Saturday, November 04, 2006

Apathy is the greatest enemy.

I want to pass on an OpEd written by Pete McCloskey and distributed electronically. The campaign to get rid of Richard Pombo began in the blogosphere. I started PomboWatch in 2004. That was followed by Then, another site, A Better Congress, and another blog, Say No to Pombo. It is only fitting that his last comments of this campaign end up in the blogosphere.

And if anyone questions why I would quote a Republican on a Green Party oriented blog does not know the man.

Apathy is our Greatest Enemy

The benefit of closely-contested elections cannot be better demonstrated than here in Northern California where we have been recently blessed with the visits and advocacy of not only President Bush, his lovely wife Laura, Vice President Cheney and Speaker of the House Hastert, but also by former President Bill Clinton. But now, as Rudyard Kipling once wrote: "The tumult and the shouting dies. The kings and princes do depart...."

And lest we forget, whether the powerful Richard Pombo and John Doolittle remain in office, and indeed, which party will control the House of Representatives next year, depends on the ordinary citizen who cares enough to vote. But here, unfortunately, apathy reigns supreme. It may be the greatest enemy of the democracy we are privileged to have inherited.

It is regrettable that the combination of gerrymandering, the recent Abramoff bribery, ethics and other scandals, coupled with the conduct of men like Tom DeLay, Robert Ney, Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley, all of whom have resigned in disgrace, seems to have deterred so many voters from participating in our country's greatest legacy, that of the free and secret voting process. Our various voting registrars say that we will be lucky to see a 50% voting turnout next Tuesday, despite the serious issues which face the next Congress. The turnout of our younger generation, those with the most at stake, may be less than 30%

The recent poll showing that less than a third of the people respect what Congress has been doing is not as disappointing as the fact that half of the electorate doesn't seem to care enough to try to change it. Even Iraqis participate more than Americans in the democratic process we have so proudly pioneered and have suggested is the answer to the world, enforced if necessary by the "shock and awe" firepower or other means to achieve regime change in governments we deem inimical to U. S. interests.

In part, I believe voter disinterest stems largely from the gerrymandering which has made most citizens understandably despair that their votes can make a difference. But that does not explain the widespread apathy in the 4th and 11th Districts.

Whatever may be the result of the November 7th elections, let us hope that the citizenry will now rise up and demand the creation of an honorable system of drawing congressional district lines The politicians of both parties have repeatedly demonstrated their unwillingness to do more than reassure their own re-elections. The result has been that of California's 53 congressional districts, in only 3 do voters have a chance to force policy changes in the People's House. It was the Democrats, after all, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, that made that unholy bargain back in 2002 to assure the retention of 30 Democrat seats in return for the guarantee of 20 Republican seats. That 2 of those seats, those in the 4th and 11th Districts, are occupied by avid supporters of the Iraq War and Jack Abramoff, and are challenged with vigor by two inexperienced but patriotic commoners, has brought great attention to us throughout the nation, but alas, is still unable to get more than half of our citizens to care enough to vote. Even Presidents and former Presidents have been unable to stimulate the other half to vote. It's sad. We owe more to the fine young men and women risking their lives for us around the world, whether in combat or diplomatic and humanitarian service.

If DeToqueville were to revisit America today, he would probably conclude that Americans deserve what they get in the quality of their political leaders.

Pete McCloskey, Rumsey, California. November 4, 2006

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