Here Lies the Republic

No great idea needs the support of lies. No moral and ethical cause needs immoral and unethical people to champion it. No pool from which we are supposed to choose the best of us should contain only the worst of us.


I met with my landscaper a month or so ago to talk about projects around the yard; mainly things I can do myself, but which have gotten far enough away from me as cause stress and distraction. You see, each year as winter melts into spring, I tell myself that this is the year that I’ll do all my own yard work. I’ll get my vitamin D from the sun instead of a pill, my exercise from useful work instead of a stationary bike, and I’ll save a couple of bucks in the process. Some years I have more success than others. This year was a good year. I made it through the end of June before I broke down and called Gonzalo for help. I’ve only made it this far a few times, so I’m pleased with my efforts.

I’ve relied on Gonzalo for the last seven or eight years, and there’s a specific reason why. It’s not because he’s the best. He does a good job, though he’s not perfect. It’s not because he’s the cheapest. He’s reasonably-priced, though I can get the neighborhood kids to do some of the work for cheaper. It’s not because of his customer service. He doesn’t have a receptionist, so he’s not as easy to reach as other landscapers might be. I use Gonzalo because he’s honest. To be sure, those other qualities are important. Competency, value, and service are three fundamental pillars of a successful business. But honesty is even more fundamental. It is the foundation upon which those pillars of success sit. Without it, the rest will crumble and fall.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if your recommendations are always skewed to maximize your gain at my expense. I couldn’t care less how reasonably-priced you are if you don’t stand by your word and your work. It does me no good that you take my calls right away and act like my bestie if I can’t trust the words that leave your face. I will take an honest, good mechanic any day over a great but dishonest one, because the honest mechanic will tell me the truth, even if that truth means less money in his pocket. The great but dishonest mechanic will only tell me the truth so far as it doesn’t conflict with his own best interests.

My wife and I have finally arrived at a pretty good place with respect to our service providers. We have weeded through the bullshit of false smiles, broken promises, and self-interested advice to settle upon a group of people we trust. We love our dentist, our doctors, our car mechanic, our financial advisor, our carpenter, our insurance rep, our various repair professionals, and of course, Gonzalo, our landscaper. It’s taken a lot of work on our part to get here. Being an informed consumer and switching service providers until you find the right one takes time and can add stress to an already stress-filled life. But in the end, being able to work with people we trust has provided a peace of mind that has made the effort more than worth it.

There is, however, one aspect of our lives for which we have not found a service provider we can trust: our elected representatives. Simply put, the whole of the political machine makes every conceivable abuse of the truth on a daily basis, from the bent and twisted views they peddle to us (that at least start with some nugget of truth), to the outright fabrications that they hope we’ll swallow simply because they say them loudly and often. It is both sides of the aisle. It is all levels. And it is nearly universal. Even the minor cogs of the political machine are involved in the dishonesty. They might claim innocence, sidestepping the controversial with non-answers and keeping an optimistically safe distance from the overt liars. But every party-line vote, every tacit approval that their silence gives to lies of others, every knee-jerk allegiance to party over people, every promise they make to serve us while feeding at the trough of the political machine is a lie. It is daily, and it is willful.

The scary part of their behavior is that the role that we’ve allowed our elected officials to play in our lives is without a doubt more important than those of all the rest of our service providers combined. We have tasked them with running our country, providing for its security and general welfare. We’ve charged them with developing and implementing policies to address today’s challenges and to forge a brighter future. We have asked them to represent us to the world, strengthening our relationships with those who would stand by us in support, and forestalling the plans of those that would do us harm. Most importantly, we have entrusted with them the maintenance and protection of our Constitution, our rights, and our freedoms, without which we stand very little chance of protecting any of the other things we hold dear. And yet, we tolerate from our elected officials a continuous stream of dishonesty and lies, just a single one of which would get them fired from any other profession.

On one hand, I know that politics is politics. I’m not so naïve as to believe that the rampant dishonesty is going to suddenly go away, leaving us free to develop the utopian society we were always meant to have. Lying has been a part of our politics since day one and it will continue to be long after this batch of liars is through with us. In one respect, dishonesty in politics is like fighting in hockey; it’s not technically required for the execution of the job, but it seems to be an integral part of it nonetheless, and is accepted as such by both players and spectators.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that the bar we’ve set for our elected officials continues to get lower and lower. It used to be that a lie didn’t happen until it was caught. If the public found out that you’d done the thing you said you hadn’t, you were out. But now, in a world where everything is documented and no data ever truly dies, even the most visible of lies is somehow brushed off.

