Along The Trail 11-27-14


As I prepare to sit down to another wonderful family Thanksgiving dinner, I am thankful that I live in a country where democracy is a way of life. I am thankful that I live in a country where every adult over the age of 18 has the right and the opportunity to vote for those candidates who believe in the same values as we, the voters, do.

I am thankful that I live in a country where candidates who are elected will become the voice of the American people. I am thankful that I live in a country where voters can create a mandate for change through their votes – not their bullets.

I am thankful that I live in a country where the voters’ mandate will become both purpose and meaning for those who are elected.

Oops – sorry.

Wrong country.

Maybe I should start over.

As I prepare to sit down to another wonderful family Thanksgiving dinner, I am bothered that in the most recent election, more eligible voters choose to stay home than vote. I am bothered that nationwide, less than 40-percent of eligible voters actually voted. (I am really bothered that Indiana had the country’s lowest percentage of eligible voters who voted – 28-percent) I am bothered with the fact that the mandate delivered by the American voter actually represents that of only about 25-percent of eligible voters.

Even worse, I am bothered that both the Republican and the Democrat parties stake claim to the 60-percent who did not vote.

After this year’s national elections, Republicans won control of the U.S. Senate, increased control of the House of Representatives, and won several Governorships that historically belonged to Democrats.

The mandate was clear.

The American voter was fed up with President Obama, Obama Care, and several other “Obama policies.” And, the American voter was fed up with the fact that Congress had not been able to accomplish anything for several years.

Blame was assessed.

Change was required.

The mandate was clear.

And, 60-percent of eligible voters decided to stay home.

I would think than an overwhelming Republican victory would tell Republicans that America wants change. That America wants action. That America has put the Republican Party in charge of Congress in order to keep a Democrat controlled Senate from continuing to block the efforts of the House of Representatives.

I would think that a Republican-controlled Congress would start working toward developing a plan of action that would move the Country forward while working with a Democrat President. I would think Republicans would make every effort to show America that the Republican Party was right in making changes in 2014 and that the Republican Party deserves the Presidency in 2016.

As of today, I would be wrong.

So far, all I hear or read is how the Republicans plan to block President Obama in every way possible. Add to this, while the newly elected officials are yet to take office, the Republicans are already fighting between themselves. They don’t need Democrats to fight with.

So much for change – I think that action – or non action – is what created the “mandate” for change in the first place.

Apparently Republicans have decided the mandate was one-sided. That the Republican Party holds no responsibility for the frustrations of the American voter. That the mandate for Republicans is for “business as usual.”

Meanwhile, President Obama is comfortable that only 25-percent of eligible voters indicated they were “fed up” with his Presidency. With this in mind, about 75-percent did not show distaste for his policies.

Forget the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who “did not show distaste” for his policies were those who chose not to vote. When you are a politician you can count everyone who didn’t vote against you as being for you.

At least that is what it looks like.

Last week President Obama issued an executive order that will allow as many as five million “undocumented” aliens to obtain either three-year work permits or, in many cases, American citizenship.

It is obvious that President Obama is not concerned with the multitude of surveys that show the great majority of the American public is against citizenship, or amnesty, for illegal aliens.

Perhaps, that is why President Obama prefers to use “undocumented.” It means the same as “illegal,” but doesn’t sound as bad. Besides, there aren’t many surveys that show the American people are against amnesty for the “undocumented.”

Obviously, President Obama, who said that while he was not on the ballot this year, his programs were, did not take the election results as a mandate for change.

Instead he took the minority of those who voted for his “policies” and added that minority to the 60-percent who chose not to vote and declared his executive order was the will of the American people.

I have written before that “figures don’t lie – but liars figure.” Nowhere is this more true than in politics. Both Republicans and Democrats appear to have included in their mandate the 60-percent of eligible voters who chose not to vote.

To both Republicans and President Obama, adding the 60-percent provides justification to continue “business as usual.”

This makes me wonder whether the 60-percent have the right idea. Don’t vote and you will always be on the winning side.

Mandate – what mandate?

Actually, I think I am beginning to like the theory of inclusion. (That is what I have called including those who do not vote as part of the mandate.)

I have been writing ‘A Stones Throw’ for nearly 10 years. I don’t get much response, but occasionally there is a letter to the editor with comments about one of my columns.

Those comments are always negative.

For a long time, it would bother me to see the negative comments.

No more.

Using the theory of inclusion, I have determined that everyone who reads ‘A Stones Throw’ and does not comment negatively agrees with what I have written.

That makes me feel better. Of course, those who send negative comments to the newspaper can use the theory of inclusion to include all the readers who do not write positive comments as showing 100-percent of readers don’t like what I write.

I like my use of inclusion better.

This brings me to one more thought. My favorite political cartoonist is Gary Varvel of the Indianapolis Star. I don’t always agree with him, but his cartoons are always decisive and to the point.

Last week, a Varvel cartoon showed a typical American family sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner. At the same time, the cartoon shows several “undocumented” people climbing through the window. There is a caption that indicates there will be new guests for dinner.

The intent of the cartoon was to show a negative response to President Obama’s executive order legalizing the five million “undocumented” aliens.

Some of the readers of the Indianapolis Star saw the cartoon as being racist.

In what has become a way of life, the Indianapolis Star looked at the comments of readers who felt the cartoon was racist and immediately pulled the cartoon from its website. Not only that, the Star issued a strong apology for including the cartoon in the first place.

Obviously, the Indianapolis Star uses the theory of inclusion – the few became the many.

And, the Indianapolis Star demonstrated it believes in censorship.

I have lost respect for the Indianapolis Star. I don’t think I will be able to read future articles in the Star without wondering whether the article has been censored.

When I read the Star’s apology, I was again reminded how lucky I am to have an editor like Pat Lanman. I have written 443 ‘A Stones Throw’ columns. I know most of my columns are not particularly controversial. I try to write a variety of topics, always with the fact that the Vevay Newspapers are family oriented. However, I also know that several of my columns, including this one, can be – and have been – controversial.

I also know that Pat, while he might grit his teeth at times, will never censor what I write.

For this I am thankful.

– Mike Cooney