Reasons Why I Can’t

I’m an independent voter in a swing state (Ohio). Independent meaning I don’t automatically vote for any particular party. For primary election purposes, I am a registered Republican. In the Ohio primary I stayed on the Republican side and voted for John McCain. The GOP was over when Ohio’s turn came around, but I didn’t crossover (as many Republicans did) to vote for Senator Clinton because they thought she was more beatable. Although within their right, I deplore such behavior.

As an independent moderate, I watch the process and continually reflect on my stance and for whom I would vote in November. That’s right – I’m not a rubber-stamp voter.

John McCain is a good, honorable, man. I applaud his military service and his public service. I loudly applaud his stance on pork barrel spending, as well as his maverick side and history of crossing the aisle. Once the race got down to two, I was leaning his way. With that said, I now know that I cannot vote for McCain-Palin in November for the following reasons.

1) Choosing a VP is the first major decision the perspective nominee makes, and (to me) this was a major disappointment. Although some come with the territory, the feeding frenzy regarding her daughter’s pregnancy and general muckraking are unfortunate and unnecessary. On the other hand, her public experience does allow examination of her record. I want to judge her on how she stands as a public servant and what she brings to the table.

Granted, at the convention she delivered a good political speech and energized the base. Considering Senator McCain’s age, I simply expect more of the one who would be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Someday she may be ready, but not yet – and her few interviews have reinforced that point for me. Although the upcoming VP debate may soften my opinion of her, the change won’t be enough.

I’m insulted by the use of “experience” to justify Governor Palin’s selection while mocking the opponents. Although I have my issues with Congress as a whole, I place value on legislative experience and where one serves on the public-service hierarchy. I will not stoop low enough to submit Senator McCain to the same standards because the GOP’s experience argument is for the weak, the shallow, and the partisan.

To top it all off, Senator McCain proclaims Country First; yet Politics First served as the premise of his first decision

2) I commend Senator McCain’s attempts of reaching the moderates; however, this is contradictory to his pandering to the far right. Endorsements from the Limbaugh-Dobson types identifies where the McCain-Palin ticket stands. The fear mongering and inflexible nature of that ideology is not acceptable to a moderate like me. It’s possible that he is using Governor Palin to appease the right so he can work on the center. If so, that’s both commendable and risky – but too risky for me.

3) Senator McCain is in a tough spot: distancing himself from an unpopular president to gain support at the risk of losing some in his party, or attempting a subtle way to keep the party faithful and the expense of possibly gaining others. The current credit crisis has given him a little more room to do so.

Senator McCain honor and being a good soldier are parts of his fabric; so he won’t slam the current White House. Without a doubt, he is unquestionably different in terms of fiscal responsibility, energy, the environment, and serving with dignity. With economic, health care, and foreign policy issues, I haven’t seen enough to convince me that Senator McCain is different enough from President Bush. Believing it is a roll of the dice.

I rewatched Senator McCain’s speech at the 2004 convention. Although his Michael Moore line was very good, his unquestionable praise and support for the current administration is obvious. That’s a direction I cannot support; and I voted for President Bush in 2000! This administration’s failures directly relate to many of our nation’s problems; and I’ve had enough!

4) I believe the Supreme Court is a court for all Americans and an important aspect of our society. An effective court should have diverse views. For instance, Justice Scalia is a view, but not the view. At the other end of the spectrum, Justice Ginsberg is a view, but not the view. To me, having a majority of Scalias is just as bad as a court with a majority of Ginsbergs. Each view is important and should be heard so the court centrists can lead to fair decisions for all. John McCain clearly favors a one-sided court that I cannot support. Then again, his nominee has to pass through the Senate, which is a story in itself.

6) I’ve been looking for additional substance beyond the campaign rhetoric; so I sought additional information from the each candidate’s Web sites, various respected columnists, and independent resources. This campaign is between thin-on-details and the thinner-on-details. Senator McCain is the thinner. He prefers continually using punch lines to excite the partisan masses over reaching out to win my vote.

Agree or disagree, these fundamentals are important to me, therefore reasons why I cannot vote for McCain-Palin in November. But be careful jumping to conclusions.

Since I’m not impressed with the alternative parties, my vote is at this point: Democratic or leaving the ballot blank. The Obama-Biden ticket has work to do during the closing month to get my vote. Because I’ve done it before, I do not have a problem leaving my presidential ballot blank on Election Day. Our system allows such. As a voter, it’s very important to vote my convictions. And please, do not confuse a blank with not voting at all.

If Senator McCain wins, I hope he has a successful presidency. His success and the country’s success are directly related; therefore I wish the same for Senator Obama. You see – once the presidential election is over, I can’t wish the winner harm, hope for their disaster, or immediately jump on the negative bandwagon as many partisan voters. Why not? – Because I know the meaning of and how to demonstrate Country First.

A Moderate’s Dilemma

The race for the presidency is inside 40 days. Although polls remain close, the independent undecided voters are going to determine the outcome. Some independents have a preference, but they also know that is subject to change. As the list below shows, the choice for independent moderates isn’t easy.

