Letters to the editor on veterans, election reform, Electoral College, dinner dialogue, National Baseball Congress

11/11/2012 12:00 AM

11/09/2012 6:09 PM

Older vets should help younger ones

About 10 percent of the U.S. population has served in the military, but only 1 percent has served on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. The junior leaders in the military – the squad leaders, platoon leaders – were in middle school when we were attacked. They decided to volunteer for the military knowing we were at war, knowing they most likely would be deployed to a combat zone. They saw the statistics on veteran unemployment, homelessness and suicide, and still decided to serve.

Today’s veterans come home from war to a difficult economy, and they come home changed from when they left. Many come home having never written a resume or sat through a job interview, and their old hometown network just isn’t the same. It’s hard to feel like you fit in a college classroom in which the other students are excited about the next release of a war video game – when you still have friends in Afghanistan. It’s hard to hide your disappointment when a prospective employer tells you that your military service doesn’t count as “real job experience.” It’s hard not to relive the mortar blast that killed your buddy when every time your left foot takes a step, the pain reminds you of that blast that nearly took you, too.

We older veterans – those from Desert Storm and earlier – transitioned long ago, and we have the bumps and bruises to prove it. We can help these newest veterans by coming alongside them and mentoring them to a smooth, peaceful and fulfilling transition. Too many veterans walk their transition patrol alone – and too many older veterans fail to provide the welcome beacon.



Reform elections

It is becoming clear that we need national guidelines for our elections, how they are set up and monitored.

First, at the state level we should remove political leaders from deciding who can vote and who can’t. We as a democracy can’t afford to turn our election rules over to any politician of one party or another and expect anything better than what we are getting. A nonpartisan independent board with allegiance to the voters is a must.

Long lines must be dealt with. How can we expect folks who work all day to stand in line for hours at the polling booth? This year my wife and I requested mail-in ballots. I got mine; my wife’s was lost in the mail or never sent, so she had to vote with a provisional ballot. Though this incident was probably an accident of errors, it brought home that our current system is not working properly and has holes.

An independent board with the purpose of making voting easy, simple and consistent is a must. Failure to do so will bring our elections into doubt. As a country, we don’t need that.



End bickering

Big Bird was saved. National Public Radio will continue to provide unique and wonderful programs. Secretary of State Kris Kobach was unsuccessful in disenfranchising enough minority and poor voters for his candidate to succeed.

I hope the message sent by the voters echoes in both the U.S. House and Senate: We are tired of bipartisan bickering. They need to reintroduce the concept of compromise and get our country moving forward.



Let majority pick

Regarding Mel Kahn’s commentary, “Ending Electoral College would create problems” (Nov. 4 Opinion): The Electoral College was created because illiteracy was high and the common man was not considered qualified to understand issues fully. Thus, the Founding Fathers thought it best to let those more qualified cast the actual presidential vote.

Granted, there is still illiteracy in this country, but certainly not to the extent that was present when the founders created the Electoral College. In today’s world, if the majority of Americans voting want a particular individual for president, that person should be president.

If the Electoral College must exist, then the universal rule should be that each state’s electoral vote should accurately reflect the wishes of its individual voters, not its dominant political party. Otherwise, in winner-take-all states, the minority-party voters are just throwing away their votes.

Kahn cited a number of potential problems with allowing the unwashed public to have its voice accurately heard, but the key word is “potential.” Every “problem” cited was speculative. Many of those potential pitfalls are controllable.

As to acrimony, so what? After the shameful behavior of the Republican Party during President Obama’s first term, how much more acrimonious can we get?



Bridge divide

The recent political campaign season has exposed the great divisions in our nation. Now that the elections are over, how will we bridge these divides?

Fortunately, there are people of good will who rise above civil disputes, religious intolerance and ideological differences, and search for what might be called “the common good of all.”

From 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Kansans have the unique opportunity to share positive stories that have been life-giving. Gathering in groups of eight to 10 in private homes, they will participate in an Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue, which involves sharing a meal and engaging in a moderated discussion about the role of faith or spirituality in their lives. I am pleased to serve as the honorary chairwoman for this event.

Now is the time to register. Once you have submitted your name, you will be placed into a host home, and have the opportunity to gather around the table, share a simple nutritious meal, and listen to the sharing of others. Groups are created for maximum religious diversity; agnostics and atheists are also welcome.

To register, go to www.globalfaithinaction.org or call 316-371-8274.



Move NBC to WSU

Kudos to Wichita City Council members Jeff Longwell and Pete Meitzner in their efforts to strengthen the National Baseball Congress (Nov. 3 Eagle). As to the matter of increasing attendance at games, Wichita already has one of the best ballparks in the United States: Eck Stadium at Wichita State University. Eck has comfortable seating, abundant parking, great concessions, good team accommodations and a wide-open August calendar. The City Council should explore this promising option in time for the 2013 season.



Trash cans needed

As a relatively new citizen of Wichita, I appreciate all the hiking and biking paths along the river and use them frequently. I have been delighted to see the recent work to clear out dead timber along the south side of the river walk between North Seneca and West Central.

One concern I have is the lack of trash receptacles along that section. There is one at Seneca and one at West Central, but none in between.

I frequently see considerable litter along that route. Though some of it blows down from McLean Boulevard, a high percentage of litter is from the people who use the walk and sit at the conveniently placed benches. I think the city unknowingly encourages littering when it doesn’t provide trash containers along the path.

I will pick up trash on my walk when I see it, if I have a place to deposit it. But I don’t want to walk a long stretch with collected trash in my hands.

Please don’t give people an excuse to litter.



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