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Ventura County Perspective

Take Responsibility, Vote for Quality of Life

An aging baby boomer with a Democratic conscience and Republican sense of practicality wants to see people with entirely fresh perspectives take office.

November 05, 2000|ROSIE LEE | Rosie Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Westlake Village

How does a person with a Democratic heart, a Republican mind and Independent feet decide whom to vote for?

Feeling vague on the issues after nearly five months of self-imposed media deprivation, I started to read, watch TV and talk to people about the upcoming presidential election. Although some of it was entertaining, mostly it was a combination of excruciating and depressing. All those feverish conversations with people who passionately believe in their point of view left me feeling out of sorts.

I've grown to dislike arguing and had therefore decided ahead of time not to get into a fray in my interviews. I would be a listener--but then, listening is a lame approach when the conversation is political, so my resolve didn't last. I did get a sense of what matters to people, though, and in doing so, I rediscovered what matters to me.

My friend Cynthia says there is less pain when the Democrats are in office, but Steve says there are more taxes to pay. Democrats want to save your Social Security money for you; the Republicans say give it to the people to save for themselves. The Democrats want to spend money to provide more services, and the Republicans want to put money in my pocket. I want it both ways.

Lane is annoyed that large segments of our society do not share in the prosperity of our time. I find this confronting. It makes me feel bad and yet I am personally enjoying the fruits of the current economic boom.

I felt a sense of furtive pleasure while on hold at Charles Schwab waiting to sell some roguish oil company stock that had recently gone up $6 a share. I planned to invest the profits in further development of my new company. So there I was, listening to "economic news on hold," when one of the info blips told me that consumer confidence is up and here I am, that very moment, trading toward my future. I realize that I am way more plugged in to the mainstream than I think I am.

This transaction agitated my dilemma on the issue of whom to vote for. I have to pay high capital gains taxes because these stocks are old. I hate that. I benefit at the stock exchange, but not at the gas pump. Part of me is feeling good in a strictly fiscal sense, and part of me is feeling ripped off when forced to pay $1.79 for regular.

Lois says that if you care about the environment, Gore's your man, and Monika says the rain forests are being chopped down to make fax paper.

Lupe says that if you care about education, George W.'s the one with the track record. Tim says vouchers won't help for private education because who can get into these schools anyway?

My friend Andy is trying to decide whom not to vote for. He thinks that if we had a rallying point, like a war, a crisis or something to sacrifice for, then we'd all be galvanized and . . . and . . . what? Start to care? Does it take a war to get people to care about their way of life?

Then there's Tony, who would have actively campaigned for either McCain or Bradley (they were real men, according to him), but won't vote for either Gore or Bush. He claims to want a human being to lead us, not a caricature of a professional party-liner. And Barbara, she's Libertarian, and you know what they think: Government go home and leave me alone. I can't argue with that logic much of the time, especially come April 15.

My mother, my own personal political pundit, has advocated "vote your conscience" my entire life. She historically votes for people whose ideals she shares. She is voting party this time. She feels that she has no choice because there is so much at stake with the basic issues of abortion rights and gun control.

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Tina wants to vote for Nader, but doesn't want her conscience vote to cost Gore the election. Now that's the power of one. She actually believes that her vote will determine who is the next president. Imagine.

There has been so much analysis on the air and in print that I seriously wonder what makes me think that my voice matters among the intelligent, witty and wise. How presumptuous of me to try to toss a pebble of perspective into the whitecaps that foam on the sea of discussion.

I developed a sort of melancholia after watching the debates, but I also developed clarity on one thing. I am an aging baby boomer with a Democratic conscience and a Republican sense of practicality that really would like to see some people with entirely fresh perspectives take office and be supported instead of sabotaged by the prevailing tendency toward professional politics.

I want to take some personal responsibility, so I'm voting for quality of life. There may not be any one person running for office who is perfect in my eyes, but I believe that we can effect a more conscious change in the world around us if we try one by one in our own lives.

I'm with Tina. I think my vote will matter.

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