Can it be? That ‘L’ on My Forehead Might Not Stand for “Loser” After All

Even with several more months remaining in this election season, I was beginning to feel a lot like the red-headed step-child of the political process. Every time I thought I had found a candidate I could hitch my vote to, they dropped out. Whenever I took part in any of the online questionnaires that supposedly match you with your candidate, all I got was disappointment.

As an Independent, I’ve always known that finding a candidate who excited me was a long shot. My personal political beliefs are so wide-ranging that the real concern was how I prioritized certain issues. Am I willing to vote for someone who’s pro-choice even if they’re for further gun control? Do I sacrifice my views on the economy for their voting record on national security? And no matter what they say, can I ever trust a man with two first names?

Taking part in the democratic process was feeling more like partaking in a product survey for Proctor & Gamble… “Yes, my skin feels silky smooth, but all of a sudden I can’t see out of my right eye, so no, I don’t think I’d buy this lotion.”

But right when I had just about lost hope, I stumbled across a television interview with Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. Although he doesn’t have my exact views on the war in Iraq, he shares my suspicion of this whole ‘Global Warming’ thing. Interesting. He’s for smaller, less intrusive government, which I like, but where does he stand on other economic factors?

The big question is: How would I feel about voting for a third party candidate? A lot of people suggest that voting for someone like Bob Barr is essentially throwing my vote away, since he stands little chance of winning. Others say that I would be splitting the vote, which only helps the Democrat win (I guess they’re assuming that I would have voted for McCain otherwise). But when it’s all said and done, how do I not vote for the candidate I would most like to see running the country, regardless of party affiliation or his overall odds of winning?

In the end, my own vote is a small reflection of the ethics and standards I seek in a candidate. Over the past two issues, I’ve written about some of the policies I’d like to see a candidate support, but just as important are the principles that I’d like to see a candidate display. Nothing disappoints me more than when I hear about our elected leaders using their votes as bargaining chips. They end up peddling in power, rather than pushing an agenda, and waste time trying to manipulate the system rather than confronting any actual issue. And they easily stand up when the press coverage is there, but are rarely seen when what’s right isn’t what’s popular.

So how can I ask something of a candidate that I can’t ask of myself? I expect my representative to vote based on right and wrong, not popularity or gamesmanship. If it’s good for the country, the state, or the county, then they need to stick to their duty. Likewise, if when everything is said and done the closest to matching my criteria for president is Daffy Duck, let alone Bob Barr, I should put my money where my mouth is and cast my vote that way, regardless of the outcome.

That said, as I go through the final stages of determining who will be my choice for president, here are a few last things I’d like to see along the campaign trail:

I’d like to see a candidate enjoy an imported beer. That’s right, an import, be it from Canada, Germany, England, or wherever. When the cameras are on and the public is watching, I’m much more likely to back a politician that is strong enough to order what he wants to drink, not what he thinks will make him look like the “common man”. After all, the “common man” doesn’t capitulate to peer pressure, and I highly doubt these guys have a fridge full of Bud Light sitting at home.

I’d like to see a candidate take Sundays off. As a Christian, nothing aggravates me more than seeing politicians use their religion for little more than a photo-op. Posing for pictures while walking into church holding a Bible that’s obviously never been opened demonstrates more a desire for fame than any devotion to faith. I’ll always be suspicious of anyone who enthusiastically displays pride on a day that calls for humility.

And lastly, I’d like to see the candidates spend more time talking with people than at people. It’s been said that the easiest way to be a leader is to find out where the group is headed and get out in front. And, while you need to have a clear vision already in hand to be a viable candidate, I fear that the people who hold our highest elected offices rarely take stock of where we, as a people, want this country to go. I’d like to meet the politician who spends twice as much time listening as he does talking, because only then will he be able to truly understand our expectation of his responsibilities.

That said, I think time will show this to be one of the most important elections of our nation’s history, and I pray that whomever this country eventually chooses will rise to the occasion and deliver all that is expected of them.

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Volume 4, Issue 13, Posted 10:56 PM, 06.15.2008