PHOENIXVILLE - The election excitement has been building during the past month as television prepares to give the various candidates plenty of air (mostly hot) time to debate the issues that are important to them. In a democracy every voter has the privilege to vote for the person of his or her choice, right?
During my cub reporter days about 56 years ago, I often volunteered to do the timely "Man on the Street" interviews to seek opinions on various subjects. As neither my legs nor ambition will support such an opportunity, I decided to use a compendium of overheard dialogue to take the pulse of public opinion before next Tuesday's primary election.
What - you didn't know that there is primary election being held on April 27, 2004? Well don't expect too much information about it here. After all, I enjoy satire even when I'm the scapegoat. The following questions and answers are an attempt for you to seek more accurate information than you'll find in this column. Then maybe you'll vote on Tuesday after learning actual facts. Then again maybe you won't.
NOTE: The following initials represent fictional people except for the speaker (PJ). The ideas expressed represent actual dialogue heard somewhere by someone.
PJ: "Are you voting in the primary election to be held next Tuesday?" The first seven people I asked moved right on past. Obviously their mommies had told them, "Never speak to strangers," or they had no idea what I was talking about. My guess was the latter. Finally I found a brave soul who answered the question.
BS (Bush Supporter): "The president has no one running against him and there is no doubt that he will beat Kerry in November."
PJ: "There are other decisions to be made on Tuesday. For example, there is a very important race for the Senate seat that appears to be very close at the moment."
BS: "Forget it, I just vote straight Republican every time."
PJ: "Have you ever voted in a primary election before, sir?
BS: "Of course, when I was in high school we had a primary election to pick candidates for student council officers and then had real voting machines to select the final winners. But there was no political parties involved there."
PJ: "Perhaps you might enjoy going to the polls on Tuesday to see the importance of the choices to be made."
AM: "I overheard those remarks. I think primary elections are a waste of time. The boys in the back rooms have already decided the candidates for each party so why waste time and money that could be spent on beating Bush in November."
PJ: "Young lady, I suppose you have never heard of Hillary Clinton or other Congress persons of the feminine gender? Some think she might be our president in 2008!
AM: "I'd never vote for her or any other woman. They can't be trusted and I know."
PJ: "Great Britain had a female Prime Minister and she was very successful. There are many American women who would make excellent presidents but too many ladies prefer a handsome man. You have the majority vote in numbers available, you know."
HM: "The lady is right. We have no democracy because a few people decide our president in something called a party caucus. Who decided our presidential candidates?" The majority of the people wouldn't have picked Charley McCarthy and Herman Munster as some call them. Look up the definition of caucus. The word is defined as a closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party as I recall. "Does anyone know the names of the individuals who chose the candidates in each state? Who chose those who met behind the closed doors? Was there even a list on TV or in the newspaper?"
CS: "I love a good political discussion. They want to get rid of the Electoral College. At least they must vote for the candidate who took the most votes in each state. Why bother with political conventions when the decisions were made months before the circus comes to town? The caucus circus must go.
PJ: "Hold up, folks. I can't write this fast and I want to get your quotes correct. HM, please don't judge people by their looks. If you believe neither candidate worthy of the office, how can the situation be corrected?"
HM: "The large corporations control both parties so I don't plan to vote anyway!"
ST: "This is not a democracy but a Republic! It is up to us to take part in local, state and national government or stop complaining. If we don't bother to get the facts, know the candidates and vote, we get what we deserve. Honesty begins on the local level and must be consistent as candidates move to higher offices."
TG: "One of the most foolish lies fed to the American people is to use quotes made by a candidate in previous years. The best officials evaluate every situation and make decisions based on current facts. Who knows how each of us would react in a pressure situation? Our nation has produced many courageous leaders who made judgments for the best interests of the people at that time. Who would you like to see as our next president, PJ?"
PJ: "My choice in 2000 would have been former Secretary of State James Baker, a Hill School graduate. He was one of the architects of the Soviet breakup. I believe that his philosophy would have been to split the Middle East into little pieces as happened in Russia. But that is hindsight. However, no one asked me. But don't forget to vote on Tuesday."