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David Ripley: Democrats Might Turn to Abortionists for New Leadership

November 19th, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Following their devastating defeat earlier this month, the Democrat Party is searching for leadership going forward. It appears there are three top candidates: A radical Muslim congressman from Minnesota (Keith Ellison) , a former chairman (Howard Dean) and the president of the National Abortion Rights Action League (Ilyse Hogue). This is the professional association of abortionists.

What a cast.

The most honest choice would be the abortion champion. As we saw in the presidential election, the new Democrat Party has become a subsidiary of Planned Parenthood and the Abortion Lobby. Ignore the middle class, scorn blue collar families, and deride traditional values: This is the philosophy driving the modern Democrat Party. All in the name of a hyper-sexualized politics built around their “sacred rite” of abortion.

It would be quite fitting for the head of the country’s abortionist network to become the official head of the new Democrat Party. It would save her a lot of texts and cab rides across town.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Layne Bangerter: Defending Religious Liberties

October 31st, 2016 by Halli

by Layne Bangerter

As a Latter Day Saint with deep connections with people of other faiths, I share the common goal of bringing others closer to Christ. We live in a Country that permits us to exercise our faith and teach our doctrine to others. The opportunity to serve my fellow men and women is a privilege and right. This very freedom has been increasingly under attack by politicians and our current Executive Branch.

We’re being told that the Mormons are in a dilemma; they feel that they must choose between their moral compass as opposed to the decision of who is better fit to run our country. While the candidacy of Donald Trump might have pushed some Mormons to pause their support; the fact remains that he, along with Mike Pence, is the only valid candidate who will fight for our religious freedoms and uphold The Constitution.

I know Donald Trump, who can be summed up in just one word: Freedom.

America has never been in as dire position as it is now with our Constitutional rights and liberties under barrage from the current leadership in Washington DC. Democrats have continuously pushed through policies that lead our great nation further away from the principles on which it was founded. Americans are caught in the battle to retain our freedoms.

Recently the LDS Church presented a letter, signed with other faiths, to President Obama, with regard to the report, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties.” Donald Trump stands by and endorses the aforementioned letter and will defend these policies as he has defended the core principle of the First Amendment – the “free exercise” of religion. In a Florida Rally, he stated “Without Religious Liberty, You don’t have liberty.” This is a powerful statement of solidarity aligned with our Christian values.

The report, which was submitted to the United States Coalition of Civil Rights in September of this year, has alarmed many with how harshly it condemned our modern day religious liberties. In the Report Democrat Martin R. Castro, appointed “USCCR” chairman by president Obama, makes the statement:

“The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

He goes on to threaten our modern day practices by adding: “Today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality.”

With the threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency, comes the loss of religious freedoms as we know it. A recent article by The Washington Post reveals Clintons feelings toward what many of us hold so dear. “Hillary Clinton made a stunning declaration of war on religious Americans. Speaking to the 2015 Women in the World Summit, Clinton declared that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

The overwhelming media bias has shown it’s willingness to support a Clinton presidency which will allow our rights and privileges to be stripped away. As a Latter Day Saint, it is my obligation to stand with other faiths in promoting our ideals and values and I have done so as a citizen and as an ecclesiastical leader. I have found that I do not stand alone in these convictions. My fellow Christians have stood strong by my side. The Evangelical leadership and their patrons are supporting the Trump presidency in historical numbers. We are now being watched by all denominations to see if we stand as strongly to defend religious liberties as other Christians. We are now down to one choice if we are to retain our religious liberties and that is by supporting the Trump Presidency and his associated policies and resolve to defend us. I know the love he has for this country, his desire for America to become prosperous again; to become safe again; and to become united again. Donald Trump’s message is the great message of our time.

Society has been consumed by an overwhelming need to judge and condemn others for their past. I believe it is the path that we are currently on and the future ideals that we strive toward that sing the true character of a person. Human redemption and forgiveness is of the utmost importance.

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”

-Robert Muller

Layne Bangerter

-Layne Bangerter is an LDS bishop in Idaho and serves as a senior policy advisor for Trump/Pence Campaign.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Will the American People Put the Clinton Crime Syndicate Out of Business?

October 31st, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The startling news that the FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s “Email Scandal” just days before the presidential election is only the latest evidence of the rampant corruption which follows Bill and Hillary Clinton like Pig-Pen’s cloud of dirt. Any American older than about 40 has spent a lifetime reading and hearing about the sordid private lives and financial schemes of the Clinton Crime Family.

