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Feb. 12 guest opinion: Would you vote if your liberty depended on it?

The deadline to register to vote in the May primary is April 29


America is all about liberty. No other word is more closely associated with the idea of America as the word “liberty.”

The Liberty Bell is engraved with a passage taken from Leviticus 25:10: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”

Every United States coin bears the word liberty, along with the words “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum.” The word liberty is found in The Pledge of Allegiance: “With liberty and justice, for all.” It is foremost in our founding documents.

The Declaration of Independence boldly states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Preamble to the Constitution says: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The Declaration states liberty is unalienable, a God-given right. Flowing out of the Declaration, the Constitution was established to “secure the blessings of liberty.” That same Constitution prescribes terms for representative government, voting rights, citizenship duties, the rule of law and the consent of the governed.

The United States government is “of, by and for the people,” according to Abraham Lincoln, echoing original principles. If the people do not control the government, the government will control the people.

Citizenship in America is a privilege and an honor and a duty, because preserving liberty and justice for all is our aim. Reading up on the issues and candidates of the day is a duty. Voting in every election is a duty, a sacred duty.

As believers we have a duty to be salt and light in all aspects of our lives. We have a duty to speak the truth in love. We have a duty to contend for righteousness in the public square, and we have a duty to protect and defend the sacred rights of others, especially the weak and the dispossessed. We have a duty to protect and defend the liberty of everyone, including the political opposition.

Unless citizens hold politicians accountable by voting, liberty is lost. Politicians given free reign tend to ignore the consent of the governed, trending toward tyranny. Citizen participation is absolutely essential to the preservation of liberty.

There are 58 million evangelicals in our country eligible to vote. In the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, only 33 million actually voted. In 2012 it was worse, only 30 million voted, 28 million stayed at home.

We all have the power of the vote, and we have the right to use that power to preserve liberty “for ourselves and for our posterity.”

Asking people to vote does not seem like much to ask, especially when you consider that more than 2 million people made the ultimate sacrifice to give us that right. Register and vote to honor their sacrifice. Register and vote to protect liberty. Register and vote to secure the blessings of liberty for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Register and vote because it’s your sacred duty. The voter registration deadline for Oregon’s May 20 primary is April 29.

When Benjamin Franklin appeared in public at the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, it is said a woman asked him, “What have you given us, a republic or a monarchy?”

Mr. Franklin replied, “A republic, madam – if you can keep it.”

Allan Erickson is a Newberg resident




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