I didn't vote yesterday. There was a major election in Arizona yesterday, February 29th, and I did not participate. But haven't I been one who complains about We the People getting involved in the election process? Yes, so I feel that some explanation is in order.
The reason I did not vote yesterday is because it was the Republican primary, and I am not a registered Republican. My voter card says independent, because the Republicans have burned my biscuits almost as much as the Democrats over the last several years, primarily by playing politics and being more interested in achieving and maintaining power then doing what is in the best interests of the nation. I have yet to see any serious Republican efforts to cut their own pay and benefits, protect citizen's privacy, hack and slash through the bureaucracy, red tape and asinine regulations that make it nearly impossible for the US to cut it's deficit, gain energy independence, or encourage manufacturing jobs to come back to the US, among numerous other issues. Sure, they tried to make a big deal about the Keystone Pipeline, but that was sadly election year posturing, because they knew full and well the White House would shut the project down. The Republicans are supposed to be the conservative side of the coin, but I'm still not seeing work done to reign the federal government back into the constraints the Constitution placed on it, and considering there have been numerous Republican actions that have been kicking down those fences, I cannot bring myself to put that R on my card, knowing that I will have little effect in bringing real conservative candidates to the forefront of the party through my vote.
Frankly the fact that we have been pigeonholed into a two party system really gets under my skin at times like this. In this election, it seems that Mitt Romney is going to be the GOP candidate, and frankly, I'm not a huge fan of his. He seems to be the politically safe candidate, the one who won't rock the boat too much to have a shot at winning the election. We got the same thing last election with McCain, a middle of the road, safe choice. Look where that got us. (In all honesty, I don't know that we would be that much better off in terms of the big picture if McCain would have won. There are specific things that would not have happened, obviously, like Obamacare, but I don't know that McCain would have had the backbone to make the big changes that need to be done.) The only thing R's and D's agree on is that serious competition hurts them both, in one way or another. Hence the difficulty for any third party or independent candidate to make a dent in the national scene.
I think a bigger playing field would do the country some serious good. Forget Ross Perot or Roseanne Barr, think serious people willing to go to D.C. and shake the foundations, telling both sides that their job is not to get re-elected or fill their coffers for retirement, but to represent the best interest of their constituents and the nation. We have had a wide variety of political parties in this country before settling down to the current two.
More candidates would make for more competition, meaning they would have to fight harder for each vote. Right now whoever the GOP candidate is will be getting a good chunk of votes from people who don't want another four years of Obama. Obama will get a good chunk of votes from people who are opposed to Republicans, whether that is for real ideological reasons or because they are following some bouncing ball. Polls are showing that many Democrats and liberals aren't happy with Obama, and polls are also showing the many Republicans aren't thrilled about their options either. Imagine what would happen if there were more candidates, not just single issue candidates or looney left (honest) socialists, but real business leaders who haven't spent the last ten years in the D.C. bubble, or even liberals who are willing to live and let live instead of demanding legal changes for every real and imagined "offense". Not only would these additional options bring different views up, but ideally the establishment players would have to start getting specific about their own plans, as opposed to the "I'm not the other party" lines we get now.
To fix the problems we have in the Federal government is going to take We The People holding whoever gets elected to both the White House and Congress feet to the fire. We need to be getting specific plans out of both parties, written down, analyzable, testable, and something we can use to hold them accountable throughout their terms. So long as either side just has to convince one percent more of the people who come out and vote that they are the better choice, we aren't going to get that out of either side. It's going to take high voter turnout for one, and for another, real competition.