My dad and I were talking politics the other night. I told him I’m tired of being an independent, and I’m tired of voting for the lesser of evils.
But I don't know what to do about it.
Several years ago I became so frustrated with the drunk-on-their-own-power Republicans that instead of returning the little envelope with my party dues or donation (or whatever money they were dunning me for that particular week), I returned it with a long letter that spelled out in detail my anger at the path the GOP had taken. Furthermore, I told them not to bother asking me for anything else until they changed their ways.
I'm sure my letter was promptly placed in the circular file. But they got the hint and quit asking me for my money and my vote.
I spent the next several years in a political limbo. Democrats and I do not see eye to eye on most issues, so shifting to that side of the aisle was out of the question. And while I could still find the occasional Republican to vote for, most of them had taken big gulps of the neo-con Kool-Aid.
So I turned briefly to the Libertarians. I like the idea of everybody leaving everybody else alone. I really like the idea of the government leaving me alone. But I also think we need some rules, and the more I researched Libertarianism, the less enchanted I was with it. Plus, you might as well vote for a cartoon character, since the likelihood of one of those getting elected is about the same.
Then along came the Tea Party, which at first claimed no party affiliation even though we all knew they were Republicans in different suits. But limited government? Check. Fiscal responsibility? Check. Let the market decide everything. Whoa.
I'm all for the free market -- as an economic system. But allowing it to be the only rule and applying it to situations outside of economics, not so much. It's one thing to say a company should lose or go out of business for providing an inferior product at higher prices. It's another thing to let that company take advantage of loopholes, break the law and abuse its customers for months or years while the market sorts it out because we're scared to death that any regulations might hinder commerce. Even one of Ayn Rand's biggest worshippers, former head of the Fed Alan Greenspan, has admitted that the no-regulation form of government is not the best way to run the economy. And it certainly shouldn't be applied to certain aspects of life. Died of cancer because you didn't have enough insurance? Should've worked harder, achieved more, maybe you'd still be alive.
Give me a break.
So, with seemingly no one with a moderate or center-right view left in the world, I've been wandering the political wasteland, and it has looked no more vapid and depressing than it looks this year.
In the primary, I cast my vote with the intention of doing no harm (back to voting for cartoon characters.) I voted for a guy who I knew would not win. My dad asked me what was the point. I told him because voting was my civic duty, plus I was hoping to avoid the argument we'd had 20 years ago when I announced my intention to withold my vote because George Bush the First, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot weren't doing it for me.
"If you don't vote, don't complain," he told me back then. I told him then that witholding my vote sends as much of a political message as casting it.
But the truth is it doesn't. Not much of one anyway. At the very least you leave yourself out. And the thing is, I want to vote. I want to be a part of the process. I've got lots of complaints about the way things are. I want to vote for a person who I think has the average guy's interest at heart. I want to vote for someone who I think will listen to me and not just the people behind their super PAC or their special-interest groups. And it'd be nice if that person had a chance of winning.
But here we are again with five guys still in it (including the incumbent), and none of them are even remotely appealing. A wimp, a big talker, a prude, a conspiracy theorist and a gazillionaire. (I'll let you sort out which one is which.)
Not a statesman among them. At the very least, nobody I can get fired up about. And I want to get fired up. I'm sick to death of holding my nose and touching the screen next to the name of the person I think will do the least harm.
I want to vote for the person who will do the most good.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.