It is finally here, election day. Time for the robo-calls to stop calling, time for the radio and TV ads to stop playing, time to get back to some sanity. That is until the next round of recall elections.
What has start to come an election day tradition is my blog post (which I do mostly against my better judgment) explaining who I voted for and why. Some people have found this interesting because as a self-described independent, I really am not a big fan of either major political party. Therefore, I tend to look more at the person than at the party. I cannot remember a time that I have happened to vote one party all the way down the ballot. The first time I did this, I was expecting the uncivil hate mail and the name calling in the comments section of the blog to start, but to date, each of these blog posts has actually resulted in civil discussion. Disagreements, but polite disagreements based on the merits of the arguments for or against and no name calling. How cool is that.
There are some who are confused because there are so many people who are “undecided” right up to the election. The candidates for almost every office differ so greatly that partisan people are confused how anyone could be undecided. Well, I am going to go out on a limb and say those undecided people tend to be a lot like me (though I had made my mind up on who I was voting for a few weeks ago). They are like me because they have given up trying to figure out who is the best choice on the ballot, and instead they focus on trying to figure out who is the least worse. That is why negative ads work so well with the average undecided voter. The ad says “I know I suck, but look how much worse the other guy/gal sucks.” And let’s be honest, we tend have a lazy electoriate who will put faith and credence in those 30 second sound bites without digging deeper to learn the “rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say.
I try to arrive at the Town of Wausau Town Hall around 6:45 AM every election day with the hope of being voter #1. That has not yet happened. I am normally in the top 5 though and I once got to be #2. This morning I arrived at 6:50 and by the time I got in line, I was voter #15. The poll worker handing people their number had just given out #40 as the polls were offically opened. So, pretty good turn out so far in the Town of Wausau based on my personal experience.
On to my ballot… to be honest, I was not thrilled with any of my choices and as you can see, all of my choices were based on who was the least bad choice.
President – Obama
This was actually a pretty easy choice. If you remember 4 years ago, that race started with foreign policy being the major issue because the Repbulicans were blind to what their failed fiscal policies were doing to the country. That was until the bubble burst and the economy become the focus of the election. The economy has turned around under Obama. Has the turn around been as fast as we would like, no it hasn’t. But, the collapse was caused by a bubble of unsustainable growth that burst. I would rather see growth come back at a sustainable level than come back too fast creating another bubble to just burst again later on. I don’t think that putting Romney in the White House will help with the recovery, I really don’t. He is too out of touch with the middle class, with people like me. I am not saying that Obama necessarily understands how the other half lives either, but of the two of them who don’t have a clue, I feel that Romney has fewer clues than the president.
Although my mind was already made up when a recent radio ad came out by one of the Pro-Romney special interest groups, I think that ad helped to reinforce my position. That ad touts some of the things that Romney was able to accomplish as governer. That ad also points out that he did this with “over 90% of the legislature” being in the other party. That over 90% number sounds pretty high, but this is a pro-Romney ad so I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Some people see that and say that he knows how to work with the other party. Well, 90% is a veto-proof super majority my friends. So, touting what good things he did as governer when the legislature had the votes to do what they wanted… not helping your case.
U.S. Senate – Baldwin
This again goes with my theme of least worst. I don’t like people on the far left or the far right, what ever happened to the moderates on both sides that an independent could actually support as a candidate? (Support is not the same as vote for.) I am one of those people who had voted for Tommy when he was governer. However, back then he was more of a moderate. That is not who Tommy was campaining as.
With Tammy, you know who you are getting. You are getting a far left liberal, bordering on socialist. She is a known quantity. She will not get her way in the senate because even the far left democrats in the senate won’t go as far left as she does, so her views and abilities will be tempered somewhat by her own party.
With Tommy, my problem with him, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, is that I don’t know who I am actually voting for. Is it moderate Tommy who did such a great job as governer of this state? Is it right wing nut job Tommy who showed up in the debate and the commercials? Or, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, is it special interest Tommy that the democrats have been trying to lable him as. I dont know which Tommy he is, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, and since I vote for the person and not the party, if I don’t know what I am getting, there is no way he can be the least bad choice LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
Again, my mind was made up on Tammy when I attended the debate held here in Wausau, where I was in the audiance at UWMC, but that debate reinforced that I had made the right choice. As an independent, the key thing I want my elected leaders to be able to do is to be able to have the ability to listen to opposing views and be able to play nice with others. Both candidates were asked about a position of the other candidate that they could support. Tommy had nothing. Tammy responded with at least a half a dozen items where she agreed with Tommy on issues. That was all I needed to hear.
(Also, another factor is that I was much more comfortable with my vote for a Republican in the House, it made sense to want to vote for a democrat in the senate to help make sure no single party has all the power.)
