Carlisle: Not much choice this election year
The llama-loving head of PETA was nonplused after hearing fourth-grader Kyle’s tale of banishment from South Park for refusing to participate in a grade school vote for mascot because the choice was between a t*** sandwich and an equally unpleasant item I won’t mention here.
“Don’t you know” said the llama-lover, “that voting is always a choice between a t*** sandwich and (an equally unpleasant item)?”
Take my word for it, if you haven’t seen South Park, on cable for nearly a decade now, I couldn’t begin to explain to you that this sort of thing isn’t the least bit unusual. If you have seen the show, you understand that the show doesn’t succeed on shock alone. The llama-lover’s right: Most of our choices at the polls are, ahem, between Tweedledee and Tweedledum, between the lesser of two evils, between Aquafina and tap water, no choices at all. We’d love to have two names on the ballot that offer a true choice.
If you don’t register to vote by Monday, October 6 for the election Tuesday, November 4, you’ll miss the chance to choose between two candidates for the U.S. Senate who could hardly be much different. On the left is Mark Udall, who has represented Summit County for the latter part of his tenure in the House of Representatives and about whom I know little more. Perhaps I am the only one in Summit County who has never received a thing in the mail either from candidate Udall or Congressman Udall.
On the right is Bob Schaffer from Fort Collins, who served in the House for six years before honoring a term-limits pledge and retiring in 2002 before coming out of retirement to run for the seat being vacated by Wayne Allard, himself honoring a term-limits pledge. Although never a constituent of Schaffer’s, I still find it curious that, while I got numerous mailings during the reelection campaigns of President Bush and other Republicans, nothing to date from Schaffer. That leaves me to mull over what I know, which in Udall’s case is that he’s a Boulder liberal, no badge of honor in my book. As for the far right Schaffer of Ft. Collins, folks from that area have a doubtful reputation ever since one cheerfully explained to me that no, that awful smell wasn’t the beet plant, that awful smell was the rendering plant. The awful smell of the beet plant would come further up the road.
At the top of the ticket, the choice could hardly be more black and white. But if you remember that your vote for president must be based on more than presentation, your motive more than the impression that you like the guy – or worse still, that you hate the other guy – then the choice becomes more difficult. After all, both are senators, as is the other half of the Democratic ticket, Joe Biden. While the Republicans’ best and to my mind only choice is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the odds are excellent that Mr. McCain will choose a senator as well, what with Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania less appealing now that Biden, a native of Pennsylvania, is in the running as the local hero.
A fourth senator would be no prize pig, what with Congress as an institution ranking below even the Catholic Church (yes, Protestants’ votes are counted, but even among just rank-and-file Catholics, the church fares poorly). The senators and House members have an approval rating in the single digits, and a disapproval rating near 80 percent – worse than that of the president. Voters have had enough of partisanship and corruption, they tell pollsters, and they want action on health care, energy, infrastructure, Russia and the war on terror – the same agenda Udall, Schaffer, McCain and Obama all faced when they individually first came to our nation’s capitol.
No doubt the Senators fancy themselves as carrying on the tradition of august senate predecessors such as Clay and Calhoun, when in fact their performance suggests they are more in the mold of low lights such as Helms and Hegel. In either vote, for president or for senator, how can the people who caused the problem fix the problem? That’s why South Park endures, for even this election is a choice between a t*** sandwich and that equally unpleasant item.
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