John Q Public: “You did this horrible thing.”

Mr. Politician: “No I didn’t.”

John Q Public: “We have you on video doing it! Three angles, with audio!”

Mr. Politician: “That’s not me.”

John Q Public: “It’s your video!! You provided it to us!! On national television!! Watched by 23 million people!!”

Mr. Politician: “Even if I did that thing, no one thinks it’s horrible.”

John Q Public: “Everyone thinks it’s horrible!!! Just yesterday you said that that type of thing was horrible!!! That’s on video, too!!!”

Mr. Politician: “Fake.”

I’m pretty sure that if we met Mr. Politician in any context other than political, we’d walk the other way as fast as we could. The compassionate amongst us might stop and try to get this guy some kind of help, but even those thoughtful people wouldn’t invite him into their lives. They certainly wouldn’t give him anything that could be used to hurt themselves or others, like scissors, heavy equipment, or launch codes. Yet in the context of politics, we’ve placed a whole slew of these folks in public office. “I wouldn’t trust them to feed my cat, but let’s let ‘em run the nation. Come on! It’ll be a lark!”

The thing is that we actually still seem to care about honesty. Parents still try to teach their kids not to lie. No one I’ve ever met wants to work for or with a liar (though we certainly are often required to). We can be pretty ruthless in removing from our lives anyone whose lies have hurt or taken from us. And for those of us who’ve picked one of the two sides the political machine has offered, we seem to be plenty aggrieved at the lies of the other side. So where’s the disconnect? Why do we tolerate this new low level of political honesty?

The simple answer is that we tolerate the lying because we feel that we have no other choice. And the reason that we feel that we have no other choice is because the machine has told us as much. It has promised us whatever ends our hearts desire, and sold us on the fact that only the machine can deliver these ends. It has created false boogeymen, false conflicts, and false heroes to deal with them. And it has persuaded us that all of the issues we face only ever have two sides, blue vs red, “us” versus “them”, and that blind devotion to one or the other is a suitable replacement for educated consensus. For the last twenty years, the machine has steadily eroded the concept of cooperative government, replacing it with this false all-or-nothing system that the machine says is our only option.

By accepting this false reality – that there is nothing better than what the machine offers – we have stopped holding our politicians universally accountable for their actions and words. We have stopped holding them accountable for not doing their job of governing. We have accepted that anything they do is a justifiable means to the ends which they have promised us. We have stopped asking for better, or seeking better from outside the machine. We have slipped from tolerating the imperfect civil servant to tolerating the perfectly self-serving. We have stopped taking the hard road of becoming educated and making informed decisions, choosing instead the easy road of having someone else tell us what we should think. We’ve let our support of specific people, parties, and agendas define the behaviors that are acceptable, instead of defining the specific behaviors that are acceptable, and letting those behaviors set the standards for the people we elect. We have stopped listening to each other, working together, and believing that governance lies in consensus, not domination. And we have stopped seeing the political machine for what it is; a self-serving, self-perpetuating entity whose primary goal is to maintain the power it has been slowly accumulating for the last twenty years.

Yet despite where we find ourselves, we are far from being in a hopeless situation. Yes, the machine has convinced us to turn to it as the only viable option, but we are not yet compelled to do so. We still have the choice and the free will to decide for better. And despite what the political machine thinks of us, and what we often think of each other, we’re actually a rather clever bunch of people. Once we get our heads out of our preconceived notions and let our automatic defenses drop, we can tackle pretty much any problem put to us. So yes, this where we are … but this is not where we have to stay.

Every day we have a choice as to how we live. Let’s choose to start seeing the political machine for what it is. The machine does not represent a battle of good versus evil. It does not represent our greatest, best hope for a better future. It is not our salvation, or our champion, or our friend. The machine is a self-interested entity that seeks to perpetuate its own existence. The machine’s continuity is the only goal in which it believes, and there are no moral or ethical limitations to the means it will exert to achieve that end.

