I’m in that camp that is ever so desired for about three months each election year and scorned the rest of the time: I’m independent, or ‘unenrolled’ in either major political party as we say in Massachusetts.
In the last two presidential elections I’ve voted for one Republican candidate and one Democratic candidate. I’m a swing vote.
I hate the manner in which American politics is conducted, but have become interested in that fascinating challenge of figuring out how to govern a huge nation full of people of widely differing interests, economic standings and religious faiths, some in urban settings and some rural, etc etc etc. I reject altogether the idea that ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’ are either right on every issue or categorically not only wrong but also stupid or evil, which is the general tenor of discussion these days. It’s childish and disgraceful. The excuse of ‘passion’ is IMO complete, total, utter BS. You can believe something strongly and still speak respectfully to people who disagree. Respect is the most powerful lever you can pull in a discussion, with me anyway.
Anyway, despite the rancor, I’ve followed this campaign pretty closely, including the primaries. After much consideration, I decided to vote for Obama.
I’d be glad to vote for a Republican candidate in the future, but I’ll tell you a big reason why I won’t do it now (aside from the fact that the ship has hit the rocks so somebody else gets a turn to steer):
The alleged connection between Republican and conservative doesn’t currently make sense to me. How is an economic policy ‘business friendly’ when it leads you a massive stock market crash and hundreds of thousands of layoffs? How is it possible to lead an unprecedented expansion of federal government powers and debt, and then turn around and accuse the other party of being ‘big government’?
I enjoy reading George Will and this weekend listened to a wonderful NPR interview with Rod Dreher, a thoughtful conservative commentator with the Dallas Morning News, and they have also posed many questions like these. (I believe a specific Will column said ‘We seem to have decided that big government is okay as long as it’s our [Republican] government.’) Smart guys. Don’t agree with everything they say, but I don’t agree with everything I hear from so-called liberals either.
I’d love to see small, efficient government. I’d love to see economic policies with a moderate, steady, amount of intelligent regulation instead of occasional gigantic spikes. This ‘swing vote’ would love to see the Republican party return to some of what I understand to be its once-core conservative values.