From the moment we open our eyes in the morning, until we close them at night, we are hit with the “news of the day”. Through newspapers, radio and television or in our cars, we are flooded with news of a world in turmoil that resounds from the turbulence in the Middle East to the political turmoil and dissension within our own borders.
There are issues that should raise questions among us all as we prepare to vote in this mid-year election. How often do we get the opportunity to sit down and share our views on these issues with our neighbors and to hear what they’re thinking?
Well, on September 16, 2014, with the election season upon us, The League of Women Voters of Southwest Nassau held an open public Round Table meeting, at the Hewlett Public Library, to give everyone the opportunity to do just that. We were fortunate to have Carol Carlton, an experienced, and excellent, moderator of current affairs issues, as our guide through a very spirited discussion.
Once the discussion started, it became clear, that given the opportunity for open discussion, there are many issues on people’s minds that needed to be addressed and were being ignored, avoided, or buried in rhetoric by government and by candidates. .
We hit the ground running with an issue that too often gets ignored, and that is the “Redistricting” of voting districts lines because this year when we go the polls we will find an Amendment to the NY State Constitution, offering an opportunity to weaken the political Gerrymandering of districts that has been taking place since the early 1800’s. This has been, and continues to be, a system that maintains the continuance of safe seats for incumbents and leaves us with a politically controlled system that limits voters choices as to whom we can vote for.
The amendment will require an independent ten person commission to redraw the Voting District lines instead of the blatantly political process presently in place. NYPERG and Common Cause are opposed to it because they feel it doesn’t go far enough. They are for the “go for broke” approach which could leave us with the same very undemocratic system we presently have of keeping the Safe Seats intact.
While recognizing that the amendment does not have everything we would like in it, the League of Women Voters New York and Citizens Union are in favor of passing the amendment. The League is opting for incremental improvement rather than the “go for broke” approach and very possibly winding up with nothing at all. We will continue to work, from a much improved base, for even further progress on this important issue in the future
After the above issue was explained and discussed, people started bringing up a myriad of different issues of concern. What should we be doing about ISIS and how involved should the US be and who should we partner with, or not? What about the immigrant children coming into this country, and the number of these children being settled on Long Island? What are the financial effects they are having on local services, and why here?
While the U.S. Supreme Court is independent of voters, it was pointed out that due to the age of some of the Justices, in the not too distant future the party in control of the Senate will be deciding who will serve, or not. This brought up the question of, in light of the lack of bi-partisan cooperation that presently exists, is it more important to vote for the candidate or the party? Some one pointed to the issue of the ten points Women’s Rights bill that is being stalled in the State Legislature because one of the ten points contains protection of Rowe vs Wade.
Of course the Environment worked its way into the discussion with the issue of Fracking still waiting to be decided. Then this followed with the deteriorating infrastructure, the need to address energy and the concerns about water. Water is an important issue, not only here on Long Island but across the country, as far as California. It was brought up that these issues as well as employment do not stand alone. They are in fact intertwined and should be addressed as a singular national need.
There were other issues that were put forward and the two hour Round Table did not lack different views on several different subjects. The meeting did not seek solutions. It was designed, through the sharing, to stimulate thinking beyond what we came in with and to share our views with others. All of this led to a very stimulating discussion and an equally stimulating evening. If you weren’t there you should be sorry you missed it.
It also raised questions that we should be asking our candidates. One can be assured they have their own views on what they consider to be the important issues. They should be told where your concerns lie and what you think are the important issues. They represent you. Tell them what you think is important… because what you think is important.