For anyone still not convinced at just how screwed up this year's race for Georgia governor has become, the final evidence came last week.
That's when Georgia's Christian Coalition, for the first time in 15 years, declined to produce its voter guide with a nod to any of the candidates.
If that fine, upstanding conservative organization can't make up its collective mind, what are the rest of us to do?
Of course, not everyone is confused. Kool-Aid chugging Republicans and Democrats happily will vote for Nathan Deal or Roy Barnes purely because of their party flavor.
Those folks can't be reasoned with. Their attitude fits perfectly with a recent study on cognitive dissonance, which determined that when confronted with evidence that undermines their views, people with strong beliefs tend to argue those views even more forcefully.
That explains the comment from a starry-eyed Deal supporter who, after yet another round of unflattering financial news came out about her candidate, said she backed him "now, more than ever."
For those who aren't infected with the party-line zombie deterioration of the brain, though, let's examine our choices.
On the one hand we have a Republican branded as one of the "most corrupt" members of Congress, which is like getting an award as the stinkiest dumpster.
Then we have a Democrat who held the job before, and was fired because he governed so arrogantly that he was nicknamed "King Roy."
And then we have a Libertarian candidate who is a decent enough fellow, but whose realistic role in the election is to possibly throw the race into a runoff between the two major-party candidates so we can be subjected to their nauseating political ads for three more weeks.
Unlike the Christian Coalition, responsible voters can't just take a pass. So what are we to do?
It's especially awkward for Columbia County voters. Most of us vote Republican, and in the primary and runoff most of us voted for a Republican. But the Republican who won is not the Republican we wanted.
There is a high degree of frustration that the party's standard-bearer is Nathan Deal and not Karen Handel. It's even more frustrating to know that if any of the damaging financial revelations about Deal had come out sooner, Handel easily would have picked up the few votes she needed to win.
No matter how the election turns out, I'm thinking someone is going to make a few bucks on "Don't Blame Me - I Voted for Handel" bumper-stickers.
Even with all the nose-holding necessary, most Columbia County voters on Tuesday will vote for Deal despite the possibility that he could declare personal bankruptcy within weeks of his inauguration.
Knowing that, it's useful to look on the bright side:
- When it comes time to reapportion the state after the 2010 Census, who do we want in charge - a Republican or a Democrat?
- When judicial openings arise, who do we want making those appointments?
- In the event that, as some expect, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson is re-elected yet because of poor health is unable to complete his term, who do we want appointing his replacement?
With those scenarios, Columbia County voters would choose the Republican candidate. They'll just have to live with the fact that it's Deal.
As a side benefit, some of Deal's earliest supporters were the majority of Columbia County's elected officials. That demonstrates how remarkably out of touch they are with the county's rank-and-file voters, but their ground-floor investment in Deal could pay dividends.
It isn't the best choice. Even the Christian Coalition can't stomach it. But come Tuesday we'll have to pick one.
It might as well be Deal. Praise the Lord, and pass the Dramamine.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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