Early voting was offered this week at the various County Election Boards, but I decided not to go, partly because the crowds have been huge, probably as huge as the crowds will be on the actual Election Day, but mostly because it's very difficult for me to work up any enthusiasm for this particular election: the issues on the ballot are mostly bland, and the candidates themselves are mostly irritants.
Still, as a citizen of long standing, I will stand in those long lines on Tuesday, and barring some sort of out-of-the-blue (no, not that blue) revelation, this is how I'm marking the ballot:
State Questions 735, 741, 742, 743:
Yes on all four. See Vent #600 for details.
Oklahoma City Charter Changes:
Yes on all five. The proposals are listed here.
Oklahoma County Sheriff:
John Whetsel is hoping for a fourth term. I think he's generally done a pretty good job, given the difficulties inherent in the position, but clearly there's room for improvement. Not that I expect major improvements from challenger Jim Heitmeyer, necessarily, but I take term limits seriously, and Whetsel has already given us twelve years, which tilts the scale toward Heitmeyer.
House District 87:
This is the one race where I can endorse someone with a smidgen of enthusiasm: I'm going for Dana Orwig, who ran for this office last time around and lost by a handful of votes, over Jason Nelson, mostly because Nelson has been a political operative for most of his adult life, and I have something of a bias toward people who haven't been political operatives for most of their adult lives, especially at this specific level of government.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission (full term):
Charles Gray has always coveted a slot on the Corp Comm: he first ran for the office in 1988. He wound up serving ten years in the state House (District 89). Gray has said that "Corporation Commission candidates should not take money from people they will regulate," which does not necessarily equate to "I will not take money from people I will regulate," as incumbent Jeff Cloud apparently has already noticed. Being deeply suspicious of all "get-the-money-out-of-politics" types on general principle, I'm giving the nod to Cloud.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission (partial term):
This is by far the nastiest statewide race, with Jim Roth, appointed by Governor Henry to fill the seat vacated by Denise Bode, accused by opponent Dana Murphy of being "the lapdog of special interests." And indeed, there seems to be a direct connection between Roth and Aubrey McClendon's pocket. This doesn't mean that Roth is actually in the Chesapeake chairman's pocket, but it does make you wonder. It was a tough decision for me, inasmuch as Murphy has much more of a background in natural resources, highly useful at the Corp Comm, while Roth's presence as the only openly-gay statewide officeholder causes considerable discomfort to some people I enjoy seeing in considerable discomfort. (Hint: Anyone who can say "homosexual agenda" with a you should pardon the expression straight face can qualify for this list.) Ultimately, I decided in favor of Murphy, on the basis that her personal expertise trumps my personal animus.
US House of Representatives, Oklahoma District 5:
I can't work up much enthusiasm for either of these candidates. Incumbent Mary Fallin's positions are somewhat closer to my own, but I am not happy with her about-face on that massive "bailout" bill, and, well, she's the incumbent. But
sacrificial lamb challenger Steven L. Perry is apparently a fan of earmarks: "My view on the duties of a Congress person are that any time a Californian gets a ham for his district, I'm going to do my best to get a hog for the 5th District." Enough with the freaking pork, already. Fallin gets this one by her cute, not-exactly-upturned nose.
This race has long since exceeded my irritation threshold. For twelve years I have made a point of not voting for Jim Inhofe: although his stances on several issues match up fairly nicely with my own Right-Wing Death Beast positions, there's always that feeling that somehow we should be getting sharper tools for this particular shed. Unfortunately, what we got this time around is the new 21st-century schizoid man, a leftist who really, truly believes himself to be a moderate. Not that Andrew Rice is a puppet of George Soros, exactly: for one thing, unlike the Sorosians, he's not a gun-grabber. And there's all that crap about his allegedly being a Gramscian "organic intellectual," as though there were some advantage to being what Gramsci called a "traditional" intellectual. In short, Rice is Not That Bad. But Not That Bad is not enough to get me to vote for him. At best, this matchup helps make the case for the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment: if these are the potential Senators we get to vote for, we'd be better off letting the state government pick them.
President of the United States:
If ever there was a need for a None of the Above ballot entry, it's here: dear God, how did we wind up with these two? And yes, I accept some measure of the blame: I voted for Barack Obama in the state's Presidential primary back in February. (Hillary Clinton got the majority of the votes and the bulk of the delegates, but that fact in no way lets me off the hook.) At the time, I said this:
I'm not overly fond of any of this bunch, and had he stayed in the race, I probably would have voted for [Dennis] Kucinich, with whom I agree approximately zero percent of the time but who at least conveyed the notion that he actually believed the things he was saying.
In the months since then, it has become distressingly apparent that Barack Obama's sole core belief is that Barack Obama should be President; anything extraneous or distracting or otherwise not contributing to the acquisition of that office is thrown under what must by now be the World's Largest Bus. And unlike Andrew Rice, he's Gramscian to within three inches of that core, and his contempt for the Second Amendment exceeds even his annoyance with the First.
But if Barack Obama merely finds the First Amendment an obstacle to his ambition, John McCain has actually crapped on it, and while not all the provisions of McCain-Feingold have been ruled Constitutional, well, I do not approve of his message. Besides which, while an Obama administration would preside over a massive expansion of the Federal government, a McCain administration would preside over only a slightly less massive expansion of the Federal government. To me, this is like picking my favorite strain of flu. The one salutary effect of a McCain win would be putting Sarah Palin in the driver's seat come 2012 but truth be told, I think she can get there without him.
So a pox on both their houses. (In the case of McCain, a pox on the houses he doesn't actually own.) Instead of wasting a ballot mark on either of these characters, I will reflect on the wisdom of Jim Hightower, who once wrote a book called If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They'd Have Given Us Candidates. Maybe next time they will.
1 November 2008