Thinking out of the box ... or booth

Friday, October 31, 2008

The complaint is back.

"I'm not voting for a candidate as much as I'm voting against one."

The complaint is also phrased like this: "I'm just voting for the lesser of the two evils."

Then there was the woman who said she's voting, "but I'm holding my nose as I do it."

Without even trying to discuss whether one or both candidates will or can change Washington, D.C., a prospect that's worthy of another 500-1,000 words, please accept a simple suggestion.

Read the ballot.

There aren't two candidates running for president.

For those who wanted Fred Thompson and see John McCain as the only alternative; look again. Former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia may well be your man.

If you're a Yellow Dog Democrat who is having trouble voting the party ticket one more time, look at the ballot. Maybe you could vote for Ralph Nader.

The remarkably sad thing is that if we're to believe the polls, Tennessee's Electoral College votes won't even tip the scales since: 1) there are so few of them, and/or 2) the predictions make the state's vote irrelevant, anyway.

Sure, Middle Tennessee may be split 45-45-percent McCain/Obama, but the traditionally Republican Eastern Tennessee voters could cancel out the Memphis-heavy West Tennessee vote for Obama while the rest of the country votes against a party brand.

If it's all that frustrating, then you could either read the ballot and cast a protest vote, or take your child to the polls and have the youngster cast the ballot. They'll be living with the results much longer than we will.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

After a quarter century of writing news mostly about Middle Tennessee and a significant part of that about South Central Tennessee, I've found that people here try to resolve their own problems together, instead of always looking to Washington, D.C., and so here are a few questions to ponder.

Since the state Legislature forced all counties to have a Joint Economic and Community Development Board, why isn't it being used to resolve some of the really broad issues facing the people?

There's a patchwork of water systems in Marshall County. People are naturally competitive, but water isn't the kind of service that lends itself to competition and usually the best answer to utility issues is through a mathematical calculation merging money and science, so isn't the suggestion raised this month for consolidation of water utilities worth pursuing?

Couldn't the JECDB provide a county-wide forum for that concept?

Now, maybe it's too late for the landfill issue to go to the JECDB for the current set of circumstances, but if we're to believe the information that Cedar Ridge Landfill is going to have to hut down in either several months or as long as six years, shouldn't there be a county-wide solution with a dedicated forum?

There are county commissioners dealing with it as best they can, but there have also been territorial concerns born of the natural political jurisdictional lines, so couldn't the JECDB, a vehicle we're forced to have, be used to bring leaders together so the problems can be solved?

I trust the lyric, "A country boy will survive," but do we have to rely on our ability to camp out and live off the land to deal with basic needs like food wastes and water?

Now, ask yourself: What can Washington do for you on garbage and water? There are several things, but are they important as the solutions we find for ourselves?