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Someone recently asked me if I thought my writing was changing anybody’s mind about their politics or how they view government at any level.

My answer was, “I don’t know.”

Frankly, I don’t see this column as a mind- or habit-changing vehicle. It is what it is: A few words cobbled together every week to try and make sense of an increasingly discordant society — the United States.

I’m not alone in the not-changing-any-minds category. There is a self-ordained pundit telling us how President Barack Obama isn’t touting enough American exceptionalism and instead is apologizing around the world for our mistakes. The truth is, the rest of the world is sick and tired of hearing about our exceptionalism and is most grateful that somebody had the grace to apologize for grievous errors.

In this pundit’s world, apologizing is a sissy thing to do, even though it is the correct thing to do. I wonder how the Iraqis feel about our exceptionalism after we invaded and destroyed their country based on lies.

Not all pundits have a memory that isn’t yesterday.

Then there are comments about how exceptional our military personnel are and how we should honor and respect them. I agree. We should. But we also shouldn’t waste them, along with hundreds of billions of dollars, on fruitless military campaigns and projects. Now that’s honor! That’s respect for our troops and the builders of their hardware: Be frugal with their lives and equipment.

Finally, there was the pundit’s glory moment when our multiculturalism and decades of illegal immigrants were blamed for all our problems. Since this pundit is right-wing, I wondered why he didn’t blame Obama for that, too. Then I realized all of us in this country are a product of a blend of cultures — except those descendants of the original inhabitants of this and the southern continent. Our immigrant ancestors took this land away from the original inhabitants, didn’t they?

Why, even our military is heavily sprinkled with multicultural and multiethnic personnel, some of whom (gasp) are even sons and daughters of illegal immigrants. I guess that was too obvious a point to be made in one little column.

This kind of entrenched opinion by convenience is not going to be changed by anyone or anything. It’s locked in for any number of reasons. But there is also the straight-party ticket button in the voting booth. How convenient. I think we’ve all seen that not every Republican and not every Democrat is necessarily the best choice at the ballot, so why vote for those who don’t measure up? Are we too lazy as voters to actually research our candidates?

In 2010, 92 percent of Republican voters voted straight ticket in Texas while only 28 percent of Democrats did that. It would seem Democratic voters at least try to discriminate and pick the most acceptable candidate instead of just pressing “ALL." Our schools know how well that turned out.

That’s a bad habit that really needs changing.

Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at He can be reached by email at