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With thousands registering to vote near the deadline, the pattern continued from last spring when record numbers attended caucuses. Their getting involved politically is admirable. However, their sudden springing into action raises a bunch of questions.

First and foremost, is where have all these people been? We’ve got to assume they all didn’t turn 18 recently en masse. I also doubt they all were finally granted citizenship recently or moved to Colorado in the past 30 days.

Certainly, some had just turned 18, and some had moved here after voting in other elections in their home states. But, what about the rest? The only conclusion I see is these citizens have never voted.

The John Kerry-John Edwards ticket didn’t activate them in 2004 nor did the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney ticket. With the numbers in the polls right now favoring Senator Barack Obama, I wouldn’t be surprised if these people were the same people now crying, “We can’t have four more years of the same.”

Maybe they don’t get it that a vote for Sen. John McCain isn’t a vote for Bush. As McCain said in the last presidential debate on Oct. 15, if Obama wanted to run against Bush, he should have done that in 2004.

Understandably, the state moving its caucuses from March to February to be a part of the “Tsunami Tuesday” helped generate interest in the caucuses. Still, presidential elections always bring out voters, and swing-state status definitely helps generate interest.

Nevertheless, there should be a level of “country first” to vote in non-presidential elections. How about “change you can believe in” by voting in city council or school board races, too?

Once the election is behind us, what can we expect? Will these thousands exit as fast as they entered? How about the rest of us?

Citizenship and civics responsibilities extend beyond casting votes. The president is only one person, a powerful person but still only one. The people are many, and government is set up to be of, by and for the people.

As part of our civic responsibilities, we need to be ever vigilant to guard against socialism squeezing out capitalism. The bailout for banks was essential. However, the American people need to insist at some point that banks be returned completely to the private sector.

It is tempting to nationalize health care and the educational system. However, both are socialistic. A better alternative is for health care to remain private and the educational system to remain locally controlled.

In addition to the economic system we want, we need to identify what kind of people we are. Are we as Michelle Obama described us on April 8 at the University of California, Los Angeles, as she campaigned for her husband?

She said, “The truth is most Americans don’t want much. Folks don’t want the whole pie. Most Americans feel blessed to thrive a little bit but that’s out of reach for them.”

Excuse me. I want as much of the good life as I can get. The Americans I see are the same. We want the good life and are willing to work for it.

Michelle Obama went on to say, “The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”

That’s not my view of America. Is it yours? America is the land of opportunity. There is no zero-sum where one person wins at another’s expense.

Still, during these tough economic times we can live on less than we earn, save what we can and spend wisely.


Source: Daily Camera Oct. 19, 2008, under “Where have you been, new voter?”


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