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Divorced or Estranged?

Did you see the results of the recent Boerne municipal election? I continue to be amazed, if not just disappointed that so many citizens (~85 percent of registered voters) didn’t vote. They seem to take for granted the development of our republic and the constitution that upholds it.

When I began my military career, and again years later when I joined State Department as a civil servant for duty in Iraq, I took an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. The least we can do, should do, as citizens of this republic in supporting and defending our constitution and the life it grants us, is to vote; i.e. vote for who represents us.

The results of the recent municipal election aren’t interestingly different than our county-wide election results last year or most other elections. While the clear majority of the citizens in Kendall County who do get out to vote are registered Republicans, the overall turnout is dismal. The underlying question is why.

While canvassing door-to-door for our newest Kendall County Commissioner Andra Wisian, we heard people say they didn’t know her. But having introduced her by face-to-face personal testimonials, they were favorably impressed. That helped considerably to raise the voter count in her favor.

On average, generally, 85% of our registered Kendall County voters are either divorced or estranged; no, not from a spouse, but from the process to elect fellow citizens to represent them in our democratic society; a right and responsibility given in our U.S. Constitution.

Why, I continue to ask. This isn’t new. The problem is pervasive, and it has been over the years.

Pew Research conducted a survey years ago that found (if not validated) what we’ve continued to experience at the polls. The survey revealed that non-voters are politically estranged: They are the least interested in local politics and the most likely to think that voting doesn’t change things. They also are five times more likely to say they’re too busy to vote compared to regular voters (43% versus 8%).

Americans who are not registered to vote, Pew reported, also are more socially isolated from other people: They’re less likely to know people in their neighborhood. They also are more likely to be relatively recent arrivals in their current neighborhoods ­ more than one-in-five (23%) said they have lived in their neighborhood less than a year. People who are not registered to vote also are generally mistrustful of others; just 27% told Pew that most people can be trusted.

What we see today as invented (read, politically invented) structural factors stand between some of these Americans and the ballot booth. Pew reported at the time that thirty percent of adults who are not registered to vote said it is difficult for them to get to the polls. Where do they get that idea! It seems to me that effective “psyops” is at work. Regardless, according to Pew Research, this compared with 19% among those who vote rarely, and just 8% each among intermittent and regular voters. This suggests even with recent reforms in voter registration laws that there are still barriers to voting for some Americans but does not say what are those barriers. Still, 70% of those who are not registered told Pew it is not difficult for them to vote. Now there’s a conundrum.

So why aren’t they registered? When asked to answer that question in their own words, no single dominant reason emerged. About one-in-five (19%) said they had not had time to register. Nearly as many said they had recently moved. One-in-seven (14%) said they don’t care about politics. About as many expressed little confidence in the government.

Feelings of political alienation and apathy about voting are widespread among non-voters. A more recent study by the Medill School of Journalism (Northwestern University) /Ipsos/NPR validated that non-voters feel a general apathy or disconnect toward politics. This poll showed the main reason non-voters do not engage in the process is because they don’t think it matters.

A majority of respondents to Medill who did not vote in the last presidential election expressed a feeling that voting has little impact on their lives, or that it will change how the country is run. According to the study, more voters demonstrated broad agreement with these statements regardless of income or educational attainment level.

In summary, I say this God-given republic is ours to keep; or to lose. At the rate we’re going, at least in voter turnout, we are well on a path of losing it. Each one of us truly can make a difference IF we commit to ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors, and to God to support and defend this amazing gift we have; one that is ours to hold dear.

So I ask -- What are you willing to do to defend our republic! At very least, vote. As importantly, take the advice an Army general gave me when en route to service down range in Iraq – pray hard !

By Art Humphries

Committee Member, Kendall County GOP

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