Independents, Independence, and The Other Election

By Miles Tager

Registered Unaffiliated voters, or as we prefer to be called, Independents, can carry a little different viewpoint into the voting booth.

Not beholden to any party, platform or restricted point of view, we hope and try to bring an open mind with us into the democratic process.

Which isn’t to say that Republicans or Democrats don’t vote their conscience, hearts, minds or hopes; it’s just the simple fact that pure intent gets complicated at the best of times, and these aren’t them.

This year, as absolutely everyone in this country can agree, is truly weird.

So I am hoping we can put the national elections aside for a moment and think about what is happening locally, in Ashe County.

I have proposed for myself, and for consideration for other voters if they care to, a Checklist for our equally important local elections.

The checklist is a well-known feature of hospital Operating Room protocol before surgery, where the surgical team covers all the variables they need to consider before proceeding.

Checklists represent invaluable tools in any critical arena – like exercising your democratic right to vote – to help provide the best outcome.

This technique also shifts the burden of proof, if you will, away from a formula laid out by people you don’t know working behind the scenes at a political convention, and brings it back to you, the voter, and your God-given common sense.

So what’s at stake in our little and oft-forgotten part of the world?

Oh…our children, our health, our quality of life, our ability to find work, our chances to live free of strife and fear, our FUTURE.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” referred not only to back then, and right now, but to all the times that follow as well.

So lets look at Ashe County and apply a checklist to see where we are and what kind of people we might want to help represent it, regardless of party affiliation.

Ashe is poor, proud, creative, hard-working, friendly to all but suspicious of sudden change; devoted to land, faith and family.

Folks here are mostly tough, stubborn, kind, humble, and down to earth, with a good sense of humor.

In other words, potentially the perfect electorate to vote in others with the same sterling qualities.

But have we?

Do your elected officials govern for the common good or in lock-step with party politics? Do they demonstrate concern for the kids and their well-being, education, protection, and recreation? How about for your farms, your small business?

Do we have enough good doctors, nurses, law officers and teachers?

Do we pay them well?

Do local government agencies have what they need to do a good job; are they doing a good job?

Are taxpayers getting the service they deserve – and pay for – at, say, Social Services, Animal Control, Veterans Services, Economic Development, or County Administration?

These deliberations are complex enough without getting entangled in the monstrous Multiflora Rose of national politics, which has left us all feeling pretty torn up, not to mention just a little crazy.

So I myself at least am going to try to go into the voting booth this year with all that mess banished from my thoughts.

And be thinking just this; in this county we are still pretty good at abiding by The Golden Rule; so God grant me the wisdom to vote in those who would do the same.

That’s the only thing in this election year that makes perfect sense.

Miles Tager is a freelance writer and resident of Ashe County.

By Miles Tager

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