Monday, November 03, 2008

My Vote Goes To...

I decided to go through the sample ballot and give my takes on a few of the items and candidates up for vote, and now, just a few hours before it's too late I'm posting them for your last minute consideration. A bit too late to carry on any constructive dialogue I know, but putting this down has at least been good in that has helped me to better collect my thoughts (keep in mind that for some of you, these thoughts will not apply, being that the amendments are to Florida's Constitution, and local candidates for Bay County).


My thoughts-

I'm tired of these two parties. I have refused to vote for either being that I am quite disgusted by all the bloated rhetoric pouring from the true believers on both sides. I don't want to be pigeon-holed into being a true believer for one side or the other.

Until now I was all but sure I would cast my vote as "None of the Above." I had looked into the Independent candidates available and found that even they seemed to be more led by the opinions of their niche group instead of critically examining issues to come to their own conclusions.

But just last week I was introduced to Jonathan Allen, a self-described "Non-Partisan Independent."
While his website has a cheesy name (, his description of the issues cuts through the issues with a clarity and integrity I have not found in the other candidates. Candidates today, even those who may in fact be good people and could make great public servants, still opt to brand themselves as if they were celebrities or pop stars with one-word designations ("Maverick") or one-word stances ("Change"). These decisions seem necessary evils to the candidates in our post-tv world, but necessary evils beget necessary evils (i.e., having to pick between two poor presidential candidates). In voting for people who embrace the devolved system we validate the system. I won't keep casting my vote for this system that dilutes reasoned argument and honest debate.

I understand that in order for candidates to make themselves appealing to a broad spectrum of people some amount of populist presentation is necessary, but the type of campaigning that happens today is demeaning and devoid of almost any traces of reasoned substance.

So I'm breaking from the "lesser of two evils" fallacy and voting my conscience from now on. I'd encourage you to do the same. The two party system may be a reality, but these two have more than worn out their welcome.

My Vote:

Jonathan Allen

Amendment 1-

Amendment 1 will remove the following clause from the Florida State Constitution:

"except that the ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship may be regulated or prohibited by law."

The Amendment would therefore ensure that immigrants ineligible for citizenship can still own property.

My vote:

No- because I am not a big fan of rewarding people who break rules. To me it seems akin to coming up with an amendment that says, "Drivers of motorcycles do not have to pay fines for speeding. It is more difficult, due to the lightness of these vehicles and the propensity they have for speeding, to remain under the legal limit, so their operators should not be required to abide by the same rules that apply to operators of cars."

Amendment 2

Official Text: "This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

Arguments for:
You have pastors who don't want to be sued because they won't preside over homosexual marriages. This is not together an unlikely occurrence, and while people keep insisting that the point of separation of church and state is that religion should stay out of politics, actually the contrary is true. The point of the "wall" (never alluded to in the Constitution by the way; the only reference we have of said wall was in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association) was to keep government out of religion-to keep Congress from establishing any one religion as the only safe religion to believe or practice (contra Muslim nations or Socialist nations who have bans on other religions' deep-seated practices). So, in this case, since "Marriage" is primarily the business of the church, some pastors worry that the government will be stepping in and telling the church they have to oversee homosexual marriages even if it is against their beliefs, which would be a violation of separation.

Of course, there are those who worry that if we don't put up a barrier now that the U. S. will continue to slide into a laxity of moral standards. They also argue that if homosexuals are granted the right to marry, then they may be granted the right to adopt, which is not something many Christians (including myself) think is a good idea.

Arguments against: Some fear that the amendment will damage existing rights for heterosexual and homosexual couples who, under common law, are grandfathered in with a status similar to marriage. They fear that these couples will be unfairly persecuted. The proponents of the amendment have tried to assure everyone that this is a single subject amendment that will not affect the rights of couples who are not married, but enjoy some of the government/social benefits associated with marriage.

My thoughts:
Honestly, I think the "single subject" argument seems a bit disingenuous. Read the last part of the amendment again:
"that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized." (emphasis mine).

That to me seems like a power play. The words "valid or recognized" seem to overreach the goal of being an amendment that simply defines marriage in order to keep the state our of church business.

