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Gerrymandering belongs on ash heap of history
The Supreme Court once again has failed the American people by sidestepping a ruling that would have (and clearly should have) blocked states from drawing election maps intended to help one political party dominate the other. It’s called “gerrymandering.” The term was first used in 1812, when Elbridge Gerry was governor of Massachusetts, with the intent of characterizing that state’s redistricting plan. Gerry persuaded the state legislature to create a district in order to favor the election of a fellow Republican. Because of the district’s unique shape, one critic reportedly observed, “that looks like a salamander!” to which another observer quipped, “that’s not a salamander, that’s a gerrymander.” Since that time, gerrymander has become a common term to describe how legislatures manipulate and rig elections to favor one party over another. When such a condition exists, we, the voters, are not choosing our representatives, they are choosing us. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s acquiescence in the matter, having unanimously found “procedural faults” (technicalities) with challenges brought by Democratic voters in Wisconsin and Republicans in Maryland, voters in those states as well as Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina (where legislatures controlled by one party have also drawn gerrymandered district lines), will continue to be denied their constitutional right to equal protection through the weakening of their votes by their own elected representatives. We often lament that our children are not learning enough about our government in school. I think the argument could be made that our leaders don’t know as much as they should or are simply neglecting their obligations as representatives of the people. There are three branches of government; the Executive (the President), the Legislative (Congress), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court). Although each branch has its own authority, they are not completely separate or independent of one another, they are threaded together by a system of “checks and balances” that subject each branch to a number of constitutional checks, or restraints, by the other branches. These checks and balances were designed by the Founding Fathers to prevent a concentration of power in any one branch and to protect the rights and liberties of citizens. Gerrymandering, by simple definition, is clearly defiant of the spirit and intent of the Constitution, and the Founders, and to allow it to spread across our country and permeate our democratic republic like a cancer is wrongheaded, irresponsible, reprehensible and undermines the very fabric of our society. By failing to toss gerrymandering on the ash-heap of history where it belongs, the Supreme Court admits it’s incapable of performing its duty of interpreting the Constitution. Therefore it’s left to us, the people, to correct this terrible wrong, and the stakes have never been higher.
David Snell – Franklin, N.C.
America foots the drug bill for the world
While it was always clear that bringing a new drug to the market is very expensive for the pharmaceutical companies, what was never brought out is Americans are paying for the research and development of new drugs. In short, Europeans sell the drugs we develop at a fraction of what must be charged here in America. How do they do that? It’s easy, they simply have laws putting a lid on the price of drugs sold in Europe. What may cost us $50 for a pill will cost them $5 for the same pill. Ain’t that neat. We foot the bill for all research and development. Given it takes between $1 billion and $2 billion to bring a drug from the laboratory to the market and that only 1 in 12 actually make it, the burden is on Americans. Is there any wonder why so many drugs are so expensive when pharmaceutical companies must maintain huge reserves or simply go broke when one or two of the new drugs never make it out of the laboratory? As President Trump said, we have been the world’s piggy bank and it’s time we put a stop to it. In the meantime, we’ve been financing China’s new rail systems, highways and military. China actually now has more billionaires that we have in America. They’ve been getting rich off of us not only through our buying stuff on the cheap through online retailers like Amazon but have stolen much of our scientific and intellectual properties. We may be the wealthiest nation in the world but we are bleeding ourselves out of business and we must put a stop to it. The recent tariff war is probably just the beginning. On the other hand, let’s hope President Trump can force them to come to the bargaining table and make a deal we can all live with. Europe as well as China have a lot to lose so it will be to their best interests to work with President Trump.
Bob Wilson – Franklin, N.C.
Where are all the thinking people?
