Once upon a time in Franklin County, general passion was evident by members of the two major political parties, the Democrats and Republicans. While there’s still some passion for their parties, it’s not what it once was. We suspect this is the situation in other parts of the state and nation. We have more Independents today and their ranks seem to be growing.

The central county committees of the two parties held their organizational meetings shortly after the August primary election. As in the past, committeemen and committeewomen who were elected by townships and city wards met to elect officers and plan for the general election. As in recent past years, many of these committee posts for both men and women were vacant. No one filed. That’s not completely unusual. Even in the glory years of the political parties, there always were a few vacancies. It’s the number of vacancies that continues to grow.

Now it is that some of those committee members think they’re doing all right. They see the passion in a few of their members. But they weren’t around 30-50 years ago when the party committees were really strong, with a large number of party members filling, serving and working for their respective parties. The difference then and today is in numbers. Interest has waned.

Back in the heyday years, prominent speakers for both parties attended rallies in Franklin County. High-ranking incumbent state and federal elected officials were speakers. The dinner-rallies brought out hundreds of supporters. There was a high degree of harmony. The party members were united for the most part. Party platforms were widely supported.

Why the decline in interest? There are serious divisions in the parties. Yes, granted, there always were personality clashes. There always will be that situation. Interest has dropped in the parties because of a lack of moderation. Issues such as abortion and a host of other social issues, plus federal spending, our deficit, foreign policies and health care, to mention a few, have torn away the fabric of the political parties.

More and more it is heard, I’ll vote for this or that candidate, but I’m not excited about it. “I’m not happy about either one for president.” There’s always been a vein or two of this attitude, but to us it seems it’s greater today.

There isn’t the pride there once was in belonging to one of the major political parties. Splinter parties have resulted, but they haven’t had much appeal. They do have passionate members.

If you listen to the political pep rallies in Florida and North Carolina, one may think it’s like the old days. True the convention goers are revved up, but for many of them it’s party time since the outcomes long ago have been determined. Not that there aren’t loyal party supporters at the convention, some for their first time, but the truth is to many people the conventions are boring.

We find it highly interesting that Sen. Claire McCaskill announced some weeks ago she would not attend the National Democratic Convention in early September. She said she is in a close race in Missouri and it was more important to her to stay in Missouri and campaign. Perhaps she will have a change of heart since polls show she has jumped ahead of Republican Todd Akin because of his “misspeaking” on rape and pregnancies.

It is expected that President Barack Obama will lose Missouri in the general election. Many political observers suspected that Sen. McCaskill’s decision to stay away from the convention was to distance herself from the president since she was expected to have a close race. Will she change her mind now that she is ahead, and attend all or part of the Democratic convention?

These words do not mean to imply that there is no passion among voters about their choices for president. There’s plenty! But the passion to be associated with a major political party, especially on the local level, simply isn’t there in numbers. Can it be restored? Only if extremism subsides.