One night during a conversation among friends, it again became apparent how disparate opinions about political issues can be. In fact, it is the one place - beside religious conversations - where people's voices rise when met with differing opinions and challenges.
It is difficult to find a platform, no matter how small and secure the audience, where individuals are willing to be challenged with an opposing viewpoint without an increase in decibels pushing the meter into the red. That bothers me, because to me, it suggests that the only freedom of speech we really believe in is our own and maybe that of those who concur with us. Ouch!
Where am I going with this? I'm headed directly to the recent primary election here in Trumbull County.
My grandma used to say that if you have nothing nice to say about someone, keep your mouth shut. Some politicians would get further if they followed this rule.
Ken MacPherson, for example, was in a run-off with Michael O'Brien and Eugene Mach for a Democratic fall ballot position for state representative of the 64th District. Rather than speak well of himself in his advertising, he pointed the gun at O'Brien, enumerating all of his supposed sins while in public office.
It's my opinion that when a candidate takes this approach, it means he has no commendable history and no plan for the future to bring to the office he wants to fill. Definitely no ''X'' from me in his box. Apparently, others agreed with me.
As I looked through the complete Trumbull County election results, it struck me that most categories offered only one candidate. Even though each voter receives their party's ballot in the primary, it seems to me that back in the day, we all had more candidates to pick from.
In this election, out of 19 positions with sitting candidates looking to enter the fall election, there were only seven Democratic seats with two or more choices. Republicans had only three with two or more choices.
Oddly enough, Republicans also showed three viable categories with no entries at all and one category for a 13th District representative that specifically said ''write-in only.''
That ballot received 172 votes. If at least 50 of them wrote in Thomas Pekarek, he will show up as the challenger to Tim Ryan in the fall election.
I've never seen the write-in process in action; I liked seeing it work.
Now, here's the real kicker for me: Out of 144,913 registered voters in Trumbull County, only 29,464 of them (20.33 percent) voted. Given all the opportunities that voters are now offered for advance voting, this is disturbing news and begs a question: Does the other 80 percent of registered voters stay at home because about two-thirds of the time, there's no real choice to be made? Is their attitude ''if the election is already a done deal before I arrive, why bother to show up?''
With that in mind, I have a question of my own: Especially when ballots are rife with single candidate choices, should we be offered the option of a ''no'' vote? A ''no'' vote could more accurately express our real opinions about those on the ballot.
I'm thinking it might actually be better for all of us if both parties had to become more thoughtful in the number and quality of choices they give us. The availability of a specific ''no'' vote on every ballot, for every candidate, just might make that happen.
It could also help voters believe again that with their vote, their voice is truly heard.
Jagunic is a Cortland resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org