Sunday, May 29, 2011

When Free Speech Crosses The Line

You all know I'm a man with opinions.

I have ideas that are in keeping with the political party I've chosen to support. I have ideas that are very different, and I defend them vociferously. I'm always happy to debate those ideas, and listen to the ideas of others.

Sometimes, though, it's not possible to come to an agreement. Sometimes, you have to agree to disagree. Sometimes, the other person isn't interested in compromise. Heck, sometimes - very rarely - I'm not interested in compromise. And so you end in a stand-off. This is the reality of adult conversation.

I've long been opposed to the co-opting of public figures' images, names or internet identities for partisan gain under the guise of "satire". I didn't like it when Ed Stelmach's domain name was snapped up. I didn't like it when fake Stelmach and Ted Morton id's popped up on Twitter. Those are elected officials, and they're fair game for criticism. I get that. Bloggers are no less public, and that's by our choice. We choose to step out of the shadows, stand on a soap-box, and proclaim our thoughts to the masses. So, we're fair game for disagreement at all times, and for ridicule when we deserve it.

All that said, though, it's still not okay in my mind to co-opt someone's identity to try and embarrass them. So it was with great trepidation that I saw recently someone had started a fake account on Twitter for my friend and fellow blogger Christina Rontynen. Christina did a great job of turning the other cheek, and even considered it something of a badge of honour that she had been considered a big enough threat to have warranted a "spoof account". This reaction denied the offender that which they were most probably seeking: The chance to be hurtful to the object of their scorn and ridicule.

My disgust at the appearance this weekend of a hideously named Twitter account meant to ridicule Jane Morgan is palpable. I know that, as a staunch advocate of free speech, Jane is going to let this roll off her back like water on a duck. But the clearly degrading language used to describe this earnest and passionate Albertan is completely unacceptable in a civilized society. The account suggests it may be the work of someone in her own party, but that could just as easily be a red herring. Whether the account is related to the Wildrose nomination battle in Calgary-Klein (nee North Hill), a result of someone from another partisan bent trying to get their shots in anonymously, or just some coward with a keyboard and a lot of free time is beside the point. It's name-calling in an attempt to be hurtful. It's something children do. And my friend Jane is many things - but "childish" is not one of them. She won't give this coward the satisfaction.

I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the political bloggers here in Alberta, from across the entire political spectrum. I count some of them - regardless of their affiliation - among my closer friends. We disagree on many things - but we disagree and debate those differences with respect, and in full sentences. It was a pleasant shock to me that when many of us were invited by Wildrose Alliance blogger The Alberta Altruist to join him in a suite at the Saddledome for a Calgary Flames game this past season, we all GOT ALONG. Not just those of us who were inclined to agree with each other before we met - ALL of us. Even Shane. Because we're grown-ups, and we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Jane says things sometimes that are inaccurate. She says things sometimes that are ill-advised, or that she shouldn't have said. You know who else does that, sometimes? Me. And Dave Cournoyer. And Ken Chapman. And Shane Byciuk. And DJ Kelly. And Jeremy Zhao. And Alheli Picazo. And the Alberta Altruist. And Dan Arnold. And Dan Pagan. And Kirk Schmidt. And Alex Muir. And Christina Rontynen. And Peter Pilarski. And Allie Wojtaszek. And Duncan Wojtaszek and Blake Robert, before I put them into retirement. And every other blogger, past and present. We ALL do it. And we're not alone - REAL journalists, who are trained to do this sort of thing and smart enough to insist on PAYMENT to do it, make those mistakes too.

When we DO, we should be called on it. By the general public, and by each other. We have to police ourselves, to keep the public discourse based on reality and civility. It's the responsibility of all of us to hold each other to a high standard, and to speak up when that standard isn't met.

I respect all of the bloggers listed above, and I've been lucky enough to have met many of them. Many of them have very different ideas from me - and that's okay. Because we can respectfully disagree. Because we're adults.

But a spoof account on Twitter made to embarrass or hurt someone's feelings?

That's a child's game.

Grow up.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Glenn Taylor Elected Alberta Party Leader #abpleader

With 665 votes, Glenn Taylor, Mayor of Hinton, has been elected Leader of the Alberta Party. Taylor will now begin in earnest the joint tasks of setting up his own campaign for MLA in West Yellowhead, and in working with the party's Election Readiness team to try and win a sizable caucus in the next General Election for Alberta - expected in the next 2 years.