My other problems:

1. Christianity, the belief system to which I wholeheartedly ascribe, was born and nurtured as a minority belief. It grew and thrived under persecution, only policing itself of theological and moral aberration, never bothering to petition Rome to change policy or legislate morality. Now, I would not go so far to say that this means we Christians should go all laissez faire on politics, but I do think we need to be careful not to put ourselves in the position of "the man" except when absolutely necessary. Once "the man" (Constantine) established Christianity as the state religion, Christianity began drifting into a thousand year wilderness where the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus so prominently pushed, took a back seat to other concerns.

Let's imagine that the government starts "persecuting" (I'm using that word Veeeerrrry loosely-in the John T. Scopes sense) Christian pastors for refusing to recognize homosexual marriages. What's the worst that happens? Taxation? A slap on the wrist? Prison? Horror of horrors! "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"- Jesus, Matthew 5:10.

Furthermore, if morality were really the chief concern with this amendment then maybe we would not be opposed to a few amendments like these:

"Divorce shall not be permitted for any cause, except for the cause of infidelity. Anyone, especially Christians, who divorce and then remarry will not have a union that is in any way valid or recognized."

Actually that would align much more closely with scripture than the current amendment in question, but, you see, this one is a bit too close to home, being that the divorce rate in the church mirrors the secular divorce rate. As Paul has it:
"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'"

I don't know at what point we in the American Church thought it necessary to become "Team Evangelical: Morality Police."

So in case I have not made myself clear enough-

My vote:

Amendment 6
"Provides for assessment based upon use of land used predominantly for commercial fishing purposes; land used for vessel launches into waters that are navigable and accessible to the public; marinas and drystacks that are open to the public; and water-dependent marine manufacturing facilities, commercial fishing facilities, and marine vessel construction and repair facilities and their support activities, subject to conditions, limitations, and reasonable definitions specified by general law."

My vote: Yes. It seems that this will help prevent appraisers from cheating commercial fisherman who own waterfront property. It will not allow the appraiser to assess the property based on what it could be. If, for instance, an appraiser realizes this land would be worth so much more if it were used for the foundation of a condo, then they could inflate the land's worth and tax the owners out of it. Now we just need an amendment that would protect waterfront homeowners.

Amendments 3,4, and 8

My take: Not voting. I can only handle so much legalese. If in doubt when it comes to amendments, either don't vote, or vote no.

State Attourney

Hess' speech to Bay County Association of Realtors:

Meadows' speech to Bay County Association of Realtors:

I have not done adequate research to disprove the allegations against either man, so I'm having to go on very little here. I needed to do much more research to be sure, but all I can safely go on are the above videos because I at least get to hear their plans and thoughts in their own words without interruption every 80 seconds from a talking head.

It bothers me that Hess tries to throw in a little plug for Church at the end. It sounded so contrived, as if he were trying to convince himself he really cares because he knows his Bible-belt constituents want to hear it. I'm sick of being pandered to. It seemed to me Meadows spoke more to the issues at hand and gave a better defense for his past performance than Hess did on offense.

My vote:

County Commission:


Mike Nelson, Sharon Sheffield, William Fisher

I listened to the Rapline edition featuring the three candidates:

My vote:

Mike Nelson. Fisher was anti-airport. I'm for it. Sharon Sheffield tended to talk in circles and didn't seem to make any substantive points.

Congressional Candidates: District 2

Boyd vs. Mulligan.

My vote:
Mulligan. Boyd's not bad, but at this point, because I know another party gaining footing against the two lemming parties is impossible, the next best thing is to stagger the parties (kudos to Brad Woodrum for giving me this idea). It's just about sure in my mind that Obama will win, and because Dems control almost everything else, might as well off-set the house a bit more to ensure the Democrats don't go too crazy with their majority.

Superintendent of Schools:

Steve George, Bill Husfelt, James McCalister

Steve George misspelled "morale" twice in his ad in The News Herald. To me that represents automatic dq for superintendent of schools.

I have nothing against McCalister, but Husfelt was one of our Assistant Principals when I was at Bay, and I remember him being one of our best. Plus, he's done a fantastic job at Mosley, so I he gets my vote.

My vote: