Sigh-owa caucuses, a dearth of independence marks the race
There was a time when election season threw me into a state of endless excitement. I eagerly sought any and all information about candidates, poring over newspaper articles, magazine profiles, and later, blogs.
I'm still keenly interested in politics, but the zeal that marked the early years of my voting history is gone.
I am in favor of abortion and I am in favor of the death penalty.
I believe education is so important that the best teachers should be paid like doctors. But I support thorough and meaningful teacher evaluations, despite what the union thinks.
I believe in social programs.
I believe that some social programs, like Title IX and affirmative action, are so deeply flawed they could eventually do more harm than good.
I am an environmentalist.
I believe it's important to give the business community tax breaks.
I believe that some wars must be fought.
I believe the current war is not one of them.
I believe that it's understandably improbable that I'll ever pull the lever for a candidate whose views mirror mine exactly. But after scouring through all the available data on candidates over the years, I've come to realize that's not really what I'm looking for anyway. I'm looking for independence. My views don't fit neatly into the narrow spectrum of one political party, and I don't want my candidate's views to, either.
I want a candidate who is strong enough to buck her political party when she feels they're wrong, and who can admit she made a mistake when she inevitably does.
I want a candidate who answers questions with honesty, and who delivers on promises. I want a candidate who is more concerned with making the best possible decision based on facts and reason, not on headlines in Iowa and New Hampshire.
And while we're on the primary states, would it hurt to visit Oregon every once in a while?
Needless to say, I haven't found such a candidate. Perhaps more disturbing, there seem to be fewer that come close to fitting the bill with each passing election cycle.
Is the grip of party politics becoming stronger?
It sure seems like it. Running a winning campaign takes deep pockets. As much as we like the idea of a candidate who can gather 10 bucks from a quarter million people, that's still not nearly enough to win in a national political campaign. A candidate needs the type of bloated budget that can only come from corporate donors, and our two major political parties live off of such gifts.
The increasingly larger donations from corporate entities have led to predictable results. We are choosing from a pack of candidates who - while they may truly have good intentions - have no choice but to let their big-money allegiances play some sort of part in their decision-making.
Something tells me I'm not alone in my disgust. There are a great many loyal foot soldiers in this country who will carry the flag for their party regardless of their personal positions. But I think there are a growing number of us who have positions that are scattered to the left, right and center of the Democratic and Republican divide. We don't choose our candidate based on political party; we choose based on who we believe will screw up the least.
I don't look at a candidate's political affiliation anymore, I look at who they've received their largest campaign contributions from. I look to see which corporations and nonprofit groups they will owe the most favors when they are elected into office.
I believe it's a sad state of affairs in American politics, and I believe I am not alone in feeling this way.