I don’t generally talk about politics outside a group of trusted friends and family, but I wanted to take some time to explain my thinking so (a) I’ve had to think it through enough to write semi-coherently about it and (b) to have a place I can refer to should it come up in discussion.
I don’t plan to explore all my political leanings, but here’s a couple general ones that will provide context for the post.
In general, I become increasingly libertarian as the level of government gets higher. Certainly, at the federal level, I would consider myself a libertarian; at the township level, though, it doesn’t make all that much sense (also, I happen to be in favor of my roads being plowed in the winter).
This also helps me be a little less conflicted than Ron Swanson about the fact that I happen to work at a community college–a unit of local government.
I believe that our system of government was designed to make it difficult to enact laws and for good reason. If a single party has control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, it’s just too easy to push stuff through without enough debate. (Extra Credit)
In a presidential race even more than mid-terms, I guess people suspend reason long enough to believe that either candidate is capable of doing half the things he promises to do. Knowing that I can’t vote based on a list of “I’ll change everything”
lies promises, I’m left with a few possible approaches to choosing a candidate.
- Actually believe in the candidate
Yeah, I know. We all needed a little comic relief, right? But it’s happened occasionally, particularly in the lower branches of government.
- Lesser of two evils
I think the majority of people—certainly a majority of the people I’ve talked to—feel they need to take this approach. This is unfortunate, I think, because I’m inclined to believe that if everyone actually voted for the candidate they wanted to rather than who some pundit told them they should vote for, we’d have a much different political landscape. Nevertheless, this is a valid approach in many circumstances (arguably all, as a perfect candidate doesn’t exist).
- Make a statement
Voting for a lost-cause candidate can be valid as well. Seeing the percentages of people voting for third-party candidates rise can create interest in those movements and help to spur interest for the next election cycle.
How I plan to vote
So here’s how I plan to apply those approaches to this election.
- I live in Illinois, so it’s not like my vote counts (#2). #1 certainly doesn’t apply, so I’m going to aim at #3.
- Doesn’t apply for me this election, but since it’s statewide, I’d be inclined to go for #3, unless the race looked really close.
- House of Representatives
- Unlike the statewide elections, and despite some gerrymandering, I’m in a mostly rural congressional district, so I’ll be using #1 or #2.
At the state and local level, there are less likely to be as many choices, and, since I tend to be less libertarian at those levels anyway, I’ll just be looking at the issues more. If I don’t know anything about either candidate, well, I haven’t done my civic duty, so I just skip that one.
There’s no perfect way to approach something as blatantly imperfect as politics, but this is the way that I’ve become most comfortable with.