7/8/2002

 

Responses to last time and advice to candidates

 

In a letter to the editor taking exception to my last column, Doug Johnson, a combat medic in Vietnam, made the interesting leap from my supporting constitutional rights to taking it as a slap at his service. But I understand how he got there, and I’m glad he brought it up because it is precisely the point. It is too easy in the heat of war mentality to trample our own rights in the rush to get the enemy.

 

Mr. Johnson asked regarding Jose Padilla, the man held for conspiring with Al-Quida, “Why should he be afforded…rights. He hates this country…” Remember, one of the things the Founding Fathers fought for is to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Padilla is accused of crimes but may well get no chance to dispute them. Another correspondent said I was, “…crying for those who’ve cast their lot with our enemy.” On the contrary, all of my concern has been for us. When we suspend the rights of one we endanger the rights of us all.

 

Speaking of rights, free-speech was flowing at the “Cracker Barrel” meet-the-candidates event on the square last Monday. It seems like a great idea. I hope it becomes another Prescott tradition.

 

Some of the two-minute speeches were substantive. There is some good talent and experience in public service available to us that I hope gets used one way or another. People with backgrounds like Fred Duval and Steve Udall could do the state some good.

 

Other speeches were pure fluff. One was just a push-the-hot-button bit about the pledge of allegiance and a quote from Barry Goldwater. Not a hint about qualifications or specific intentions. It’s amazing how much of the pitch is emotional. I suppose it’s because that’s what many people base their decisions on.

 

At several of the booths I asked what specific stands on issues would make me want to vote for this candidate versus that one. Generally I didn’t get specific answers. They typically pushed their background, which is important, and how long they’ve been in the state or area and how involved they’ve been, which is also important. But hey, there are plenty of politicians who have great experience but still mess things up with the worst of them.

 

My question is, why should I vote for you? Why are you running? What exactly has the incumbent done that you wouldn’t have, or vice versa? What votes on bills has the incumbent made that you wouldn’t have? If you desire a vocation in political service and are focused on one job, surely you have a host of changes to make, or bills to introduce or support that you’re just itching to get to work on. What are they? If you haven’t figured that out I, for one, don’t want you in there.

 

The other curious thing is how few candidates explicitly put their party on their signs or literature. I don’t get it. There are fewer registered Democrats in this state (Dems 37%, Reps 42%, Others 21%). So what then? If you’re a Democrat you don’t want to advertise it because you think you’ll get more votes? It’s not likely that people who vote by party are going to miss that bit of info on the ballot. If you’re Republican you think you’re going to lure in a broader spectrum of voters by not advertising your party? Not likely.

 

At least having the gumption to proudly state what you stand for is one step toward getting my vote. John O’Donnell, running for State Senate, was one of the few who had his party (Democrat) on his sign. I asked him about it. He said he was advised against it but did it anyway. By way of taking my own advice I, for the record, generally vote Democrat.

 

It was a good event. I hope you come out for it next year.