Editorials: Electing a prisoner? and The basic divide for Democrats

Bobby Sands was the commander of the IRA prisoners at the Long Kesh prison complex. On a hunger strike, he was elected to the British parliament and died soon thereafter. His election was a rebuke to then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her policies of war and cruelty. By electing Bobby Sands the voters spelled an end to Thatcher’s political career and paved the way for the Good Friday Peace Agreement. There was a compelling reason in that time and place to elect a prison inmate to a public office.

Better to defeat the crooks at the polls

We shall see if Ricardo Martinelli stays on the ballot for mayor and legislator, or not. But people are sick of his antics, to the point that he had to bus in rent-a-protesters for his latest hearing before an electoral judge. Meanwhile, however, a weak PRD candidate is pulling ahead of a weak field and is on a trajectory to make any question about whether Martinelli can run for mayor moot.

It’s insulting when, as a maneuver to avoid facing the full gamut of well founded criminal charges against himself, Ricky Martinelli claims to be a Miami resident, while at the same time before the election authorities he claims to be a Panama City resident. He’ll have an army of lawyers to argue that it’s all proper. Convincing the court of public opinion to accept anything that someone who plays that game says is a more difficult task.

Do we really want our choices of public officials to be fought out in courtrooms where adverse parties try to remove candidates? Wouldn’t it be better to let people run for office from prison if they meet all the requirements and wish to do so? From time to time it would serve a nation or community well to elect a political prisoner, but under ordinary circumstances people would turn away from the man or woman who is not only suspected of being a crook but is convicted and serving time.

Martinelli’s problem, or one of them, is that he’s no Bobby Sands. However, it would be better for Panama City voters to take charge of drawing that distinction.



US Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota.

Democrats’ basic divide

Democrats are eternally divided. It was so in the times of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson and it’s that way today. But through all of the evolution of the oldest US political party, the ones who win and accomplish things are those who know when to set aside arguments and unite in a general election, or for a key vote of a legislative body.

We now have Donald Trump playing to anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-immigrant xenophobia and the usual thing, white racism, to bash Representative Ilhan Omar. So now comes the basic divide — wimps who abandon Omar in the face of that, and on the other hand those who stand by their colleague no matter how many bigots, nativists and racists there are in their districts. What we find is that most Democrats stand by their colleague and that those few who don’t are going to have trouble with Democrats back in their districts because of this. The basic divide isn’t ideology or race or where districts fall on the red to blue scale. It’s about having the courage to do the right thing, or not.

There are hard-fought primaries to come, but by November of 2020 Mr. Trump will find a solid opposition and an electorate that he can’t bully.




Bear in mind…

The people have spoken – the bastards!

Dick Tuck

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

Frederick Douglass

If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.

Erica Jong


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