U.S. House (7th) – Duffy
Although Duffy didn’t keep his word that he was not going to vote to repeal Obama care until proposed modifications were ready, he was a freshman republican, of course he was not going to buck his party on that issue. And, since the democrats still controlled the senate and the white house, those votes to repeal it really weren’t going to accomplish anything. The fact of the matter is that he is a likable person, he has been accessible for the most part (although I know of some who have tried to make appointments with him never get a call back), and he has bucked his party on some issues, most notably funding for public radio and TV. Is he a good choice as an independent voter, of course not.
On the other hand, Kreitlow was one of the Doyle democrats who used closed door, single party in control games when serving at the State level. The electoriate was not happy with these games and “threw the bums out” flipping the entire government in Wisconsin from Democrat to Republican for the first time in almost forever. Of course, the republicans had learned well from what the democrats could do when in total control and they applied those lessons well. Too well, the electoriate got tired of that and triggered two rounds of recall elections eventually taking senate control of way. Although Kreitlow was not in office in Wisconsin for very long, he fails on the “plays well with others” issue that is most important to me, making him the worse choice and Duffy the least bad choice.
WI Assembly (85th) – Snyder
This was the vote that upset me the most. Based on how many people vote for each office, this is the vote of mine that technically carried the most weight, and it was the one that took me the longest to decide.
The last election cycle, I voted for Libertarian Maas instead of casting a vote for either Seidel or Eno. Although I don’t completely agree with everything the libertarians stand for, I am fiscally conservative (which they are) and on social issues, I am a live and let live kind of guy which earns me the title of social liberal (which the libertarians are as well). I was dissapointed when Maas only pulled in about 5% of the vote. But when I learned this election cycle how much campaigning he actually does, I am not actually kind of impressed with that 5% number.
I wanted to vote for Maas again this time and that was my original intent. To this day, a large Maas campaign sign adorns my front lawn. However, after watching him in the debates and seeing just how little he was doing to campain and get elected, I felt my vote for him would be wasted and as Mike Beck said in the WDH interview, you only get one and that vote is a valuable resource. Maas was asked about why a vote for him would not be a wasted vote. He stated a vote for him “sends a message to Madison” that you are not happy with either party. I am sorry, Jim, but if I want to send a message to Madison, I do it with my keyboard, with an actual message. I had the oppurtunity to get to know both Donna Seidel and Jerry Petrowski, and they have gotten the oppurtunity to get to know me. They both know where I stand on issues. I sent a message to Madison and based on GREAT discussions I had with my elected leaders, they both let me know the message was recieved. But a vote for a candidate that is not really trying to get elected – wasted vote, plain and simple.
Another problem I had with Maas is that I want to vote for the person, not the party. And so many times in the debates when asked for HIS opinion, he would state “the Libertarian position is…” I don’t give a flying you know what about what the Libertarian position is, or what the Repubican one is or what the Democratic one is, if I am voting for the PERSON, I want to know what the PERSON thinks. So answers telling me what the party thinks won’t earn you my vote.
So, now I needed to figure out the least worst candidate between Snyder and Wright. I started the race leaning heavy toward Wright I even cast a vote for her in the primary election based on her “plays nice with others” platform. However, the deciding factor for me came through in the debates and the WDH interviews, which I watched every one of, some of them a couple of times.
Mandy is well versed on education, as she should be as a teacher. But I don’t believe she has the rounded background in all of the issues it takes to be a good legislator. So many times during debates she was able to steer discussion on other topics back to education. That had a one-trick pony feel to it. Another item that really bothered me was during the WDH interview where she felt that the government needs to get involved in venture capital. It is one thing to spend my tax money on roads or education. But to suggest that the government use my tax money to give out loans that are so risky that no bank will touch them… I don’t think so. I agree that venture capital is important to encourage development of small businesses, however it is not the job of government to provide that venture capital. Although I think the government could do some things to encourage the private sector to make this venture capital more attractive to offer. As for playing well with others, which is so important to me, Mandy may be willing to but based on some of her non-compromising views and her active role in the recall efforts, the question comes what republicans are going to be willing to play well with her.
With Pat, you have the same Tommy issue as to which Pat are you getting. Are you getting a Pat who says he can work with the other side and is willing to listen, or do you have the Tea Party activist who has basically been a right wing nut job on the radio for the last 10 years. Well, I do know that the Howard Stern that you hear on the radio is not necessarily the same Howard that exists in real life off the air. I am willing to give Pat the chance to show me that his persona from the radio is not the same persona he will have in the halls of Madison.
One thing that gives me hope the off air Pat is different than the on air Pat is that he is in a mixed marriage, married to a democrat. I am also in a mixed marriage (I am a left leaning independent married to a true southern Republican)… so I know how interesting that can be.
Pat is my least worst choice.
There you have it, my partisan election 2012 ballot, let the hate mail begin…