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My split ballot and the ‘generic’ Republican

Myers' Musings

Posted: November 1, 2008 2:18 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2009 5:00 a.m.
 
I decided that my vote cast three weeks ago will gum up the optical reading machine at county clerk headquarters down in Norwalk.

You see, the ballot contains a proud and direct vote for Barack Obama, but then I veer quickly to vote for Republican Howard “Buck” McKeon for U.S. Congress, then slam over to the other side of the road like a drunk driver to vote for Democrat Hannah Beth-Jackson for state Senate, and then another quick veer to the (center) right to vote for Cameron Smyth for Assembly.

With respect to Barack Obama, this registered Republican came to a decision over a period of years. It began three years ago when our oldest son, now a sophomore at University of California-San Diego, pointed me to the free weekly podcast uploaded by the new senator from Illinois.

His six-minute weekly updates sounded eminently reasonable when placed against the backdrop of an increasingly unreasonable and irrational Bush administration, and the podcasts of his longer speeches concerning a unified country and religion and politics sounded downright inspirational.

Fast forward to February 2008. After Obama’s solid victory in Iowa followed by a disappointment in New Hampshire, I did something I never did in the past.

I made a political contribution to a candidate for public office. I  made several subsequent contributions, generally motivated when someone stated something outrageous about my candidate, and here we stand now on the threshold of the election.

But why such a weird pattern below the president? I realized it comes from the term that gained prominence this year: “The generic Republican and Democrat.”

One knows, if he or she paid attention, that justly or unjustly, the majority of the American public blames President George Bush, and by association the Republican Party, for all the current ills now facing the United States.

Let me share just a short list: Two botched wars, one that 75 percent of the American public believed we entered needlessly. A botched response to disaster in New Orleans.

Home foreclosures and deflation of housing prices not seen since the Great Depression, and, to top it all off, a worldwide financial crisis not seen since 1929.

Add to this the aforementioned unpopular president completely absenting himself from any active leadership role and one sees the real possibility of a Republican massacre come Election Day.

Somewhat reluctantly, I will participate in that unthinking massacre below the office of president. On the issue of president I think John McCain served the nation well and will continue to serve the nation well in his capacity of senator, but for now I want the smart, cool-headed guy to put his hand on the tiller.

But for every office below I will only vote for the Republican if I know him or her,  and not for the “generic” Republican.

I know Buck McKeon. I believe he genuinely reflects the practical views and the life experience of the majority of his constituents at this moment.

Recently, he voted not once, but twice, for the extremely unpopular plan resulting in the eventual nationalization of most of the U.S. banking system. He earned my vote forever.

I know Cameron Smyth. I knew him the first time he ran unsuccessfully for City Council and I attended both of his victory parties on subsequent runs.

I supported him for his first successful run for Assembly and believe he represents a new generation of true center-right politics, evidenced by his ability to pass several pieces of legislation this year in a Democrat-dominated legislative body.

He earned my vote this time and for any other office he seeks.

But not so Tony Strickland. You see, I don’t know Tony Strickland, so he stands in the role of generic Republican. I don’t know Hannah Beth-Jackson, so she stands in the role of generic Democrat.

Tony Strickland could constitute the smartest guy around, and Hannah Beth-Jackson could constitute a raving lunatic, but right now, due honestly to the mind-numbing incompetence of the Bush administration, I view everyone I don’t know through the generic lens and make my decision accordingly.

I would feel bad, except that Tony Strickland agrees with my conclusion. I received a mailer from Tony Strickland which I assume he sent to all registered Republicans who voted in the last three or four elections.

I carefully looked over the entire mailer and could nowhere find the word “Republican.”

I am sorry, Tony, but I just did not know you.

Tim Myers is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Landscape Development Inc. in Valencia. His column represents his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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