Voting Madness About to Begin

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I’m not an overly political guy at least when it comes to national politics. I find the machinations of local politics infinitely more fascinating than big national elections because they tend to avoid partisianship and have better overall personalities, but this year is interesting.

If you know me, you know I’m basically a bleeding heart liberal. I have conservative and liberal friends and, for the most part, it makes little difference to me what your political persuasion is as long as you don’t, as Soundgarden so aptly put it, “come over here and piss on my gate; save it, just keep it off my wave.”

Just to get it out of the way, I’ll be grudgingly voting for Kerry in the presidential election. I’m just too left-leaning to agree with much of anything GW Bush does. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. His policies are just the polar opposite of my own personal beliefs. Kerry, while leaning my direction, is about as exciting as a piece of notebook paper, but he’s my choice.

I’d much rather have seen John Edwards win the democratic nomination. That’s a guy I could easily vote for.

But, anyway, back on topic. I really enjoy local politics. They have such interesting characters and they make such a much more significant difference on our day-to-day lives. This fall is a slow year with no mayor’s race and few council or commissioners races. I will be voted for Prop. 1 and against Prop 2. I just can’t see myself ever siding with the anti-tax folks.

I butted heads with Bruce Hotze, the man heading the Prop 2 campaign and a staunch right-wing anti-tax advocate, during the arena campaign and, while he seemed like an ok guy, it was clear he thought he was right about everything. Between he and guys like Barry Klein of the Houston Property Rights Association, I just don’t get what they are selling. They are staunch anti-tax advocates who don’t support publically-funded education or healthcare.

It just seems like such an un-fun existence to spend your whole life dedicated to being against something, particularly taxes. Yeah, they suck. Anyone who owns a home or a business understands that. I happen to own both. But, I don’t spend my days pissed off about paying them. Just seems like an awful waste of time, but whatever.

Anyway, the national elections this year, while they don’t normally draw much interest from me, are intriguing if for no other reason than we could have a repeat of 2000. With so many “too close to call” swing states, it will likely go down to the wire.

I have no predictions at this point. I think if you really look over the polling in the states still up for grabs and you are a Kerry supporter, you can be optimistic if not overly so. The very fact that a sitting president during war time has this low of an approval rating and has to fight this tough of a race is indicative of the fact that the American people are seriously divided over the direction of the country.

Of course, that is our own fault. We have allowed politics to polarize us to such a degree that we can’t even discuss it without turning every problem into a sound bite. We treat every issue as if it can be healed with a few magic words or a funny joke when, in reality, many of the problems with face with things like terrorism, healthcare, education, social security and on and on can’t be solved with a soundbite.

In fact, it is an isult to us as a society that we would even consider trying to solve education, for example, with a one-size-fits-all testing system. How short-sighted can we be that we think every person should respond in the same way to the same kind of test?

Put Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Da Vinci, Beethoven, Salk, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, Einstein, Jefferson, Michaelangelo, Bill Gates and Alfred Hitchcock in a room together. You think they are going to come up with the same answers on a standardized test? Should we even want them too???

The whole point of education is to teach people how to learn and grow. As a society always on the edge of innovation in so many areas, it is a slap in the face to the inventive, creative spirit.

But, that is what happens when you try to distill all problems down to a one-sentence or even one-word answer. Yet, that is what we continue to demand of our politicians. We don’t want intellegent, thoughtful, practical, leaders. We want funny, attractive, forceful, easy going leaders. Personally, those are nice qualities in a comedian or actor, but I want my president to have at least a little snap.

Like the rest of America, I’m sure I’ll be watching in slackjawed awe as the whole election goes down. And, no matter what happens, we’ll keep on keepin’ on like we always have. The more things change, after all, the more they stay the same.

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