Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Posted by John McHale
I just finished voting for in this year's election. It only took five minutes and I kept thinking of the line from Chevy Chase in one of those Vacation movies: "Look, Russ! No lines!" Chevy wasn't referring to voting precincts though.
I was really expecting an hour wait, but it was smooth and over in five minutes. Unlike this photo of voters waiting in line outside a polling station in Georgia this morning. (Associated Press/John Amis)
There were other things to vote for besides McCain or Obama. As a former New Hampshire resident I was pleased to mark yes on lowering the income tax in Massachusetts. I do miss the freedom from income tax that I enjoyed in the "live free or die" state. Hopefully the rest of the Massachusetts commonwealth will vote to lower it too.
Aside from taxes another issue that is important to me is free speech. Both candidates would seem on the surface to be big First Amendment guys, but are they really?
McCain was well known for his campaign finance reform, which some say limits free political speech. Obama has been criticized for shutting down access to any journalists who don't endorse him or are skeptical of his policies.
It looks as if Obama will win so hopefully that was just campaign tactics and not signs of things to come. I hope he is also against the "fairness doctrine" that some of his colleagues in Congress are hoping to pass as a way of limiting conservative talk radio.
I myself don't listen to political talk radio, I prefer music or Howard Stern for some laughs, but either side should be able to express their views without those in power limiting their speech.
I'm also a big fan of just changing the channel if I don't like something on television or elsewhere. Live and let live.
This is where Republicans have been guilty of overreaching to limit speech; looking to censor radio and television programs that inlcuded subject matter, which made them uncomfortable.
One claim of censorship that rings false is that President Bush was some sort of fascist, crusading to put down any and all dissent. I think that claim is ridiculous. All you have to do is turn on your T.V. or open a newspaper to see criticism of our sitting president. It's everywhere. Can you imagine that in Russia or China? Never.
Maybe I'm biased as a journalist, but I see nothing more important than freedom of speech. My favorite phrases from the Constitution come from the First Amendment.
"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ..."