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Opinion
One Man's Opinion: Democracy is Messy
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One Man's Opinion: Democracy is Messy

One Man's Opinion: Democracy is Messy

One Man's Opinion: Democracy is Messy

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" Benjamin Franklin, (1706-1790), American founding father, author, inventor and philosopher.

Ben Franklin was not a fan of pure Democracy. U.S. citizens of that day had no vote or direct voice in the Declaration of Independence, nor later the U.S. Constitution which is the basis on which our constitutional republic is formed. Few amendments to our Constitution were ratified by the states, versus adopted by Congress. 

In close election contests, hard feelings often emerge and sometimes linger. It is however quite important at these times to remember that one of our greatest strengths as a nation is the time-proven, peaceful transition of power. That of course also means coming to terms with and accepting outcomes not of our preference or choosing, once the voters have spoken. 

And it is also important to note that we are far from alone in this world experiencing these divides. Across the pond in Britain, a Prime Minister is battling her own party to deliver a Brexit deal which other EU countries will swallow, all while her own party plans a divorce from their PM. In Germany, Angela Merkel's ruling majority shrinks with each election, in part fueled by another splinter party and fears that Muslim immigrants are fomenting unrest and economic injury to the Rhineland. 

And here, a President who shines brightest (in his mind) during the swings of battle, finds building the divide among his primary comfort zones. But he is still our President. 

It has been four Presidential elections since someone I voted for has occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but I also choose to still wish every President success and that they find the will and their best ways to serve and improve the lives of the American people. Some of course do that job better than others. 

But these times too shall pass. And just as the Presidential Election of 2000 ended with 532 votes in Florida, with hanging chads and a U.S. Supreme Court intervention, our republic and people are strong enough to weather differences of preference, candidate and opinion. And now is time for healing. 

There will be voices who will continue to foment the division. Given the First Amendment, those voices cannot be silenced, but they can and should be countered and responded to. Our nation can suffer fools, divides and strong differences of opinion, as long as the American people do not begin to heedlessly attack one and other. We are not above or beyond mob rule, rioting or even the occasional need for curfews and Marshall Law, but on the whole, we are a more mindful, tolerant and respecting people than that. 

This President has flaws, but he did not create this divide, nor is he the anti-Christ. We the voters just selected and voted in a split Congress. As typically happens during a mid-term election, the "in" party lost more than they won, but it was not the Blue Tsunami which many forecast. The GOP retained the U.S. Senate, a strong majority of Governor's office and state legislatures and will likely further their re-shaping of the federal judiciary. 

Democrats in the U.S. House will first fight an early battle among themselves, over their own leadership team, then over the progressive bent of their agenda and then over just how hard to attempt to make life miserable for this President. It will not be pretty, and neither is democracy. Making laws while also building support and public opinion, while finding consensus are each messy, but necessary. As adults, we have examples to set, for our children, as well as our neighbors, co-workers and peers. We can disagree without being disagreeable. 

We voters may have tossed or lost the elected moderates in both parties, but just like the well-armed lamb in Franklin's quote, we can still have the will to fight for common sense, compromise and solutions which land in the middle. Yes, democracy is messy, and making the right choices to lead us in a republic are also never guaranteed. But our experiment in self-governance has now survived nearing 250 years, and though I won't be here when we hit 500, I do expect we will get there. 

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Winston Churchill, from a speech by the former British Prime Minister, November 11, 1947.

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One Man's Opinion: Democracy is Messy

