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January 24, 2000

My cousin Sherry from Iowa is glad that the caucuses are tonight and all the politicians will be leaving her state. She refuses to participate because she can't vote for "none of the above." The candidates now have a week to make some kind of impression on New Hampshire, then South Carolina and on to Super Tuesday, which includes the primaries in New York and here in California. So what Sherry's getting rid of is about to descend on us, like the plague of locusts that they are.

Fortunately, we have an open primary this year in California. The party hacks don't like it, and they'll try to blow it out of the water before the next time around, but for now anyone in any party can vote for any of the presidential contenders in this primary. So if I choose to go outside my party and try to find someone I can really believe in, I have that option. Now if I could only find the person I can be proud to vote for.

It hasn't taken me this long to become disillusioned; that happened long ago. But I've voted Democratic in every presidential election since my first one in 1972. That means I voted for McGovern over Nixon, Mondale over Reagan, Dukakis over Bush. Those weren't strict party-line votes; they just seemed to be the best choices at the time. But my vote didn't help any of them win.

This year, if I'm going to be voting for a loser anyway, it's going to be someone I think is decent and honest. The problem is that as soon as I learn anything about any politician, it usually makes me less likely to trust them.

Gore and Bradley are in a nasty cat fight, with the specter of Willie Horton and other cheap shots degrading what was supposed to have been an uplifting contest.

The more I hear about George W. Bush, the more the voice of Dan Quayle echoes in my head. John McCain had me on the character issue until he became an apologist for the Confederate flag wavers. At least he took a side on the issue, even if it's the wrong one. Bush's position is that he'd rather not have one.

Since I have reservations about all the familiar candidates, I'm left to wade through the minor league pretenders, searching for a worthy beneficiary of my valuable endorsement. What I don't want to do is vote for someone simply because I know less about him or her than I do about the others. That's something I'm going to have to work to avoid. If I'm voting for someone merely because they haven't yet been put under the microscope and had their warts revealed, I might as well just go with the lesser evil. That seems to be the American way of voting anyway.

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