Marty: Change the way you vote

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Marty Richman

If they want to solve the nation’s problems, many people will
have to change the way they vote. They will have to stop voting for
political philosophies and start voting for candidates who are
flexible enough to make things work using all the tools
available
– not just those in their personal philosophical toolbox.
If they want to solve the nation’s problems, many people will have to change the way they vote. They will have to stop voting for political philosophies and start voting for candidates who are flexible enough to make things work using all the tools available – not just those in their personal philosophical toolbox.

No single political philosophy can solve our complex problems; likewise, no party espousing their beliefs as a cure-all can provide the answers we need to put things on the right track. This applies equally to the Democrats and Republicans and all the minor parities. The pertinent expression is – if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. Too many voters support candidates who only bring a particular hammer to work.

Sixty-percent of American voters identify themselves as strong Republicans or Democrats. These dedicated partisans usually vote the party line. They often believe that a certain style of hammer can solve everything. Worse, in some cases they would rather see the whole system go down in flames than compromise that belief.

Party-line voters know how they are going to vote for before they even know who the candidates are. Many districts are so gerrymandered that party line voters, alone, can determine the election outcome. These districts are rigged by agreement between both the major parties and they are known as safe seats. They are also the epitome of political corruption that would not exist except for party line voters.

The other 40 percent of voters say they are either totally independent – small “i” – or independent while leaning toward one party or the other. The percentage of voters identifying themselves with particular parties has been shrinking and the percentage of those who are independent has been growing. The nation’s economic emergency has sped up that process.

That fact is sending a message to the politicians; more Americans want good solutions above all, overriding philosophy is fading in importance. The move towards independent thinking is good news. In my experience, when people invest intellectual energy is selecting a candidate, rather than allowing a party to dictate their behavior, they have a greater personal interest in helping the candidate succeed in office.

Good government fundamentals should be common to all political philosophies; as a minimum, they must include integrity, responsibility, transparency, competence, flexibility and the elevation of the public’s interest over personal or party interests. Violations of these basic tenets are the issues that stir the greatest anger among the public. You can find those critical attributes in individual candidates if you look hard enough but you must be willing to look at the entire field.

Smart candidates will come to realize that the electorate will accept slow, but steady, improvement. They will adopt a pragmatic approach to problem solving and emphasize that approach, instead of some party platform – whatever works is much better than whatever is philosophically pure, but doesn’t work. Smart voters will look for those pragmatic candidates; they will not skip over good candidates that the parties would have you disregard because they carry the wrong label – but mostly because they refuse to be controlled by a party philosophy.

Change the way you vote and you’ll change the way the government works. It’s a copycat world, if people see that honest, competent candidates who can solve problems and are willing to put aside partisan wrangling are elected, more candidates like that will run for office.

Marty Richman is a Hollister resident.

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