There was a time when I favored one political party over another, although I have never in my life voted a straight party ticket. I like to look at each candidate and try determining what he or she stands for; Looking back over track records, campaign literature, and when possible a glimpse in person. Since I began paying attention to politics I have identified myself as 'mostly Republic' and 'mostly conservative', if a label had to be put to it. All else being equal I would give a Republican the nod over a Democrat while I was in the polling booth.
That will never happen again, ever. I have a different way of looking at candidates now, and it's one I hope catches on. It's based on a few simple principles.
One: There is no political party that represents my interests any longer, therefor politicians who always 'vote the party line' are not voting in my interest, but in their parties interest.
Two: I will forevermore automatically assume that an incumbent candidate desperately needs to be removed from office unless clearly proven different.
Let me be clear in this Mr. Candidate.... I could not care less what your party affiliation is any longer. 'Your Party' does not represent me, and my vote will be based on other factors. I have seen so many instances of malfeasance, bad faith, and utter incompetence committed by politicians of all stripe that I no longer give any of them the slightest benefit of a doubt. I mean what I say.... any of them, from a county constable to the tax collector to the Mayor and all the way up to the President himself. Every single elected official, no matter how minor or major, no matter their affiliation.... I will judge them all by the same harsh light.
What might earn you my vote? Pay attention... this will be simple and won't take long.
I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, exactly as they are written. They mean what they say. They are the rules that apply to government. They are the limitations that apply to government. They are not limitations on my private life, but on your public position. Understand that... and prove to me you understand it. Make me believe you understand the lines you cannot cross. How you prove that is up to you, but I will discard 98% of what you say while making promises, pledges, and statements. Far better if you can point to things you have actually done that show an understanding and personal integrity.
I believe in earning my keep and supporting myself and my own. If I chose to help others and serve my own pleasure in doing so, so be it. Under no circumstances do I believe any public official has any authority to confiscate my hard earned wealth at gun point and give it away to others who have not earned it. Prove to me you believe the same thing.
I believe there is a limit to the amount any one person should pay in taxes to support government. I also believe everyone should pay their share, whether it be in wealth or labor. The answer to "How much is enough?" is not "More". It has a finite answer, period. I believe no man should pay more than 15% of his earnings for all government at all levels. I don't care if that's a flat tax, some sort of averaged sales tax, or what have you. On the other hand... everyone that gets any government services should pay that, period. If they do not have the income to pay it, then they can pay their share in sweat towards the public good. There should be pride in carrying your own load, and no person should demand a free ride with their hand in my pocket. If government needs more than 15% of everyone's earnings, then the answer is less government, not more taxes. Show me you believe the same thing. Show me, not tell me.
Show me you understand these concepts, and you'll have a solid start to earning my vote. But.... it's far easier to sway my vote against you than for you.
If you are an incumbent, I will automatically assume we would be better served by any random homeless bum off the street than you. As an incumbent you carry the burden of shame for every act of treason, greed, and power maddened abrogation of individual rights carried out by every elected official before you, in every office in the land. You don't like that? Tough... find another career. The only way I will ever vote for an incumbent again is if he's got a proven track record of understanding and living by the statements above. The only way I will ever vote for an incumbent elected official is if I go to the polling booth with a burning desire to keep that person in office. Other than that, out you go.
Not only that, but I will judge each incumbent by the actions of all their staff, and all their administration. They work for you... then you take responsibility for what they do.
Might I toss out a few good eggs with the sewage? Of course... but I'd rather lose a few decent and competent people if it means throwing chaos into the plans of all those who would lie, cheat, steal and enslave by means of their office.
Have you ever moved to raise taxes? You'll never have my vote.
Have you ever tried to infringe on my personal freedom? You'll never have my vote.
Have you ever voted for a bill you did not read and understand fully? If so, then you shall never, ever, have my vote.
Have you ever voted against my interests in order to sustain your own position? If so, then I will not only vote for anyone else but you, I will also actively help campaign against you.
Our nation has a deep and boundless wealth of good people. Intelligent, hard working, and honest citizens who would ably do duty in positions of governance. That said, history has shown that positions of power attract the very worst possible candidates, as well as those few who actually want to serve. Not only is it time to dump the bathwater, it's time to flip the tub over, scrub it out with bleach, and start over.