This election season has been particularly vitriolic leaving me feeling particularly uninspired about any of the options on this year's menu. I did get a kick out of my state's recent voting machine gaffe with our state's Green Party gubenatorial candidate. Somehow they managed to drop the "N" in Rich Whitney's name and he, perhaps rightly so, felt being listed on the ballot as "Rich Whitey" might cause potential African-American voters to take pause and vote for other candidates. That has given some comic relief in an otherwise overly vitrolic gubenatorial campaign.
My wife-- whose politics lie a bit more to the left end of the political spectrum than mine once asked me why, with my strong views and convictions on many issues, I hadn't pursued a career in politics. I actually do get a rush from speaking in public and enjoy meeting new people... All excellent qualities for anyone entering the political arena... But the one quality I posess which I believe is counter-intuitive to a political career. I'm a private person. Yes I share things about my life on here from time to time, but I'm in control of what does and doesn't get shared. As soon as one enters the political arena, the power to control that diminishes exponentially the higher the office one seeks. Or in the more blunt terms of a gentleman I met at debate for a NY State Assembly race back in 1994, "The higher up you go, the more you show your ass." (In light of Illinois two most recent governors, it can also be said, "The higher up you go, the more you show you're an ass.")
An old friend of mine asked for advice on how to determine who to vote for. In an attempt to be as non-partisan as possible I gave her the following advice:
- Unless he/she is running for president a candidate's stance on abortion is completely irrelevant. It is legal and it would/will take a Supreme Court decision to overturn that. No candidate for senator, governor,... or any other office has the power to change that. Thus his/her views on that issue are as relevant to their candidacy as their taste in music-- not at all.
- There is usually SOME truth to the negative things the candidates say about one another, but often when you learn the true context behind all the mean/nasty things they're saying about one another it's really not that bad at all. And certainly shouldn't be a dealmaker/breaker. Do your research.
- The one issue that many candidates do have some impact to effect some change on is the economy. Vote
with your bank account. Find out the candidates economic stances and let this issue be one of the stronger ones affecting your vote! Vote for the candidate you believe will most help the economy.
While I believe voting is a right, I also believe with that right comes a responsibility to be an educated and well informed voter. Know what the candidates truly believe, but also keep in mind the candidate's abilities. What good is electing a candidate who may agree with you ideologically but is a blithering idiot (John Tyler, maybe not an idiot per se but he managed to alienate not only the opposition but also his own party, ensuring that not only would he not get re-elected his party didn't even give him the nomination for a 2nd term-- in all fairness no one expected him to be President as he was elected as VP under William Henry Harrison who died of pneumonia after only 1 month in office), a doddering lush (Ulysses S. Grant. Great General, but completely ineffective president), or in some other way completely unfit to hold public office.
For example, ideologically I may agree with both Christine O'Donnell and Sarah Palin on many issues. But I couldn't and wouldn't ever support them in an election as I don't believe either of them would be effective in the respective elected offices which they are/were seeking.
Ideologically my beliefs may have been more in line with those of John McCain than Barack Obama, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for a man I didn't support in the primaries let alone the man who was my absolute last choice of all of the Republicans in the 2008 primaries.
So, for those of you who can vote and are planning to do so in just under 2 weeks. Please do so responsibly! And if you happen to be in suburban Chicago, IL and see a guy pull up and a bunch of empty bottles of Pepto-Bismol fall out of his car as he gets out to vote... That's probably me as I'm having a lot of trouble stomaching ANY of the candidates in either party this year.