A Sorry State of Affairs
Instapundit links Reason Online's presidential poll, and I have to say that with a few notable exeptions, I have never read such a pathetic disdain for the political process that sustains this country. Person after person talks about protest votes, voting against people, 3rd party picks, no differences between the candidates, and all sorts of other apolitical whining.
It's thinking like this that leaves the political process so vacant in their eyes. People who are principled like this, with the exception of the few anarchists and politics haters, are exactly who should be in the political process. Most seem to be frustrated libertarians, but it's attitudes like this that, as Glenn Reynolds says in his post, don't endear people to them. But more importantly, it's these attitudes that will prevent them from ever being satisfied even the least bit with the system of government our Founders bequeathed to us. Our government requires participation and input to work correctly and well.
This is not to say that they're not right about a lot. Has government grown out of control? Without question. Are the choices of candidates occasionally frustrating? Certainly. Are there myriad problems with the political process including (but not limited to) corruption, insincerity, ineffectiveness, and insufficient respect for the Constitution? Absolutely. But to me, these are all reasons to get more involved, not less. It just disgusts me that so many ostensibly intelligent people have given up so completely on politics in America. I can understand the disgust with the two main parties, but as Eugene Volokh wisely writes, "I certainly find plenty to disagree with the Republicans even on those topics, but if I waited for a party with which I agreed on everything or even almost everything, I’d be waiting a long time."
I'm a staunch Republican, but I'm a conservative/constitutionalist/libertarian mush of principles first, and a GOPer second. I support Bush, but he's not my ideal candidate, and never was. But he's much preferable to a McCain, a Gore, or a Kerry and he still stands for many of my principles, though certainly not all. That's why I'm intensely frustrated with Orrin Hatch, who I think is generally right on about many domestic and foreign issues, but I cannot abide his horrible laws about the internet. That's why I supported Pat Toomey, a principled conservative, in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary over the essentially liberal in all but party Arlen Specter. That's why I respect John McCain (though my frequent complaints about him don't reflect that) for his service and many of his views, but would never vote for him because he is a media darling first, and a conservative second.
Still, I find it is much better to work within a party and a government that on balance I like the majority of the time than to just declare it all hopeless and disconnect, to let the country drift in some awful direction.
Read the whole Reason piece, so you can see just how bad this disconnect is with the people it interviewed. Of course, don't miss the few gems, including Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, PJ O'Rourke, who was very clever in his responses (and should be worshipped for writing in "Chairman Meow" on a ballot), and Dave Kopel. Yes, they are all voting for Bush, but they also stood out beyond that.
Despite the problems, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many people named their favorite president as Calvin Coolidge, who was a hero of Ronald Reagan's. I also admire the choices of the few people who put FDR, George washington, or Abraham Lincoln. I was a little disappointed that not one person picked TR or Ronald Reagan, or even JFK. Fortunately, there were no Clintons, Carters, or LBJs. As much as I admire Eisenhower and Jefferson, I think they're too easy to pick for populist reasons. I would have applauded anyone with the guts to say Jackson, Madison, Truman, or GWB.