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THE GREATEST PEOPLE YOU COULD EVER KNOW – Chapter 58

                                    New Arrivals

                               Researchers taking a picture break                                    

 It pained Aili every time I told her story, making her a greater prize for it. Her Vote Smart work was, of course, exceptional, and years later after going on with her life, she became both a great success and one of Vote Smart’s major contributors.

 As it turned out, Aili was unusual but not unique. There would be other brilliant, committed young and old steaming through our doors, far more applicants than we could possibly accommodate.

 So many interns, and member volunteers were flooding the ranch that the entire office staff agreed to move to town, 26 rough miles away to make room.

 I couldn’t keep up with the media recognition they received coast to coast, so I hired a clipping service to capture stories and mentions of their work. Imagine one of those New York Ticker Tape parades burying Broadway somewhere underneath, only with all the tapes smothering our office ceiling.

 Usage of our data was going into the millions but none of it seemed to increase our contributions. Were we too academic? Was the truth, the facts just too boring? Was non-partisan politics unstimulating and unappreciated Was outrageousness winning the day? Was what we were doing wrong, what was I doing wrong?

 Was I not advertising it enough? I paid for a full-page ad in the New York Times ($90,000) and PSAs that played on dozens of radio and TV stations across the country.

                      Full page ad New York Times

 Was we too complicated. It took almost ten seconds per issue.  I had the staff build Political Galaxy, an interactive tool where a user would only need the name of a candidate and any issues they were interested in, and everything associated would instantly appear.

 More users, but still little financial help!

 The accolades continued to come, the users continued to grow, but the funds were stagnant, running about one million to $1.5 million a year, a whole lot of nothing when compared to the billions now being spent by candidates to manipulate emotions.

 My first thought was it was because the “Greatest Generation” was dying off? Then maybe because civics education had been decimated and people had no sense of what it takes to self-govern?

 Vote Smart could only keep doing what it was doing and hope that new term “viral” would eventually apply to us.

 I was miserable and a noxious poison to everyone. I just did not get why we were not hitting what I called “critical mass,” where every citizen understood they did not have to take it anymore.

 For eighteen years our Ranch operated without adequate funds necessary to hire experienced hotel, maintenance, food, or recreational managers. We existed because I put more pressure on interns and staff who were willing to take it for a time.  The best of them, those who could stand the line doubled down on their efforts. With some I was able to combine departments or slice the very best, brightest, and most committed right in two. They would spend their days doing what they were terrific at—research–and their nights trying to keep the whole place organized, doling out domestic chores, cooking, maintenance or simply hand holding the homesick or the partiers sick on snuck in booze.

 Aili, Cornelia, Jessica, Sara, Becky, Lisa, Josh, Brandon, Brian, Ruth, Jerry, Kathy, Sally, Pat, Steve, J. J., Al, Jean, Jim, Marsha, Aaron, Laura, Goldie–even Good Bunnie and Bad Bunnie, nick names staff gave to two of our member volunteers named Bunny, all come to mind in advancing us toward the Grail.

 Hope Springs Eternal: Despite the financial issues, I continued to build as if user success would develop financial success, tomorrow, and if not, then the next day.

 We built additions to offices, new cabins, a library, saved the historic 1800’s homestead cabin, built a basketball/tennis court, new bridges, a horse barn, boat dock, a two-story tree house and two-story gazebo with rocking chairs and swinging seats overlooking the river and wilderness to enjoy for the hundreds coming to help over the years. For those less adventurous we constructed a beautiful library overlooking our lake with thousands of books and a bus – well the buss was not for enjoyment it was for work and took off one day going thousands of miles from coast to coast stopping everywhere they were invited which seemed everywhere.

    National Bus Tour

 Everyone struggled, everyone gave and boy, did they hang together.

 Take BOO BOO, a name she earned one excruciating night, an exceptionally talented intern in both the office and out on various wilderness roads, where she would run enormous distances after work, including that night she never returned.

 As the sun began to set, panic set in. My first call was to local Search and Rescue where I was told they did not work after dark – “too dangerous at night,” they said. That would not stop her friends, which were everybody. I put together water bottles, flashlights, and whistles to organize teams of three to go out on likely routes. But word of Search and Rescue’s refusal got out before I could gather them. I had to chase down her besties who had headed out on their own without any of those things. I planned routes to search, times to report back, for fear we would have not one, but a dozen youngsters out lost or hurt in the dark, with no knowledge of where they went.

 A half dozen teams were organized and sent out, on specific trails outlined on my map with a specific time to be back, or else others would go out looking for them, a rule I gave as a threat.

 The searches went on through the night – no sign of BOO BOO. Four hours in, I had to make a second call, the most horrid of calls, to her parents.

 With dawn the local Search and Rescue team finally arrived in a room full of the disheartened, limp-legged young people. The very first words they said were, “It was probably a mountain lion.”

 The wails and tears instantly pounded the lodge walls. I did what I do on some occasions: I boiled, ordering the rescuers out of the lodge to go do whatever it was they do.

 It was 10 am when “BOO BOO” walked in the door. One of our search teams had found her walking down a remote dirt road. I immediately had to excuse myself and go blubber on my own where no one would see me.

 “BOO BOO” had gotten lost by mistaking a path that was a long deer route, typical in Montana, eventually petering out. As darkness fell, she did what her Eagle Scout twin brother had once told her, “Find the biggest tree, it will cast your odor out the furthest for the search dogs and cover yourself with any leaves, pine needles or whatever you can to insulate against the cold.”

 She did just that. In the middle of the night when a couple of bears paid her a visit, she successfully defended her bed of forest rubbish by growling two little ghostly words: “BOO! BOO!”. Thus her new name.

 The staff and interns made things GREAT even in the dead of winter. One year they organized the Cold As Hell National Football League where lunches were spent fighting it out in the snow.  They even had a Commissioner who kept each player’s statistics, in case you think these people weren’t great at stats.

                Vote Smart Follies Thespians

     Summer Olympics, Vote Smart Style

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder 1988

Sign up on my Blog at: richardkimball.org

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HOME FOR VOTE SMART  – Chapter 52

 It is an odd thing when you lose your second parent, no matter what your age, you instantly sense an orphan’s loneliness in the world.

 Maxine Christy Kimball’s four sons secretly spread her ashes around the old family home, the home she had sold a couple dozen years before and I would buy back in a dozen more.

