Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Election Reflections 1960 vs 2016

11/16/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Election reflections

On October 28, 2016 I signed, sealed and delivered my 14th presidential election ballot for the next president of the United States.  It was a relief to have made my decision(s) and know it would be counted along with millions of others. Unfortunately, I had to wait a few days before I knew the results.

From the beginning, I honestly had no idea how this election was going to shake out. On a national level the race between Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton was too close for the pollsters to call. Watching it was a seesaw of emotions as facts, lies and hostility were interspersed. Hillary was up one day and Donald the next.

I certainly had no sense of which way the nation would vote. On the one hand I thought that Hillary was the most experienced candidate but the country was not ready to elect a female president. On the other hand, I thought that Trump had some good ideas but his personality was too obnoxious to get him elected.

I was both right and wrong. Hillary won the popular vote but lost the election. Surprise! Donald won the Electoral College vote and thus the election. He is the president elect. The people have spoken. It is now our duty to respect the majority vote and move on. Wisdom dictates that we expect the best from the nominee and be prepared for a few bumps along the road as he settles in.

But after listening to Trump on the campaign trail, and considering his often wild rhetoric, I wonder: Will he unite or divide the population? Will he act as president of a democracy or CEO of a business? Will he fly off the handle, insult and call people names as he did in debates? I hope not. I hope that he will be gracious, use good judgment in all things and make us proud.

There is an old proverb that says, “Without counsel plans fail but with many advisers they succeed.” I hope that he will surround himself with seasoned, reasonable and experienced advisors. That he will not be an egomaniac but will respect and seek counsel from former presidents…and always put the country first.

I can’t help but compare this election with the first presidential election that I voted in. The year was 1960 and I was 21 years old. That year, on November 8, Democrat John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Republican Richard M. Nixon, VP to President Dwight Eisenhower. Kennedy became the country’s first Roman Catholic president and the youngest elected president.

Many of the issues the candidates discussed were similar to 2016. Kennedy said that the U.S. was falling behind the Soviet Union in world supremacy and that the United States must “do better.” He talked about the need to increase economic growth and deal with unemployment in depressed areas. Nixon’s basic premise was to simply carry on and improve the popular programs of the Eisenhower administration.

Thanks to television the campaign reached the largest audiences ever. It was intense but not nasty. I vividly remember the subject of Kennedy’s religion dominating the campaign. Protestant Americans worried that if Kennedy, a Catholic, was in the White House he would be under the direction of the Vatican and the Pope. The separation of church and state was repeatedly stressed in every interview.

Kennedy was able to finally put the subject to rest when he spoke before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston on Sept. 12. He said, “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish—where no public official requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National council of Churches…where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

In the end, Kennedy won both the Electoral College and the popular vote but by a very narrow margin. Kennedy won the election 49.7 to Nixon’s 49.5! Rumors of voting irregularities in Illinois and Texas were said to be the reason Kennedy won. Nixon was urged to contest the votes but chose not to. He said:

I could think of no worse example for nations abroad, who for the first time were trying to put free electoral procedures into effect, than that of the United States wrangling over the results of our presidential election, and even suggesting that the presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the ballot box.”

The campaign was a class act by both candidates. Sadly, President Kennedy was assassinated and never got to carry out his dreams for the country “to be better.” Instead, Vice President Lyndon Johnson seamlessly moved into the presidency after his death. After a long period of mourning, Johnson’s “Great Society” reform began.

Thanks to our founding fathers our government has checks and balances. They made sure that one person didn’t have too much control as they wisely divided separation of governmental powers into three parts— Legislative (makes laws), Executive (carries out laws) and Judicial (evaluates laws). It was and is a great plan!

Presidents and their agendas come and go but our foundation remains the same—the Constitution of the United States of America is firm. Looking back over a lifetime of presidential campaigns, the winners and losers, I can confidently say that our system works—even when our favorite candidate doesn’t win.

So…Congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump. Thank you Hillary Clinton for being gracious and encouraging in your loss. Best wishes to outgoing President Barack Obama and his family. And God bless America!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.


