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Boerne Voters Tell Us What's On Their Minds

Jack Morgan
Texas Public Radio

NPR and Texas Public Radio have been wondering what's on voters' minds leading up to the elections. I talked to several voters in Boerne about their feelings on terrorism, and the shrinking middle class.  If you've been thinking the middle class isn't what it used to be, the numbers say you're right. Recent Pew Research stats show the middle class is now smaller than the upper and lower classes combined. The vast American middle class has measurably shrunk. This comes as no surprise to Boerne Attorney David Cavazos. 

"I think the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Income inequality is an issue. I just don't think people accept that as a reality," he said. " I don't think anyone can live on 7.25 an hour. I don't think that's a livable wage at all." 

Retired history teacher and Patrick Heath Public Library volunteer Sue Turquette takes a different view. 

"There's always been income disparity. And I think it's the responsibility of those who have more to donate more. To donate to charitable organizations. To missionary work, church work and so forth."

She also doesn't think taxing those making a higher income will help close that gap. 

"No, because we've done that. Increased and increased and increased and it never seems to be enough. People always want more."

High school senior Emily Amicone has seen that income disparity play out in her community.

"Growing up in Boerne there's definitely a big gap. There's like really wealthy and really poor, and just kind of two extremes. I think there needs to be a middle, a middle ground," she said. "If minimum wage were increased then people could afford an education, like to go to college. They would have a better education and get more jobs."

Another issue that's bubbled to the surface are Americans' fears over terrorism. In a December poll, a whopping 57 percent says they don't approve of the way the current administration is fighting terrorism.
Here's Sue Turquette, who thinks terrorism and immigration problems overlap.

"We have a lot of homegrown terrorists. I think a lot of the problem is that we do not spend enough money on mental illness in this country," said Turquette. "Terrorism--both homegrown and international--the refugees and the arrival of the illegal people who are here, and get a lot of benefits from the government while other U.S. citizens can't get them--I think those are huge things and I think that's going to play a major part in this next election."

Retired teacher Lin Floyd thinks terrorism is a very real threat.

"It is. I think it's on everybody's radar. Definitely. It's probably just waiting to happen," she said, concerned. "I just think we're going to have another 9-11 here. That's what I think. We're just lucky it hasn't happened yet."

Matt Stackhouse has a very strong opinion about terrorism, and is a Donald Trump voter. 

"It's a huge issue. "

"What concerns you?" I asked. 

"A very weak political system in the United States that has undermined our military and destroyed it."

Stackhouse thinks our priorities need to be stateside.

"I think we need to quit sending our money oversees. We need to stop sending our money to Muslim countries and start using it in the United States."

David Cavazos thinks views like that are way off target. 

"This deal about Muslims--Muslims aren't bad. They're really not bad people." 

Cavazos thinks that kind of attitude toward immigrants isn't right.

"This isn't North Korea, Nazi Germany. This is America.We're a melting pot. If we're going to be that way, I think we should take down the statue of liberty. This country was founded on immigrants. The American Dream--what does it stand for? Is it still there? Is it still alive? Is it fading away? 

Just how those feelings in Texas and elsewhere affect the presidential election gets a first test on Monday when Iowa voters caucus. Then on March 1, Texas voters get their say.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii