Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Vote for change before darkness falls
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   10/20/2006)

Don't reward lousy GOP leadership

If you grew up in East Tennessee, then you, like me, were probably raised a Republican. Maybe you can't conceive of voting for a Democrat. If so, then this column's not for you. Nothing I can say will sway you.

If you're open-minded enough to entertain another point of view, read on, for there's a danger in staying the course, something you should remember come Tuesday, Nov. 7, when you'll have a choice between Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. to fill Sen. Bill Frist's seat.

I believe that the path we're on is so destructive, so devoid of light and intelligence that change is a moral imperative. Every day our current leadership takes us deeper into darkness. The loss of civil liberties, crimes against humanity, economic inequality, destruction of the Earth, dishonesty, corruption, greater oil dependency, insecure ports, horrors in Iraq and other disasters and insults await at every turn, often covered up by cries and slogans and name-calling meant to instill fear, alarm, and shame. If you agree with this assessment, then you have an obligation to help put this country on a less hysterical and fear-driven course.

It's never been more important to use the brain God gave you. And it's never been more important to vote. I know it's tough, but try and forget what the negative and dishonest ads say on both sides. Please try and bring perspective to what even your pastor and fellow Christians might demand, when it comes to how you spend your precious vote. Don't let them do your thinking for you. No one has a lock on morality. But what about gay marriage and abortion, you ask? Here's my answer. Jesus never said a single word about either issue, as far as I can determine, but even if these were the only issues you considered over the last three or four elections, ask yourself this. What have the Republicans done for you? Is the family stronger? Republicans have held the presidency for 25 of the past 38 years. They've had majorities on the Supreme Court and in the Congress for more than a decade. What have they done besides cynically use such issues to evoke fear and prejudice while diverting us from our true problems? Abortion remains legal after all this time and all this fuss. It's clear from recent revelations that Karl Rove and other cynics in the Bush administration have taken your vote for granted, mocked you behind your back, and bent your support to their own purposes.

In doing so, they've led us all to a dark, dishonest place. More soldiers are dying in Iraq than ever, as this is written. A controversial new study suggests more than 655,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, have died there since we invaded. Our president and a Republican controlled congress have passed laws making deliberate cruelty legal, even though it's clear such a tactic led to many of the lies used by our leaders to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq three years ago (Google “al-Libi” for ample evidence). I'm sorry if you think speaking such things out loud insults the brave soldiers fighting there, but you'd be surprised to learn how many of them recognize the truth of what I say.

Things are just as dire on the domestic front. Our accrued national debt is so great that it cannot be paid by this or the next generation. Our healthcare system is so broken and cynical that breast-removal-surgery is treated as an outpatient procedure under some insurance plans. It's so broken that some of our pharmaceutical companies sell drugs to Canadians more cheaply than to Americans.

If you think things are going terribly wrong in this country, then tell your friends to vote for change. The coming election is a referendum on the policies of George W. Bush. To me, a vote for Corker would be a vote for more uncritical support of our president's disastrous and insulting policies, while a vote for Ford would be for someone who, at a minimum, recognizes that the war in Iraq was a bad deal and that global warming is real. True, neither candidate is perfect, but to sit this one out or throw your vote away on a third candidate would only reward failed policy. Better a divided government than more of the same.

Please don't reward deliberate cruelty, loss of habeas corpus, illegal wiretapping, destruction of a dozen treaties that six or seven presidents sweated blood to produce. Don't vote for destruction of rain forests and a future filled with monster hurricanes, droughts, dying oceans and drowned cities. Don't vote for death to songbirds. For landmines, biological weapons and nuclear testing. Don't vote for federal deficits as far into the future as you can see. Don't vote for selling our fiscal well being to the Japanese and Chinese, who are floating our deficits. Don't vote for selling our seaports and exploiting the disaster in New Orleans. Don't give Halliburton a pass for war-profiteering. Don't vote for more scandals by the likes of Tom Delay, Ken Lay and Jack Abramoff. Don't vote for secret energy deals, lower gas mileage for our cars. Don't reward those who bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq based on lies from a tortured man. Do something to help save us from the swamp we've been led to. Vote for change before darkness comes.