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  • Airline travel is stressful enough when flying solo. It’s even tougher for families, who sometimes have to split up in order to get the cheapest airfares. According to the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, charging fees to keep families together is unacceptable. The nonprofit organization posted an online petition, “demanding airlines put safety over profits.” “Children 13 or under should sit with their families while flying, and should not be charged extra fees to do so,” according to the petition, which has a goal of 75,000 signatures and was approaching 60,000 early Tuesday. According to a Consumer Reports review of more than 130 complaints submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines have separated or suggested separating children as young as 2 years old from their parents, USA Today reported. “Children need a responsible adult around and whether it’s just so they can go to the bathroom in the middle of the flight or if there’s an emergency, it’s not safe to have a child without somebody there to take care of them,” Anna Laitin, director of financial policy for Consumer Reports’ advocacy arm, told CNN. “And no business traveler or solo traveler wants to be put in charge of a 3-year-old they don’t know, and no parent wants to be seated, strapped in unable to move, that far from their child.' According to the petition, splitting up families “is a security hazard for the child and a safety threat to all passengers during emergencies.” The petition further claimed that separation “puts an inappropriate burden on customers who sit next to an unaccompanied child.” The petition specifically singles out American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. In 2016, Congress passed a bill that called upon airlines to seat children 13 and younger next to a family member at no extra cost, CNN reported. However, the bill left some room for the airlines to bypass the law, calling for a policy “if appropriate.” Consumer Reports created a site last fall where consumers can lodge complaints at the same time with the organization and the Department of Transportation, USA Today reported. The organization said it has collected more than 400 complaints since the site went online, the newspaper reported. Representatives for American, United and Delta, the initial targets of the petition because they received the most complaints, said they have taken steps to ensure families booked together, sit together. American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein told USA Today the airline has spent a 'considerable amount of time'' on the issue and has developed a system of seating children younger than 15 with an adult family member. In a statement, Delta spokeswoman Maria Moraitakis said, “Regardless of the type of ticket purchased, Delta works with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their travel needs are met. When customers have seating questions, we encourage them to reach out to us as soon as possible to allow for the opportunity to address their concerns.” United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart told CNN the airline has adjusted its family seating procedures and policies. “We’ve essentially rolled out automatically seating families together. So we automatically scan for families who do not have seats assigned next to each other and we work to seat them together,” Hobart told CNN.
  • With the coronavirus impacting countries around the world, the word pandemic has been used more and more often. But what is a pandemic and how does that differ from an outbreak? Outbreaks vs pandemic Outbreaks turn into pandemics when an illness becomes global, the World Health Organization said. There are actually four levels to qualify how severe and widespread an illness is, Health.com reported. They are, according to Health.com: Sporadic, or infrequently occurring disease. Endemic or usual prevalence of an illness. Epidemic or sudden increase of an illness or higher numbers of sick patients than expected. Pandemic or an epidemic that has spread to other countries. The WHO will declare the illness as a pandemic using various models. But there is no one number that changes an epidemic or outbreak into a pandemic, The Guardian reported. Why does it spread so far? Most people don’t have immunity when an outbreak spreads worldwide. They also have different epidemiological patterns. For example, while the normal flu hits during the winter months, the H1N1 pandemic happened in the summer, the WHO said. How fast can a pandemic spread? A virus can travel from a remote village to cities on all continents in 36 hours, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. How can you stop a pandemic? CDC global health security experts work with other countries to help stop the spread by detecting and reporting cases, identifying the cause of illnesses, containing outbreaks and coordinating a response.
