Thursday, July 14, 2016


In my mailbox when I returned home from work was my voter's pamphlet for the summer primary and special elections. Accompanying it were a pair of glossy flyers for different candidates. And when I made it into my apartment, there was a recorded message on the answering machine from one of the campaigns.

As I listened to the phone message, glanced over the flyers and thumbed through the voter's pamphlet, I ran down my typical mental checklist for voting. It's the same as it's been for at least a decade now, and more a formula than anything else. Starting with the independents, then moving on to the Democrats and ending with the Republicans, I evaluate the candidates for Seriousness and Sanity first (some of these guys come across as real basket cases), then rate their candidate statements for positivity. Then I look for anything the speaks to what policies they might actually want to put into place. Then I do a bit of background research on them via the web, and make my choice.It's been the same process for election cycle after election cycle.

I was thinking about this today, while I was mentally checking off boxes while skimming candidate statements, and it occurred to me that I am unable to remember the last time I voted for a candidate because I really wanted to see them win whatever office they were running for. Part of it comes from an oddly meta attitude about elections. While I have no problems with the Democrats or the Republicans per se (although I'm not socially conservative enough for most Republicans to have any appeal for me), I believe that two sizes most definitely do not fit all, and so the nation would be better off with a wider variety of political parties. And given a general opinion that people are more likely to vote for people if other people have already voted for them, I've designed my selection process to favor independents; with the idea that even if they're no-hopers now, they (or their parties) will be viable choices later if they can make a strong enough showing now.

And that rests on the other part of my philosophy about voting - which is that it doesn't really matter which candidate wins in the end. Not because I find politics irrelevant, bet because when I look at my life, the people who were making the choices that really mattered weren't politicians. They were executives and people in Finance and Accounting. These are the people who made the decision that tended to have impacts on my career, and therefore, the rest of my life. The influence of elected officeholders was secondhand, at best.

So while I work to be a reasonably active and informed voter, I tend not to see who wins any given election as important in the grand scheme of things. And that gives me the freedom to vote in the service of a wonky strategy aimed at influencing the future.

Accordingly, political enthusiasm is something I find intensely interesting, since I don't have any of it myself. I might stumble across some one day, which I suspect will be an interesting experience. But for the time being, I "meh" my way through elections.

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