Don't ignore other candidates
Depending on major media outlets for news can leave you unaware of how many candidates are really running for each office.
You wouldn't know it from listening to TV news, but 11 candidates are in Florida's U.S. Senate race, not just three. You wouldn't know it from reading most newspapers, but eight candidates are seeking the governor's office, rather than two. Third-party and independent candidates in other races are also ignored.
Third-party and independent candidates rarely have high enough poll numbers to be considered serious contenders by mainstream media. Polling methods perpetuate the problem. If you do not pick the Republican or the Democrat, you have the choice of "some other candidate" without the option of specifying which one. Sometimes, you don't even have that option; you are simply counted as undecided. Candidates are not going to have high poll numbers if no one has heard of them, but no one has heard of them because they have low poll numbers.
Third-party and independent candidates rarely have the money to get their message out in the face of a virtual media blackout. We say that money plays too big a part in politics, yet we have a system that maintains the status quo.
Perhaps you think that voting for a third-party or independent candidate will be wasting your vote. I think voting for a candidate whom I don't really want is a waste of my vote. Even if that third-party or independent candidate does not win, enough votes will send a clear message to the winner that a large number of people are ready for some fresh ideas.
Since we can't rely on major media outlets to inform us about all of our choices, we can go to our supervisor of elections website for a list of all candidates or we can vote absentee. Getting my ballot weeks before the election has given me time to research all of the candidates. Researching all candidates is the only way to be a truly informed voter.
Joe H. Gaston, Tampa
This attack goes too far | Editorial, Oct. 2
Call zealotry what it is
The comments made by Rep. Alan Grayson are not too far in a climate where some in the tea party movement compare the president of the United States to Adolf Hitler. Where was the Times' editorial outrage when our president was likened to the epitome of evil?
Dan Webster and politicians of his stripe are religious zealots who base their decisions and opinions on archaic religious beliefs in a democracy that is supposedly secular. Taliban Dan is a fair comparison.
Chris Curley, Sun City Center
Extremist is a fair label
For a newspaper that has used a great deal of ink correctly pointing out the harm caused by religious extremists in the Church of Scientology, the Times seems awfully eager to forgive such extremism on the part of someone calling himself a Christian.
ReligionDispatches.org, which monitors the religious right, criticized Rep. Grayson's ad as clumsy but also criticized FactCheck.org and PolitiFact for misinterpreting the context of Webster's talk.
The strange thing is that PolitiFact's analysis of the Grayson ad detailed the beliefs of the Institute of Basic Life Principles, the group to which Webster was speaking and with which he has been affiliated for 30 years. That analysis included the group's belief that wives should be subservient to their husbands, a belief Webster did, in fact, articulate in his talk. And yet it is still claimed that Grayson took Webster's words "out of context," when all he failed to do was make the true context clear enough.
Is a comparison between religious extremists in our country and the Taliban apt? The Taliban gained enough political power in Afghanistan to give their religious extremism the force of national law. Webster's attempt as a legislator to enshrine the concept of "covenant marriage" in Florida law speaks volumes. In my opinion, calling Webster "Taliban Dan" is no stretch, and Grayson owes him no apology — any more than the Times owes the Church of Scientology an apology for calling them out on their brand of extremism in the name of religion.
Bill Hirschi, Ocala
Explain, Salvation Army
It should be no surprise that Jim Norman's wife took money from Ralph Hughes to purchase their house in Arkansas. Ethically challenged Hillsborough County commissioners are nothing new. What is new (and disappointing) is that Norman works for the Salvation Army as a "troubleshooter." The Salvation Army has yet to explain what he does, and whether they advertised for the position.
One of my earliest memories is my mother giving me money to put into the Salvation Army's red kettle. My wife's family was sheltered by the Salvation Army when they were in distress. We have always supported them above and beyond the Christmas kettle. I believe it would be wise for the Salvation Army to give a full accounting of what Norman's duties have been.
John L. Burrell, Tampa
Third party rising is the cure | Oct. 5, Thomas Friedman column
Third time a charm?
We've had two third-party candidates make a run for the presidency recently: Ross Perot and Ralph Nader. Their platform was exactly the position Thomas Friedman takes: that our two-party system is bankrupt, corrupt, partisan and weighed down by special interests.
They were quite vehement about it and absolutely correct.
The result? Perot was made a laughingstock by the media and Nader was demonized for taking votes from Al Gore. Maybe Friedman can make a run. I'd vote for him.
Gail Burke, Hudson
Race for the Cure
Priorities out of line
Several thousand women, men and children who gave up a Saturday morning, paid entry fees, and solicited donations for breast cancer research received one small photo in the Times. Yet 40 men who make millions of dollars to play baseball flew home to a hero's welcome with several photos and articles in the next day's paper.
Do we have our priorities straight?
Sandy Steer, St. Petersburg
Rubio's winning formula | Oct. 2
It's about accountability
I was bothered by Marco Rubio's phrase "the politics of personal destruction" when he was questioned about the large salaries he paid his staff or improper use of his GOP credit card.
Rather than the "politics of personal destruction," more aptly he might have called it the "politics of accountability" or the "politics of integrity in those seeking public office."
Elaine Markowitz, Palm Harbor