 The first ten years at Oregon State and Northeaster Universities were exciting times, and we completed many of our initial startup plans. Some mistakes were made, like the time we gave $40,000 to a mailing company to print and mail out 300,000 of our brochures and letters to potential supporters, only to find zero interest or return on the mailing. An impossible result. The cocky youngster I had hired to run our Membership Department reported that all had gone smoothly with the mailing company and that she had simply misplaced the Post Office receipt, our insurance that the mailing was actually mailed before paying.

 On a following weekend, I drove to the town where the mailing company was located and stopped in to get a copy of that receipt. No one was there but the place looked more closed than just closed for the weekend. I walked around the building, looking in the windows.  The place was filthy, and I could not make out any equipment. Then through a back window, squinting I could make out rows of stacked and banded envelopes and recognized our logo even at a distance.  They had not mailed any of the 300,000 letters. On Monday I returned, the place was as closed as it had been the day before.  They would never open again, we would never see that $40,000, and suing a bankrupt company seemed bad money chasing bad money.

 I let the Membership Director go, lending to a sense amongst young staff that covering up a mistake might not be better than owning up to it, maybe even $40,000 better.

 I was tough on everyone. “Bigger, Better, Faster, Cheaper” says the Daffy Duck statue on my desk. I lived by that motto, and drummed it into everyone every day.

 When I saw anyone wasting anything I would pull out my wallet and read three notes, amongst the hundreds that had been written to me by contributors. The first one was from a mother who had clearly sealed up her letter, thought again, reopened it, and added a P.S. in another color pen:

“Dear Vote Smart:

 I am sorry!  I am an unemployed, single mother of three and simply cannot afford to give you anything.  But I wanted you to know that what you are doing is just wonderful and how much I appreciate it.

 What you are doing is so long overdue.

                                 Sincerely,

                                 Mrs. McGillicutty

P.S. I have decided that I can’t afford not to contribute. Enclosed is my $35.”

——

Dear Vote Smart:

 I have been in government for 27 years and you folks are the first really good thing I have ever seen. I am now retired and living off Social Security which is just enough to cover my food and medicine.  I decided I can do without the medicine this month. Enclosed is my $35.

                                   Bill Thomas

——

Dear Project Vote Smart:

 I can’t afford $40. I lost my husband and have been in the hospital for a month.  But I can give you $10. God bless every one of you.

                          Mary Mitchell

 I would read one of these to a careless staffer or student and ask, “What do you think Mrs. McGillicutty would say if you spent her $35 that way?”

 It was very effective. Mrs. McGillicutty gave us $35 and saved us thousands.

 Over those first 10 years we were doing well, had climbed to over 40,000 members, but our annual budget was a paltry 1.2 million, or less than one percent of what citizens spend helping congressional candidates’ trash each other.

 Years earlier when I was Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, a conservative columnist who I thought disliked me, wrote a piece referring to me as Daffy Duck. The article was shockingly flattering, ending with “All is ducky at the Commission.” That started a torrent of Daffy Duck gifts for the next thirty years. I would eventually name my log office, which had a short door, The Duck Inn, which had double meaning to any staff or intern invited in.

 I hoarded every penny and demanded more, much more, a kind of slavishness that would envy Scrooge. In retribution, the staff presented me a statue. I lived by its motto and relentlessly drummed it into everyone, every day.

 Our staff had grown from one to 36 but the number of interns was dropping because all those who qualified for internships had already finished them.

 We decided to try and extend our internships to other universities across the country in a National Internship Program and advertised the internship opportunities at our two campus offices.

 The applications poured in, far more than we could accept, with most of the young wanting to dip their beaks into the high mountains, volcanos and beaches many had never seen in the Pacific Northwest of Oregon rather than Northeastern.

 National Interns working full-time for 10 weeks were far more productive than the local students coming in for just a few hours each week, as if Vote Smart were just another class. Adding to the bonus, National Interns became a great source of new pre-trained staff once they had graduated.

 What we needed was more space. Both universities had doubled our space, but we needed far more if we were going to continue on track and start covering primaries and local races.

 To build our own research facility and with a bit of inheritance from my mother, I purchased a gorgeous nine-acre property covering both sides of the Alsea River about 30 minutes from the Oregon State campus.

 I thought it perfect, nestled in the mountains in what I considered a short drive from campus. As I walked the property line, the sounds of children splashing in the river added to my confidence. When I approached the river I pushed back the shrubs lining it and peered through the mist to see no children at all.

 Dumfounded, I began to turn back when from nothing at all I saw a wave rise and travel most unnaturally upstream.

 It was fast and magical, then suddenly as it approached falls tumbling over a large boulder, the wave broke and into the air it flew.

 I never saw a salmon run. It was mesmerizing. A good omen I thought, something else swimming against the flow, out on a quest for its version of the Grail.

 Turned out that a thirty-mile commute into the mountains was not what Vote Smart staff or students were hoping for. Many having seen my “children” splashing in rivers before.

 The second effort to buy a place of our own was a large 5000 sq. ft. home being sold for back taxes. Located at the end of a cul-de-sac, it had a back deck casting a view over some of the most luscious productive land in the world—what the Oregon Trail led to—the Willamette River Valley.

 The owner happened to be in prison, not so much for the taxes owed as for the factory set up in his basement to build weapons of mass destruction, or what the 2nd Amendment had been written for: The sale and distribution of automatic weapons of mass death with armor piercing bullets.

 Anyway, I thought this site perfect too. Adelaide, my wife, not so much.  With a look that mixed pity with disbelief, Adelaide questioned, “You see it is in a neighborhood, don’t you?”  “Yes” I responded, “Once they find out what we are up to, they will be proud to have us operating next door.  I’ll bet most of them will come over as volunteers!” 

 This is what Adelaide was up against. Sometimes my ability to be out of touch with reality was in every conceivable dimension so astounding as to suggest a pre-frontal intervention by Cuisinart. You probably thought as much yourself from that prior story, but I tell you this, the whole truth here, I simply thought what we were doing was so clearly needed, so glorious, so momentous that every American would instantly understand, would want to play a part, be a part, any part, of this historic re-birth of democracy.

 Turns out that the prison guy still had some say and hoped to get out and revive his business in gore.

 It is unfortunate that I could not close that deal. It would have provided me with the education that Vote Smart so needed me to have about my species.

 When we finally did purchase property, this time with Vote Smart resources, I got that education and an exposure to the ugly in our natures.

 Ten miles from campus on the Mary’s River, a creek really, we found what all would think the most private of settings.

 The property was down a dirt track that disappeared into a forest of Oaks, crossed a tiny single lane bridge, dead ending at a large barn and small house on a 50-acre farm without a neighbor or other structure in sight.

