Opinion Columns & Blogs

FERGUSON: A very early (useless) endorsement for 2016

Even though the 2016 presidential primaries are still months away, the campaign is already dominating the news, and people have been asking me which candidate I like. I usually respond by laughing hysterically and then abruptly transition into uncontrollable weeping as the weight of the stupidity being displayed in our electoral process crushes any hope I have for our nation’s future.

Once I am able to speak again after the laughing/crying ceases, I usually answer “Ronald Reagan.” If the person asking the question hasn’t run away by then they usually point out that President Reagan is deceased and therefore might have a hard time executing some of the duties of his office. But even with that handicap I still prefer him over any of the choices we have to pick from this election cycle.

However, writing in Ronnie’s name on the ballot does little good (as I’ve learned from experience), so at some point I’ll have to anoint one of the living, breathing candidates as the lesser of all the evils. I don’t have the heart or the patience to sort through the 20-plus candidates from both parties who are officially in the race, so I thought I’d let the Internet make a preliminary choice for me.

The good folks at selectsmart.com were there to help me out, as always. I just had to answer 18 questions regarding my views on current hot-button political issues and their software would present me with my best choice. How could I go wrong?

Unfortunately things went wrong right away. I tend to be something of a shades-of-grey thinker on lots of issues and all of their questions had only two answers that tended to be extreme right or left wing with no room for subtlety. As a result I had to choose “No answer” to at least half the questions, so I didn’t feel good about the accuracy of the process.

But since the only alternative was to wade through reams of speeches and political resumes to make a more informed choice, I decided to forge on through the admittedly imperfect process and see how it came out.

And my best match in the 2016 race according to selectsmart.com turned out to be ... Lincoln Chaffee. Wait -- who the heck is Lincoln Chaffee? Well apparently he is a former U.S. Senator and Rhode Island governor who is running for the Democratic nomination. Since I’ve not heard his name mentioned once outside of this selector program, I wondered if it’s possible that only the folks at selectsmart.com know he is running.

I only matched up on 61 percent of his views, so apparently none of the candidates see eye-to-eye with me on most things. When I browsed through his positions on the issues it became obvious that some of the questions I didn’t answer in the quiz covered up some serious differences between Lincoln and myself, but the handful of things we agreed on were enough to deliver him the “win.”

I guess the best thing I can say about my man Lincoln is that he’s not extremely liberal for a Democrat. As governor he did support a tax cut for commercial property to spur economic growth and as senator he voted with Republicans on issues like Social Security reforms and free trade agreements. But we have serious differences on things like gun control, raising the minimum wage and immigration.

Still, if I had to vote for a Democrat, he seems like a better bet than Hillary. And since I don’t have the patience to try and sort through the Dumpster fire that the GOP race is at the moment, I may as well go ahead and throw my support to the man selectsmart picked out for me for the time being.

At least I have an answer when people ask me who I’m backing in 2016. Instead of saying I’m voting for Ronald Reagan’s ghost, I’ll say I support some guy no one has heard of that I let an Internet site pick out for me. Hopefully, people will learn to just stop asking me these kinds of questions.

Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at fergcolumn@hotmail.com.