I just got back from the polls

Written: 7 November, 2000

[Written in response to a poster who implied that there was no difference between the two candidates, Bush and Gore.]

If there was no real differences, then groups like the NRA on one side or NARAL on another wouldn't be spending so much money trying to get their man elected. I favor keeping abortion legal, whereas (apparently, because I think he blurs the issue) Bush doesn't. I favor gun control, whereas Bush is the favorite of those who oppose gun control laws.

I think affirmative action is good because I think that minorities and women are still deprived the advantages that many white males have. I think in terms of wealth, our country is largely still segregated, because if you ever drive through the poor neighborhoods, you'll notice that there are far fewer white faces than there are in the affluent suburbs. George W. Bush, however, doesn't support affirmative action, calling it "quotas." Gore supports affirmative action.

I also think that Gore would be better on the environment. When Republicans speak their mind, they usually will admit that they don't believe in global warning, or that we have to worry about protecting the ozone layer. They mock environmentalists as "tree huggers" and ridicule their efforts to save endangered wildlife. Bush has successfully blurred the distinctions in this area, painting himself as a moderate. But you know that if Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was up there debating Al Gore, and felt free to speak his mind, he'd make fun of Al Gore for caring about silly notions like global warming.

So, when it comes to abortion rights, gun control, affirmative action, and gun control, we see that Gore's my candidate. Does Bush have any qualities or ideas that I find appealing? Certainly. If Bush wins, I hope that he would lead the Republican Party more to the middle than to the right-wing, and that he could bring both parties together. (Wishful thinking on my part. I don't think even a President Colin Powell could create such unity. If he moved to much toward accomodating the other party, his own party would probably become disloyal to him. Anyway, the differences between the two parties are divisions over policy, not personality, and Bush is better at the latter than the former.)

Even some of Bush's new ideas, like partially privatizing Social Security, aren't appealing to me. If it happened, it would be the first step in the real agenda of the most conservative Republicans: doing away with Social Security altogether. Also, the idea of putting Social Security money in the stock market, which goes up and down, does sound like a "risky scheme" to me. I don't know all the details of his plan, however, so I could be wrong. But I'd rather stick with someone that I know really believes in Social Security, and when it comes to that question, I trust Gore more than Bush.

I think that probably the only way we'll find out if Bush is really a "compassionate conservative" [is to see how he governs as President]. He has said repeatedly that he's a "compassionate conservative," but I haven't really seen the evidence of that to know for sure. The only way we could find out if it's an accurate label or not is to elect him President and then watch what he does the next four years. If he turns out to be more of a "cruel conservative," then vote him out. :-) Bush has run as a moderate basically, but it's hard to tell if that is real or not. Even Jesse Ventura said that the Republican Convention looked like a "masquerade party" because of the moderate tone. But they might be trying to pull a fast one on the voters.

If Bush loses, then the Republicans are gonna have to do some head-scratching. They ran someone who came across as a moderate, and he still lost. So, next time do they go with someone even more moderate than GWB, or just chuck the whole thing and nominate Rush Limbaugh?

Anyway, I went to the polls today. I wasn't sure which local school I was supposed to go to at first, but then finally I found the right one. I went in, showed my voter card to the person at the table, filled out a little form, and then another person led me to the voting booth. I asked for him to refresh my memory on how the switches worked, and he did so, but I noticed afterward that all the info was printed at the top so that anyone could figure it out. The boxes were even color coded. It only looked like flying a plane.

I've only voted twice before, in 1992 and 1994. I think that both times I'd taken some notes with me into the voting booth, info I'd taken from newspaper voting guides and stuff. I think that both times I voted for the Democrat in the top positions (President, Senator, etc.) and then for the rest I voted liberal third party candidates. This time, I wasn't really sure about any of 'em, except that I was voting for Gore and Debbie Stabenow. (She's running against my Senator Spencer Abraham. I had voted against Spence in 1994, too, but he won anyway.) So, to make it easier on myself, I just voted the whole party line, all Democrats, because it just meant pulling one lever.

I'd forgotten that there were a couple important Proposals on the ballot, too. One of them was for the controversial issue of school vouchers. I guess it's about whether the government would be allowed to give money to parents which they could then use to put their kids in private schools, including religious schools. The argument against the proposal is that it's taking money out of the public schools, abandoning them instead of making them better.

I thought about it for a few seconds and voted "Yes." I think that "Yes" meant that the state could give money to parents to spend in private schools. Hopefully I read the proposal right. I wasn't sure of the implications of the other proposals, so I left them alone. I didn't want to touch anything else in case I screwed up my ballot somehow. So, I pulled the lever which simultaneously records my vote and draws back the curtain.

Well, we'll find out tonight (or tomorrow morning?) who wins the day. Whatever happens, I'm glad that I voted.