies need each other. Too much change vs. too little. In an ideal world, liberals would work for social justice and conservatives would weigh the costs. The conservatives would keep the liberals from giving away the store and the liberals would push for more money. There would be balance, not name calling.

Thank you, Mr. Padovano, for your essay. We are opposites politically, but we do have some common ground.

Frances Hopkins O’Neill


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