Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bad for America

Here we are in the midst of another fun and frolicsome political campaign in America. And, as part of that campaign, certain well-known radio talk show hosts and religious leaders have urged their followers to vote for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Because they want to see Hillary win? Of course not. Rather, because they believe that their preferred candidate has a better chance of winning against Hillary Clinton vs. another Democratic candidate (let's call him Barack; hypothetically, of course).

I struggle with this approach. On one hand, this is America. You can vote for whoever you want to vote for. But if, in fact, you support John McCain for president, then shouldn't you be voting for John McCain in the Republican primaries?

What's wrong with trying to sabotage the political process of the other side? Well, try this for starters:

Let's take a hypothetical situation. Let's say John F. Kennedy and John Kerry are both candidates on the Democratic ticket, and that Abraham Lincoln and Bob Dole are both candidates on the Republican ticket. You, as a Republican supporter of Honest Abe, fear John F. Kennedy. He's visionary, he's charismatic, and he just might win if he's the Democratic candidate. So you, as a Republican (or an independent who supports Honest Abe), vote in the primary for John Kerry, figuring that Abe can take Kerry without any problems in the general election in November. Let's assume that the same thing is going on on the Democratic side as well. Most Democrats support John F. Kennedy. He's a strong candidate. But Abraham Lincoln is a formidable opponent as well. So the Democrats all vote as Republicans (or independents) in the primaries for Bob Dole, figuring that JFK can take Dole without any problems in November.And if enough people think and behave as you do, we end up with a general election featuring John Kerry vs. Bob Dole. Who wins? Who cares? America loses. The two best candidates are not running for the highest office in the land.

This is not how the American political process was designed to operate. Our whole political process is intended to work when people vote for other people they want to win. And I would argue that you circumvent that process at every step of the way when you work to ensure that the best (or most formidable, if you'd prefer that) candidates are not represented in the general election. It's bad for America.

Am I off base here? Any thoughts?


woodsmeister said...

Sadly, the last time I checked, Machiavellian manipulation of the system had not been outlawed by the US Constitution. Gaming the System is the American Way. Just ask any CEO or lobbyist.

Unknown said...

If state laws permit crossing party lines to do this then I guess it is strategy. If there are laws or rules then we shouldn't break them to get our desired results.

Just this a.m. I heard a "Super Delegate" talking about how they were not committed to any one of the Dem candidates but rather for who would best serve the party, i.e win in November. This to me is more of a concern in that thousands of voters wishes can be disregarded if enough Super Delegates don't like the way things are turning out. This smacks more of the "good ole boys" network and smoke filled rooms of days gone by.

mg said...

it's definitely unethical, however it is legal. i suppose this is the problem with the primary system. mccain's got the ticket with 5 months to go until the republican convention.

unfortunately, for them, i think if people did this it would backfire. i think hillary would still beat mccain, but unfortunately it could rule out obama in the process.

sara and i were both wondering why they do it this way. why not just hold all the primaries on the same day for each state and then the winners become the party's rep, etc.

just scott said...

I honestly don't think the "two best" candidates are ever out there due to what is essentially a duopoly in the election process.
Things like the Presidential Debate commission (among other things) make sure of stuff like that. I mean, if they are run by the former heads of the Republican and Democratic Parties, then of course the standards are going to be set by them, and make it near impossible for a 3rd-party candidate to get on the national stage. I'm sure they were shitting their pants when Perot polled so high back in the 90's and they were forced to include him.

Pilgrim said...

Sometimes I think that ploy is more about ratings (and the bottom line) than having a certain candidate win.
The underlying motivation is not that Hilary would be easier for McCain to beat; a Hilary nomination, and maybe even a Hilary win in Nov., would be better for the conservative talk show ratings for the next 4-8 years.