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A precious right

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
Oct. 13, 2002
So here we sit, 23 days before a congressional election that could determine which house controls Congress for the next two years. Will voters in Mississippi new 3rd Congressional District choose U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, a Democrat from Bassfield, or U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, a Republican from Laurel?
Will the U.S. House of Representatives be controlled by conservatives or liberals? Would you prefer higher taxes or lower taxes?
And, on the Senate side where incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran is opposed by independent candidate Shawn O'Hara, the stakes are even higher. A shift of just a couple of seats in the Nov. 5 election could put conservatives back in control, and U.S. Sen. Trent Lott could regain his status as majority leader.
Do you prefer federal judges who are conservative or liberal? Are issues such as abortion and education important to you? Would you prefer judges who make the law or interpret the law?
The U.S. Senate must confirm judges for the federal bench. And, as you may recall, U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering's nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals failed by a single vote in a Democrat-controlled Senate committee.
Important races
In a race for a seat on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, do you prefer a judge with strong ties to the trial lawyers lobby or one who certainly seems willing listen to all sides?
That race is particularly important, given the struggle in the state Legislature over reforming medical malpractice laws and general civil justice. Meridian native Kenny Griffis, who now practices law in Ridgeland, is opposing incumbent James Brantley.
I have my own opinions. I hope you do, too.
If you read newspapers, watch TV, listen to the radio, go to church or the beauty shop, you're likely to hear someone talking about politics.
Don't ignore the conversation. Chime in with your own thoughts and ideas. Debate the issues. Tell about your favorite candidate. Write a letter to the editor. Call a radio talk show. Talk to your neighbors.
Voting is a precious right and like a muscle in your body, grows stronger with exercise.
Candidates such as Pickering and Shows work hard during expensive political campaigns to tell voters what they've done, which gives us an idea of what they'll do when the next Congress convenes in January 2003. They advertise through the mass media and, frankly, some ads are more deceptive than others.
Shows, particularly, seems attached to deceptive advertising and deceptive claims about what he's done as a congressman from Mississippi's 4th Congressional District. One series of ads prepared by the AFL-CIO and touting Shows was yanked by some television stations because they made unfounded charges.
Linkletter back on the air
Senior citizen Art Linkletter is appearing in ads now for Pickering and makes a strong case that Pickering has fought for things we believe are important to older Americans such as Social Security. Linkletter is an American icon, along the same lines as Charlton Heston when he talks about the right to bear arms. They are Republican-oriented, conservative and make good political sense.
Democrats have Barbra Streisand, who came out of retirement again to sing and raise money for Democratic candidates. I like most of her songs. Her politics are a little left for my tastes, but I really doubt that she cares what I think one way or the other.
But that's really the point. Here in America, we are free to express our opinions, to filter our judgment of political candidates any way we wish. Take the campaign advertising as gospel, ignore it entirely or simply accept it for its entertainment value.
Most of us probably fall somewhere in between.
Closer to home, Meridian city councilman George Thomas who isn't running for anything this year knows the value of voting. He won his first race by one vote, and his wife almost didn't go to the polls.
As we move toward election day, the main thing is to make plans to vote. It's a precious American right and our country needs the peoples' voices.