letters to the editor - 11/16/02

November 18, 2002

Voting a straight ticket: What are we teaching our kids?

Without a question, analyzing the results of this year's election has been interesting, puzzling and also one of the greatest reasons for concern that I've experienced in my 58 years. I'd like to take a few minutes of your time to touch on this concern that will, hopefully, help all of us who are parents and grandparents when we attempt to teach our children to be responsible citizens and vote.

In our Washington County schools, we teach that "character counts." We drill in our childrens' minds that trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship are the six pillars of character.

With this fine program firmly in place for several years now, our community has solidly supported the "Kids Voting" program, which is truly a powerful concept that teaches our children to be responsible and be part of the election process to select our leaders ... but somehow, we've gone astray.


We need to be careful when we're mentoring our most valuable resource - our children. We need to be careful when we place labels or develop profiles for individuals or groups. Profiling and labeling can be extremely dangerous and can do permanent damage to a community. When we teach our kids that anything goes in selecting our leaders, many leaders and potential future leaders are turned against the system and we all suffer ... all of us!

Without question, the Republican political party did an absolutely stellar job of energizing our citizens and getting them out to vote. In the process of getting the message out, some unexpected damage was done that could hurt the region for decades.

Somewhere in the excitement of the voting frenzy, we forgot what our children already knew - that character counts. The idea of voting for the candidate that will do the best job somehow got lost in the shuffle. We need to assure our children and our selves that some fine leaders are oftentimes members of the minority party and still play a key role in molding our futures. It's all about getting people of all walks of life to work together and learn to compromise for the common good.

In my years, I've never voted a straight ticket. My parents and family members have always emphasized the importance of selecting the candidates that would do the best jot for the community regardless of party affiliation. It was phrased differently, but my family elders' message was loud and clear - character does count.

The day after the election, I spent hours reading and re-reading The Herald-Mail trying to make some sense of the results. Later in the day, I finally got around to looking at the results from "Kids Voting" and low and behold, noted that it was nearly a mirror image of the general election results.

After reviewing the kids' votes, an alarming fact became apparent. Like all good children, they had obviously asked their parents how to vote and who do you vote for when you enter the voting booth. Many of the children were told to vote all the "R's" because they were good and don't vote for the "D's" because they were bad. On the other hand, I feel certain that the reverse was also true.

I urge you to examine the kids' voting and let's learn from this election, asking ourselves if this is the right approach when mentoring our children and teaching them to be responsibility citizens.

When the adults don't think about the consequences of voting a straight ticket and encourage our kids to do the same, we're doing them and our communities a vast injustice and placing everyone in a dangerous long-range predicament.

In the months to come, please follow the progress of our elected officials in the media. Let's learn from this experience. Let's help and encourage our next generation of leaders and appreciate their efforts as they make those difficult decisions. Let's involve our youngsters in the process and instill in them that the words "character counts" are more than words neatly printed on a banner in front of their school.

It's my hope and prayer that by mentoring our children and grandchildren, we can all learn to consider the consequences before we connect the arrow in the upcoming elections.

N. Linn Hendershot is a member of the Hagerstown City Council.

Sen. Munson's visit to our club was appreciated

To the editor:

On Wednesday, Nov. 6, Sen. Don Munson was our guest at a meeting of the Summerland Manor Condo Club. He was elected the day before to his fourth term in office. When he was introduced, he said this was a day of celebration, not just for his election, but also to spend the day with us honoring the veterans in our community. The senator told us he is so grateful to our veterans for the many conflicts they have been involved in to help preserve our freedom.

He presented a beautiful certificate to each veteran with words of thanks and appreciation from the Senate of Maryland. I feel everyone present was touched by the senator's words and actions during this presentation.

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