Oregon Fall Foliage

10/19/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

'Tis the season of pumpkin and apple
The leaves are changing and so is the weather
It's time to put away the shorts and put on the sweater
Halloween is near and Thanksgiving is coming
My favorite time of year this is becoming.
Author unknown

As I finished writing this column a blustery rainstorm blew into Cottage Grove and largely destroyed today’s subject—the beauty of autumn and some local places to visit before winter rains set in. By the time you read this our fall foliage may have washed away. Sorry about that. Mother Nature is in charge! Perhaps you can save this information in a file under “Fall 2017.”

This column came about out of desperation. For too many years to count, my husband and I have taken our major vacation of the year in September or October. The weather is always nice—not too hot and not too cold—making it a good time to go sightseeing in mostly fall foliage areas around the country.

 In recent years, some of our favorite trips have been to the East Coast. We have fond memories of eating lobster at Peggy’s Cove on a brisk autumn day and some fabulous shopping in North Conway after driving through the glorious White Mountain foliage of New Hampshire.

This year’s trip plans included Niagara Falls and Toronto, Canada. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Instead, our travel times were visits to doctors, ERs and hospitals. Chuck has developed some serious cardiac issues that have curtailed his energy and ability to travel long distances from home. It’s a bummer.

But you can’t keep determined travelers down. I decided that this would be a perfect time to make some Oregon fall foliage trips. One does not have to travel out of state to see color popping up all over the Willamette Valley. Right here in Cottage Grove all one has to do is head out of town and up to either Dorena or Cottage Grove Lakes for amazing scenery.

Everywhere you go in the Willamette Valley is a scenic wonderland.
Roads to most wineries and vineyards are colorful and a leisurely drive from town. And your trips don’t have to be costly. You can pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery at any of the Willamette Valley’s covered bridges. The CG Chamber of Commerce has excellent pamphlets that will tell you how to get to Currin Bridge, Dorena Bridge, the Stewart Bridge and more. All in one day.

There are other covered bridges outside our area. If you get really adventurous you can drive east on Highway 126 and check out the Goodpasture Covered Bridge in Vida Oregon. And don’t forget Eugene. Last week, driving through Eugene’s downtown, I couldn’t help but notice that their trees are also popping color.

If you’re into biking, there’s still time before the winter rain sets in to pedal out our wonderful 35.5 mile Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Tour route. This scenic bikeway will give you up close views of colorful foliage that you can’t get on a tour bus, The bikeway is a paved path that is off the street (no car traffic) and suitable for all ages.

We like heading up north. We want to check out a new place (to us), the Sweetbrier Train and RV Park’s Pumpkin Patch Train Ride. It is located in Scio, OR, 25 miles east of Salem and Albany or 90 min. from downtown Portland. We have not been there but if it’s as interesting as Cottage Grove’s former Blue Goose train ride it will be memorable. The park closes this weekend for the winter so if you don’t make it, mark your calendar for next year!

Their website says that the park is privately owned and set in 19 acres of woods with old growth fir that is interspersed with foliage and creeks. This year, along with the train ride, there is a tractor hayride, panning for gold and more. The cost for the 2016 Pumpkin Patch Train trip is $6 per person with a can of food; $10 without canned food and free for children under 2 years of age.

Speaking of Salem, I’m putting the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge on our list to visit. It is located just off Interstate 5 and provides overwintering habitat for the dusky Canada goose and other migratory waterfowl.  It is handicap accessible and its boardwalks and kiosks are open year-round. All other trails are closed from Oct. 1 through March 31. There are interpretive signs and a photography blind available for reservation. Sounds good to me. Check Map Quest for directions to 2301 Wintel Rd., about 67 miles from C. G.

Another place that we always enjoy is the famous Dean Creek Elk Viewing area. It is the habitat for hundreds of Oregon’s Roosevelt Elk population with viewing stations and of course, photo opportunities. Just a few miles east of Reedsport, on Highway 38, it’s an enjoyable stop on your way to the coast.

Now, dear readers, all is not lost if you no longer drive. You can still enjoy many of these places. Check out Experience Oregon or other small bus tours. Winter’s a-coming. Enjoy Fall!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —