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Politics: Vote Your Conscience

Updated on March 29, 2019
William F. Torpey profile image

Graduated NYU 1963. Worked in NYC in public relations 2 years then as reporter/news editor 32 years at The Hour newspapers. Retired in 2000.

Two-Party System in Disarray

Three-way Race -- Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ross Perot
Three-way Race -- Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ross Perot

'Like Throwing Gasoline on a Fire'

Connecticut Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr.drew strong criticism for imposing an income tax after notably saying such a tax would be like throwing gasoline on a fire.
Connecticut Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr.drew strong criticism for imposing an income tax after notably saying such a tax would be like throwing gasoline on a fire.

Politics is an honorable profession, but politicians, not unlike used car salesmen, continue to struggle with an age-old problem.

The problem has always existed, but it's become so severe over the last several decades that anyone contemplating taking an elected or appointed position has to decide whether he wants to risk the "insolence of office."

The Butt of Everybody's Jokes

It seems that politicians, like lawyers, have graduated from being the butt of everybody's jokes to becoming the targets of every lowlife who disagrees with their political positions.

A major reason for the increased enmity, in my view, is the demise of the two-party system -- a system that helped bring people of similar persuasion together. Another, closely linked to the former, is the geometrical decline in the quality of candidates for virtually every local, state and national office.

Other than age and residency, there are virtually no other qualifications for election to public office -- from top to bottom. And, for appointed positions, qualifications are virtually nonexistent.

Voters Decide for Themselves

In reality, the one qualification needed to win public office is to tally more votes than your opponent -- which isn't necessarily all bad. Under this system, each voter must decide for himself whom he should vote for and why.

Civic groups like the League of Women Voters encourage voting, and usually advise electors to cast their ballots on the issues. Some people still vote because of loyalty to a political party while others base their decisions on single issues, such as abortion or capital punishment. Still others stay away from the polls because they feel none of the candidates would make a difference.

If our recent history is any guide, it makes little sense to vote for a candidate because of his stand on the issues because, as we all know, what a candidate says in the heat of a campaign often has little or no resemblance to what he does after he is elected.

'Like Pouring Gasoline on a Fire'

Examples of this abound, but George (H.W.) Bush's pledge of "no new taxes" in his presidential campaign and (Connecticut Gov.) Lowell P. Weicker Jr.'s statement about imposing an income tax ("like throwing gasoline on a fire") are two instances that can hardly fail to make the point.

Personally, I always (with only rare exceptions) vote for Democratic Party candidates. I do this because I believe in the party's principles, and I feel that candidates who believe as I do will more nearly vote for the principles and programs I believe in. This is true even when the Democrat is somewhat less experienced in politics or, perhaps, not as quick or sharp as his opponent.

For Republicans, I recommend they do the same. Why vote for a Democrat who neither reflects your views nor is likely to vote the way you would on numerous issues?

Always Vote Your Party

And for people who believe they can change things for the better by voting for so-called independent candidates -- like Weicker or Ross Perot -- I think they'll find that to be a will-o'-the wisp.

Weicker, however, is something of an exception because he established a record as a Republican before turning independent, but most independents are (un)tried and (un)true; therefore, you can expect the promises they make to be kept no better, and perhaps far less often, than those made by politicians from established parties.

And what pressures would they have to toe the line?

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on June 1, 1996.

What Factor Takes Precedence In My Vote for President, Governor or Mayor?

See results

'Read My Lips. No New Taxes."


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    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I struggled with that question, too, Ron, when I set up the poll. Actually, I always vote Democratic because Democrats care about everybody: the rich, the middle class -- and the poor. I agree the Democratic Party generally does what's best for the citizens, but some people may think differently (That's why I added that option.) I appreciate your comment. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Ron Roppo 

      7 years ago

      That's amazing I was going to vote what I feel is best for the citizens but then I felt my party does do the best for the citizens. I believe if the party does the necessary requirements to run for the office of president then go for it. The majority of the people will pick the right party. The Democratic party of course..

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks for your comment, NiaLee. I am a strong believer in the two-party system because there will always be liberals and conservatives. Without two parties you end up with splintered groups that ultimately must put together a coalition to get anything done. The real problem is not the two parties, rather it is the so-called capitalist system that simply doesn't work. I explain my view of the two-party system here: -- and I explain why capitalism doesn't work here:

    • NiaLee profile image


      9 years ago from BIG APPLE

      I appreciate that article but the problem is often the same: theory and practice are not always in parallel when it comes to results, the hopes the candidate project may match the disappointment, we feel trapped and manipulated all the time... I definitely pray that the next president focuses on economics and set limits to many excesses in the budget. Then, I really don't want anybody who wants to play racist games when we came and took Native Americans' land!!!

      Then that two party system is a trap set long time ago to force people to vote for the sides of a same coin, only the individuals make a difference not the tag!

      It is hard to accept but democracy in most countries, even the most advanced is a system set up to keep on going with the same old game, different classes, a few lucky ones and a few powerful people controlling the game to make more billions while simple individual struggle with each and every decision made.

      So, will an a doctor who would let you die if you are sick, a Mormon who is a millionaire and cares about the hard workers, a diplomat who knows how to control himself but even more women or a Grinch who stole Christmas and asks for your permission to steal everything else fitted for being president of an America in crisis in a global economy crisis??? I will definitely see Romney and Santorum president and vice president! Ron Paul does good as a critics to push the important issues.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      11 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, bgpappa. Jormins and Ralph were commenting on NY Mayor Mike Bloomberg's flirting with the presidential candidacy more than a year ago, but it never happened. He was a longtime Democrat but turned Republican just to win the mayoralty, and now is going independent, again to keep the top New York job. Personally, I wouldn't vote for a person who is so arrogant as to think he's entitled to the job even if he has to turn the laws upside down. Term limits was OK with him before, but now he wants to remain mayor at any cost. Rudy Guliani tried virtually the same thing when he attempted to remain mayor after his term expired. What arrogance! I'd much prefer someone who is a Democrat and remains a Democrat no matter what.

    • bgpappa profile image


      11 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Great Artilcle.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      13 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I think Bloomberg would be a spoiler for the Dem candidate much as Perot was for George Bush when he ran as an independent. He would pull votes from both candidates, but more from the Democrat nominee than from the GOP nominee because of his support for stricter gun control and abortion rights, and gay rights. I'm not sure where he comes down on Iraq.

    • jormins profile image


      13 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I've heard if there's enough room in the middle Bllomberg might make it a 3 way race this year and he will spend 1 Billion of his own $. Do you think he has a chance or is he more likely another Ross Perot?


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