That corruption is rooted, we believe, in the deepening evil that Hillary has embraced over her public career in the form of legalized abortion. Back in the days when she was only the First Lady, Hillary still carried a sense that abortion was not a good option for women. While she defended the “need” for legal abortions, Mrs. Clinton always made a point that it should be rare; that it was regrettable.

But the Hillary campaigning for the presidency today no longer has any sense of shame or regret over abortion. Now she openly demands that abortion be celebrated. She insists that those Christian denominations which still believe God and His Holy Writ need to be “reformed” and even undermined by Democrat political operatives. The Hillary walking into the Oval Office will not only insist that abortion on demand is legal – but that it be free to women and girls here and abroad. And she brazenly lifts up Planned Parenthood as an “heroic” organization, entitled to unlimited taxpayer support.

When you can casually justify the slaughter of millions, what is a little graft? When you can publicly embrace Planned Parenthood as “heroic” – what is a lot of lying? Her moral descent is painfully obvious.

Locally, it is well past time for Idaho Republicans like Mike Kingsley (Lewiston) and Rep. Lynn Luker (Boise) to go on offense: They need to confront their Democrat opponents with the horrifying list of Clinton’s crimes. They need to ask Rep. Rusche and Steve Berch whether they still support their Democrat nominee. The voters in those swing districts have a right to know.

On a broader front, it seems clear that no justice will come from Washington, D.C. The Clinton Crime Family can only be put out of business by the American people. We must insist upon a basic standard of integrity and at least some measure of virtue in our elected officials.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: If Conservatives Want to “Save the Republic”, We Must Use Pragmatic Approach

October 31st, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

Conservatives have to start thinking pragmatically and tactically, rather than ideally, when it comes to politics. As long as we continue to throw the most viable conservative candidate under the bus because he or she doesn’t measure up to our personal standards of conduct, we will continue to lose crucial elections that might otherwise curb the rate of descent into the statist abyss.

It’s a regrettable characteristic of many on the right, in their sanctimonious way, to dismiss their imperfect politicians with not a thought of forgiveness or of the consequences. Meanwhile, liberals take the pragmatic approach of rallying around their embattled candidates. Liberals are the pragmatists, and seem ostensibly more “Christian” in the process.

Politics is not a religion. Rather, it’s “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” If conservatives truly have a “conscience,” the salvation of their country should weigh much more heavily on them than whether they “feel good” about a particular candidate, especially when most of the complaints against him are not regarding his policy. After all, it’s policy that governs the country. There are no acts of Congress, executive orders or regulatory oversight based on what someone purportedly said or did years ago. Governance is by policy, and the candidate who wins the election sets policy.

Character is so crucial for our political leaders, yet both of the presidential candidates with a chance to win in this election cycle suffer from a dearth of it. With that out of the differential equation, it all boils down to policy and governance. We know what we will get with Democrat Hillary Clinton — four or eight more years of the moribund economic policy, the strangling effects of ever-expanding regulatory control of every aspect of our lives, foreign policy purchased by “donations” to the Clinton Foundation, and lies ad infinitum.

We may not know for sure what we get with a Donald Trump administration, but at least we know it will swing the pendulum, perhaps even slightly, to the right. This is crucial, for political shifts, and changes at the governmental level, are always incremental.

Politics, and governance in general, is incremental. The ebb and flow of the political environment and the mechanics of governance move incrementally, either toward liberty and constitutional principles, or toward centralized planning, governmental hegemony and dependency. Every piece of legislation, policy statement, regulation, executive order, election and judicial decision moves the nation, a state or a community slightly one direction or the other. It rarely moves all the way to one extreme or the other.

Too many conservatives suffer from “ideality paralysis”. They are waiting for the “perfect” candidate (who will never be found, since everyone’s notion is different); hoping against hope for a miraculous “victory” in the House (if their candidate can win but one state); incessantly rejecting the one person in a position to abate the nation’s perpetual descent into the statist abyss; or hoping against hope for a miraculous future victory based on a variety of “ifs.” This schismatic parsing of candidates, and perpetual self-inflicted shooting of the conservative movement in the foot, operationally and tactically, provides little hope for any future victory at the national level. That is, unless we can start thinking incrementally, and tactically, rather than ideally.

Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” And in politics, he couldn’t be more correct. Rather than waiting for the perfect candidate, we choose the most conservative viable candidate (who can win) on the ballot. This is tactical and pragmatic incrementalism, as we consider, from the candidates who can win, which inches us closer to liberty or away from it.

