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Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover 2012:
After being raised in a household free of overt political discussion, I never had any idea which political party was mine. A moment of clarity arrived in eleventh-grade Physics class when a fellow student named Jeff sought to offer me personal definition: he asked me my views on abortion. I gave him an answer. He told me which party was mine. To him, it was as simple as that. I decided then and there that the two-party monopoly left a lot to be desired. Thus was my head sent spinning into years of aimless political apathy, college-campus pluralism, irritatingly noncommittal neutrality, alternative-newspaper perusal, and Jello Biafra spoken-word albums. Truly it was a time of intellectual isolation for me, though the accompanying music could be cool at times.
Two decades later, I’m no more into taking arbitrary sides, generalizing entire parties based on the actions of a single faction, or collecting campaign buttons than I was in my misanthropic youth. However, at least now I can say I’m participating in the voting process anyway, because the small local elections are close enough to home that the votes really can make a difference, free of interference from unhelpful interlopers like the Electoral College. Also, just because I can.
And now, here we are again: Election Day 2014. Some areas of the U.S. have very little to decide this year. That’s not the case here in central Indiana, where politicians and would-be upstarts have been busy, busy, busy with shaking hands, filming TV spots, and thoughtfully sending us colorful, uninformative postcards in case we were running low on trash. They’ll be lining up Tuesday and vying to be my new best friend in my probably gerrymandered voting areas. According to the Indianapolis Star‘s annual Voter Guide, providing mostly useful information from questionnaires completed by the candidates or by their duly authorized ghost-writing committees, the brave finalists standing before me are:
U.S. Representative: The popular incumbent, whose popular grandmother previously held the position for decades; the owner of an IT company with a Better Business Bureau rating of A+, whose primary platform plank seems to be “I like deciding things”; and an aircraft repairman who, on the question of his apolitical qualifications, remarked, ‘…if the current state of our government is any indicator of what ‘qualified’ means, I don’t want to be ‘qualified.'” And his wish appears to be granted.
Indiana Secretary of State: The incumbent, a former State Senator who’s favored to win; an IT exec who’s proud to be a really big Constitution geek; and the current Marion County Clerk, looking for a job upgrade. She made headlines this year when she began issuing same-sex marriage licenses within minutes of Indiana’s ban being struck down for a while. Her light-hearted TV ads tout the fact that she’s approximately eight inches tall, a bold stance that really spoke to my wife.
State Auditor: The incumbent, who was appointed last December when the previous Auditor resigned due to money scandals (her questionnaire answers contain several uses of the word “transparent”, so she knows voters are skittish in this category); a management consultant, which means his job is telling managers what to do, but doesn’t speak to whether he can actually do manager doings; and a retired CPA with four decades of experience, who wants to put all the state’s money figures online on a “Transparency Portal”, which sounds modern and dry, yet cool in a stats-junkie way.
State Treasurer: The incumbent, Richard Mourdock, resigned two months ago after making national headlines more than once for soundbite facepalm reasons, and his interim replacement isn’t running. That leaves three newcomers: an experienced State Treasurer’s Office employee with a three-pillar platform, whose previous company gave investment advice to local governments; a retired teacher who’s offered to donate his entire salary to “charity or scholarships” if he wins; and a onetime CPA who states up front, “I aspire to be a productive pain in the back side.” (Actual quote.)
State Senate, District 29: A recruiter whose mailbox ads make him look about 16; and the incumbent, who once made a controversial public statement that perfectly mirrored sentiments I once expressed in an MCC entry ages ago that I thought very few other humans would ever read, let alone tolerate, let alone agree with. I doubt he read what I wrote, but I get excited when other humans share any of my more eccentric wavelengths.
State Representative, District 92: The incumbent, who attends church down the street, seems nice, and has sent regular postcard updates to her constituents throughout her term; one candidate who didn’t respond to the questionnaire, which for me is an automatic fail; and a firefighter who could probably run on a simple “I’M A FIREMAN!” hero platform and come really close to winning without saying another word.
Marion County Assessor: Democrat incumbent running unopposed. He didn’t have to complete the questionnaire, but he did anyway. That counts as either humility or diligence. We’ll accept both answers.
Marion County Auditor: The incumbent isn’t running again because reasons I guess. Of her two would-be successors, one currently serves as the Marion County Recorder and the other is in finance and wrote her finance-based answers in general finance-speak.
Marion County Clerk: Of the two candidates, one didn’t submit a photo. That counts as forfeiting and my vote goes to the other, whose summary I didn’t even bother to read. The further I get into my ballot assembly, the harsher my criteria become.
Marion County Prosecutor: The incumbent restored some confidence to the position after his predecessor dropped the ball on more than one occasion. His challenger seems to mean well and would love to see the office come up with sentencing ideas besides prison-stuffing. Disadvantage: the challenger’s main campaign site is a Facebook page.
Marion County Recorder: The incumbent is stepping aside to run for Auditor (see above), so our choices number three: a customer service rep who lists his current occupation as “Accounting student, Student Government President”; a paralegal with “international liaison” experience, which might qualify as being overqualified four a county office job; and a Small Claims Court Clerk who’s worked in the offices of two previous governors.
Marion County Sheriff: The incumbent is either doing the Best He Can or Not Nearly Enough, depending on your opinion of what’s considered an acceptable homicide rate increase. His challenger is a retired ATF agent, which sounds like the most action-packed job of any of the politicians I’ve described in this entry. His name shares all but three letters with David Tennant’s character from Gracepoint, and I like to think that means something.
Township stuff and judges: Beyond this point on the ballot are several more sections of tedium I’d prefer not to dwell on point-by-point. They’re mostly pass/fail verdicts on existing or wannabe judges. None of them have ever appeared in a TV reality show, so I’ll probably give them the benefit of the indifference.
I have much to ponder before I arise early tomorrow morning and vote while I’m half-asleep. To those of you hitting the polls and adding your tally marks for Victory, I wish you a most Happy Election Day full of democracy and winning. And good luck to any candidates out there with verifiable, demonstrable competencies!