Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Election Day

Today was Election Day in New Jersey, home of one of the disgustingly-filthiest gubernatorial races I've ever seen.

I love Election Day. It was more of thrill when I was working newsside, at least professionally, but it's one of those days that I really enjoy as a citizen.

I know that sounds trite, but I feel like voting is one of the great responsibilities of a citizen of the United States - and having been naturalized, I've grown to appreciate that citizenship more than I think I would if it were a birthright.

And something I've noticed as I've gotten older and particularly now that I'm a homeowner is that I pay a lot more attention to the issues on a local level than I used to.

I'm a registered Democrat, and I often vote more-or-less party line. I'm a moderate liberal, what I think of as a blue-collar liberal, that is to say, very conservative on some issues, but generally liberal on most.

Thing is, I live in a blue state, but in a red county, as it were. For instance, Democrat Jon Corzine handily won the governorship tonight, despite recent polls that showed Republican Doug Forrester was closing the gap.

But my Assemblymen (state legislators) and Congressman are both Republicans who have won easily the past couple of times out.

And I find myself feeling very parochial at the ballot booth sometimes.

For instance, in two elections I've supported one of the GOP Assemblymen in a couple of elections now, because he's from Hillsborough, the township where I live, and I feel like he keeps the best interests of the township in mind.

On the other hand, there was a very divisive issue regarding the township governance this year, and I'm curious to see how it turned out - the Democrats championed the change, while the GOP was in favor of the status quo, or at least opposed to the change.

I also found I have very different feelings about politics and politicians from a national and local standpoint. For instance, I voted for Corzine when he ran for U.S. Senate a few years back; but I didn't vote for him for governor today.

I agree with many of his political positions, but I didn't feel like he was someone who could relate to the average state resident, such as myself.

(Disclaimer: This is just me talking, not my employer, etc., don't fire me!)

The point isn't really who I support, but my fascination with how I've evolved as a voter. It pleases me that I give the issues some thought and try to read up on the candidates, etc. (I voted for one candidate because he is gay, and I think diversity in office has its advantages; I'm sure he didn't win.)

On the other hand, it sort of amazes me that I'm far more conservative on some issues than I thought I was. My parents are quite liberal, generally speaking, and staunch Democrats, for the most part. So I became a Democrat when I started voting, and I actually do generally agree with their positions, if not always their character.

I always joke that in New Jersey politics, the problem is, the Democrats are corrupt and the Republicans are crazy.

But the thing is, on a local level, I don't think many national issues I care about are really important - it's not like the Hillsborough Township committee has any effect on abortion or the death penalty or gun control. So I tend to support the local guys who seem most interested in doing what's best for me, as a property owner in Hillsborough/Somerset County.

And sometimes, that sort of bothers me. My parents raised me to think of others, but it seems like a selfish viewpoint. On the other hand, my quarterly property tax bill is the same as their yearly one, and it's not like any of these other people are paying my mortgage. Nothing wrong with trying to support the right people who will do what I want on the local issues, like build the Route 206 bypass and get the mercury out of the township.

I think I've written about this before, but it's what's on my mind tonight, on account of it being election night and all.

I guess time will tell what becomes of the governor-elect, and the daylight will show how the other things turned out. I know I'll be eager to see the paper tomorrow and find out.

Links:'s election results
The N.J. Division of Elections

"Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country." ~Ambrose Bierce (quote cheerfully swiped from