 We purchased the property and named it Agora Farms after the original spot in Greece where many of our notions of democracy came to be.

 We began fund raising with our members to pay it off, renovate the barn into offices and living quarters, and began the zoning process to build a research facility the hill side.  It seemed such a simple thing. It never occurred to me that anyone would fight the permit, but I had overestimated my own kind – educated, comfortable, self-righteous, progressive, white people.

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder 1988

Sign up on my Blog at: richardkimball.org

or

Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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WHERE IS THAT ELECTORAL COLLEGE? – Chapter 47

Night Shift 

With Adelaide and Lorena, the notion that was Project Vote Smart began to sputter to life.  Adelaide gave the effort stability, maturity and dignity, Lorena provided an encyclopedic political knowledge and seasoned research skills, the volunteers and interns afforded us the capacity, while I came with a whip. With the whip I would learn to take blood from the lazy, unfocused, or any naive innocence that came to my attention, either in fact or imagination.

 The young inexperienced helpers coming in the door were excited and off on an exciting adventure, whereas I dressed my brain each day in battle fatigues and went off to war. The two did not mix all that well–I was ruthless.

 Almost all the young people we hired came with a kind of wide eyed excitement not yet tempered by life’s lessons. For a few the most arresting lesson was the work itself. In time, I would come to understand that some modern young Americans thought life’s lessons were easy and free, and that adulthood and the imagined respect they thought came with it required no more effort than what naturally occurred in their having grown an adult sized body. 

 Most of these young cubs would rise to the effort often in impressive ways, while some discovered that doing something worth doing required the kind of sustained straining that had just never been in their experience.  Pointing out an error or suggesting some improvement could be devastating or even produce anger and in the worst cases I would later learn a kind of childish revenge.  I slowly learned the lessons of a seasoned diplomat. In the rarest and most troubling cases there were a few who, although committed and willing, had parents who so successfully guarded them from any uncomfortable experience in life that they had no experience whatsoever, rendering them incapable of effectively doing much of anything.

 No one was more loyal, kind and determined than Beth. She was on her way to becoming a schoolteacher and she would make a good one, designing her own assignments, but like a few others, her compassionate soul had been waylaid by the rumor that Project Vote Smart was seeking citizens to save the nation, which was actually true.

 For an array of reasons, nothing this sweet young lady did was not made worse for her having done it.  I hated the thought of dismissing anyone, particularly one who cared and tried so hard, but it would have saved us a significant sum to have paid her not to work.

 Late one morning in frustration, I gave her a task that could not go wrong. We needed a tiny piece of wood to repair our conference table which had a splintery spot that caught and tore people’s clothing. I wanted her to walk a few blocks to a lumber store where she might purchase a small piece of wood to cover the spot.  I worked with her, wrote out the dimensions, 2” by 8”, told her to purchase the piece as cheaply as she could, it was just a patch. Certain that she knew where the lumber store was, I told her the store would cut a piece to those dimensions for a dollar or two and sent her on her way.

 A half hour later, late for a lecture I was to give, I rushed out the front door to see Beth walking back from the lumber store empty handed. As I ran past, I yelled, “Where is the little piece of wood?”  Disappearing around the corner she yelled a response, “They’re going to deliver it after lunch.”  Oh God.

 Returning a few hours later I found a lumber delivery truck in front of our office and two men carrying up an enormous 8×4 ft. sheet of plywood. I bounded up the stairs to ask Beth what was going on! “Where is the little piece of wood you went to get?”  “Why, it’s on the conference table.”  And so it was, sitting there right on top, my little spot of wood exactly as I wanted it.

 As the two men entered the room and propped the 8 foot plank against the wall, I noticed that a little notch had been cut off one corner.  The bill, plus delivery, was a hundred and something.

 Beth, seeing my disbelief offered, “They said the cheapest kind of wood they sold was plywood, so I bought the plywood and had them cut out the piece you needed.” A perfectly logical following of my instructions.

 I tell that story because she was not unique, amongst our interns or first jobbers. Thankfully, more often than not, we found ready talent and in the most surprising places. Impressive, idealistic young people who, given the chance and wanting to make a difference in the world, awed us with their ability to learn, apply and lead. I think of Angela, a sporting goods clerk; Jodi, a Mary K Cosmetics saleswoman and single mom; Alex, a recent law school graduate; Julie, the university provost’s daughter; and Mike, a mostly self-taught whiz kid in the new IT field.  They, along with some heavenly-sent interns, put the Grail within our sights.

 By Election Day we had compiled basic background research on almost 1400 candidates for federal offices.  We covered every congressional candidate; if they filed, we covered them, including: Mickey Mouse, the Lord God Almighty (apparently  residing in Las Vegas) and even a few running for office from prison cells. If rules allowed them to file and make the ballot under any name from any address, we covered them.  The “Lord God Almighty,” on the ballot under just that name and who understandably lived and worked where he was most needed, lost. Other flakey candidates lost too, but not necessarily to those less flakey.  My point is that we covered everyone. We made no distinctions, if they made the ballot, we were on it and collected every detail we could.

 We had set up a “Voter’s Research Hotline” bank of 50 phones, and staff, interns and volunteers were well trained and ready to answer them all.  Next to each phone we placed an industrial strength metal catalogue stand with binders we called “The Bible,” each containing hundreds of pages of data. Each caller would have their own personal researcher to look up whatever they needed to know.  Voters’ inquiries poured in over the lines.   At the end of each day, research teams marched in from the research room and added new pages of data to the bibles from that day’s research: the candidates newly announced, new votes, ratings, issue positions, money or new biographical details were all refreshed and updated in all 50 bibles.

 Somewhere early in the process we recognized that many citizens wanted paper copies of the information, or what one student called “data on dead trees.” So, we published a Voter’s Self-Defense Manual giving 100-page samplings of the data we had collected on each state’s congressional delegation and some brochures urging citizens to take control, be the boss, fight back, reclaim our power from a Washington that had grown out-of-touch and self-obsessed.

 What the staff, students and volunteers had managed to do in little more than a year was remarkable by any standard. The only serious problem occurred the month, I ran out of money to pay the small paychecks staff depended on to live.  I had known for weeks that funds weren’t coming in as fast as they were going out and with each payroll, we nudged closer to financial death.  Not wanting to dampen the enthusiasm, the work, the enormous progress we were making, I had said little, but they knew anyway.  I had been counting on another $25,000 grant from a goddess named Geri Mannion, Vote Smart’s program officer at the Carnegie Corporation who had magically saved us before, but it had not materialized and so the day came.

