First Thursday Democrats

for West Seattle Herald

by Lesley Holdcroft

Created, as member Lois Elenich, 80, put it, "so every single person has a voice," the First Thursday Democrats met for their third meeting at the Daystar Retirement Village to discuss politics, support for women and a position paper designed to ultimately ban drug advertising on television.

Originated created by five women who enjoy each other's company, the meeting was attended by three men and perhaps 20 women, all of them seniors. The group discussed the need for patience in making social change. When presenting the position paper, member Georgie Bright Kunkel explained: "One of my efforts - to register counselors in Washington state - took 15 years, and at age 88, I'm supposed to live to 113. That gives me plenty of time."

The position paper calls for a stop to all drug advertising, and asks that non-prescription drug advertising be shown when children are unlikely to be watching television. The paper points out ironies, noting that "the government pays millions each year to incarcerate drug dealers and yet pharmaceutical companies peddle drugs on television without restriction.

"Young viewers are harmed by the seductive ads for everything from drugs for pain relief to drugs that enhance one's sexuality."

"I worry about the children," Kunkel told the group.

Cigarette advertising is no longer on television due to public outcry and liquor commercials appear only much later in the evening, the paper notes. Commercials, the paper says, influence children.

"People say this can't be done, that we can't take on the pharmaceutical industry, but we can. It is going to take a long time; we know that. But one of our purposes in this group is education and outreach, and we're going to be working on this," Kunkel said.

The group also talked about drafting another position paper to express support for a young woman in the news.

The group is designed to give women democrats a place to express themselves.

The group discussed outgoing president George Bush. One lady said: "Bush thinks he did just fine; that he'll go down in history," and another lady rejoined with: "He sure will!"

The group expressed optimism about the reign of incoming President Barack Obama. "I feel better about him than I have about any president since Roosevelt, who was elected when I was eight or nine years old," said Elaine Russell, 85.

When asked what is possible during Obama's term, Russell answered, and with confidence: "Everything that can be accomplished he will do. It doesn't mean he is going to wave a magic wand and everything is going to be OK; it means he will do the best job anyone can do. I feel his honesty and forthrightness and confidence. "

As Russell watched the television cameras filming witnesses from other countries all over the world, it was if "the whole world was taking a deep breath and saying 'Yes.' I could tell I was happy, and I've been happy with other Democratic presidents, but not to this degree. It just enveloped me; I felt such a sense of this is the right thing. "

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