Valdosta Daily Times: Remembering Johnny Isakson
Johnny Isakson is a strong reminder that compromise is not and should not be a dirty word in politics. Isakson was a behind-the-scenes consensus builder. He was a man noted for his integrity in business and in Congress.
Isakson became a millionaire through real estate and spent more than four decades in Georgia politics.
"In the Senate, he was the architect of a popular tax credit for first-time home buyers that he said would help invigorate the struggling housing market," according to an Associated Press report. "As chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he worked to expand programs offering more private health care choices for veterans."
On Sunday, Isakson died at the age of 76.
He was a Republican and a conservative but that did not mean he saw enemies on the other side of the aisle. He may have disagreed with the politics of the other side but that didn't mean he had to be disagreeable with political opponents.
"There are two types of people in this world," Isakson often said, "friends and future friends."
President Joe Biden served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Isakson. The President said he and the late senator "found common ground built on mutual respect for each other and the institutions that govern our nation."
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Isakson was "one of my very best friends in the Senate. ... His infectious warmth and charisma, his generosity and his integrity made Johnny one of the most admired and beloved people in the Capitol."
In December 2019, Isakson stepped away from his Senate seat following a 2015 diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
He stepped down at a time when Congress was rife with political rancor. Sadly, that hasn't changed, though politicians on both sides of the aisle would do well to heed the words of his farewell. So would the American people.
"Bipartisan doesn't mean a Democrat and Republican talk to each other every once a while," Isakson said, "it means that two people come together, probably have a lot of differences, but they find a way to get to the end of the trail where there's a possibility of a solution.
"America, we've got a problem. I see things happening that I'm asked about by people that scare me. I've heard people I know say things that scare me."
But politicians have to find common ground, he said in his Senate farewell.
"The strongest country in the world cannot succumb to crushing itself inwardly by looking away from challenges of life today. The solution is right here. It's in your heart."
Isakson didn't leave the floor with a message of doom in 2019 but a message of hope.
"We can do it," he said. "We can do anything."
Rome News-Tribune: Yeah we're numb, but ignoring things doesn't make them go away
This week marks one year since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Floyd County. So far, 43% of Floyd County -- 41,766 people -- have been fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Public Health. In the past week we've heard that the coronavirus pandemic has taken more than 800,000 American lives and, unfortunately, many of us are just numb.
Once the number of deaths gets that high, it becomes too much for the mind to handle but it's truly important to not lose sight of the real and terrible cost we've paid.
The deaths in Floyd County and Northwest Georgia only make up a minuscule percentage of that massive number. But we're all, each of us, individuals and a number cannot quantify the impact a single person can have.
So many people have been lost -- over 400 in our community -- who might still be here if not for this pandemic.
It's important that we don't get so callused that we forget the real, terrible and human cost of COVID-19.
Thankfully, as we enter Christmas week the COVID-19 numbers are down, but as we should know by now, that could change in a matter of weeks. People are planning to travel, visit loved ones and spend the holidays as we're accustomed to -- with family and friends.
Of course, there's a new quick spreading COVID-19 variant on the horizon. Omicron appears to be far more transmissible than the delta variant, which remains the dominant strain of COVID-19 here.
The good thing is that preliminary research is showing omicron seems to have milder symptoms. That doesn't discount delta or the potential of overwhelmed hospital systems, but only time will tell.
In the past we've seen lulls turn into spikes. The lull ending in September 2020 turned into a spike which crested in January 2021. The lull ending at the beginning of July 2021 spiked in September 2021.
There's no question that those spikes eventually dwindle, as all viruses do, but there's a toll each time, and we as Americans should do something about it and it's a simple thing. Get vaccinated.
Those who remain unvaccinated or who have not received a booster are at great risk of severe illness if infected.
As our COVID-19 numbers increase, as they are likely to do, in the coming weeks we should take thoughtful measures to stop this tiresome mess in its tracks and, eventually, move on.
We're all exhausted. We're all ready to move on. We all want life to return to what it was in 2019 prior to the pandemic, and there's an easy way to do it. Your freedoms aren't curtailed by taking measures to protect other people. A mask meant to stop the spread of a virus is not a yoke, no matter how annoying they can be. A vaccine isn't an invasion of your rights, no matter how loud some folks shout it.
While thousands of lives have been saved by COVID-19 vaccinations, partisan drum beating, confusing messages from government and health officials, and a massive amount of misinformation spread on social media channels have created a hesitancy in many well-meaning Americans.
We do these things for ourselves and our families, but also for our communities. We take these measures for the aged, those with fragile health and -- when it comes down to it -- for the healthcare community that makes up so much of our community.