They (whoever “they” are) say you should never talk about politics or religion because those are two things that can invoke some very heated discussions. However, my brothers David and Ken have posted some political commentary on their blogs and it has inspired me to do the same. I don’t claim to be an expert, or even know that much about politics for that matter, but I thought I’d share some random thoughts. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I consider myself a (small L) libertarian and am a registered Republican. If you like Obama, McCain, Bush, or the current political state of our country you may want to pass this one over.
This election year has been almost comical to me in many ways. In years past I didn’t really care too much about politics. I had become so disgusted with the incompetence of our government that I had just given up. Heck, I didn’t even vote in the last presidential election. I figured Bush was just going to keep fighting wars, and that other guy’s plan was about as memorable as he was, so what was the point. Either one was equally capable of further screwing up our country so why should I be responsible for putting either one in office.
Well, over the past year my interest in politics has been rekindled and I’ve realized the political mess that previously beat me into submission has only gotten worse. Partisan politics are driving out any semblance of common sense. The Republican party is so focused on being what the Democrats are not, it seems as though they’ve completely abandoned their own platform. I’m not even sure they’re still aware they have a platform. Of course even more alarming to me are the number of people that don’t seem to notice and continue to blindly–err, I mean faithfully–follow their party.
I’ll admit, I used to be one of those. I remember the bitter defeat of George H. W. Bush by Bill Clinton. How could our country ever survive with that sleazeball Democrat in office? I remember the thrilling victory of George W. Bush over Al Gore. Ahh, the dimpled chad had saved us and all was going to be right in the world now that a Republican was in charge. I’ll even admit that I voted for people I knew nothing about–and I mean absolutely nothing, not even their name–because they were Republican.
Living in a predominantly Republican county in a predominantly Republican state I’ve noticed some strong tendencies towards this same attitude. I have to chuckle to myself as I drive to work each morning and pass the masses of signs littering the sides of the road that say “Vote for REPUBLICAN [insert name here]”, not to mention the herd of red, white, and blue elephant illustrations. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with putting your political affiliation on your signs, but a number of these signs could almost be read as “Vote for the Republican. Oh, by the way his/her name is [insert name here].” I can only assume the signs that don’t have their party affiliation must be for the Democratic candidates, knowing full well that putting “Democrat” on their sign in this area is as good as saying “Don’t vote for me, I’m a Democrat!”
So where am I going with this? Partisan politics is making us stupid. OK, maybe that’s a little too harsh. Let me try putting it this way: Why don’t we vote for the candidate that truly represents our political beliefs and values? If we’re just voting for the Republican (or the Democrat) are we really sure we’re electing the best man/woman for the job?
As the clock winds down to November 4th, many of us find ourselves scratching our heads and saying: “Obama and McCain? How did we get stuck with these two?” It feels a bit like picking teams out on the playground in grade school, when you’re down to the last two kids and trying to decide whether your team would rather have socialized medicine or stay in Iraq for 100 years. Of course there are those who will blindly vote for their party’s candidate. But what about the rest of us who actually care about electing someone that holds our same political beliefs and values?
Fortunately, contrary to popular belief, they are not the only two people running for president in this election. What?! Dare I even mention the notion of third-party candidates? Surely I can’t be serious. (Oh, I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.) I wouldn’t be foolish enough to throw my vote away, would I? I guess that depends on how you define “throwing your vote away.” If you define it as voting for a third-party candidate, then yes, I am. However, if you define it as voting for a candidate that won’t win, then nearly half the people in this country will be throwing their vote away when all is said and done. Or if you define it as voting for someone that doesn’t support your same principles, then many of those voting for McCain or Obama will be throwing their vote away. John Quincy Adams said: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
Many contend that it is better to have someone from your political party in office, even if they don’t share the same views as you. Really? I think the Bush administration beat down that theory for me (Iraq, Patriot Act, the Big Bailout, etc.). Of course those that argue this point are likely the same people that blindly follow their party, regardless of how far they’ve strayed from their platform. Just remember that when you vote for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil. OK, OK, I’m not saying that Obama or McCain are evil. The point is, what do you gain by voting for someone you don’t truly support? “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.” I don’t know if that really applies here, but it seemed fitting and I really wanted to work it in somewhere.
Imagine what would happen if everyone voted for the candidate that truly represented their principles and values. If rather than fearing your party might lose, or voting to prevent the other party from winning, you voted for who you really wanted to lead our country, even if that person did not belong to either of the two major parties. Who knows, we might see our system evolve into a three or four party system. Economics teaches us that when there is more competition, and consumers are given more choices, consumers win. Shouldn’t the same be true in politics? At the very least, if the major political parties were to start losing votes to third-party candidates, they might be more motivated to present the voters with better candidates. It’s a win, win … win!
So as you decide who you’re going to vote for this November 4th, take a good look at the candidates–all the candidates. Decide who really stands for what you stand for, who believes what you believe. Vote for principle, not for your party or who you’d rather see lose. If you really feel that Obama or McCain represent your beliefs and values then give them your vote. But if you’re not sure, don’t throw your vote away voting for someone you don’t really want to be president.
[flv width=”360″ height=”290″]http://gibbsters.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/i-voted-for-kodos.flv[/flv]
When Election Day has passed and the dust has settled, I don’t want to be the one saying: “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.”