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San Diegans vote to keep cross, ACLU fights

Posted By Craig R. Smith On 08/01/2005 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

– Barry Goldwater

A troubling sign in the city of San Diego surfaced last week that’s becoming the norm instead of an exception: Low voter turnout in municipal elections based on apathy.

Last week, by a margin of 76 to 24 percent, San Diego voters passed “Proposition A” to protect the cross high atop the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial. A special election was called to elect a new mayor and to find the people’s will on the possible removal of the cross from the memorial.

I’m thankful Prop A passed, but what troubles me is that less than 28 percent of the registered voters went to the polls to exercise their precious right to vote!

We’re talking about a city which currently has no mayor and faces the possibility of losing a 50-year-old war memorial icon, simply because one outspoken atheist hates the cross! Amazing!

Why such a low turnout? Some say it’s because this was a special election and if a candidate didn’t get over 50 percent of the vote, they’d be forced to have a run off in November anyway. Others say they’re just too busy with the kids, the job, the gym, etc.

As I watched the election results, it struck me that 72 percent of San Diegans apparently don’t give a rip who will govern their city – or whether the cross stays or goes. Have they given up hope that their vote will have any real impact? Or, is it possible we’re looking at a larger trend around the country of political apathy?

Low voter turnout is not a new phenomenon that’s just hitting San Diego. For years, voter turnout has been dropping in almost every city election across the land. I see it as a sign that voters have an attitude that nothing’s going to change, so why waste the time.

Part of the problem is that our nation has become polluted with politicians instead of statesmen. Politicians often say one thing and do another once elected, such as promising to protect the U.S.-Mexico border and then allowing millions of illegals to welcome themselves to our land of plenty. Or making campaign promises of “no new taxes” – then telling us they have no choice but to raise taxes – instead of cutting expenses. Their slogans sound so good, yet provide so little. They even promise to keep us safe from terrorism, yet refuse profiling that would stop them in their tracks.

Then, I thought about the vote to save the cross on the war memorial, which was dedicated to the sacrifice our service men and women have made for their country. This three-story-high cross has been seen for miles in every direction for 50 years now without bothering a soul. Yet, suddenly, it offends one atheist and his liberal American Civil Liberties Union-backed attorney and the fight is on.

The passage of Prop A allows the city to turn the memorial over to the federal government to make it a national park. So now, instead of forcing the cash-strapped city of San Diego to fight the ACLU, the fight will now be with the federal government.

What’s interesting is that support for Prop A was led by a Jewish man, Phil Thalheimer – hardly a man who views the cross as an expression of his personal faith.

According to Mr. Thalheimer:

As a Jew, the cross reminds me that when you have this type of religious intolerance, it leads to what my family experienced. [His parents are Holocaust survivors.] Symbols come down little by little just like they did in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. And where does it stop? The answer is that it doesn’t.

Now the fight over the separation of godly symbols from our culture will continue in the courts. It seems no matter how many times the voters have spoken on an issue, a liberal judge still has the ability to overturn the will of the people on the basis that it is “unconstitutional” in his or her opinion.

There was a time in this country when judges and politicians had a sincere and deep respect for the only true Judge on all issues in this world – God. The Bible was our plumb line for right and wrong, black and white. The Ten Commandments were considered America’s moral standard, pure and simple. But the day we started allowing liberal judges and politicians to remove symbols of God from our society was the day the decay began. How quickly we’ve forgotten Who it was that blessed us to begin with.

So, the next time you hear of a low voter turnout in a local election, ask yourself how many repressed world citizens would give their right arm for the right to vote. Sadly, we may soon have more in common with them then you think – unless we use our right to vote.

Perhaps its high time the people of faith become even more “extreme,” in the words of Barry Goldwater.


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