Forum, Oct. 20: The right to vote is the moral basis of America

Published: 10/19/2020 10:00:10 PM
Modified: 10/19/2020 10:00:08 PM
The right to vote is the moral basis of America

When Ben Franklin came out of Constitution Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention in September 1787, he was asked what kind of government it had devised. “A republic,” he responded, “if you can keep it.”

The founders believed that a “citizen morality” underlay any constitutional design. If the citizenry did not practice a political morality consonant with a constitutional design, then such design would be in vain.

Granted that what the founders understood by “citizenry” in 1787 likely meant male, property-holding stakeholders, and there was a profound ambiguity about slavery and race embodied in the “Three-fifths Compromise.” For those states that permitted slavery, representation in the House would be based on the formula: every five slaves would equal three free citizens.

While clearly men of their time, the founders did make efforts to foresee the future. They included a process by which the Constitution could be amended. They also created the census to assure that the House would always consist of districts approximately equal in population. Clearly this reflects the principle of “one citizen (as then understood) one vote.” However, both the Senate and the Electoral College were devised as “checks” on what they perceived as a potentially unruly population.

American democracy has progressed. Lincoln looked back to the Declaration of Independence for a proper understanding of America’s experiment in “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” The outcome of the Civil War saw the abolition of slavery. The 15th Amendment, in 1870, and 20th Amendment, in 1920, expanded the right to vote.

The struggle to fulfill America’s democratic promise continues. Those who, by arbitrary restrictions, abuse rather than affirm the right to vote offend citizen morality.

The American experiment constantly focuses a choice, one that is especially clear this election season: Either we continue America’s progress toward inclusive citizenship, or we deny the moral basis of this polity. If we do so deny, then we become something not democratic, something that not only does not make America great again, but that denies the very meaning of America.

BORIS G. von YORK

Springfield, Vt.

The disappearing Biden-Harris signs in Grantham

It has been revealing that, in Grantham, all Biden-Harris signs are guaranteed to be stolen within hours of their being put up. Possibly the Democrats should be cheered by the idea that some wish to paper their walls with our posters, but perhaps the perpetrators should be aware of the implications of their actions.

I’m sure that most Republicans would not want to be represented by people who have no respect for the First Amendment or others’ opinions and are willing to steal to prevent democracy from functioning freely.

ELIZABETH KNOX

Grantham

Republican Party has betrayed our values

I’ve completely lost faith in the Republican Party led by President Donald Trump.

Governance? Republicans enthusiastically embrace a president who is divisive, willfully ignorant, reckless, cruel, thin-skinned, petty, vindictive, unstable, self-serving, incapable of self-reflection and empathy, and unwilling to take responsibility for his actions.

The Republicans’ election strategy is to suppress voting, promote the lie of voter fraud, and undermine confidence (with Russian support) in our election system. They have no current platform, which makes them less a political party than an idolatrous cult.

They have failed us on climate change, racial injustice, police brutality, worker protections and income inequality. The current Supreme Court nomination speaks of Republican divisiveness and lack of integrity. Their tax breaks for the rich and corporations have ballooned the national debt. The rest of us can eat tweets.

On coronavirus, Trump has failed as a leader on so many levels that it’s frightening: More than 215,000 Americans dead, too many preventable. And the Republicans have been AWOL on health care, choosing instead to sabotage the system we have. Meanwhile, Trump has rolled back air and water protections, further threatening our health.

Trump has widened and deepened the swamp in Washington with phenomenal corruption. Pay-to-play crony capitalism rules.

Trump’s America features conflict and chaos, armed vigilantes and empowered white supremacists, QAnon and conspiracies. Behold the true anarchist. How can a president, whose party has put him above the law, be a law-and-order candidate?

And why is Donald Trump Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lapdog? Why doesn’t our draft-dodger-in-chief seem to care about bounties on U.S. troops? And where are those incredible deal-making skills? All we get are unilateral actions or executive orders. Autocracy over democracy.

Trump-led Republicans have undermined the Constitution, democracy, the rule of law and science. They are betraying the cherished values that made America great.

ALLAN MacDONALD

New London

Please vote, it’s critical

Voting is both a privilege and a duty as an American citizen. Women fought for nearly 100 years to obtain the right to vote. If more people voted in 2016, perhaps we would not have the division and issues that we are now experiencing in our country.

It is my opinion that Donald Trump is unfit for the office of president of the United States. He is a compulsive liar, a self-serving egomaniac, a supporter of white supremacy, a nonbeliever in climate change, an agitator of many of our long-standing allies, and a supporter of tyrants like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. Each of these characteristics alone is bad enough, but when all are mixed together in one person, it becomes frightening.

A huge concern of mine is that Trump is an autocrat who is challenging our democracy. His enormous but fragile ego motivates him to not only run for a second term but also to fantasize about staying in power for more than eight years. He is trying everything possible to discredit the voting process by railing about fraud in mail-in voting. He appointed an incompetent to try to derail the postal system. Now he is hinting that he will refuse to leave office if he loses the election.

Another four years of Trump as president would totally disrupt this country. He has already badly mismanaged the coronavirus crisis. We are rapidly approaching a quarter of a million deaths as he continues to underestimate the seriousness of the situation. He is desperately attempting to throw out the Affordable Care Act even as COVID-19 keeps spreading. He also threatens the existence of Medicare and Social Security with his proposal to eliminate payroll taxes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump must be defeated in the November election. A landslide victory will preclude him from challenging the results. Please vote Biden-Harris to preserve our democracy and begin the healing this country needs.