Taylor's acceptance speech appears below.

Savage On The Scene: Sue's Big Goodbye at #abpleader

Outgoing Acting Leader of the Alberta Party, Sue Huff, pointed out on stage this afternoon that on his last day in the job Edwin Erickson had performed a rap song on his accordion. Not to be outdone, Sue picked up her guitar and brought the 300 or so convention attendees to their feet with her rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", a tongue-in-cheek response to criticisms of the party as being based on "rainbows and kitten" sentimentality.

Sue rocks.

If her suggestion that outgoing leaders should sing becomes a party tradition, I want to say to today's eventual winner: When your day comes, I'm available for lessons. ;)

Savage On The Scene: Countdown #abpleader

Nation, in 8 minutes the first round of voting for the Alberta Party leadership closes. Internal estimates put the turn-out at just over 60% - I'll go on the record at 1,280 votes.

Said one source close to one of the campaigns: "The last 10 minutes are the worst. There's nothing to do but wait."

The Taylor campaign has apparently called every single eligible voter, from their phone bank on-site. They're calling through Google, at no cost.

Stay tuned!

Swag Wars: #abpleader

These are some of the goodies that were left on the tables this morning at the Alberta Party Leadership Convention.

The award for "Most Swag" goes to Glenn Taylor. Including a fascinating fortune cookie...

Ahhhhhh...  so THAT'S how the cookie crumbles...

Savage On The Scene: Royer Speech at #abpleader

Royer's introduction talks about his book, which should have been called "Randy's Excellent Political Adventure". Royer is a "political philosopher and visionary" with years of business experience. Bold, courageous, unconventional. Talk of Calgary's municipal election - why, did something interesting happen there? I wasn't paying attention. ;) Paraphrase of the "Boldly Go" intro from Star Trek - you've got my attention now. "How can we see so much excellence in Alberta, yet a government of mediocrity?"

Royer thanks his fellow candidates. Also thanks Dave Taylor and Sue Huff, both of whom draw a standing ovation. Hearkens back to Bible Bill, and to Peter Lougheed. "The Heritage Fund grew and grew, but it has stalled out, and so has the party that has goverened for the last 40 years". Alberta has the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world, but we're talking aobut laying off teachers, line-ups in emergency rooms...  this is not right."

Royer seems to be getting more applause than the other candidates - his speech seems to be designed for "applause pauses". It's having the desired effect.

This party is the greatest thing that has happened to Alberta politics in 2 generations. We need to be more bold - more aggressive. We need to be a leader of these new and exciting ideas. Talks about his experience in the "un-named natural governing party" of Canada. His company had a "department of listening".

"Listening is a means unto an end - it is not an end itself. We have to be prepared to act on it."

Royer wraps up his speech with some French. Interesting choice. The currency of government is the happiness of its people. "This is our time, this is the place, join me in making that change". A lot of love for Royer in the room. Could be an interesting vote...

Savage On The Scene: Easton Speech at #abpleader

After a brief introduction, Easton takes the stage and talks about how important it is to him that the party does things differently, including how all the leadership candidates are pulling in the same direction and sharing some laughs.

Easton takes clear aim at the PC's and the current government. Out of touch, elite, etc - I'm feeling the love. ;)  Talks about his background in Sudbury, moving to Calgary, and working at Mount Royal University. Talks about his work in the business world as well. "I've learned what it takes to lead; I know how to get things done."

Goes over his priorities: Education, including access to post-secondary. Long-term planning, and the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Protecting the environment "It's not an option for us to do better, it's a requirement". Health-care. Commitment to fully public funded healthcare that "will. not. change. under. my. watch." Talks about aboriginal relations.

"We have to leverage these new political winds - we know there's a desire for change".

Alberta Party needs to do things differently by 1. Discussing reasonable solutions. 2. Employing leading-edge thinking to develop and implement long-term solutions. Takes a shot at the Wildrose.

"I share your vision for a progressive, innovating, world-class Alberta. It's time to dream again".

