8142797777_17cc1e55ec_nDeb and I had the pleasure of meeting some of the key democratic candidates for office for, and within our state (Montana) today. Each spoke for a few minutes about their aspirations, and spent some time “working the room”; I bent a couple of ears, as anyone who knows me might expect, and got some fairly good answers, actually.

I don’t normally jump on a soapbox, politically, but this year… here we go.

I think of myself as an independent with constitutional preferences and compassionate leanings. Normally, I try to sort out the issues and pick the candidates that best represent my key positions; this year, sadly, the republicans had no one, nationally or for my state, whom I could even begin to feel I could vote for. I don’t know where these republican candidates are getting their agendas from (well, their leadership, obviously, but I mean, beyond that), I hardly recognize them as republicans at all. And I am outright ashamed of the republican behavior in the US congress.

I feel like I have been forced into a corner where the only sane option is voting democrat.

And for a fellow who mostly wants to see the constitution obeyed as if it were written in English, that’s a very strange place to find myself.

Oh, I can usually find a democrat to vote for… I think one role of government is to ensure that no one slips through the cracks such that they have no education, or no home, or no medical care. So that gives me an open door, democratically speaking.

But on the other hand, I see no reason for us to be butting in around the world, playing policeman for others, spending huge amounts of money telling people what drugs they can put in their bodies, what kind of sex they can or can’t have, who they can marry, and so forth.

Liberty is something that is very important to me, yet I have a strong sense of community and my heart goes out to those who have either slipped through the cracks as I mentioned above, or who society has handed an impossible deal: the growing underclass of those with convictions, for instance, who have absolutely no chance at rehabilitation.

Why do I say that? Because today, a felony conviction is forever. We have millions of people in jails all across this country that cannot, under any circumstances, rehabilitate because they are considered unemployable. Society is telling these people “Once a criminal, always a criminal, and also, get stuffed.” At which point, they have one obvious option left to earn money, and it’s not the option we’d prefer they take, socially speaking.

I think we’re digging ourselves a huge social hole here, and we’re going to find the consequences are extremely difficult to deal with before much longer.

Romney, aside from giving me chills when he spews out such gems as “you’re entitled to the best education you can afford”, has left me absolutely uncertain of what his real agenda is. One day, he’s for something, the next, he’s against it — or vice versa. He think corporations should be people (I envision a “corporate person” as the guy with the knife in “Psycho”), he thinks it’s ok to roof-rack his dog, he wants to get rid of FEMA (!) and… and… he wants to kill big bird. Good grief.

Then there are those horrifying clips from his dinner in Boca Raton where he clearly says that 47% of the country are of no concern to him, and worse. His latest foreign policy as of the most recent debate is a mirror of Obama’s, while his earlier remarks cast the Russians (!) as our “main enemy”, which demonstrates a level of foreign policy cluelessness I haven’t seen since that Pizza Executive was asked about Libya. And you’ll recall he thinks Iran needs to get through Syria to get to the sea; here the middle east is a huge hotspot, and he lacks even the most basic geographical knowledge… and this man wants to “lead” us. Oh. My. Goodness.

Do I think Obama is perfect? Oh, no no no. I think he’s been an idiot and a puppet in and on the trillion-dollar waste of the drug war; I think the ACA is but a shadow of what we deserve, which is a true single-payer system, rather than the sop to the insurance companies they put together (yet it’s a step forward, and I’ll still take that rather than the republican’s “right to life until you’re born, then right to death because you’re poor.)

Within my state, Dennis Rehberg is running as the republican candidate for US senator from Montana. This guy… he’s like Romney, only smaller minded, colder-hearted, and even more willing to lie. I wouldn’t vote for him if they told me it would gain me ten extra years of lifespan. The man would set women back fifty years, destroy our educational infrastructure, and remove the hope the ACA offers to 30+ million Americans who the insurance company actuaries had previously worked right out of their happy little rigged numbers game. As a colorful Kansas adage has it, “I wouldn’t cross the street to piss on him if he was on fire.”

I’ve always acknowledged that my political positions provide something to upset just about anyone, and I’ve been comfortable with that. The most surprised person in the room, though, right now, is me. I voted straight Democrat. You know what that tells me? It tells me we really, finally do need a third party.

The republicans have jumped the shark, left it behind and relabeled it a manatee, and are trying to convince everyone they saw a mermaid. I listened to them this year — I really did! — and I was left with the overall impression that if they weren’t lying, they were nuts.

The libertarians… meh. Personal liberty, sure, we need that, but not at the expense of a healthy, well educated society (and no, wealth should *never* be a gateway to education: intelligence and therefore potential for our nation’s growth is not indexed by wealth. We need to educate everyone as close to their potential as we can get them.) And while I 100% agree with the libertarians that religion has absolutely no appropriate place in government, I can’t stand with them on that basis alone.

The democrats… normally, I’m very wary of “mommy laws” that tell us what we can and can’t do, particularly between, or as, consenting, informed persons; and I think lines in the sand drawn by age are simply stupid.

But these are minor sins compared to the republicans championing the abandoning of our elderly, degrading our public education system, and kicking the military industrial complex into yet higher gear when we’re already over-powered, over-deployed, and in no way in need of more of the same.

And so, this is how I ended up “all the way over here”, something I wouldn’t have credited even two elections ago.

Your comments are welcome. Issues, ideas and commentary; no obscenities, no outright trolls. I know feelings are running high, just keep it to the issues and your reactions to them, please. You’re also welcome not to comment. Please be aware that if you *do* comment, I will assume you have opened the floor for me to answer you.

–Ben