Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Vote (If You Must)

Yes, I am on record as having arrived at the conclusion that voting changes not much at all and nothing for the better.

But I'm also aware that some of my readers disagree, and that they will, after some ritualistic hand-wringing, choose to once again reprise their participation in the perennial performances of Democracy®.

OK, fine ... but if you're going to do that, please do it right. Vote for what you want, not just against what you fear.

The Republicans are already playing that tedious old game again -- "a vote for anyone but X is a vote for Y" -- with respect to both their primaries ("a vote for anyone but Gingrich is a vote for Romney") and the general election ("a vote for anyone other than the GOP nominee is a vote for Obama").


It does not follow from your friend's insistence that Candidate X is better than Candidate Y, that your vote for Candidate Z helps Y at the expense of X. Your vote doesn't belong to any of those candidates, nor does it belong to your friend. It belongs to you, and it is owed to no one.

There's a very good chance that Mitt Romney will receive the Republican presidential nomination this year, even though he has yet to demonstrate the support of more than 40% of his party -- and that much only in his de facto home state.

In South Carolina, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2/3 to 3/4 of the Republican primary electorate wants no part of Romney.

I've suggested jokingly (mainly because this is a meaningless horse race to me), and others seriously (mainly because they've hypnotized themselves with that "Obama's is the most left-wing administration EVAH and the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY is to get rid of him" crap) that Rick Santorum and/or Rick Perry and/or Newt Gingrich should drop out and unify behind one of the three to swamp Romney.

But why should they?

And why should any voter engage in the same calculus?

If you really think that Rick Santorum is Da Bomb ... well, okay, you should probably seek psychiatric treatment ... but you probably think so for specific reasons, and don't believe that Perry or Gingrich measure up to those reasons any better than Romney does.

Compromising in support of the "lesser evil" -- voting for someone you despise just because that candidate's supporters claim you should despise him less than a common opponent -- gains you nothing. It merely sets you up for more demands to continue doing so in perpetuity. The people who make such demands never reciprocate. It's all downhill from the first surrender. Ron Paul's main strength is that his supporters understand that, deep down in their guts where it counts.

Ditto in the general election. If R. Lee Wrights, or whomever Americans Elect saddles up, are more to your liking than the major party horses, why should you sacrifice your values in order to ensure victory for the "possibly slightly less objectionable" Republican or Democrat?

The only way (if there is any way) to get what you actually want in electoral politics is to vote for it, not against the least nauseating alternative to it. Sure, you may not win this time, but if you surrender this time the demands will just be more strident, and the alternatives you're presented with more nauseating, next time.
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