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FIRST-PERSON: Political cynicism


ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–When it comes to politics, I have become increasingly cynical. In fact, if elected officials did not have so much impact on my life, I would ignore every last one of them. However, like a sore tooth they are ever present and demand attention. Neglect them, and real trouble is likely to develop.

One area that I find particularly irritating has to do with our nation’s borders. To date, the approach taken by our representatives on this specific issue has been particularly painful.

Our nation currently is grappling with some very serious issues. Perhaps the most ominous one is the threat posed by Islamic terrorists. However, another concern that directly relates to the specter of terrorism is border security.

For years America’s southern border has been a sieve that has allowed people to pour into the United States illegally. Reports indicate the northern border may not be much better. No matter how secure we “feel,” until our lax border security is addressed we will remain vulnerable to terror attacks on U.S. soil.

The steady stream of illegal aliens also has an economic impact. Once in the United States, illegal aliens have access to health, education and welfare programs. The financial strain is dramatic, especially for border states.

Some tout the cheap labor illegal workers provide to American companies. However, a study released by the the Center for Immigration Studies on Sept. 22 indicates that “immigration influx” (both legal and illegal) displaces young native-born workers.


According to CIS, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization based in Washington D.C., the study’s “findings are particularly troubling because a person’s early work experience –- or lack thereof –- has a significant impact on their performance in the labor market later in life.”

On the issue of illegal aliens, both Democrats and Republicans have been missing in action. With rare exception, politicians from both parties have adopted a policy of “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” when it comes to border security and illegal labor.

Recently the blinders have fallen off Republicans’ eyes, and they have broken their silence by proposing legislation that would enhance border security. Though no proposal has found its way into law, at least the issue is being discussed.

The most recent effort by Republicans is the Federal Election Integrity Act, which would require voters in federal elections to provide picture identification and proof of U.S. citizenship in order to cast a ballot.

The goal of the so-called “Voter ID” bill is to stamp out fraud by keeping illegal aliens from voting. The proposed legislation would also prevent “dead” people from voting — something a study by Johns Hopkins University discovered has occurred 1,500 times in recent elections.

The bill sounds reasonable and would be a first step toward dealing effectively with the influence of illegal aliens. The “Voter ID” bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 228-196. Republicans backed the proposed legislation 224-3. Democrats opposed it 192-4. Joining the Dems in opposition was the House’s lone independent member.

Those that spoke against the “Voter ID” bill indicated that it amounted to a modern day poll tax. One said the bill would discourage people from voting. Another stated that the problem with voter apathy in America is a bigger problem than non-citizens attempting to vote.

Poll tax? While I am sure there are some U.S. citizens without some form of picture ID, they surely are few in number. Democrats have always boasted about being adept at registering people. I am sure they could find a way to help people secure IDs.

Having to show an ID would discourage people from voting? I simply do not follow the logic. Rarely a week goes by that I do not have to present my ID to someone for something. I have yet to be discouraged from any activity.

Voter apathy in America is a problem. However, to introduce that issue into a discussion on voter fraud is simply a red herring. It has no relevance whatsoever.

What possible motive could politicians have in opposing the “Voter ID” bill? Could it be they hope to benefit from the votes of illegal voters — even “dead” ones?

Edward Everett Hale, who served as chaplain to the U.S. Senate from 1903 to 1909, was once asked, “Do you pray for the senators, Dr. Hale?” He replied, “No, I look at the senators and pray for the country.” My cynicism causes me to say, “Amen, Dr. Hale, amen.”
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears Fridays in Baptist Press, is editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.