MCCULLOUGH: A voter without a candidate

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

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 nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.


BufordGuy 2 years, 10 months ago

I hear you Nate. Problem is most folks say they want someone just like you described, yet they want vote for them because the media says they are extrememists, they can't win, or they don't have enough money. The Soviet propaganda guys would be amazed at how effective the "mainstream" media in America is today.


Dubbin 2 years, 10 months ago

Amen. So long as the left and the right keep focusing on social issues (birth control pills, porn, abortion free education for illegals, etc) and ignore the economic plight we are in we will continue to get more zealots on the left and the right. We have met the enemy and he is us.


richtfan 2 years, 10 months ago

you can "ignore" the social issues all you want, but those very social issues have gotten us to where we are today financially in so many ways. you cannot simply pick a candidate based on the fact that he/she agrees with your economic ideas while ignoring the fact that that same person thinks Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon is ok or that it's ok for people to have all access at any time to cocaine, meth etc. That's not what a workable society is made of. Social issues make up our "society" (same root word). You cannot have one without the other. while I don't think that we need to be singularly focused on the abortion issue, the fact that so many people in our country take life lightly is a big deal.


Suwaneeman 2 years, 10 months ago

Nate you and your Dad should consider voting for President Obama. You know what you are getting with him. The other guys are clueless. They don't inspire any hope. The President had a tough hand dealt to him and has played it well. Not perfectly, but well. Just think what he could have done if he had some help from the Republicans. When was the last time you saw Speaker Boehner on television?


R 2 years, 10 months ago

President Obama took the TV slot, in-between golf games and non stop campaign tours...

Yes by all means consider voting for President Obama for a second term, then wake up and realize it was just a nightmare...


richtfan 2 years, 10 months ago

The president is a total whacko radical. I guess you should vote for that if that's what you think would be good for the country going forward, but I'm not sure you're willing to admit that. How does Obama's economic policy inspire hope? Please tell me. And your very own Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that this was obama's economy, not Bush's. He can't any longer claim that it's someone else's fault. That option is long gone. The excessive spending and radical whacko policies from a regulatory standpoint are crippling us economically.


LilburnLady 2 years, 10 months ago

Voting is an integral way of being involved in government, however, you really get the most "bang for your buck" by being a voter and being involved in your own local government. The Federal government is so far removed from our daily lives, that we can't really have much of an effect. However, imagine if you, yourself, ran for a local office as a Moderate Libertarian? If you don't want to run for office, help someone who does. Volunteer to help with a campaign or simply stay informed and show up at County and City Council meetings and speak up about things that are being decided.

I too, am tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. I'm also tired of watching the media destroy any candidate that thinks outside the box and has new ideas. I'm tired of watching the media glorify and gloss over the shortcomings of the candidates they favor. I'm tired of being governed by people who have, as my grandmother would say, "not a grain of sense". I can't do much about that at a national level, but I can make some noise and wield some small amount of influence in my own city and county. If just 20% of our people in Gwinnett would regularly attend council meetings and state their opinions in person, over the phone or by email/letter, we could remake our own local government in the image that we want it and perhaps promote some of those people whom we admire to higher offices where they can help change those governments.


JV 2 years, 10 months ago

I feel the same way as Nate. But, I for one have no problem “holding my nose” and voting. Why? The Supreme Court that’s why. And all federal courts for that matter. Federal judges are appointed for life. If you are happy with who is being appointed to our courts then by all means stay home in November at your on peril. If you are not happy with the way appointments are going and have any reservations about what types of judges and Supreme Court Justices are likely to be appointed in the future, I’ll see you at the polls in November. And, we’ll all hold or noses.


kevin 2 years, 10 months ago

as long as the media pushes candiates with a full pocket of cash, we will NEVER get a true American to be able to run and win an office. 90% of the winners are people with big pocketbooks. Sad situation in this country but it is a fact. that is why we are in a pickle unless voters stop re-electing the same person over and over. When a politican get re-elected, he then gets his full pension from the taxpayer. Just after 4 yrs and they are in like flint. And they don't even belong to our social secuirty system but their own. They also have their own nice special medical insurance program, unlike what we have (medicare). So keep re-electing the same people and stop complaining about the U.S. and State governments.


jack 2 years, 10 months ago

"Not a statesman among them."

From the comic strip Bloom County: "A statesman is a dead politician." "Lord knows we need more statesmen."


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