Clean elections should improve U.S. politics

Students and other voters across the country went to the polls in record numbers last November, demanding change in Washington D.C. We were fed up with business as usual in our nation’s capitol, especially with the way special interest money has corrupted and gummed up our political process. We spoke loudly and clearly that it was time for reform. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has heard that call and now is standing up to the powers that have controlled Washington for too long. Last year Durbin introduced a Senate bill that would have created a federal system of “Clean Elections.”

This system is designed to make our government more fair and less corrupt by giving an equal grant to Congressional candidates who agree to accept no private contributions larger than $5. Clean Elections is a reform that will combat the influence of large political contributors who try to buy political influence. Examples of this include the student loan industry that has kept interest rates artificially high and pro-environmental policy that has been stifled for too long by big corporate polluters. Clean Elections’ candidates will be able to work on legislation that benefits all of us as opposed to just their donors.

And with Clean Elections, citizens-including young people without connections to high dollar donors-can run for election. The Clean Elections system has proven to work. In Arizona,

Connecticut, Maine, North Carolina, Portland, Oregon and Albuquerque, New Mexico-where Clean Elections has been voted in-the system has brought more voter choice, more diverse candidates, grassroots campaigns and citizen-access to their representatives. Clean Elections creates a deeper and more responsive democracy for all of us. Together here at Miami University we can strive for clean elections. If the idea of candidates running for office rather than fund raising for office appeals to you then please e-mail me. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Communist or Animist-we can all agree that the power belongs to the people. I look forward to a great year trying to provoke change and I hope you choose to join me.

Patrick Frankfrankp@muohio.edu

Religious group disrespects September 11 anniversary

On this saddest of all American anniversaries, the sixth since of the Jihadists’ attack upon our nation, the stone-jawed Gideons are passing out copies of their green testaments on the Oxford campus. This tasteless exploitation of a sacred day is nothing short of repellent. How would the Miami University community act if a group of aging Muslims distributed copies of The Koran on September 11? With limited courtesy, I suspect.

And yet we blithely accept the “gift” of the New Testament, that desperate farrago of Christian stories that is every bit as aboriginal and ludicrous as the madness that swirled in the brains of the hijackers. One of the many lessons of that dreadful day in 2001 is the horror of religious fundamentalism, whatever its specific mythology.

Nicholas MoneyDept. of Botanymoneynp@muohio.edu

Article warps international experience for MU students

Although The Miami Student’s Sept. 14 Opinion page had some impressive political columns, Christopher Washington’s “Stranded in Paradise: overbooked and unhappy in St. Lucia” was severely disappointing. Some readers may remember an op-ed piece a year and half ago entitled “Confronting rape abroad.” Like “Stranded in paradise,” the earlier column’s title suggested that the international locations in question posed dangers (rape) or hassles (overbooked flights) for the Miami Student-writer. If readers went beyond the titles, they learned that the victim was raped by another Miami student also studying in Europe and that Washington’s overbooking unhappiness owed to Delta’s practices. In neither case did the misfortunes have anything to do with the country in which they occurred. Yet the titles indicated otherwise. This may seem a small point. As one who advises students every day on study abroad opportunities and encourages them to go off the beaten path, I assure you that media coverage such as this reinforces many students’ and parents’ sense that “foreign places” are dangerous and unreliable. 

More important is the message Washington sends, although perhaps unintentionally. Instead of providing a lesson to learn, Washington writes up a series of travel-related mishaps-including overbooked flights, cumbersome security procedures and tight schedules. Who with any international travel experience has not experienced these and many worse frustrations? Washington would have us believe that an extra night in St. Lucia at a free hotel with meals and beach access included was an onerous burden. He writes that he was “downtrodden and with nothing to smile about” and that he endured the “painful procedures” of security and customs. He leaves the reader with the impression that he is a spoiled young man, impatient when things do not go his way and quite unthoughtful about this world’s truly downtrodden, who include many St. Lucians by the way. The “painful procedures” of security and customs are put in place for his own protection. These procedures are truly painful for thousands of immigrants and visitors whose country of origin deems them suspicious to officials. There are few privileges in international travel today greater than holding a U.S. passport.

Readers may know that American college students in general, and Miami students in particular, have a reputation for self-centeredness, ignorance of the world and a highly developed sense of privilege. In many cases this picture is a stereotype like any other. I am reminded each day of how many of our students are worldly, caring and thoughtful. An article such as Washington’s only serves to reinforce the negative stereotype. We should remember that his misfortune was to experience a delay in his trip to London where he was to take an internship in his field of study-journalism. He had just spent time in one of our hemisphere’s loveliest countries-where he enjoyed the pleasures and comforts available to only a tiny percentage of the local population. That he feels he had nothing to smile about shows he has an enormous amount to learn.

Jeanne HeyDirector, International Studies Programheyja@muohio.edu 

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