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May Common Ground E-Newsletter

6 May 2016

An Early Political Lesson:        

He was fond of joking, "Democracy is a lot like sex. When it is good, it is very, very good.  And when it is bad? …… Well, It’s still pretty good."  My congressman was a funny guy, even wrote a book Too Funny to Be President shortly after Jimmy Carter out-tagged him for the job.


Young, naïve and in my first job, I liked my Congressman. His name was Morris K. Udall, or Mo as he was called, but by my second month in his office my admiration would take a hit.  


My job, going through the congressman's mail, was great fun and very educational. People wrote about jobs, taxes, the bomb, guns, abortion, drugs, environment, education, pretty much the same issues everyone still writes about today. However, there was one letter that snapped me straight up in my chair.


 She wrote, "You bastard!  How dare you promote tobacco with tax breaks? You’re murdering people."


 Was it true? Did he do such a thing?  She was referring to a recent vote to subsidize the tobacco industry, so I looked it up. She was right, Mo did vote for it. I couldn’t believe it! Surely not a single Southern Arizonan (the district Mo represented) would support such a thing.


 When Mo walked in with his chief of staff I confronted them.  Mo gave me a weary look and told his chief of staff, “You handle this.”  


It would be the first of many times in those early years that some trench-fighting political elder would put their hand around my shoulders.  “Oh that,” the chief of staff said.  “Yeah Jesse Helms (a U.S. Senator N.C.) needed our vote on his tobacco bill, but we did so on the condition that Jesse would support our bill to build the Central Arizona Project (CAP) with federal tax dollars. If we didn’t get his vote we couldn’t build it.”  


The CAP was a multi-billion dollar bill to change the course of the Colorado River by a few hundred miles to support land speculators and political contributors in Phoenix and Tucson that wanted to sell more stuff in the desert.


That is the way it works.  It was not hard to imagine what decision the nation's citizens would have made had they gotten to vote on either bill but it all passed just the same.  Had Mo failed to fight for water in Arizona or Mr. Helms for tobacco in North Carolina neither would survive another election and so the rest of the country got screwed.  They didn’t teach that in my Government 101 classes, but that is what is at the center of so much waste and corruption in the Congress.


                                Richard Kimball

                                Vote Smart President


Brochures Up the Kazoo


Our printing company made a mistake and printed thousands of brochures with the cover saying "Vote Smart or Vote Stupid" instead of the requested "Vote Smart or Vote ?" (see attached). So he reprinted for free.  Now we have over 40,000 brochures to move before the election.

These brochures give a quick description of Vote Smart and review the incredible, free resources and tools we have available for all our fellow citizens. And if they ever needed the facts this is the election.

SO! If you are someone who knows people that ought to know about Vote Smart, please let us know how many brochures you could make good use of.  Please do not hand them out like confetti, but if you know people or small groups that will consider what we have to say, please email us at


Heroes vs Villains

 It is no longer a fair fight and that is why today’s campaigns spend more time attacking than promoting. It seems a simple protective animal instinct to pay attention when someone tells you to worry, you’re threatened, your life is in jeopardy.  Perhaps that is why so much fear is sold by both political and media hucksters…it makes us all pay attention and enables them to sell product. It is simply instinct.

Murders, armed robberies, rapes, even highway carnage has been decreasing for years, even as our life expectancy has grown and grown.  There is no World War  I or II, no Great Depression, a half million Americans are not killing themselves in a Civil War, and no foreign power is bombarding Washington, D.C. Yet we are told how horrid our times are, and how repulsive and dangerous this or that candidate would be for our nation.

The only thing to fear is that not enough citizens will Vote Smart and instead they will be stampeded into this mob or that, showing little interest in reason or the facts.

If you are not a member of Vote Smart please help us or just call us at 888-VoteSmart.  We need every thinking American!
What is New at Vote Smart This Month?
  1. We have automated our floor speech collecting which reduces our work load in speeches by 13%

  2. We have started to add each state’s ballot measures to our database. Sixty and counting so far.

  3. Voter registration information has been updated for all 50 states.

  4. 142 students applied for summer internships at our University of Texas office. What a great operation we have at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Engagement.

  5. Interns are doing it all: Recommitting for a second internship, joining staff, becoming member volunteers. All have happened this month.

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