I mailed in my ballot on Friday. This is the first political election I’ve ever participated in.

Here’s the first question filled out (not a difficult one):

Voting for Biden / Harris for President was the only sane option given how hideous the other candidates are.

You may not even recognize two of the candidates on the list since they’re running with much smaller parties, and they’re far from popular – for good reason I’d say.

Don Blankenship is a former coal company CEO who spent a year in prison for violating mine safety standards (which got 29 miners killed). I’d vote for him if I wanted to trash the environment even more than it’s already been trashed for the past four years.

Then there’s Jo Jorgensen. I’d vote for her if I had a death wish and wanted us to live in the world of Mad Max. She believes that mask wearing is a “matter of personal choice” and that we should deregulate businesses and basically let capitalism run wild. I say no thanks to her dystopian world. Ayn Rand would love her though.

I prefer to live in a world where government is strong enough to act as a counter-balance to rugged individualism and capitalism. Humans will be human, and they need some rails to keep their worst qualities in check. Many people lack good critical thinking skills, and they need rules, social constraints, and institutions to keep them from hurting themselves (or other people) too much.

For all of the state positions, I looked into the candidates and ended up voting for the Democratic one for all of the partisan positions. The choice would come down to questions like: Hmmm… do I prefer the nonprofit executive with a long history of helping schoolchildren, or do I want the former pro wrestler who’s endorsed by Trump and the National Rifle Association and who’s been accused of assault three times? Yeah… tough choice.

There were five ballot initiatives regarding amendments to the Nevada Constitution. One was to enshrine gay marriage rights into our constitution, which of course I voted for. Even though it’s already the law of the land at the federal level, doing this at the state level could provide stronger protections in case the federal version is ever overturned or weakened. The argument against this measure didn’t even try to sound fair, framing it as good enough that gay couples could still fall back on civil unions, which gave them almost the same rights as married couples.

Another ballot initiative was to speed up the adoption of clean energy sources in Nevada, so instead of crawling towards 25% renewal energy sources like we’ve been doing, this new ballot measure would require us to reach 50% by 2030, increasing this percentage from the current 20% incrementally every few years. The arguments for this measure noted the health benefits and cleaner air, along with positive financial benefits to the state and residents. The arguments against this looked like they were written for someone with an IQ under 80 – such irrational nonsense, including blaming California. Of course I voted for us to move to renewables faster. We get 300+ days of sun here. I don’t see why we can’t shift to 100% renewables, but 50% is better than 25%.

Even though statistically my personal vote may not count for much, I found the act of voting to be an interesting growth experience. It encouraged me to think more actively about the kind of world I’d like to live in. That’s actually fueling some creative thought that’s feeding into the new novel I’m working on.

For the most part though, I was disappointed in the choices. How much of a choice is it when the options are stupid, stupid, stupid, and adequate? I felt like I was taking a test designed for an eight-year old. I wanted harder questions and juicier options that required more than a yawn and a pen.

It’s disappointing to even have to look at ballot options that are so backwards. I’d much rather see a ballot where I really have to think, not one where each question provides only one sane choice for someone with a functional brain.

I’d rather be pushed to choose from among various shades of awesomeness, with different candidates espousing different ways we might invest in creating a better future together. Do I want more clean energy, more space exploration, a more highly educated society, a healthier world, etc?

Let’s save the other options for post-apocalyptic movies. We can surely create something better for real life.