One Letter Makes a Difference

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Let us take a look at six similar words: “book,” “look,” “took,” “cook,” “hook,” and “nook.” Despite their similarity, they do not even come close to a similar meaning. The words “theist” and “atheist” diametrically oppose one another. “Weapon” and “weapons” differ vastly simply by number. The only difference between these groups of words, however, is the simple change of one letter. Such a minute contrast can impact a thought, a strategy, a conversation, and even a nation. One of the most significant ways a simple letter change can direct the course of history is in government.

Take, for example, these two titles: “Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)” and “Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA).” Though one seemingly insignificant letter separates the two titles, it changed the direction of the United States of America for years to come. While in the Senate almost a year ago, the senior senator from Pennsylvania changed his party allowing the Senate Democrats to gain a “filibuster-proof majority.” That scenario occurs when a majority party has 60 senators to vote for or against legislation thus circumventing any challenge by the minority party. According to the senator himself, he felt “increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party." Through his defection, the senior senator changed his loyalties, his viewpoint, and his principles.

Another defection, coming from the other chamber in the Capitol, is Representative Parker Griffith (R-AL). Elected to his first term in 2008, then Rep. Griffith (D-AL) decided he had enough “with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy and drives us further and further into debt.” His basis for switching to the Republican Party is clear; he could no longer associate himself with a liberal agenda.

Although many people espouse the notion that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans; they could not be more wrong. Were there truly no difference between the parties, there would not be a single reason for a congressman to even consider a switch much less affiliate with a party in the first place. In fact, the parties, now more than ever, are diametrically opposed!


Simply put, the Democratic Party aligns with liberal ideology while Republicans align with conservative ideology, evidenced through each party’s enacted policies. For example, the Democrats argue for more taxes, while the Republicans argue for tax cuts. The Republicans stand for a strong national defense; Democrats do not. Democrats believe in a bigger government while Republicans advocate for a smaller government. The list could go on and on, but the point is clear: voters have a choice.


On the ballot or in the government, the “(R)” or the “(D)” next to the name represents more than the person’s affiliation. That letter represents how a person will view the future issues when elected into office. The ideas of a specific party may not be explicitly expressed in a campaign, but that affiliation will form what that senator, governor, or President will do when new, unforeseen issues arise.


Obviously, that opportunity to cast a ballot doesn’t come everyday; in the meantime, however, anyone can write one letter to an elected official. Any representative, senator, assemblyman, or other legislator, should receive feedback from their constituents, whether they agree with them or not. Should there be a disagreement regarding the legislator’s stance on a certain issue, one letter from a represented voter lets him or her know how to vote. If the constituent and the legislator agree on a stance, then one letter further solidifies the vote and encourages argument for that position in a stronger manner. Subsequently, if the legislator has no stated opinion on the matter, then one letter might rightfully influence him or her to vote as a representative of his or her district or state.


Each and every day, we must hold our elected officials, from the President to the city councilman, accountable. How they vote is derived from the platform and the people they represent. Oftentimes, if the platform differs from the will of the people, the platform takes a higher priority in influence. To illustrate, imagine a senator in office from a district which is against a certain bill. If that senator’s party leadership does not have enough votes for that bill, they will specifically target him or her to persuade a vote for the party line. Many times, the “fence-sitter” will be given provisions tailored to the needs of their districts. Then, with those provisions they can vote for the bill the constituents are against since they also obtain funding for something else they want. That is why it is the people’s duty to investigate the candidate and the party he or she is affiliated with to determine who would best represent their interests. It is also the people’s duty, as part of the democratic republic we live in, to confirm that we are properly represented every day, not just on Election Day.


One letter makes a difference.





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