Editor's note: Glenn Beck is on CNN Headline News nightly at 7 and 9 ET and also hosts a conservative national radio talk show.
Glenn Beck says he won't vote for Obama but may not vote for McCain, either.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A lot of people don't believe it, but the truth is that I really don't know whom I'm going to vote for this November. It won't be Barack Obama -- he and I simply disagree on too many fundamental issues -- but it also may not be John McCain.
As much as the media and the analysts try to pigeon-hole people as having only one political ideology, the fact is that most people (at least, most "real" people), don't fit neatly into one predetermined set of political beliefs.
I'm no exception. Although I am a "conservative," I'm not a "Republican," and there's a big difference. A true Republican, or a true Democrat, is someone who puts their party above their principles and their candidate above their conscience.
But most of us (or at least those of us who live outside the Beltway) aren't like that. We're more like the mad scientist Frankenstein: We'd like to take a piece of this candidate, a touch of that one and a little slice of the one over there, mash it all together and create someone who's lines up perfectly with our values and beliefs.
Which brings me back to John McCain. Like Obama, McCain and I have fundamental differences on a host of important issues. Sure, I disagree with him less than I do with Obama, but is that really the standard we should use in choosing their candidate? Our country isn't a reality show where we simply elect whoever's left after all the backstabbing and lying is finished.
On my radio program, I talk a lot about voting for your values. But as time goes by, we all tend to get buried in the minutiae of campaigns and lose sight of those things. Day after day, the media and analysts feed us stories that line us up against each other like armies getting ready for battle. Standing in the middle isn't an option, so people tend to take a side, even if they don't feel completely comfortable there.
The only way out of that trap is to try to define what it is you really stand for and believe in. After all, how can you say that Obama or McCain reflects your values if you don't even know what those values are?
Chances are that your definition will slant heavily to the values advertised by one of the parties. That's fine, but keep in mind that just because a party says they stand for something doesn't mean it's true.
After all, the Republicans said they stood for smaller government, but the size of our government grew enormously under a Republican president and a Republican majority in Congress. Democrats said they stood for an end to the war in Iraq, but for better or worse, nearly two years after taking over Congress, they don't even have a timetable for withdrawal.
My point is that actions speak louder than words. The "R" and the "D" don't matter if the people we elect don't follow through on their promises.
So what are my core values, the things that I refuse to compromise on? To figure that out, I decided to try to define what I think a conservative really believes.
A conservative believes that our inalienable rights do not include housing, healthcare or Hummers.
A conservative believes that our inalienable rights DO include the pursuit of happiness. That means it is guaranteed to no one.
A conservative believes that those who pursue happiness and find it have a right to not be penalized for that success.
A conservative believes that there are no protections against the hardship and heartache of failure. We believe that the right to fail is just as important as the chance to succeed and that those who do fail learn essential lessons that will help them the next time around.
A conservative believes in personal responsibility and accepts the consequences for his or her words and actions.
A conservative believes that real compassion can't be found in any government program.
A conservative believes that each of us has a duty to take care of our neighbors. It was private individuals, companies and congregations that sent water, blankets and supplies to New Orleans far before the government ever set foot there.
A conservative believes that family is the cornerstone of our society and that people have a right to manage their family any way they see fit, so long as it's not criminal. We are far more attuned to our family's needs than some faceless, soulless government program.
A conservative believes that people have a right to worship the God of their understanding. We also believe that people do not have the right to jam their version of God (or no God) down anybody else's throat.
A conservative believes that people go to the movies to be entertained and to church to be preached to, not the other way around.
A conservative believes that debt creates unhealthy relationships. Everyone, from the government on down, should live within their means and strive for financial independence.
A conservative believes that a child's education is the responsibility of the parents, not the government.
A conservative believes that every human being has a right to life, from conception to death.
A conservative believes in the smallest government you can get without anarchy. We know our history: The larger a government gets, the harder it will fall.
Those are the things a conservative believes in, and they're the things that I believe in. Now, if only I could find a candidate to match.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.