Empire editorial: Elton's record of dissent
I was stunned by the comments of Don Smith (Empire, Feb. 14) regarding Sen. Elton's vote in opposition to opening development in ANWR. While I personally strongly oppose ANWR development, the editorial disturbed me on a much deeper level than Mr. Smith's opposing views on this particular issue. None of us, as individuals or groups, unequivocally "know" what's best regarding any policy issue. We often have vastly different and equally strongly held views that are the product of our individual backgrounds, experiences and values. As a democracy, we have the right and privilege to elect the leaders who we feel will best represent us. Majority rules in a democracy, and while my political views may be in the minority on any given issue, democracy allows even my minority views to be expressed and represented.
Mr. Smith states that "Sen. Elton had the opportunity to make the ANWR resolution vote unanimous, thereby demonstrating that Juneau's support is consistent with the best interests of the whole state."
Whose best interests? Mr. Smith has the right to express his views. But to suggest that Sen. Elton vote with the crowd - against the position for which the electorate knowingly voted him into office - to show support for someone else's idea for what's "best for the state," what will "move Alaska forward," what is "sound, practical development for Alaska," is wholly undemocratic.
ANWR development has passionate support and opposition both within and outside the state. There are - yes, even among your neighbors in Alaska, Mr. Smith - many who strongly disagree with the 15 senators who supported the resolution. The fact is Sen. Elton did get reelected on, among other things, a very clear platform and voting history of opposition to ANWR development. Apparently, not all Alaskans agree on what's best in this issue! I applaud and thank Sen. Elton for having the courage to stand firm on his convictions.