In Nevada, ‘None’ is not an option

A United States District Judge has ruled against Nevada’s long-standing tradition of adding “None of the above” to voting ballots. While supporters see this option as giving voice to the “vote of no confidence,” which many voters believe needs to be expressed, Judge Robert Jones saw it as being unconstitutional, since votes for “None” don’t count toward actually determining a winner. Judge Jones made the right decision, although I wouldn’t go so far as to label it “unconstitutional.”

Every four years, the same cycle repeats. Disgruntled Republicans are unhappy with their presidential candidate, claiming that he is not “conservative” enough. This has pretty much been the case since 1996, when Republicans could only muster enough energy to get Bob Dole and Jack Kemp together to try and prevent the reelection of Bill Clinton. They failed… big time.

It was pointed out—both during and after the election—that conservatives were unhappy with Bob Dole as their candidate, as well they should have been. Dole was a career politician, known primarily for his tendency to inhabit the middleground—something of a slightly more conservative version of John McCain. Conservatives expressed their dissatisfaction early and often, with many threatening to vote for Reform Party candidate, Ross Perot, in order to send the GOP a message. Dole/Kemp lost in a landslide. Whether the message to the GOP was sent is debatable, but a walking/talking conservative got the nod in 2000—George W. Bush. And even though Bush turned out to be just as spend-happy as any Democrat, it cannot be denied that he got into office using conservative talking points.

What is particularly interesting about the George W. years is that the Democrats had two Bob Doles of their own in Al Gore and John Kerry. It seems to be the case, at least recently, that only one party is able to locate an exciting candidate. Mitt Romney is the Republican equivalent of John Kerry. Both are similar to professional hockey: a few Americans are really passionate about it, but the vast majority of us just don’t get it.

But what does all of this have to do with “None of the above” on the Nevada ballot? Good question. It is often said by disenfranchised conservatives that they will use their vote, or non-vote, to send the Republican Party a message. This is certainly noble and well intended, but the ballot box is not meant to be a message board. If unhappy Republicans wish to send a message, they would be better served by actually communicating what they wish to say, in a real message, than by cryptically using their vote to voice dissatisfaction with the choices they have been given. The Tea Party is such a platform, so is the internet, newspaper editorial sections, and local-level politics.

If some Republicans are so frustrated with the lack of a true conservative that they are willing to squander their vote in order to “send a message to the establishment,” perhaps they could put a bit more effort into actually doing something about it. Ballot boxes are for tallying votes, not for sending messages. While voting for “None of the above” may quell the political discontent for a moment, it does nothing to change the political climate. Besides, the “message” should not be directed to Republican Party leaders, but to fellow Republican voters who placed the RINO candidates on the election ballot to begin with. The primary process is where messages should be sent, not the general election. Republicans need to get their “message-delivery systems” into gear long before the general election. If you want to send a message to the voting masses, begin now for 2016, don’t wait until mid-2015. Message-sending season is long past for 2012.