Savage On The Scene: Maloney Speech at #abpleader

Introduction from Tammy's mom: The day has arrived, and isn't it exciting? "Woot woot", as those Facebook people would say... (laughs)

Throw to a video from Sam Gregory, the young man who spearheaded the Save Our Fine Arts organization. He met Tammy at an event, and fully endorses her for Alberta Party leader.

Tammy's mom continues to heap praise on her daughter, focusing on her heart and collaborative nature. No mention of sneaking out late at night or not doing her chores. Note to self: Under NO circumstances should my mother be allowed near a microphone when I run for office. ;)

Marc from Calgary East comes up to speak next, about the Alberta Party's belief in listening. Leader's job is to "ask questions on our behalf". Leader must be approachable to every Albertan. We have 4 very talented Albertans who represent the best of Alberta leadership. I know every one of them is capable. My choice is the person with the energy, drive and approachability to continue party's meteoric growth. Tammy comes onto the stage.

Maloney starts by thanking fellow candidates, and all in attendance. "I truly believe that no matter who we elect today, we can't make a bad choice - because our party is destined for greatness (big applause)". Talks about her business background, and her experience with the Clinton Foundation. "My heart has led me back home, to an experience with the homeless community in Calgary, I build relationships with street youth to help them enter the job market and not a homeless shelter." She begins to tear up when talking about the Alberta Party, and how for the first time she feels "at home". Speaks about the holistic approach to policy, and that "we WILL form the next government."

Savage On The Scene: Taylor Speech at #abpleader

Glenn Taylor begins by thanking his fellow candidates. Points out that when Peter Lougheed and David King were building a progressive Alberta, he wasn't all that thankful - he was busy skiing (big laughs). Taylor hypes up the strength and growth of the party. Hearkens back to Lougheed again, and mentions the democratic deficit.Talks about why he chose to live in Hinton. Tells the story of working in the sawmill, going back to school, meeting his wife and his kids - the daughter a nurse, the son living at the base of a ski hill ("sometimes the sins of the father are visited upon the son"). His campaign for Hinton council was based on the simple concept of instilling pride through listening. The citizens identified their priorities, and council met them. Will the Alberta Party be defined by the left and the right? Yes. "We will be defined because we are going to make sure that the politics of the past is left behind, and we will do what is right". Mentions his participation in the first Reboot Alberta event in Red Deer, which was attended by people from every party and every part of the political spectrum. Says that "by this time next year, our party will have contested an election". A year from now I intend to be standing here again, as the elected MLA for West Yellowhead - and I want my fellow leadership candidates standing here with me, as part of the Alberta Party caucus.

Savage On The Scene: The Morning Of #abpleader

Nation, after a relatively early night and a morning spent fighting off my hayfever (the battle wages on), I find myself sitting in Salons 8-10 at the Shaw Conference Centre.

The membership of this party is streaming through the doors, on their way to their various tasks or their breakfast tables. The party's President, Chris Labossiere, just stopped by one of the 2 "Blogger Tables" to say hi. Spirits are high, and many of these folks have already cast their ballots via telephone and online. I'm not 100% convinced that's the best course of action before the candidates have had a chance to speak to the convention, but those votes are no less informed than many of those cast in any other party's leadership races.

There's a smoky smell to the air in Edmonton today - I expect that's related to the wildfires that still blaze in many areas to the north. But there's also anticipation in the air, as the party may meet its new leader by 1:15 this afternoon, as the results from the First Ballot are announced.

The voting works as follows:
First Ballot voting is open until 1:00 pm today. Votes will be tallied, and if no candidate has 50% of the vote plus 1, the candidate with the least votes will be dropped off the list, and the remaining 3 candidates will again stand for election, on a second ballot.
Second Ballot voting, if required, will take place in-person at the Shaw Centre, and via telephone and online, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The results will be tabulated and announced, and if none of the 3 remaining candidates secures 50% of the vote plus 1, the 3rd place candidate will be dropped from the ballot and the final 2 candidates will move on to a third a final round.
Third Ballot voting, if required, will take place from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. By my limited grasp of math, I'm pretty sure that with only 2 candidates on the ballot, one of them will certainly have the 50% plus 1 required to be declared the elected Leader of the Alberta Party.

What strikes me most about the people in this room is the relative youth that I see...  in my own party, I tend to spend more time around the youth than anyone else, but it's clear in larger party events that the youth contingent, while passionate, is certainly outweighed by the elder lions (a group towards which I find myself inexorably sliding further and further with each passing year).

As I look around this room, I'm counting about 150 people at breakfast - and maybe 30 of the heads are sporting grey foliage. The party has a provincial board of 24 members, and 18 of them are under the age of 40.

Now, youth isn't EVERYTHING - you've got to be GOOD at running a party, too. And the Alberta Party is still early in the game. But in terms of growth and energy going forward, they're in a place that many parties would love to be: Chock-full of young, passionate volunteers who want to make a difference.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Savage On The Scene: The Night Before #abpleader

Nation, the Savage has landed in Edmonton, and arrived at the Shaw Convention Centre just as the formal program was wrapping up and leadership candidates were making the rounds, kissing the babies (figuratively) and the dogs (literally - there WERE 2 dogs here).

By this time tomorrow, a party leader will be standing here.

I've touched base with the Maloney, Taylor and Easton camps. The candidates have speeches to polish - they've got over 15minutes at the podium tomorrow to convince the voters why they're the right fit for the job. The supporters seem to be bundles of energy, ready to go off and do... something... at a moment's notice. WHAT, exactly, they're supposed to be doing, they're not so sure about.

Cue the Operatives... every party has them. They know your name, even though you've never seen them in your life. You see them smiling at odd times, and then notice the backlight from their cell phone is still glowing in their hand, showing the text message from the manager of their volunteer phone bank. They shake hands with potential supporters, chit-chat for a minute or two, and then grab a campaign volunteer to "work on" you while they power-walk off to put out the most recent fire.

Even for a party that's trying to get rid of "politics as usual", the Operatives have a place. A political party without Operatives is utterly incapable of waging electoral battle. And the Operatives are in for a late night tonight, I think.

Early returns from this evening, announced by the Alberta Party President Chris Labossiere, indicated nearly 30% turn-out of eligible voters. And that's just through internet and phone voting.

A long night indeed.

Those of you here in Edmonton who might need to get ahold of me tonight, know how to. I'm at the Mariott. ;)

Lightning In a Bottle: The Alberta Party Leadership Race

Nation, something you may not know about me is that I agonize over the titles to my blog posts. I try to look for something relevant, funny, and/or understandable. Sometimes, an inability to come up with a good headline will stop me from writing a post altogether. And I always write the title before I write the body.

So, what's with the title to this particular post - "Lightning in a Bottle"?

Essentially, what the Alberta Party is trying to do this weekend with their selection of a leader is to find themselves the "next Naheed": Someone who can lift their party from obscurity and chase down the big dogs. Much as we saw Nenshi do in Calgary, the Alberta Party is going to have to overcome their relatively low profile to challenge the "establishment" parties of the PCs, Liberals, NDP and Wildrose (who, while new themselves, are completely stocked with politicians and operatives from yesteryear) for donations, media attention, and (ultimately) seats.

In order to do this, they need a leader who connects with Albertans. A leader who represents to Albertans exactly what the party membership feel is their most important attribute or focus.

If the membership feels their focus should be on party building, they'll vote a certain way in the leadership contest. If they feel their focus should be on the economy, they'll vote another way. And so on. In essence, we will know how this party defines itself and its priorities by the results of this leadership election.

Tammy Maloney will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to show the party as wearing its heart on its sleeve. Passionate and engaging, Maloney is impossible to dislike. She represents the progressive heart of this party's raison d'etre. She's a tireless worker, and boasts a very impressive resume. She's not afraid to say "I don't know the answer to that" - which would certainly be a change from the politicians of today. Her family's Albertan roots run deep, and the Vauxhall native would do very well at wooing potential party supporters in the rural south and the urban centres.

Glenn Taylor will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to show the party as eschewing "politics as usual". The only candidate to actually have been elected to public office in the past, the sitting Mayor of Hinton has developed a reputation for doing politics differently. He's about pan-generational planning, and building consensus. It also doesn't hurt that he has attracted some pretty high profile endorsements from within the party. The only candidate from north of Airdrie, Taylor would also be a boon to the party's fortunes in the north, particularly in Edmonton and areas to the west.

