Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knee-jerk politics

Election Day rolled around Tuesday and I spent all day in and out of the polls.  I spent a part of the day at a couple of Hamilton County polling places with Democratic Secretary of State candidate Vop Osili, you know, the guy with the funny name who also was endorsed by the FOP, firefighters, teachers, and most major newspapers.  You know, the guy whose opponent couldn't seem to follow the very election laws he was trying to get elected to enforce.

People like Vop when they meet him.  He is bright, engaging, smart, articulate, and has a brilliant smile and easy manner.  So I was pleased when voters at strongly Republican precincts greeted him (mostly) with smiles and "pleased to meet you!"   I thought maybe they really "got it" this time, and the polls and pundits were wrong.

Until we talked to a perky 20-ish blonde voter, who seemed delighted to meet a candidate.  Then with a confused smile, she sheepishly asked if Vop were Democrat or Republican.  When told Democrat, she got more confused.  When further informed that Vop's opponent was under felony investigation for voter fraud, she looked even more confused, and said, "But he's a Republican, isn't he?" as if that excused everything.  Stunned, we let her go on her confused path to the voting booth.  

Sadly, that young woman actually turned out to be typical for Hamilton County.  While Vop led the statewide candidates in Hamilton County, returns indicate the drop-off for White was small, perhaps 8%.  I am still stunned that any informed, intelligent voter could or would vote for a potential felon to safeguard their elections, and that party label was all that mattered for far too many.  

But conversely, I also spoke to many Republican precinct workers, probably the most involved people in their party, who did NOT vote for Charlie White, but voted for one of the other two candidates.  They put principle and facts first, and should be commended.  But they seem to be a tiny fraction of the whole.

Lest anyone think this is a partisan diatribe, Democrats, buckle your seatbelts, you get it next. 

Some readers will already know the shameful story of the 5th District congressional race on the Democratic side in 2010.  An intelligent, articulate physician by the name of Nasser Hanna, midwest born and raised, and a Fishers resident, was preparing for a mighty battle against Dan Burton.  He raised money, criss-crossed the district many times, and made thousands of phone calls.  But he had a primary opponent, Tim Crawford, who was in fact no Democrat, but a Republican poll worker and Tea Party member.  Crawford raised no money, made no appearances prior to the primary.  Crawford won, handily.  His victory was attributed to ballot position and not-too-subtle racism.  After the primary, Crawford's sole campaign appearance, with the Hamilton County Democratic Women, went so badly for Crawford that he briefly promised to resign, then backed off that, never to be seen or heard from again.  Crawford remained on the ballot.

No Democratic leader that I know of would admit to voting for Crawford, and I certainly did not.  But while Democrats had no GOOD choices, Crawford was certainly not our choice.  Personally, I voted for the Libertarian candidate, feeling he was the only one in the race who actually had an intelligent thought.  But rank and file Democrats in Hamilton County appear to have voted in lock-step for Crawford, as his vote totals were nearly identical to the base party vote.  There was one exception.  An unknown voter in my home precinct wrote in, "A Real Democrat please".  Bless you my neighbor! 

I cry SHAME! on any Republican who voted for Charlie White and SHAME! again for any Democrat who voted for Tim Crawford.  You did not do your homework as voters.  You voted for party label with no clue as to what the candidate stood for, or what baggage he carried.  Those were ignorant, petty votes, and your party and your community will suffer for them.  Voters simply must do a better job of educating themselves and voting intelligently.  Party label is not enough, never has been, never will be.