Long-term perspective significantly shapes incremental adaptation. Liberals seem to have a more long-term view of the process, and realize that each political victory is a rung on the progressive ladder. Too many conservatives suffer from severe myopia, mistakenly believing that if they can’t jump to the top of a ladder in one jump, they’ve failed, or that other conservatives have failed them if they can’t, or don’t, make the jump to the top minus the intervening steps.

This tendency places some conservatives in the unenviable position of never being satisfied with anything. Since they can’t have things just precisely the way they want them to be, they will forever be unsatisfied and politically unfulfilled. Liberals, generally, seem to relish each minor victory and recognize any politically incremental movement for what it is — one step in the process. And rather than bemoaning the failure to leap to the top of the ladder, they relish the small victory and gear up for the next battle for the next incremental triumph.

The two viable candidates in this presidential election cycle will move the country incrementally one direction or another. One, hopefully slightly back from the liberal abyss, while the other plunging headlong into it. And winning is everything in politics. Symbolic votes and votes of “conscience” don’t make Supreme Court appointments, implement policy or direct where a country is heading overall. Winners do.

Too many conservatives claim they have to “vote their conscience.” If they cared more about their country than “feeling good” about their vote, their conscience would demand they vote for the most conservative viable candidate, in spite of his or her flaws.

We should be collectively looking at the possible incremental movement away from the liberal abyss by voting for a less-than-perfect candidate, rather than willfully allowing the country to lurch, not just inch, ever closer to the point of no return – where the republic will be unsalvageable from the permanent damage of leftist policies. A true patriot would put his republic ahead of his “feel good” vote of conscience.

While conservatives are more likely to know their Constitution by rote, too many of us are political illiterates. Politics is about policy, which takes us even slightly closer to our founding principles, or further away. And the only way to effect change back to constitutional governance is by winning elections, with the most conservative electable candidate in a race. Tactical pragmatism rather than ideality should determine our voting. Symbolic third-party votes and third-party votes of “conscience” only enable the victory of the enemies of liberty. And in politics, winning is everything.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Hillary Celebrates 100 Years of Planned Parenthood

October 21st, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Planned Parenthood – the Abortion Industry’s largest producer – celebrated its dark 100 year history this past weekend. Democrat Hillary Clinton joined in the festivities by posting five separate Tweets praising the organization for its defense of “autonomy” and attacking Donald Trump. She expressed “pride” in what the abortion empire has accomplished over the past century.

Okay … let’s survey their handiwork.

Rachel Stoltzfoos over at the Daily Caller wrote an excellent piece summarizing the destruction Planned Parenthood has accomplished.

The semi-official death toll from Planned Parenthood is well over 7 million defenseless human babies. The annual carnage has now hit about 328,000 babies killed at some 650 abortuaries spread through every state of this Union. But the death toll only scratches the surface of the moral, social, spiritual havoc that Planned Parenthood has wrought. The cost to mothers and fathers, the damage to our legal system are but a couple of the accounts most difficult to measure.

Over the last decade, Planned Parenthood’s legitimate health care services have declined dramatically, while abortions have climbed. For example, they claimed some 2 million cancer screenings in 2006. By 2013, that number had declined to 900,000. At the same time, the annual killings have climbed from 289,000 to that staggering figure of 328,000. Yet they continue to enjoy funding from Congress and protection from leading Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has every reason to praise Planned Parenthood: It is spending some $30 million to help elect her to the presidency.

The Daily Caller also notes that this purportedly “non-profit health organization” has pumped more than $50 million into congressional campaigns since 1990. These massive political bribes have been used to build an unparalleled empire aimed at fulfilling Margaret Sanger’s racist, eugenics vision.

There can be no doubt that this presidential contest presents American voters with a fundamental choice. The defeat of Hillary Clinton must be a priority for every single Christian, pro-Life voter. We must commit ourselves now to earnest prayer, asking the Almighty to pierce the veil of darkness with which Planned Parenthood and its media allies are trying to cloak this election.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Trump Re-affirms His Commitment to Pro-Life Values

September 17th, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Presidential candidate Donald Trump issued a public letter to the nation’s pro-Life community this past week, affirming his pro-Life values and expressing his determination to advance the Life agenda.

