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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times columnist: Von Bismarck's words true about Leavenworth, too

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  • The great German statesman Otto Von Bismarck used to say, “God watches over drunks, little children and the United States of America.”
    I would like to amend that famous statement by saying God also watches over the town of Leavenworth. I say this because here in Leavenworth for the past two decades we have been blessed with three outstanding representatives in our State House of Representatives.
    Marti Crow, Jana Goodman and Melanie Meier all were very attuned to the needs of the community and were always available to help anyone here in town who was having a problem with state government.
    I did not vote for all three of them, but I got to know them well during their years of service and always felt our town was so blessed to have them in office.
    Well, I have some good news as we approach the upcoming election for the 41st House District here in Leavenworth: God is continuing to watch over us because He has blessed us with two outstanding candidates for the House.
    I have had the honor to meet and talk a lot with both Republican nominee Tony Barton and Democratic nominee Nancy Bauder, and I am quite impressed with their intelligence, their knowledge of the issues, and their devotion to their community.
    Now, of course, as people of principle, Bauder and Barton have a lot of disagreements on issues before the state, and this brings us to the key reason why I am writing this column.
    This fall, in the 41st House District, let us set an example for the U.S. political system of what a campaign ought to be like — let us have a sincere and honest debate about the issues, not a series of personal attacks and inflammatory ideological charges.
    Americans have been voting in smaller and smaller numbers for several decades. 
    There was a brief upturn in political participation in the 2002, 2004 and 2006 elections due, I think, to the wave of patriotism sparked by the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, we had a very high turnout sparked apparently by the prospect of making history: In that election, we were either going to elect our first black president or our first female vice-president.
    But, disillusionment soon set in and turnout declined once more in 2010 and in 2012, and it seems likely to be pretty low in this fall’s national and state elections.
    I regularly teach classes in American politics, and I am always startled at how many people, particularly young people, not only do not vote, but seem rather proud of the fact that they do not vote.
    True, when I was a young person back in the 1960s and 1970s, a lot of people did not vote, but they were defensive about that fact rather than taking pride in it. When I ask these students of mine why they do not vote, one of the most commonly cited reasons is that modern election campaigns are not about the issues; instead, they are all about personal attacks on the candidates by the other side.
    Page 2 of 2 - This disgust with personal attacks is also reflected in our polling data: Poll after poll for years has said that personal attacks make people decide that the whole political class is corrupt and that there is no point in voting.
    Finally, as many residents of the city know, I have lunch every day at Corner Pharmacy, and during the last two weeks before an election I get repeatedly asked by customers at Corner, “Professor, when is the election going to be over? I am sick of watching all of these attack ads on TV.”
    So, it is my fervent hope that in this fall’s election for the 41st District here in Leavenworth, we will have what most of the residents of this great city want: An open and honest debate on issues confronting our city and our state.
    Dr. Ernest Evans is a political science professor at Kansas City Kansas Community College-Leavenworth Center and a regular guest lecturer at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He is a Leavenworth resident.

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