Debbie Lewis
September 29, 2016

Political Parties “…are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government…” George Washington

(Let’s just suppose for a moment, and for the sake of argument, that our votes actually count.)  If one more person tells me I am wasting my vote if I don’t vote for Trump or Clinton, I might just scream.  If one more person tells me if I vote for a third party candidate I may as well be voting for Clinton or Trump, I may pitch an all-out fit.  If one more person tells me I should just keep my mouth shut if I don’t vote, I may be forced to throw them out the nearest window.

People seem to have forgotten this country was not designed for a two-party system.  People have also forgotten how presidents were originally elected in this country.  People seem to have dismissed the true qualities for a real leader.  Yes, I know, I have several issues going at the same time.  But, if you’ll just bare with me, I think you’ll see it’s all related.

Let’s start with point number two, a very brief summation on the way in which the president and vice president were originally elected.  The states were assign a number of electors.  The job of each elector was to search out the most qualified candidates and cast their vote for two hopefuls.  The votes were collected at the state level, counted, sealed and sent to Washington DC to become officially counted.  The hopeful garnering the majority of the votes would become president.  The runner up would become vice president…yes, they were NOT necessarily from the same party (perhaps yet another check on executive powers?).  Of course, that’s not how it happens anymore.

This brings me to point number one, the two party system.  I bet most people don’t even realize George Washington did not belong to a political party when he was elected, and he remained unaffiliated during his entire presidency.  Washington believed parties would corrupt the hopefuls (maybe he was on to something!).  That notion was, however, short lived as John Adams was a Federalist and Thomas Jefferson and the next three presidents were Democratic Republicans.  After that, we’ve had fifteen Democrats, eighteen Republicans, and four Whig party presidents.  Not only that, but I wonder how many people realize that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson belonged to two separate parties?  Also, Jefferson and Aaron Burr, his vice president, were of two separate parties.

Did you catch the point up there about the most qualified candidate?  That brings me to my third point…a qualified candidate.  The search for the most qualified candidate has been cast aside for more nefarious things, like control, power and greed (Washington called it!).

So, what, exactly, makes a “qualified” candidate; a candidate of character, if you will?  Our very first clue comes from the Constitution, itself, in the form of the mandated Oath of Office;

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, one must first understand it. They should understand that the Bill of Rights was included because the Anti-Federalists saw the loopholes for governmental power grabs and demanded it be written to protect the people’s unalienable rights, as well as the rights of the states.  The office of the President was not established to chip, erode or outright steal our rights.  Anyone committing these acts against the population is not only not presidential, but needs a quick course in exactly what is meant be unalienable rights.

On June 14, 1963, Time Magazine published an interesting article with regards to Presidential Character. Among the things Former President Dwight Eisenhower felt were of the utmost importance were:

Making decisions on positive ground, No extreme measures
Understanding why this country is so great, which includes:
“a respect for the freedom of people to work for themselves, their families, their
communities; and this with a minimum of interference from government.”
An inner calmness that helps him maneuver through crisis, which affords the ability to
make mature decisions
The where-with-all to surround himself with strong people with strong views
Experience – being wholly ready to take on the task if the Presidency
A principled leader

Jim Lehrer hosted a most interesting portrait of presidential nature in a mid-1990’s PBS special based on a collection of essays about former US presidents. During the special, Character Above All, James Cannon, author and former advisor on Domestic Affairs under President Gerald Ford, made the statement that presidential character consists of ethics, morality, self discipline, will power, and, of course, the ability to act in the best interest of the country. And, Cannon says these characteristics should reign supreme without regard to the person’s chances for re-election.

Many of the authors and historians participating in that PBS special see honesty, confidence, and courage as vital characteristics of a US president. Still other distinctive qualities considered of the utmost importance are consistency, vision and practical good sense.

Do any of these qualities ring true with either Trump or Clinton?  Yeah…I don’t think so…

Also, in watching a good portion of the first presidential debate, and remember, at the time, we were less than two months from the election, did either stand out as a shining example of a truly honorable candidate possessing outstanding character?  Yeah, I don’t think so.

So, now we get back to my original thought…not wasting your vote.  A wasted vote is a vote for someone devoid of true character.  A wasted vote is a vote for someone wholly unqualified, by virtue of their own political record.  A wasted vote is a vote for an “evil” person…even the lessor of two evils is still evil.  A wasted vote is a vote cast AGAINST the other candidate, not taking into account the actual qualities of the candidate you are voting for.  AND, by becoming informed, should you choose NOT to vote, couldn’t a “no vote” be an actual vote…a vote of no confidence?  Of course it can!  So, the next time someone tells you you are wasting your vote by not voting for one of the two major party candidates, remember these arguments…they will serve you well!