In his letter, Trump restated his commitment to four specific policy agenda items:

Nominating pro-Life judges to the Supreme Court of the United States;
Signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would essentially make abortions after 20 weeks illegal in the United States;
He would seek to defund Planned Parenthood so long as it performed abortions. Instead, he would re-direct the hundreds of millions in tax dollars to legitimate women’s health care providers; and
Trump would ask Congress to make the Hyde Amendment a permanent part of the federal code. This long-standing provision is usually attached as rider language to appropriation bills and restricts the use of federal monies to pay for elective abortions.
There is no question that these four action items represent a formidable pro-Life agenda for a new president’s first term. But even that awareness fails to capture the true stakes in November for America’s preborn children.

The Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton, is a long way past the time when she declared that abortion should be rare in the United States. During her last run for the nomination, it became crystal clear that she is as rabid a supporter of Planned Parenthood’s agenda as any member of its Board. Clinton has publicly declared her support for tax-funded abortions and is committed to nominating the most rabid abortion-supporting lawyers to all levels of the federal bench.

Thus, we must appreciate not only what Donald Trump might accomplish as president, but what he will be able to prevent should he defeat Clinton and Planned Parenthood in November.

It is time to be in serious prayer for the outcome of the national election.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Pence Comes to Idaho

September 16th, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence came to Boise yesterday for a fundraising event.

While the rigors of a national campaign did not allow him to stay in the Gem State for long, it was clear that he is well familiar with Idaho’s leading political actors. After his introduction by Gov. Butch Otter, Pence talked about his service in Congress with Butch. He also spoke with admiration about the record of Sen. Jim Risch – who has once again been singled out as the most conservative member of the United States Senate.

Gov. Pence is exactly the same person as he appears in television interviews: humble, passionate about the Constitution and devoted to his Christian faith. Rather than speaking about his personal ambitions, Pence spent most of his time talking about his interactions with the presidential candidate, Donald Trump. It is clear that he has gained a sincere admiration for the man and appreciates the fact that perhaps his greatest contribution to America may come in helping Trump win in November.

Pence emphasized the dire consequences of a Clinton presidency, particularly in the area of Supreme Court precedent and the ensuing legal turmoil.

And Mr. Pence made several references to the need to restore protections for America’s preborn children.

It speaks volumes about Mr. Trump’s judgment that he chose Mike Pence as his co-pilot in the battle to restore the Republic.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Right to Life Endorses Trump

September 16th, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The National Right to Life Committee announced yesterday that it was formally endorsing Donald Trump for President. In a public statement, NRLC focused on Hillary Clinton’s radical agenda to expand abortion in America – while acknowledging Trump’s oft-repeated commitment to appointing pro-Life judges to the federal bench.

After securing the nomination, Mr. Trump issued a public list of eleven potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court in the event that he gets the opportunity to make such appointments. The list of possible candidates was met with universal acclaim by pro-Life activists familiar with the records of those individuals.

Mr. Trump has also repeatedly stated his intention to end the federal government’s partnership with Planned Parenthood – America’s largest merchant of prenatal death.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton has led her party into a deeper partnership with the world’s most nefarious organized crime ring. She has endorsed Planned Parenthood’s demand for public financing of abortions and pledged to appoint abortion adherents to all levels of the federal judiciary.

Mrs. Clinton has even gone so far as to call for a reform of Christian theology in order to end formal opposition to legalized abortion.

The urgency of this presidential contest was highlighted by revelations that abortion cheerleader Barack Obama has – in addition to his Supreme Court appointments – made some 326 appointments to federal district courts around the country. He has been immensely successful in packing the courts with liberals. As of now, he has managed to gain a majority of Democrat appointees in 9 of the 13 federal court circuits. With a lifetime license to kill and destroy, these liberal federal judges will be wreaking havoc on American justice for decades.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: The Lesser of Two Evils, or Third Party?

September 16th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

The presidential election of 2016 presents a consequential conundrum for voters, especially conservatives. With antipathy running at historic highs for a Republican nominee, the temptation to vote third party or not at all is significant. While each must make his or her own decision about what matters most in the process, we have to bear in mind the consequences of our decision.

First, let’s dispense with what elections are and what they are not. Voting for candidates is a means of selecting representatives for our governance. The most pervasive definition is, “An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.” The U.S. is not a theocracy, so we aren’t voting for a pastor, or a spiritual leader, or a great moralist.

Candidates have platforms, or statements of belief to delineate their policy positions in order for voters to ascertain their intent if elected. Ideally, all candidates are decent, honest, and honorable. So what do we do when the two major candidates in a two-party system are not? The most logical approach is to remove the subjective elements and focus strictly on the objective, by comparing your beliefs with those of the candidates. A superb way of seeing how your convictions align with the candidates is on the Internet at www.isidewith.com. Take the quiz at the top of the page for the presidential election and see how your view on the role of government, and specific issues, aligns with the candidates.

