No, Really: Where is the Alternative?

I’m not above voting for a Republican. Not now, not ever. I like to keep my options open. In fact, but for wishing to send a message by voting for Barack Obama in the New York State Democratic Primaries, I might not have registered for any party at all my whole life. And yes, I have voted Republican in the past.

That’s not to say that my vote is an easy thing for a Republican to win: on the checkbox list of hot political issues, my marker is more often to be found on the left side of the scorecard than the right. I approve of government-assisted or government-financed health care; I approve of a higher minimum wage; I’m perfectly ok with gay marriage. On the other hand, I’m not the most enthusiastic supporter of gun control and my opinions on technology – which occasionally border on technological libertarianism – might very well find a home in a Republican Party that genuinely commits itself to those basic tenets of limited government they insist they believe in.

But the willingness I have to listen to alternative viewpoints is entirely squandered in a political hand grenade like Carl Paladino. Even if Paladino’s politics represent legitimately worthy intellectual positions, who the hell could tell with all the bombast and gutter-wallowing? Nor is he alone in the long, long list of Republican candidates whose positions on the issues are nearly impossible to take seriously. There are those, such as Rand Paul, whose opinions we are forced to take seriously only because they’re very close to winning elections to national office. But there seems to be no one on the Republican side of the ticket in this election season who forces us to consider his or her position simply because of the power of the proposition.

Not only do the current lineup of candidates entirely forbid my voting Republican, they also cut off a critical cornerstone of democracy, which is debate. When candidates do not stand up to even mild intellectual rigor – as is the case with Christine O’Donnell in Delaware – or when they have so embarrassed themselves prior to the debate that they remove all sense of propriety – as is the case with Carl Paladino – we are left taking the only other alternative at their word that they mean anything they say or can defend their position against… mild intellectual rigor.

And so, I shall sigh heavily on Election Day in November and pull the lever for Andrew Cuomo. He may end up being the best governor in the history of governance; he may end up the worst. I have no idea and the opportunity to have his mettle tested at least one time for a short period is not passed. Thanks, Republicans. Now we all lose.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.