With the election just around the corner, perhaps we should start with the bad news -- either Romney or Obama will win. It is inevitable.
Right off the bat, that is bad news to about half the population and I suspect a fair percentage of the rest will be less than satisfied.
I had assumed that after eight years of Bush, Obama would be better. I can't say that he has been. Those areas where I had the most hope for him have been strong disappointments.
I had hoped he'd keep his promise and get us out of Afghanistan. Instead, he escalated that war to new levels. In 2008, under Bush, there were 155 American casualties in Afghanistan. The first year of the Obama administration there were 317, with 499 the next year, 418 last year, and sits currently at 252 so far this year.
I had hope that Obama wouldn't be deporting people the way Bush did. ABC News reports that Obama's record is far worse. "Since 2009, the annual average number of deportations has approached 400,000, according to the Department of Homeland Security. That's double the annual average during President George W. Bush's first term and 30 percent higher than the average when he left office."
In 2009, Attorney General Holder said Obama's "policy" during the campaign -- regarding medicinal marijuana -- would "now" be federal policy. That policy was to respect the rights of states to legalize these clinics. I had Hope.
However, as Raw Story reported:
Since President Barack Obama took office, "more than 200″ state-approved medical marijuana facilities have been raided, according to Kris Hermes, spokesperson for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), who spoke to Raw Story on Thursday.
"That exceeds the number of raids his predecessor, George W. Bush, oversaw during his entire eight years in office," he said.
With Bush, I had no hope. I expected him to be bad on civil liberties, war, and the budget. I knew he'd expand both the size and scope of government, ignore the Constitution, and trample on our rights. In that regard, he did not disappoint.
Obama told me to hope. Well, I stopped doing that shortly after his election. Now I just endure, disgusted by the choices Democrats and Republicans continually give us.
Each party campaigns on the premise that they are less disgusting than the other.
Voters are terrified the "other guy" will get in. That's just it -- he will. The "other guy" always gets in.
I want a better choice than the one the two big parties give us, but they have rigged the system to reduce competition as much as possible. They are a duopoly, using the law to secure their positions in power.
True, which "other guy" wins goes back and forth, but it's always one of the two. Even when alternative parties get on the ballot, the Commission on Presidential Debates makes sure voters only hear the two main candidates. They call themselves "non-partisan," but that actually means bi-partisan -- that means they are Democrats and Republicans acting as gatekeepers to restrict alternative candidates from participating.
The League of Women Voters used to sponsor presidential debates, but pulled out after George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis agreed that they, not the League, should decide who would participate -- and they wanted no candidates other than themselves.
The co-chairs of the Commission are former heads of the Republican and Democratic national committees.
As crappy as all of this is, I have more bad news. Your vote doesn't matter.
Most of us live in states where one candidate is the clear favorite. For instance, Obama will win Hawaii come hell or high water. Romney will win Utah no matter what happens.
Unless you live in a toss-up state -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia or Wisconsin -- your vote has zero chance of making a difference.
Even if you live in a toss-up state, the odds your one vote will make a difference is so close to zero it may as well be zero. You have a better chance of winning the lottery. Of course, such odds guarantee others will make claims about the importance of "one vote."
The safest thing I can tell you is that Obama or Romney will win, and no matter where you live in the U.S., your vote won't make a difference. You won't stop the "other guy" from winning, no matter how much you wish to do so.
So you are actually free to vote for someone who more closely reflects what you think. If you really want a government big enough to control the economy, but doesn't bust clinics that sell pot to cancer patients, then vote for Jill Stein, of the Green Party.
If you honestly prefer to live in a theocratic state, you can vote for the Constitution Party -- or move to Iran.
If you want fiscal restraint, an end to the wars, marriage equality, and legalized pot, then Gov. Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party, is your man.
More importantly, voting for any one of these candidates sends a stronger message about the direction in which you want the country to go than voting either Obama or Romney. Of course, if you voted for someone you might actually like, then "the other guy" will get in, just as he always does.
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