My Absent Voter’s Ballot came today. It’s an intriguing mix of mystery, power, and wonder. As I look over the ballot I see a number of names and parties I don’t recognize. I’m filled with a feeling of independent freedom, a feeling that my vote is powerful. At the same time, does it really matter? Would a vote for John Hagelin of the Natural Law party mean anything? Part of me says yes, while I know Hagelin won’t come close to having 1% of the vote, it would send a message to the big time parties that they aren’t meeting the needs of some people. At the same time, that’s a tiny percentage of people. It feels like a game of numbers. Is a vote for Ralph Nader really a vote for George W. Bush? Does it have to come down to two major parties and a few rinkydink minor parties that squabble for a chance to prove that 2% of the American population isn’t satisfied with the democrats and the republicans. And why does it always come down to squabbling? It’s pretty obvious from watching the debates that both candidates have different views on different issues because they approach problems from different angles. Why can’t they sit down and spell out how they solve problems and why, and then debate the attributes of those approaches? They can make all kinds of accusations, but it’s all because they do things differently. Can we clear away the rhetoric and look at the issues? When that becomes clear then there is no more room for debate. There is only room for the action of the American voter. We have this wonderful democracy, but we make it so difficult.