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Neglect Could Be Fatal To Democracy Cause For Alarm System Can’t Survive Much More Inattention.

Less than a fourth of Spokane County’s registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary election.

Yawn.

Dismal as it is, that wholesale abdication of civic duty is only half the story. The other half is that only about two-thirds of the eligible population is registered to vote in the first place.

If you do the math, you’ll discover that out of every six eligible voters, five sat this one out. The sixth got to decide for the others what choices will appear on the general election ballot on Nov. 4.

Does it matter?

It matters if you care about the streets you drive on or the safety of you and your family from lawbreakers.

If the level of taxes matters, voting matters. If the quality - or quantity - of schools and other governmental services matters, voting matters. If reliable fire protection or emergency medical response matters, voting matters.

But most of all, if the democratic principles that have served this nation for more than two centuries are worth keeping, voting matters. If the concepts of self-determination are worth emulating by freedom movements around the globe, then Spokane residents and a lot of other Americans must own up to their obligations here in the land where the experiment began.

Unfortunately, keeping the experiment alive demands more work than many of us are willing to do. It demands not merely voting but also being concerned, being informed and being involved.

Vaclav Havel, now president of the Czech Republic (one of those Eastern European backwaters where the yearning for liberty outlasted decades of Soviet tyranny), said the way to assure better politics is to become better citizens.

In America, whose principles inspired Havel and others like him, we have come to expect politics to improve on their own while we sit on the sidelines, withholding our participation until they do.

But like a muscle, democracy will atrophy without regular exercise.

When issues that should be framed, considered and resolved by the many are consigned to a handful of activists, the civic fiber of the community begins to wither.

Does a shamefully low voter turnout matter? If you care about only one race or one ballot item, maybe not. If you care about liberty, you’re damned right it matters.

, DataTimes MEMO: See opposing view under the headline: Know-nothings add nothing worthwhile

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Doug Floyd/For the editorial board

See opposing view under the headline: Know-nothings add nothing worthwhile

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Doug Floyd/For the editorial board



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