I stayed at work later than I needed to Tuesday night, caught up in the excitement of a governor's race that went down to the wire.
As we in the newsroom watched Democrat Andy Beshear's razor-thin lead over Republican incumbent Matt Bevin slip to some 5,000 votes, I was struck by the more than 28,000 votes garnered by Libertarian candidate John Hicks.
I am not a Libertarian and know little about the party, but I wondered if any of those voters would regret casting their ballots in view of how things turned out. My second thought was to scold myself.
While the powers that be would have us believe this country should run solely with a two-party government, the fact remains that every state in the union has laws allowing for third-party or independent candidates. That the Libertarian party was included on this ballot with candidates not simply being lumped together as "I" is a feat in itself that should be celebrated.
I've been guilty of not doing so.
I've been guilty of dismissing primary candidates, too. Shortly after my third-party epiphany, I was perusing headlines in search of news outlets projecting a winner. On the Fox News website, I found one that had absolutely nothing to do with the governor's race in Kentucky but caught my eye nonetheless: "Hillary Clinton advises Dems to choose 2020 nominee who can win the Electoral College." The gist of the article was that the far left candidates should make way for a moderate that could theoretically defeat President Donald Trump.
I get the sentiment, especially from her, given that she won the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 3 million votes but ultimately lost the presidency anyway. I certainly consider myself a pragmatist and have based many decisions -- including ones involving the ballot -- on what my head thought would bring the best result possible, even if my heart really wanted another option.
But where has that thinking gotten us, really?
In my case, I find that I'm voting more and more against something rather than for something.
Wouldn't it be nice if all races were nonpartisan? Where the candidates could just put what they believe out there and not worry about having to conform to the party platform? And voters could decide which one best aligns with their core values?
Maybe not. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why that's not practical and I can't even wrap my head around how it would work.
But it doesn't sit well with me to think that a Democrat should pick a moderate just because he or she has the best chance of winning in 2020 or that a Republican should vote Trump just because he's the incumbent. Not if there are other candidates in those parties that voter may like better.
And if neither party works for you and there's another that does, don't let the fear of "throwing your vote away" keep you from registering and/or voting third-party.
The only way to waste your vote is not to vote at all.
JANIE SLAVEN is a CJ Staff Writer. Reach her at email@example.com.