Although several candidates, including those from the Libertarian, Constitution, and Green parties are included, and may be on most of the state ballots, ours is fundamentally a two-party system. Some of that is due to our political history as a nation, but according to a research piece by the University of California in 2004, the Electoral College is one of the principle reasons. With a multiple party system, the ability to achieve the requisite 270 electoral votes is greatly diminished, which would cause presidential elections to be decided by the House of Representatives, rather than the popular vote by state, selecting Electors.

One Independent candidate has a strategy to take just one state, which his supporters argue, could possibly prevent either of the major candidates from surpassing the 270 electoral requirement. As it stands now, with the states Hillary Clinton has solid leads in, she has a 262 to 154 Electoral vote lead. Realistically, this isn’t even close, since all Hillary has to pick up is a state or two among the nine toss-up states, while Trump has to pick up all of them to win.

Because of the strength of the two-party system, third-party candidates inevitably draw voters from one of the two major parties. The Green Party takes some liberals from the Democrats, and the Constitution Party draws from the Republicans. While the Libertarian Party draws some from both, in part due to the social policies including legalization of drugs, but mostly from the ranks of the GOP. With the high level of dissatisfaction with the GOP nominee this year, the more votes siphoned away from one party or the other may have an impact on who ultimately wins, just as in 1992. That year Ross Perot, an Independent, amassed nearly 20 million votes, but didn’t win a single state or any Electoral votes. George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton by only five million votes, but it was an Electoral landslide for Clinton with 370 to 168 Electoral votes. The Independent candidate handed the victory to Clinton, having funneled off enough Republican voters to deny Bush the reelection.

Many voters are caught up in the “lesser of two evils” debate, averring they could never choose to support a candidate who is perceived to be only slightly less “evil” than the other. From a logical perspective, this approach to voting is fundamentally flawed, for it’s based on the premise that there is, in the political space, the opposite of evil – a perfect candidate. There are no perfect candidates. We’re all mortal, hence fallible and imperfect. Thus, technically, every election is a choice between “evils.” And since we’re dealing with mortal institutions, every choice is a gradation of imperfection and fallibility.

So given that all candidates are mortal, and therefore flawed, or if you will, “evil,” to some degree or another, we’re always voting for the lesser of evils. Let’s approach this concept from a logical and philosophical perspective based on Immanuel Kant’s deontological ethics, or duty-based ethics. From a Kantian “moral imperative” standpoint, to in any way facilitate the victory of the greater evil, is contrary to our duty to the republic. So if one acknowledges that one of the major candidates is more “evil” than the other, to allow the greater evil victory, by siphoning away votes from the lesser evil, is in fact immoral.

The bottom line is, why do you vote for a candidate? Do you vote for someone you believe honest, but whose convictions are antithetical to your own, or do you vote for the one who aligns closest to your convictions and preferred policies, perhaps in spite of perceived personal flaws? If politics was an ecclesiastical exercise, and you were selecting a new pastor, perhaps the former makes most sense. Ideally, all of our candidates would be honest and without character flaws. But as mortals, imperfection is a given, perhaps especially in the realm of politics. And since politics is about governance, and policy follows principle, ideological alignment is a more fundamental and realistic basis from which to choose.

Before the pro-liberty voter commits to a third party, they must consider the implications if they enable a Clinton victory. A few key issues to consider: 1. More Ginsburgs and Sotomayor’s on the Supreme Court, or more Scalia’s and Alito’s? 2. Less regulation versus more regulation. 3. More free enterprise or less? 4. More U.S. sovereignty (and concomitant security) or less, by ceding authority to the UN. 5. A stronger military or a weaker, more diluted and socially engineered one? 6. More wealth redistribution, or more personal accountability and freedom to achieve? 7. Keep Obamacare, or repeal it?

The reality is that either Clinton or Trump will win. Sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zone and vote based on policy and the greater good, rather than on a person, or assuaging our intrinsic sense of propriety. This is especially true for those who live in swing states where the election outcome will be determined.
Abstinence from voting, or voting in such a way to facilitate the election of the “greater evil,” certainly would be a violation of the moral imperative. We’d best consider the consequences of that third-party vote, or not voting, because if Clinton is handed the victory, the political hangover the morning after the election is going to be a doozey!

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: If You are Displeased with the Candidates and Didn’t Vote, YOU are to Blame!