Let’s choose to stop putting our faith in the faithless. The machine is a proven liar, lying to us from both sides of its mouth. It lies regularly, without remorse, and to whatever greater or lesser extent meets its needs. The machine doesn’t leave us out of the lies just because we think it’s our friend. It doesn’t lie as a last resort, when all other options are exhausted. And it certainly doesn’t reserve its lies to use only against evil, or only to further causes of good. Today it lies to us: tomorrow about us. It lies reflexively and without hesitation. And since when do we require the illuminating light of lies to expose evil for what it is, or to light our paths forward into righteousness? Since never. Liars lie. Hoping that they’ll suddenly stop, or believing that they’ll lie only for the greater good is naivete at its worst.

Let’s choose to make our own judgements and decisions. We know that the machine lies, and does so solely for its own interests. Why would we ever again take anything it tells us at face value? When was the last time you gave a chronic liar a third, fourth, or fifth chance? How ‘bout a nine- or ten-thousandth chance? Let’s choose to question everything. Let’s look for people and data sources we can actually trust, not because they echo back to us what we already think, or tell us what we want to hear, but because we have truly looked at them with a skeptical eye, and they have passed the truth test. And if we don’t have time to suss out the truth of an issue, then let’s at least resist the urge to reflexively spread or “like” what we simply don’t know to be true.

Let’s choose to make morality and ethics matter more than party or position. Let’s stop allowing the machine’s cogs to be our standard bearers. No great idea needs the support of lies. No moral and ethical cause needs immoral and unethical people to champion it. No pool from which we are supposed to choose the best of us should contain only the worst of us.

Let’s choose to make the means matter more than the ends. Let’s stop tolerating any and every horrible behavior simply because we desperately want to achieve our objective. The means and the ends are not separate things; they are intimately related. How we conduct ourselves in applying the means, directly impacts the ends and who we are when we get there. A king who burns and plunders to consolidate power ends up as a lesser king of a lesser kingdom; the end is achieved at great cost to all.

Let’s choose to hold all of our elected officials accountable for what they say and do. Let’s stop rewarding those who have taken us to this place of non-governance with reelection. Let’s call out the bad behavior wherever it occurs, and leave behind the fear that if we attempt to hold “us” accountable, we will be denounced for supporting “them.” Accountability is what drives change. If we hold all of our elected officials accountable, better will come.

None of these choices require us to change our allegiances. They don’t require us to abandon the pursuit of our ideals. They don’t require us to suddenly like that which we’ve despised for years. They do, however, require us to make conscious, considered decisions. These choices require us to take ourselves off of the machine’s autopilot of right and left, decide first the type of people we want to represent us, and then find and support those people.

We cannot completely eradicate dishonesty from politics. It’s part of the game. But if we do not choose to demand better from the people we hire to represent our interests, if we do not start raising the bar now, we will eventually arrive at a point where we are no longer able to do so.

Reflections on a Bygone Role Model

The best guidance, whether it’s from our contemporary role models or from great minds thousands of years ago, tends to be simply-stated, delivered without preamble, fanfare, or explanation. Do not kill. Do not take. Do not lie about others. Do all things from a foundation of love. Treat others as you want to be treated. Do today, not tomorrow. Don’t let the failings of others give consent to your own.

I recently took a drive through rural northeastern Illinois. For anyone surprised that there still is such a thing, there’s actually plenty of non-urban area left in NE Illinois, once you get about 30 miles west of the lake. It was early on a Sunday morning, and I had picked mostly out-of-the-way roads; the roads between the roads as it were. The result was a peaceful drive with few glimpses of cars in the rearview mirror. So few, in fact, that I was able to slow down and steal some glances at the world around me. It may not seem like much to look at; newly planted fields, farm houses, dilapidated barns and silos, little wisps of town. But it’s exactly what I needed, and it has been all too long since I’ve allowed myself to do it.

I’ve always loved a good road trip. I’m a devotee of the whole the-journey-is-half-the-fun philosophy. I love the journey so much that some years ago I started taking what I call therapeutic drives; all drive, no destination. Sometimes I plan a rough route ahead of time, searching out new-to-me avenues to plumb. Other times I just point the car away from civilization and go. Either way, driving through the country gives me a chance to be alone with my thoughts without the accumulated distractions of life.

