The first time I voted was thirty one years ago this week and I voted for Jimmy Carter in the presidential race. Four years later, for the first and only time, I voted Republican, making my mark next to the name of Ronald Reagan. I hadn't really formed any political ideology yet, and I was still voting for the 'person' rather than the ideas. I think that's probably a fairly common thing for young people to do. I don't regret voting for Reagan, although in retrospect I disagreed with nearly every sentence he ever uttered. Even today, I believe Ronald Reagan was a good man, just misguided. As I've gotten older and more informed I can't say that about very many Republicans. The entire party, the very platform itself, is motivated by unabashed greed and poorly disguised self-interest. Then again, as a buddy of mine once pointed out to me, that may very well be what our founding fathers had in mind when sculpting our constitution. The financially elite don't like to give that title up without a fight. And frankly, I completely understand that. Henry Kissinger once said something akin to this: if you're under 30 and a republican, you're probably a fool and if you're over 30 and a democrat you're probably a failure. Harsh, but not surprising.
I have never hidden the fact that I'm a far left, liberal democrat these days. And yet, as I get older, I find myself, deep in my unspoken beliefs, sometimes questioning that. I certainly have a few 'on the fence' thoughts about foreign policy. And my domestic social political beliefs have begun to waver from time to time. Only being honest here.
But at the end of the day my better angels kick in and I'm motiviated all over again by a clear sense of right and wrong. The problem is, of course, my leftist ideas are colored by the inescapable fact that often times they simply don't work. One only has to live in the city of Chicago for a few years to see this. Chicago is unquestionably the most corrupt city, politically speaking, in the United States of America. The city is, for all intents and purposes, under martial law. The police department there is as close to NAZI Germany as one can imagine. Three of the last four Illinois Governors are either in jail or going there. The city itself has been under the thumb of the arrogant and uncompromising Richard Daley for nearly three decades. I despise that city and its corruption.
Long ago I came to a decision about my political leanings and the impetus for my voting patterns. I simply can't vote for the individual anymore. It just doesn't make sense. And I can't control what any politician will actually do once he or she enters office. I can't hope to predict the real motives behind their ambitions to hold public office. It's simply not possible. Consequently, all I can do is vote for the ideas outlined in the platform of the party itself.
I have, over the years, become fascinated with the office of the presidency. I have read myriad books on the subject and will always search out programs about it on TV. I have become enamored with the Lincolns (the only certified 'genius' to ever hold that office, in my opinion), the Roosevelts, the Jeffersons (although I completely disagree with Jeffersonian theory) and the Clintons (oh, how I wish Bill could run again) that have held that office. Just listen to Bill Clinton give an interview today and if you're anything like me you'll wince at the unavoidable comparison with Bush and Obama.
So today, I exercise my right to vote for the issues and ideas in which I believe. Here in California it's gotten very ugly. Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman are in a cage match. Fiorina and Boxer are are both hurtling slings and arrows. It should be an interesting day. I know it's popular these days to call a race 'the lesser of two evils' but in California it really is true. I have absolutely no faith in Jerry Brown whatsoever and yet Meg Whitman seems to be the physical incarnation of evil itself. Fiorina is the poster child for greedy republican politics and yet Barbara Boxer is the very example of ineffectiveness. So what is one to do? Well, vote for the platform. That's all I can do. That's all any of us can do.
There is one thing I really like about California: my vote counts here. In Illinois it really didn't. The city of Chicago has voted overwhelmingly democratic for so long and in such numbers that my extra vote was redundant. Here it means something.
I'm very tempted today to do a write in vote. Next to every single name. Judge, congressman, governor, senator, dog catcher, it doesn't matter. I want to write the name - Jeb Bartlett.
See you tomorrow.