Copyright © 2002 Henrietta W. Hay
Learning About Politics
October 18, 2002
With the election just around the corner it is time for political
junkies to get excited. Actually it's way past time. Some of the
candidates and those who feel strongly about amendments are already
calling each other out with broadswords. Fortunately we have gone past
the days of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.
I wonder how many people in the state of Colorado have read every one of
the 105 pages of the blue book issued by the Legislative Council of the
Colorado General Assembly. It is full of vital information, but it is
really pretty dull.
The League of Women Voters, however, issues material which is much more
interesting to read and just as accurate. They study the issues
thoroughly and are non-partisan in their information on candidates.
The State League's little pamphlet on Ballot Issues 2002 prints them all
and gives arguments for and against each. And the League's insert in
last Friday's Daily Sentinel added information about the candidates and
local issues. So there are is no possible way to say, "I can't vote
because I don't know what's going on."
But if you really don't understand, ask your kids. Kids Voting Mesa
County provides year long opportunities for students to learn about
active citizenship. It provides a curriculum for kindergarten through
12th grades to the schools at no cost to them. This exciting civics
education program begins in school and then gives opportunities for
students to take classroom knowledge and apply it to personal hands-on
experiences. You'll see them voting in their own area on election
day. And Middle School students are writing analyses of issues and
candidates' positions which are being printed in the Sentinel. Who
knows, maybe a United States Senator in 2040 is taking involved in the
Kids Voting program in Grand Junction today.
I asked my coffee klatch pals one morning to vote on the most important
political issue for me to write about. In one voice they said, "The
War." Think I'll pass on that one, though, since they didn't specify
which war. We did all agree emphatically that two headlines which
appeared on the same day said a great deal about our country.
The first was "President Bush awarded war power by U.S. Congress."
The second, "President Jimmy Carter awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the
It does make one wonder what kind of a nation we have become.
I let the League do most of my research. The Amendment that they are
supporting most actively is number 27, campaign finance reform. This
amendment will ban direct corporate and union contributions to
candidates, thus reducing the influence of wealthy special interests.
As Molly Ivins said last month. "It won't cure everything, but it's a
I think the strongest argument for that amendment is the series of
vicious, nasty, personal ads we have been subjected to on TV in the
Allard/ Strickland race. I wish they had run out of money a month ago.
Amendments 28 and 29 would make some major changes in our electoral
procedures. 28 requires mail ballots after 2005. I had some
misgivings, but It has to be better than Florida's system. And 29 would
eliminate the caucus with its long, sentimental history. That's a tough
There are two candidates I am especially interested in. One is a
Republican, which will come as a major shock to many. Gayle Berry has
earned a right to go back to the Legislature. She has worked hard and
intelligently, not only for the western slope, but for the entire state
and has earned a strong leadership role in the legislature. And I
really want to see Rollie Heath be our next governor. He is competent
and well informed and an experienced administrator. And he would
never, never announce to the world that Colorado is on fire.
The old saw is still true, "If you don't vote, you don't have a right to