On this particular drive, my thoughts drifted to my grandfather. Technically, he was my step-grandfather, but I never had a chance to know my dad’s dad, so it was always just Grandpa Earl. When I think of a simpler (though not necessarily easier) time, I think of him. He worked until he couldn’t, and then he retired to rural Tennessee. He had a small house, with a couple of out buildings and around five acres of fenced-in field. He kept track of the weather, fished, tended a garden, visited with neighbors and family, and looked after my grandmother. Entertainment was the gossip of the day, a half-dozen snowy channels scraped from the sky by a 30-foot antenna, and endless games of double-solitaire with Grandma.

Grandpa Earl was one of my earliest role models. He was the first adult who treated me like one. He talked with me, not at me. He taught, but didn’t preach. He always told you how glad he was that you’d come to visit, and he treated you in a way that made you believe it. He seemed to be liked and respected by everyone who knew him, and that caused me to respect him all the more. He was the man who taught me that disappointment in me by someone I respected was a much harsher punishment than any spanking or loss of privilege.

I wonder what Grandpa Earl would make of me today. It’s a loaded question, as much now as it was back then. Don’t ask unless you really want to know, right? I think he’d be proud of some moments in my life, less so of others. There’s no question as to which ones would make him smile and which ones would get a head shake. His advice to me had always been simply-stated. Treat everyone the same. Be kind. Only you can define you. There were no qualifiers, complicated explanations, or double standards limiting when, where, and to whom the wisdom applied.

Such is the wisdom from all our role models, mentors, teachers, heroes, idols, etc. The best guidance, whether it’s from our contemporary role models or from great minds thousands of years ago, tends to be simply-stated, delivered without preamble, fanfare, or explanation. Do not kill. Do not take. Do not lie about others. Do all things from a foundation of love. Treat others as you want to be treated. Do today, not tomorrow. Don’t let the failings of others give consent to your own.

However, just because life’s greatest wisdom is concisely stated, that doesn’t always make it easy to follow. If doing right acts were easy, the role model business would dry up pretty quickly. The fact is that life isn’t easy. Life is complicated. We are complicated. The right acts we are tasked with doing seem impossible to accomplish without qualifying them somehow, especially when we feel that the people we should be doing right by, are not returning the favor.

Life’s lessons are not uncomplicated because those stating them are naïve about the world in which we live. Our role models know firsthand the challenges we face. They’ve lived through the same, and worse. They know better than we do how difficult is it to do right acts in a world that makes it far easier to do wrong ones. And they know that doing right comes with a cost. They know these things because they weren’t perfect either. But our role models also know that the benefits of doing right outweigh the costs, even when we can’t see that fact clearly ourselves.

The wisdom from the greatest of us is simply-stated because they are the ideals, and ideals need no qualifications. They are the beacons that call us forward to our better selves, even as life’s complications try to steer us away. We never fully realize the better selves our mentors envision for us, but the closer we can get, the better off we all are. And that’s why, even though we know that we can never reach them, we still strive.

I wonder not only what Grandpa Earl would think, but what the whole pantheon of our collective role models would think of the world in which we live today. What would they think about our places in it, our actions, the causes to which we lend our voices, or the times we remained inert and silent? Is there a single one of our role models, past or present, who would approve of what we’ve done or how we’ve done it?

My guess is that they would be universally disappointed; not that we are predictably flawed, or that we haven’t yet achieved a level of perfection that they themselves never did. Their disappointment would likely be in how easily we’ve given up the pursuit. How quickly and thoroughly we talk ourselves out of (or worse, allow ourselves to be talked out of) doing right acts. How in tolerating wrong acts in ourselves, we have stopped trying to set the example and have given tacit approval for others to do the same.

My guess is also that despite all of this, they still love us and still cheer us on towards those beacons of wisdom. They still patiently hope that we’ll remember their words to us and the simplicity of their messages. I imagine that they would reassure us that the universal benefits of right acts far outweigh the individual costs. They would see us, not as worse than any generation before or to come, but the same, with the same flaws and the same potential for greatness.

In my mind, Grandpa Earl gives me a hug, tells me how proud he is of the good that I’ve done. He then gently suggests that I try to remember our heart-to-hearts a little more often, so that I might continually be inching closer to my best self, and not further away.

