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September 3, 2010

Grass Roots Are Growing

Joe Charlebois

In years past the greatest lament when it came to elections was voter apathy. That is not a concern this year.


This election season, the normally docile, quiet and politically timid conservative base has mobilized as never before. What was the calling card of the liberal movement has now been co-opted by the right. Rallies over the past few years have drawn crowds on a local level of hundreds and on the national level hundreds of thousands.


What has awakened those who label themselves as conservative to move outside their comfort zone? There are several reasons, but they are for the most part related. They are concerned that their freedom is being stripped by an ever increasing level of power centralized in the strengthening palm of the federal government.


Because of this awakening, ripples caused by dissatisfaction in the top levels of government have caused increased attention at the state and local levels as well. The electorate is likely more aware of issues of fiscal responsibility, true transparency, and expanded government control.


More of the electorate is aware that our government was founded as a representative republic, not a democratic one. More of the electorate is aware that unelected officials in government agencies increasingly are gaining power to implement regulations without legislative approval. They are also aware that legislation like the massive healthcare plan that passed earlier this year will not be deficit neutral but will cost billions in taxpayer subsidies in perpetuity.


Pundits are predicting landslide victories for conservatives no matter the party affiliation. Even well known and more moderate Republicans have lost in primary elections to more conservative candidates. They predict that the trend will continue with Democrat control of the U.S. House of Representatives and possibly the Senate being lost to the Republican Party.


I can’t – and won’t – predict who will win the primary or general elections; but it is obvious that the lack of trust, sense of political class superiority and disappointment with legislative “successes” will cause a great change in offices from the local Board of Education race to House of Representatives and Senate races.


Whatever the result, it is good to see that the electorate is more informed than ever. Several sources of information including radio, television and the Internet allow people to research and get detailed information on the issues rather than relying on a 30-second radio or television spot, or a glossy door hanger that awaits you as you enter your home.


With the increased level of concern and empathy I believe that even future off-year elections will elicit a greater turnout than previous years. This is a good sign that there is a rebirth in citizen responsibility.


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