Randy Royer will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to show the party as being focused on the economy. His evocation of Bill Clinton's famous line "It's the economy, stupid" drew some ire from within the party, however Royer maintains that in order to get Henry and Martha onside with the new party, the focus has to be on ensuring that people can still make a living. It would also help silence the whispered criticisms of the party as being "re-branded Liberals". Royer's deep commitment to bettering Alberta for all of us is clear to anyone who's spoken with him, and he is convinced that his party can win the next general election in Alberta.

Lee Easton will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to embrace whole-heartedly their progressive mantle. His policy positions are clear and read like a progressive hymnal, though what's somewhat less clear is whether the party membership would fully endorse them even if he were to win the leadership. He's a teacher and academic with business experience, who would likely have a lot of appeal in the cities. I wasn't able to connect with Lee during the contest, but I'll try again when I get to the convention this evening.

I'll be doing a lot of posting from the Alberta Party Leadership Convention this weekend, and should be arriving around 8 tonight, so watch this space for updates.

(Rumour has it that Dave Cournoyer of daveberta has challenged me to a cage match. It's gunna get UGLY. Doesn't he remember how I crushed Alberta Tory? ;)

EDIT: The Twitter hashtag for the Leadership Convention is "#abpleader" - I'd suggest following it and #abparty if you prefer to get your updates via Twitter rather than waiting for prime rib-quality analysis from the Enlightened Savage. ;)

Quiet May Weekends...

Nation, there are few things I love more than the ability to kick up my feet for a couple of days in May, listen to the rain, and do absolutely NOTHING.

This weekend will NOT be one of those times.

Indeed, this is one of the busiest weekends we've seen in a looooong time, as far as Alberta's political watchers are concerned.

Gary Mar is making the rounds in Cowtown, hitting Rutherford this morning to announce his municipal funding platform and opening his Calgary Campaign Office to much fanfare on this afternoon at 4:00 pm. Mar seems to have been anointed by the mainstream media as one of the front-runners to replace Ed Stelmach as PC Leader, along with Ted Morton and Alison Redford (the front-runners for PC Leader in 2006, according to the same luminaries, were eventual third-place winner Morton and runner-up Jim Dinning. They also picked Ric McIver to win Calgary's mayoral race, before picking Barb Higgins, before only begrudgingly acknowledging Naheed Nenshi's campaign in its final few weeks - so just because you read it in print, doesn't make it so. And this from a blogger who predicted 50 BQ seats in the 41st General Election.)

The Progressive Conservatives are having a major "Spring Fling" fundraiser in Calgary on Friday night to drum up funds and support for their local constituency associations in Calgary constituencies currently not represented by PC MLA's.  Tickets are still available, but are said to be nearly sold out. Every declared leadership contender will be in attendance, to the best of my knowledge.

The Alberta Liberals are likewise holding a big get together in Calgary on Saturday and Sunday, billed as their Annual Convention and Special General Meeting, with the subtitle of "Politics Reimagined", to talk about where they go from here. Proposed amendments include everything from opening up leadership votes to any Albertan who "registers as a Liberal supporter" (which is, I imagine, not the same as being a party member) to moving from a "one-member, one vote" process to a "weighted delegate" process. Change is in the air, that much is for certain. This hot on the heels of yesterday's announcement by Bruce Payne of his intention to run for the party's leadership under his "87 Strong" campaign for party renewal across the entire province. It should make for an interesting meeting, to say the least. Payne joins sitting MLA's Hugh MacDonald, Laurie Blakeman and Raj Sherman as declared Liberal leadership candidates. The party will choose its new leader on September 10th in Edmonton.

The Alberta Party will be holding its Leadership Convention in Edmonton this weekend as well, with voting taking place online, via telephone, and live on Saturday. The online voting will be closely watched by politicos of all stripes, as other parties and organizations toy with internet voting as a way of improving turnout. I'll be most interested in watching to see if at any point "Kirk Schmidt" is leading the online vote, as that will be a sure sign that security is an issue. Subsequent votes will continue throughout the day if required, until a winner is declared among the 4 candidates. I have been granted Media Accreditation for this event, and will be in attendance Friday night and all day Saturday - so watch this space for interviews and updates as they become available.

No rest for the wicked...  coming later: My impressions of the Alberta Party leadership candidates.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Audio: Interview with Alberta Party leadership candidate Randy Royer

Nation, I had a chance to sit down with businessman, author and Alberta Party leadership contender Randy Royer the day after the recent federal election.

