ShoreRivers: The Shore’s Uncompromising Voice for Clean Rivers by Jeff Horstman and Isabel Junkin Hardesty

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The Eastern Shore’s rivers weave through farmland, forests, marshes and towns on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. Each river is unique, with its own character, but they share in common the fish, crabs, waterfowl and people that depend on them.

Much as these individual rivers ultimately come together as part of the Bay, three great Eastern Shore conservation organizations are uniting. Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association are merging into a single nonprofit, ShoreRivers, Inc., to serve as a leading voice for healthy waterways on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Through science-based advocacy, restoration and education, ShoreRivers will protect and restore Eastern Shore waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. We will work collaboratively with our communities, yet maintain an uncompromising voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

Our three legacy organizations each have a deep history of working collaboratively to improve the health of the waters in our communities, and that mission will continue. By joining together, we become more than just the sum of our parts – we will be one committed voice with more influence on policy, more capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large restoration projects that directly reduce pollution.

We will need that influence to tackle the major issues affecting our environment. ShoreRivers will now be a statewide leader on conservation issues so that when we travel to Annapolis to meet with elected officials or to testify for legislation, we will have the backing of our 3,500 supporters who care about our waters and our Eastern Shore quality of life.

We will also have increased capacity to implement bigger, better projects. That means expanded work with our agricultural partners, broader funding to encourage innovative technologies that reduce pollution, and region-wide restoration projects that capture polluted runoff before it enters our rivers.

From Kennedyville to Kent Island, from Cambridge to Crumpton, ShoreRivers staff, partners and volunteers will work together across the Eastern Shore. You’ll see us out on the rivers and creeks as well as in farm fields and forests. Our leadership, staff and board of directors are comprised of members of the three legacy organizations.

The main headquarters for ShoreRivers will be in downtown Easton at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. We will also maintain regional offices in Chestertown and Georgetown, the former offices of the Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association, respectively. And we will heavily rely on watershed advisory boards for each major river to continue our strong local connections.

An important part of our mission is our Waterkeeper program. Waterkeepers are full-time advocates who regularly patrol and monitor their local bodies of water. Including the ShoreRivers merger, there are now 17 Waterkeepers working in the Chesapeake Bay region – 11 in Maryland. Waterkeepers focus on their individual waterbodies, but frequently work together with other “Keepers.” ShoreRivers will have four Riverkeepers: Jeff Horstman is the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper; Emmett Duke is the Sassafras Riverkeeper; Matt Pluta is the Choptank Riverkeeper and Tim Trumbauer is the new Chester Riverkeeper.

Despite encouraging signs of clearer water and more grass beds in recent years, the waterways of the Eastern Shore remain polluted – they are still threatened with excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff. At ShoreRivers, we believe there are real solutions to these threats, and we are committed to developing projects and programs that will improve the health of our waters and keep them robust and beautiful for all of us – now and in the future.

Jeff Horstman is the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper and Executive Director of ShoreRivers and Isabel Junkin Hardesty is the former Chester Riverkeeper and new Regional Director of ShoreRivers.

 

 

Choose Kindness by Nancy Mugele

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“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

These poignant words written by R. J. Palacio in Wonder resonate deeply with me for three reasons. First, they echo the central tenets of a Kent School education – Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Friendship. Second, they mirror the Six Pillars of Character Counts – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring; and Citizenship. And lastly, they have always been words that I live by – especially kindness.

When our children were growing up, my husband and I told them over and over again that nice people go further in life, and to always be kind because you never know what a person might be dealing with at any given time. I still remember, with pride and fondness, that our children always seemed to make friends each academic year with new members of their class which meant Jim and I also made new friends. Kindness means being a true friend and also doing for others with no expectation of anything in return.

I promised my school community that I would write if I learned of a school with a specific need in light of the devastating hurricanes experienced in September in Houston, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. I had been waiting to hear from my friend Liz Morrison, the Head of School of Antilles School serving 500 students in PreK – Grade 12 on St. Thomas and St. John since I first contacted her on September 5 as Hurricane Irma was approaching. I finally heard from her last week.