  • A Florida man is accused of hitting and killing his girlfriend while driving a vehicle outside a Polk County bar, then returning to the establishment, authorities said. Charles Robert Polen, 40, of Fort Meade, was charged with DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident involving death and driving without a license, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. He remains in jail in lieu of $15,000 bail, according to arrest records. Deborah Jo Hershberger, 40, of Fort Meade, was found dead in a road near the Coop, a bar in eastern Polk County, the Tampa Bay Times reported. According to an arrest report, Polen and Hershberger were drinking at the bar Saturday. They had driven there in Hershberger’s 2002 blue Dodge Neon, the newspaper reported. Police said Polen got into an argument with another man, then quarreled with Hershberger when she asked for the keys to the Neon, the Times reported. Hershberger left on foot, and Polen stayed in the bar to finish his beer, the newspaper reported. Then, Polen got into the Neon and began driving to look for her. Polen told deputies that while driving, he hit something, WTSP reported. Polen said he thought he had hit an animal, but then saw a person lying in the road. A woman called 911, and Polen told deputies drove back to the bar and waited for law enforcement, WFTS reported. After authorities arrived, Polen walked from the bar to the scene. the Times reported. Deputies said Polen was upset and had to be restrained once he realized it was Hershberger’s body on the road, the newspaper reported. Deputies believed Polen was intoxicated; seven hours after the incident, his blood alcohol content was .046, which is below Florida’s legal limit of .08, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
  • Body camera footage shows a Florida girl pleading for help as she is put in handcuffs and taken away from school. WFTV first reported on the story back in September. Orlando police said then that the bodycam footage would not be released. But the family’s attorney has it now, and has shared it. Orlando police were called to the school after Kaia reportedly kicked a staff member during a tantrum at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. Charges against her were later dropped. The video shows 6-year-old Kaia, confused and crying for help as she’s led away with her hands zip-tied behind her back with makeshift handcuffs from school grounds. See the arrest and aftermath below: Kaia bawls as one of the officers, Officer Dennis Turner, asks the other officer to zip-tie her and take her to Orange County’s Juvenile Detention Center. As one of the officers tightens the makeshift children’s handcuffs, she cries out “No! No! Don’t put handcuffs on (me). Help me! Help me!” Turner’s bodycam footage shows him follow the other officer as he leads Kaia to the back of the patrol car. Then, since she is unable to step up and into the SUV on her own, he lifts her up. “Please! Please! Please let me go!” Kaia screams in the bodycam footage. “No! Help me! Help me!” One school official asks in the video if the restraints were necessary. “Yes, and if she was bigger, she’d be wearing regular handcuffs,” Turner replies in the video. Turner then tells school officials he’s arrested 6,000 people in his career and the youngest, before Kaia, was 7 years old. “She broke the record,” he says. Turner then arrested another 6-year-old at the same school. He was fired for both arrests for violating department policy requiring a supervisor’s approval to arrest anyone under 12. Kaia’s grandmother is now pushing to change state law concerning arrests of children for misdemeanors.
  • A man who was running for the Arizona 1st Congressional District on the Republican ticket had to suspend his candidacy after he overdosed last week. “Today, I have suspended my campaign for the US House of Representatives and am seeking treatment for substance abuse disorder,” Chris Taylor told NBC News in a statement. “I will fully cooperate with local authorities on any matters arising from my recent relapse and overdose.” A family member found Taylor unresponsive at home Wednesday night, the Gila Herald reported. He was revived with Narcan. The Army veteran who served two combat tours in Afghanistan said he’s had an opioid addiction since high school, The Arizona Republic reported. The newspaper reported Taylor overdosed on heroin. “I’m not going to hide from this. I’m not ashamed of what happened. I wish to sincerely apologize to the amazing people who have supported me. I don’t know what went wrong. I recently relapsed after having so many solid years in sobriety. I have to figure out where I went wrong,” Taylor told the Republic. Taylor is currently a member of Safford, Arizona’s city council and founder of Desert Eagle Addiction Recovery, a nonprofit that helps veterans and others dealing with drug addiction. He has been open about his past drug abuse. During his announcement for his run for congress, Taylor said, “The experiences that I’ve had with opiate addiction and being able to overcome that and inspire and help others to find that recovery as well are a source of strength,” the Herald reported. Taylor was among three Republican candidates vying for a spot on the November ballot to unseat Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran, NBC News reported.
  • A Texas father is behind bars after investigators said he repeatedly struck his 2-month-old baby, causing the child to suffer 13 rib fractures, a broken leg and a brain injury. According to KFDX-TV and the Times Record News, Rakim Smith, 21, of Wichita Falls, is facing a child injury charge in the beatings, which occurred from Sept. 21 to Nov. 21, 2019, authorities said. He was indicted last week. Authorities learned of the baby’s injuries Nov. 21 after the child arrived at an emergency room with several broken bones, the news outlets reported. Smith later confessed to punching the infant because the child kept crying, authorities said. Smith has been jailed on $250,000 bond, officials said. Read more here or here.