Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Political Sprint....

We are embarking on the final sprint to another election in this country. In a mere two months we will elect a new President, Congress, and various state and local officials to public office. All too often, politics in the modern 24 hour cable news cycle revolves around push button issues designed to raise hackles and emotions, instead of producing ideas and potential plans about real problems.
Indulge me for a minute. Why am I forced to decide which camp I fall under? First of all, labels are detracting and oversimplified. Secondly, choosing a political party on a single issue--which so many voters do, is poor decision-making. Alas, I have never been able to pick a camp and stick to it. I used to say I was fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Make sense out of that. I also used to say I was a Democrat because I was a woman and pro-choice and I didn't think there was any point in being a Republican. I've since discovered that idea isn't true either. Lately, I call myself an Independent. Unfortunately, I feel that an Independent doesn't really mean a whole lot. It basically means you are undecided and eventually you will go behind the curtain and choose between two candidates, neither of which appeal to you.
Our two party, first-past-the-post way of electing officials often times makes voting feel like a choice between two evils. I am certainly not criticizing our founding fathers, after all they created the electoral college which always makes close elections interesting. Our nation has survived for a long time on this Constitution and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
I am, however, disappointed that we do not have a more equitable system for creating multiple political parties. The obstacles for third party candidates are huge, both financially and in the mechanics of election procedure. Think how much more interesting our political scene would be if there were five candidates standing for the Presidential election--a true liberal, a true conservative, a guy (or girl) in the middle, an environmentalist, and a populist. I mean, wow, we'd really have some choices. I wonder how much different law making would become if in our national (and state for that matter) Senate had 30 Democrats, 30 Republicans, 20 Green Party members, 10 Independents, and 10 various. I think true consensus might actually take place. Perhaps not initially, but in time, consensus would have to come. Maybe we'd really talk about issues and problems instead of regurgitating blasphemous one liners at each other until we are so gridlocked we throw up our hands and wait until the next election and start again.
But I suppose that's pie in the sky thinking. Perhaps it is naive. Apparently there is alot of that going around this election cycle. What I do know is, I sure wish I had more choices and not because I don't like McCain or Obama. I like them both. I do not like the political divisiveness that surrounds elections in this country. I get to the point of skating around saying what I really think with my friends because I still want to be friends the day after the election regardless of who wins. I am tired of 24 hour cable news that talks to me like I have the attention span of a toddler. I am sick of television ads and misleading billboards. And I am exhausted with the artificial choice between Republican and Democrat because honestly, I don't fit in either place.

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