In her own words: “St. Thomas and the Territory experienced two category five hurricanes in two weeks last month. Consequently, 90 percent of the island of St. Thomas is still without power and running water, and many have lost their homes and their livelihood. Antilles School, one of the few independent schools in the territory and the only one on St. Thomas, needed to reopen as quickly as possible for the health of the children and their families and to aid in the relief efforts.

“This came at an extreme financial cost to the institution and yet gave the children of the island normalcy and much needed educational continuity. In the wake of the hurricanes many of our families are unable to meet their financial obligations to the School, and yet we have allowed these students to continue their education. We continue to admit local students from public schools as their schools have yet to reopen. I would love to share the stories of three of these families.

“One of our second graders lost her father while he was protecting his family during Hurricane Irma. Adding to their difficulties, her mother’s employer downsized six months ago and she is unemployed. Antilles has been a safe haven for the family – a place where the child has friends and adults to help her process this tragedy. Keeping this student at school, keeping the family clothed and fed, are one of our top priorities.

“A new student in sixth grade whose school is still closed as a result of the hurricanes shared at the end of his first day that he believes “dreams do come true” because he was able to come to Antilles. Three weeks after this young man’s arrival at Antilles he is smiling, engaged in his studies, and is excited to come to school every day. His mother says, “It’s the first time he has ever said he has had a good day at school.” Giving this student, whose family could not afford the tuition, an Antilles education is a life-changing experience for him.

“One of our 11th graders who has been at Antilles since Kindergarten, was forced to move into a shelter after his home was destroyed in the hurricanes. Meeting his academic obligations while he is living in a gymnasium with more than 100 people, and eating FEMA rations is an incredible challenge. Yet he is, and he continues to do so with grace and poise.”

Liz’s story is so compelling, heartbreaking and, yet, also hopeful. She has lost 1/3 of her student population because their families have lost homes and jobs (75% of Antilles families work in the tourism industry). Liz has had to lay off teachers and cannot pay the school’s bills. The school really needs funding to remain open and continue to be a place of comfort, security and yes, joy, for its students.

Tonight Kent School is holding its annual Empty Bowls event. Empty Bowls is an international project to fight hunger, personalized by artists and art organizations on a community level. While admission is free and open to the public, guests may enjoy a variety of homemade soups and breads with the purchase of a student-made ceramic bowl. Each bowl is $10.

In the spirit of Auggie Pullman, the main character in Wonder, who asked us all to choose kindness, the opening of the movie Wonder this month, and Thanksgiving, Kent School has decided to use tonight’s Empty Bowls event to raise funds for both the Kent County Food Pantry and Antilles School. We BELIEVE deeply in supporting our local community as well as being able to extend our reach to a far-away friend in need. If you are inclined to help personally I can put you directly in touch with Liz or you can donate online. Please join us at Kent School this evening at 6 p.m. at our Empty Bowls event where you can enjoy a bowl of soup before heading to First Friday.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

Bull and Oyster Roast by Heritage Area Teams with Kennard Alumni

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Heritage Area Teams with Kennard Alumni to Host Bull and Oyster Roast

Experience Eastern Shore tradition at a Bull and Oyster Roast from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at the Kennard High School Cultural Heritage Center, located at 410 Little Kidwell Avenue in Centreville .

The event is sponsored by the Kennard Alumni Association and Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area. Oyster roasts and fish fries are a long-standing tradition that celebrates the bounty of the Chesapeake region.

Guests will feast on pit beef by Paul Gunther, fried oysters from Harris’s Crab House, and fish fried by local fry master Melvin Shorter — all while supporting programs to preserve, promote, and interpret the Eastern Shore’s cultural, natural, and historic resources. Oysters on the half shell from Harris’s and a local dessert bar will also be available.

Tickets cost $40 if bought before October 17 and can be purchased online. The price rises to $45 after October 17.

All proceeds benefit the programs of Stories of the Chesapeake and Kennard Alumni. For more information, call 410-827-8684 or visit storiesofthechesapeake.org.

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Shore Health: Maryland to Offer Online Shopping Tool for Medical Procedures

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The Maryland Health Care Commission, the state’s independent regulatory agency, is unveiling a website on which people scheduling a hip replacement, knee replacement, hysterectomy or vaginal delivery can see price differences among different providers for the same procedure.

