It was 64 years ago, yet I remember it clearly. It was a crisp November day, as my parents and I walked to Saint Teresa's parish house, a red brick building in Brooklyn. Arriving there, we found other families already in line. It was largely a Republican neighborhood, so many of the kids were wearing their Wendell Wilkie buttons. I proudly wore my Roosevelt button, even though I was only eight years old. It was, after all, Election Day.
When it became my parent's turn to vote, the clerk allowed me to enter the green-curtained booth along with my father. Dad pulled down some small levers, then allowed me to operate the big lever at the bottom of the machine, mechanically recording his vote.
Once outside, Republicans greeted their Democratic neighbors and vice versa. We kids traded our campaign buttons just as we did our Stan Musial and Ted Williams baseball cards.
Those were the good old days. This year things are quite different. My neighbor had her house egged because of the political sign on her lawn. My wife and I, working to register voters at Pig Out in the Park, were taunted by adults as well as adolescent boys. Attack ads on either side run constantly on TV, and angry talk radio hosts spew forth their divisiveness.
President Bush and his administration are not the kind of Republicans I grew up with. My Republican relatives and friends had a strong sense of right and wrong. They did not like deficit spending. They were not fond of foreign military adventures, and they revered our Constitution and civil liberties. They cared about clean air and water and wanted to preserve our wild places.
Politics has never prevented me from loving my friends and relatives, nor they of loving me. Some of them have fished me out of the turbulent waters of whitewater rivers. We continue to break bread together.
There is a saying: "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." Bush continues to dig. Bush cannot guide us out of the mess he got us into, so it's time for a change That's why I am asking my Republican friends and family to do our country a favor -- to hold their noses and vote for Kerry. Then, after Nov. 2, they can roll up their sleeves and get to work to take back the Grand Old Party from the Neocons and right-wing fundamentalists.
That way, someday we may find our grandchildren trading McCain for Kucinich buttons as well as cards of baseball heroes. An impossible dream? Tell that to the Red Sox.
Presidential political debates, for the most, are focused on a myriad of social issues and name-calling. It would be better to dwell more on the historically great social values substantiating America's claim that it is the "greatest nation on earth."
Prior to the year 2000 the honorific was justified by the principled application of justice, freedom and the right of self-determination. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution were respected.
Since 2000 and the imposition of oligarchy, America's long-cherished values have been torn asunder. The current administration has made a mockery of our claim of being the earth's "greatest nation."
Wake up, America. The opportunity is here in this presidential election to regain the attributes that once made us great. Let us again feel the pride, honor and integrity we once enjoyed at home and abroad. Let us prove that we are the greatest.
State of Israel
I think most people would agree that the biggest problem in the Middle East is the non-Muslim presence of Americans, Europeans and Israelis. Americans and Europeans can reduce their presence by becoming more energy-independent, but the problem of Israel remains. I don't believe the problem will be resolved until Israel leaves the area or gets blown off the map with nuclear bombs. My modest proposal is to move all 5 million Israeli Jews and their 7,800-square-mile country to the east Texas coast somewhere between Corpus Christi and Houston. Texas, at 268,000 square miles, shouldn't mind the loss for the sake of world peace. The New Israel could either be its own country or the 51st state. Either way, it would be cheaper than the hundreds of billion dollars we are spending on a no-win war and skyrocketing oil prices.
I had a feeling that Robert Herold's commentary on Professor Shane E. Mahoney's dissertation on "Culture and Economic Development in the Spokane Region," ("Too Nice A Town?" 10/14/04), was a bit too ignominious, so I read the entire scholarly monograph myself.
Your comments only serve to make Dr. Mahoney's observations all the more believable. Now I have nothing whatsoever to dispute about his observations. Oh, and Spokane is a very nice town.
Path for Republicrats
I'm writing regarding Robert Herold's commentary on the Electoral College. He makes some excellent points. (OK, I'm biased, since half of what he said has escaped my lips a time or two.) I have a proposal that may satisfy both the need to balance the federal and republic halves of our "democracy & Oacute; and the desire to fix the presidential electoral process.
First, let's eliminate the Electoral College and change the percentage of votes needed to elect the president to 33 percent. The House could still retain the power to decide the President if no candidate gets at least one third of the votes using the one-vote-per-state method currently in place. With this lower percentage, the House would probably not be needed in this way very often.
That's simple -- here's the twist to retain the vital compromise Herold spoke of: All candidates would run for president with no running mate. Let everyone vote for president and vice president separately. No one runs for vice-president, but the presidential candidate receiving the most VP votes gets it (assuming 33 percent plus). When there is no clear winner for either job, the top two in each category -- yes, they could be the same two people -- would be chosen between by the House (one vote per state). We would limit parties to one candidate each, chosen using the same methods as we use today. That way, we could have two different parties and points of view in the Oval Office. I think this makes for an excellent compromise between majority wishes and minority rights, and it gives us a more accurate representation of the views of the voters.
The current system artificially forces us into an "evil of two lessers" choice none of us is completely satisfied with. Adopting this model would improve the viability of "third party" candidates and, I think, force the two-headed beast of the "Republicrats" to separate once more, enriching both political debate and our government.
Joe Vander Weil
Seniors Are Citizens
I am a writer and a poet. I am also a woman of a certain age (over 55). My writing has been fostered and nurtured by fellow seniors and the workshops offered at the Sinto and Corbin Senior Centers in Spokane. Discussions about the proposed cuts to these services have begun, and my friends and I are committed to participating in the discourse to discourage said cuts.
On Thursday, Oct. 14, my friends and I had the opportunity to attend a Spokane City Park Board meeting, along with nearly a hundred other senior citizens. Though the board was welcoming, they were painfully unaware of the needs of our age group. Given the fact that they had been informed of our planned attendance, the manner in which the agenda was dispatched was most inhospitable.
While I don't deny the board is faced with a heavy burden in reducing expenditures, and they have particular ways to address the business at hand, that in no way excuses their treatment of those of us who filled the council chambers that afternoon.
Those of us who set aside time to be present came from all over Spokane County. We arrived in car pools, vans, public transport and our own vehicles. For some of us this was a commitment that took a good deal of courage since the downtown area is, in many ways, not senior-friendly. We made our way to the lower level of City Hall, supported by wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and on the arms of one another. It would have been most gracious of the board to revamp their agenda to meet the needs of our contingent. Our testimony would also have been heard by all the board members, some of whom had to leave before public comment was allowed.
Out of respect for us as taxpayers, consumers and voters, attention must be given to our needs. For future reference, I would propose a reordering of the agenda items. Two hours was a long time for most of us to sit in uncomfortable chairs. All the welcoming words in the world cannot substitute for the gracious actions of a host. In the future, I would hope the board would find ways to raise their level of awareness regarding the physical needs of the people they serve and treat us accordingly.
Spokane Valley, Wash.
Publication date: 10/28/04