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By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
February 9, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Two-party system doesn't work
Most politicians praise the two-party system that controls politics in this nation. They see it as an effective check and balance that assures that neither side becomes overly powerful and makes bad decisions.
I am not so sure that the two-party system works that well. After all, it has given us the absurdly overbloated federal government we now have. It has allowed the power brokers in Washington to ignore the Constitution and create a government of their own choosing. As a result, we have a government of the politicians for the politicians. We the people are no longer relevant.
Time after time I am told by friends that "It is a waste of time to vote. The politicians are going to do whatever they want to anyway!" This attitude is the primary cause for the low voter turnouts we regularly see.
George Washington warned us about political parties in his farewell address. He said that for those involved, representing the party would be more important than representing the people. That is how it is today. In Congress, our representatives are more interested in creating situations that they can use to damage their opponents than they are in doing the best for all Americans. Government has become a big ball game. The only thing important to the players is defeating the other side.
What we need is a full spectrum of political parties. Each should stand for a political concept or principle. Each should be given a chance to make their positions clear to the voters, who in turn can express the national will by the amount of support each party receives. Congress would then find it necessary to make policy that reflects each position in the same ratio as their voter support.
For example, if the Green party gains strength, Congress would have to develop more effective environmental policy. If the U.S. Taxpayer party is on the ascendant, Congress would be forced to cut taxes and create a less destructive tax code. A surge in the New Party's numbers would indicate that more government services are being demanded. If the Libertarians show rapid growth - as they currently are - Congress will know that we the people are insisting on less government and more individual control over our lives. If the newly formed Southern Party survives and becomes a power, Congress will be forced to recognize state sovereignty and start transferring power back to the states.
When I suggest to a friend that they might want to consider supporting one of the small parties, they object that "they can't possibly win and I would have wasted my vote." I explain to them that we do not vote to endorse the winner. We vote to express our opinion. Whoever wins, if he or she is to survive politically, will have to take into consideration the voting strength of each party in making decisions.
Finally, I believe that a greater range of choices will bring out more voters. If a voter can't see a nickel's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans, who'll bother to make a choice? If they have an opportunity to express their displeasure by voting for a minor party candidate, they are more likely to go to the polls.
We need a third party, and a fourth, a fifth and a sixth. The purpose of voting is for we the people to choose our leaders. If we have no choices, there is no reason to vote. If we have no choices, we are no longer a republic. When we allow the politicians to "do whatever they want to" we start sliding into a pit of dictatorship.
Every one of you be should registered to vote. If the major parties reflect your ideas, then vote for their candidates. If one of the smaller parties more accurately reflect your ideas, then support them. Just remember that no vote is ever wasted!
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.

By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
February 9, 2000

Zach Mitcham
Two years at The Journal
I began working for The Madison County Journal two years ago this past week. In that time I've learned a lot about Madison County and putting out newspapers, though there's still much more I need to know. This week I looked back on the past two years, noting that the good definitely outweighs the bad.
Here are some of the things I like most about my job:
·meeting people like Augusta Jenkins. Ms. Augusta loves Madison County like few do. She's at everything, supporting people around the county with kind words and encouragement. She's also a government watchdog, not afraid to speak her mind.
·watching baseball. Coach Charlie Griffeth's Red Raiders are a major source of pride in Madison County, and rightfully so. Griffeth's squads are 202-87 over the past 10 years. His teams are well-disciplined, scrappy and sometimes capable of true greatness, such as the 1998 squad, which overcame a 4-8 start to go 25-12 and advance to the state finals.
·watching athletes like Tawana Moon. Tawana is a rare find for coaches and fans, able to wow all on a softball field or basketball court.
·observing someone reading the paper or seeing an article clipped and on a wall. It gets me every time. Newspapers probably don't qualify as art, but they are creations. And to see that somebody has placed some value on what I helped produce is a real thrill. It's neat to think that I've helped make scrapbook material for people I don't even know.
·holding the paper after it comes off the press. The first copies of the paper off the press usually look rough, because getting the colors lined up right is a tough job, usually requiring adjustments. With misplaced colors on the front page, a man's eyes may show up on his cheeks, a woman may have a mustache. But it's this paper I look forward to every week. Holding a paper just off the press is like holding a hefty book just after I've turned the last page. There's a sense of closure and accomplishment.
Things I least like about my job:
·the moment when I realize I've goofed. I make mistakes, that's for sure. Sometimes they're plain to everyone, such as a mispelled word. Sometimes they're mistakes in judgment, such as a story that deserved more attention than it received or an important quote or fact buried deep or left out of an article. I can't say I'll never mess up. But I do my best to avoid that sickening feeling of "How the heck did I do that?"
·being told that "this is off the record" during a public meeting. I don't want to be rude, but the answer to that is "just keep it to yourself."
·"Take my picture!" Sometimes I wake up at night in a cold sweat hearing those words over and over again.
There are certainly ups and downs about my job, just as there are in any line of work. But working for a weekly newspaper is a valuable experience, a chance to view a community from many different angles, an opportunity to learn more about myself as I learn more about others.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

