The first presidential election I could legally vote in was Bush vs. Gore in 2000.
It may surprise many of you readers, given my political proclivities today, to learn that I voted for Al Gore.
What can I say. I was young, poorly informed, and operating on the idea that Republicans were a bunch of stuck-up, uncool old people while Democrats were hip.
Yes, I thought Al Gore was hip. Tipper Gore and her war on rock and roll wasn’t something I considered. Like I said, I was poorly informed. And young. And dumb.
Since then I have proudly voted in every presidential election, mostly for Republicans, and in adulthood decided that my ballot would always be cast for a candidate and not against one. I promised myself that I would never pick a candidate because I disliked his/her opponent.
In past election cycles I’ve always been able to find a candidate on a national ticket agreeable enough to vote for. This cycle, given the choices on the ballot here in North Dakota, I will for the first time be declining to vote for a candidate for president.
Donald Trump is a sleazy man. Many of my friends on the right who are anti-Trump say that the candidate isn’t conservative. They’re right. He’s not.
In fact, I’m not sure there is an ideology which applies to Trump. He’s a candidate more interested in pandering to the most base instincts of the American electorate than articulating a coherent policy platform. Even when Trump says things I find appealing – his comments on America’s tax code, regulatory regime, and energy policies are mostly pleasing to me – I can’t tell if it’s a reflection of what he really believes or just something he’s saying to pander to an audience.
Trump is supported by many people I respect, noteworthy among them Congressman Kevin Cramer, and while I’d like to think that their philosophy would be reflected in Trump’s approach to policy making, that requires me to believe that the always erratic Trump can be counted on to accept advice and stick to it.
And speaking of erratic behavior, I think there’s a very real danger that Trump could set off a bloody international incident with some ill-timed insult or tweet.
But Hillary Clinton is just as sleazy. She is the poster child for political sleaze. Politics is full of ambitious egotists, yet even among that crowd Clinton stands out as an extreme example. She is edifice of political cronyism Trump supporters hope to take a wrecking ball to, and for good reason.
She would be terrible for America. I have joked in the past that, in the Clintons, there is a silver lining in that they can usually be bought off to do the right thing. But that’s hardly an endorsement of her candidacy and, frankly, I think it was probably more true of her husband Bill Clinton than it will ever be for her.
As for the third party candidates, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson doesn’t strike as being all that Libertarian, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein is downright crazy.
Which brings me to the point of the headline: Why don’t we have a “none of the above” option on the national ballot? Because it’s the choice I’d like to make when I vote this year.
I’m not talking about something which would have any real-world implications for the outcome of the election. The “none of the above” votes wouldn’t count for anything other than a symbolic tally quantifying the number of Americans who found all of the candidates to be unacceptable.
It would allow those of us who are informed, and who have considered the relative merits of the candidates, to differentiate ourselves from the people who are too lazy to vote at all.
I think this needs to happen.
Who is with me?