Tag Archives: Democrats


I urge everyone who hasn’t already voted to go to the polls on November 6. Only if we all vote, will we know what most Americans want. Remember the term “silent majority”? Well, the silent majority has let the voting minority take over this country. I cringe when I hear any politician say, “This is what Americans want.” Unless most Americans vote, politicians can’t speak for “Americans.” And who knows: if we all vote, we may find that we are not as divided as we think.

But you say, “My district is gerrymandered so that my vote doesn’t count.” I say, “Vote in every election and for every local and state office because it’s at the state level that districts are gerrymandered. Choose candidates who will district fairly or, more cynically, who will gerrymander in favor of you.”

You say, “The electoral college determined the 2016 election. Clinton won the majority, but Trump is president. Why bother to vote?” I say, “The electoral college applies only in presidential elections. Vote in 2018 for Congressional candidates who will work to eliminate the electoral college.”

You say, “I can’t vote.” Perhaps you committed a crime or your name has been removed from the rolls. I sympathize but ask that you not give up. Next time, volunteer to get out the vote for a candidate, especially a candidate for governor, who will see that whoever is in charge of elections will work to reinstate you.

But how do we know which candidate to vote for? Who will represent what we value and want? With fewer newspapers, more social media, and a deluge of 30-second TV ads, it’s hard to find a candidate’s positions. Attack ads like “My opponent will take away your Second Amendment rights” should make us ask for specifics. Will he eliminate the Second Amendment, take away my bump stock so I can’t kill a lot of people with my hunting rifle, make me wait for a background check before I can buy my gun, or force me to hunt with a bow and arrow? Maybe if politicians talked about the details, they’d find enough in common to write bipartisan legislation.

It used to be easier to vote by party. The Republicans, who used to be counted on to guard the nation’s treasure, are now running up the deficit. They’re pro-life but seem to have little interest in providing those lives with services or a healthy environment. Democrats are willing to support the newborns with SNAP, housing subsidies, and clean air, but then they want to send everyone to college for free. Voters who would ban abortion but fear climate change must decide which issue takes precedence.

To learn positions, voters must seek information about individual candidates. The League of Women Voters’ non-partisan voters’ guide, www.VOTE411.org, is available in New Jersey and some other states. Voters need only enter their address to see the responses to League questions of every candidate on their ballot (provided the candidate answered). Voters who don’t know who their candidates are can use their sample ballots to find their candidates’ names, Google them, and then visit their websites or read what’s been written about them.

“Too much effort,” you say? Nonsense! You’re looking for people who share what you value and want: a “you” but with power. What is more important than having a say about our wealth and health, the people around us and the planet we share?

“But,” you say, “the candidates I vote for rarely win.” Yes, but as in sports or the lottery, you cannot win if you don’t play. Keep trying. Vote!

The Most Dangerous Pronoun

The most dangerous pronoun is “they”—and its objective case “them.” Unless its antecedent is a string of specific nouns, “they” is most likely to perpetrate misconceptions and downright lies. Pronouns are convenient, but please don’t put me in a box with “them.”

The safest pronouns are, of course, “I” and “me.” This is because I know myself well. “You” is probably the next safest pronoun. I would hesitate to say anything about you to you that wasn’t justified and, I hope, sensitive. “He” and “she” refer to just one person and thus may have more validity than “them,” although I’ve heard slanderous things about “him” and “her” that were nothing more than gossipy fictions. Finally, there’s “we” and “us.” Do I really know enough about people like me to use “we” accurately? How could I complete the sentence “We Wellesley graduates…”? Earned high-power positions? Had children? Took up knitting?

This topic came to mind as I was reading comments on the PBS NewsHours’ segment about disparity by race in education, which I discussed in my blog. One comment read, “The black community needs to grow up and start taking responsibility for themselves, and the democrats need to stop treating them as children.”

It’s obviously racist, but taking responsibility for oneself is an accepted standard of adulthood. What would happen to the comment if, instead of “the black community,” the writer had used a string of nouns describing the people who are not taking responsibility for themselves? If I think about why someone might not take responsibility for himself, I get an almost endless list of possibilities: mental or physical illness, lack of opportunity to work, wages too low to pay for food and housing, alcohol or drug addiction, a felony conviction or lack of training that impacts the ability to get work, depression, bad decisions that prevent getting ahead like gambling or having an extra child—and, yes, a willingness to rely on others, be it the government or one’s parents.

Accurately written the sentence would read, “Able-bodied, healthy people who have the carfare to get to vocational school for training or to the job itself and who do not have to stay home with a baby need to grow up and start taking responsibility for themselves….” Wouldn’t adding “black” to that sentence sound funny? Only “black able-bodied, healthy people…have to take responsibility”?

And who are the “black community”? Is there a corresponding “white community”? Do people who are not responsible for themselves think of themselves as a community or act as a community? Interestingly, a number of black leaders see a growing need for community and look back longingly to the days when churches were strong, when neighbors disciplined each other’s children, and even when schools were segregated That black community was a positive force.

“They” is a dangerous pronoun, and using it reflects arrogance. How much can one person know about others?