 Vote Smart went broke and so was I. I gathered the entire staff on the lawn outside our Oregon State University offices.  I filled them in on the details of our dilemma.  There was simply not enough money to both make payroll and to maintain the programs, and something was going to have to give.   I told them I would give each department five minutes to argue why their department was so important that we could not cut it.  I do not know if the staff met in advance and organized what happened next or not, but they got me, they got me good!

 Lorena, heading the Research Department, clearly the most crucial department, stood up first. “I do not care if you cannot pay me, but don’t you dare cut my program,” then she simply sat down.  My recollection of how long I held it together is pretty foggy, but I would guess I was able to keep my face on for two or three others that got up and said essentially the same thing before I had to excuse myself.

 The episode ended with my only missing payroll by three days.  Geri did come through with another $25,000 grant, I paid everyone and swore to myself I would never go through such a meeting again.  I quietly began a policy of adding 10 to 15% miscellaneous to all future grant requests, and hording it for any such future rainy day.

 A few months into our Oregon move, an eccentric, political gadfly with enough money to run for president named Ross Perot called.  Ambitious but earnest, this fellow was about to launch a quixotic campaign against both the Republican, George H. Bush and Democrat, Bill Clinton, candidates for president.  He wanted us to send him a box of our materials, brochures, pamphlets, press announcements and anything else we might have written. Naively thinking he was going to distribute them in support of us we were happy to oblige. Two weeks later he launched his campaign, using lines pulled directly from the texts of our press releases, manuals, and brochures: Voter Defense, Be the Boss, Take Charge, Fight Back, etc.  With Mr. Perot’s status just above goofball, but lower than mainstream, we just hoped he would help Vote Smart or at least give our people some credit.  Neither acknowledgement nor support for Vote Smart ever found its way into his adopted rhetoric.

 In the spring before that 1992 November election we had received a call from a PBS program called The McNeil/Lehrer News Hour.  This news show, popular amongst those few able to tie their own political shoes, wanted to do a story on “this idea called Vote Smart.”

 Unsurprised by the NewsHour’s attentions, I simply wondered how long it would take NPR, the radio version of public broadcasting, to discover and do stories about Vote Smart. That, as it turned out, would take more time than I would have on the planet.

  PBS would continue their interest with other interviews including a program called Adam Smith’s Money World.  Arriving at Adam Smith’s studio in Washington, DC a bit late, they rushed me in and slapped a little microphone on my lapel.  The host then spent a nice 30-minutes grilling me about this great new idea called Vote Smart. However, the interesting and telling part of the program happened after the cameras were turned off.  I had stood up, un-hooked the clip-on mic and said to the host, “Thank you for having us on, Mr. Smith.” The bemused look on “Mr. Smith’s” face struck me as strange. Then he put his two hands on my shoulders and said, “My name is Goodman, Mr. Smith died 200 years ago.” 

 So, The NewsHour and Adam Smith’s Money World would be the only prominent national stories that year that told what we were doing and how we were doing it. We would learn that it was the how we were doing it part that conquered voter cynicism, their disbelief and growing lack of trust in any political organization.

 Smith’s Money World generated hundreds of calls but on the evening The NewsHour played their Vote Smart segment things went a bit differently. I was so distracted with other work and so certain that it was merely a tiny taste of the feast to come that I did not watch. While all the staff and students were over at our university Hotline office, I was working in our main downtown office alone and that is how I came to answer the phone after hours and savor such sweet angry words.

 “What the Hell is this Project Vote Smart?” the caller obnoxiously demanded. The Vice President of Northwestern Bell, the telephone operating company covering the seven-state northwestern region of the country, our region, was not happy.  “Why, want’s the problem?” I asked.  It turns out that ten seconds after The NewsHour program ended the telephone company was hit with 35,000 simultaneous calls to one number, our toll-free Hotline. That spike caused Bell’s computers to crash.  I offered a somber apology even as my brain squealed in delight.

 I hung up and called the campus office. It was busy. I kept hitting redial, busy, busy and busy. I grabbed my coat and jogged over to campus. Everyone was on the phones or running around like excited ants in a sugar bowl.

 Again, we slept with the phones, we did not want to miss a single caller, “Where have you been, I have been calling for two hours?”  Followed by the most wonderful words, “How can I help.”  Over the next seven days, thousands of new supporters and tens of thousands of dollars joined the effort.

 The 1992 election day drew near, and no other network program had called to do a story, so we began to call them so often we became an irritant.  We thought we were the perfect election season NPR story, but they just got irritated at our staff. “Do not call us anymore! We are aware of you. We talk about you in the halls. Stop calling us!”  The very next day their program, “All Things Considered,” made what they “considered” clear. It was late October, a week before the election, when a thankful nation finally learned what to do with all those gooey pumpkin seeds.

 Oh yeah, there were a local radio shows and a few syndicated, my favorite being the G. Gordon Liddy program. You may recall this guy who during the Nixon days impressed people by putting cigarettes out on his forearm saying, “The trick is not minding.”  He loved Vote Smart, which for me suggested we had crossed the Rubicon into the extremist camps.

 At 5am on Election Day ABC News, the network standard for accuracy set by Edward R. Murrow during World War II and then Walter Cronkite for a few decades showed up at our Hotline office with its new version of cutting-edge journalism called Good Morning America. This nuevo, goofy, happy news film crew knew nothing nor cared anything about what we did or how we did it.  They just wanted some early morning color to kick off their Election Day coverage. 

 They gave us a few seconds to point at the phone bank, then filmed the students dealing with voters calling for help. When I asked if we could tell them how we were doing what we did, they said that would be inappropriate – “Too supportive,” they said. Supportive of what I thought? Getting the same accurate information that your reporters are using.

 One thing these news organizations did do was use us. During the campaign journalists started calling us to do the research they used to have to do for themselves.  They took so much of our voters’researcher time that it was impacting our ability to handle actual voters’ calls. One such reporter stimulated an idea that would for some years be enormously useful to all political journalists, academics, and anyone else with an interest in doing an accurate accounting on a candidate or issue.  He was an anchorman for CBS in Chicago and had been given the assignment to do a story explaining the workings of the Electoral College to the citizens there.

Intern: “Project Vote Smart, can I help you?”

Reporter: “Yes, I am doing a story for CBS on the Electoral College and have a few questions.”

Intern: “Of course, what can I help you with?”

