This is the conclusion of my three-part series on my (likely quixotic) quest to get an alternative to Rep. Austin Scott on the ballot for the U.S. House race in Georgia District 8 next year. In last week’s installment, I described the needlessly difficult process for getting an independent or third party candidate on the ballot for U.S. House in our state, and I admitted that approach was unlikely to be successful given the current ballot-access laws. But I promised that I wasn’t giving up on my dream of seeing an independent-minded candidate oppose Mr. Government Shutdown in the District 8 race next year, and I said I’d have more to say on the topic this week. And so I do.
Obviously, our current nomination process is immensely prejudicial to the two well-established political parties, so the most realistic possibility of seeing any kind of competitive race next year in District 8 is for someone else to run as either a Republican or a Democrat. And frankly, for the kind of candidate I have in mind, it won’t matter which party he or she chooses to associate with. I think there is way too much emphasis on party loyalty in Washington right now.
The reason I was disappointed that Scott fell in line with the tea party wing of the Republican Party during the shutdown fiasco is that I believe he had little choice to do otherwise, even though I’m sure he was aware the shutdown was an ultimately pointless gesture that hurt many federal government workers in his district and the economic health of the nation as a whole. He also had to know that if he hadn’t fallen into line with the majority Republicans in the House he would have become a pariah in his own party and ruined his political career. That kind of peer pressure is hard to overcome given the highly polarized environment in Washington these days, but following the ideological figureheads in one’s political party instead of acting in the best interests of your constituents is exactly what’s wrong with our government. And so, if anyone does run against Scott in 2014, they should give us a real alternative to the kind of politicians that are now rife in both parties.
They should represent the people of District 8 and not Ted Cruz or John Boehner or Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi. Both parties like to add an “INO” (short for “in-name-only”) suffix to the “R” or “D” initial to castigate mavericks within their parties who can’t be counted on to fall into line and vote as expected on crucial legislation. You don’t hear the term much anymore because Congress has become so polarized that there aren’t many legislators left who will defy the will of the power-mongers in their party.
But I would very much like to see a RINO or a DINO represent District 8. I would like to have the option of voting for what amounts to an independent candidate who will run under the banner of one of the major parties out of present necessity but who will keep the best interests of his or her constituents at heart at all times.
Maybe someone reading this column is such a person. Or maybe you know someone who has the energy and the commitment to public service to take this difficult but important challenge on. If so, I can’t guarantee that person can win -- in fact winning will be a long shot if we are realistic. But I believe there is at least one patriot in our district who abhors uncontested elections as much as I do and is willing to be a voice for those of us who want to change the tone in Washington from mindless political tribalism to pragmatic problem-solving.
I don’t know if one person can really change things, but I know if one person does not try it is certain nothing will change.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.