There are quite a few things wrong with the procedures of U.S. elections. Very many of these are born of corruptions within government that will never change unless responsible actions are taken by the electorate. First and foremost would be educating oneself about the candidates on the ballot.
I remember being in a voting booth several times and looking down a long list of local, state, and national offices of which I knew nothing about any of the candidates. As a nervous sweat pours down my forehead, like getting stuck on the last problem of a final exam as the clock rushes towards its finish, I randomly pull switches to end the torture.
What the hell is that? I should learn right? Well…the election passes and my apathy, a cancer in and of itself, grows its own cancer and the process is poised to repeat.
This year, my apathy thankfully in remission, my mother calls me on the phone, as she is want to do, and after enduring some angry political rant of mine she asks me, “Where can I go to see who all the candidates are and what they stand for?”
“…,” I say, “…let me get back to you on that.”
My search, thus far, has turned up very little. Wikipedia has an entry titled United States Presidential Election, 2008 that eventually lists a great many of the candidates regardless of the extent of their ballot access. Little information is given about the candidates, but it is at least a starting point for further research.
Of course, this page only helps in broadening one’s view of the presidential contest…which for many is too large of a star-studded super bowl to screw around and actually vote for someone who more strongly shares their philosophy.
I would hope that voters who would be thus slanted would be more willing to vote for a more principled third party candidate in congressional and state and local elections in which they may already be voting blindly to some degree.
I have only come across one source that in any meaningful way collects information about every candidate and every provision on every ballot. SmartVoter.org allows you to type in your zip code and/or address to be informed about every candidate for every office and every provision that you are able to vote on given your district.
DISCLAIMER: Of course, the site might have missed one. I haven’t verified every candidate for every office and every provision in the entire nation.
SmartVoter.org purports to be run by the League of Women Voters and although the shabby aesthetic of the web design does not inspire confidence, I tend to believe them as I haven’t seen any ulterior motives for the website and the only information that they collect is your zip code and/or address.
While it may not be provided for every candidate, some candidates do have biographical and policy information attached to their listing.
This should prove to be a great starting point for voters, regardless of their willingness to explore third party candidates. For those who are more committed to drinking strictly red or blue kool-aid, you should make sure that there is not arsenic in a particular plastic cup of that sugar water.
Personally, I find it impossible to tear myself away form the ideals of the Libertarian Party. However, I would still want to research as best I could any Libertarian candidate to make sure that they are not campaigning on policies that in fact go against these ideals. It would be terrible to vote a Libertarian into office only to then discover that he is for the random enslavement of half the citizenry and is Pro-Kitten Sloughing. Oh…shit!
SmartVoter.org is a great resource, but I would prefer there to be competing projects towards the same end. Ideally, I would like to see some sort of election wiki which could perhaps even be extended towards an aggregate of not only successive years of elections, but also perhaps going further into the political process and keeping a record for each candidate regarding not only elections, but also their policy history and voting records.
Of course, if I’d like to see it, I’d best work on it…which I might, but if any enterprising soul wants to take up the slack do not fear any litigation of intellectual copyright regarding the project.
And if anyone knows of any other valuable websites or sources that work towards the same informative ends, please share them here in the comments or drop me a line.
Another item of electorate slack that has been more brightly brought to light during this minor research is the lack of candidates for many positions. From a perspective of diversity and a pride of what a third-party should truly be, there should only so rarely be a situation where any third party is not represented. However, there are even worse situations than a lack of diversity or third-party showing.
In searching SmartVoter.org for my ballot information, I found that there are 4 candidates running for New York Supreme Court Justice. I am then informed that I must vote for 4 candidates. WTF? Maybe I’m looking at it from some wrong perspective, but that seems to almost completely evaporate the need to vote.
It is the electorate’s responsibility to provide both the demand and the consequent supply of principled candidates. Those who are currently elected are not of some higher caliber, class, or specie above any of us. They are, for the most part, fucking awful…completely awful…entirely awful, terrible charlatans. Regardless of their education or financial/social status, they can very easily be dumber than even you and I…and at least more disastrous…perhaps. But let’s find out.
Of course, one should not feel bad that they have not run for office or that they may not be prepared to do so in the near future, but if it is of enough principled importance to you there should be nothing else to dissuade you from eventually pursuing it.
I, myself, hope to prepare myself philosophically, financially, politically and practically for an eventual run for some as yet undetermined office…even if it is for some small local position like Kitten Slougher…err City Comptroller?
What’s with all this talk of kitten sloughing?!…all day…every day…and at night…in my dreams…
What IS that smell coming from the closet…CREEEEEEEEAK!
I’m Thomas K…and I’m not. The Flbberty Jib on the Bippety Bop.