Op-Ed: Voice of the people

By Sheila Gilmore —

Almost 250 years ago, the citizens of the new United States of America had a new appreciation for liberty. They had just been living under the yoke of an oppressive government and had sacrificed everything for their precious freedom.

When the opportunity came for these new, free citizens to vote, there was no hesitation.

This newly found liberty had come with a price… an awful price paid in the lives, property and fortunes of many Americans set on escaping the arbitrary tyranny of Great Britain.

For them, there was no question about whether to vote. Now that they had a choice for which they had battled, they were going to take it.

Today, voting for most citizens is daunting; fraught with unanswered questions, confusing issues, smooth-talking politicians and a lot of gobbledygook from the news media. Proposition wording seems vague at best and unless the average citizen has a law degree, it seems incomprehensible.

When the time of an election draws near, many qualified citizens choose not to vote – even though they know they should. They don't know what to think of the issues. Who? What? Why? Then they deliberately put it from their minds, bury their heads in the sand, and hope it all comes out right in the end.

In addition, there is the question: “Does my vote really count?” Many people think erroneously that their measly say in anything is negligible. Some may even think that voter fraud fixes everything anyway so why mark a ballot?

Personally, I know how some of these good people feel. I was there once – young, uninformed, confused about issues, unsure how to vote intelligently, etc.  But we don't have to stay that way. With the amount of information available at our fingertips, the “watchdog” organizations that examine legislation and inform their members, and the accessibility of candidate websites; we really have no excuse.

As for the issues involved, there are principles by which we can measure every proposition and candidate for office. If we have those principals firmly fixed in our minds, take the time to be informed and are willing to ask questions, there is no reason we cannot vote in such a way as to make a difference.

Our forefathers understood that personal responsibility is the cornerstone of true liberty, strong families are building blocks for a strong nation, and religious freedom reinforces good moral values – like honesty, integrity and frugality – which prop up these “stones” in our freedom's foundation. Any person or legislation which honors these principals will probably be a good choice. If they don't, then they probably won't have our country's best interests at heart.

In this last election on Nov. 5, we had an opportunity to vote on some constitutional amendments by which our great state of Texas will be governed. Every citizen living here will be affected by one or more of these new laws. However, only one million out of 13 million registered voters even went to the polls. Twelve million citizens allowed the other one million decide how much in taxes they have to pay, how to handle their property and what to do with their water resources.

In Van Horn, only 52 out of 1,600 voted. So sad! We have the opportunity to govern ourselves but it seems that the majority of the populace wants to just be told what to do! No wonder we have a bigger government today than we started with 250 years ago.

There is another election coming up in March. We have the opportunity to choose our leadership.

Governor, lieutenant governor and other leaders including several local officials will be on the ballot. Let's not allow others to choose for us. Let's try to make the best choice for ourselves and that begins going to the polls. If you aren't registered, register. If you need an ID, now is the time to get one. If you aren't sure how to vote, get informed. Be ready to vote in March.

Our founding fathers also realized another great truth: the voice of the people is more powerful than a revolution – if they vote.

Sheila Gilmore is the current Culberson County Republican Party Chair. The committee has a Conservative Round Table every third Monday evening of the month beginning at 7 p.m. in the banquet hall of the El Capitan Hotel.

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