Include everyone

Letters to the Portland editor, April 17, 2009

"Voting Frights" (by Shay Stewart-Bouley, April 3) is xenophobia dressed up to look nice. The assertion that people who are not full citizens are disproportionally less likely to have "learned what is going on" is without factual basis.

Moreover, it is preposterous even if true, given the general ignorance of the American citizenry. If "knowing what is going on" is a prerequisite to voting most people would be ineligible (quick: What is the difference between the position McCain had been advocating and the position Obama is proposing on Afghanistan? Why did so many people vote for both Barack Obama and Susan Collins? What were the differences on any issue between the several candidates for Portland school Board?)

Whether or not becoming a full citizen is a worthy objective, the fulfillment is under the exclusive control of the United States government, which acts arbitrarily and generally without urgency. While waiting to become sworn in many (most?) non-citizens who are likely to vote pay taxes, yet have the same lack of representation as the colonials who advocated a rebellion against England. And people who have no input into how they and their children get treated by local and federal governments but are expected to work without receiving any benefits or protection against exploitation are essentially slaves.

In what sense do we have democracy if not all people can vote in all elections? And if we don't have democracy then what is it we are proud of about this country? The proposed bill will at least permit democracy on a local level. Until the franchise is extended to state and federal elections as well, American civilization, to paraphrase Gandhi, will remain nothing more than something to work towards.

Seth Berner

Thank you for your insightful and thoughtful review (see "The Shape of Things," by Deirdre Fulton, April 3). I have always been amazed by the work of a good reviewer (and I'm not just describing you that way because you seem to have liked my book). You read so deeply and summarized so well — the ability to do that is an art in itself. As is often the case, the competent reviewer can describe and summarize a book better than the author himself. This is certainly the case here!

Andrew McNabb

Thank you so much for writing about The Passion of the Hausfrau in the Phoenix this week (see "A Play Grows Up At Portland Stage," by Deirdre Fulton, April 10). You are a thoughtful and skilled writer, and I feel so lucky that you have been interested enough in our work to keep track of it. And, I also really appreciate your desire to support the work of local folks who are working so hard to make new theater.

Bess Welden

How sadly revealing of the dismal state of journalism in Portland that we have the "editor" (what does he do, count the words in the ads?) of a local weekly that is little more than a collection of advertising and announcements, speculating about the fate of a decidedly inferior local daily newspaper. Amid much discussion regarding the future of the newspaper, perhaps the most intriguing idea is the concept of newspapers evolving into non-profit organizations, freed from the demands of the market to satisfy insatiable corporate bottom lines, so that they might better fulfill their role of providing a forum for news and discussion of the issues of the day.

Bill Lundgren

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