Okay everyone. Clean the beverage off your screen and read on.
Happy Halloween, readers! I can’t believe how fast October has flown by. It’s been nearly a month since Write on the Sound, which was an awesome conference. The election is in six days. National Novel Writing Month starts in 11 hours and 27 minutes. It can all be a bit overwhelming.
So this will be something of a potpourri post. Either that, or I’ll discover that each item is worthy of its own post. Who knows?
Let’s start with politics. I voted last week. I thought about walking you through my ballot with me, but I’m not sure you all want to hear about my vote for Public Utilities District Commissioner. But, there is a method to my voting that could prove interesting.
At times, I’ve been accused of being hyper partisan, and uncritically loyal to the Democratic Party. I even had a friend challenge me to vote for a Republican this year. I replied that I had already voted for two.
Here’s how that works for me. First, just in case there is any question, I am a proud liberal Democrat. I’m not a Democrat for the sake of being a Democrat. In any of those surveys that plot my position on the political spectrum, I end up on the far left. In the ones that match me to a candidate I end up with the likes of Dennis Kucinich, or in this year’s cycle, Green Party standard bearer Jill Stein.
As an aside, my position on third parties is that they are best used as grass roots organizations that can influence the major parties. I would love to see instant runoff voting so that voters could vote their conscience without that little problem of their vote for a Green ultimately propelling a Republican into power. As far the Presidential level, I need to see a realistic path to 270 electoral votes before I will give a Green my vote. I have no doubt that in 2000, if the 80,000 Floridians who voted for Nader had not had the option of Nader, when all was said and done Al Gore would have netted the 538 votes he needed to defeat Bush .
Anyway, it should come as no surprise that I voted for Obama. So which Republicans did I vote for?
Well, I won’t vote for Republicans for legislative races. The reason for that is that a vote for a good Republican member of Congress is a vote for Speaker Boehner. The way that the parties caucus and apportion control of legislatures makes a vote for a “good” person a vote for a “bad” party. (And yes, it goes both ways. A vote for a moderate Democrat in the House is a vote for Speaker Pelosi.)
Could I vote for a Republican for governor? Possibly. It would have to be a really good, moderate Republican (not Rob McKenna for you Washingtonians) running against a really bad Democrat (not Jay Inslee who I’ve been wanting to run for higher office for a long time).
But moving down the ballot, we come to the Lieutenant Governor’s race. Here I’m faced with the choice between long-time incumbent Brad Owen, with whom I’ve got no problem and Republican, Bill Finkbeiner, a moderate former legislator who is married to (and has the support of) a Kristen Rowe-Finkbiener who runs the site Mom’s Rising advocating for action on the bread and butter issues facing families. Beyond the family ties, Finkbeiner has earned enough endorsements from progressive organizations that progressive voter guides show the race as having split the progressive endorsements between the two candidates.
Next we get to Secretary of State. Remember Katherine Harris in Florida in 2000? What about Ken Blackwell stealing Ohio for Bush in 2004. That’s to say nothing of the voter suppression efforts coming out of Secretary of State offices in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Texas and Florida and Arizona and…you get the picture. The Secretary of State controls the elections in the state. This is a big deal.
Well, in 2004, we had our own election controversy with Republican Sam Reed in the hot seat. At the same time that Ken Blackwell was putting his party above his duty to the citizens of Ohio, Sam Reed did his job properly, even though it led to the Democrat winning. It engendered enough respect in me that I said I’d always vote for him. I got one more chance in 2008. This year, he’s retiring and his long-time Deputy, Kim Wyman is running as a Republican to replace him. She’s earned the endorsement of Reed, Reed’s Democratic predecessor, Ralph Munro and something like 26 Democratic county auditors. Clearly, Wyman has the confidence of those who hold Washington’s history of clean elections dear. I have nothing against Kathleen Drew, Wyman’s Democratic opponent, but I feel good about supporting Wyman.
What it boils down to is that we need multiple competitive parties. As much as it’s tempting, when looking a Romney and Ryan and Boehner and McConnell and the Tea Party to wish the GOP would collapse into irrelevance, we need them. A vibrant democracy needs competing ideas. Conservatives need to be tempered by liberals and liberals need to be tempered by conservatives. That’s not happening in the Republican Party right now. Sane, moderate Republicans in elected office are an endangered species, and they get more endangered the higher the office. So when there is an opportunity to support good, rational, intelligent Republicans who want to do the right thing, I feel compelled to do so in the hope that they can become ascendant in their party and they can help reshape our political discourse from the shouting match that it is to the dialog that it should be.
Okay, this will be multiple posts. Next up, will be “When Mitt met Sandy”. Or NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure.