Wasting Votes on Democrats and Republicans

I voted early last week and I had to wait in line for 20 minutes on a regular weekday afternoon. The polling clerks—all volunteers, God blessem—said it’s been that way from the start. Thousands of voters, energized, wanting to share in our Republican form of government. (Yes, it’s Republican, not a Democratic format.)

Based on the age and somewhat grim comments of people in line, I don’t think there were a lot of people voting Democratic, but I could be wrong. It was pretty interesting to see how determined people were to vote—even though none of us got to dip our fingers in dye when we were finished.

The worst part of the experience was the voting itself. Let’s see, do I want to vote for the greedy pederast who guillotines puppies for sport or the slimy thief who has stolen $billions to support his heroin habit? Should I vote for the candidate who plans to launch a nuclear war against Massachusetts—after alerting Scott Brown to flee—or the one who wants us to apply for statehood in Yemen?

I truly cannot tell you what anyone stands for in these races. Frankly, I’m not sure I know what they stand for, or against, because it’s all personal attacks and sound bites.

You always sound really, really old and codgery when you start a sentence with “I remember a time…” but I remember a time….when candidates talked about themselves and their views in their campaign ads—hey, a shout-out to Dan Rutherford, who was actually foolish enough to talk about HIS ideas in one ad, proving himself unfit to be a modern politician.

Today, I can always tell who ISN’T approving the message; it’s whoever has his name mentioned the most.

Here’s the real tragedy of Tuesday, November 2, 2010. In every district, in every race, somebody will be elected. And that somebody is going to think the victory is an endorsement of all the views the candidate didn’t really spell out or, in some cases, think about, during the campaign. In almost all cases, they will be wrong.

Here’s the reality, Mr. and Mrs. Winner-to-Be. Nobody is voting for you. Almost everyone is voting against your opponent, just like you’ve asked them to do. You didn’t win the election. You came in third in the Most-Hated Contest, right behind your opponent and his best friend, Hitler.

In a way, of course, you won. You made the other person more disliked and mistrusted than you are. Only in politics does this count as a plus on your resume.

We have real problems in this country, including an aging infrastructure, outdated regulatory systems and a set of promises—mostly to the elderly, not to minorities—that we cannot keep without huge increases in taxes. These problems were small, once, but leaders of both parties, over the course of several decades, ignored the issues, knowing they could count on voters to be undemanding in the extreme. After Tuesday, the representatives of both parties will continue to do the same, because each will confuse his or her election as some kind of endorsement by THE PEOPLE.

The only way to make a statement this election is to vote for third-party candidates. Voting for Tea Partiers won’t do it, because they are all running under the Republican Party banner, instead of creating their own real party.

Vote for the Tea Partiers and it just looks like Republicans versus Democrats. Vote for Libertarians and Greens, though, and you make a clear statement that you’re sick of both of the major parties and their mishandling of their responsibility.

Yes, it’s entirely possible that a few third-party people would win or, at least, force some runoffs here and there. If so, great news. If a few Tea Partiers win seats in the House, it’s not a wake-up call. If a couple of Green Party congressmen take their oaths in a few months, even the most committed party loyalists will have to think about their job performance.

No. It’s not a wasted vote. It’s a principled statement that’s the best you can do until the ballot includes a box for none of the above.

And let’s face it. You don’t like most of the people on the ballot. Damaged goods, each and every one. Even without all the smear tactics and robocalls and hyperbolic manipulation of sound bites, you wouldn’t let most of these people babysit your children. So if you vote third party, you won’t be damaging the country. In fact, you’ll be making a very powerful statement to your own political party and to the entire political establishment.

So I went to vote last week and I voted for more third-party candidates than I’d ever thought about in my life. Next time, I hope that won’t be the Hobson’s Choice that greets me at the polls.

Thank you all. And God Bless America.

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