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Encouraging growth seen among voters

October 01, 2004

CATHARINE COOPER

The western sky softly beckons in the afternoon light, lulling me

from a busy day's frustration into the recognition of another day

spent. Fluffy clouds buffet the horizon with a soft caress, and a

hint of chill announces a change in the weather. The sea is tranquil,

as if at rest between the surf-able south swells of summer and the

rough chop of winter whipped waves.

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It feels as if the entire world should be permeated with this same

sense of peace that I find in Laguna. The fluffy underbellies of the

clouds shift from soft blues to violets, then assume the brilliant

pink and orange wardrobe of the setting sun. If only we could be as

easy -- one to the other -- as this tranquil September afternoon.

The fall season bears bounteous gifts -- shorter days, the harvest

moon, and the prelude to the winter season. In their midst, elections

bear down on us like growling dogs, threatening to dismantle any

sense of calm that we might attempt to wear. From local to national

contests, the candidates begin to press their messages in earnest --

and not with a gentle touch. The greater global community pulls

quietly aside, posturing assumptions, but afraid to actually align

themselves, for fear of a false step.

In the course of the next few weeks, disparaging remarks will be

cast from all sides. Men and women who have ventured into the fray --

have placed their lives in the midst of the political process -- will

likely have their characters assassinated, their personal lives

dismantled. I'm not sure how any of them survive the onslaught. At

the end of the campaigns, those who are victorious will assume new

(or renewed) positions of power, but they will carry with them the

slings and arrows of the opposition. Is there a way to move beyond

this type of politicking?

Our own Mayor Cheryl Kinsman, said at a recent fundraiser in her

behalf, that she will run a "positive" campaign -- that she is proud

of what has been accomplished during her tenure on the council, and

that to besmirch Laguna or any of her constituency is simply not

productive. I wonder how viable a positive platform might be on a

national level. I wonder how a campaign might be run -- if it were

run on issues that affect the citizenry, and not personal slanders of

one man/woman to the other.

Beyond candidates, a ration of ballot measures faces the

California consortium. Issues ranging from open primaries through the

Three-Strike Law, tribal gaming, DNA Sampling, and stem cell research

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