The Independent Vote
On the 24th of May in 2001, one man stood at a podium in a hotel ballroom in Burlington, Vt., and drastically changed, for the better, the direction of the federal government in this great nation. And tomorrow, all that was accomplished because of this man's courage will be in danger when voters go to the polls across the country.
Tomorrow is Election Day. It's a midterm election this year so, in theory, there should be less hype, less press and, accordingly, less voter turnout than in a presidential election year. But this election has the potential to be the most pivotal yet in our lifetimes. Hence, the hype and the press are out in force as voters are presented with the option of deciding which party will control the Senate and the House.
From the podium in Burlington, one man determined the control of the Senate and the course of the entire federal government's actions. Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords renounced the party in which he once believed so strongly. A respected third-term senator and lifelong Republican, Jeffords sent a loud message to the President and to card-carrying Republicans across the nation.
Tomorrow it is up to the voters to reinforce the idea of this message for the president and for those who fail to re-examine their traditionalist ways and beliefs in this rapidly changing America. Voters in key states with tight House and Senate elections especially need to get to the polls and vote for those candidates that won't let George W. Bush run wild with the power he holds.
New Hampshire is one of these key states. The sitting governor, Jeanne Shaheen, is in a dead heat for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Bob Smith who lost to current Rep. John Sununu in the primary two months ago. Sununu beat Smith with the backing of Bush and other old-money Republicans. Smith, like Jeffords, left the Republican Party a few years back to become an independent, which angered the diehards. And though Smith did eventually register as a Republican again, the party still held some animosity for the notion that one might actually attempt to question their mantras. So they threw money at the son of Bush's father's former chief of staff with the same name, and they are continuing to do so. If that's confusing, just think of one word: entitlement; and then it all might make more sense.
Personally, I don't have a problem with the average Republican, senator or not. I'm not a crazy liberal, and I'm not moving to Canada if, God forbid, Bush gets reelected in 2004. The left-wing agenda needs checks just as the right wing's does. No, the problem I have with John Sununu is that he's no average Republican. He represents just about everything that's wrong with the Republican Party. He may as well be a robot programmed with the Republican agenda since the most original idea he's had in his time in Congress is to rename a post office in New Hampshire. In six years, he's only bothered to push two bills of his own through the House, one of which was the post-office naming.
Conversely, Jeanne Shaheen has a record of getting things done, despite opposition from Sununu types. She brought tens of thousands of new jobs to New Hampshire, provided access to kindergarten for close to 10,000 little kids, extended healthcare to 17,000 more children, launched a tax-free college tuition savings plans and decreased toxins in our air and water, among many other
John Sununu voted against cleaner air and cleaner water. He voted to open up Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve to drill for a relatively small amount of oil. He voted (repeatedly) against increasing Pell grants for deserving college students. And he's never really done anything to help children.
Sununu has said: "I've never done anything that was not in the best interests of the Republican Party." Scary, and he's right. He's never done anything that was not in the best interests of the Republican Party because he only does what he is told to do. He doesn't think, and he has no personal convictions. He has proven his unwillingness to cross party lines to accomplish important legislation for this country. He's been phoning in his votes since day one, and that won't change.
If you don't think a woman should have the right to choose, don't vote for Jeanne Shaheen. If you don't mind financial limitations possibly preventing your future children from attending good schools, don't vote for Jeanne Shaheen. If you don't think the United States needs its pithy national parks or you don't want clean air to breathe or you don't mind giving up an arm or a leg or both to pay for prescription drugs that cost next to nothing to produce, don't vote for Jeanne Shaheen.
Jim Jeffords has heartfelt convictions and fights for them. Jeanne Shaheen has heartfelt convictions of her own as well, and she will fight for them and you in the Senate. If you plan on living in America after this election, get out and vote tomorrow at Hanover High School. And if you want to live in a better America after this election, vote for Jeanne Shaheen.