Election season can be awkward because the process doesn’t always allow the flexibility for voters to express themselves. We have primaries, party slates and candidates who make assumptions from their election results. I voted in the Republican primary six years ago because I wanted to support innovative Senate candidate Herman Cain but I skipped most of the other candidates because I basically wasn’t feeling them.
In 2008, my political friends could have called me a rare S.O.B. because I voted for Saxby, Obama and Bishop (B.O.S. would have had less flair.) Centrists are constantly weighing regional interests, party loyalty and personal views when selecting candidates. While we are months away, I have no idea what I am going to do in the Senate race between two exceptional Georgians who have both served our state well. I do know that my party doesn’t control all of my votes and that people should follow their guts.
The other day I was thinking that I was “ghost” on the other contests in that Republican primary since I was there to “primarily” support Cain. Since people fought some hard for the right to vote, would skipping a contest on the ballot be wrong or a gesture of “none of the above.”
In a related situation, many incumbents have no primary opposition. In a light bulb moment, I thought not voting for an unopposed incumbent in a primary could be away of letting that candidate know that we shouldn’t be taken for granted. Of course, the candidate still advances to the general election but he or she knows that we are weighting our options. Those options might include “ghost” voting in November if we choose—like none of the above. After the primary, a candidate would discover that a significant number of people who voted in other races skipped his name.
For example, the number of new Obama voters who only voted for president is alarming; that situation was flat silly since they didn’t know the importance of other offices. The buzz term this election season is “low information voters” and it was created to label people who get their news from one very opinionated source. To be fair, I think people in my community who vote a straight party slate and assume that a candidate with a “D” on his jersey is 100% “down for the cause” are also “low information voters.”
For sake of full disclosure, the election of President Obama was one of the coolest events of my life; I really like the guy and hope he is successful in improving our great nation. As quiet as it is kept, my appreciation goes out to Republicans who also voted for him and Democrat centrists will give their party’s better candidates a good and fair look this year.
In Georgia, Representative Jim Marshall has wisely balanced his membership in the Democrat Party with the conservative views of large segments of his district. In a perfect world, Marshall would be an independent who is free to vote his mind every time but in this political world, congressmen must slide with their team more often than not. On several key votes, Marshall was ghost for the Democrat team but low information voters don’t know it.
Actually, we never learned if Marshall voted for Obama or McCain but his skipping the Democrat National Convention wasn’t cool with me. In addition to formal nominating a presidential candidate, those conventions are where officials like Marshall fight to pull the control of the party platform nearer the center of America and away from the far left. He is a smart guy and when Obama/Biden needed him, he was ghost. I have never seen a picture of Marshall and Obama—what up with that. But, I remember him stating in campaign ads years ago that he did this and that with President Bush.
Voters in middle Georgia remember Marshall’s quality leadership as mayor of Macon, Georgia, but a little wake up call might be helpful to remind him that we like him but love this President. The Democrat Party can’t control us like sleep. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is considering supporting a Republican friend running for Obama’s old Senate seat. Can he do that?
Voters in the Democrat primary should consider “ghost voting” by not automatically voting for unopposed Marshall in the primary this summer and if he skips more major votes that the White House needs November could be up in the air. I appericate the kind statements Macon’s current mayor made about Obama during the presidential campaign; he has a bright future. (Wink) While most of our community doesn’t care for Republicans, we occasionally vote for conservatives who might add a voice of reason in their meetings; we vote for Blue Dogs we considering moderate to conservative. Heck, President Obama put several Republicans in his cabinet but only one Blue Dog and zero members of the Congressional Black Caucus. If the GOP takes the Congress, the influence and views of a few reasonable Republicans could be more important to the WH than a Dem with a history of being ghost.
In the old school, we played the Police album “Ghost In The Machine” to death and love the cut “Spirits in the Material World.” That song had the lyric “They subjugate the meek…but it’s the rhetoric of failure.” Today, we are subjugating ourselves by locking in with one group and not listening to valid alternatives. I have always respected the Police because they constantly acknowledge that their music is rooted in the reggae from Jamaica. The current base of the Georgia Democrat Party is rooted in my community and that fact should be remember when we say help the President from our party.
Party politics often centers on political machines, those groups of people who get the vote out in large numbers. Machines often recommend candidates but don’t monitor them once elected. In Tifton, Georgia, two years ago, I would tell people with Obama/Biden stickers that the local Democrat congressman wasn’t really a supporter of the ticket and their mouths would drop—low information voters. Our modern-day “Ghost In The Machine” should be ghost-voting candidates who take us for granted. The political machines wouldn’t like that very much but everyone would be on their toes.
To my GOP friends (all both of you), your whole party seems like a great big machine at times. If a Democrat has listened to you on regional issues, you should ignore national groups who say he or she is not fair and attentive. You guys have some real ghost busters in your camp. Your machine shouldn’t tell candidates to avoid any dialog with those of different opinions.
This ghost voting idea could really be something.