My mom and dad were born in Omaha, Nebraska.
My brother Stan and I were born across the Missouri river in Pottawattamee County, Iowa.
None of us had to learn about the constitution or bill of rights to vote. But my mom, a school teacher, made sure that the family did. She was a suffragette and voted in every general election until she died here in Friday Harbor in 1993, at age 103.
She made sure that we males were up to snuff on civics above all subjects.
“What good is pledging allegiance if you don’t know what you”re pledging to?” she would ask when I wanted to go out to play around election time.
She would be shocked to know how few people go to the polls (even if they only have to vote by mail). But worse, she would shudder to hear how easy it is to buy an election under the present “donation” laws, whereby the Supreme Court ruled that there is no reason to limit the money that unions and corporations can spend on their candidate.
After the revolution of 1776 led by George Washington, we used to look upon our office holders to be the best men available to do the work of ruling our land. They were the people’s choice. At least the choice of the non-black community. Blacks had to wait until the Civil War to even cast a ballot in many states.
Then we came to realize during World War I that women deserved to have the right to vote. Immediately, they helped President Harding make it in 1920. My mother and her friends thought he was a fine looking newspaper publisher.
The Teapot Dome oil scandal came along and it was a bitter blow to Anne. She never voted for a Republican president after that. My Dad, on the other hand, voted for the best candidate..
During earlier times, the railroad trains used to stop at whistle stops around the country with candidates orating from the back Parlor Car. They used to look at a good percentage of the small population of the states in those days and the voters got a good look at them also. There were a lot more people in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Newspapers were the major media. Even in the bitterest elections there was a courtesy and dignity in both the spoken and written words of voting contests. (Hacking was unknown.)
We may have come a long way in some respects… but this election makes me wonder. Congress is weighing every vote according to its political influence. What is good for the country comes second. In Chicago the Kelly-Arvey-Nash machine used to promise a free turkey to everyone in the 24th Ward if they voted Democrat.
In Washington, D.C., the Democrats had their headquarters in air-conditioned hotels. When I was covering news in the Capitol I saw the Republicans working in brick front sweat shops after World War II. They took back control with Ike.
I didn’t care what party Ike was in, he had my vote even if I couldn’t let it influence my reporting. His parting words warning us to beware of the “political-industrial-military complex” were among the greatest pearls of wisdom ever imparted by an American president.
Now, as we work our way out of the recession we have an important election before us. With the internet, Facebook, blogishers, TV and radio… in addition to the press, it’s tough to make a decision.
But it’s imperative that everyone cast their ballot. The people’s choice must be made by all the People... not a small group of billionaires scaring people with PAC ads or idiotic hot heads like Rush Limbaugh shouting obscenities about people trying to state their beliefs in a proper manner to a senate committee.
IF YOU DON”T VOTE—DON’T MOPE.
— Go with the F.L.O.W. (Ferry Lovers Of Washington)