There has been a great deal of discussion lately about Mitt Romney's religious affiliation, and how voters are going to react to it. I am concerned about the assumptions being made for why people are making choices. There are many people who say that they are "less likely to vote for" a Mormon. Pundits from all sides seem to see this as a form of religious bigotry, arguing that it "has no place" in political debate.
My question is: Why define this as bigotry? I am one of those who is less likely to vote for Romney because of his Mormonism. Does this mean I think he's a bad man? No. Does it mean that I would not let my kids play with his kids, or that I would not hire him for a job or rent him an apartment? No. Such actions would indeed be bigoted, and I would reject them as firmly as anyone else. (And, should he become the Republican nominee, I am more likely to vote for him than for the likely Democrat nominees.)
However, voting is about selections. I am less likely to vote for a divorcee than for a man who has remained committed to his wife. I am less likely to vote for someone who believes that government is the answer to all our problems. Are these forms of bigotry, too?
To suggest that religious choices are somehow completely out of the political debate strikes me as naive. While I fully agree, for example, that Mormons and Muslims and any other group have the right to worship as they choose, I cannot ignore that aspect of their personality when voting, because I don't think they're right.
It doesn't mean that I will never vote for such a person, nor that he wouldn't do a good job. It does mean, however, that I am more likely to vote for someone who thinks like I do, just as I would about the environment, or fiscal policy, or abortion, or any other choice. After all, that's why we the people in our republic are supposed to vote: to send people who will represent our interests.
Choosing elected representatives by definition requires making comparisons and choices. Let's stop calling it bigotry and save that term for behavior that merits the label.
Buses are welcomed, but benches needed
I was glad to see Gainesville had developed public transit when I moved back home a few years ago. I know what it's like to go automobile-free and still have to get to work and the grocery store. It looks like HAT has adequate pick up points, but when are they going to install a bench at stops around the city?
Most days I pass a couple bus stops during my errands. When I make it back around, I see the same person there waiting. To me that's a long time to stand burdened with shopping bags as the traffic whizzes by scattering road debris.
The most painful was the day I saw a gentlemen who has to permanently rely on crutches, trying to keep steady against the bus stop sign post. (Don't worry, I still struggle with, "should I have asked if he needed a ride?")
I assume that metropolitan cities find a way to pay for the much needed benches (and shelters, which would be ideal) through advertising. Can't HAT find a way? Heck, I'll even help knock on some doors for the cause.