By Leland Conway
Recent surveys show a disturbing trend toward a politically ignorant American electorate. An exit poll on Election Day found that a majority of voters were uneducated on many of the most important issues facing America. Unfortunately for us, this is a terrible time to hand the future of our nation and our communities over to ignorance.
Kentucky is facing an enormous economic crisis. This is not altogether different from any of the other 49 states as our nation suffers from the worst recession since the Second World War. As clouds gather, our legislators are preparing to converge on Frankfort with one thing on their minds – money. They are absolutely determined to find new ways to “raise revenue.” Translation: Higher taxes.
Yet we cannot blame our legislators alone. Sure, they are en masse an ignorant group which lacks significant leadership. But ultimately we must look to ourselves to find responsibility for the mistakes that they are no doubt about to make. We elected them.
During the election cycle you heard many pleas to “get out the vote.” They claimed that voting is our most precious right as Americans. If that is so, then why do we treat this precious right the way we do? Why do we fail to recognize that every American right is comprised of two ingredients, the one being the liberty to do a thing, the other being the responsibility to do it to the best of our ability?
In the early days only property owners could vote. Called “Freeholders”, it was assumed that those who had carried the responsibility of owning land and making it productive would also be those who were most affected by government and would likely be educated when voting. Times have changed, and I am not advocating that only land owners should be allowed to vote, but I am in favor of some sort of litmus test that proves that anyone who is pulling the lever at least has some idea of the consequences of their decision.
For the time being I am willing to admit that the political climate doesn’t bear out the possibility of creating a voter test, so we must deal with this by controlling that which is in our power to control. Those of us who are concerned about limiting government and increasing liberty need to become far more active citizens. T o that end, I implore the readers of this column to become more engaged in civic life. From local to national it is imperative now more than ever that the citizens return to their rightful role of holding government accountable for its actions.
If you, like me, are becoming more disgusted by the bilge water coming from our elected leaders, then it is time to take a more active role in their decision making process. Close on the heels of an active citizenry follows good government. Or at least government as good as it can be.
A truly active citizen needs no assistance in communicating with their representative, so I won’t waste your time by giving you contact names and numbers. I will however point you to one very useful tool. All you need is internet access to keep a good eye on legislation being proposed in Frankfort this session. www.kyvotes.org is an extremely useful tool for keeping watch over the juveniles in the legislature – at least until we can replace them with someone who will better represent limited government and increased liberty.
In the current “bailout” climate, the voters may not be able to vote themselves a check, but we can bail out liberty by holding our leaders accountable.