Friday, December 16, 2016


I sat down at the computer prepared to write a scathing critique of the group which calls itself “Unite for America.” It’s a gaggle of Hollywood celebrities, most of whom are junior varsity types. They have made a video pleading with the delegates elected to the Electoral College to ‘go rogue’ on December 19, and vote contrary to the choice of the voters who elected them.

The “A lister” whose visage and voice give street cred to the video Is an actor by the name of Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estevez, better known to American movie goers as Martin Sheen.

No doubt his credible performance as President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet in the popular television series ”West Wing” bolsters the appearance of authenticity when he pleads with Presidential Electors to ‘vote their consciences.’

Certainly the odds are very much against any such uprising. Not only did Donald Trump win by a substantial margin of the Electoral College, but since the delegates are selected by the Parties, they are unlikely to jump the fence.

And besides, about the most Sheen and his compatriots can hope for is to deny a majority for the President-Elect, which would throw the final choice into the Republican dominated House of Representatives. Trump would surely win in that forum as well.

So I confess that I am disenchanted with the notion of a scathing critique. Enough to say that the “Unite for America” video is a fool’s errand.

Still, my research on the subject led me to read the background of Martin Sheen, and I confess that he has intrigued me.

His mother was Irish, an immigrant from Tipperary. I like that. His Dad was from Spain. They had ten children. Sheen was number six, and the first to be born after the family moved from Bermuda to Dayton, Ohio. His left arm was crushed by forceps at birth, and remains about three inches shorter than his right. As a child, he contracted polio and was bed ridden for a year. His mother died when he was eleven and the family was held together by Holy Trinity Parish in Dayton.

His first foray into the world of social justice was to organize a strike among caddies at the Country Club. His complaint: obscenity and anti-semitism by the members. I like that, too.

His Dad didn’t want him to be an actor, but he borrowed money from the parish priest and went to New York.

Early on, Sheen met and worked with Dorothy Day, the activist organizer of the Catholic Worker movement. He never changed his legal name, out of respect for his Dad. His stage name came partly from Robert Dale Martin, the CBS executive who gave him his first big break, and from the iconic televangelist Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

His stage, film and TV credits go on and on. Along the way, he has
collected a number of awards both as an actor and as a director.

Throughout his career, Sheen has been a politically active liberal. He puts his money and his time where his mouth is; supporting liberal and charitable causes.

I am sure that Martin Sheen and I would find an ocean of topics on which we might disagree. Still, I can’t help respecting a fellow who really believes in what he believes in.

Surely Martin Sheen is not the only American who had, and perhaps still have, misgivings about the qualifications of Donald Trump to be President of the United States.

But Sheen, undaunted, is still out there, still grasping at straws to move the country to where he thinks it should be.

Don Quixote? Tilting at windmills? To be sure. But, in truth, I have done enough of it myself to admire the man.

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