I’ll take the third - By Daniel Riordan
This year is of firsts for me.
I started a new job. My first as a managing editor of a newspaper.
This will be the first time I vote in a presidential election as a Plymouth resident.
And this is the first time I’m going to vote for a third-party candidate: Gary Johnson.
I should start by saying what led me to this point.
Last week, I would have probably voted for President Obama. I voted for him in 2008. This vote in 2012 would have been a “lesser of two lessers” sort of vote.
I have been utterly disappointed by Obama’s administration.
But I do see things getting better. I see reports that businesses have lots of cash on hand and that 2013 may be a decent year.
I have no real beef with Mitt Romney’s gaffes. Or even the fact that he’s essentially been running for President for six years.
I disagree with him on some issues. But at the end of the day, I don’t think he’s a better option than Obama.
So I was going along thinking I’d vote for the current POTUS one more time.
Then I read a piece of prose in The Atlantic that punched me right in the face.
It’s called “Why I refuse to Vote for Barack Obama” by Connor Friedersdorf.
You can read it online at www.theatlantic.com
In 2008, I voted for Obama not because of his celebrity or oratorical skills.
I truly, and probably naively, thought he would pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. End programs like No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act.
I thought he would go after the reckless and criminal hooligans on Wall Street.
Instead, he ended the war in Iraq only to double down in Afghanistan.
There are any number of Middle Eastern countries that I could see us engaging with on a full scale next.
Obama’s “drone wars” put George W. Bush’s to shame.
Obama commissioned the killing through a drone strike of American-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. That creates a dangerous precedent.
I know that a candidate is different once he or she becomes President.
I’m not an ideologue. I’m a pragmatist.
I know not every campaign promise can be delivered.
But this President isn’t even a reasonable facsimile of the candidate I voted for in 2008.
I give him credit for governing during tough times.
But the same things that outraged me about Bush are being done by Obama.
Never-ending wars. Intrusive government surveillance. Cumbersome unfunded federal mandates. Reckless spending.
I don’t consider myself a libertarian. I consider myself an independent. I’m not a fan of the laissez faire capitalism, the “free-market will fix everything” stance of many staunch libertarians.
But what has me interested in Johnson is that his social, economic and foreign policy stances aren’t whacky or off the rail. They just are in this day of politics.
I know that I risk “wasting my vote” if I vote for someone like Johnson. But in a practical sense, how am I?
Romney will win Indiana going away.
And my vote for Johnson won’t affect how I vote in other races.
What it comes down to is, whether it really matters or not, I need to feel good about my vote.
And that’s what I intend on doing this year.
There was a fire Thursday in Tippecanoe. We covered it.
Afterward, I placed photos of it, including some of the victim, on our Facebook page. One ran in Friday’s paper.
People expressed their displeasure with that. The majority of comments came through Facebook. I don’t give those a lot of credence because it’s really easy to spout off at the mouth from the safety of behind a keyboard.
But I did have a couple of people who actually called me.
One of them was the sister of the victim. She asked that we take the photos of her brother down from Facebook. While we are under no legal obligation to do so I made the choice to do that.
We aren’t trying to be the New York Times here. But posting a photo like the one we did isn’t out of line with what many newspapers would do. And while people may take issue with it, I stand behind the photos we ran in Friday’s paper.
There’s a discussion that could be had about the role of the newspaper in a community. About the double standard between print and TV journalism. About the violence and graphic images we as a culture allow ourselves to take in.
But I’ll save that discussion for some other time.
We are charged with reporting the news. And sometimes the news is depressing and uncomfortable to digest.
One comment from the sister was the family felt it was being disrespected. That obviously was not my intention.
I felt the photo we posted on the front page of the paper Friday showed the severity of the situation. I felt it showed the courage of someone trying to fight for his life. I thought it showed the love and compassion of a family.
The last thing I felt it did was show disrespect.
The decision to run the photos online and in the paper is mine and mine alone.
I can’t control the emotions of others. As a newspaper we also can’t make our decisions based on the feelings of others. The best we can do is try to get all the facts we can and present them in the most compelling way possible.
The minute we start shifting our compass to the ever-changing winds of public opinion, we’re all lost.