I was, thanks be to God, raised to be an independent voter-- most especially by my mother. She was a brilliant, feisty woman who lived as a registered Republican in the monochromatic sea of Democrats that was Lake County, Indiana (there were a lot of years when she did not vote in a primary because there was no contest-- and sometimes no candidate!). Her way of dealing with my questions about politics as I got old enough to care was to ask more questions of her own-- and to push me to find out for myself. She'd say things like, "Of course there's corruption. But don't let that stop you. If you don't vote, you can't make a difference." or "Take a good look first for integrity, and then for a stand on ALL the issues that concern you. You probably won't find someone you agree with on every issue, but you'll come closer if you pay attention." or "If you can't wholeheartedly vote FOR somebody, there's sure to be someone to vote AGAINST."
Which probably explains two things about me: First, I can count on one hand the number of elections in nearly 30 years where I've missed voting. And secondly, my record is all over the map, party-wise: Since the 1980 presidential election (where I favored Independent John Anderson), I've voted for Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and even the occasional "None of the Above" candidate.
Back in 2000, I was not a huge fan of President Clinton-- in spite of what I will now say were some solid political achievements, Mom's "integrity first" rule echoed in my head. That colored the way I looked at my choices. After looking over the host of possibilities in all the primaries, I elected to pick up a Republican ballot and cast a vote for John McCain. His sort of independent grit impressed me. Obviously he didn't win the nomination; but I retained a positive view of him, overall.
I wish I could say that was still true. But I've not been impressed in the last several months. And now, watching as he does nothing while his running mate and his supporters deliberately and falsely fuel fires of racist, ethnocentric hatred toward his opponent...
Senator McCain, please stop. You're better than that. At least, you used to be.