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Voter Education

There are many things about the electoral process in the USA that I find to be unfortunate.  First is the fact that people focus on the presidential election.  Many times we forget that there are many other issues and offices to vote on in the election, and we only talk about who's running for president.  Secondly, we pretend that there are only two people who are running for the office of president.  This is far from the case.  And the only reason the two-party system is still in effect is because everyone believes they're "throwing their vote away" if they vote for a third party.

I cannot in good conscience vote for either Obama or Romney.  I don't think that either one of them is the best person for the job.  I admit there are many things that Obama has done that I think were good, and many things he has done that I think are terrible.  He signed the bill to repeal DADT, and that was one of the good things he did and it has been great for the military.

So, I am looking to other candidates.  I just watched this debate between Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) and Jill Stein (Green Party).  I think we need to encourage this kind of dialog much more.  Observe how respectful these two candidates are, and how they acknowledge the points wherein they agree and points wherein they disagree.  Then contrast that with a R-D debate, where each candidate pretends that he represents all that is good and his opponent represents the devil.

I have a friend who lives in New Mexico and says that Gary Johnson was a good governor.  I like some of the ideas of the Libertarian Party.  In particular, I like the idea that the government should keep its nose out of our private lives.  I think that marijuana (and probably other drugs too) should be legal.  I think prostitution should be legal.  I don't think it's the government's place to dictate what people do in their personal lives.  It should confine itself to protecting liberties for all, protecting people from infringing on the rights of others.

I was reading through the Green New Deal on Jill Stein's page, and there are many things that I agree with her about.  After watching the debate and reading their websites, I really don't know which candidate I will vote for, but I am fairly certain it will be one of these two.  She makes many good points.  Many other countries have a socialized medical plan that works and costs half of what the average cost is per person in this country.  I think it makes economic sense to do her Medicare-for-all plan.  I think that we need to make research a priority--particularly where climate control is concerned.  We burn up too much of our non-renewable energy sources and we spend too little on planning for our future.

Johnson's idea of solving the unemployment problem is to decrease government regulation and taxation and let the private sector create the needed jobs.  This sounds like a good idea.  Stein's idea is to enact an "economic bill of rights", which would guarantee the right to work to anyone who is willing and able.  This also sounds like a good idea.  I think that it should be within the government's power to create jobs--not just indirectly by lowering taxes, but directly by hiring people or funding organizations through grants.  There are some things that need to be done that benefit everyone (like paving roads) that no one in particular wants to foot the bill for.  Everyone wants roads to drive on, but no one wants to be the person paying for the road to be built.  So, we have the government tax everyone and then they have the money to build the roads.  It makes sense logically.

I am saddened by the realization that many people will vote R or D just because they feel like third party is not a viable option.  In every election thus far, I have voted my conscience.  I vote for the person that I feel will be best for the job, the person with whom I agree the most.  I will not vote for "the lesser of two evils".  And I think if everyone in the country did that, we could destroy the two-party system.  Since I think this is the best way to go about it (be the change you want to see in the world), I will not vote for someone just because they're "not as bad as the other guy".

The rest of the post will be about offices other than POTUS.  I know that most of my readers don't live in Tennessee, but I share for two reasons.  First, for the people who do live in Tennessee (in particular, the Knoxville area) you can know how I feel about the candidates that you also get to vote for.  Second, I hope that this inspires all of my readers to do their own research and find out about all of the candidates in all of the races that you'll be voting on this fall, not just the office of president.  Remember, all of these elections affect you locally where you live.

Doing a quick Google search for voter information, I found the site votesmart.org.  You plug in your address and it shows you all of the candidates who are running for all of the offices that are up for election this year.  I recommend that you use this tool or some other similar one.  Find out who's running.  Meet them.  Talk to them.  Read about their policies.  Decide before you get to the polls whom you'll vote for.

Senator Bob Corker is up for re-election this year.  I will not vote for him.  He opposed the Audit the Fed bill.  He wanted to make the Fed more powerful.  In 2009 I wrote to him about Prosper.com, which I felt to be a very good alternative to conventional banking.  Basically, Prosper was stopped because it didn't register properly and when it came back online, people living in Tennessee were unable to participate as lenders.  I wrote to him expressing my feelings that these kinds of enterprises should be encouraged rather than discouraged and he wrote back saying that he disagreed.  In December of last year, I emailed him about the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, encouraging him to end discrimination against LGBT families.  He responded with the typical "protecting traditional marriage" response.

Mark Clayton is the democrat running against Corker.  I will not vote for him either.  He says that he is pro-life (he opposes abortion) and he is anti-marriage equality.  He's trying to sell the idea that religion is under attack and religious freedom needs to be protected.  This is far from the case.  Religions are very well protected, and people's rights to worship as they choose are also not in question.  He has the victim syndrome sadly typical of many Christian candidates these days.  The fact that he's a Christian isn't an issue for me at all, but the fact that he's pretending that Christianity is under attack is a problem because it indicates to me that he's disconnected from reality.

Shaun Crowell is the libertarian candidate running against Corker.  I doubt that I would vote for him.  He is pro-life.  However, he says that he would cut spending by 1 trillion, which we clearly need.  (Although, I'd want more information on what he's going to cut.  The $445 million saved by Romney's proposal to cut PBS funding doesn't get very far when you're trying to save 1 trillion.)  He's in favor of auditing the Fed, he's opposed to banking bailouts.  I like that.  One major thing I'm in favor of is that he would have voted against NDAA, which I've talked about in the past.  For the record, Bob Corker voted for NDAA.

I might vote for Martin Pleasant, who is the Green Party candidate running against Corker.  One thing that's holding me back is that his website doesn't give much information.  It gives a brief bio and then a statement that he supports the Green New Deal, which I don't find unpleasant.  I may even be convinced to be in favor of the Green New Deal, if I studied it a bit more and all of the issues related.  But, knowing only that about him, I don't feel completely comfortable supporting him.  I would want to know where he stands on other issues as well.

Congressman John Duncan (District 2, US Congress) is up for re-election as well.  I have been happy with him, for the most part.  I've received his newsletters and I find that on many issues we agree.  I don't think I'd be unhappy seeing him re-elected.  Although, I'm uncertain where I will cast my ballot.

Norris Dryer is the Green Party candidate running against Duncan.  There are many reasons that I would want to vote for him.  First, he's agnostic.  I feel that I would rather have someone in office whom I know will base his decisions on reason rather than on dogma and faith.  He's in favor of marriage equality.  He is pro-choice.  He's in favor of pulling out of Afghanistan.  He's in favor of allowing illegals to stay and gain citizenship, rather than deporting them.  He's very progressive in many ways.

Troy Goodale is the democrat running against Duncan.  One of the issues he has on his website is that he wants to institute term limits for congress.  I am very much in favor of that.  I don't think that we should have career politicians.  For that matter, I don't think we should have so many lawyers in congress.  I think we should have a better mix of "real-life" people in there, who serve for one or two terms and then go back to real life.  However, Dryer has also stated that he is in favor of term limits.

The office of State House District 13 is up for election.  The incumbent, Harry Tindell, is not running.  The three candidates are Gary Loe (R), Gloria Johnson (D), and Nick Cazana (I).  I will need to find out more information about them before making a decision, since there is very little information about them available online.

But now that I've done all of that research, I feel much better about the decisions I'll be able to make in this election, and I'll be more confident at the polls that my vote lies with my conscience.

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