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Commentaries

Kit Bond’s Lessons for Washington
Aired January 14, 2011
Senator Kit Bond had good advice in his closing remarks to federal lawmakers before entering retirement. Hopefully, Republicans and Democrats will take that advice and work together in a more bi-partisan fashion to complete the work of the people.

Voters Need to Stand Up, Be Counted
Aired August 10, 2010
If you’re one of the non-voters, you might argue that primaries don’t matter – that the candidates with the best name recognition win, and your vote would not make a difference. I could debate that point, but my concern with the low turnout in primary elections is broader than the candidates who move on to the general election. My concern includes the fact that, occasionally, there are matters on the primary ballot that are unique to that ballot – like this year’s Proposition C.

Our Dysfuntional Congress - Who's to Blame?
Aired July 09, 2010
It’s hard to be optimistic because Congress, in many ways, is a reflection of voters – and voters now seem less inclined to have rationale discussions than they once were. Maybe I’m blinded by nostalgia, but I distinctly remember days when citizens – left, right, and center – mustered the will to lower their voices, check their blood pressure, put aside their differences, and recognize the truth in a point made by Senator Bond, namely that compromise is not a “dirty word.” It’s how meaningful changes are made to public policy.

Coffee Party USA
Aired April 26, 2010
Earlier this year, Annabel Park was unhappy with the antics of the political movement commonly known as the “Tea Party.” She sought an alternative. And thus began a new movement, this one named after another caffeinated beverage, the “Coffee Party.”

When I first heard about it, the notion struck me as intriguing but vague. I was not alone in that impression. Two weeks later, I was able to attend a Coffee Party meeting in the Central West End.

Missouri Voters Have Opportunity to Encourage Bipartisanship
Aired March 11, 2010
Last month, Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana surprised the political world when he announced his retirement. Among the several reasons he cited for that decision, Senator Bayh pointed to his frustration with an almost pandemic lack of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats.

That frustration, while understandable, may have been premature. Within a week of Senator Bayh's announcement, Missouri's two Senators demonstrated that bipartisanship and independent thinking are still possible in Washington.

Florissant, the Supreme Court and Free Speech
Aired February 01, 2010
Late last month, the never-ending debate over freedom of speech made both national and local news. On the national front, the U.S. Supreme Court negated certain restrictions on corporations and labor unions that wish to support or challenge political candidates. Effectively, the court’s majority ruled that corporations and unions have the same fundamental right to freedom of speech as individuals.

Locally, the Florissant City Council approved a bill that prohibits city department leaders from campaigning for or against candidates for city office. Prior to that bill’s passage, Florissant’s mayor suggested the bill might unfairly restrict department leaders’ right to free speech.

Newly Announced Danforth Center on Religion and Politics Already Sparking Debate
Aired December 29, 2009
Earlier this month, retired Senator John Danforth announced the formation of an academic center on religion and politics at Washington University. Shortly after that news was published at a St. Louis Post-Dispatch blog, one reader declared, “This center is a mistake. Religion and politics do not mix.”

Now, we can debate if religion and politics should mix, but the fact they already do mix is indisputable.

Direct Democracy: Not All It's Cracked Up to Be
Aired November 10, 2009
Last week, St. Louis County voters approved a smoking ban and a sales tax increase. Thus concluded another round of direct democracy "voters" unfiltered chance to shape public policy. In a year, we'll have more such opportunities, with 19 petitions vying now for ballot space in November 2010.

I'm not opposed to direct democracy, but I'm not its biggest fan, either. Consider California.

Simple Medicine to Preserve the Union
Aired September 24, 2009
Senator Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, likes to tell the story of her first encounter with the late Congressman Bill Emerson, a Missouri Republican. Emerson invited Lincoln and others to enjoy barbecue at his home because, he said: “We may be from different parties and different states, but we can still get along.”

I sometimes fear that when Bill Emerson died, civility died with him.

Debate on Health Care Reform Requires Understanding of Constitution, History
Aired August 21, 2009
In late July, a young man demanded an apology from Senator Claire McCaskill because she supports health care reform, which is not among the powers of Congress enumerated in Article I, Section 8, of our Constitution.

A week later, crowds in St. Louis and beyond demanded that they be allowed to disrupt public meetings about health care reform because their protests, they argued, are a form of protected speech guaranteed by our Constitution’s First Amendment.

In both situations, health care reform was one common thread. Another was the selective reading of our nation’s history and defining document.

Local ADD
Aired May 04, 2009
Yes, we are creatures who grow easily bored with things small and familiar. And often, nothing seems smaller or more familiar than the events in our own backyard. So I’m not surprised we would rather know what Barack Obama is doing than what Jay Nixon or Charlie Dooley or Francis Slay are up to.

But I also suspect the Nixons and Slays and Dooleys of this world – by virtue of their proximity to us – are more likely to impact our daily lives than President Obama ever will. And for that reason, I think there is a great risk for local ADD, to ignoring the events in our own backyard.

Aaron Hilman understands this.

Independents Could Decide 2010 Missouri Senate Seat
Aired March 12, 2009
In 2010, Senator Kit Bond plans to retire. Many people expect the lead contenders for his seat to be House Republican Roy Blunt and Missouri's Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

If that happens, their race will be watched closely across the nation, given the prominence of their names and an all-out-effort by Republicans to prevent Democrats from gaining a filibuster-proof margin of 60 Senate seats.

Against this backdrop, Missouri's non-partisan, Independent voters could find themselves terribly conflicted – and remarkably influential.

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Pete Abel

Pete Abel

Pete Abel is a public affairs executive. He serves on the boards of Stages St. Louis and the Greater Missouri Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association. Previously, he served as managing editor of the political blog “The Moderate Voice.” His career started in 1985, first as a freelance reporter and later as a full-time staff writer for the St. Louis Suburban Journals, covering municipal politics and local businesses.

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