Earlier, on this blog and others, I have expressed my determination to vote for the candidate I consider best regardless of party affiliation, strategic maneuvering or media bias. This led to a number of questions about pragmatism, expediency and consequences. There were also a few requests for elaboration on the logic (or madness) behind my decision, thus this posting.
Let me begin, gentle reader, by stating my position. I believe that it is my responsibility as an American citizen to define for myself what values, skills, education, opinions and experience are necessary to hold a public office and then find the best qualified candidate for that office and vote for him/her. I regard this as a somewhat private process and a solemn duty. I have not always thought so, but as time passes, I have learned more and so have come to this position.
I have been noticing a definite tendency in the media to influence the public towards one or two candidates almost as soon as a race is announced. I find this to be a highly objectionable tendency, and, on a personal level, extremely intrusive. I do not mind being informed of who is running for office. This is a service and the proper role of the media. I do mind having those candidates sorted into “most likely to have a shot” and “also ran” categories for me. This is a despicable manipulation of the election process and any journalist who engages in it should be sternly reprimanded. (And, one would hope, ashamed of themselves.)
By participating in this sort of manipulation they create the illusion that my vote is worthless if I don’t cast it in favor of their choice of “Most likely to have a shot”. For many voters this leads to an apathy which causes them not to participate at all. After all, if their vote is worthless unless cast for someone who doesn’t represent their views, why vote?
The truth is that we each have exactly one vote and a responsibility to do our homework and cast it according to our conscience. In years past, it may have been an onerous task to get good information about those lesser known candidates, but with the advent of the internet we, as Americans are without excuse.
I refuse to believe that Americans are too stupid or lazy to make the effort to research the best candidate. I believe we are better than that and a good deal smarter than the mainstream media often give us credit for.
I am not so foolish as to believe that this realization will come overnight to the bulk of Americans. I am not so foolish as to expect the major parties to go out of their way to promote such an idea. I am also not so full of myself as to believe that by simply voicing the idea in a small forum such as this, it may have an effect. But when I look at the big picture, I find myself thinking: if not me, who, and if not now, when? So I appeal to the American voter to do the research and find the candidate of YOUR choice, not the one with the most fundraising ability or the one most touted in the press or even the one who might fulfill some personal wish to see a minority or a woman in an office traditionally held by a man, but the best candidate for the job.
Vote your conscience America, I will.