Editorial: A Jeffersonian approach — Sen. Ward is wise to defend other Republicans’ right to an opinion
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Aug 23, 2013 | 3822 views |  0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. Photo: Special to The Star
Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. Photo: Special to The Star
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Remember what Thomas Jefferson said in his second inaugural address? That speech was given at a time when some in his party and in the opposition were calling for a crackdown on those who dared deviate from what one group or the other felt was the path all should follow.

Jefferson said to let the dissenters and the doubters “stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

Essential to the toleration Jefferson espoused was the understanding that if the “error of opinion” could not be combated with reason, it might not be error at all.

Put simply, all opinions have a place in the debate.

Which is why this page wishes to thank Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, for going on record that it is just “plain wrong” for the state GOP to prohibit anyone from serving on its steering committee if that person publicly disagreed with the platform adopted by the national Republican Party.

Ward was referring to a resolution recently introduced at the Alabama Republican Executive Committee to remove anyone from the steering committee who had the audacity to disagree with what the national party deemed the proper position to take.

As the senator went on to note, the resolution to remove “is all (about) one person, Stephanie Petelos,” the chairwoman of the College Republicans Federation of Alabama.

Petelos’ crime against the party was to point out that young Republicans would be speaking out in favor of gay marriage if they “didn’t live in fear of a backlash from party leaders.”

So, to prove Petelos’ point, state party leaders are lashing back.

Except for Cam Ward, who came not to the defense of gay marriage, he opposes that, but to the defense of Petelos’ right to speak her mind on the issue without being punished by the party for her opinion.

Chiding some in his party for wanting a “100 percent litmus test for everybody,” Ward expressed the “hope that our party sees the need to reject this resolution and welcome the views of all our party members and not just a select few.”

We agree with Sen. Ward.

So, we believe, would Thomas Jefferson.
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