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It's time to add a bit of context to election year

November 10, 2007|By DEE MAYBERRY

A summer's worth of thoughts are slow to go away at a time when Halloween has just passed.

Currently this holiday is rich in ghouls and ghosts from the past. Its nightmare quality is not confined to black bats and witches hats. In Washington County, visitors are disappointed to see our leaves turn brown instead of red and yellow, and its landscape dotted with fields of dried crops and ruined corn.

On top of it all, the endless summer has brought early, tiresome politics. Maryland joins other states in pushing its first presidential voting opportunity (the February primary election period), closer to Christmas than before.

Seems like kind of a silly competition to hype the campaign chatter still further. Such timing, here and elsewhere, gives the media, acting as a stronger-than-ever decider of things, even more chances to tell us who ought to be president.

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People are said to make real decisions only four to six weeks ahead of the general election. Yet, so much campaigning is reported right now that voters are growing tired of the process even before it is supposed to begin.

With all this going on, maybe it's OK for a columnist to mention a nonpolitical event. In September, a group of women from all over the country met to talk about solutions to problems concerning rural health. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the event drew attendees who were savvy, creative ladies with health-related success stories to share.

In private life, they represented all political points of view, but at the gathering they had no particular political case to make. They were concerned with health in rural areas, not with comparing candidates.

In this crowd there was one political junkie who could not resist the temptation to bring up the question of a possible woman president. There certainly was nothing scientific - or even fair - about her casual random survey, but the responses were interesting.

They boiled down to a "thumbs up" for a woman in the White House, the most powerful position in the world but "not this woman." Of course the reference was to current Democrat front-runner, Hillary Clinton.

Looking for balance, the questioner asked about the male Democrat presidential hopeful, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, and mentioned the all-male Republican field.

She felt surprise that - in spite of incessant media focus, nobody was paying a lot of attention.

However, these tiny, sample responses caused a real Halloween shiver. She knew women are a powerful voting group in the United States. Millions of dollars already have been spent to capture their attention. In Washington County, activists from both parties are calling for voter attention now. This column joins them in soliciting input. It asks for reader answers to the question: Is it too early to care?

A sample poll might include a few other questions:

Is the country ready for a woman president?

Which GOP candidate, if any, would be most likely to defeat a Democrat?

Is anyone watching the debates or did anyone check out the one held in Maryland at Morgan State?

The Herald-Mail has not authorized any such poll but this column invites readers to make contact at dgmayberry@netzero.com.

It is noted that a statewide GOP straw poll held at the Timonium Fair offered the name of libertarian candidate, Texas Congressman Ron Paul (running as a Republican) on the list of hopefuls. An Orlando, Fla., Republican debate, Oct. 21, also included Rep. Paul.

He won polls in both events.

Does any of this have any meaning for either party? Have Washington County Democrats and Republicans registered to choose their standard bearer when the primary election comes up Feb. 12, particularly if each reply represents only one person who would be truly appreciated?

This writer - loaded with curiosity - would love to know what her neighbors (even those preferring anonymity) are thinking this fall.

Please use that e-mail address to say "I don't care" or "it's too early" or "I vote my party affiliation" or whatever comes to mind. Hearing from you would be truly great.

Dee Mayberry is a Boonsboro resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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