Tallahassee Democrat from Tallahassee, Florida on September 19, 1999 · Page 61
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

Tallahassee Democrat from Tallahassee, Florida · Page 61

Publication:
Location:
Tallahassee, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 19, 1999
Page:
Page 61
Start Free Trial
Cancel

r ' ' ' : : : ; : : I Tallahassee Democrat Sunday, September 19, 19993E Commentary Volatile Pat Buchanan: Bad voices should be heard, too If Pat Buchanan, the human hand grenade, lobs himself into the 2000 presidential campaign as nominee of the Reform Party, some Republicans, and per-haps some Democrats, will try to dampen his explosive force by excluding him from next year's presidential debates, as Ross Perot was excluded from the Clinton-Dole debates in 1996. Exclusion would be in the spirit of campaign finance reformers' plans to further constrict, through government regulation,- political discourse. Fortunately, Jamin Raskin, George Will NEWSWEEK professor of law at American University, in his essay "The Debate Gerrymander" in the Texas Law Review, refutes the arguments for excluding candidates like Buchanan from the central events of presidential contests. Raskin's statutory and constitutional arguments against practices designed to disadvantage rivals of the two major parties may or may not persuade courts. However, his invocation of democratic morality should persuade , fair-minded people. In 1992, two years after winning a three-way Republican primary for lieutenant governor of Arkansas with 46 percent of the vote, Ralph Forbes ran as an independent for Congress. Although he had satisfied Arkansas' ballot access requirements, an entity of the state government, Arkansas public television excluded him from the televised debate on the ground that he had no "serious" or "reasonable" chance to win. It based that judgment on the opinions of "news organizations," his shortage of funds and the fact that his house was his campaign headquarters. Raskin believes, but the U.S. Supreme Court disagrees, that this exclusion a decision to weaken Forbes because he was weak violated the First Amendment by discriminating against Forbes in a public forum. In 1996, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a private entity funded by large corporations, excluded Perot from the debates. Raskin says this action, by conferring the debates' vast television exposure on only two candidates, constituted an. illegal corporate contribution to them. This issue is being litigated and is being reconsidered by the Federal Election Commission. The CPD's criteria for excluding Perot even though he was on all state ballots and had almost $30 million in federal campaign funds supposedly were "national news-worthiness and competitiveness" as judged by Washington bureau chiefs of (the elite media, "prominent" political commentators, campaign managers and pollsters, "representative" political scientists at "major" universities, and news coverage. Basing exclusion on such self-fulfilling prophecies would be bad enough. Bui exclusion actually was a deal struck by the Dole and Clinton campaigns. However, even if Perot really of the ffr and WW J vT TT K . had been excluded on "viability" or "seriousness" grounds, why should a candidate who is on 50 state ballots be excluded because some supposed experts make predictions about the voting that the debates are supposed to influence? The major party candidates for president and other offices are exempt from "viability" tests for inclusion in debates. Gov. Jesse Ventura was not "viable" until he was included in statewide televised debates with the two major parties' nominees. Besides, says Raskin, from Robert La Follete through Perot, third party candidates with no chance of winning nevertheless have serious purposes. Those purposes include trying to shape the nation's political conversation and articulate views of constituencies that feel neglected by the major parties. A two-party system, although desirable, is neither endorsed nor presumed by the Constitution and should not be "sacralized" (Raskin's word) by objectionable laws and practices. Debates should be open to any candidate with a mathematical chance to win the necessary electoral votes any candidate who is on the ballots in states with a cumulative total of 270 electoral votes. Some people justify excluding from debates candidates not from the major parties in order to prevent "cacophony." But a high decibel level can betoken democratic vigor. Buchanan is here. He is a good campaigner and, as a nativist and protectionist, a bad influence. He has a right to be both, without being hobbled by the major parties in collusion. Forgotten Bass Reeves contributed to Old West Willie Roberts MY VI E W Richard Lamm M V V I E W As the new academic year begins, school districts across the country are struggling to accommodate a record 53.2 million kindergarten through 1 2th-grade children. Aside from the usual worries about rais ing academic standards to ensure that America's kids will be able to compete in the global economy, the surge in enrollment has left these school systems without sufficient classroom space