That’s why people are getting so involved with the gaffes, the binders, the “flexibility” statements, and so forth…there’s nothing else to judge on. Obama has passed plenty of legislation, lots of statistics and one legacy landmark bill in one term as President. Romney has achieved essentially the same marginal success in his single term as Governor (with the misunderstood notion that he had a “balanced budget”—49 states in the union are legally required to have one including Massachusetts, there was no other choice). Romney has a business record and a wonderful professional resume; Obama does not. Obama lived in poverty and rose to the elite class; Romney was born there and remains there. Obama is the first African-American President, Romney aims to be the first Mormon one. There are check and balances to most of the differences; but at the end of the day the close poll numbers are reflective of the minute differences between the candidates. Realistically speaking these men represent a net worth of the same amount of “evil” (or “good” to be more optimistic).
Additionally, I have been open-minded and receptive to the GOP platform for the entire run of the primary season because, as an Independent, it behooves me to do so. They offered little for me to rally behind. I’ve tried to look at both party platforms through as many facets and prisms as I have available to me: parent, home owner, small business owner, middle class, educated-and-in-debt, Jew, Puerto Rican, New Yorker, American, and finally teacher. These candidates offered nothing especially hopeful to me in through any of these lenses…at least nothing with substantial proof of hope or plan of execution. I found myself resorting to teacher as my baseline perspective because my ability to provide for my children and be a parent, continue to own my home, and realistically exist hinges greatly on the success and ensured sustainability in my profession. I have found no inspiring, hopeful, or even insightful view of education reform. In this sense I was hedging towards Obama because at least he has signed a few executive orders staying the NCLB guillotine for a select schools. It was the thread upon which my vote hung until my wife asked me, very soberly, “What has Obama done for education?” and honestly I had no answer. Race to the Top is a sham, the Common Core Standards are airy and non-specific, Charter Schools are pandemic, and standardized testing is ubiquitous. So nothing—whereas I believe the public school system will be unsupported by Romney it hasn’t been improved by Obama (and while I feel the Federal Government has no business in the State’s mandate to create public education they are and forever will be). So there’s not much for me to work with there intellectually.
In my analysis of the Electoral College, I thought about the current and historic inevitability of New York State turning midnight blue in the Presidential election and how it mattered very little whether or not my vote added a drop into the ocean. I started thinking about the choices. What is my criterion for a candidate? I quickly came to the pragmatic realization that I wasn’t looking for a perfect candidate—if the election were Governor Mitt Romney against Governor Andrew Cuomo (in a star studded Governor-sons-of-Governors election) I realized that I would vote for Cuomo despite his upsetting stance on education and treating of teachers in my home state because his overall platform and record is amiable. So it’s not perfection but rather some kind of hope I’m seeking. Something to hold on to—in Cuomo’s case it would be his successful push for legalizing homosexual marriage and “crusade” against “corruption” in Albany. The closest thing Obama has to this is abolishing the detestable “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of the military, but he hasn’t raised the issue once in a national area in the election and only threw his support towards same sex marriage when he was against the wall-which means his continued commitment is questionable and he isn’t willing to hold DADT up as an achievement. Since the Democrats and Republicans have formed a monopoly over the debates I know little about the third party candidates and so I came to realize that I have no choice in this election. Literally. It isn’t the lesser of two evils here…even if I searched hard for the decimated percentage that would deem one of these candidates better, the “lesser” here would still be “evil”.
So with a conflicted heart I am slowly warming up to abstaining from voting for the President of the United States. It is the most likely scenario for me at this point. I can’t conscionably vote for the lesser of two evils when they are so closely aligned. As an Independent it is not only my prerogative not to vote for the mainstream candidate, it is my imperative to think critically and avoid the party-line, the dogma, and more importantly follow my conscience in casting (or not casting) my vote. My state is going to Obama anyway; there’s no credence to a protest or slap in the face in voting for Romney because I don’t support him even by default. My right to complaint will lay in the fact that neither candidate was a viable choice for me. I remain steadfast in my belief that the Republican ticket could end the public services and institutions that I deem indispensable forever (while acquiescing a serious need for reform) I just don’t see what the Democrats have to offer beyond grandstanding and complaining while Rome burns around them. I wish there was a Ralph Nader to vote for, but there isn’t. I plan on voting, of course, for my local representation but I find it continually difficult to rail against Romney and rally for Obama when I see so little that either can do to make my life better. I’ll vote no confidence in either and pray I’m wrong about whoever does win (mathematically speaking it looks like the President as of the time I am writing this). I’ll be open and willing to be convinced that the man who takes the Oval Office is competent and has powerfully transformative ideas…its my job as an Independent to do so; but the whole process has left me so skeptical of the major candidates that I wonder if either of them could persuade me to support them or could muster an initiative fresh enough to catch my eye. I hope so, for all our sakes.