Just vote:
Don’t let paper ballots scare you away from polls

A whispering campaign about long lines, long waits, complicated paper ballots and incompetent poll workers has been spreading around Bernalillo County. You'd almost think such rumors and front page stories were designed to repress the vote.

I can say, from personal experience as an early voter, that paper ballots are not complicated, poll workers are not incompetent, and the physical time it takes to vote is only a few minutes more than it was with voting machines.

Please, don't let anything stop you from voting this year, especially not rumors and horror stories that aren't accurate.

This is one of those turning-point elections. There's a chance to start a change, turning from hate-speech politics and political opponents as enemies to reviving civility and the sure knowledge that hate in a democracy is, in the long run, self-defeating.

We have a chance this year, and in 2008, to put an end to what was begun in the Watergate era and has squeezed itself into deceitful attacks, such as Rush Limbaugh made last week against Michael J. Fox, a victim of Parkinson's disease.

But lies come easy to talk sharks. While enriching themselves from tax breaks for the precious few well-to-do, they claim shamelessly that Democrats will raise our taxes. It's a lie. Their taxes, maybe, but not ours.

How could such nastiness and absurdity become a staple of American political culture over the last 30 years or so? How could it be that mean-spirited, deceit-riddled, enemy-baiting attack politics has become accepted as beneficial to democracy?

It started with President Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, accompanied by dirty tricksters and burglars who would do and say anything to win an election.

It's time to get rid of the politicians the hate-mongers on the radio and television support.

There's a line of descent from Agnew to Limbaugh and Anne Coulter, from silly bullying to outright defamation of character and a smear-the-enemy brand of politics.

Agnew was famous for being President Nixon's hatchet man, who grabbed headlines with nonsense like calling political enemies "pusillanimous pussyfooters," "nattering nabobs of negativism," "radiclibs" and "liberal intellectuals (with a) masochistic compulsion to destroy their country's strength."

Agnew spoke a language they understand - the language of hate for political effect. Now we have Coulter calling liberals "traitors" and Limbaugh fulminating that "liberals hate America."

When hate talk belittles a man such as Fox with a serious neurological disease, ridiculing him for overdoing his symptoms, "acting" to gain political favor for the cause of stem-cell research, the basic decency of the American people is offended.

Limbaugh's attack is so despicable that it makes it clear why this election is crucial to the rebirth of decency and civility in American politics.

Don't be intimated by rumors and disinformation you may hear about paper ballots. Just vote.

V.B. Price is an Albuquerque free-lance writer, author, editor and commentator.
November 4, 2006