As I reflect on my upbringing, I’m grateful for the old stories told in my youth. Most often they were rooted in values that taught significant life lessons. Faced with real situations, the lessons prevented me from stepping into obvious trouble.

Many of my friends have similar old stories. My friend, Steve Blakely, said he remembers being told the story of a beaver and rattlesnake who were attempting to escape a raging forest fire. They met as they both paused at a river bank. Because of the swift water and the fact that the beaver was a strong swimmer, the rattlesnake asked him for a ride to the other side. The beaver refused saying, “If I give you a ride, you’ll bite me as I swim across and I will surely die.”

The rattlesnake begged saying, “What sense would it make for me to bite you? If you die, I’ll surely perish as well.” The beaver reluctantly agreed as the raging flames moved closer. Midway across the river the rattlesnake bit the beaver. As he died the beaver gasped, “Why?” The rattlesnake replied, “I guess it’s just in my nature.”

As we plunge into the 2012 political campaign and I begin to evaluate candidates, I must ask myself, “What’s in their nature?” Since I never vote against my or my community’s greatest interests, this answer is essential. The differences in this election are sufficiently clear for me to make good choices.

As I evaluate the facts, I won’t choose candidates based on single issues or legal decisions that others make. Whether health care, same-sex marriage, public education, abortion or any of many social issues that challenge us, I recognize that I will not agree with any candidate 100% on all issues. I’ll select a candidate with whom I’m more closely aligned philosophically and whose actions best represent my and my community’s interests.

As I evaluate the facts, I choose candidates based upon the traditions and track-record of their party and/or upon their results in public office. Do their plans comport with past successes in governance? Do their words and actions comport with my interests? Have they demonstrated this in past decision-making?

As stated, the choices in the coming election are quite clear. I’ll vote for President Obama and support legislators who will support the president’s goals. In my opinion, his goals provide greater security and prosperity for the greatest number of Americans.

Occasionally someone tries to convince us that President Obama’s turn is over and we should support a “fresh” approach and new president. I tell anyone who tries this tact with me that if President Obama had been given the opportunity to govern with the thoughtful cooperation and bi-partisanship existing between past administrations and Congress or allowed to succeed or fail on the merits of his proposals, that debate be might be possible. Had segments of the media or Republican politicians given President Obama the same type of respect given past presidents or the respect given to the office he holds, we could discuss the merits of an opposing position.

Unfortunately, from day one of his presidency and throughout his administration, Republicans have singularly dedicated themselves to the “overthrow” of the President. Whether originating on the Democratic or Republican side of the political fence, any idea embraced by President Obama has been given an unceremonious “NO!” in reply. Whether good for citizens or the nation, any proposal advanced by President Obama has been met with great resistance. From health care to jobs, it’s been the nature of Republicans to say “NO” at every opportunity.

So, unlike the beaver, when asked to consider a ride to those in opposition to the interests I hold dear, I say “NO” to the “Republican nature.”

(E. Faye Williams, Esq. is Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. (202) 678-6788)

E. Faye Williams

Chair of the National Congress of Black Women