The Alberta Party will be choosing a leader in Edmonton this coming week-end, and I have been granted media accreditation. I will be live-blogging the event in this space, so be sure to tune in on Friday night and all day Saturday as the party membership charts the course they intend to take towards the next provincial election.

For more information on the Alberta Party leadership election, click here.
For more information on Randy Royer, click here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Awesomeness from the Inbox

Nation, this crossed my desk recently from a really nifty blog/social experiment called One Hundred Jobs, and it's too good to pass up.

One Hundred Jobs: Job 87: Get Yer Vote On For LOVE!

The couple in question are friends and colleagues of mine, and I can't reiterate in strong enough terms how deserving they are of this opportunity.

Take a few moments, please, and follow the instructions on One Hundred Jobs in order to lend your social media weight and Facebook vote to Duane and the LONG-suffering Becky.

We all know the impressive weight that comes from the "E.S. Bump". Let's harness the power of the Nation, and get these kids over the top.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Audio: Interview with Alberta Party leadership candidate Glenn Taylor

Nation, I recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Glenn Taylor, third-term Mayor of Hinton and candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Party.  Our discussion appears below.

For more information on the Alberta Party leadership election, click here.
For more information on Glenn Taylor, click here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

#elxn41: You Have Another Choice

Nation, this is usually the time when I get up on my soapbox and exhort you, in the strongest possible terms, to make sure you go out tomorrow and exercise your democratic franchise. That you honour those who fought and died for that right, by making an informed choice at the ballot box.

I really want you to go out to your polling station. I REALLY do.

That's the choice that you always have to make, really: Do I vote, or do I not vote?

After all, it's a binary thing, right? You either got in the car, went to the polling station, and cast a ballot for one of the candidates...  or you stayed home, made some Kraft Dinner, and caught up on some housework. One decision, 2 possible courses of action.

I'm telling you today that you have a third option.

Go to the polling station, and refuse your ballot.

Now, I should be very clear, here: In Federal elections, ballots rejected by the voter are not marked in a separate category, as they are in certain provincial elections (like the ones in Alberta, for example). They go into the same category as "spoiled" ballots - a fact of which I was unaware until recently - as "ballots rejected by the returning officer".

If you didn't find a local candidate you could support in this election...  if no one did you the courtesy of returning your calls, or coming by the house and asking you for the job... if the candidate you were most likely to support didn't come to the all-candidates' forum in your riding...  if you can't bring yourself to cast a ballot for a candidate attached to any of the parties, or their leaders...  I want you to put on your coat tomorrow, drive to the polling station, and when they give you your ballot, I want you to hand it back, get the black border torn off, and drop it - unmarked - into the ballot box.

Your vote counts.

It gets marked down as "rejected" - but, you'd better believe that if 10, 20, or 30% of all ballots cast in the election are "rejected" ballots, the politicians are going to sit up and take notice.

Sick of the way federal politics are done in this country?  Look in the mirror...  the parties run ads like this because they WORK. They behave the way they do in the House of Commons because it WORKS. They give us garbage candidates in a lot of ridings because we ACCEPT the garbage candidates they give us. They run campaigns of flash instead of substance, because we don't demand any better. 50% come out and vote for whatever potted plant they often put in front of us, and 50% stay home, which the parties interpret in any of a thousand ways. But, those who stay home give up their franchise. They lose their chance to send a message. They're asked for their opinion - and they stay silent.

If you've found someone to vote for on May 2nd, good for you - please make sure to go out and vote for them.

If, however, you want to register a REAL protest vote...  don't vote for the second most popular party in your riding. Don't vote for the party you feel most needs the $2 that is attached to your ballot.

Convinced no one has earned your support?

Don't give it to anyone.

You're not limited to "vote or stay home". You have a third choice.

You can reject your ballot, and choose "none of the above".

But get out there, and go to your polling station.

Or go to your local Legion, find a Veteran, and explain why he could go to Korea or Normany, but you can't make the 4-block trip to your local elementary school.

A cast ballot is power and a choice, no matter what mark (if any) is made on it.

A voter who stays home is part of the problem - not part of the solution.

Men and women died so you could make your choice.

So make it.