LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Jersey Senate race is key contest
In addition to the presidential run, there are key races on Election Day that affect the Ukrainian American community. I do not believe there is any more key race than the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey. Congressman Bob Franks, a Republican, is running against what he has aptly dubbed, "a human ATM machine."
His opponent, Jon Corzine, has to date spent over $60 million. At his current rate of spending, he is projected to spend more on his senatorial campaign than Al Gore and George W. Bush individually will spend on their presidential races. But, more importantly for us, Mr. Corzine knows nothing about Ukraine, nor does he desire to learn anything about the country and its people, since overtures to brief him on the subject were ignored. In fact, if his prior relationships are any indication of his views, he remains a strong supporter of the Communist regime in China, having both encouraged and profited from his relationship with that country when he was co-chair of Goldmann Sachs. This person is neither a friend of Ukraine, nor someone who deserves your vote.
I can honestly say that Rep. Franks is a true friend of Ukraine. As a member of Congress during the last eight years (and before that as a member of the New Jersey Assembly for 15 years), he has both supported and helped Ukraine. He is a member of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, the key Congressional organization of supporters of aid to Ukraine. To my knowledge, there is no measure that he has not supported in terms of aid to Ukraine. I know that he believes that a free and independent Ukraine is vital to the United States. He is also a person of integrity and character. He has consistently voted in favor of U.S. aid to the struggling and developing nation of Ukraine.
Rep. Franks needs our help now. He is running in what everyone expects will be a close and narrow election - big money against principle and experience. Please, don't just make a commitment to vote for him, but call his campaign office and help him with your feet, hands and support. The reality is that if we don't help those congressmen who have been there for Ukraine, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves when they are not there for us when it counts.
Bohdan D. Shandor
Go out and vote on November 7
America is a dream that started over 200 years ago by courageous, forward-thinking men. This idea worked for America at its outset and it is still working for us today. It is the ideas we all share, the collective things we all believe in and, most of all, the things we do and how we do them. This dream must not be destroyed; it has to be preserved. In America we have choices, and what we become is a result of the choices we make. We must work to preserve it.
We, Ukrainians, who came here in several waves at different times in this century, brought our own ideas with us from Ukraine, but we soon realized that in America we had to adjust and change in order to survive. In most cases the change was for the better. We became more tolerant, more forgiving and more flexible. We also realized that we should participate in the political process and by our vote help to choose our government and its direction. It has been a great privilege to exercise our vote - something that was missing for the most part in Ukraine. This power and strength can be awesome, and we must wield it with utmost care.
It does not matter whether we vote Democratic or Republican (or independent). The important thing is that we vote our conscience. Although the people who are elected are not always to our liking and the functioning of the government can be somewhat lacking, at least we can say we had something to say about it. If errors are made, then we will bear the consequences of our own mistakes and not someone else's.
But we have to act intelligently in the voting process and not succumb to eloquent sloganeering, posturing, negative ads or the color of the eyes of the candidate. We should read the platforms, study the political philosophies and weigh the past performances of the candidates. Only then can we make intelligent decisions with which we are comfortable.
As Ukrainian Americans we share a dual responsibility: how the choice of a candidate will affect our own lives here in America, as well as how the choice will affect the global situation in general and, particularly, the relationship of Ukraine with America.
Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, we can recall with clarity how each administration dealt with Ukraine: foreign aid, humanitarian assistance, immigration policy, isolationism, trade, investments, international bank loans, etc. It should be fairly easy for us to make a final decision based on relatively recent events and developments to which we bore witness.
Make the effort. Vote on November 7.
Of candidates and debates
The great debates of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates have turned out to be overblown vapid media events, leaving audiences wondering if the political image-makers were trying to sell a particular brand of soap to a gullible electorate. The debates became popularity contests, with the media giving an instant analysis on "who won?" When they tried to barge in on the debates, third-party candidates were swatted like flies by the bully boys (Democrats and Republicans). We rarely heard their issue-oriented points of view, except for a few snippets on how they might become spoilers in coin-flipping states.
Vice-President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush, with their huge war chests already amassed far in advance of the first primary salvo, steamrollered over campaign reformers John McCain and Bill Bradley with ease. At the party conventions a variety of inter-racial young and old swatches of America were paraded before the cameras, displaying feel-good icons, together with a diet of pap for our digestion. Anyone with a suspected debatable or controversial agenda was barred from the arena or locked in the wine cellar until the convention was concluded.
From our experience, Mr. Gore's vice-president office does not answer letters and Mr. Lieberman's Senate office said they answer only to those with Connecticut addresses.
The inane "I don't want the government in my medicine cabinet" portrayal of "small government" by Mr. Bush's pitch-men begs the question: "How small can the American government become?"
Ukrainian Americans, an unheralded minority, have a unique background that can be of value in assisting American efforts for world stabilization. There are some ties to the candidates: the Kuchma/Gore Commission, the "Chicken Kiev" speech by Mr. Bush's father still ringing in our ears (George Schultz is "Dubya's" foreign-policy advisor), Pat Buchanan's anti-Communist and Demjanjuk defense columns, and Ralph Nader's support of Zelenyi Svit's efforts to close down the Chornobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine on the occastion of the fifth anniversary of the Chornobyl accident.
The campaign now ends and the voting begins ... It's Gore/Lieberman by a whisker.
A reader's reaction to a political ad
In regard to the advertisement that appeared in your valuable paper on Sunday, October 22, under the title "Ukrainian Americans Deserve a Better Future," I offer the following comments.
What kind of future can Ukrainian Americans expect from George W. Bush if he is elected president of the United States?
Right at the beginning of his campaign he demonstrated a lot of illiteracy in foreign affairs. As a son of former President George Bush he will rely on his legacy. And we, of course, have never forgotten his father's infamous "Chicken Kiev" speech and his negative attitude toward Ukrainians.
One more comment on the statement in the advertisement in question. It is stated: "George W. Bush will hold the Ukrainian and Russian governments accountable for the foreign assistance they receive." In this situation, I believe it is advisable to withdraw from criticism of your own government.
A final thought: why not consider the democratic candidate Al Gore, the environmentalist, and his running mate Joe Lieberman, a friend of Ukrainians, who as a senator always voted for issues favorable to the Ukrainian minority group?
This will be the best choice!
Forest Hills, N.Y.
Compliments on philatelic column
Thank you many times for very educational articles by Ingert Kuzych. Specifically I am referring to his article of October 12, "Commemoration of 'The Tale of Ihor's Campaign'." He is also very responsive to readers who ask about his columns.
Another superb column is that of Myron B. Kuropas. His thinking is right on top of it all.
Please keep up the good work.
Fair Oaks, Calif.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, November 5, 2000, No. 45, Vol. LXVIII
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