Reporter: “Well I need some background. First, can you tell me where the College is located?”

Such questions from these Murrow/Cronkite replacements heralding the demise of journalism became a great source of amusement for our staff and interns.

 At the suggestion of Peggy Giddings, a conscientious PBS journalist, we created a Reporter’s Source Book that contained both a “Golden Rolodex” of experts on the various sides of national issues available to interview but also a synopsis of the major issues facing the nation and the options being debated for dealing with them. Up to 6,000 of them were sent each election year to journalists and academics that wanted to do their job.

 Our phones just didn’t stop ringing. There was no way we would be able to help the thousands of callers slamming our phone bank on Election Day.  We simply did the best we could that first year and did handle almost a quarter million callers. A good number of them were from people standing in voting booths pulling out their cell phones and asking, “Who is this guy?”

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

Sign up on my Blog at: richardkimball.org

or

Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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HEIL TRUMP MEIN FUHRER!

I AM VERMIN

 Well now he’s done it.  Promised, if elected to “root out all vermin” that disagrees with him. People like General Milley, Pense and so many other former friends he wants put to death.

 I am not very liberal, but I am proud to stand by his vermin, a term first used in the 14th century referring to animals that are difficult to control.

 I don’t think he can control me or you, or any thinking conservative or liberal, unless of course you’re amidst the mindless goosestepping boot lickers that are making him possible.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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WALKABOUT  – CHAPTER 40

WALKABOUT: noun A short period of wandering Bush life engaged in by an Australian aborigine as an occasional interruption of regular work.

 For months after the Senate campaign, I did nothing. My frenzied life over the years suddenly ended and I was completely unprepared for what was laid out before me.  What was before me was an enormous pile of zilch.

 If your training is in politics, you’re not trained for any real people work.  With no job, no degree, a small home and about $8,000 in retirement I was done.

 Some people suggested I could beat the local Republican just elected to our Congressional seat. A good fellow I had served with in the State Senate.  It was either that I thought, or strap on a backpack with a few necessities and do my “walkabout” somewhere with a lot of different.

 Now before America’s craving for illegal drugs fed, watered, and fertilized blood-thirsty cartels willing to sell them to us, before overdose deaths tripled, and before half of all Americans over 12 years had or were seeking illegal drugs, disappearing in Mexico was pure vagabond enchantment.

 Using legs, buses and trains, I backpacked for months, meeting an amazing assortment of wonderful people with a sprinkling of crooks tossed in.  I had a loose itinerary where I would show up in cities and towns from the American to Guatemalan border where I knew that the Mexican presidential candidates (the crooks) would be speaking. I fell in love with the Mexican people, their innocence and heart melting unpretentious charm offered up in town after town, even as the civic culture punished them for that innocence and made me long for the relative integrity of the U. S. variety.  Not having taken Spanish at the University, I could understand little of what those I met said.

 So, when I stopped in a place called Cuernavaca and met a family willing to give me a room, bed and meals for next to nothing, I went to school for a month of intense Spanish training. I worked at it hard. Every day after classes I would give myself assignments that forced me to use that day’s lesson.

 On a Sunday, I saw this enormous mango tree bursting with plump ripe fruit. The tree towered over a little brook in a lush postcard pasture, simply bursting with butterflies.  Since my oldest brother and been collecting butterflies almost since birth, I decided my assignment that day would be to go around town talk to people about mariposas and purchase all the necessary things needed to construct a net to catch them.  When it was done, I returned to the pasture to see what I could catch. Ten minutes into my chasing and swiping I heard children laughing. I stopped and looked up the hillside to see an elderly woman, young mother and two children giggling at me.  It was instantly clear what a sight I must have been. This 6’4” 240 lb. clumsy American stumbling through a pasture swatting at insects. I started to laugh too.

 Anyway, we started up a conversation. I could say just enough to communicate the basics of my enterprise, mariposa and coleccion.  I understood little of their Gatling Gun fast responses, but it was clear they wanted to see what I had caught, so I showed them the three or four I had managed to capture in a little box. Then the children asked, and somehow I got it, would I like to see their coleccion too? I followed them down a path to their home on the muddy bank of the stream. Dozing in a hammock near an open fire, where what looked like a giant pizza tin was heating up, was the father.  He sat up, smiled, while pointing his finger at what was his tree stump-of-a-seat offering. The home was nothing more than a few boards with cardboard panels tacked along the sides.  The roof was a combination of old, rusty, twisted up tin sheets and palm fronds.

 One of the little girls disappeared into the vegetation while the others kept jabbering so fast I could not pick out the words, but it was clear they were talking about me. The smiles, laughter and friendliness were a joy to watch and be a part of. They clearly did not often have visitors. If it had not been for the shack of a house, dirt floors and pounds of laundry hanging on wires strung through the trees, these folks could have been stars on a Mexican version of The Brady Bunch and I might have accepted their offer to let me stay with them.

 Then the one little girl returned, arms filled with a half dozen little glass jars, each one holding a dead, largely decayed snake in some sort of fluid.  That was the collection they wanted to show me and I examined each with real wonder.  They all continued to spew out words so fast, I had to ask them to speak more slowly in the hopes I could pick out a few. After numerous requests for them to “repetir,” and considerable effort to patch together some meaning, I finally got it. If I had understood every word, the conversation would have gone differently, but I didn’t so it went something like this:  They had been asking me where I was staying. I had been responding with the word “no,” meaning I did not understand what they were saying, but they decided I had “no” where to stay. The same miscommunications happened regarding my eating.  When all was said and done, I suddenly realized that they were now asking me to dinner, offering their hammock as my bed and saying I could stay with them as long as I needed.

  Such were the people I met all through Mexico, wonderful, generous with all they had, which for the hideously disadvantaged by their so-called democracy, was nothing.

 The only exceptions to these wonderful people were their “on the take” politicians and one diminutive old lady at an unusually uncrowded train station.  On a quiet Sunday I was getting on a subway in Mexico City to go to Maximilian’s Castle, when it seemed that all the few others waiting chose the same door as I to get on the train.  It was a tight squeeze and I did what had been my habit and put my hand in the pocket where I knew my wallet to be. Only this time I found another hand in my pocket with my wallet in it. I turned to see who it was and it was a tiny little lady somewhere in her 40s or maybe 70s (ages can be hard to tell in Mexico), who looked up at me with an embarrassed expression and said “Oops.”

 “Oops?” I repeated, “Is that Spanish or English?”

