Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Would you still for for an idiot if he/she ran for your party?

This looked like the voting machine I used to cast my first presidential election ballot in 1972. The voting age had been lowered to 18 and our polling place was in the next block in a neighbor's garage. My mother was a Republican election judge.

When I walked in and signed the roll she proudly introduced me to the other judges as her daughter who was about to cast her first presidential ballot. She took me to a machine and explained how to use it. I walked up to the booth and pulled that red handle to close the curtain behind me so I could cast my secret ballot.

Inside I read the names and carefully flipped the switches for the candidates I chose. I had been sure to read what I could about the major candidates which at that time meant that I watched the evening news and read the Chicago Tribune which was my parent's paper of choice.

When I was finished I moved the red handle back, my vote was locked in and the curtains reopened. I walked out of the garage / polling place.

But my mother quickly followed. "What took you so long?"
ME: "I was voting"
Mom: "That should have been fast. You should have just flipped the switch to vote all Republican"
ME: "But I didn't want to vote all Republican"

This was followed by an argument where we both used the obvious punches - You cancelled out mine or your father's vote. - Maybe 18 year olds are too young to vote - and others.

Somewhere in there I said "How can you possibly just vote for Republicans? Are there any other Democrats who would be better for the job?"

And after all of the introduction, that is the question for this blog. Would someone now really vote for everyone from one party on a ballot? And what if any one of those candidates was an idiot? Wouldn't that matter?

I liked to believe that my generation learned better than to follow anyone or anything blindly without question. We were the Vietnam generation. We learned that government could get it wrong. Even though that particular 1972 election re-elected a Republican as president we later learned that Nixon was a liar and a cheat.

And then my generation passed our desire to make informed decisions rather than blind loyalty down to our children. Our son, Phil, called me from his cell phone in 2000. "Mom, I had to call you. I just voted for President for the very first time. It was awesome." I know he was a history and politics buff but I honestly didn't think his feelings were that unusual for a first time voter. I mean we taught these kids well, didn't we?

We all had a good laugh at dinner that night when we finally revealed to each other how we had voted. I voted for Gore. Joe voted for Bush and Phil voted for Nader. Phil knew Nader couldn't win. But in his opinion Nader was the best candidate for president and Phil showed it with his vote. Joe gloated that Phil's vote was probably more of a negative for Gore than Bush which by the very next day and for months later the nation became acutely aware of. But for us it was just right. None of us voted exclusively Republican, Democrat or Green. We each had read what we could and voted for the candidates we felt would best fill the job.



Why does it seem now that people want you to vote for an entire party? Are ALL of the candidates from any particular party better that ANY of the candidates from the other? Does that mean that voters should no longer read all that they can about each candidate and individually decide who would perform best in that office?

Even if a candidate was an idiot?

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