The site is launching amid rising health-care costs and as some consumers turn to insurance plans with high deductibles.

The state site is meant to give consumers a tool to compare prices and quality on four common medical procedures at hospitals around the state that patients otherwise would have difficulty finding on their own.

Read the full story in the Washington Post here

Letter to Editor: In Divided Times, Let’s Look to Land to Unite Us

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In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, titled “This American Land”, columnist David Brooks said, “We’re living in the middle of a national crisis of solidarity – rising racial bitterness, pervasive distrust, political dysfunction.” In the month and a half since the piece was published, the country has faced multiple natural disasters, greater racial disharmony and a rise in senseless violence.

When things seem so bleak, what remedies are around to unite people, to bring about a consciousness of plurality, or to provide a simple calm in a seemingly endless storm?

Brooks concedes that when he asks Americans as to what percentage of our problems can be solved through policy and politics, indeed, most folks think these problems are “pre-political” – so entrenched that the remedies require systematic attention and scrutiny.

That may be true. And in fact there might not be a panacea, but we do know is that land and nature have markedly positive mental, emotional, physical, and societal impacts.

As John Muir once said, “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

Certainly, land hasn’t always been a uniting force. In fact, we have a past where North American land – and those who controlled it – used it as a tool of great division, separation, and pain. Today, we are blessed to live, work, and play in a region that has vast amounts of open space, but much more can be done to create stronger communities – ones where there is more public access to natural resources, enhanced trails and connectivity, greater access to nutritious foods, and more.

To learn how Maryland’s conservation efforts are evolving and how land can be a force for good in your community, please join us on November 9th at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, for our 18th Annual Planning Conference, “Conservation Saves the World: Using Land to Unite”.

We will be joined by dozens of regional and national speakers, including: National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara; the legendary author, facilitator, and consultant, Peter Forbes; and renowned author, Tony Hiss. Early Bird tickets are currently on sale for $45 and this event is expected to sell out.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit here

Josh Hastings
Policy Manager
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

 

Wanted: Landowners on the Upper Shore to Help Reverse Northern Bobwhite Declines by Dan Small

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The Natural Lands Project is looking for landowners interested in setting aside marginal cropland to help declining Northern Bobwhites. Since 2015 we have been working throughout Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, in addition to these current efforts we would also like to target two areas that currently have small quail populations. These two areas, one each in Kent and Queen Anne’s, have some existing habitat, but we could have a major positive impact on the quail population by installing additional acres of nesting and brood rearing habitat. In Queen Anne’s we are looking to work with landowners along Lands End Road from Southeast Creek south to the Corsica River and in Kent, farms between Betterton and Still Pond (see accompanying maps).

Male Indigo Bunting in a wildflower meadow planted in 2016 by NLP.

People growing up on the Eastern Shore in the 60’s and ‘70s remember well the loud expressive whistle ‘BOB-white’ emanating from around the farm in late spring and lasting throughout the hot summer months. In the cooler months, bird dogs searched for the scent of nearby quail coveys through wooded edges, scrubby briar tangles, hedgerows and bean fields across property boundaries followed closely by their owners. This characteristic bird, the Northern Bobwhite, of Maryland’s agricultural landscape has disappeared from all but a few isolated areas throughout the Shore. Along with the decline in quail populations, we hear fewer grassland birds and see fewer pollinating insects and wildflowers.

There are myriad theories for the drastic decline in grassland biodiversity in such a short period of time and most, if not all, have a grain of truth to them. However, without a doubt the single largest driver of bobwhite decline on the Eastern Shore is habitat loss. Several factors have contributed to habitat loss; there are simply more people living on the shore and as a result we have more developed areas. Additionally, our farms have changed. The acceleration of farming technologies after World War II brought with it larger equipment and increased use of herbicides and pesticides, tools that allowed farmers to till more ground more of the time. This, in turn, led to larger and larger farms and fewer and fewer small fields. Suddenly the ‘back forty’ that was periodically fallow and permanently surrounded by a hedgerow was no longer. Today much of landscape on the Shore is defined by crops, forests, waterways and buffers of exotic cool season grasses—similar to lawns—with little in between.

Map showing target area in Queen Anne’s County, an area where additional habitat would substantially help Northern Bobwhite populations.

