I have been spending a lot of time, in recent weeks, arguing against a charter change here in Newport Beach, called Measure B. The measure would lengthen the term (to four or perhaps eight years) and increase the powers and change the selection method of our city’s mayor. Our slogan is “stop the power grab” because we see this as an attempt to consolidate power in a mayor, to destroy the current collegial city council system. I am really reminded, at these little local political debates, of the nineteenth century, when people cared so much more about politics, and would give hours and hours to listening to a speaker, like Seward or Chase or Lincoln. Debates were actually not that common, Lincoln-Douglas was the exception not the rule, but they did occur, such as the little impromptu debate in the Chase book. But the speeches themselves were sort of debates, because each side would answer the other’s arguments.
I am ALSO spending time, readers will be glad to know, researching and thinking about William Howard Taft. I have been reading letters from his years in the Philippines, 1900 to 1904, such long detailed interesting letters. Taft did not just spend his time in Manila, he travelled around the Islands, and wrote great descriptions of the people he met, the places he saw. One reason I love Taft is that he loved to travel, as I do.