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Patriots: Pull your weight

It is a pleasure to attend the annual Fourth of July parade in Pagosa Country and to participate in other holiday activities and celebrations.

We Americans do few things better than celebrate the founding of the nation, our independence and the establishment of our freedoms. Floats are built for the parade, flags are displayed with pride, people dress in red, white and blue clothing. Granted, some push beyond the bounds set by the founders when noting the supposed reasons for the creation of the nation (taxation and lack of representation will suffice), but the spirit is great, the positive atmosphere is thick.

It’s a shame the enthusiasm for celebrating our democracy and the freedoms it affords us wanes when it comes time to doing the work needed to support the system and the rights it provides.

Aside from the men and women in the armed forces who put it on the line for these things, there are few of us who consistently help with the heavy lifting. Those who line up for public service, who plunge headlong into the fray, seeking office, positioning themselves to take the point in our representative democracy, do the lion’s share of the work. The rest is up to the voters and those who participate in the political process, in harmony with what the founders claimed: that our government derives its just power from the consent of the governed.

With a primary election approaching in early August, it is time for the governed to play their parts. Several recent primary elections in other states have exhibited a somewhat disconcerting trend — drawing a lower percentage of voters than did the last general election. The governed (who turned out in the last general election in numbers greater than any time since the mid ’60s) seem to be somewhat disinterested. Many voters who were motivated by an exciting presidential race appear to have sunk back into a state of political lethargy.

If the trend continues, our government, in the person of the candidates we select in the upcoming primaries and the general election, will have considerably less input from the governed.

And those who make the effort to stay engaged — in particular those individuals or “corporate individuals” who have the money to invest in the process — will have all that much more say in how our national, state and local governments do our collective business.

The parades, the red, white and blue attire, the music and fireworks are easy ways to display patriotism. But that display is temporary, with few real effects. Patriotism of the lasting and more meaningful sort, for those of us who are not in uniform, must be displayed by our participation in the political process.

On Aug. 10, a primary election will take place, with early voting at the election office at the courthouse Aug. 2-6. Republicans will select candidates for county commissioner (Bob Hart or Bob Moomaw), county assessor (Kerin Prior or Natalie Woodruff), and county coroner (Richard Aldahl or Carl Macht), as well as for governor (Dan Maes or Scott McInnis), state treasurer (J.J. Ament or Walker Stapleton), state Senate District 6 (Dean Bohler or Ellen Roberts), U.S. Senator (Ken Buck or Jane Norton) and U.S. Rep. District 3 (Bob McConnell or Scott Tipton). Democrats will pick a candidate for U.S. Senate (Michael Bennet or Andrew Romanoff). Libertarians will select candidates for U.S. Senate (John Finger or Maclyn Stringer) and governor (James Brown or Dan Sallis).

The deadline to register for the Aug. 10 primary is July 12. The deadline is for those seeking to register for the first time or for party members wishing to change their party affiliation (unaffiliated voters can declare a party at the polls).

It is time to step up. Register now, and pull your weight with your vote.

Karl Isberg