On Tuesday, if McPherson County residents follow the suit expected state-wide, less than 25 percent of us will head to the polls to decide the new makeup of state politics.
Some citizens love this time of year. There is a sense of excitement, an atmosphere akin to that of a boxing ring shortly before a pugilistic exchange. The candidates battle it out and some emerge to carry on into the next round.
As they do in everything, folks run the gamut when it comes to their attitudes toward voting. I’ve actually heard people say they only vote if they know the candidate personally.
Really? That’s a fine way to weasel out of voting, I suppose. But let’s take it at face value, just for fun. Do we vote for the person regardless our feelings for him as a person, or his views?
I’ve known several people who’ve run for office, and the fact is that contrary to the old song, to know, know, know him, is not necessarily to love, love, love him, or at least, not his political views.
In this election, I’ve heard arguments for voting for a candidate because he is intelligent and has integrity.
That’s nice, and we do want smart, honest folks in office. But is that enough? And how do we judge it?
I find people interesting. Some of the most socio-politically enlightened folks I know are absolute ignoramuses when it comes to tolerance of others’ lines of thought. I’d be a rich woman if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say something like, “I thought Joe Jones was a smart and upright man. How can he hold such wrong-thinking views?” People who think themselves devoid of prejudice and intolerance still believe that their views, being, to them, superior to those of their fellows, somehow correlate to their level of intelligence and integrity.
Of course, we thinking beings hold our views because we believe them to be superior to other ideas. In reality, people’s worldviews have little to do with intellect or integrity, and much to do with their upbringing, line of work, life experiences and mentoring. To disparage or dismiss others’ views as ignorant or wrong-thinking is akin to belittling a person based upon their race or religion.
So I won’t vote for someone just because I know him. I’ll vote for him if I agree with the way he thinks about how our country, state, county, or city should be run. One has to divorce assessment of people’s abilities from personal opinion of them.
Of the less-than-one-in-four of us who vote, how many of us truly know the minds and characters of those we will vote for? Most of those of us who feel it is our privilege and responsibility to vote, lead lives busy enough to restrict our amount of candidate research to the candidates’ marketing, newspaper articles and editorials, Internet perusal, and maybe meet and greets. At best, we have a general idea of their views, or at least, what they say they plan to endorse.
I’m not much of a political animal, and with friends on either side of the political aisle, I’ve come to the conclusion that for the sake of harmony, it’s best to keep my views to myself. This is probably a good plan since I am not a rabid fan of politics, and in fact, my views have changed, though not dramatically, over the years. I’ve backed a lame horse more than once, and in fact, I plan to correct an error I made in the last election.
My milquetoast attitude toward politics runs contrary to my fervent belief in the political system.
Is it crippled by corruption? Undoubtedly. But it’s still the best system out there. Our ability to, indeed, correct errors in personnel, also known as the trend to “throw the bums out,” enables us to send messages to our representatives.
My contribution to the political machine is as campaign manager for a write-in candidate. My candidate ran in the last election via Facebook and, we heard, received several votes in various contests. Her entirely unfunded platform is, when you don’t know or don’t like anyone running for an office, then write in her name instead of Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. (I have served as a vote counter, and Disney characters do get votes.)
So if you find yourself in a fix this primary, or even in the general election, and you want to make a statement of disgust, then by all means, write in the name Veronica Barber. She’s my nine-year-old cocker spaniel.