Don't dismiss independents

The midterm elections are finally here, and many of us still are not sure which candidates for whom we are voting.

The only things we are sure of are the anxiety, unemployment and general feeling of uncertainty that have hung around for what feels like several years persist.

Two years ago we mandated the Democratic Party solve these problems and gave them the largest majorities in the House and Senate in decades.But the last two years proved, or at least confirmed, Democrats simply cannot or choose not to stand by their claimed principles. This leaves voters to ask if Democrats are too impotent to govern or if they simply deceive voters by claiming principles they do not believe in.

In a two-party system, that only leaves us the opposition – the Republicans. What is there to say? We know where they stand. They want to return us to the glorious days of the Gilded Age, when working 10- to 16-hour days, six days a week in incredibly hazardous conditions was all too common, and as an Echo columnist wrote last week, the income gap was the greatest with the exception of today.

The Republicans claim they will cut taxes, strengthen national defense and protect family values. But we already had a military seven times greater than the next several countries combined when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks occurred; the wars have only weakened it. As far as I can tell, protecting family values is code for oppressing women and perpetuating discrimination toward gay Americans. And Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society.

So what is a voter to do? Stay home and pout? Grit his or her teeth and bare it? Or perhaps give in to insanity and vote for one of two major parties in the hopes maybe this is the time things will change. Here is an idea: Do what the Democrats and Republicans call throw away your vote. Vote for an Independent or party candidate not affiliated with theirs.

In the race for the 54th District state house spot, which covers EMU and the Ypsilanti area, Independent candidate David Palmer is running against Democrat David Rutledge. The Republican candidate only had a Facebook page. If you want to know his positions I suggest listening to Rush Limbaugh, but he appears to be running against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a liberal agenda.

Palmer is an EMU alum and very active community member who displayed an understanding of international business and expressed a real desire to help improve EMU’s status and funding after a decade of legislative neglect. He is of the under-40 generation, which I believe gives him a different perspective in how to achieve solving the state’s problems. He supports extending term limits – which have decimated institutional knowledge and added to bitter partisanship – and has a passion to foster entrepreneurialism in the district.

Rutledge believed his many years in public service would help him in Lansing, but experience does not seem to have helped much in job creation and solving Michigan’s problems. I commend him for saying government can only deliver the services it can afford and recognizing a need to collapse intermediate school districts. But I believe Palmer is the better choice next Tuesday.

Down the street in Ann Arbor, Independent candidate Steve Bean is running against Democratic Mayor John Hieftje. Hieftje, seeking his fifth term, has supported costly projects like the underground parking structure being constructed next to the library. Many residents deemed it unnecessary and wasteful. Besides, isn’t this the town that prides themselves on being “green”?

Bean wanted the project postponed and questioned the legality of the current administration’s monetary shell games. Should the mayor use money designated for general or infrastructure purposes to fund special interest groups’ favorite art projects? I suggest voting for the Independent candidate.

To ensure the status quo, do what is proven to work, vote for Democratic or Republican candidates. I suggest you at least try something different, though. Don’t fall victim to the “But if I vote third party the worst candidate I fear will get elected” card Democrats and Republicans play every election. Between those two parties, we already have enough fear and “victim hood” to last another generation.

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