Get Well, Senator Ford

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We didn't always agree, but he often 'made sense'

By John Herndon

I am one of those guys that writes my congressman.

No, I don't write about everything that comes up, but every so often some current issue, personal interaction with the government or proposed legislation prompts me to sit down at the computer and type out a few hundred words. Usually after giving it a day or so to rehash in my mind, I give the post office some change and send it on.

It's a pretty good little exercise. I have done so for years and have written the guys who were supposed to represent me while living in three different states. I have written Democrats and Republicans alike.

Usually, you will get some kind of reply. Often, it sounds like something written by a staffer extolling the virtues of the legislator who is “protecting your interests,” “fighting for you,” or some other back-patting phrase.

Occasionally, I have gotten a reply that at least makes me feel that the person I wrote has read the letter and is attempting to answer my question.

Then there was the response I received from Wendell Ford. I could only think of that letter when the news recently broke that Kentucky's long-serving senator was battling lung cancer. I wish I knew where that letter is stashed away because it was such a lesson in what the genius of our form of government really should be.

It was about 30 years ago when I was serving as minister of Graefenburg Christian Church. The best I can remember, there were some concerns about how ministers, most of whom were independent contractors, should report their income and how churches would be treated by the Internal Revenue Service.

Some things never seem to change, obviously. But I digress back to the original point.

I don't even remember what happened to the legislation, but I do remember writing both of our senators and our congressman. Two sent form letters in reply.

But when something from Wendell Ford's office showed up in my mailbox, my respect for the man who had also served as our governor rose greatly.

He addressed the letter to Dr. Rev. John Herndon. I kind of got a kick out of that because the only doctorate I have ever earned was offered by the school of life. And while I understood that most people used the designation “Rev.” as a term of respect, I never felt comfortable applying it to myself.

Throughout the letter, Sen. Ford thanked me for contacting him, then shared his thoughts on the proposed legislation, which, if I remember correctly, he largely disagreed with. It was obvious he had done his homework and he shared more thoughts of what he felt should be done.

Sen. Ford closed by saying, “This makes sense to me.”

And, I remember, what he said made sense to me.

Those who know me best might be surprised to learn my respect for Wendell Ford. My political leanings say that Ronald Reagan's face should be added to Mt. Rushmore. Ford was in the opposition party to President Reagan and was usually staunchly partisan. After all, Ford eventually ascended to the post of Democratic whip in Washington.

I didn't always agree with Sen. Ford, and I am sure I did not always vote for him. But I didn't always disagree and I am also sure I did not always vote for his opponents. That's because I felt Sen. Ford at least took time to consider something that was important to a constituent.

It would be refreshing to see more of that today from members of both parties.

In the meantime, I just want to send get well wishes to our one-time governor and senator.

It's something that makes sense to me.