Political parties are like religions.
Falling humble to the anointed leaders of their respective parties, party members pledge undying obedience and serve faithfully.
I'm anti-political party, always have been and most likely probably always will be. In fact, I'm anti-political label.
That's why I laughed last week when I received an anonymous voicemail message. The newsroom often bursts into spontaneous political debates, always the "conservative" me against the "liberal" majority.
The caller lambasted me for my views and the views of "my fellow liberals." She fingered me for trying to undermine President Bush's re-election bid.
Since I feel a need to demean myself and pigeon-hole my head full of social and political thought into a label, I would consider myself more conservative than anything. I use the term sparingly for fear of being associated too closely to any political ideology.
My mere questioning of Bush's qualifications and noting that neither Bush nor Democratic nominee for president John Kerry is an ideal candidate drew her ire.
I may not have an Ivy League education, be a member of a secret society or have millions of bucks in my bank account, but I can do something that politicians, namely presidential candidates, cannot do.
Unlike them, I can admit being wrong and making a mistake.
Mistakenly, I accepted what Vice President Dick Cheney said during last week's debate. He claimed to have never even met Democratic vice presidential hopeful John Edwards until that night.
Immediately, pictures surfaced of the two sitting next to each other in previous occasions.
I confess I was wrong for accepting what Cheney said as truth without verifying it.
Faced with the truth, though, I gladly admit my error.
That is all that I want, hope for and demand of Kerry, Bush and all other politicians. When you're wrong, just admit it and move on.
Woefully, I admit that as the campaigns roll on, I'm less and less decided on who to support.
Considering Kerry and Bush, since none of the other candidates are ever mentioned, I struggle to understand how anyone can adamantly support either one. I can understand voting for one, but can't understand touting one of the candidates as a great choice for president.
Despite this, I'd be willing to pledge my support to any presidential candidate who could admit making a mistake.
Kerry and Bush are no saints. That I'm confident everyone will agree upon. When Bush was asked to list three mistakes he made during his presidency at the town hall debate last week, he struggled to answer and said that he would accept any mistakes history attributes to his presidency. He pointed to only minor appointments to boards and commissions as mistakes.
Kerry responded saying his only mistake has been using poor wording when stating his positions.
It's one thing to make a mistake. Everyone is human, and everyone makes a mistake...some even make multiple mistakes in a lifetime. What's worse than making a mistake is refusal to admit making the mistake and the cover up, bending and re-interpreting of the truth that ensues.
I'm not asking for a perfect candidate, just one who admits imperfection, learns from mistakes and moves on.
Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.