- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2000

Republicans should pursue the 'new conservatives'

If Vice President Al Gore wins the presidency, the Democrats will have succeeded in using fear and ignorance to convince the voters that a vote for George W. Bush is a vote for backwardness. Mr. Gore has done an excellent job of convincing the elderly that Mr. Bush wants to take away their bingo games, as well as their Social Security checks; blacks that he wants to strip them of their civil rights (and possibly return them to a state of servitude, if one is to listen to Jesse Jackson); Hispanics that he doesn't care about their families or their legal status; and blue-collar (mostly union) workers that he wants to take away their jobs.

A friend of my mother's who works for a construction company advised all of the young Hispanic workers in the company that they needed to vote for Mr. Gore if they wanted to keep their jobs. A student of mine confessed that even though the politically correct agenda of the Democrats makes him sick, he was voting for Mr. Gore because he wanted to make sure he would be able to obtain a high-tech job after graduation.

My only criticism of the Republican Party's campaign this year is that it did not do enough to reach out to minority communities. I am convinced this is what led to Rick Lazio's defeat. Oddly enough, a majority of people within minority communities share values common to the Republican agenda, such as the sanctity of life and a high regard for education.

As far as my family is concerned, we probably were the only Hispanic family in our community to vote an entirely Republican ticket. That includes my husband, a Salvadoran national who received his citizenship just in time to vote in this crucial election. We voted not on the stale rhetoric blasting us every day, but on the issues that were important to us: religious freedom, abortion, taxes, education, the military and Social Security. For those Republican leaders reading this, please heed my words and go after the "new conservatives."

MARGARITA L. MELENDEZ

Arlington

Before you vaccinate your child, check the facts

As a longtime follower of the child-vaccination controversy, I was interested in the Commentary column on the hepatitis B and chickenpox vaccines ("Some shots may be bad for your children," by Robert Cihak and Michael Glueck, Nov. 14). That the government is withholding and spinning facts in order to gain acceptance for its policies is no surprise. I find it shocking, however, that the government would impose dangerous vaccines on children while withholding facts from parents.

For example, I had no idea that for a child under 14 being vaccinated, the risk of serious side effects, including death, is three times higher than the risk of contracting the disease. These are the government's statistics.

I also was astonished that the government mandates the chickenpox vaccine because government officials calculated that the cost of the vaccine is less than the cost of lost work for parents who choose to stay home to care for their child. It should follow that, considering the risks associated with this vaccine, a stay-at-home parent should be able to opt out of vaccinating for chickenpox, but the government makes that option extremely difficult.

As a parent of four children, I often have had to oppose the pro-vaccination culture. When serious side effects of the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine were first made known in 1982, both the government and big drug companies made a concerted effort to downplay the seriousness of the problem and to spin the facts. When my son had a bad reaction to the vaccine, I decided that parents are the ones who rightfully should make the decisions regarding vaccinations for their children.

This is really another instance of big-government control. Should government be allowed to take the decision-making power out parents' hands and give it to Washington bureaucrats? I am in a better position to make decisions about my children's health than some government bureaucrat.

Many may respond to my comments by listing the documented benefits of vaccines. But there are two sides to this issue, and one side has a lot of money and clout: Drug companies make huge profits from vaccine sales. However, the percentage of doctors who choose not to have their children vaccinated is higher than the corresponding percentage of parents in the general population. What does that tell you?

Dr. Joseph Mercola of the Optimal Wellness Center (www.mercola.com) has written: "Let no one distract you from your search of the truth about vaccinations. Parents need to become educated before vaccinations are given to your loved ones. Reading only pro-vaccine literature from our doctor's office and the public health service does not inform one about the adverse effects of vaccinations and the complications that may arise. While the medical literature is full of references to vaccines causing many neurological diseases and depressing the immunity, these facts are often glossed over when vaccinations are discussed. However, one must become informed to [these] risks so that an educated risk assessment may be made. Is the [risk] of the disease greater than the risk from the vaccinations?"

This issue crosses both liberal and conservative lines. Big government and the big drug companies are on the same side. During this time of great division in our country, maybe this is an issue on which liberals and conservatives can unite.

DOMINIC TONDO

Gaithersburg

Gore's last resort may be electoral college, elector warns

I am a presidential elector pledged to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and I am expecting a phone call from the Gore campaign.

If recounts and legal actions leave Mr. Bush with a slim majority in the Electoral College, the Gore campaign will be unable to restrain itself from trying to persuade presidential electors to switch their votes.

Fantasy? Consider the facts.

In my state of Texas, as in most other states, I legally can cast my electoral vote for whomever I choose. I signed a pledge to vote for Mr. Bush should he win the county, but that is nothing more than a written promise.

Although some Democrats have expressed reservations about targeting electors, others already are openly urging Mr. Bush's electors to switch. Expect Democrats to key on Gore campaign chairman William Daley's repeated statements that Vice President Al Gore's popular-vote lead makes him the legitimate choice for president.

By urging electors to follow the "will of the people," the Gore campaign may hope to create an aura of legitimacy about their efforts. They also will rely on the purpose behind the process. The founders intended the Electoral College to be an independent body of voters, a fact Mr. Daley surely will call to the attention of the American people during the coming weeks.

What of the fact that Mr. Bush's electors are loyal Republicans? They are, but inducements may be offered or FBI files searched (remember Filegate?), and it likely would take only two or three vote switches to affect the overall result.

Would Mr. Gore offer a plum job within the administration to a "faithless elector"? (Before you say no, consider that Monica Lewinsky was offered a job at Revlon.) How would the promise of an ambassadorship to a small, out-of-the-way country, or even an undersecretary position within the executive branch affect an elector's vote?

Electors, after all, are not often rich and powerful people. In Texas, for example, they are selected at state party conventions, where the position of elector is sometimes seen as a consolation prize for activists not fortunate enough to be chosen as delegates to their parties' national conventions.

Politics, contrary to popular belief, rarely pays well. Two years ago, I was a longtime activist with five children and a beat-up '92 Buick Regal, just scraping by. There surely will be a great many electors who are in similar financial straits this year.

Casting a vote for the "will of the people" may sound more convincing if it also is in one's economic self-interest.

Mr. Gore has earned a reputation as a man who puts winning over the rule of law. He has thus far lived up to that reputation in directing his team's careful maneuverings in Florida. He may again. Keep a watchful eye on the Electoral College voters this year. If some electors switch sides, observe carefully their future fortunes. Let's see whether the process remains fair.

It is a dangerous time for our constitutional republic one for which, as Mr. Gore would say, there is no controlling legal authority.

KEN CLARK

League City, Texas

Ken Clark is an elected county commissioner in Galveston County, Texas, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, and the elector for Texas' 9th Congressional District.

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