As a 74-year-old Letcher County citizen for 50 years and a teacher for 29 years at Carcassonne and Blackey elementary schools and Whitesburg and Letcher high schools, I have supported moderate Democrats and Republicans — supporters of public schools and the people.
After studying history and education at Harvard I came to eastern Kentucky to fight in President Johnson’s War on Poverty rather than his War in Vietnam — both his wars were not successful. Like the Atlantic Monthly magazine, I opposed Goldwater in 1964 as a dangerous radical and I opposed Nixon in 1968 and 1972. I watched the Watergate hearings on my couch during the summer after teaching at Blackey.
In 1976 I supported Carter and as Kentucky Education Association vice president even visited his empty (and largely unsuccessful) Oval Office. In 1980 and 1984 I unsuccessfully opposed Reagan (and even was a delegate to Mondale’s San Francisco convention).
I opposed the elder and better Bush in 1988 and 1992 and supported Clinton in 1992 and 1996 — certainly not a totally moral or successful president.
In the 2000 election decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Florida, I was for Gore over the younger Bush, whose policies led largely to the Iraq and Afghan wars and the Great Recession of 2008. In 2008 I supported Obama, but in 2012 I couldn’t vote for him or Romney because of his harsh treatment of our coal industry, doomed and environmentally unfriendly as it is.
This year, though I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, I, like the Atlantic Monthly, must vote for an imperfect qualified Hillary Clinton over a totally unqualified dangerous Donald Trump. She is our better hope for public schools, peace, justice, and equality and prosperity for all.
Here in Kentucky I have supported moderate Democrats and Republicans who are for public schools and the people:
• U.S. Senators Wendell Ford and John Sherman Cooper (not Mitch McConnell or Rand Paul).
• Congressmen Carl D. Perkins and Hal Rogers, who has developed progressive programs like Forward in the Fifth for education, UNITE against drug abuse, and SOAR for Eastern Kentucky working with Governors Steve Beshear and Paul Patton.
• State Representatives Hoover Dawahare, Paul Mason, Howard Cornett, Russell Bentley (who defeated me in 1986), John Short, Leslie Combs, and now Angie Hatton over Frankie Justice.
I have believed in and taught the American two-party system of Republicans and Democrats competing fairly in the elections but then working together in a bipartisan (two-party) way for the good of our children and schools, our state and our country, and our world.
In Kentucky, now with a Republican governor and state senate less friendly to public schools, the uninsured, the poor, and eastern Kentucky, I think it is very important to keep a Democratic House — the last one in the South — under the able leadership of Speaker Greg Stumbo.
That’s why I’m voting for Angie Hatton, Hillary Clinton, Jim Gray, and Hal Rogers on November 8. JON HENRIKSON Blackey