I live in New Jersey these days and my first state-wide election here is coming up. For those of you who don't follow our politics here (outside of scandals that landed many in jail, including the mayor of my town), we are in the midst of perhaps the most heated election cycle of my lifetime. Our incumbent, Jon Corzine, is a favorite of Obama's (apparently, as he seems to spend almost as much time campaigning for him as he does on television appearances and screwing up New York City traffic) but pretty much no one else. His numbers are as bad as David Patterson's yet the Democratic Party seems to be fighting for him instead of asking him to step aside. I can't figure out if they really want to lose NJ or something. If they do I'm thinking it's because Corzine's opponent, Chris Christie, is so corrupt that they think he'll raise a lot of money for the party every time he does something that makes Democrats mad.
Either way, I have ended up with a huge dilemma. I'm very (theoretically) excited to vote at last in the state I grew up in and left before I was old enough to register but I have no one to vote for.
As you know if you've read my post on The World's Smallest Political Quiz, I am a Libertarian. The problem is, if I vote for my own party's candidate, it's pretty much a wasted vote. That is why the two-party system does not work. Call me crazy, but I'd much rather vote for the least of several-to-many evils than the lesser of two. I'm wise enough to know I will be unlikely to have the chance to vote for someone I might actually believe in but why do I only have two choices? In this case, it's not even the lesser-of situation, it's more, "I'm voting for pure evil and shortsightedness either way."
Two of my most politically-aware friends also live in New Jersey and are staunch Democrats. I respect their views immensely even when we completely disagree but they are considering not voting at all. That's how bad it is. They are not the sort to skip voting and they have very strong opinions on this election but they can't in good conscience vote for either of these men. They know better but just can't figure out what to do.
For me, not casting a vote is not an option at all, but I understand their sentiment. As far as I can tell, these are my options:
- Vote for the status quo and accept that my state will continue on it's extreme downslide. This is also a vote for corruption and irresponsibility.
- Vote for the "other guy" who is even more corrupt and wants to focus on issues that hardly even matter in this economy and time period rather than fixing anything for anyone.
- Vote for my party's candidate just to up their vote count, perhaps aiding the cause of being able to vote for a third, fourth, or fifth party someday in the future but more likely having the same effect as not voting.
New Jersey is, I believe, unique in that we depend so much on two other states (New York and Pennsylvania) for employment and therefore it's pretty hard to change our fate when we can't do anything to change their policies. Still, things used to be better here for individuals, families, and corporations alike. When I was a kid this was an exciting place to be, always growing and changing. As much as I've railed against the development around me and particularly hate how much farmland has become condos, at least most people could find a job, usually a very good one to support living somewhere so costly. Now we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and it's still more expensive to live here than anywhere but Manhattan and San Francisco. Everything has gotten worse. Everything.
I think about these things almost all the time with at least a few brain cells yet I am no closer to a decision than I was when the primaries ended.