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Rabbitbrush Rambler: Overloaded and underperforming

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 30th, 2012

In recent weeks, those annoying telephone calls and e-mails from political candidates, parties, and surveys have received the same response from me. Regardless of the callers’ party, creed, color, or gender, they did not even get a goodbye, adios, au revoir, or sayonara. Just click.

For a couple of months, the mailers pouring into my mailbox also went directly to the trash. But after a while, I began to toss them into a pile instead, so that later I would be able to tally which party headquarters had wasted the most money on me.

My attitude applies to TV, too. I have not watched television’s sound bites, ads, debates, and talking heads, but, instead, have looked for reliable information in responsible newspapers, magazines, and digital news sources. (It’s called reading.)

Colorado is one of the states that are hotly contested nationally, so our Congressional District 3 candidates are getting more attention and money than usual for this seat. And because the boundaries of our State Senate District 35 were redrawn, we have two candidates from the San Luis Valley, which outsiders usually think does not exist, but party headquarters suddenly have their sights on us.

Given the volume of their mailers, it is obvious that the powers behind the two political parties are engaged in a battle to win control of Congress and of the Colorado senate at any cost. Both parties are churning out mean-spirited mailers that do not sound like anyone I know around here.

Maybe it would be less expensive and more practical just to hold an auction of federal and state vacancies that are for sale. Now there’s a thought.

The barons’ Magna Carta may have wrung some concessions from the crown in England in 1215, but, more than 500 years later, when the Constitution was written in America, in the land of the free, only white male adults who owned property and paid taxes were allowed to vote. The revolution had not revolutionized their preferred status as yet.

About half of the states in America supported some rights that went beyond the freeholders, who quickly figured out ways to get around restrictions by giving title to land and getting them back afterward. Catholics, Jews, women, black people, Native Americans? Forget it!

It took a Civil War to give black men the right to vote. Even then, many states continued to deny voting rights to black men or women until 100 years later, when the civil rights movement and laws brought about real change in the 1960s in some states.

White women had to wait until 1920 to get the right to vote in a national election. Proving that “the first shall be last,” Native Americans, the descendants of the original occupants of this land, did not get the right to vote in federal elections in the 1940s.

But having been given the franchise, do we exercise it? In 2008, only 56.8 percent of the population of voting age cast a ballot in the federal election, and, in 2010, only 37.8 percent bothered. These figures are close to average in elections.

Our job as citizens is voting, not sound and fury. First, please read the booklets that came in the mail a few weeks ago. They are printed in two languages.

On our statewide ballots for this election, in addition to candidates for offices, there are three state constitutional amendments, and the booklets contain concise, objective summaries, pro and con, for each of the proposed amendments. They pertain to the state personnel system, regulation of marijuana, and campaign contributions.

Statewide ballots also have local ballot questions, including Ballot Issue 3A in Alamosa School District and Ballot Issue 3A in Del Norte School District. These are printed in your own respective ballots.

And don’t forget to mail your ballots with a 45-cent stamp to your county clerk’s office, postmarked by Monday, November 5, or hand-delivered before 7 p.m. on Election Day.

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