It was the first “protest” vote I’ve ever cast, and it felt … well, it felt good. Suddenly I understood a bit better why the Ross Perot or the Pat Buchanan or the Ralph Nader voters did what they did.

They thought the system was so broken that they couldn’t sit out but also couldn’t stomach voting for a conventional candidate at a time of unconventional problems.

Do I think a Ron Paul presidency is ever possible? No, I don’t. But I do want some of the Pauline virtues of candor and non-poll-tested conviction to play a larger role in our politics.

So now I’ve cast my protest vote. It felt good.

What I really want, though, is a party and a politics that’s commensurate with the problems and possibilities of the country. We’ll get there one day — and then we can focus on progress, not protest.