Reasons to cast votes even when choosing between bad or...

Letters to the Editor

September 14, 1998

Reasons to cast votes even when choosing between bad or worse

Vote? Of course I will vote. I will hold my nose, vote for Tweedledum to keep Tweedledumber out, and take a shower afterward.

Unlike most democracies in the world, our country gives us no real choice in elections. Both the centrist Democratic Party and the conservative Republican Party are no friends of working-class Americans. Both parties are in the pockets of the corporations and have only their interests at heart.

The media tell us that the reason there is low voter turnout is that people don't care. The real reason is that the American people are not stupid, they do care and they are fed up because they have no choice.

Other countries have many parties represented in their parliaments and legislatures. There are Tories, Socialists, States Rights, Libertarians, even Communists representing all people.

For example, I am opposed to capital punishment. All four candidates favor it. Where can I have my voice heard? Democrat and Republican -- the only difference between them is that the one out of office looks a little better.

Gerald B. Shargel

Reisterstown

Obsolete state voting law blocked serious candidate

I was disappointed to read that independent candidate Lisa Mitchell was denied a place on the November ballot in her 44th district race for the House of Delegates ("Delegate hopeful may not be on ballot," Aug. 15).

Needing 894 valid petition signatures (three percent of the registered voters), she turned in 1,517, but only 754 could be verified by the Board of Elections.

The dead hand of long-departed legislators weighs heavily on Ms. Mitchell. She is being held to standards set by the General Assembly of 1967, which cynically raised the signature requirement to three percent after Spiro Agnew was elected governor in a three-way race. This unjust law has prevented most non-major party candidates from seeking public office since.

But the current General Assembly thinks that three percent is far too high, and in the last session, both houses voted overwhelmingly to reduce the requirement by two-thirds. Gov. Parris N. Glendening agrees, and signed this long-needed reform into law on May 21, 1998.

Unfortunately, the bill does not take effect until next January, or else Ms. Mitchell would need only 298 signatures, and would already be on the ballot. So even a serious candidate with substantial support may be barred from competition by the last gasp of an obsolete and discriminatory law.

Douglas E. McNeil

Baltimore

Running away from Clinton shows lack of courage

As a life-long Democrat, I am very disappointed with Gov. Parris N. Glendening's decision to cancel a fund-raising appearance with the president ("Governor backing off from Clinton," Sept. 5). I feel that's a big mistake.

We don't have to get hit on the head to know the president did something dumb in his private life. However, his policies have been good for the country in general and for Maryland in particular. The good things outweigh the sensational.

The hypocrisy coming out of Washington these days is so thick you need a chain saw to cut through it. We don't need sermons and lectures about morality; there is business to be done, and I wish those overwrought sanctimonious, self-serving sophomoric people would get on with it.

My contempt for the media knows no bounds. Cable news networks are steeped and stuck in scandal and gossip as though nothing else was happening in the world.

I want the Democratic agenda advanced on education, patients' rights, Social Security and a host of other things. Do we really want a Republican Congress full of grasping, greedy people who are already owned by the tobacco companies, insurance companies, big business and the religious right? I urge Democrats to get to the polls and to not let that happen.

I am voting for certain Democrats here in Anne Arundel County. When the governor gets his spine replaced, I might even vote for him.

Marlene Berg

Glen Burnie

Feature on Tavis Smiley showed real family values

Kudos to The Sun and Sandra Crockett. Your article on Tavis Smiley was very encouraging to me ("Empowerment zone," Sept. 9). At a time when materialism seemingly reins, it is nice to know that solid family values still produce decent and intelligent individuals.

Mr. Smiley's comment regarding "faith, family and friends" really brought the story home. In the hustle, bustle living we've come to be familiar with in the 1990s, the three F's can be easily muffled with the quest for big salaries, large homes and fancy cars. It is so easy to forget about sending mom and siblings money, let alone sending loved ones to college.

As an African-American graduate student, I was particularly inspired by the article. It demonstrated to me that hard work does pay off.

It also demonstrated that one can be successful without selling his soul and that most anyone can find joy in his vocation.

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