Choosing Better

You might have noticed the dysfunctional state of our social discourse. Certainly all of my friends and family are aware of it, as the topic seems to come up every time we get together (my apologies to my friends and family). Other countries are aware, not only because U.S. social discourse is like one big train wreck of a reality show, but also because, all narcissism aside, the pebble that drops in the U.S. does in fact ripple across to touch every other place on the globe. Hell, even the Mars Rover has caught wind of our dysfunction, and is even now searching for a Martian cliff off of which to throw itself (lest it infect innocent Martian life with whatever bug we seemed to have picked up).

I mean, it’s hard to not notice how bad things have gotten when it seems that no remark goes un-trashed?

“I’d like a soda, please. Hold the ice.”

“Ice hater!”

“We call it soda pop, down here, ya’ jackwad.”

“Soda pop is redundant, moron.”

“How long are you planning on holding that ice, fascist? And does it have legal representation?”

“Science has shown that a 0.159 ice-to-carbonated beverage ratio (by mass) is the perfect ratio to achieve coolness, while not overly diluting the base level of soda sweetness. Are you a soda-ice denier?!”


[1] I would like to preemptively apologize to the American Society of Ass-Clowns, the European League of Backside Buffoonery, and all of the accredited schools where ass-clownery is taught, and who remind us every day that “Ass-clowns don’t just happen … they’re made”.

That Americans don’t agree on many things is no big surprise. If not for baseball, disagreeing would be our national pastime. And all sarcasm aside, disagreement is a wonderful thing! It allows us to be heard, to learn new ideas, to challenge authority, to be challenged in our own thinking, and to contribute to a growing understanding. It also allows us to make sure we’ve thoroughly explored all the nuances of critical decisions before taking action. Disagreement is a vital means to our growth as individuals, as a society, and as a nation. Members of a free society disagree and then work through the disagreement.

Which has me wondering about us, because we seem to have lost our willingness to do exactly that. Somehow, we’ve arrived at a place where disagreement is no longer a means of creating a better, stronger society. Disagreement itself has become the desired goal: disagree as much as we can, and then call it a day. Agreement is shunned, goodwill is considered a sign of weakness, and resolution and forward progress can go pound sand. We have come to a place where the wheels of governance in this country, for all intents and purposes, have ground to a halt.

We don’t particularly like this new place. Nothing gets done. It’s populated by trolls. It smells of ass and opinion. We complain endlessly about it. And yet we allow ourselves to be stuck here, neck deep in a growing pile of shit. We’re surrounded by exits that are clearly marked Do-Something-About-It, but few people seem to be willing to go there. Instead, we look to our leaders to dig us out of the mess. And each time we call for help, our leaders dutifully show up with shovels, picks, and end-loaders, promising to take care of the situation. There’s a flurry of activity, a lot of dust and disagreement, and when they’re done, we still seem to be stuck in the morass. More often than not, they leave the pile bigger than they found it, depositing a fresh, steamy layer as our punishment for having complained.

The fact of the matter is that most of our leaders don’t want this new normal to change. They’re not suffering, even as our Great Nation stagnates and, in some cases, starts to backslide. In fact, our leaders are thriving, and, as a general rule, people who are thriving don’t want change. Why would they? Why would anyone who’s doing well voluntarily change their situation to one where they do less well?

“Because they’re our elected officials,” you might say. “Because they are supposed to represent us, not themselves,” you might say. “Because as our leaders, they should be the best of us,” you might say. “Because their sole fucking job is to govern this country—and if they don’t, we get to vote them out,” you might say.

And in theory, you’d be right. We cast the ballots that elected them. We did so hoping they would represent the country’s interests, not those of a single party or of themselves. We thought we picked people capable of doing the job. And we, in fact, have the ability and the obligation to hold them accountable for their part in the current failure in governance. But that’s all just in theory. You may have noticed that the reality isn’t working out that way, and there’s a very good reason.

As much as it horrifies me to say this, we have not come to this place of stagnation and non-governance unwillingly. We were not dragged here kicking and screaming. We walked here under our own power. We came voluntarily, and despite hating where we have ended up, we’ve stayed voluntarily.

You see, governance via working through our disagreements is challenging. It takes time, effort, and a willingness to give at least some ground in order to reach consensus. It is not an easy path, but it is the path forward. Anything less than this path is something less than what our Founding Fathers intended us to be.

