Today is Election Day.
I am so sick of this campaign, sick of election news coverage, sick of slick sound byte political babble, sick of empty campaign advertising that doesn't say anything, and even sicker of nasty negative attack ads.
There are many important issues facing us, important national issues, important state issues, important local issues, but we get no intelligent discussion of issues and problems and solutions, just mindless babble.
I had thought that I had found a candidate I could enthusiastically support for Governor of Rhode Island -- Myrth York -- in fact, Nancy and I even contributed to her campaign and put one of her campaign signs in our front yard. However, she managed to kill my enthusiasm by suddenly turning the campaign nasty and dirty. After pledging to run an issues-oriented campaign, she started running a series of very nasty attack ads about her opponent, ads that had only a slight connection to reality. (In other words, she exaggerated, distorted, and smeared.) Before she did this the race was close but she was ahead in the polls; now she is behind and I think she will lose because her attack ads have disgusted many voters. I still voted for her, but did so reluctantly and feel that if she does lose it will be her own fault and only what she deserves.
My vote for Lieutenant Governor was, however, cast with great enthusiasm for the Cool Moose candidate. No, I'm not making that up... the Cool Moose party is an iconoclastic Rhode Island party... Bob Healey, the Cool Moose candidate, is running on a platform of abolishing the office for which he is running, saying taxpayers will save three million dollars a year by getting rid of this useless office that has no duties or purpose at all (other than as replacement for the governor).
Nationally... well, we are at mid-term, no nation-wide races, just state races, but control of the House and Senate will be decided by these various state races. Now I would willingly say that both parties have dirty hands in various ways and both have any number of candidates who are not fit to hold office; however, I have to add that the Democrats have managed to be particularly obnoxious this year. Somehow chanting hate slogans is supposed to be okay if done by Democrats (because their hearts are pure?) and anything at all said by Republicans is inherently evil? Bush is bad if he even talks to anyone who can spell the word "corporation" but Clinton's renting of the Lincoln bedroom was okay because Clinton could do no wrong? You can't have it both ways. If it's wrong for one party, it's wrong for both. Hey, I think Bush's selection of Pitt to head the SEC was a horrible mistake and he certainly should have fired his ass by now... but I am distracted from that by the disgusting spectacle that the Democrats put on when they turned Senator Wellstone's memorial service into a political circus, complete with chanting political slogans and their booing of Republicans who had come to pay their respects. (And then their national chairman -- who had arranged this travesty -- had the audacity to appear on one of those Sunday talking heads programs and attempt to put the blame on Wellstone's family, depicting himself as someone who had merely stopped by.) Yes, this morning I probably did vote for at least as many Democrats as I did Republicans, but I felt as if some taint lingered and I needed to wash my hands afterward.
Oh, okay, so that's just rhetoric on my part... yeah, so I do get carried away when I rant. I am really ticked off at national politics, disgusted by Democrats and Republicans both... but I've been ticked off at national politics for decades. Maybe part of my disgruntlement this year is that I had great hope for Myrth York and she has turned out to be just another politician who will say and do anything to get elected; I voted for her but I'm not even sure I was voting for the lesser of two evils. Rhode Island, on a state level, is especially corrupt... or maybe just more easily visible as being corrupt... but this year the political machinery controlling the state government may be coming apart and we may eventually be able to change state government to have an equal balance of powers (the way the federal government and the other forty-nine states are set up); in Rhode Island, almost all of the power is in the hands of the legislature... the Rhode Island governor has less power relative to the legislature than in any other state and the judiciary is beholden to the legislature (and the Speaker of the House blithely gets his wife appointed to a state judgeship, bypassing the usual selection process)... Last time around a non-binding referendum for adjusting this balance of power got a two-thirds majority and this year legislation passed the Senate but the Speaker of the House would not allow it to even be introduced... and then he got caught in a Monica-type scandal at an especially bad time... He had attempted to knock off legislators who had opposed his control by setting up challenges to them in the September primaries... but to his dismay his stooges lost... and one of those legislators he had attempted to unseat is now leading a movement to remove him from control of the legislature... and the separation-of-powers resolution is on the ballot again.
So I voted in favor of that proposition -- actually, I voted in favor of all five state-wide questions (although I have my doubts about the one for extra highway funding for Quanset Point) -- and for the local questions as well (for increased funding for parks and recreation, for school construction, and for buying additional land to be kept as open space.) I am much happier about voting on the local level -- our state senator (I voted for the incumbent, she has done a good job and she supports separation-of-powers) and state assembly and South Kingstown school committee and town council. There is one candidate for school committee I really hope is defeated; his only program seems to be to slash school funding. There is one candidate for town council I truly hope is re-elected (she is sharp and outspoken) and one I hope is defeated (I voted for him last time but he went back on his word to support our schools). (School committee and town council both run at-large, not by district -- you select five candidates from the list -- and the five with the highest vote total win.)