EDWARD RIPPE

Enfield

Dan Wolf will bridge the partisan divide

Have you noticed the political signs? Have you seen the one sign that stands out? In this time of extreme political ideologies, one candidate stands out as the singular option, someone who has an actual track record of representing all his constituents beyond political party.

New Hampshire voters have a history of electing representatives who know their communities and represent what the people in that community need and want. Dan Wolf is that person.

I am a left-leaning, science-believing, Black Lives Matter supporter and abortion-rights advocate and I don’t hesitate to can call on Wolf when I need an issue addressed. Do we always agree? No. But does he hear what I have to say and weigh it with the wishes and feelings of all the constituents he represents? Yes. Don’t we need more of that?

Voting for Dan Wolf will not be a vote for an administration that you don’t agree with. Voting for him will show that you are more concerned about the individual people of this community by electing a leader who has worked side-by-side with the members of this community and our neighboring communities and knows the struggles they face.

So the next time you are driving through New London and Newbury, really look. Look at the signs on people’s lawns and consider for the moment what a feat it is to be the one candidate you could vote for who will bridge the divide and work for you.

CASEY BIUSO

New London

Jane Kitchel has proven her dedication

Jane Kitchel is up for reelection to the Vermont Senate for the Caledonia District — which includes towns in both Caledonia and Orange counties — and we urge you to vote for her. Her record proves her dedication to the people of this district and to all Vermonters, especially during the pandemic. She designed the Hazard Pay Program to help front-line essential workers who risked exposure during the early months of COVID-19, and secured funding to keep our local health care programs running. Indeed, every piece of the state’s COVID-19 relief effort has gone through the Appropriations Committee, which she chairs.

She has overseen a balanced budget every year since assuming that chair 10 years ago, meanwhile working to help local towns and villages fight milfoil, to upgrade aged water systems, and to provide economic benefits in places where it is direly needed. For example, she sponsored legislation supporting the Ryegate Power Plant, a crucial outlet for local loggers’ low-grade wood; she played a key role in providing a multimillion-dollar equipment investment tax credit to Weidmann for modernizing its St. Johnsbury plant, preserving over 250 well-paying jobs.

This list could be made a great deal longer, given her persistent work on behalf of her constituents. Like few others in government at any level, Jane Kitchel stresses the “public” part of public service. She deserves your vote.

ROBIN BARONE and SYDNEY LEA

Newbury

Mike Cryans is diligent

We have to elect a president, a senator and a governor. It kind of feels as if it doesn’t matter who is elected to the Executive Council. Yet Executive Council members have more direct impact on our lives in New Hampshire than almost any other candidate on our ballots.

The executive councilors have approval power over all state contracts with a value of $25,000 or more, and all state personal service agreements over $10,000, and receipts and expenditures of state and federal funds, including the $5.2 billion the legislature appropriates annually. They confirm District Court, Superior Court and Supreme Court judges, and must approve more than 300 gubernatorial appointments, including commissioners and other state employees. They hear all pardon requests. They oversee the 10-year highway plan.

The Executive Council is designed to provide checks and balances on the governor’s power and ensure no conflicts of interest. It is a unique body in New Hampshire — another demonstration of our independence and strong will. We believe in checks on government power.

That is why I am voting for an executive councilor who will not merely rubber-stamp the governor. I want an executive councilor who thinks independently, who does his own analysis, who understands budgets and who will read those hundreds of contracts and study the resumes of all those appointees.

Mike Cryans has demonstrated he has the experience and intelligence and diligence it takes. That’s why I am voting for Cryans to represent District 1 on the Executive Council.

KIM ROSENFIELD

New London

Kirk White will best represent us

I have known Kirk White since he was a student in my elementary classroom. He was a thoughtful, observant and conscientious student then and has carried those characteristics into his adult life. I have also had the opportunity to work with him several times over the years, as he added a few gray hairs, and have observed him diligently facing the challenges that the small town of Bethel has faced.

He is able to work with and communicate effectively with many personalities. I have seen him have success at the local level in the Bethel Business Association, the Bethel Revitalization Initiative and Bethel University. He has participated in the Forward Festival, always adding interest and valuable information to that event, which celebrates our community.

As his extensive and thoughtful platform indicates, he also has good ideas of his own for solving today’s challenges. His ability to listen, to be tolerant, and to communicate very effectively with many types of people, his skill at absorbing and adding other people’s ideas to the mix to find workable solutions, will be important skills in today’s challenging world.

Kirk White’s experience and dedication makes him the candidate to best represent us in Montpelier during these trying times.

MARY FLOYD

Bethel

The writer is a member of the Bethel Conservation Commission and co-chair of the Forward Festival.

Where’s the roundup of local sports?

I realize that you have had to cut back on sports reporting due to COVID-19, but why can’t you at least list the results of local sports contests? Unless you are hiding them very well, I can’t find them. Perhaps they are available on a smartphone, but not all of us use one. It wouldn’t take much space to include local results on the page with other sports stats. Don’t forget that you are a local-regional newspaper, with an obligation to keep folks in the Upper Valley informed.

ARTHUR PEASE

Lebanon

Editor’s note: Staffing and space constraints, early deadlines and unpredictable team schedules all contributed to the decision earlier this year to publish the Local Roundup of sports results on the Valley News website. Visit www.vnews.com and click “Sports” or search for “Local Roundup.”




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