ELGIN (Heartland Newsfeed) — As we enter this Independence Day weekend, while Americans will be flying the flag and celebrating freedom, concepts have become more important as the political landscape erupts into uncivil, angry rhetoric, according to political activists.
“I see there’s a lot more interest in what is happening in our government and I think it’s because of the constant coverage the media gives to the process and how crazy the political process has gotten,” said Lex Green, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Illinois.
According to Green, Kane County has one of the party’s oldest chapters in the state – the Fox Valley Libertarian Party, where had recently traveled from his home in Bloomington to Kane County for the chapter’s membership meeting. Fox Valley is planning to march in the Independence Day Parade in Elgin.
“People are looking for more answers,” Green said.
At the same time, people are usually at the ready to argue politics with Sam Miemczewski, membership coordinator for the Democratic Socialist Party. By offering to have an open discussion, she finds that people aren’t near as argumentative.
“What turns people off is they don’t have an understanding of what socialism is,” she said. “As soon as you say ‘let’s talk about it’ people realize they are socialists.” Miemczewski’s key is to “pull away from the rhetoric and have an open discussion.”
“It’s something that needs to happen on the national level because people are tired of the infighting and partisan politics,” she said. “Today’s politics can be overwhelming because there is so much going on.”
Even Tom Hartwell, chairman of the Kane County Republican Party, has noticed more people calling the office because of the state’s political issues, to get meeting information and a willingness to get involved in local elections.
“We show there is a heighten interest (sparked) by what people are seeing in their community and particularly in Illinois,” Hartwell said. “They understand there are a number of political challenges in the state government to get its house in order.”
The League of Women Voters of Central Kane County (LWVKC) is also trying to get people involved in political races and on local issues, which recently held their inaugural Elgin Area Civic Engagement Fair held at the Gail Borden Public Library. The fair featured information such as voter registration, locating their precinct polling location, how to run for political office, how to volunteer for campaigns and an introduction to organizations based in the county, which included the recently-opened Islamic Center, based in St. Charles.
Huda Dogar, a youth worker for the center and member of Muslims for Common Ground, was there to share facts about Islam and answer questions as a “responsibility to tell people what Islam is.”
“People are sometimes afraid to ask questions. I am not afraid of who I am or to show who I am,” Dogar said. “I am trying to be here to tell them not to be afraid and to tell them what they hear out there about Islam may not be right.”
“Muslims for Common Ground stands for bringing people together on common grounds of faiths,” Dogar said. “We have to be educated about our faith and accept other people who have different beliefs.”
“There is so much energy out there,” Jennifer Ford, a board member of the Kane County League of Women Voters, said. “We have to tap into it. If people don’t know how to vote or run for office, you lose that energy. Apathy is the biggest problem in civil engagement and we see it in voter turnout and in people running for office. We have to ask what we can do.”
LWVKC, in coordinator with the YWCA, will be hosting a forum on campaigning this fall in October as an additional forum to the one they hold every two years on major election years.
“The search for those answers often leads people to social media,” Green said. “For those of us trying to educate and reach out to people, it’s a good thing. It gives us a place to go directly to the people and the voters, but I also worry anybody can be taken as an expert just because they have a strong opinion. I am a little leery of people who put too much faith in what they read on the Internet.”
“I do think the concepts of freedom that were behind the writing of the Constitution are timeless in that free people can organize society better than central planners,” Green said. “Our founding fathers who wrote the Constitution recognized this, for all their disagreements, they were in agreement that the Constitution needs to limit the government from overgrowth and keep people free to solve their own problems. That is what the Libertarian Party stands for today. I don’t think people understand what freedom really means or what the Constitution really stands for.”
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.