-John F. Kennedy
I've already voted. In Oregon, the first all-mail voting state (Washington state has since followed suit), the ballots are mailed out weeks in advance and I've already sent mine back. I used to walk down to a local state government office and hand it in but I haven't had a chance lately so I paid the unconstitutional and illegal poll tax - a stamp.
A lot of people are voting early through this kind of system, absentee balloting, and even 'early voting' available in many states. Why this started up and is so common now is a matter for another post perhaps, but since its happening, I'm going to post a bit on how I approach voting early and bump it up on November 5th as well, just in case people want some advice.
The first thing I try to keep in mind is that these are all politicians and you can't trust any of them. Not a one, even the guys you like or who claim to hold positions you can agree with. Their job is to get you to hire them and they'll do whatever it takes to get there. All of them are spending a lot of money to get you to pick them, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars. They're all politicians. None of them are going to save the world or fix your problems. The right guy in office won't turn the nation around, that's up to us as citizens. Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.
When I have a ballot in front of me, I have a few unofficial rules I follow.
Throw Out the Bums. Whenever I'm given a choice, I almost always vote for the non-incumbent. I especially do this with judges, because Oregon tends to have lousy ones, especially the higher up they get. Since things have gotten so bad in politics, since we've had congress after congress which each new one is more arrogant, dismissive, and contemptuous toward the public, we need to establish a clear pattern of throwing out every single one for several cycles until they get the idea: you must listen to us or you're fired.I don't care if its your brother in law, or your school chum, or you love his speeches, or he's dreamy looking or she's really hot, or if they have great youtube clips. I don't care if they are great conservatives or whatever, throw them out. Always pick the other guy. Now, depending on the composition of congress, you might have to try this at the primary level - and I would argue always, without exception pick the other guy in the primaries no matter what a chucklehead they are, because let's face it: how much worse could he be than most of those idiots in congress?But at the general it becomes tougher. If, for example, you're trying to keep one party from gaining an absolute unstoppable majority in congress, you probably should try to stop that. It doesn't even matter which party, because they've both demonstrated that when they have sufficient power, they stop listening to their citizens, stop representing, and get the most arrogant. So there are exceptions.3rd Party Local. Whenever possible and whenever a remotely responsible choice is on the ballot other than Democrats and Republicans, I always vote for the third party candidate. The reason for this is simple: the two parties both suck in varying degrees, and we need at least one more alternative. The way to create this alternative is to vote local and low level politicians of a third party into power, to start building a political base.As I've said dozens of times before, starting at the top with a 3rd party candidate is simply idiotic. They would have absolutely no power to accomplish anything and would discredit the entire idea of that party getting power. Start small, locally, and build a base, then move up one step, build a base there. Eventually, when the third party is a major political power, you can consider senators and presidents. But you have to start locally, and this is how you do it.And even if the 3rd party dream doesn't come about, voting for a 3rd party candidate also gives these two major parties a signal: we dislike you both. It lets these parties know that if they won't toe the line or listen to us, we'll kick them both to the curb. I recall well listening to a few Republican legislators a few years back discuss nervously how they had to be careful how they went about a certain piece of legislation or they'd lose voters to the Constitution Party. They need to be more fearful of that.However, the converse of that is that I never, ever vote for a third party candidate for president or congress. The reason is the same as above: they'd be either powerless or functionally identical to the parties in power, which negates the entire point. And further they would discredit the whole idea of a third party, without doing a shred of harm to either major party. At the national level, the parties are too big to be concerned if some state throws a Libertarian into congress. One out of 400? Shrug. Its a wasted, stupid vote that actually harms the cause of a third party. Do it locally and build up.The time to make a statement on candidates and issues for top level politicians is in the primaries. Once you get to the general election, don't do it, you're only hurting your cause and your country. Every once in a while you'll be presented with two choices so ghastly you cannot back either one, and I opted out last time, but don't vote 3rd party, it only hurts the cause. These idiots need to stop running until they can build a base. All they do is get people to throw away votes and pile up some cash for themselves in a vain, arrogant waste of time.
Never Give Them Power. Hawaii was the last state added to the United States, and that was in 1959. Since then, the state has had plenty of time to get all of its ducks in a row legislatively; they don't need to figure out how to run anything any longer. Every other state is older, some of them almost 200 years older, and as such have even less excuse for new power being added to the government.So if the state government comes to voters saying "we need more money or power to do x, y, and z" they should always be told no. ALWAYS.They don't need any more power, ever, to do anything. By now they've gotten everything handled and do not need more power. If they want more power, it means they're trying to do something more than they ought to and that means less liberty for you and less money in your pocket, so some politician can have more power. No.Just Say No. No taxes. None. Never. Taxes are based on a percentage which means no matter how big the population gets, or what happens to its wealth, the city, county, or state should easily and comfortably be able to pay for its proper function. The only conceivable reason they might need more money is because they're trying to do more than they should be, or handling it poorly.If they want to fix that problem, the obvious answer is to spend less and handle their money better. If they cannot, then they need to suffer, be replaced, and the problem fixed. No more money. None. Ever.What the? Like many states, Oregon has a system which citizens can promote an initiative which if it gets enough petition support is placed on the official ballot and we vote on it. However, like most states, these ballot measures are often worded very oddly and cleverly to make it difficult to really understand what is going on or how you want to vote.Sometimes voting "no" means you voted for the bill to pass, and vice versa. The wording is very cleverly twisted - or unfortunately clumsy - so it is confusing. Always check very carefully what you are voting on, because it is very, very hard to get a new ballot or fix what you've voted on. Any confusion will tend to negate your vote on that particular issue.Thankfully we're in the internet age so there's lots of information about different ballot measures and you can examine them in depth before committing.Who's Your Daddy. One way to find out about a given ballot measure is to see who is backing it. You can usually tell the consequences or intention of a bill based on who is putting money into getting it passed and endorsing it even if the legislation isn't immediately clear. For example, if the NRA and local gun clubs are backing a bill, you can guess it won't be interfering with your 2nd amendment rights. If the Sierra Club, Animal Liberation Front, and Local 1063 Brotherhood of Luddites is backing a bill you can guess its probably something environmental extremists will like. Some bills are less clear by this standard, however, because they are less clear in their results - you can get the ACLU, Heritage Foundation, and Communist Party USA backing some tax bill and that tells you nothing.Trust But Verify. Related is the activist mailer. For example, I get Right to Life mailers around ever election with their assessment of various politicans and ballot measures. These kinds of tip sheets can be helpful, but they are typically limited; Right to Life for instance is focused on the safety and well-being of children before and after birth, so they will endorse or reject candidates almost exclusively based on that criteria. So you can use them to get some ideas about how candidates stand on issues - and who backs or dislikes them - but you have to be aware their critieria is pretty narrow.And, their judgement is not flawless. Sometimes they'll back someone based on a recent statement made, but not realize their record isn't exactly consistent, so its good to look these tip sheets but you need to have other input.
Now, with these basic rules, I'm able to decide almost anything that comes up, but like I said, sometimes it doesn't work. Last presidential election we had a choice between Barack Obama who I knew to be a corrupt radical leftist and John McCain who is an obnoxious crank who hates my ideology. I simply could not bring myself to vote for either one, it was just two horrific choices which I couldn't support. As I said a while back I probably should have voted for McCain, although it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference in Oregon (or nationally), but I just could not bring myself to support that jerk.
I hope at least some of this can be of some help to people as they look at their ballots and may God have mercy on us as a nation.