Archive for October, 2006

We the People

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Finally. The time has come.

“We the people,” as stated in our founding document, are about to make decisions on how our county, our state and our nation will be operated.

“In order to form a more perfect union” we have the opportunity and obligation — in less than a month — to rise early on perhaps a frosty morning, to drive or walk or bike to the neighborhood school or church or garage or library which will that day become a “polling place.”

“To ensure domestic tranquility” we will line up to give our name, take a ballot, and enter a booth, there to decide what kind of nation, state and county we want to be or to become.

On those fronts we have much with which to be concerned.

Most disconcerting, locally, is the news that a county school bond proposal is facing, as the Connection’s Seth Rosen wrote, an “unraveling” of the usual strong consensus of support for school bond issues. The apparent controversy seems to be taking on an unfortunate “north vs. south” Arlington divide. Toward the end of Seth’s September 27 story he writes, “Those who are publicly opposing the bond package do not believe in the end it will be shot down by Arlington voters,” that through their opposition they just want to ‘send a message’ to elected leaders. That’s a dangerous path to take, when the schooling of the County’s youngsters is at stake. Study the issues, yes. But please give strong thought to what could happen if solid support for public education in Arlington is broken.

Our Commonwealth has no less controversial a question to put before you: the infamous “marriage” amendment to our Bill of Rights. While claiming to make a “definition” of what marriage is; the proposed amendment actually takes away a right some of our fellow Virginians may want to exercise.

Strange, is it not, that we would want to add to our most sacred document, which enshrines that to which we are entitled, wording that would take away a right?

This constitutional amendment, we all know, is aimed at our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors who may happen to be attracted to persons of the same sex. Sure, you might not think that ‘normal,’ but we need to ask ourselves, ‘what is normal?’ If you happen to be divorced, would we adopt an amendment denying you the right to marry again? If you are single and living with a person of the opposite sex, would we vote to fine or imprison you for not being married?

By the same reasoning, if two people are so committed to one another that they wish to make vows before God and man to bind that union, who are we to deny them that right? After all, it is called a Bill of rights, not a bill of denials.

Lastly, we are faced with the opportunity to decide who will represent us in the United States Senate; that body of our government which voted to allow our president to take this nation into an unprovoked invasion of another sovereign nation.

One candidate, our current senator John Allen, said in his debate with Democrat Jim Webb, “I stand by my decision” to grant war-making authority to George W. Bush. Webb opposed that decision.

Think what has become of our nation since that invasion: war has become a part of our daily lexicon for a period of time longer than the horrific second world war, and “torture” is now associated with our beloved United States of America.

Is this what we want? Since this unprovoked invasion took place, with Mr. Allen’s blessing, more than two-thousand seven-hundred young men and women of this land have lost their lives in a place far, far away. They were told they were avenging the 2001 attacks in New York and on our Pentagon; and they were told the madman ruling Iraq was about to use poison gas and other “weapons of mass destruction” to rain death upon us.

Over time it became apparent that neither reason was true, and that our president knew it before he made his decision to invade Iraq.

We have nothing more precious than the right to determine how we are to be governed. Please do set aside a part of your time on Tuesday, November 7, to make your way to your precinct’s polling place. Momentous decisions will be made that day; decisions that will tell Arlington, Virginia and our nation what kind of people we are.

What kind of people we want to be.

Nick Penning is an Arlington, Virginia, freelance writer.