and qualified teachers. The U.S. Department of Education attributes the record school enrollment to the "baby boom echo." The children of America's baby boom generation are now moving through the education system and filling many classrooms. But there is a second baby boom echo that is ovewhelming school systems in many parts of the country. Because of the record number of immigrants who have come to the United States over the past three decades, our schools must accommodate not only the children of America's baby boom generation, but Mexico's, China's, India's and numerous other countries. According to research by Linda Thorn, a retired analyst for the Santa Barbara County Administrator's Office, California alone is responsible for half the national increase in the K-12 student population. Thom points out that the annual number of births in the nation's most populous state between 1970 and 1994 surged from 362,000 to 567,000. However, over this period, births to native-born women declined by 9,210, while births to foreign-born women increased by 213,592. And these figures tell only part of the story. In addition to the U.S.-born children of immigrants, based on settlement patterns, we can estimate that approximately 25,000 youngsters under the age of 20 who are legally admitted to this country each year settle in California, and an untold number accompany their families illegally. There is hardly a public opinion survey that has been done in the past decade that does not place quality of education at the top of the list of Americans' concerns. From President Clinton on down, there is hardly a politician around who has not pledged his or her commitment to raising academic standards and reducing class sizes, While acknowledging that our educational system is lacking, that our schools are overcrowded and that there is a shortage of CH001DL1S ' Iff : t ' t 1 r- mf; . f V f V,-, f '.Ltd I" sV'ffV ,ySJ VM.J it1 (ifr r :4' A' I . it V, f ' ' - - tmS.. Il l -: ljl 1 C , 1 " 4 "V, J . ? ;. i ' 9 f T i ...v-Y' - , IV - .11 '-sj. ...... a Li. As a tidal wave of baby boomers' children head to schools this year, immigrant families are having a baby boom of their own, causing in schools across the country. When I was a child, the media and history books fed me images of the Old West that made me think only whites were gunfighters, cowboys and lawmen. But many Ameri-c a n s are unaware mat blacks were among the gunfighters, lawmen and outlaws in the Oklahoma Territory. Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Wild Bill Hickock and Pat Garrett are legends whose courage and devotion to duty have been romanticized in books and movies. But Bass Reeves, their peer in courage and fidelity to duty, has been largely ignored by writers and historians. Reeves was a black deputy U.S. marshal who served with uncommon courage in the Oklahoma Indian Territory for about 35 years beginning in 1875. I had not heard of Bass Reeves until two years ago when one of my nephews mentioned him at a family reunion with rel-atives from Oklahoma and Texas. That sparked my interest. I searched for information on Reeves' life without success. I was sure I would find infor mation about him "West of Hell's t S y- adequately trained teachers, we still maintain an immigration policy that guarantees student enrollment will grow significantly every year. Moreover, because of language and other barriers, we are committing ourselves to additional responsibilities along with the additional kids. The surge in school enrollment is just another example of the consequences of an immigration policy that is seemingly made in a public policy vacuum. We consistently admit legally and illegally more than 1 million new residents each year, and only then begin to reckon with the social, fiscal and environmental costs. According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, 75 percent of our staggering population growth over the next half century will be directly attributable to post-1990 immigration. Our nation is expected to add 130 million people to our population by 2050, while our politicians scratch their heads alxwt what to do about phenomena like overcrowded schools and urban sprawl. Predictably, the response of state and local politicians, who bear the primary burden for educating the record 52.3 million school kids, is to demand more federal money to pay for school coastruction and teacher training. Even if the Republican led Congress and the Democratic administration could agree on a sufficient aid package, it is doubtful that many localities could keep pace with the growth in their student populations. In California, for example, the student population is growing so fast that it would require the construction of a new school every single day. Even if it were physically possible to build schools that quickly, the bricks atid mortar would be The Associated Press worthless unless they could train an entire teaching staff every 24 hours. ( The politicians who regularly pledge their commitment to improving America's educational system must be willing to make some hiu'd choices in order to fulfill their promises. Adequate funding and high academic standards are vital to improving the quality of education in America, but so is manageable growth in our student population. School overcrowding, which is reaching crisis proportions in some pan's of the country, is not just a naturally occurring baby boom echo, but a consequence of our recora levels of immigration. Richard D. Lamm is a former Democratic governor of Colorado and executive director and professor at the University of Denver's Center for; Public Policy and Contemporary! Issues. Readers may write him, at: CPPCl, University of Denver 299 S. University Boulevard, Denver, Colo. 80208. in the book Fringes" by Glenn Shirley, which chronicled the lives of federal peace officers and criminals in the Oklahoma Territory between 1889 and 1907. But this otherwise well-documented book did not mention him. It was not until I located, through an Internet search, the book "Black, Red, and Deadly" by Art Burton, a black writer, that I found information about Reeves. Burton's book, which was iaspired by Bass Reeves' exploits, gives unique insight into the social, political and legal interactions among blacks, Indians, lawmen and outlaws in the Oklahoma Indian Territory. The book destroys the myth that all cowboys, lawmen and outlaws were white. Blacks played a significant role in the history of the American West and deserve to be included among western lore, legends and history. The state of Oklahoma has a Web site (www.otrd.ok.us studentguide), which includes this message from Gov. Frank Keating: The history of African Americans in Oklahoma is a story unlike any to be found in the United States. African Americaas came to this region as cowboys, settlers, gunfighters and farmers. By stateluxxl in 1907, they outnumbered both Indians and first-and second-generation Europeans. "They created more all-black towns in Oklahoma than in the rest of the country put together, produced some of the country's greatest jazz musicians, and led some of the nation's greatest civil rights battles." Reeves worked out of the marshal's office in Fort Smith, Ark. His career brought him face to face with criminals, rustlers, robbers and murderers, who infested the Oklahoma Indian Territory after the Civil War. A few historians have recently taken note of Reeves' courageous exploits. Jimmy L. Franklin, a history professor at Vanderbilt University, wrote: "Reeves carried an enviable and well-deserved reputation as a courageous officer who 'got his man.' As legend would have it, both blacks and whites feared the 'sudden pop of his unerring gun' and many of the men for whom he had warrants were carried back to . . . court feet foremost because they made the mistake of matching their pistols with Reeves." Although Reeves killed 14 men during his long career, he always said that he only shot when it was necessary in the performance of his duty. After the Civil War, it seemed like every criminal and malcon-r- '".'j tent passed 1 through the Oklahoma Indian Territory. "West of Hell's Fringes" graphically captures the violent atmosphere that Reeves faced in the frontier. Indeed, the eastern region of the Oklahoma Terri-tory, where Reeves was assigned, was on the "Fringes of Hell" an outlaw's paradise. As a youth, Reeves was high-spirited. He knocked his Texas slave master out cold in a dispute over a card game and was forced to flee to avoid being hanged. He lived among the Seminole and Creek Indians where he honed his tracking and shooting skills during the Civil War years and later moved to Arkansas. The speed with which he could draw and shoot his .38 pistols "has been likened to that of a Methodist preacher reaching for a platter of fried chicken during Sunday dinner at the deacon's house." Old-timers said that "he could shoot the left hind-leg off a contented fly on a mule's ear at a hundred yards and never ruffle a hair." Reeves often used stealth, cunning and disguises to capture outlaws. He once disguised himself as an outlaw to capture two brothers, to the chagrin of their mother who had unwittingly encouraged him to join up with her outlaw soas. She followed Reeves and her handcuffed sons for three miles, cursing and calling him vile names. Reeves arrested more than 3,000 outlaws, a record few Old West lawmen could match. On Jan. 13, 1910, Reeves' death was reported in the Muskogee Phoenix, Clerks and officers recalled the "many incidents in the early days of the United States Court in which the old Negro deputy figured heroically." Bass Reeves, one of this country's greatest frontier lawmen, was a true American hero, an ideal role model for all students in our public schools. The images of the Old West are incomplete without the mention of his name. Willie L Roberts is an associate professor of mathematics at Florida A&M University. ' Special to the Democrat Bass Reeves was a black deputy U.S. marshal who served in the Oklahoma Indian Territory for about 35 years beginning in 1875. r )

What members have found on this page

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 18,100 newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the Tallahassee Democrat
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free