Herb Palmer: Big effort seen to get out the vote
The big question in the important state and national elections on Nov. 7 will be the election of the president of the United States. Will your vote be like a little 1-inch firecracker, or will it join with millions of other firecrackers banded to...
The big question in the important state and national elections on Nov. 7 will be the election of the president of the United States. Will your vote be like a little 1-inch firecracker, or will it join with millions of other firecrackers banded together in one big package that when ignited will make you jump 2 feet in the air?
A recent phone call to Duluth's city clerk revealed there are about 53,701 registered voters in this busy metropolitan area. That number is expected to increase in the coming months. You may not wish to agree with all of them who have diversified opinions, but collectively you can become a power that will make the politicians do what you want them to do.
In the last presidential race in 1996, Bill Clinton received 47,401,186 votes, and Robert Dole received 39,197,469 votes. It was not very close, but it was decisive. Now, as the presidential campaigns swing into high gear, your vote could make a big difference. This election has become so important that the GOP says it will spend $100 million in an effort to get wavering or indifferent voters to actually vote.
A special division of the Republican National Committee and state Republican Party will try to take over the airwaves, the phone lines, the mailboxes and the doorsteps in the hope of boosting the turnout among those who seem more likely to come down on the side of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as well as other GOP candidates up and down the ticket. In 1996 and 1998, Democrats and their union allies did a better job of turning out their most reliable supporters.
Fred Meyer and his deputy, Maria Cinos, members of a Republican get out the vote committee, will have to decide how the mixture of "hard" and "soft" money will be used to comply with complex federal rules governing campaign finances. Perhaps half the money will be used for "issue ads" reinforcing the Bush campaign themes, but not exactly urging people to vote for him or other Republican candidates.
It could it be used to pay $13.7 million of overhead costs that would otherwise have to come out of the $69 million taxpayer funds Bush received several weeks ago for his general election campaign. The remainder is supposed to go into the grass-roots campaign to identify and then turn out independents, ticket splitters and weak bipartisan voters likely to vote for Bush and other GOP candidates ... if they bother to turn out. The ground war will not be as visible as the TV ads and campaign rallies. But if the race is close, the Bush campaign is seeking to ensure it won't lose for lack of trying to find and turn out every potential vote on Nov. 7.
While this is going on, it must be remembered that the voting public has also changed. There are many families who bought homes 50 years ago who can now sell them for double or triple that price, without having to pay penalty taxes. Not so with business or rental property, which is stuck with an unfair capital gains tax which can cost them as much as 30 to 40 percent of the selling price today.
But there is another side in this arena of control. States and cities are now taking the initiative in areas of taxation, several areas of employment legislation, electronic monitoring of workers, raising wage levels, child labor laws, combating domestic violence, protecting employers from liability, and things that affect costs and subjective taxation.
State legislatures can attack more controversial issues more quickly than Congress can. Controversial legislation seems to pass more easily in state capitols because the law-making bodies tend to be smaller and closer to their constituents. When activists can't get legislation passed by Congress, they are turning to the states to get what they want.
The living wage legislation has also resulted in a few areas that would prohibit states from imposing salary levels that exceed the state minimum wage laws. The movement to pass employment discrimination about genetic testing was one of the first successes for activists. Wisconsin passed the nation's first law banning genetic testing and discrimination by employers in 1991. In 1996, New Jersey passed the first comprehensive workplace genetic discrimination laws.
In June this year, 34 states had taken some action on equal pay legislation. New Hampshire's governor signed a bill making it easier for women to bring equal pay claims in the state. In Alabama and South Dakota, legislators passed resolutions urging employers to review male and female pay patterns.
Around the country, millions of civic activists, labor unions and church leaders have come together to boost wages for low-paid workers. Ten states and the District of Columbia joined together to lobby for higher wages for low-paid workers. California, Connecticut and Maryland have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against victims of crime or domestic violence for taking time off to appear in court. In Maine, violence victims must be given leave to attend court or receive medical treatments.
In response to the growing number of working mothers, several states including Minnesota and Tennessee have passed laws requiring employers to accommodate nursing mothers who want to breast-feed their infants. It's the perceived little things that have become big things in state legislatures.
(Editor's Note: Material in this column has been obtained from news articles written by David S. Broder and Kirsten Downey Grimsley in the Washington Post national weekly edition.)
On the lighter side...
The bottom line
A woman went to visit a friend who was babysitting her 6-year-old grandson and the newest arrival, a granddaughter. She hadn't seen the baby girl, and when she arrived at the house, the little boy said, "Come see my sister."
The lad then led his grandmother's friend into the nursery, where the baby had been put down for a nap. "She's beautiful," said the friend. "And I'll bet she's already spoiled."
The baby's big brother thought for a moment, then replied, "Naw, she's not spoiled. She smelled like that when they brought her home from the hospital."
Middle of the road
You've reached middle age when you're not inclined to exercise anything but caution.
-- Saturday Evening Post