Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

October 2004


What is so alluring about free totes? We must have dozens but would never think of throwing one out. We got them for: attending a fancy seminar (Gucci tote, now 23 years old and still in use); attending trade shows (mostly canvas, although a couple are rip-stop nylon); opening a charge account; opening a checking account; making a donation; playing in a tournament; and like that.

Totes are magical motivators. People, including people like me, go out of their way to get a free tote. Then they actually use them. Instead of plastic or paper at the grocery checkout, a couple of sturdy totes will haul away a day or two of carbs and calories. Totes are great for library books, pet trip supplies, knitting materials and computer cables. Flying somewhere? Fill a tote with reading material, spare glasses, slippers, whatever. Overnight by car? Pack a suitcase if you want, but use two or three totes to bring more than you need without all the fuss of making everything fit.

Why am I talking about totes, when everyone else is talking about votes?

I can talk about votes. I've voted in every presidential election since 1960. I didn't have to; I wanted to. Voting is not a federal right. It's not part of the Bill of Rights; it's a state right. The Bill of Rights guarantees your right to have a gun, a little privacy and things like that. But because the states run the voting, many funky things happen during national election days. If you move around, you will be surprised how differently your voting rights are administered.

Because it's a state-granted and -administered right, there are lots of variances. For instance, felons can never vote in Florida, but they can in Michigan if they're out of prison. In Vermont, even the prisoners get to vote (absentee, I would think). I'm not sure if you can take the Freeman's Oath in prison, but if you could, it would not be the only ironic thing about voting. In Florida, for instance, unopposed candidates for the U.S. Congress do not appear on the ballots. Porter Goss, the CIA honcho-designee, has rarely received a vote in the 14th district of Florida, although he's been "re-elected" time and again.

In the presidential elections I've participated in, sitting presidents qualified to run for another term have won four times (Johnson '64; Nixon '72; Reagan '84; Clinton '96) and lost four times (Johnson '68; Ford '76; Carter '80; G.H.W. Bush '92). Johnson could have run in 1968 but sat it out and Nixon whacked Humphrey. Interestingly, the four second-termers all had big problems in that last term: Johnson over Vietnam; Nixon over Watergate; Reagan over Iran-Contra; and Clinton over impeachment. The one-termers, (especially Carter and G.H.W. Bush) got hit hard with economic problems (gas prices, new taxes) and the Mideast (Iranian hostages, Desert Storm).

Hmmmmmm. If I had a tote for every time I voted for the winner, I'd have fewer totes than votes.