 One of the Mexican presidential candidates came to the little town I had chosen for my Spanish lessons. A fellow who would become Mexico’s president named Salinas de Gortari.  His party, PRI, had planned a celebration and parade down the main street.  I went a little early to get a good view. Maybe one or two thousand people were milling about on both sides of the long avenue. I waited some twenty minutes past the appointed hour. Then a hint that the parade was in progress—a small group of four or five musicians that walked by dabbing at their musical instruments. Following them there was just a bunch of stragglers, mostly in suits walking and talking with each other. I only knew it was the president-to-be by the back of his head. He was balding in a distinctive pattern that I recognized from his pictures. No one cheered; there was no commotion whatsoever as he passed down the street. Once passed, the crowd began to quickly disperse with a long line forming in front of some folding tables that had what I thought was some kind of petition to sign.  When I asked what it was, I discovered it was for teachers.  They had closed the town’s schools on the condition that the teachers and their families show up on the parade route and sign in to prove they had actually attended the parade.

 A couple of weeks later I found myself in Oaxaca, Mexico to see another serious contender. I could not tell if he was a crook or not, but there was zero doubt that he was the candidate when he arrived.  He was scheduled to give a speech in the town’s zocalo or central park.  Again, I went early to get a good view. I was lucky I did.  The place was flooded by thousands of noisy cheering supporters. Being taller than just about every other person in the crowd I saw the candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, arrive in a short line of cars about 100 yards away. He was immediately incased in a circle of bodyguards who had locked arms to keep his mob crowd of fans from ripping some souvenir out of his clothing. No rock star ever had a more enthusiastic mass of frenzied supporters.  I knew then and there who would win or should win. 

 Some weeks later the election was held. I read that all of the state-run computer systems failed and when they were brought back online . . . well, I was glad and thankful that I was back home, where we would never allow corruption on that scale to stand. Right?

 Near what was to become the end of my “walk-about,” I found myself in a sleepy tropical fishing village. It had no electricity, no phones, no roads to it. If you got there at all, you got there by boat.  Surrounded by mountains, it was perfect for me, and so there I stayed under a palm-thatched roof with an open-air toilet and propane grill, in my cheese- clothed bed swinging from ropes, for a few dollars a night. I would return there several times over the years. But it was on that first visit, with thoughts of politics still eating away in my brain and American’s inability to see or deal with what politicians, their hacks, and the major parties were doing to it, that I got smacked with what would become my life’s work. 

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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WE TASTE GOOD

 The delusional are no longer marginalized in America. The malignancy is in full bloom invading the civic tissues of every American household.

 You think you matter? You think what you think matters?

 IT DOESN’T!

 Do you ever wonder why there is global warming, the extinction of half of all other earthly species?  Why religious demagoguery has replaced science, why we do not invest in educating our youth in mathematics, literacy, and science, why we have stripped social studies from school curriculums?  Why our health care is the most expensive in the world, why banks steal and are protected from their thievery?  Why we have gone from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation, obligating you and every other taxpayer to pay $183,000 in damages?

 No, it isn’t what you want, what you support, nor is it what other citizens desire.

YET IT IS SO.

“THE PREFERENCES OF THE AVERAGE AMERICAN APPEAR TO HAVE ONLY MINISCULE, NEAR ZERO, STATISTICALLY INSIGNIFICANT IMPACT UPON PUBLIC POLICY.”  (From a Princeton study showing that a bill introduced with no public support, none at all, has a 30% chance of passage, while a bill that has significant, near total public support also has only a 30% chance of passage.)

What moves the needle is money, the $5.8 billion spent by the country’s elites to obtain the $4.4 trillion in payoffs you pay for.  And that is only the nation’s 200 largest banks, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, and such.  They have the power to stop any legislation no matter how publicly popular, along with twice the power to pass any legislation they want even as public support measures at the zilch level.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder  

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CHAPTER 33 – THE MIRACLE OF ME

ME-MEs 

Terry never did announce his candidacy, and I never knew if I had gotten bad information or if Terry just decided to turn tail.  Either way I ended up the nominee of my party for the open seat on the Corporation Commission. And although I did not know much about regulation, I would soon discover neither did the other two Commissioners.

 The Republicans nominated Arizona’s State Treasurer, a fellow who knew little more about regulating companies than he did about hard ball politics.  It would be a tough campaign for him, not because I was tough on him, I rarely mentioned him.  For me he did not exist, I ran against the other two Commissioners who had a low key, quiet, invisible way of sticking it to citizens on behalf of the major utilities.

 The other two Commissioners would not be up for re-election for a few years, but my effectiveness generated a serious effort by citizens who didn’t want to wait for their terms to end. Recall petitions were attracting thousands of signatures.

 When I won the election and the recall effort fell just short of the necessary signatures, I had made two bitter enemies.  This would be confirmed on the morning of my second day on the job. The first day was spent moving into Jim’s (the retiring commissioner I was replacing), empty office and dropping into the offices of the two other Commissioners to calm ill feelings in hopes of getting along as best we could. The meetings were congenial enough.  However, the next morning when I arrived, I received a more official welcome from my two fellow Commission members. They had ordered the staff to remove all my things from Jim’s office and dump them into the hallway.

 It was their way of saying, “Our two votes will tell your one vote where to go and where to live around here.

 The childishness degenerated into a kind of infantile paralysis at the Commission, in which I participated. I would give as good as I got. Like on the day Taurus, my love—a 14-year-old border collie who suddenly took ill. The vet pumped Taurus full of drugs—just before I had to be at a Commission hearing—advising that I keep a close eye on her for the next 24 hours. I had put my suit jacket in the bottom of a large cardboard box, laid Taurus on top and then carried my crippled sweetie up the Commission stairs to my office.

 Thirty minutes later my secretary nervously opened my door saying that the Department of Public Safety was on the line and needed to talk with me right away.

 “Commissioner Kimball?” the officer asked uncomfortably.

“Yes, I am Richard Kimball, what can I do for you?”

“Well Commissioner, I know this is odd, but pets are not allowed in your building, and we have gotten a complaint that you have a dog in your office. If you do, I need to ask you to remove it, or they insist that we come over and take it.”

 “You’re going to arrest my dog?” I joked.

“Sir,” he said with obvious embarrassment, “We have had a strong complaint from the Commission and so we are required to enforce the law.”

 I explained my dog’s situation and mine, then asked, “Can you give me just 20 minutes?”  Curious, he asked, “Of course, but why?”

 “Because that is how long it will take the media to get here, film your arrest of my half-dead best friend and capture a couple of interviews with my two colleagues for the 6 o’clock news.

 As it turned out the complaint was quickly dropped, but the next morning as I arrived without my recovered buddy, a maintenance worker was drilling in a brass plate next to the Commission’s entry door. The plate said: NO DOGS ALLOWED.

 Oddly, the three of us voted together more often than not. The nots were the cases dealing with the biggest utility companies in the state. It wasn’t that I had evidence to prove their rate hike requests were unnecessary, it was just that we had no way of independently verifying they were necessary.  It was instantly clear to me that it was all one big company-controlled shell game with quick-handed utility companies controlling the shells and maximizing their take by tricking both consumers and their assumed protectors, us.

 The basic rules and primary problem in Arizona utility regulation are easily explained: 

1. Because costs would be outrageous if numerous competing utilities had to support their own independent production and delivery systems, monopolies are allowed to exist.

2. Because the state must give utilities a monopoly to reduce both their costs and those of consumers, the utility must get approval of the rates it charges citizens.

3. Because the Arizona legislature refused to provide funds sufficient to regulate utilities, the regulators must trust the data and testimony provided by the utilities.

  This doesn’t mean utilities always get what they ask for but that is largely because of a “blink and whisper” understanding between the utilities and the Commission.  The “blink and whisper” requires the major utilities to request more money than they need or is reasonable.  Then the Commission can cut the rate requested down to something that is less unreasonable to maintain the appearance of protecting consumers (their voters).

 It works pretty much that way in every state I know of.

 Commissioners never really know what is going on beyond what a utility tells them.  Utility executives’ only reason for being is to maximize profit for stockholders and thus provide good reason to pay themselves a salary that could be 5,000% higher than that of any regulator whose responsibility is to be in charge.

 I kept saying “No” to the large utilities, not because I thought their requests unreasonable but because I could not independently verify that they were reasonable.  My two colleagues kept arguing an opposing rationale: we have no evidence suggesting what they say is not so.

 You say no to the Big Dogs of the business world, and they will label you as anti-business, even as thousands of small businesses suffer and even go under from spiraling utility charges.

 My relationship with the other two Commissioners settled into a comfortable agreement to disagree. Then one died from a heart attack and the other resigned.

 The governor had to appoint two new Commissioners until new elections could be held. It was then that things got as good as I would ever experience in politics. He chose two academics, a Republican business professor at Arizona State University and a Democrat, a law professor at the University of Arizona.  They were bright, conscientious and, unlike previous Commissioners, unmotivated by politics.

 These two new Commissioners allowed me to become the Commission’s Chairman and I then proceeded to preside over one hell of a Commission mistake and another that paved a road to utility control.

 In our blindness we allowed a Tucson utility to split up. With the combination of insufficient staff, no independent research, an unscrupulous utility chief and our own naivety we approved the sale of assets. The power producing parts of the utility formed a new company that didn’t sell power directly to citizens thus the Commission could not regulate while the distribution and sales stayed under Commission supervision. We effectively lost control of costs and citizens got screwed.

 To our credit, the two appointed Commissioners and I managed to adopt new regulatory principles that forced utilities into pretend competition. We started approving not rate increases but the possibility of rate increases.  We would set rates on what amounted to an average or fair rate of return on the costs the utility bore.  However, if they failed to reach the efficiencies we judged to be normal and achievable, they would get penalized by our reducing their profits. Conversely, we would provide them with a financial incentive: Should they exceed our expectations a bonus larger than what they had requested could be obtained, thus rewarding them for good decisions and efficient operations.  In effect it was pretend competition in a world where no competition exists.

 As it turned out I would not be at the Commission long enough to see if our plan would work or even be sustained.  I was about halfway through my six-year term, new elections had been held to replace the governor’s temporary appointees and two fellow “consumer advocates” were elected as result of all the concern created. They were politicians to the bone and egos and jealousy, including my own, would reign again. Only this time we were all of the same party, all so-called “consumer advocates.” A perfect representation of why people get so disgusted with government. There we were, the Commission totally reversed, presumably intent on representing and protecting citizens.

 What achieves primacy in the minds of the elected?  Me! Me! ME!

 I was elated with their elections. OK, a bit weary that Marsha, the vacationing member of the Breakfast Bunch, and wife of the former Commissioner Jim Weeks was one. The other was Renz Jennings, an ultra-liberal former State Representative who slept in an open shed on what he said was his farm, though it had little produce to put in anyone’s pot other than his own.

 Bottom line: The Commissioners who had been in the utilities’ silk pockets were now replaced by three scrapers, all posturing for an Oscar as Best Consumer Advocate. For my part, I wanted war, with either the Republican State Legislature that would not fund us, or the large utilities themselves who thought themselves protected by our in ability to examine them.

 I wanted to force the legislature to give us adequate funding or the utilities to provide funds for us to independently verify the need or requested rate increases.

 For an initial blast across the utility’s bows all we needed to do, I thought, was let it be known that we would not blindly approve any rate increase without the ability to independently investigate the utilities’ operations and need for a rate increase.

  My hopes of accomplishing this took a hit on the first morning we all met. My new colleagues had only stomach enough to go to war with each other.

 Renz asked me to join him and Marsha “socially” for breakfast one morning.  The social gathering quickly turned into a Commission business meeting.  I pointed out that it was inappropriate to discuss Commission business secretly outside of an open public hearing. I had fought hard against the first two Commissioners I served with when they wanted to continue with Commission tradition and privately discuss the public’s business, only without me.  I made it so difficult for them to do so that I managed to enforce a rule prohibiting expartee (secret) meetings.

 My two new commissioners instantly poo-pooed any such prohibition and continued their Me-Me negotiations.

 What was foremost on their minds was to get themselves elected chairman of the Commission.  They thought it was best that the chairmanship be rotated between the three of us and since I had been elected chairman by the two appointees, one of them should now get it.  I can’t deny that this hurt a little. I had initiated what was clearly a successful fight against the pro-utility Commission long before they got involved. Now that the fruits of the fight were supposedly ready for harvest, I thought their Me-Me position a bit unjust, but I listened.

 The question continued over the next week: Which one of them should get to be the next chairman. Marsha thought she was the clear choice, having spent years in bed with a former Commissioner.  Renz, for his part kept cornering me with the grace of a turtle climbing stairs, to say three things:

     “I have no ego!”

     “I am more likely to side with your positions than she is.”

     “You will vote for me to be Chairman, won’t you?” 

 This was going to be three more years of “Please won’t someone shoot me?”

 It might be worth it I thought if only I could push through my one primary objective, get the commission the resources it needed to actually regulate utilities.

   I was certain that the citizens would support us on this. Consumer savings would make up for any budget increase a thousand-fold.

 Both options would require the three of us to stick our collective necks out, but even if we failed the loud public fight would make the shell game apparent to any citizen concerned with their utility bill (just about everybody) and put enormous pressure on the Republican Legislature.  Anyway, after all that I could say was said in support of doing our job and actually regulating utilities, my two Me-Me colleagues let it be known that they had no stomach for it.

 I was trapped and completely disinterested in finishing my six-year term of office. Unlike in the State Senate, I had a sense of some success since the Commission would no longer just rubber stamp rate increases, but I wanted out. What excuse could I give? How could walking out with less than half my term served be explained?

 A freshly-minted Arizonian, former prisoner of war, freshly elected to congress and about to burst onto the national stage would provide the answer.

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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VoteSmart.org is born.

 There were no roads through the mountains to it, no phones, or any access to anywhere but by a 40-minute pounding ride in a boat the locals called a panga. The dirt path through the little fishing village was swept clean each morning by a few in huts selling local produce, brooms made from long thin sticks, candles, and a few other necessities. All led down to the half dozen fishing boats pulled up on shore next to the “The Yacht Club” a little place cooking whatever food the fishermen caught that day and with a shared shelf they called the library.

 For me, living there in a thatched palapa with swinging rope bed covered in mosquito netting was heaven. It was there that I came to terms with my brief political career. It was there that I found my life’s calling.  It was there, after weeks of pondering, that it hit me: it was simple.

 With the loss of common ground Americans were being fractured.  With trust lost in all media, there was no anchor to which both conservatives and liberals could depend upon for the truth and the facts essential to successful self-government.

 Without that, I thought, there would be no democracy.

 There was only one solution I thought, to create a source where facts were sacrosanct but never interpreted, to which any citizen could turn for the truth.

 Within the day I left my little chunk of paradise and hopped a ride to go create VoteSmart.org.   Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Barry Goldwater, Michael Dukakis, John McCain, and a few dozen others of both parties, understanding how essential it was, hopped on that ride with me to go build it.

 For your good and that of the country, use and support VoteSmart.org

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

Sign up on my Blog at: richardkimball.org

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Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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.

TO: CANDIDATES

FM: VOTERS

The GREATEST GENERATION is Going, Going, GONE.

Now we, as the LUCKIEST GENERATION, choose to live unearned lives on the gains made by our fathers and their fathers before them. Lives that all previous generations in human history could never have imagined.

 Yes, we spent much of what was earned and saved in the past and much of what has yet to be earned in the future, all to enjoy today.

Mention rational adjustments to our spending on Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid or defense and we will butcher you.

______

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

Sign up on my blog at RichardKimball.org

or Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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ABORTION

Aborted fetus — free clip art

My Take

Back when I was in politics there were many legislators who wanted to find means to reduce the number of abortions and the means to protect a woman’s determination regarding her own life. Had we politically survived and worked together, millions of women would never have felt the need for an abortion and millions of fetuses would never have been aborted.

But such rational communication is long dead.

Such leaders no longer survive and the views now so hardened — “I’m right, you’re wrong”, to win at any cost, effectively causes millions of avoidable abortions.

Over time, resignation and acknowledgement of the absolute victory these two intransigent sides have had, has changed my view somewhat. Now my position on abortion simply depends on my mood when I wake up in the morning.

Some mornings I am full of love and want to save every life. So I am an absolute NO. After all, I say to myself, I am the kind of guy that catches indoor spiders to set them free outdoors. If I can avoid it, I won’t step on an ant. I just do not want to cause the end of any kind of life.

On other days, I wake up pretty sour, thinking of what my species has done to countless other species (like the Bambi experiment pictured above), including our own. I think YES, abortions should be required of every pregnant woman and post-birth abortions should be the law of the land for anyone not obeying. Only in that way can we rid the earth of my species’ befoulment of it.

Now I know on those days all people are aghast at my position, but I feel confident that every other species on the planet stands in thankful celebration and ovation.

Which leads me to my point and the truth of it. Most voters standing self-righteously on either side of abortion, really don’t care all that much. That is why a few weeks ago abortion may have been the #1 issue in this year’s election but, as always, as the election draws near, such issues of grand importance fade, taking a distant second to the true heart of voters’ real concern: MY MONEY! MY MONEY!

Richard Kimball — Vote Smart Founder

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ARE YOU PEOPLE?

You decide on November 8th.

If you are not white, male and don’t own land, you can’t vote. That is the way we introduced self-governance to the world, with most people still not being actual people, as in “…of the people, by the people, for the people.” Women and most non-whites were not really defined as people in that wonderous American phrase.

It wasn’t till 1920 that most Americans would finally be considered people and allowed to vote — but not all, including the first Americans, native Americans. For those that were first, one or maybe two gazillion years before anyone else — well for them, it would take a tad longer.

The freedom and the liberty that comes with that vote, has been a slow, torturous march for most of us, with barriers erected by the people, against those not yet people, all along the way.

Your vote is your personal hard chunk of power, fought for through the suffering of others, and finally giving you a say. If you do not use it, your power doesn’t go away, it simply marches over and adds its power to those other chunks that are used, by the people who get to order you about.

VOTE !

And use VoteSmart.org to vote smart.

Richard Kimball

Vote Smart Founder

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AMERICA’S LONGEST MEETING

VoteSmart.org

It was America’s longest private meeting. With the windows and doors closed they argued for months in the gluey heat of a Philadelphia summer. Then on September 17th the doors and window were finally opened.

When a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy,” Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

F

Perhaps more clearly than ever, every single American adult will be asked to respond to Dr. Franklin when they stand alone in that voting booth this November 8th.

Dr. Franklin feared what all the founders feared, and what every thinking American now fears. Are the institutions the Founders and a dozen other successive American generations made possible and built these past 244 years all to be swept away? Is every citizen to be allowed to vote? Is all future opposition journalism to be oppressed? Is every fact to be cloaked and skewered?

Your knowing what you are doing on that first Tuesday in November is what Dr. Franklin and all who have championed freedom for over two centuries bet on. It will be time for you to stand and answer.

Please use VoteSmart.org to get the facts, the truth and defend yourself and your fellow citizens.

Richard Kimball

Vote Smart Founder

Sign up on my Blog at: richardkimball.org

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Medium.com at: https://medium.com/@daffieduck2016

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