Expressing opinions key piece of campaign season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 2004

With just more than three weeks until Election Day, the political battles are certainly in full swing.

Nationally, President George Bush and presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry have been duking it out in the trenches. Each camp spins their own web of political rhetoric and voters are left to decide which version of "the truth" they want to believe.

It may be easy for the cynics among us to declare that neither candidate's election will affect much in terms of our local way of life. Perhaps that could be true.

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One thing, however, is certain: If "all politics is local," as former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil once said, then politics can certainly affect us all locally, even if only a bit.

The American political system, as flawed as it may seem to some folks, works.

Each year the millions and millions of residents of this country come together, in a single day, to elect our leader.

We do so without military force or coercion. We choose our leaders of our own free will and we do so without bloodshed or violence.

It's a concept many foreign countries still struggle to fathom.

One of the more interesting parts of the political process is the ability to speak one's mind and express one's opinion in nearly any way possible.

Do you feel the need to paint yourself red, white and blue and walk down the street holding a sign touting the wonderful traits of one candidate? Go right ahead.

Want to lobby all dog owners to support a particular candidate for his or her stance on pet ownership? No one is stopping you.

Regardless of your feelings, beliefs, concerns or questions, it's your right to be able to express them.

To that end, we offer a reminder that this newspaper's opinion page is for just such a purpose. We accept letters to the editor offering either support or criticism for candidates, from the president of the United States down to each county office up for grabs.

The same rules apply during political season as applies the rest of the year.

Letters must be signed by the author and must include a telephone number as well. Letters should be no longer than 600 words, though shorter letters are preferred.

In order to be completely fair to all candidates and their supporters, we will stop publication of politically charged letters on Oct. 24, given any politician one week during which he or she may respond prior to the election.

Allowing this grace period is the fairest way to handle a political season. We encourage you to write letters, express your opinion and make your feelings be known.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext.12 or by e-mail to