October 23, 2012

Support for Democrats: A Clarification

In my post “An Election Proposal,” I made a statement that has attracted some criticism. I wrote in an aside that
I will vote for the Democrat, rather than the Republican, even if he or she is revealed at the last minute to be an ax murderer.
Billy Ockham took this statement as an indication that I am not open-minded or accepting. A commenter on Ockham’s blog remarked
I thought that we had progressed beyond that type of bigotry.
My statement was, of course, hyperbolic, but it is certainly true that, in 2012, I cannot imagine voting for a Republican unless the Democratic candidate is loathsome and the Republican candidate is a saint, and perhaps not even then.

Bad logo for a bad party
This attitude is not the product of unthinking support for the party of my parents and grandparents. It is instead the result of the realization that the Republican Party has run off the rails. It has become the party of the lunatic right, a party more interested in the final triumph of its know-nothing ideology than in the more prosaic business of participating in the governing of what they consider the greatest nation on earth. The Republican Party has truly become the Party of No (or, perhaps, the Party of Hell, No).

But surely there are good Republicans. No doubt. Crazy people do not get into office by running for president, however. Instead, they run for the school board or city council. They win in races for low-visibility offices and gradually rise in the electoral hierarchy, benefiting at each step from name recognition and voter apathy and indifference. Successful party members recruit new candidates holding views similar to their own.

By the time it becomes obvious that a political party has become captive of an alien and irrational philosophy, the feedback mechanisms that support its growth are firmly in place. The only defense against the triumph of such a party available to the average voter is to avoid voting for a member of that party, whether for dog catcher or for president.

And that is why I will vote a straight Democratic (not “Democrat”) ticket.


  1. I'm sorry, I can't say I agree with you.

    I mean, if I find out the Democratic candidate is an axe murderer, I probably wouldn't be able to vote for them.

    Well, OK, maybe if they're just a little bit murder-y.

    The Republican Party of Dick Thornburgh, Arlen Specter, John Heinz, Hugh Scott, Bob Dole, Howard Baker, etc., is gone, and has been replaced by something approaching a far-right-wing cult. Even people such as Tom Ridge, Christie Todd Whitman and David Stockman --- hardly liberals! --- have been pushed out.

    It frustrates me, because the Republican Party just isn't giving me a choice right now --- I want elections to be difficult choices. I don't want to have to reflexively vote for a Democrat just because they're the "non-crazy" alternative.

  2. One of the startling disconnects in American politics is that voters consistently say they vote for, "the person not the party." In reality, one cannot separate the two, as your analysis demonstrates. And there is other analysis that confirms it, among the most to me alarming is that the party of a congressperson is the single most accurate predictor of votes. Another is the amazing disparity between the approval of Congress (in the low 20% range) and the consistent reelection of incumbents.

    I too will be voting straight party this time. I am one of the casualties of the tea party assault on reason, a liberal "Eisenhower Republican" whom the wingnuts do not want. Ok, they do not have me.

    If the wingnuts continue to dispose of the decent conservatives (Cf. Richard Lugar in Indiana,) the party is doomed to irrelevance. One can only hope that a new party structure that does not include a dominant ultra-right wing pseudo-Christian version on a Mullah can evolve.


  3. Jason and Jim's comments are absolutely right on point. I could not agree more. In the "good old days" it was possible to consider voting for a Republican, including those mentioned in the earlier comments. The Republican replacement for Richard Lugar in Indiana, Richard Mourdock, puts Todd Aiken to shame by saying during a debate last night that he doesn’t support abortion in cases of rape because while horrible, “it is something that God intended to happen.” There are now 2 Republican U.S. Senate candidates who are hopelessly beyond the pale on record. Lord knows what they say in private.

    Bob Button

  4. I already voted. Straight Democratic Party ticket (absentee from Guatemala)...I did not vote, or even consider to vote, for one Republican (or any of their selfseeking ¨measures¨). I have lived long enough to know when danger looms large (and near)...Republicans have lost most contact with everyday reality as they spin themselves into some kind of righteous cacoon of greed driven by fear and hate. If there are exceptions, they ought be ashamed of themselves for piggybacking on the promotion of the ills of society.


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