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Choosing Sides

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Election Day 2006 is less than a week away, and given the intense level of electronic vitriol hurling across America these days, we sure are thankful that the end is near. Here in Tennessee, even the race card -- one we were certain was long ago removed from the Volunteer State's political deck -- was theoretically played, though opinions vary on whether the Republican National Committee's now-famous "Harold, call me" ad was more sleazy than racist. Whichever, it backfired badly on Bob Corker, just as Harold Ford Sr.'s use of similar tactics on behalf of his son Jake ("We're from a Christian city here!") to smear Steve Cohen has done wonders for Cohen's congressional campaign. A pox on both their houses, we say.

But even when candidates stop attacking each other, voters are given little more than sound-bites to guide them towards making their ballot-box decisions. One wonders in fact if television political advertising shouldn't be made illegal, given how little real information about the candidates and their positions is actually conveyed. So many millions of dollars, so little of tangible value.

That's why we encourage all Tennesseeans to do their homework before casting their ballots in this pivotally important election. Fortunately, the Internet now offers every voter the opportunity to research each candidate's record. Pay no attention to whatever gibberish they utter in their television ads. Go on-line and focus instead upon their previous experience, their voting records, and their positions on the issues of the day. Don't vote until you've visited every candidate's Web site -- where (in theory at least) candidates have the opportunity to articulate fully their policies and vision. And make sure you google the candidates' names in combination with the issues that matter to you. Knowledge is indeed power, now more than ever.

"No" on Amendment One

While the Flyer does not make candidate endorsements, we do speak out often about issues that concern us. Perhaps the one that concerns us most this political season is the need to return to Washington, D.C., a 110th Congress that actually will perform its constitutional function of oversight as regards the conduct of the Iraq war, the yawning budget deficit, and the rampant corruption and cronyism that seems to have penetrated into every crevice of federal government.

Closer to home, we do have one very specific recommendation: Vote No on November 7th against the proposed Tennessee constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Tennessee already has a Defense of Marriage statute on the books (defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman), and that statute is unlikely to be changed in our lifetimes. Amendment One strikes us as overkill. Its passage would represent a blatant misuse of our state's most important document for political purposes.

While we recognize that many Tennesseans are strongly opposed to same-sex unions, we would remind them that constitutions exist to protect and extend civil rights, not narrow them. Current state law upholds the position that gay marriage is illegal. We need not meddle with the Tennessee Constitution simply to make a point that has already been made.

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