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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 3, 2008 at 4:58 PM

Readers weigh in on historic national election

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Baker Julien Wagner puts two loaves of bread into an oven with stencils of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain at Feel Good Bakery in Alameda, Calif.

Vote for us

Editor, The Times:

I’m 16, and I can’t vote.

Assuming you didn’t get caught robbing a bank, you can. Whether or not you were planning on voting anyway, I implore you, no matter your political party, to vote for me.

My myriad peers and I rely on you to vote for us by taking our interests into consideration. We rely on each and every adult in Washington state to be informed about us, to care about us, to be informed on all the issues and to be familiar with all the candidates.

There’s an undeniable need to fix the problems that ail us today, but victory in the now, while great, is infinitely fleeting. If the solutions don’t last for decades and centuries to come, it will all be for naught.

Times are tough, but unless you want them to get tougher for the millions of people my age and younger, you must invest.

Invest in our education, in homegrown renewable energy that can power us forever, in science and technology, in public transit, in health care, in our natural resources. Invest in our future. Get informed and vote.

— Alex Rattray, Shoreline

Inspired by America

I had a casual conversation last weekend with a German tourist while we waited for a dinner reservation.

I asked him if he was following our presidential election. “For two years,” he replied, rolling his eyes as if to say it was too much. When I asked if he favored a candidate, he demurred, “I’ll let America decide.”

Then, very seriously, he leaned over and said, “America is a very special democracy. Every 30 or so years, Americans reinvent their democracy at the ballot box by electing a transformative president who will take the country where it needs to go. You have been doing this since George Washington. He was elected unanimously and could have been president for life, but instead he left after eight years, having set the parameters for future presidents.

“About 30 years later, Andrew Jackson broadened democracy removing, the property ownership requirement to vote. In 1860, Lincoln saved the union, won the bloodiest of all of America’s wars and set black Americans on a 150-year path to equality. Teddy Roosevelt took over for the assassinated [William] McKinley. He freed American industry by busting the corporate monopolies with antitrust laws.

“President Franklin Roosevelt took on the Great Depression and fought wars in Europe and the Pacific. America emerged as the world’s leading military and industrial power.

“In 1960, Americans elected a young, energetic Catholic whose idealism stirred Americans to believe they could do anything including a trip to the moon. It has been 48 years since Kennedy’s election. I think America is about to transform its democracy again. The whole world is watching and holding its breath, waiting to be inspired by America.”

My table became available and I thanked him for the history lesson. His last words to me were, “Let’s see what [Nov. 4] brings. I think it is time for a change.”

— Albert Johnson, Seattle

Make it stop

The Republican Party is run by rich and powerful people for rich and powerful people. They pad their ranks every election by filling the air with buzzwords and phrases like family values, patriotic, tax and spend, abortion rights, soft on crime and the ever-popular Christian and God to suck in the very grass-roots constituency they unreservedly intend to exploit, impoverish — and even kill in the case of air, water and food deregulation.

Most of these issues are things they can’t do anything about. Families have the values they have and no law will change them. Laws haven’t stopped abortions for at least 6,000 years that we know of and that should tell us where that’s going.

The things they can change, they won’t, unless those changes protect and abet the concentration of wealth into the hands of those who are already swimming in it, even when millions must starve to make that happen.

We know this because that is what they always do.

If you haven’t voted yet, get out there and put a stop to it before it’s too late.

— Harold Pettus, Everett

We’re looking for greatness

It goes without saying that it’s entirely likely the world would be a whole lot better off today if more folks had the sense in 2000 to vote for the boring smart guy instead of the beer buddy.

This election is extremely important. It’s like a makeup exam at school. We should have done better when we had the chance the first time. Voting for President George W. Bush in 2000 was like asking for a train wreck. He was obviously unfit. He’s been asleep at the switch for quite a while now, dreaming of going home.

To be clear, either Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain will be a vast improvement over Bush. Our long, dark horror is nearing the end. But so much damage has been done in the past eight years that we now need a fantastic leader just to avert disaster.

We all know McCain is not fantastic. Under “normal” circumstances, he probably would be adequate. For the next few years at least, adequate is nowhere near good enough.

We can only pray that Obama can rise to the occasion. Compared to McCain, he’s certainly a more charismatic, smarter and more levelheaded leader. Many lefties are not in love with the sometimes middle-ish Obama. Few on the right seem thrilled with McCain. That’s why he picked Palin. She’s the new beer-buddy candidate for the careless and wedge-issue voters.

Remember this: if McCain/Palin win, the single most important person in the world will then be his doctor. President Palin? The U.S. will sink even lower than our present sorry state. I don’t think Palin has the capacity or inclination for vast, rapid improvement. I don’t care about any other qualities she might have. She’s not ready to be vice president and will never be ready to be an adequate president. It was wrong to choose her.

A president, Biden would not be our first choice, but would be a lot better.

The desire for a Republican in the White House to balance the Democratic-controlled House and Senate is understandable. But the immediate need for outstanding leadership is greater.

The U.S. must show the world that we’re finally ready to get to work on the issues that really matter to us: our children and the rest of the world for generations to come.

Forget about guns, religion, abortion, gay marriage and the like. They pale in comparison with the challenges that face us now and that will likely occupy the next few presidents.

Climate change, energy, population growth, resource consumption, technological education and the world economy are part of the list of far-bigger problems that will require that we all get serious.

— Pete Rogerson, Seattle

To the polls we go

Torture, pre-emptive war, unbalanced numbers of young, low-income black men incarcerated? Let’s hope we can begin to redirect and become a more admirable nation — one that helps its own citizens become better members of society.

The Bush administration has 11 weeks left to greet with executives from pharma, financial and defense lobbyists and auto executives; 11 weeks to deregulate mining, dumping and coal-burning; these are all areas where we’ve made some progress.

Our greenhouse-gas regulations may go up in smoke Jan. 20. It does matter that you vote and who you vote for. So off to the polls you go.

— Rick Roberts, Seattle

Let’s show them

From Paul Revere’s midnight ride and the signing of the Declaration of Independence to Abraham Lincoln’s fighting for the Emancipation Proclamation and the battlefields where American soldiers have died in defense of other people’s freedoms, our country has held true to the principle that everyone has the right to a life free of injustice. More than anything else we stand for, this freedom is the American dream and is recognized as such around the world.

We have struggled with ourselves to protect this dream; in fact, our country’s history can be seen as an ongoing internal battle against intolerance, greed, hatred and bigotry. Our progress has not been smooth and gradual, or even continuous, but with giant steps forward, homeostasis punctuated by volcanic changes.

In 1870 a major triumph — the 15th Amendment — extended voting rights to men of all race and color, but not to women. It took us another 50 years to take that step. And despite the 15th Amendment, the battle to vote regardless of race or color wasn’t assured until passage of the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. Even now, women do not get equal pay for equal work.

We have fought hard to hang on to our dream. Americans have shed tears, lost lives and suffered to bring about these changes.

Now we have the chance to step forward again. People of every political stripe share an almost palpable national excitement, even angst, as the nation undergoes something akin to birthing pains. Regardless of political party, we should be proud and mark the moment when we elect our first black president. It is a milestone in our journey to be the country we aspire to and a reminder to our friends and our enemies abroad why we are such a great country.

— Joel Horn, Seattle

Comments | More in Politics, Presidential race

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