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Speer: Passionate political look at the election

October 26, 2012
Bill Speer - Editor/Publisher , The Alpena News

"Don't blame me - I voted for George McGovern."

While I understand this might come as a shock to some, that bumper sticker was part of the decor in my Morgantown, W.Va., college apartment. It was applied right to the bottom of the McGovern for President poster adorning the wall.

The sticker was applied in 1975, after Richard Nixon's Watergate fiasco.

McGovern's death this week brought back memories of my first foray into the world of politics. Little did I know then, as a high school student concerned about the Vietnam War, the draft and peace movements across college campuses nationwide, the political bug would be one I would keep scratching at from that point forward.

Life's paths always are interesting. For me, I've learned to buckle the seatbelt as the turns often are unexpected, the potholes sometimes a little deeper than anticipated, but the ride always through amazing and unforgettable scenery that have etched memories in my mind to last a lifetime.

I smile today thinking that this conservative writer with a thinning hairline once was the liberal, crusading journalist who had an Afro and drove an Orange 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner with a 383-Hemi under the hood.

From the days of covering East Ohio's Wayne L. Hays, one of the first of Congress' modern-era politicians ruined by scandal, to today, and our country's "eternal general," Frank J. Kelley, I have enjoyed politics and reporting on it.

A number of readers have asked me in recent weeks to share with them my impressions on the Nov. 6 election. Since you asked, here they are. Each of you can do with as you want with them.

I believe the presidential election is more important than ever this year. The person we elect will in all likelihood appoint one, and more than likely two new justices to the Supreme Court over the next four years. The philosophy of the court for the next decade probably will be established by our choice for president.

You read last week how I am using the economy as my guiding stick this year, and thus will be supporting Mitt Romney. I'm not sure many of us could financially afford another four years under President Obama, and I certainly know my granddaughter, and her generation, can't because of the debt we are leaving her. That's not right, and it has to end now.

Regarding the six statewide ballot issues, I will be voting "yes" on 1 and "no" on the remaining five. Tinkering with the Constitution never is a good idea, and doing so five times via these issues is nothing short of a prescription for disaster. Special interest groups have poured tons of money into these ballot proposals, and frankly, it's disgusting. I'm sorry, but our Constitution is not up for sale and can't be bought.

I believe the 1st Congressional race will be a close one and will depend on voter turnout, yet it would be hard to unseat an incumbent - Dan Benishek. Peter Pettalia has done a solid job in Lansing his first term and should have no trouble being re-elected. Likewise, Debbie Stabenow should cruise into another term as U.S. senator.

A number of important local issues dot the ballot across Northeast Michigan, and you should research each before heading to the polls.

I will discuss only one, the Alpena recall, since it impacts the majority of our readers.

While the dismissal of former City Manager Thad Taylor was the impetus to recall efforts, this is an issue that really goes far beyond that one incident. Really, this is a vote on what philosophical direction the city will head in the future.

I've been on record numerous times right from the start - I oppose recall efforts of any kind. Thus, I oppose this one as well. That should come as little surprise to anyone.

Even if that was not my philosophical belief, however, I would still oppose this one. Filing recall petitions seven months after having just elected people into office is wrong. Residents had their opportunity to choose candidates last November, and they did. Sorry, there shouldn't be an "oops" card to use after the fact. The League of Women Voters have a saying, "Democracy is not a spectator sport." That's true - and neither should it be a rain make-up if some believe they got it wrong the first time. Heck, Alpena residents were barely into the second inning when recall talk first surfaced.

As the election draws nearer, my anticipation level grows proportionally with it. As I vote, I'll remember a man who won but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in the presidential election of 1972, but who ignited within me a passion that I enjoy as much today as I did then.



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