But all is not lost. In 2015 Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) partnered with the Chester River Association (CRA) and Tall Timber Research Station, the nation’s leader in bobwhite research and management of fire-dependent ecosystems, to launch the Natural Lands Project (NLP) with a $700,000 award from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Using the remarkable habitat restoration success at CES’s research station on Chino Farms in Queen Anne’s County and CRA’s success at promoting best management practices on local area farms, NLP set out with the goal of creating a balance between cropland and wildlife habitat to improve water quality. NLP promotes and installs native warm season grasses as best management practices that will help reverse bobwhite population declines and reduce excess sedimentation and nutrient runoff in our waterways.

Map showing target area in Kent County, an area of small farms and hedgerows – the addition of nesting habitat would help Northern Bobwhites.

In addition to buffers and fields for bobwhite NLP also installs wetlands in poorly drained areas of marginal farm fields. Wetlands are phenomenal at reducing nutrients and preventing sediment from entering the Bay’s tributaries, with the added benefit of proving critical habitat for over-wintering waterfowl. Following up on the successful launch of NLP in 2015, CES was just recently awarded another round of funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to continue adding habitat for grassland biodiversity and to help improve the Bay’ water quality – see http://chestertownspy.org/2017/09/24/500k-grant-to-center-for-environment-and-society/

It is important to note that productive farming, vibrant wildlife, and healthy water are not mutually exclusive. By taking marginal cropland out of production and planting a mix of native warm season grasses and wildflowers we are creating areas for bobwhite, other grassland birds, and pollinators to find much needed food, shelter, and breeding sites.

Male Northern Bobwhite on Chino Farms.

On Chino Farms there is a thriving native bobwhite population, in fact, now the largest in Maryland. This is a result of well-managed grasslands and early successional habitat that weave throughout a for-profit conventional agricultural operation. Since 1999 when marginal areas of row crops were converted to native habitat, these grasslands have reduced an estimated 80 lbs phosphorus, 1200 lbs nitrogen and 40,500 lbs of sediment from entering our local waterways annually. Our experience and results on Chino make us confident that habitat is the key missing ingredient for quail to once again to thrive on the Shore. As an Eastern Shore community we now need to work on landscape-level change, installing and managing grasslands and wetlands alongside of our farming priorities.

If you would like to find out more about the project, arrange a farm visit or see/hear quail on Chino Farms contact Dan Small, dsmall2@washcoll.edu or 410-708-4479 or visit www.washcoll.edu/nlp. We are looking forward to working with many more of the Eastern Shore’s best land stewards as NLP grows.

 

Join the Kent Island Running Group and the QA’s Family YMCA for the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot

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The Queen Anne’s County Family YMCA and the Kent Island Running Group are excited to announce their partnership on the Thanksgiving Day Charity Turkey Trot 5K. The Kent Island Running Group has successfully run the Great Turkey Chase at Hunters Oak Golf Course with over 400 runners for the past 6 years with proceeds benefitting Queen Anne’s County not-for-profit organizations.

This year, the Kent Island Running Group and the Y have joined forces to participate in the state-wide Y Charity Turkey Trot 5 K, with 14 Thanksgiving Day Run sites and over 15,000 runners across the state. “When you run on Thanksgiving morning, you are supporting not only the Y, who doesn’t turn anyone away due to inability to pay, but other not-for-profit work throughout the community,” said Robbie Gill, CEO for the YMCA of the Chesapeake. The 5-K Turkey Trot starts at 8:30am, Thanksgiving Day, at Hunters Oak Golf Course.

“We’re excited to work alongside the Y to engage their 2,500 members in Queen Anne’s County and the hundreds of community members we’ve traditionally served on Thanksgiving morning. What better way to kick off Thanksgiving, than giving back and having fun in the process,” said Susan Lamont, Kent Island Running President. Proceeds raised from the Charity Turkey Trot 5K will go to local not-for-profits in Queen Anne’s County and support youth programs at the Queen Anne’s County Family YMCA.

Improvements to this year’s race include a timed 5K course, awards for the top 3 male and female per age group, and the ability to run with your dog! The race is open to all ages and abilities, everyone (including your pooch) can walk, run or leisurely stroll the 3.1-mile course and soak in the feel-good vibes! Your participation deeply benefits children and families in your local community, so whether you’re trotting solo, on a team or with your family, register now and be surrounded by a community of goodwill Thanksgiving morning. Gobble, gobble!

