I have have been voting precisely as long as Jeff, and also fall somewhere between the 2 major parties. One thing I began doing in the mid-1990's was supporting multiple candidates, one each from the Democrat and Republican parties, as well as a candidate from one of the independent parties.
My goals in doing this allow me to choose and support:
- my preferred candidate,
- a candidate that I could "live with" from the major opposing party,
- the growth of a third party that adopts the best of each party's platform
In doing this, I've noticed a few interesting things:
- it's very hard to find good, unbiased news articles on any subject to even adequately support reasonable decision-making,
- I generally have a better understanding of what each party's platform actually is,
- I can help give the better candidate from the opposite party a fair run for the election
- I now have a basis to be more understanding and supportive of others' viewpoints,
- friends, family, co-workers, trolls, etc find it difficult to grasp that I'm not exclusively committed to the ideals of a single party
The latest election was characterized as a vote against election, wildly different from the tradition of voting for your candidate of choice. This happened because the candidates from both parties were pretty equally and wholly undesirable to a significant portion of the population. This leaves (and has left) our country in a situation in which nobody really wins, especially the people, and we continue with an all-or-nothing political party system.
Taking an interest in which candidate(s) from the opposing party are viable along the way, rather than blindly demonizing them, would (ideally) give us a more desirable pool of candidates in the final election. How different would this election be if the Democrat Party candidate was Bernie Sanders or the Republican Party candidate was Ted Cruz, for example? Pick any alternative candidate from either side, and imagine what the difference would be today.
Maybe a good candidate that didn't make it to/through the primaries because of funding might be a better choice for the country. There were a few interesting pre-primary candidates, such as Larry Lessig, Rand Paul, etc. And giving support to independent candidates can help minimize the either/or media coverage and voting situation.
Intentionally supporting good candidates from other parties leaves us with good alternatives at the election. Let's commit to tone down the party rhetoric, have thoughtful discussions amongst ourselves, and choose candidates from each party that can truly represent us. Once we do that, then let's see where we end up. It can't be any worse than where we find ourselves right now.