Letters: At length

Why should I vote?

Recently a co-worker asked me the question: "Why should I vote?"

I was inspired to contemplate the question beyond the standard responses of duty and responsibility. I support democracy and feel that we currently lack a healthy democratic process. Still, our country is, at the moment, not as scary or hopeless as other places in the world; however, the differences are diminishing.

My co-worker's comment reminded me that 46 percent of Americans didn't vote during the last four decades during the presidential elections, and only 54 percent of those qualified, vote on a regular basis. Sadly, the U.S. ranks 35th in voter turnout when compared to other democracies &

Italy has 90 percent participation, Germany 80 percent, France and Canada 76 percent.

Considering what is at stake in the coming election, our meager turnout begs the following questions:

Are you comfortable giving slightly more than half of our citizenry the responsibility to decide issues affecting your life?

Do you value self expression and privacy? How about religion or who you love? If you wanted birth control or an abortion, who should decide?

These are just a few examples of choices we have because generations that preceded us risked or lost their lives so that we could live in a country where freedom and democracy were a priority. Some of these battles were fought in warfare, others waged in streets and courtrooms.

I want to live in a democratic country where I can disagree with government or anyone and not be persecuted or prosecuted. This is a privilege our foreparents sacrificed to achieve. It is a right that requires constant attention and participation. Ignore it and risk the consequences. If we are indifferent about our country- if we don't find ways to participate in the maintenance of democracy &

then those who do participate, decide. Failure to vote is a vote.

Most of us are too busy juggling the many challenges in our lives. No doubt, political and social issues can be complicated. But I think it's worth the effort to take the time to discover what is at stake and then vote.

If you value the idea of democracy, voting is the bare butt minimum way to participate. If you like to complain, be sure and vote. If you don't vote, keep it to yourself.

Mahatma Gandhi said it well: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

Risa Buck

Bruce Fein was exceptional

I was disappointed that The Tidings made no mention on Wednesday of the presentation by conservative Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein at Southern Oregon University Tuesday night. An enthusiastic crowd of 430 filled the Rogue River Room, interrupting Mr. Fein's speech frequently with applause.

Fein, a pleasantly energetic dynamo with a gonzo scholarly resume, listed a half-dozen reasons why President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be impeached, emphasizing that their arrogation of power and abuse of the Constitution constitute "loaded weapons" that, if not rebuked, would be left for future administrations to use. No president, he said, has ever handed back power to Congress. Impeachable offenses he cited include the use of "signing statements" to negate or neutralize provisions of laws passed by Congress , approval of secret rendition and torture, denial of habaeus corpus, domestic spying without judicial oversight, secrecy in government, and refusal to comply with Congressional subpoenas. These are not acts that require intensive investigation, he noted. They are matters of public record freely admitted by the president and vice president. Several of them were causes for the resignation of Richard Nixon.

A salient aspect of Fein's presentation was its non-partisan nature. A Republican who voted for Bush and Cheney, Fein was a Justice Department official who participated in the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. He expressed incredulous scorn for the Democratic-controlled Congress because of its spineless inaction in the face of Bush's unconstitutional conduct. Most Congressmen, he explained, are focused on fundraising, earmarks, and their moments of notoriety, and do not really understand their duties under the Constitution.

At the conclusion of the speech, SOU's Students for Truth provided materials for letter writing to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress. Mr. Fein urged his listeners to deluge Congress with demands to take effective action to prevent further deterioration of the Constitution. It is not too late, he said, indeed it is imperative, to impeach Bush and Cheney.

Jack Seybold

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