Archive for November 2016

Presidential Elections Past and Present

November 6, 2016

Dr. Steven J. Callis

            The current U.S. presidential campaigns have certainly stirred the emotions of the American people.  Accusations and scandals are in the headlines constantly.  Truth seems to be obscured, and both of the main parties have had their share of embarrassing moments.  The candidates, their staff and families, the parties, and the media all have been blamed for this nation-dividing campaign.
            However, history has recorded previous election tidbits that parallel this election season.  For example, in light of our “early voting” option, t
he US Constitution does not state when Election Day should be, so in the early 1800s, people could vote from April to December.  In 1845, Congress decided that voting day would be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
            In reference to race and gender, t
he first woman to run for US President was Victoria Woodhull in 1872, nearly 50 years before the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote in presidential elections.  Her running mate, Frederick Douglass, was the first African-American ever nominated for Vice President.

            Media has come to play a significant role in our election process.  The ultimate “whoops” moment in a US presidential election happened when the Chicago Daily Tribune headline mistakenly declared that Dewey beat Truman in 1946.

            Mudslinging is not new to politics.  During the John Quincy and Andrew Jackson election year, Jackson called John Quincy a pimp, and Quincy called Jackson’s wife a slut and his mother a prostitute.

            Congress gave Native Americans the right to vote in presidential elections in 1924; however, some states banned them from voting until the 1940s.  American women won the right to vote in 1920. In 1872, Susan B Anthony, a white social reformer and feminist activist, was arrested for attempting to vote in the presidential election.

            The United States presidential election of 1876 was held on Tuesday, November 7, 1876.  It was one of the most contentious and controversial presidential elections in American history. The results of the election remain among the most disputed ever.  In four states, each party reported that its candidate had won.  The question of who should have been awarded these 20 electoral votes is the source of the continued controversy.

            Admittedly, ours is not a perfect system.  It seems that as one glitch is resolved, we find new ways to confuse the process.  Could this be the reason for low voter turnout in presidential elections?  It is a concerning fact that, despite the billions of dollars spent on campaigns, roughly half of the American population does not care enough to vote.

            My vote seems like a small grain of sand on the coastal beaches, but it is a vote – my vote.  It matters to me who leads our nation, and the direction our country takes for the betterment of society and the world.  It matters to me that we faithfully build upon the foundation laid by our founding fathers and for which our veterans and active military fight to preserve. 

            I refuse to take this privilege and responsibility lightly.  If you have not already voted, I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to stand up for your beliefs.  May God’s hand of grace and mercy be upon this United States of America.

Trunk Treating Offers a Guarded Environment for our Kids

November 3, 2016

Dr. Steven J. Callis

Dressing up like a football player was not only an expression of a dream, but it was a costume that was readily available.  I loved playing football as a kid, and I had all the right equipment: shoulder pads, helmet, and all.  I do remember my older brothers making a costume for me out of a pillow case when I was little, but I really liked being a football player.

                Things were different in those days.  Children went trick-or-treating with no worries.  The popcorn ball or chocolate chip cookies wrapped in cellophane from Mrs. Carney were safe to eat.  There was no danger in stepping inside Mrs. Fowler’s house for a cup of hot chocolate.  We had the freedom to walk to other neighborhoods for a chance to increase the amount of our sweet plunder.

                My best friends back then, Mike and Max, lived two neighborhoods over.  On Saturdays or summer days my mom thought nothing of me being outside all day long.  She knew I would come home if I got hungry or tired, and that not doing so meant one of the other moms fed us lunch.  My mom took her turn feeding us from time to time, as well.

                Today’s practice of “trunk ‘n treat” began, at least in part, as a safe alternative to traditional door-to-door hunting.  A host of vehicles in a church or school parking lot offers a safer environment.  And think of the time and energy the children save when they only have to walk ten feet between treaters!

                Shopping malls also offer a safe environment for this annual candyfest.  Stores gladly welcome children as a way to express appreciation for the community patronage and to provide for a safer evening of fun.

                How did we get here?  How did our society digress in only 50 years from unlocked doors, handshake agreements, and neighborly behavior to a fear of tainted candy, child abduction, and various forms of unprovoked meanness?  How did we breed that sense of entitlement that becomes motivation for disrespect and mistreatment of other human beings?

                Author Henry James, three-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.”  Apparently, that is something easier said than done, based on our news headlines and personal dealings with the general public.

                I still believe that the overwhelming majority of our population is represented by kind-hearted people, and acts of kindness are usually reciprocated.  Nevertheless, it is necessary today that we live our lives in precaution, not taking that kindness for granted.  More and more, it seems there are people seeking opportunity to take advantage of the kind and unguarded.

                So, I am thankful for my childhood memories of fun and almost fearless freedom to be a kid.  At the same time, I am glad to be part of a community that offers safer environments for our families on occasions such as the one that is immediately upon us.  It is encouraging to see so many people working together for the sake of our youth.  Happy treating!