The Political Rallies (Conventions) are over. The dust has settled. The Rah-Rah delegates have gone home and the candidates are back on the stump. The only remnants are the news networks (mainly the cable networks) droning on about various parts of the conventions. Thankfully, those commentaries will decline with a little more time.
I was pretty much at the end of my tolerance level by last Thursday night at the conclusion of Obama’s speech. I had a great conversation with my “yellow dog” Democrat (his description, not mine) buddy. He is a hard line party man. It doesn’t matter if Godzilla or Mao Tse-tung is running for office, if they are on the ballot, he’ll vote for them. He doesn’t recognize anyone else, no matter his or her party affiliation or independent status. I guess in the great scheme of things that makes it easy. You buy into some group’s ideology one time and then you simply allow them to do all the thinking for you, you simply vote for whoever they tell you to.
Unfortunately, I have to make the process much more difficult. First, I don’t buy into any single ideology because I haven’t found one that truly suits me. Besides, in my personal definition of living free, it requires that I actually do my best to think freely, too. That means I don’t buy one line of malarkey and say that’s it. There is no “one size fits all” politics in my personal philosophy. Actually, being apolitical suggests that I don’t buy into politics at all.
So, the question I have to answer for myself is – does it actually serve me to even listen to all of the political babble and to cast a vote for someone? As a citizen, it’s my Constitutional right and, some drill in to me that it’s my civic duty. But, what does that really mean? If I know that, ultimately, one political ideology or the other ideology of only two ideologies are going to control our lives through laws they pass and execute and neither of those two ideologies completely and truly represent my philosophies and life, then does it really make any difference which ideology is in control?
This is almost like the “who came first, the chicken or the egg” question. Now, I have voted in all general elections for the POTUS as far back as I can recall since I was first eligible to vote during the LBJ years. I tend to think that my votes may have counted a bit more for something back then because I was living a more mainstream lifestyle. Issues that impacted business and family were important to me back then since I was very heavily vested in my business world and I had a family.
Today is another time. While I’m still a capitalistic, free enterprise oriented individual, I’m not even close to being as vested in any business any longer, but I’m still pro business. My family is no more. I’m divorced and living as an independent individual. My son is grown, self-supporting, very independent and has developed his only philosophies and ideologies. Some of his philosophies and ideologies we have in common and I support him. And there are others that we differ on. But, that’s perfectly okay with me. I never wanted him to simply be a “Mini-Me” and he’s not. Mission accomplished.
So, today I’m mailing my updated voter registration application to my base-camp residence county auditor in South Dakota with my request for an absentee ballot. In a few weeks, I’ll receive an envelop with the ballot and I simply have to make my marks, put the ballot back in the sealed envelope and send it back to South Dakota. I will have exercised my Constitutional right and performed my civic duty.
The quandary for me is still, how do I mark the ballot? I still don’t have a horse in this race. I still don’t feel that either of the two major party candidates represents me. Is there a marginal candidate that better represents me and should I vote for that person even though I know my vote will end up actually being cast for the ultimate major party winner of the election? Do I flip a coin? Do I put the ballot up on the wall and throw a dart at it?
Now, I know why I have this quandary to deal with. I choose to live free and out of the mainstream. In many ways, my long time friend, Retired Rear Admiral Roger Gilbertson, describes himself and other people like us to be similar in his upcoming book, “ A Free-Range Human in a Caged World.” While Roger and I don’t walk anywhere close to the identical path, philosophically, we’re not that far apart.
As we listen to the news commentators, especially those who focus on politics and the election, they refer to the swing voters or the independents or the undecided voters. I have to wonder how many of the folks who fit into those groups are like me? They don’t have a horse in the race and they feel guilty if they don’t perform their civic duty because they are not exercising a Constitutional right. This is, yet, another of the issues in our society that we must deal with. Living free suggests that we should not feel guilty if we choose not to vote in an election. Since we live free, by any definition, we should be able to choose to vote or not to vote and not experience any guilt or remorse for our action.
So, how many of us, you, are there who may be dealing with this same issue? I’d love to hear your thinking on the topic. Drop me a comment or an email and let me know what your thoughts are.