By: Jeff Katz – July, 2016
The first time I voted in a Presidential election, I was able to vote with a completely clear conscience and with a degree of pride. I was young, but I was sure that my vote would count and that my choice would continue to work hard to strengthen America. I was too young to vote for Ronald Reagan when he first ran, but I was thrilled that my first ever vote for President was counted as part of returning him to The White House for a second term.
Since that time, I’ve dutifully voted every four years for someone to sit in The Oval Office. I happily voted for George H.W. Bush as he crushed Mike Dukakis and I supported Bush again as he lost to Bill Clinton. Each time I went in to help choose the leader of the free world, my enthusiasm lessened a bit more. With a hat tip to blues great B.B. King, the thrill, while not gone, was certainly shrinking.
With each succeeding election I found that I had to hold my nose more and more. I cast a ballot for Bob Dole but it was only because he was not Bill Clinton. I suppose I was swayed somewhat because I was an unabashed fan of his running mate, the late Jack Kemp. I always found Kemp to be a thinking man’s conservative who seemed to understand that positive action and welcoming gestures were good when trying to build a longstanding political movement. It probably did not hurt that I had the opportunity to sit and sip a few fingers of Jack Daniels with Kemp backstage at a Republican Party event to which we were both speaking.
By 2000 I felt that I was done. I never entertained the thought of not voting for President, but I did cast, what was for me, the ultimate protest vote. I voted for Libertarian Party nominee Harry Browne. I don’t think I ever imagined that he would win, but I hoped that he could figuratively grab some folks by the collars and shake some sense in to them.
I witnessed the brutality and ugliness of Islamist terrorists in 2001 and knew that for the sake of my family and my country I needed to support George W. Bush. I believe that this man rose to the occasion and worked tirelessly to keep our country safe. I felt a renewed sense of pride in my chosen political party, as well. The GOP, I was sure, would move towards the future. I could not have been more wrong.
Probably the most disingenuous U.S. Senator of my lifetime, Arizona’s John McCain somehow wound up as the nominee of my party. The other side was pitching vacuous phrases and offering the lightest of lightweights but McCain still could not pull it off. One more time, I had to grit my teeth and hold my nose as I voted.
Just four years ago, my team once again fielded a guy who “deserved” the nomination because he had stayed at the party the longest it seemed. I’d never really been a fan of Mitt Romney, but in comparison to America’s junior varsity POTUS I stepped up to the plate and did what I needed to do.
Today I look at the major party candidates and all that I can do is shake my head. I suppose I could once again vote Libertarian to send a message but does the Libertarian Party’s messenger have any better chance of moving in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue than I do?
Come November, I will vote for the candidate who will do the least lasting damage to my country. It is a far cry from the first time that I went in to the voting booth and enthusiastically voted for Ronald Reagan.
No I am not excited about the choices in front of me. Indeed, I am mortified and embarrassed but these are the menu options and a man’s gotta eat.
Jeff Katz is a former police officer, and can be heard on iHeart radio. He won the Associated Press Award for Best Talk Show In Boston two years in a row, and is now an exclusive columnist for The Valley Patriot. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org