You can register today at www.kirg.org/thegreatturkeychase

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Climate Change a Focus of 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival

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The 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival highlights the environmental and social issues of our time with a full day of film and expert discussion focused on the topic of climate change. The high public interest intensified by the contradiction between the denials of climate change by President Trump’s Administration and recent disastrous weather events and rising temperature against keeps the topic in the news and a part of nearly any conversation.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and Town Creek Foundation formed partnerships with CFF to bring expertise to the panel discussions and informal gatherings

Climate Change – Perils, Challenges, and the Future

10:30 am Environmental Shorts Program 1 (63 minutes)
· When I Plant A Tree, directed by Jonah Moshammer (5:31 minutes)
· Fisherman Without A Sea, directed by Lucas Bonetti (20 minutes)
· The Next Epoch Seed Library, directed by Candace Thompson (8 minutes)
· The Last Boat Out, directed by Laura Seltzer-Duny (29 minutes)

12:00 pm Welcome & Opening Remarks

George A. Nilson, Esq., Chair, CFF Climate Change Program
Charles O. Monk, II, Esq., Chair, Board of Visitors, University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science

12:15 pm Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens; produced and narrated by Leo DiCaprio
1:45 pm – 2:30 pm Panel Discussion followed by Q & A
· Benjamin H. Grumbles, Maryland State Secretary of the Environment
· Dr. Donald Boesch, Professor of Marine Science, President of the University of MD Center for Environmental Science 1990- 2017
· Moderator: Stuart Clarke, Executive Director, Town Creek Foundat

2:45 pm From The Ashes, directed by Michael Bonifiglio, NATGEO
4:30 pm Environmental Shorts Program 2

· Waterman, directed by Jess Jacklin (14 minutes)
· The Ballad Of Holland Island House, directed by Lynn Tomlinson (4 minutes)
· High Tide In Dorchester, Written & Narrated by Tom Horton, directed by Dave Harp and produced by Sandy Cannon-Brown (45 minutes)
5:30 pm – 6:15 pm Panel Discussion and Q & A

· Dr. William C. “Bill” Boicourt, Professor Emeritus, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
· Tom Horton, Writer, High Tide In Dorchester
· David Harp, Director, High Tide in Dorchester
· Jess Jacklin, Director, Waterman· Laura Seltzer-Duny, Director, The Last Boat Out
· Moderator: Brian Ambrette, Coastal Resilience Manager, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
6:30 pm Reception – Art Academy Museum
8:00 pm Oyster, directed by Kim Beamish, Australia (81 minutes)

EASTON PREMIER CINEMAS– Saturday, October 28
9:30 pm An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
EASTON PREMIER CINAMAS – Sunday, October 29
1:30 pm An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,
CAMBRIDGE PREMIER CINEMAS –  Sunday, October 29
7:45 pm An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, directed by Bonnie Cohen, Jon

The 2017 10th Anniversary Chesapeake Film Festival takes place on October 27th – 29th, 2017 with its home base at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. Satellite screening locations are the Talbot County Public Library, Easton Premier Cinemas, Cambridge Premier Cinemas, and Art Academy Museum.

From South of Left Field: Political Drugs by Jimmie Galbreath

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History is the unsung foundation to understanding politics. Not the history of names, dates and short little paragraphs taught in our schools today but history as the story; richer, deeper and alive. The connections between what is and what was are direct and real. It is the things we know little about that make it easy for us to be frightened and manipulated. It is real knowledge that gives us the courage to choose our own opinions rather than accept the opinions of others. Only babies should be spoon fed.

Poking around my mental closet of ‘common knowledge’ learned from childhood, another gem that changed over the years relates to governments in general. America was the gold standard Democracy and Russia and China the failing evil dictatorships because that is what a Communist government is. The Democracy I was taught was childish in its simplicity, and it remained that way for quite a number of years. Vietnam, Watergate and time opened the door to new research. What had my teachers failed to tell me?

