You always remember your firsts.
The nervous excitement from your first kiss, the grin crossing your face as you hear the echoes during your first time marching through the tunnel with the Pride of Wildcat Land, the pride of your first published story, the naive confidence entering your first job interview.
Tuesday will be my first election. My first vote. The first time I get a voice in the American presidential election that I have not been able to participate in for the past 21 years.
And I don’t know who I will vote for. I just know who I won’t vote for.
An egotistical New York businessman who has a long list of failed business ventures and character flaws. An untrustable career politician with a list of scandals and failings dating back to before I was born. A Libertarian who doesn’t believe in personal liberty for everyone all the time. A hippie who may have the craziest ideas of the four.
How did it get to the point where these are our choices? That’s irrelevant now. It’s a debate we need to have — in our universities, in the public and in newspapers — but how we got here doesn’t change our current situation.
So now I am left with candidates with whom I disagree on policy, can’t trust and find their character less than desirable for a president of the United States of America.
I can’t just hold my nose and vote for, as Comedy Central’s “South Park” so aptly puts it, “a giant douche or a turd sandwich.” I will not sacrifice my own conscience that way.
Voting for the lesser of two evils, or the least of four, is still voting for evil. I will never do that.
But I also have the privilege of knowing my presidential vote won’t matter. A vote for Hillary Clinton in Kansas likely won’t result in any electoral votes for her. And if it does, well, Donald Trump is in for a landslide defeat.
The only way my presidential vote will really count is if I help a third party gain the benefits that come with at least 5 percent of the vote. But the Libertarian Party doesn’t deserve that based on the candidate its members nominated.
Don’t tell anyone that not voting for someone is actually a vote for someone else. Don’t try to guilt trip me into compromising my conscience like you have yours. The only vote for someone is an actual vote for them. And none of the four candidates on my ballot tomorrow have earned the privilege of receiving my first vote.
As the proud brother of a U.S. Navy officer, I recognize that my right to vote was bought and paid for by countless brave soldiers. Marching during the Fort Riley Day halftime show alongside members of the 1st Infantry Division band reminded me of that this weekend. And that is all the more reason for me to not give my vote to a candidate who does not deserve it.
Still, I can’t just leave it blank: Not making a choice is still making a choice.
The only way to change who I vote for tomorrow is to write in a name. A write-in vote will at least let me have a real choice. But if I do that, who will I write in?
Maybe I will vote for Stannis of House Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. Or Mickey Mouse — he’s the classic protest vote. Willie the Wildcat could also be a popular local choice.
None would be any more of a joke than this year’s candidates.
Maybe I will go with the political candidate from the primary who was closest to my views while also a person of character. For me, that person would be Rand Paul. For others, that would be Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders or maybe someone else.
Maybe I will vote for Bill Snyder, Frank Tracz or Gen. Richard Myers.
April Fools: Snyder runs for president: ‘Opportunity for the greatest turnaround in American political history'
From what I have seen, they are all men of great character who know how to get things done the right way. I would trust any of them. Snyder and Tracz know how to rebuild hurting programs and Myers is familiar with the Washington, D.C., power brokers.
In reality, my write-in vote is a vote for neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton to receive 270 electoral votes. If that happens, the House of Representatives would elect the next president.
They would be free to pick anyone — from Bill Snyder, Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney to Joe Biden or Michelle Obama. Hopefully, the House would do a better job of choosing a president than the primary voters did.
I did not vote in the primary, because Kansas requires party membership to do so. Neither party represents me.
Tuesday, I will represent myself and vote for who I think will be the best person for the presidency. I encourage you to do the same.