Sometimes, when we vote, we have to choose between what turns our conscience and what turns our stomachs. We may find ourselves facing two candidates that offer very little hope that we will be represented in government.
There is a lot that I like about Obama and I voted for him in 2012 even though I was not happy with the way he has defended the men and women responsible for the meltdown of 2008. I wanted to vote for a third party candidate. But I was afraid that my vote would be needed to keep Mitt Romney out of that office. After seeing the kinds of dirty dealing that Mitt did, I could not stomach the idea of having a predatory capitalist sitting as president.
So we may have to choose the lesser of two evils for president, the Senate and the House. Often we have to do that at the state level, too. Third parties have been marginalized to the point where we don't have a democracy, we have a duocracy, where two parties rule, and sometimes, they rule as one.
Who chooses these candidates? Most of the time, it is not us. Candidates have to raise money for their campaigns. Why go door-to-door when you can just call up a local billionaire to get financial aid for your campaign? This is what we do in Lesterland. The billionaires have the final say about who runs for office and who does well in the primaries. That narrows the field to only the people that the billionaires want for office. Then we get to choose between the lesser of two evils.
Until we get money out of politics, our choices for political office are going to be less than appealing. We will be voting as if we're rich, when we're not. What to do, what to do?
Back in the 90's, I solicited signatures for ballot propositions. You know, that guy that was standing outside of the supermarket, asking for your signature? That was me. I was there, offering you a chance to gain a little bit of influence in politics. In California, it's perfectly legal to do that. In Utah, they don't like uppity citizens trying to decide their own fate, so they don't let citizens propose ballot propositions and get them turned into laws directly. But I digress.
One of the most interesting ballot propositions that I worked on was "None of the Above", or NOTA. I read it, liked it, and signed it myself. What a novel concept. You mean, I can say I think that all of the candidates stink and refuse them all? Sign me up! It was a great concept, except that this particular proposition had one glaring omission: even if NOTA won the election, someone would still be elected to office. Someone could still sit in that seat.
A NOTA option with real teeth would not allow anyone to sit in office unless we could vote for candidates we really liked. No longer would we have to hold our nose and vote for someone who is a little bit better than bad. Better still, NOTA would give the people veto power over the billionaires. Then the billionaires would have to put someone out there that we want to elect for office, if they want someone to govern. Or, they could get out of politics and run a business. It would be nice to have someone running for office that would actually represent everyone, not just the guys at the yacht club.
Imagine...with a "None of the Above" option on the ballot, the people can say "Oh, no you don't!" to the billionaires. Now that is something to think about.