September 16th, 2016 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

Politics may not be of interest to you, but politics sure has an interest in you. Whether you feel it doesn’t make a difference by having your voice heard, or you just don’t care what government does to you or demands of you, the political process is heavily dependent upon you. And frankly, it often succeeds due to failure on our part to be involved.

Politics, after all, is simply “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” It is the exchange of ideas for governance that occurs in a free society.

There is a more pejorative, or less desirable aspect of the political process that is often laced with conflict over those who seek positions of responsibility that is often a “turn off” to many. This is understandable. But it’s simply part of the process, and arguably the biggest part, that determines the ideas and principles employed to determine the future of a community, a state, or a nation. One can be involved in the exchange of ideas, and sharing or supporting principles or even politicians, and still not be embroiled in the corruption that often defiles the process.

But isn’t that how life is in general? To all good and important things, there are less desirable antecedents, or concomitant events or actions. The pain and discomfort of childbirth is followed by the joys of parenting and delightful children. The prolonged dedication to jobs and work produce the comforts of life we aspire to for our families. The temporal loss of a loved one accompanies a greater appreciation for life and the impact of the one on our lives. As one good book says, “there is an opposition in all things.” There’s the good with the bad, the joys with the pain, and the light with the dark. In short, there’s the satisfaction of articulating correct principles, which is sometimes accompanied by social conflict over those ideas.

Surprisingly, usually only 50-60% of eligible voters in the country vote for their president. In midterm election cycles, between presidential elections, eligible voter turnout drops to as low as 38%, as with the 2008 midterms, even though they are arguably even more important perhaps than the presidential elections. And with each election cycle, every two years, local and state officials are vying for votes to give them the keys of governance. And since local government has a much more significant impact on our immediate quality of life, every election, even strictly local ones, are much more effectual for each of us personally.

There’s a video circulating on the internet that uses pennies to illustrate how many fellow citizens voted in the presidential primaries this year to provide us the two major candidates for president. It starts with 324 pennies, each representing a million people. Subtract 103 pennies from those, which represents the 103 million who are ineligible to vote, like children, non-citizens, and felons. Then subtract another 88 million who never vote, not even in general elections. Then delete another 73 pennies representing those who didn’t vote in the primary elections, but will likely vote in the general election. That brings us down to 60 pennies, representing those who voted in the primary elections, about 30 for each of the two major parties. Half of those primary voters cast their ballots for someone other than the two nominees. Statistically, just 14% of eligible voters, or 9% of the entire population, voted for Trump or Clinton. Fully 161 million eligible voters did not vote for either candidate.

Now, in light of this data, consider how much different the outcome could have been if even a percentage of the 88 million who never vote, had done so, or a portion of the 73 million who were eligible, yet failed to vote in the primary election. If you are dissatisfied with the two nominees, yet failed to vote, you are part of the reason why out of 324 million people, we are left with two significantly flawed candidates.

For those who choose apathy over involvement, are there no principles or ideas you deem worthy of your support? No concepts so important that you are willing to take a stand? No individuals who support the same values that you deem worthy of your support, or at the very least, a vote?

Elected officials, and politics in general, determine a great deal about your life, or can have significant impact on your quality of life. They can impact how dynamic the economy is, which effects what kind of job you may have, or how much you can earn, or how much of your hard-earned money you get to keep. They will have an impact on what government demands of you, what kinds of healthcare you get, the kinds of products that are available to purchase, and the quality of our food and environment. They have an impact on our social environment, the respect or lack thereof for the law, and the quality of our educational system for our children and grandchildren.

In short, there is very little they don’t have an impact on. And their success in implementing their ideas is directly effected by the involvement of the American citizen. We are, after all, a republic, founded on the principle that we are bestowed with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Are we forfeiting our rights by not participating in the process that determines our ability to retain, protect, and maintain them?

Thomas Jefferson stated, “There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.” To some, that debt of service may be to serve in an elected capacity. To some, to fairly and accurately report the facts of what is occurring in our nation and our communities. And for others, it is to merely work hard for our families and pay our taxes. But for all of us, without exception, the debt of service must include participation in the electoral process of choosing our leaders and representatives. Any less than this, as eligible voters, is a forfeiture of our rights as citizens to ensure our pursuit of happiness, and perpetuation of our republic.

For as the Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago has said, “The painter paints, the musician makes music, the novelist writes novels. But I believe that we all have some influence, not because of the fact that one is an artist, but because we are citizens. As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved, it’s the citizen who changes things.”

None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something. And the very least we can all do, is to be informed and to vote. In fact, our citizenship demands it of us!

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