For the first time in 12 years, I’m voting for a Republican.
A lot is at stake in this midterm election, but something bigger is at stake in the history of our country: the right to choose. As both parties become more polarized, independents like me are left with no choice at all. We vote for the candidate who most closely reflects our views, even though that candidate is often more extreme than we are.
We become party-line voters, not by choice, but of necessity, because there are no other real options. This creates a false sense that we’ve endorsed extreme viewpoints and reinforces those viewpoints in the future. We are, in effect, encouraging candidates to continue running far-right or far-left campaigns, because we keep on voting for them.
This inherent weakness in the two-party system was kept in check during an era when civility was still the norm, both in the halls of Congress and in society. But increasingly, that’s not the case. Decidedly uncivil, even rude behavior has been on the rise, and as we condone it in our candidates, they feel free to keep upping the ante.
Because. It. Works.
I’m voting for the Republican candidate in California’s 24th Congressional District because he doesn’t look like a typical Republican (at least not in 2018). I don’t agree with Michael Erin Woody on everything. In fact, his opposition to single-payer health care is problematic for me, because I believe strongly that health care should be recognized as a right, not an opportunity for big corporations to make money.
But here’s the thing: We don’t have to agree with our chosen candidates on everything. Back before “compromise” became a dirty word, it was how we got things done. If a candidate is rejected because he or she scores “only” 90 percent on some interest group’s checklist, rather than 100, that’s a recipe for gridlock – which is where we’ll be stuck as long as we keep insisting that our way is the only way. We have to be willing to at least consider other options.
That’s what Woody does. He’s a civil engineer from Morro Bay who I know from my hometown, Fresno, where he served on the City Council. I consider him a friend. But I’m not voting for him because of that. On the contrary, we became friends in large measure because we share a key value: the importance of thinking for yourself, regardless of party platforms.
Woody told The Santa Barbara Independent that “the Republican Party has lost its way.”
I agree. With many moderates and mavericks on the GOP side leaving Congress, the party needs all the help it can get.
Woody supports same-sex marriage, a position that’s at odds with Republicans who fought tenaciously against it in passing Proposition 8. Woody not only isn’t apologizing for his stand, he announced it at the very outset of his campaign. He also supports continuing to allow transgender individuals to serve in the nation’s military, bucking the Trump administration’s position on that issue. And he opposes offshore oil drilling, another position at odds with President Trump – but one shared by a lot of voters in the 24th District. Woody’s not only willing to challenge the leader of his own party on this issue, he’s taking a position that puts his potential constituents ahead of party politics. That’s important, because politicians are elected to represent their districts, not other politicians.
Woody has named infrastructure as one of his priorities, focusing attention on a problem that Trump pledged to address, then abandoned. It’s a key issue in a state where many roads and bridges are in need of repair and replacement.
As many of my readers know, I’m no fan of Trump, but this isn’t about who’s president. I want to see Democrats stand up to their party leaders, too, and vote based on their principles and their constituents’ interests rather than partisan precepts. Dialogue is preferable to dogma, and it’s the only way to solve problems. I’m confident that Woody would encourage that kind of dialogue in Washington.
Politicians often talk about running the government like a business, then proceed to spend millions of dollars on their campaigns on the assumption that money equals votes. Woody hasn’t focused on raising money, but on spending it wisely and getting the most bang for his buck during the current campaign. That’s the kind of attitude we need in Washington, where Republicans who preach fiscal restraint bust budgets more egregiously than the Democrats they criticize. (Contrast Woody, who runs his own small business, with a president whose companies have declared bankruptcy six times.)
And Woody’s running an issues-based campaign, focusing on his own ideas rather than attacking his opponents. By contrast, Justin Fareed spent much of his time in televised debates criticizing Democrat Salud Carbajal. At one point, Fareed’s campaign even sent out a mailer accusing Carbajal of being a “Nazi collaborator and self-proclaimed socialist.” (Fareed, the other Republican in the race, later issued a retraction.)
That’s a big deal to me because, as a political independent, I’m tired of voting against people. I’m tired of holding my nose and voting for the lesser of two evils – and in this case, I won’t be. I would have no problem seeing Carbajal, for whom I voted in 2014, re-elected. I agree with him on a number of issues. But I want a choice in the matter, and I want a thoughtful approach to governing that puts constituents before political litmus tests. I believe Michael Erin Woody will provide such an approach.
Michael Erin Woody will give voters a real, rational choice in November and, if elected, will give constituents thoughtful, creative solutions to the challenges we face. That’s why I’m supporting him for Congress in California’s 24th District.