  • Too conservative vs. too liberal
  • One special interest group vs. another
  • One form of rhetoric vs. different rhetoric
  • Experienced vs. less experienced
  • Diplomacy vs. military
  • Less details vs. even fewer
  • Eloquent vs. straight talk
  • Multi-party government vs. single-party control
  • A history of partisanship vs. a hope of bipartisanship
  • A vision vs. a continuation
  • Charismatic vs. heroic
  • Spending too much vs. spending even more
  • Cool vs. quick hit
  • National security vs. national economy
  • Calculating vs. risk taking
  • One special interest conglomerate vs. another

Upcoming Debates

The first day of the first debate has arrived, yet there’s uncertainty on whether it will take place. I guess all of us will learn the answer as the day unfolds.

Nonetheless, if I were running the debates, here are some of the rules I would enforce.

  1. If the candidate doesn’t answer the question, turn off their microphone.
  2. If the candidate strays from the question, turn off their microphone.
  3. If the candidate stresses the faults of the other candidate’s position over emphasizing their position, turn off their microphone.
  4. If a candidate cuts off the other, turn off their microphone.

With these rules, here are two scenarios:

  • Given 30 seconds should be sufficient for each candidate, think about all the questions that could be asked.
  • Given 3-5 minutes per answer, think about the unsaid-until-now details voters would learn.

Welcome to La-La Land.

Real Change

There’s no doubt in my mind that we overestimate the value of a presidential election as well as the president’s job; and at the same time, underestimate Congress’s importance. Doesn’t Civics 101 tell us about the three branches of our government and how they intertwine?

At the present time, our Congress has a lower approval rating than our president. Considering President Bush’s low rating and popularity, Congress’s much lower approval is quite the accomplishment.

Depending on poll, Congress’s ratings over the past six months are in the following ranges: Approve (13-23%) and Disapprove (67-81%). Of course the topping on the cake is the fact that slightly over 50% of those polled approve the job of those representing them. Now let me get this straight. The far majority of the electorate disapprove of Congress, but also have the “but my reps are ok” attitude.

Personally, three points about that contradiction:
1) That’s pathetic!
2) We the people are getting what we ask for.
3) Being that 60% of voters are partisan oriented anyway, many people are clueless about change.

Fortunately, the presidency/Executive branch is one-third of our government. Unfortunately, many voters over emphasize the presidential vote and underestimate the importance of selecting representatives and senators. After all, Congress (not the Oval Office) serves as our policy makers.

Let’s see. All 435 House seats and 34 senators are up for re-election this year. I guess 80% of more of incumbents will win. Given Congress high disapproval rating, is that acceptable? Is something wrong with this picture?

In the 90s I told people that there were two problems in Washington and it wasn’t Bill and Hillary. Again, the two major problems that past eight years are not GW and Chaney. It’s the Democratic and Republican parties! Both parties are greatly influenced by special interests, and both parties apply pressure to their members to vote certain ways. Both parties can withdraw support for anyone bucking the party. One could argue that the Democratic and Republican parties are the two biggest special interest groups in Washington serving as a conglomerate for other special interests.

So it’s this simple. A Frank Angle’s solution for those desiring change: Vote the bums out! If they vote 80% or better with their party, vote the bums out! If they vote for earmarks, vote the bums out! If they participate in wasteful spending, vote the bums out! If they violate ethic standards, vote the bums out! What is so difficult?

My story is straight forward as I practice what I preach. I will vote against my incumbent representative (for the challenger) on the first Tuesday of November. And, if the challenge wins, I will be against the challenger on the first Wednesday of November saying “get the bum out.” Not giving the challenger a chance is simple: it will take several purges for Washington to get the message and start working for the people instead of working the party.

In a classic film, character Howard Beale best sums up my feelings.

Defining “Change”

Change – the word that has turned into a central theme of this campaign season. Change – the word that the partisans don’t understand it’s meaning beyond the sound bites by their candidate.

Going back in times allows anyone to discover that the change theme isn’t anything new to presidential campaigns. Anytime there’s a transition from one party to the other, change is the theme. Running against an incumbent, change is a theme. Campaigning on a particular issue, change works again.

I’ll give Senator Obama credit as change has been his theme from the start. On the other hand, Senator McCain is returning to a previously-used change theme that apparently is gaining traction. Hmmm … I wonder if that has anything to do with partisanship! Of course identifying the meaning of change could be a post in itself.

So for the sake of everyone, here’s the bottom line about the meaning of change in this election.

  • McCain-Palin: In general, continue current policies but go about it a different way with different personalities.
  • Obama-Biden: Change current policies, change the personalities, but retain the basic processes and practices (although the party would disagree).

It’s difficult for Washington to change for the following reason:
1) Too much inertia; thus an object at rest remains at rest. The more massive the object, the greater the force needed to change its position. If so, the change is ever so minor, thus needs massive amounts of energy to get the job done. Surely everyone agrees that the federal government is a massive organization.

2) Each party continues party-first ways of behavior.

3) Special interests influence both parties, thus minimizing governing by the people, for the people.

So regardless of the outcome, change will occur, but it is doubtful that it will be the real change that many Americans actually desire.