However, over the last 20 years or so, We the People have been sold a bill of goods by the Political Machine that says, “If we simply wait long enough, if we get the right people in all the right positions of power, and if we resist the opposition at every turn, then we’ll get everything we want without having to compromise. We will win all. They will lose all.” We were offered an “easier” way to get more for less, and we fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

The idea that we will make this country better by crushing half of it has allowed the false dichotomy of “Choice A or Choice B, but nothing in between” to flourish. It has divided us from one another, reducing our communication to ineffectual sniping, and focusing our frustration and anger on false demons that the Machine calls simply “them.” And this refocusing of our rage distracts us from the Machine’s failure to govern while the Machine itself thrives—while We the People sink.

But, that we’ve come to this point of stubborn division is not nearly as troubling as how we’ve come to this point. You see, for us to so completely turn our backs on each other, we have had to turn our backs on our ethics and our morals as well. We have had to cast aside our foundational beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. For the sake of the false dichotomy, we tolerate any lie. We ignore the civil and human rights of others. We dismiss and desecrate whatever others hold dear. We blatantly parade forward our ethical and moral double standards without even the traditional false courtesy of pretending to be ashamed. We degrade, hate, judge, and take from whomever is “them” for the crime of not being “us.”

We try to console ourselves by demonizing the “other” side, envisioning them as such hateful creatures that it doesn’t matter how much we transgress against our better selves. “It doesn’t matter that I lie, because I’m lying to them.” “It doesn’t matter that I judge, because I’m judging them.” “It doesn’t matter that I stomp all over their human rights, because I have decided that they are not human, and therefore undeserving of the same rights that I demand for myself.”

And we do this all because it is the example set by the Political Machine. The people who are supposed to be the best of us are the very same people who are dragging us into the midst of the aforementioned steaming pile.

Now, I certainly am not an expert on either history or theology, but I’m struggling to find where in the collective works of our greatest minds it says that the way to strengthen our country is to shit on our neighbors, take from others, withhold our goodwill, love only those who love us, respect only those who will tell us what we want to hear, treat the truth as optional and fluid, and tolerate the very worst of behaviors in our leaders. Nope. I’ve looked. “Shit on your neighbor” doesn’t even show up as a footnote. And yet, someone, somewhere has apparently written a new playbook in which these behaviors (and worse) are not only acceptable, but encouraged.

We … are … better … than … this. Great Is as Great Does, folks. We are not great simply by the fact of proclaiming it. How many assholes have you met in your life who have proclaimed themselves the greatest, only to reveal themselves later as anything but? Let’s not be that asshole. We become great only by doing great things. And in case you’re under the impression that greatness is one and done, we stay great by continuing to do great things. The great accomplishments that previous generations struggled to achieve mean nothing if we do not follow in the moral and ethical path they laid out for us.

Fortunately for us, every new day gives us the opportunity to change the course that we’re on. Every day is another chance for us to be better than we were the day before. We have tried the path that the Machine offers, and it hasn’t led us where we hoped it would. Today we can choose to reengage in dialogue, making problem solving and governance more important than obstinate resistance. We can choose not to sacrifice our ethics, morals, and souls for the sake of “winner take all.” We can choose to hold our leaders accountable for both their actions and their failures to be ethical people. We can choose to use our anger and frustration as a motivation to hear and be heard, instead of an excuse to shut out and shut down.

We chose to allow the Machine to bring us to this point of “us vs. them,” and we sure as hell can choose to no longer be here.

This November, you are going to have the opportunity to cast your vote for various federal, state and local offices, including President of the United States. Make the choice for whomever you deem best, and let no one drive you away from your conscience. It’s your vote, and I’m grateful in advance that you’re taking the time to cast it. However, if you love this country, if you want this nightmare of stagnation to end, then you must own your choices, and you must take responsibility for them.

Some of us will make our choices based on whom we believe in. Some of us will cast our lot for the lesser of two evils. Some will use their vote to make a lack-of-faith statement about the current two-party system. And many, though they see no good option to choose from, will show up to the polls anyway because they believe that voting is a precious right that should not be wasted.

Regardless of the reasons for the choices you make in November, own your vote. Own it for now and every future election. Take responsibility for the leaders whom you elect and hold them accountable for their performance and behavior. Take responsibility for the party you support and demand that they provide candidates who are more than just the lesser of two evils. Add your voice to the growing movement that is dissatisfied with a voting system that no longer meets the needs of our nation and its people. And let your choice in November be the first step you make in your participation to bring this country back from the dysfunctional hell we’re in.