Why your vote matters: For the Democrats …
March 5 is almost upon us to be followed shortly by Nov. 5. These two days mark the most important difference between our democracy and all other forms of government on earth. All citizens, please vote. To vote is an honor, a right, a privilege, and, above all, an opportunity to keep this democracy that we cherish for, only if we vote, will our government continue to prevail.
Almost as important as voting is how we vote. One way is to throw darts as your sample ballot. This is not recommended. Nor is watching the TV ads. An approved method is to acquaint yourself with the issues important to you, learn the various candidates stand and record on those issues, and to familiarize yourself with the political parties’ historic and current positions on those issues.
When armed with this information I can understand why most people vote for the Democratic candidate. Consider the Clinton Administration economic record: unemployment went from 7 percent to slightly over 4, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average from 3,200 to 11,700, and at the same time he balanced the budget going from a massive deficit to a surplus. Even the rich should be able to understand that if they paid more taxes under Clinton, his thriving economy resulted in a greater net gain at the end of the year.
As an investor myself, I appreciate the rewards of a booming economy, but I like to go beyond pure greed as a motive to vote. The real reason I usually vote Democratic is the consideration the Democratic Party gives to the not so rich. The defining moment for the Democratic Party came when Franklin Roosevelt took office during the days of the Great Depression. The stock market was in complete disarray, the banking system had just collapsed, and crops were rotting in the fields while people were starving. Roosevelt’s predecessor, Herbert Hoover, in accordance with his firm beliefs, provided aid to corporations while denying any to individuals, whereas Roosevelt, never a dogmatic man, tried numerous plans but never lost sight of the individual. He began relief and work plans to aid the present and the Social Security Program to protect the future. He put in regulations for the stock market and signed the Wagner Labor Relations Act encouraging the formation of unions. All were to the benefit of the individual and, at the same time, to the benefit of the entire country. No more repeats of the panic of 1873, the depression of 1884, the financial panic of 1893, nor of the Great Depression.
Yet today we have those who advocate tax cuts for all problems and would provide those cuts primarily to the already rich. When the economy is strong and a surplus is available, they would cut taxes with the majority going to the richest 20 percent of the country, when the economy is weak and faltering, they would cut taxes with the majority going to the richest 20 percent of the country, and yet again, when the country is hit by a disaster and the economy is failing, they would cut taxes with the majority going to the richest 20 percent. What was that old song? “Johnny One-Note”?
Recently a new danger has appeared to threaten our democracy: the possibility of a buy-out of candidates by big corporations. Enron Corp., with their huge campaign contributions, often to both the Republican and to the Democratic parties, opened our eyes to this peril and to the need for campaign finance reform. Congress is at present in the process of rectifying this situation. Working against the efforts of Republican Congressional leadership and with the aid of some 39 rebellious Republican representatives the House has passed a bill that would put needed additional restrictions on allowable campaign contributions. The Senate is now making every effort to pass that same bill so that it may be signed by the president and become law.
Democracy, together with the freedoms it provides, is a wondrous but fragile thing and requires and deserves our constant attention. Regardless of how much or how little you agree with whatever else I have written, all citizens, please vote.
Jack Flannigan of Grass Valley is a longtime member and leader of the Democratic Party.
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