I am driven to write this in order to express my grave concerns about the current climate in this great country. I admit that I am now a very confused, a very unhappy, and a very disillusioned citizen. Our current president sickens and disgusts me at every core of my being; however, nothing he does, should, at this point, shock or surprise me or anyone else. What does shock me is the otherwise good and decent people in this country who seem to be enjoying the shock and awe frenetic bulldozing being perpetrated by this unqualified and unstable individual. I have to wonder if U Tube and social media have led people to believe that they are watching, or somehow participating in, some twisted reality show where he is the “tell it like it is” host, and there are no real consequences. Where are the thinking people who, just a few short years ago, would never have considered tolerating the appalling behavior we are confronted with on a daily basis by this ignorant and unfit individual? Yes, I suppose I am one the “bleeding heart” liberals, and yes, right now I am incredibly proud of it. At least I will someday be able to look my future grandchildren in the face with a clear conscience about where I stood at this critical precipice in our nation’s history. I will be able to say that I spoke out and wasn’t one of the happy cult followers, gleefully “flipping off” the cultural elite, educated snobs and pansy liberals. People in this country can pretend that what is going on at our southern borders has nothing to do with race. If it weren’t so sad, it would be laughable. Would any of this be happening if our white neighbors to the North and East were in this situation? Of course not. History has shown that Europeans, whether good people or not, were welcomed to this country in mass, but what about Asians and Latinos? Laws were then, and are now, being put on the books to stop the influx of these dark-skinned “foreigners” who look different, eat differently, worship differently, speak differently, and are culturally different from those of us of western European descent. Let me assert my observations about Latino families. I taught in a public school for 20 years. In that time, I observed that it was Latino parents who would miss work to attend parent conferences, unfailingly supportive and respectful in both attitude and language. It was Latino parents who always provided school supplies and anything else that was needed by their children to be successful in school. It was Latino parents who valued a free education and instilled those values and a strong work ethic into their children. If not successful at first, then (gasp) the child would be sternly disciplined. It was Latino parents who would sit away from other parents, but show up for their kids’ soccer games or other sporting event and (gasp) put down their phones and actually watch the game. It is Latino families I see on Sunday afternoon, after church, spending time with their families at local parks. It is Latino families I see on Sunday afternoons happily shopping together at Walmart. It is a Latino family that lives in my neighborhood that I see walking together in the evenings after dinner, chatting and laughing as they go by. As I reflect on these observations, I am firmly convinced that Latinos love and value their families above all else. When I see how they are being treated with such disregard and disrespect, and how these families are being callously ripped apart, I think about the long-term effect on the psyche of both the children and the adults in this despicable situation, and can these effects ever be fully measured? I guess the real question is, do people even bother to ponder these issues, or, for that matter, even care? Are we doing what we have traditionally done in the past, dehumanizing a race of people in order to get them to bend to our will, whatever form that may take or what it might do to them personally? Outrage and righteous indignation should be felt by all thinking people of good faith in this country right now, regardless of political affiliation. Where are more of the Christian voices and moral leadership that we so desperately need at this crucial moment? In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. stated in a speech, “… what will be remembered will not be the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but the inaction and appalling silence of the good people…” Who is willing to have the courage, or yes, the temerity, to step up and speak out against this current administration and its inhumane practices, force-fed to us in the guise of “the law?” We are all human beings. Period. Shouldn’t that be a higher law?
Rexanna Duvall – Franklin, N.C.
Dog owner just wants her pet back
I have to wonder at times if it would be better to take the law into your own hands and face the consequences later. The court system is so slow to do things in a civil manner you could die of old age and your case would never be heard. I’m a law-abiding citizen born and raised in the Cullasaja Community and a decorated public servant of 35 years. Stricken with my own illness I came home to be with family, giving up all my possessions except for my dog. He’s been missing since January and the people who have him want $1,000 ransom which I refuse to pay and they refuse to surrender him to me. I promised my only child on his death bed I would get our dog Sprocket back. We found him on the side of the road, hit by a car, his owner left him there to die. The vet wanted to put him to sleep, I said no. I paid over $2,000 to fix him and made a sling to help him learn to walk again. He became a great pet therapy dog and guard dog. He protected me from a would-be rapist and a viscious pit bull attack. He was not neutered and wandered from home. He was considered a stray but when you find a stray the law says you have to report it to animal control. You cannot claim it as yours for 10 days. This was not done and no effort put forth to find the owner. I will never understand how human beings can be so heartless. You may have my dog but you’ll never have his heart.
Regina Bishop – Franklin, N.C.