So for most of my life, I didn't pay much attention to politics. My first bit of actual attention payed to it was George W Bush. During the Bush vs Gore race, I didn't really have a preference. I didn't know anything about politics at that point, so I didn't understand much of it, I didn't care to. After Bush was elected, I learned a lot very quickly. Bush was a moron, absolutely terrible for the country and the entire world as a president of the USA for a variety of reasons. As much as I disliked Bush, I didn't bother with actual elections at that point, I didn't even bother to vote for Kerry.
That changed when the 2008 election started. I payed attention, watching speeches from most everyone. I liked Obama, but didn't think he had much of a chance of actually winning because he was black. That sounds very odd now, doesn't it? I didn't have any kind of racist feelings toward him personally, I just didn't think America would vote for him over a white guy. I'm definitely glad I was wrong about that, though. As soon as it appeared he had the support of the American people and had a real chance of winning, I supported him 100% myself. I got me and my family to register to vote so we could vote for him in the primaries and then again in the general election. That's the first time I had ever voted for anyone.
I didn't bother to vote for him again when he came up against Romney, partly because of apathy and partly because I didn't think Romney stood a chance in hell. I've been fairly okay with Obama since... until the NSA revelations.
We know what happened with that, so I won't recap it here, but it completely changed my feelings about Obama. Now I think he's a traitor to the country and to the constitution. And yes, I'm aware that Bush started this, but Obama is just as guilty by continuing it. With Bush, spying on everyone in the name of "security" was expected, but with Obama it's like a stab in the back. It made me realize that politicians are shit, all of them. No matter how many great speeches they give, no matter what promises they make, no matter how likeable they are. Absolute shit. Every single one.
So that leaves me with a question, if Mr Hope-and-Change Obama turned out to be shit, how could I vote for anyone else? What could anyone else say that would convince me at this point? That they won't spy on everyone? Well, Obama spoke out against a lot of the things he's supporting now, such as national security letters. Could someone else be more likeable than Obama? Give better speeches? Make better promises? Maybe. Would it matter? I don't think so.
I've asked myself that question for a while, and I think I finally have an answer. What could convince me to vote for another candidate is... they have to pardon Edward Snowden. A full, presidential pardon. In fact, along with the pardon should come an award for giving up his life in America to reveal all the dark and dirty shit that was going on with the NSA. Anyone that values privacy or the constitution owes him a great deal of gratitude for that. I think that's the only way a presidential candidate could convince me that they were serious about ending the warrantless spying on American citizens, and indeed citizens of many countries.
A full pardon for Snowden being the bare minimum, I'd also love to hear exactly what kind of reforms the candidate would make to the NSA surveillance programs. I want to hear about protections that could be, and would be enacted for future Edward Snowdens who have the guts to inform the American people of illegal actions by the government. If a candidate stepped forward and did these things, I would give them a chance and vote for them. Otherwise, I'll probably never vote again. Why should I? Why should you? Why should anyone? Thoughts?