I knew from the time that I studied government in college that I wanted to run for public office. In order to be worthy of holding a position of public trust, I believed that my conduct in all things should be moral and ethical.
Today, that must seem to most voters like a really stupid idea. Candidates for major offices of state and nation seem to hold themselves to a very low standard. The idea that candidates for office owe the people they serve anything is now laughable. People with all sorts of shady pasts run for and are elected to public office.
It shouldn't be that way.
Frustrating as this is to voters, we can do something about it. Pick one thing that politicians of either party do that particularly annoys you, and resolve not to vote for the worst offender.
For me, I hate candidates who lie their way to election. Far too often, candidates hold one position during primary campaigns and then experience a miraculous conversion for the general election. I make it a point to consider all such conversions lies about one or the other of their positions. It doesn't matter which one. A person who would lie to gain power should never have his or her word trusted again.
These people who so disrespect the voters think there is nothing we can do about their incessant lying, except not vote. For them, lying is a win-win activity. Can it be good for democracy that this is a non-partisan activity?
You may find another more important turn off. But no matter. We are not helpless, and there is something better than sitting out this critical election that we can do. First, we can try to figure out which of our choices is less guilty of our most disliked failing. We can vote yet one more time for the lesser of two evils. Second. if that is to painful a choice to make, get a ballot, and leave it blank. Your vote won't be counted, but if enough people vote instead of staying home, analysts will notice that the percentages don't add up.
My favorite long term solution to unethical candidates would be a space on every ballot for None of the Above. That would allow us to do something significant with our vote. Imagine the shock of an election where None of the Above came in first. It wouldn't put a living person in office, but it would demonstrate to the real person that got the most votes, that he/she had been rejected by the voters,
I know that getting any such change in voting would be a hard fight. But in our ballots in MA, we have space to write in a choice. So I know of a couple of races where None of the Above is going to get my vote.