The Democratic Process

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Editorial by Sonia Bartz ,
BRC President

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."
-Robert M. Hutchins

I've discussed apathy and motivation separately in previous columns with focus more on advocacy and getting involved rather than the democratic process. Either way you look at it, the principles are the same. Presence, knowledge and trust are important for the success of advocacy and for the democratic process. Once again, we're at a critical juncture and we all need to become engaged and educate ourselves in preparation for the November General Elections.

First, know your issues. What issues are important to you and your family? What impact will they have on you and your quality of life? Answering these questions is the first step to becoming informed on what's important to you.

Second, know your candidate. This can be a challenge. With the different aspects of media coverage and advertisement what should one trust? Go to the candidate's website. Watch the presidential debates. Find out the candidate's policy for those issues important to you. Yes, this takes an investment of time, but it's time well spent to be informed when voting come November. Our future depends on it!

Critical to every American are the budget challenges facing the United States and the need to fill funding gaps. Recently, Mary E. Peters, Secretary of Transportation, released recommendations to Congress on the need to restructure and reform federal funding of transportation projects, in part, due to aging bridges and interstate system and the need to fund projects. Part of her proposed restructure would be the cancellation of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). RTP dedicates $80 million annually to building trails for motorized and non-motorized users. Eliminating it would be a drop in the bucket for solving the transportation funding issue.

Another example of budget ordeals is the cost of fighting forest fires. As fire costs are expected to exceed the 2008 budget, the USFS will have no other option than to cut other programs, such as the Travel Management Rule (TMR), to fund the expense of fighting fires. This has the grave potential of affecting the quality and timing of the TMR process and impacting outdoor recreation.

Currently, Congress is challenged with passing legislation funding the federal government for fiscal year 2009, which begins October 1st. I suspect by the time this column comes out we'll have partisan deadlock impacting all of us at all levels. Rumor has it that we can expect no real action to be taken until the new Congress and Administration take office in January 2009. Only time will tell.

Whether it's before or after elections, it is the democratic process that allows us all to be involved. This is your call to action!

--Questions or comments regarding this article should be directed to the BlueRibbon Coalition: Phone: 208-237-1008, Fax: 208-237-9424. Email: .

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