The Madison County Journal
February 9, 2000

Says forestry pageant is a wonderful experience
Dear editor:
My name is Melissa "Missy" Anne Branyon, the reigning 1999 Miss Madison-Elbert Counties Forestry Queen. On March 20, 1999, I was crowned Miss Forestry and immediately my duties began. Over the next few weeks, I was constantly in touch with the Georgia Forestry Commission about the Forestry Day with the Macon Braves, a Minor League team of the Atlanta Braves. On April 17, I began my first duty as queen putting stickers on children, signing autographs, taking pictures with the children and walking around with Smokey Bear and Woodsy the Owl. I was also privileged enough to throw out the first pitch with Smokey, and that was a once in a lifetime experience.
My next few months were very busy in which I was making plans for the upcoming parades. In May, I was the first Miss Madison-Elbert Counties Forestry Queen to ride in the Hull Memorial Day Parade. After the parade, I began my preparation and speech for the state pageant in June, which took place in Tifton. My platform issue was Attention Deficit Disorder, because I feel that it is the most misdiagnosed disorder. While in Tifton, we were treated like royalty. Cars would stop in the middle of the street to let us cross and anyone would let us visit their businesses. The pageant was an experience that I'll never forget and will cherish forever. Then two weeks later, I participated in the Colbert Fourth of July parade in which the city of Cannas was spectacular.
Over the next few months I was able to learn more about forestry and speak at the Boy Scout Jamboree and the Share Pilot Meeting where the governor of Pilot, Mrs. Cindy Tatum, was present. Then the most busy month of all arrived, December. On Dec. 2, I paraded through the streets of Athens for the Parade of Lights. On Dec. 4, the busiest parade day of all arrived. I rode in the Bowman parade at 10 a.m., the Comer parade at 2 p.m., and the Elberton parade at 5 p.m. That was a true adventure that I shared with three of the other queens.
No matter how long a day it might have been, there was always joy and excitement that made it all worthwhile. I owe everything and the privilege to some very important people who only God could have sent my way and I thank Him. Mrs. Louise McElroy, Mrs. Beth Coker, the Pilot Club of Madison County, the forestry guys - Mark Wiles and Gerry Bridges, the Georgia Forestry Commission, Ms. Dianne Dominy and her crew, everyone in Tifton for their hospitality, my parents Debbie and Kenneth Branyon, my grandparents and great-grandmother, the Payne family and friends, and my fiancé, who through everything supported me 100 percent, Jeremy Payne. I would especially like to thank the other queens for the great times they have shared with me and they are India McElroy, Mallory James, Tiffany Nunziato and Brandy Drake.
My advice and encouragement is that the forestry pageant is a wonderful experience that has improved over the years and everyone should participate. This past year has been an experience of a lifetime and I can guarantee the future will be, too!
Missy Branyon
1999 Miss Madison-Elbert
Counties Forestry Queen

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