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Building a Base of Educated Voters

edbell | 30 June, 2012 14:12

After a recent weekend spent dropping candidate literature and manning a phone bank, I was reminded once again, just how few Americans swing the levers of power in our system.  Only 22% of Indiana's 4.4 million registered voters weighed-in on the May 8 primary, but Richard Mourdock beat incumbent Dick Lugar by 139,000 votes–an astonishing 3/10ths of 1 percent of the registered voters decided who will likely fill a U.S. Senate seat from the Hoosier State.    In Ohio's Presidential primary, about 20 percent (1,203,403) of about 6 million eligible Buckeye voters made the effort to vote for a GOP Presidential candidate—Keep in mind, people can now vote absentee with no hassle or disruption to the their daily schedule.  The man who may be our next President was chosen by a plurality of only 10K voters, or 16/100ths of 1 percent–each vote is solid gold in this small universe of participation.  Ohio's 11,536,000 citizens allowed approximately 10,000 people to decide who will battle for their future.  Of course, the goal is to increase turnout among informed voters. 

The general election will see a strong turnout, hopefully surpassing 2004.  The Kerry v. Bush election was considered a masterwork of GOTV strategy by Karl Rove.  Unfortunately, the brilliant organizing effort was geared to turnout voters for that election.  The party didn't build an enduring voter base to win future elections based on restoring America's founding principles.  Mitt Romney will employ many of the successful Rove tactics from 2004.  But that is only half the job.  Courageous governance is the real challenge for the federal leviathan.  The bitter partisanship will not end in 2012 and apathy has been a successful tool for the left.  The enemy has always been apathy and an insulated political party system controlled by loyalists and cronies.  Both parties preferred that Joe and Jane Taxpayer simply vote when asked then return to the sofa.  The tea party movement and election of Barack Obama changed the dynamics to the chagrin of both parties.  Real citizens are now involved in local precinct and committee level party activities.  The question remains; will the trend continue and more importantly, will these activists be able to motivate and grow the number of participating voters in primaries and general elections. 
While many worry about who will win the White House or whether the GOP will take back the Senate, I think about the long-term future of a country where no one thinks their vote matters. Or worse, a devolution away from civic responsibility.  Our liberty cannot exist without exercise of responsibility to hold every official accountable and demand that the rule of law command the actions of those we trust with protecting liberty and our tax money.  In November, Conservatives may depose the current President and usher in a new Senate majority, but our turning point remains an ongoing process that one election won't change.  The apathy witnessed over the last several decades is more a result of people not believing this great country could descend into economic ruin or allow a statist tyranny.  Illumination is our task and time may be the biggest enemy.

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