Vote reflected will of constituents
Apparently Andrew Dys needs a history lesson about representative government. In a recent column replete with cheap shots, Dys accused Jason Silverman of sitting on the fence and criticized him for making his decision at the 11th hour. Silly me, I thought elected representatives were supposed to keep their constituents' opinions in mind when arriving at a decision.
I have known Jason Silverman for over 20 years as a friend and colleague, and never in that time has he straddled the fence on anything. His decisions are the result of a good deal of thinking and reflecting about what is right, something Dys would be well advised to emulate in the future. Indeed, Dr. Silverman should be commended for putting his personal preferences aside in favor of what his constituents want. Wouldn't we have far fewer problems if local, state and national politicians did more of that? Aren't too many of today's elected officials representing nothing more than their own self-interest agendas? Wouldn't the nation be better off, for example, if George Bush were listening to the voice of the people rather than to the voices in Dick Cheney's head?
It is refreshing when an elected official actually does reflect integrity in the decision-making process by doing what he was elected to do -- represent the views of the people. He certainly shouldn't be excoriated for doing so. Dys' column reflected his own poor judgment and lack of knowledge. We can only hope that, like a fine wine, he will improve with age.
Is state prepared to choose candidates?
Sen. Joe Biden stopped in Rock Hill recently to demonstrate his belief that the primary in South Carolina -- more than any other -- will determine who will be the next president of the United States.
The question is, is the South Carolina electorate serious enough for a responsibility of this magnitude?
Voters complain cynically that our presidential candidates are too beholden to Washington lobbyists, money interests and Hollywood stars. We say we want someone how can unify the country, speak with specificity on the issues, present a resume that inspires confidence and stand by a track record with which we can assess both consistency and effectiveness.
And yet, when a candidate like Biden presents these qualities and says, "Look me over," instead we consult the tea leaves of polls and punditry. We abandon our political passions and support a candidate the media tells us is among the most popular rather than commit to our own convictions.
By next spring, the nominees of both major parties will have emerged. South Carolina will be in a unique position to demonstrate to the world either that our people are capable of thinking independently or that modern democracy has truly abdicated its principles to the fundraisers, the famous and the formless.
Horses add much to people's lives
In the past two years, I've written five features for horse or carriage magazines and published the biography of Heather Brooks, a young woman in Georgia who drives a horse-drawn carriage with her feet, thanks to York County resident John Ingram, who invented a foot-control mechanism for her.
I've seen how horses draw people together in shared fascination. How they put smiles on the faces of the residents of Lake Wylie Assisted Living who rode in the Whippoorwill Ranch carriage provided by Daniel and Miriam Barrett. How Jo Russell's Clydesdale walked over and lowered his nose for an elderly woman in a wheelchair to pet him.
At Tuesday's Child, a program for at-risk kids, I watched as excited children poured out of the house and screeched to a halt in awe of a Clydesdale's size. Then, with encouragement from horse owner Jo Russell, they edged closer and touched tentatively. Within an hour, they were feeding the horse grass, petting him and braiding his forelock without fear, and each had taken a turn on his back.
At Driving Magic, a therapeutic carriage driving program in Hoschton, Ga., for people with disabilities, I witnessed joy in the faces of participants who responded to little else except the horses. And I know what driving has meant to Heather Brooks. She has severe cerebral palsy and can't control any part of her body except her legs and feet, yet she placed second in Pleasure Driving at a spring draft horse show competing against four able-bodied drivers.
The Georgia International Horse Park in the small town of Conyers stays booked year-round. Driving Magic serves around 150 people annually and has a waiting list for all its programs. So, yes, I believe an equine center would be good for York County.