Copyright © 2006 Robert G. Ferrell

My Vote

So, you want my vote in 2008? To make it simpler for you, I'm going to spell out exactly what I'm looking for in a Presidential candidate. I'll do it as though I myself were the candidate in question, since first-person narrative is often easier for people to grasp. Try to stay with me through all the heavy stuff about honesty and integrity. I know it's probably unfamiliar territory for most of you political types.

First off, I'll be honest. I'm a human being and I make mistakes, but when that happens I'll tell you about it, and I'll let you know what I'm doing to make it right. I won't try to cover it up or blame someone else, even if I'm not directly responsible. The buck very definitely stops here.

I'll communicate with you. I will hold press conferences on a regular basis, and I won't seed the press corps with my hired shills. I'll let the professional journalists ask the hard questions, and answer them to the best of my ability with straightforward, declarative language. I won't get all defensive or evasive, and I won't send my slick-as-snot-on-a-brass-doorknob Press Secretary out to lob platitudes at them. If I don't know the answer, I'll admit that I don't know it.

I'm not a Conservative or a Liberal. I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. I'm an American. My decisions will be based solely on what is, according to the very best information I can gather, the right thing to do for the nation and its people. I don't give two hairs off a rat's backside about any special interest group, and that includes all political parties. I can't be bought; money doesn't do all that much for me. I have no ulterior motives, no vendettas to pursue, no secret agenda, no grudges to settle. I think every single person on this planet has exactly the same rights and that absolutely everyone is the equal of everyone else. Racism and prejudice are not only morally and socially inexcusable, they're just plain stupid.

Like most folks, I have strong opinions on some subjects. However, I don't think my beliefs should be forced on anyone else. I feel everyone has the right to worship as they see fit, to pray wherever and whenever they please, and to be unencumbered by organized religion if they don't want it in their lives.

I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America. It's one of mankind's most shining and perfect achievements. When I take the oath to uphold and defend it, you can bet your last cent that I'll really mean every word I say. I will never try to do an end run around it, look for loopholes in it, or just plain ignore it. I will keep a copy on the wall where I can see and read it from my desk, both in the Oval Office and aboard Air Force One. I will never allow myself to forget about it, even for a moment. It will be the rock-solid foundation for my administration, and my most cherished refuge from political palaver.

I will take a stand on the issues, but sometimes that stand will be subject to revision if new information becomes available. We're a data-rich society these days; to adopt the blindly dogmatic stance that you will never change your mind about something is false integrity, from my point of view. However, if I'm convinced by the facts that I'm right, no special interest group or political action committee is going to sway me. Name-calling will never affect my judgment, but facts will.

I will strive my utmost not to be a hypocrite. I will not support legislation that outlaws abortion one week and then veto an anti-death penalty bill the next. Either human life is sacred, or it isn't. You folks need to decide that for yourselves and let Washington know.

I will not only tolerate dissent, I will encourage it. If you want to demonstrate against me or my policies, rather than stuffing you behind some fence a hundred yards from the dais, I'll give you, your signs, and your banners front-row seats. A democracy can only thrive if everyone's voice is heard. Tell me I'm wrong, if you think I need to hear it. I can't promise I'll accept your arguments, but I will listen to them and give them serious consideration. Every time.

I will make as one of my top priorities the restoration of America as a good citizen in the eyes of the rest of the world. We don't need to be the world's police force. Helping countries with humanitarian aid is one thing, but supplying them with arms or crashing in and trying to impose our political will on them is almost never justified, no matter how much we might disagree with their leadership. Diplomacy is nearly a lost art in our government; that needs to be rectified. My State department will be run by diplomats, not generals. My foreign policies will be the result of an excrutiatingly careful analysis of the issues, weighing America's best interests against our position on the world stage. If I accomplish nothing else during my tenure, I will at least leave this nation with fewer enemies.

I will not tolerate terrorists on American soil, but I will at least try to understand their motivation and make a good faith attempt to create an atmosphere in which it is possible for them to pursue their political goals peacefully. I will not send American troops into foreign countries without the express invitation of the governments of those countries, and even then only with the greatest reluctance. I will personally apologize for every American soldier killed in the line of duty. I will not declare war; that is the responsibility and prerogative of Congress.

I will let my generals/admirals run the armed services. They're the experts, not me. I will rein them in, if necessary, but I will not dictate strategy or tactics to them. We've spent many years and millions of taxpayer dollars preparing them to fill their appointed roles; I will let them do the jobs for which they're trained.

I will work with Congress, not against them. I will use my veto power only when it becomes apparent to me that the bill as passed is a partisan political document, not a piece of legislation intended for the good of the American people. I will never sign or veto a bill simply because of the political stance of the drafters. There are a lot of different philosophies and political ideologies in this nation, and for our democracy to be truly representative, all of them must have a voice.

I will be the sworn enemy of governmental waste. I will never forget I'm a taxpayer, and while in office I will pay my fair share of taxes, just like everyone else. No shelters or loopholes. Before I spend any taxpayer money, I will first stop and consider whether I, as a taxpayer, really think it's a necessary expenditure. I will never try to solve a problem, no matter how vexing, simply by throwing (your) money at it.

I will make the environment another top priority. I will reverse the policies that encourage reckless exploitation of our natural resources and destruction of habitat. I will remember that humans are not the only Americans and that all creatures have the same intrinsic right to exist. I will balance the needs of people with the needs of nature and try my utmost to come to an equitable arrangement that allows both to flourish. I will be a champion of alternative energy sources, particularly those which do not come with an additional environmental cost. I will create economic and political incentives for industry to operate in harmony with the environment, rather than at odds.

I will stop treating Americans like potential criminals. I will restore Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties to every citizen of this nation, and treat immigrants as future citizens, not as liabilities or beggars. I will not fight terrorism by merging with it. In my administration, the good guys and the bad guys will be clearly delineated.

Lastly, I believe in personal responsibility, for myself and everyone else. Parents need to accept responsibility for raising their children; the government can't do it for them. Morality and personal values should be propagated by the family, not by legislation. The courts must not become the arbiter of all interpersonal behavior. Seeking redress under the judicial system should be the very last resort in a disagreement, not the first step.

If you can honestly attest to all of the above, you've got my vote. I think there are probably a few other people who'll feel this way, as well. Good luck; we desperately need you.