Two weeks ago, I discussed the lack of candidates for local office in Rolla. Since then two new candidates have filed, Robert Fleming in Ward 5 and Donna Hawley in Ward 6. Voters in Wards 4, 5 and 6 will be able to vote in contested races on April 8. I'll write about these important races later.
Today, I want to discuss the presidential primary election coming up Tuesday, Feb. 5. There is no shortage of ballot candidates: 12 Republicans, nine Democrats, and six Libertarians; although many have withdrawn since the ballots were printed.
One would think that with this many candidates vying for the nation's highest office, everyone would go to the polls and cast a vote for their favorite candidate. But judging by past performance, the turnout will be low.
In 2004, only 12 percent of Phelps County's registered voters voted in the presidential primary; in 2000 the figure was 23 percent. In the corresponding presidential elections, the percentages were 75 and 73 respectively.
This is pathetic.
The vast majority of the electorate seems to be saying, don't confuse me with a lot of candidates. Just give me two names and I'll choose one of them.
I don't find it difficult to choose a candidate in a presidential primary. I look for candidates whose views on issues that are important to me match mine fairly closely. I look for consistency over time in supporting and promoting actions that I consider important. And I look for candidates with the courage to support their beliefs even when they are unpopular.
Two qualities I find unimportant are party affiliation and the ability to raise money. I don’t see any connection between either one and suitability to hold the nation's highest office.
I believe ending our involvement in foreign wars is the most important issue facing us. I'm also concerned about our environment, our children's education, our economy and a lot of other issues. But, I'm convinced that as long as we put our energies into fighting wars, not much progress will be made on any of these fronts.
I found two candidates on the ballot who have consistently voted against war. One, Dennis Kucinich, has withdrawn from the race. That leaves Ron Paul.
Ron Paul has spent almost 20 years in Congress. In 2002 he was one of seven Republicans who voted against going to war with Iraq. He understands the Constitutional issue: The Constitution empowers Congress, and only Congress, to declare war. It does not give Congress the power to delegate this responsibility to the Executive Branch, which is what Congress has done. He also appears to understand that in giving Congress the power of the purse, the Constitution also empowers Congress to end a war, simply by declining to vote funds for its continuation.
When Congress appropriates funds for the Iraq War, it votes to continue an illegal war. Forty-one Senators filibustering or 218 Representatives voting nay on an appropriations bill could bring the war to a quick end.
There might be other reasons why you would want to vote for Ron Paul.
Check him out at www.ronpaul2008.com. If you like what you see, consider going to the polls on Tues. Feb. 5, asking for a Republican ballot, and voting for Ron Paul.
That is what I intend to do. In spite of my disagreement with his positions on certain issues, we agree on the one issue that I feel is of paramount importance. In addition, I find in Ron Paul a level of honesty, consistency and integrity that is rarer than hen’s teeth on Capitol Hill.
(Tom Sager is a retired professor at the University of Missouri - Rolla. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his website, www.tomsager.org.)