Going into some extended time off from work last April I was interested in possibly spending some of that time contributing to local politics in some way. I'm always a little scared to do this because I really want to stay objective. I want good policy, good laws, good people. The party is secondary. In fact even though I am currently a registered Democrat, I really understand what drives the conservative movement - its suspicion of top-down, big government solutions to problems, and its preference to allow local institutions and individuals to find their own solutions. I get the importance of family values and respect for the individual and the effectiveness of free markets. I'm a Democrat because despite these sympathies, I think we are facing problems today that are simply too big to leave government out of it, and I think the Republican party has veered too far to the right, but I certainly understand and share many of their core values.
Joining a specific political party, I worry that that I may end up just voting for clothes. That's no way to hold our government accountable. I wanted to be a much smarter voter. Rather than just vote for party, I want to really push my elected officials to defend their positions and their record. But yet, I still wanted to get involved.
So, talking to some volunteers at the Mark Mitchell campaign, I was convinced to devote considerable time to that campaign. Here's why. What campaigning and canvassing is typically about is to increase voter turnout among those already registered to vote in your party. Increased voter participation is a good thing and I wanted to be a part of informing voters of important local elections. So, that's basically what I'm doing. I want to let people know that we have important mayor races, city council races, state legislative races going on right now. What they do affect our lives.
This is why, I reserve the right to go out there and knock on doors letting people know what Mark Mitchell stands for and why someone should vote for him, while at the same time reserving my right to vote against him if I decide. In this case, I didn't end up doing that, and I understand there is a significant risk in doing what I'm trying to do. I'm not putting myself on a level and objective playing field. It's just hard to vote against your team once you've chosen to belong to one.
Of course, I'll only take this so far. I'll refuse to canvass for someone I really don't like. But this year, at least in my voting districts and regions, the Democratic candidates look to be pretty strong. They are worth my time and energy. Yet, my vote is far from being decided on most of these races (my vote for Maricopa country sheriff has long ago been decided).
To that end, I purposely wait until election day to vote. I want as much information as possible and I want as much time to gather that information as possible. As a blogger, I'll try to pass on what I learn to you as best as I can as an objective observer. My hope is that in most races, both candidates are qualified and smart and good. I'll try to point this out as much as I am able.
My goal for 2012 is to really get to know these candidates running in these local elections. We'll get more information than we can hope to absorb about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Four years ago, I spent a lot of energy on this blog on the Obama/McCain race. This time I'm going local. Instead, I'll focus my energy on Juan Mendez, Ed Ablser, and Andrew Sherwood and all of the rest.
It should be a lot of fun, can't wait.