inessential by Brent Simmons


In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. In 1976 they reversed that ruling.

Don't think things change? Sure they do.

It's fashionable this election season, as it often is, to say there are no differences between the two major parties, that they're both in the pockets of big business.

Somewhat true. Rather true. But not true enough to be true.

Here's an issue where it's not true: abortion. There is a difference between the two parties here -- and the opportunity for the next president to make major changes.

Do you care about this issue? I hope you do. Remember: things change. (That may be heartening or dis-heartening to you when applied to the abortion issue.)

People often say they don't have litmus tests. I do. I'll vote or not vote for a candidate based on their position on abortion.

Luckily, one party has a stand on abortion that I agree with, so I vote for candidates from that party.

The other day I saw part of the infamous Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate of 1960. (Yes, Nixon looked awful -- apparently he was getting over a cold. Kennedy had just returned from campaigning in California. He was tan and attractive. Both were good speakers. Kennedy won the TV version of the debate -- Nixon won the radio version. Same debate, but TV beat radio. History.)

Kennedy said something that struck me. He said that one had to choose which person and which party was the right one to lead the country. He said he was from the party that had produced Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. He didn't try to downplay his partisanship -- he sounded proud.

Nixon could have said the same thing -- and mentioned Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. (And perhaps he did; I didn't hear the entire debate.)

What struck me was that it didn't used to be a bad thing to say: I'm the xxxxx candidate, and here are the guys that came before me, and I'm going to try and be like them.