Soapbox: Alan Smithee for President
Over the last decade or so, I've become increasingly disillusioned with the American political system. Part of it has to do with my age: being born in 1981, the first national election in which I was able to vote was that of the year 2000. I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone of that fiasco, but one result that doesn't seem to get much attention is that many young voters (at least, many that I've spoken with) came away with the strong feeling that, in the end, there were only nine votes in the entire country that actually mattered.
The intervening years have done little to improve my opinion of the system. The increasingly polarized atmosphere, the venomous, partisan rhetoric flung back an forth, the frankly immature behavior of both major parties - all of these (plus a complete lack of faith in either candidate's credibility, and various objections to both parties' policies that are irrelevent here) have me looking for another option. I voted for a third party in 2008, but on later reflection, I realized that this wasn't an ideal solution either, because my only reason for doing so was to protest the Republicans and Democrats. I didn't agree with their policies enough to warrant their getting my vote, and, worse, my message of disdain for the major parties wasn't effectively communicated that way.
(A brief aside - I strongly disagree with those who say that voting for a third party is a waste of a vote. The Presidential election of 1912 is probably the most significant example of a third party affecting an outcome, but I can think of another example: if every third-party vote in Indiana had instead gone to the Republicans in 2008, the state would have gone to McCain.)
In my perfect world, ballots would include an option to abstain. The message sent would then be "I wish to cast a vote in this election, but do not find any of the candidates acceptable." It would tell both (or all) parties that there are people who are dissatisfied not only with them, but with the entire (in my opinion broken) system. Without that option, though, there is another recourse: the write-in.
But who to write in for? What name can convey our feelings?
For many years, a Hollywood director who was dissatisfied with a film they'd made, and wished to disown it, had the option of using the pseudonym "Alan Smithee." And, as a voter who wishes to disown the major candidates, but also doesn't wish to vote for a party he doesn't fully support, that's my proposal.
I suppose this sounds like a joke, but it isn't. Or maybe it's a bit crackpot. I certainly hope not. And I want to make it perfectly clear that I only propose this course of action to people who are as disgusted with the current state of affairs as myself - I'd never ask anybody to change their vote just to make this statement. But if you plan to vote for a third party to send a message to the Big Two, or don't plan to vote because no candidate appeals to you, then writing Alan Smithee in will get the message across much more clearly - especially if a lot of us do it. Imagine thousands of votes coming in for a name that's synonymous with dissatisfaction. That'll get some attention.
Would it make a difference in the outcome? I seriously doubt it. But, just as loyal party supporters are able to send a clear and unambiguous message of support to their respective candidates, I think voters like myself need a way to send a clear, unambiguous message of nonsupport. And I think Alan Smithee provides a simple way to do so.
Alan Smithee for President.
(Note: while I encourage feedback and debate, any partisan comments will be summarily deleted.)