Voting In America: What I Learned This Morning In Missouri
I hate this time of year. Absolutely hate it. Every commercial time on television, those ten minutes of ads separating the five minute segments of actual show time consist of a minimum of three (3) political ads in a row, often two of which show opposite sides of the same coin. The first might be a positive ad for this person, paid for "by the committee to elect blah blah blah"; the second the same for another candidate who may or may not be running against the first person. Then the third comes along and attempts to destroy the first candidate by calling him/her a liar. The next set of commercials do the same thing but with a different group of candidates. Some are complete lies, some contain a nugget of truth, some are taken so out of context as to be unrecognizable as anything beyond fiction; there is even one running now that literally has children portraying other candidates and throwing actual mud at one another, as if this is something else entirely. This takes place over and over and over, all day long for weeks and weeks.
It's enough to bring back Susan Powter just to hear her cry "Stop the insanity!".
What used to be used to educate the public on how the candidate stood on "hot button" topics, those issues which resonated with the voting public are no more. Far more often it is one person calling the other a liar, calling into question everything from their voting record to their heritage. It has become nothing but a bad news/ worse news infomercial that never ends.
My wife told me something last night and at first I questioned it; then I thought about it and wondered "Why not?". She said that she was tempted to vote for whoever she had never heard of on the basis that if she hadn't heard of them then they either hadn't been making promises they wouldn't keep or casting stones at their opponents. After thinking it through, I thought "That might be the way to go". If they have kept quiet and the other candidates hadn't found anything negative to bring to light then they might actually be the best candidate for the job.
It's either that or fall back on the Brewster's Millions idea and vote for None Of The Above.
So this morning I went to my local voting station, showed my Voter's ID, confirmed my identity with my state issued Drivers License and was offered a choice of ballots. Will it be Libertarian, Independent, Republican or Democrat?
Well, I would like the ballot which offers me the largest choices.
Very well: Libertarian, Independent, Republican or Democrat?
Again, I would like the one which offers the widest variety of choice; you see, at present I do not identify with any of the parties and would like to "pick and choose" who I would like to vote for. It may be from any of the parties and I would prefer to not be forced into one party, thank you very much.
What I was told blew my mind.
You do not have that choice. You must identify as one of these and you may only choose from that ballot. Wait, you mean if I like this Democrat in that race, or that Republican in this race, or would rather step outside the box and vote for someone who is not in either one I can't do that?
No, not in Missouri.
What the hell? Are you kidding me? I'm sorry, I thought this was America where one could choose who they desired to vote for! If I like a Democrat as Governor, and a Republican for Lt. Governor; an Independent for State Attorney General and a Libertarian as County Clerk, I can't pick who I want?!?!
No, I can not. At this level We The People do not have the right to choose from the vast assortment of candidates, only within a strict Party ballot. Once this arena is filled with a more select group of candidates then you may vote in November for whomever was chosen. I was flabbergasted; I must have been stupid to think I had an actual choice here.
All I can think is that the parties have shoehorned us into being what they want us to be: one or the other. Freedom of choice is out the window; having the right to pick and choose from a wide open ballot is non-existent. You may only choose from a strict Party line, and if you are like me and do not identify as one or the other your choices are few. On today's ballot for instance, the Libertarian choice for all open positions consisted one one person: ONE!. On the Independent side of things there were a grand total of three total choices: not three races like Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General with multiple names associated with each group; THREE NAMES!
Maybe it has always been that way and I was just so uninformed, blindly being led along by the powers that be. Although I think it may have more to do with the fact that until lately I just haven't felt strongly enough to vote my conscious rather than just go along with the flow. Perhaps this year, the Trump/Clinton crap has gotten my interest in the direction our country is going piqued to a point where I am actually paying attention to who is wanting to do what at other levels of government. If so then that is on me; my bad as the kids today say. I should have done more, paid more attention before now and maybe my vote would have counted and our country wouldn't be in the dire straits it is today.
But it is where it is and I can't do anything about that. What I can do is educate you my readers and have you look into your state's requirements and restrictions. If they corral you into a certain ballot raise a stink. If you want the true Open Ballot concept, one where you have the right to truly choose from all candidates, not only those on your assigned ballot then you need to start raising awareness in your locale. Don't remain sheep! Step outside the box, demand your right to determine who you want in the elections at every level, not just pick from whoever remains at the end; your choice might not make it.
So what did I do? I looked over the sample ballots available and chose according to the choices I felt most strongly about. I might have preferred this candidate on this ballot but I really felt strongly about another candidate in a different race on a different ballot. Say, if I really liked this candidate in the Governor race and they were on the Republican ballot, and felt more strongly about this one that the Lt. Governor race and the Democratic candidate then I was forced to abandon the Lt Governor choice and pick from the Republican group for Governor. I didn't like it but what choice did I have? The old saying of you pick your battles ran through my mind as I made my choice of ballots. I picked what to me was the most important race and went from there.
It ain't fair, nor right, nor just in my opinion, but it is the way it is....for now. Maybe next time we can get that changed.