Today Democracy means any government structure made up of elected representatives. Ooooh, impressive sounding, isn’t it. Then it got a little complicated. The Russian (Soviet and today) and Chinese governments have elected officials. Do we amend Democracy and say it must have more than one political party?

From there I began to read books on Soviet and Chinese modern history and moved on to ‘The Communist Manifesto.’ Much to my surprise both communism and socialism were not models of government but economic systems. The thrust behind these systems was to remove the wealth inequality that exists in a capitalistic economy. The philosopher Karl Marx proposed that the evolution of economic systems from slavery to feudalism to capitalism would continue on to communism. Communism as the next evolutionary step would remove private ownership of factories, mines, farms, etc. and all the people would own everything in common. The adjustment here was mind-bending. I have chased my tail around and around trying to comprehend how that economic system would work to produce the complex items we have today which requires resources from around the globe. I guess I am not evolved enough yet.

Looking for a government structure in this system I kept running into either ‘direct Democracy’ or ‘representative Democracy.’ You read that right; the ideal new economy still requires people to work together to reach decisions which still needs votes which is still Democracy. Imagine that.

‘Direct Democracy’ would be citizens voting directly for a law rather than having elected representatives such as our Congress to do it. That would be cumbersome. ‘Representative Democracy’ is what we already have! There is no dictatorship in communism or socialism if it is implemented exactly as the founders laid it out. Russia and China aren’t really communist because both have a capitalist economic system. Now folks, from here it is time to circle back to where we are today. The system laid down by Marx, Engels, and Lenin, while ideally eliminating income inequality requires that we all become selfless and totally trusting and sharing with each other for this to work. A level of social evolution that is clearly absent in our current leadership and largely lacking in our current society.

This may sound bleak, and I don’t mean for it to be. The range of forms of Democracy are amazingly broad. Our flavor of Democracy has changed since first established by the Constitution. Originally the States decided who could vote, and they generally allowed only white adult property-owning males to do so. Only members of the House of Representatives were elected directly. Senators were selected by the State House of Representatives for each state. The President was selected by an Electoral College. It was a pretty narrow Democracy compared to what we have today.

The thing about a Democracy is you can have a wide variety of voting rights and freedom, or very limited voting rights and few freedoms while still meeting the definition. It is not enough to say a country is a Democracy; rather one should say WHAT KIND of Democracy a country has.

Iran has all the organizations of a Democracy with elections. There is a Supreme Leader (Executive), Legislative (Parliament), Judiciary and an Assembly of Experts (legal and religious). The last organization has to approve anyone wanting to run for office. This version of Democracy is a Theocracy, and the State religion exerts tremendous power over the people and government. Our religious fundamentalists seek to move us down this path with rule by their religion rather than a political party. Hearing repeatedly statements that America is a Christian nation sends shivers down my spine as the Founders clearly had no such criteria in mind.

China has the Executive branch (President and State Council), Legislative (National People’s Congress), Judicial (Supreme People’s Court) but only one political Party is allowed. Once again control by a single entity with a restricted set of voters while still having the trappings of Democracy. It is ironic that the Party claims to be a communist Party despite the fact that capitalism is rampant there. There are no real communist or socialist economies as there are no countries without capitalism. Don’t believe me? Find a country without a corporation or a businessman. Good luck.

Today we have a democracy in America that follows the desires of wealthy families and corporations more than the will of the people. I am amused and repulsed listening to Republican politicians trying to sound humane while touting a medical industry solution to healthcare. Insisting that all Americans can afford decent healthcare from a corporation is an epic smoke and mirror act. Universal corporate healthcare is only universal for those who can afford it. This stance, profit over a healthy life, supports the idea that American Democracy is moving toward being an Oligarchy: a Democracy driven by a wealthy few placing the well-being of corporate wallets over the well-being of the general population.

There is no danger of communism or socialism overtaking America with anything other than a large scale revolution. Casting a national effort to secure a healthy life for all citizens as socialism is a baseless effort to paint a humane policy as something to be afraid of. Universal healthcare ends capitalism in the hospital where it should never have been allowed in the first place. It does not end capitalism overall. If caring for human life and quality of life is socialism then what does that say about capitalism’s goals in the hospital? Hint, the only thing a capitalist wants is money.

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family-owned dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way, he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served three years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.