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What do you vote for, when you vote?

By Michael J. Smith on Friday March 28, 2008 06:36 PM

In a comment on an earlier post, the subtle and wily Jonathan Lundell wrote, inter alia:
Should I vote for president in November?

1. My vote for president won't matter....

... this being a reason, If I follow, why JL's indulging himself by pulling a Dem lever is inconsequential and thus a fortiori harmless.

This line of reasoning raises several interesting questions, but the one that seems most interesting to me is the question of what collateral damage one might do by voting for a Democrat.

JL poses the question in terms of "voting for President." But suppose we pose it in terms of "voting for the Democratic Party," or even "contributing to the continued existence, in its present form, of the Democratic Party" -- because that's what, I argue, every vote for a Democrat does.

Thought experiment: If you could push a button and make the Democratic Party disappear -- would you? I would. I think we'd be better off, frankly, in a one-party state with primaries than a two-party duopoly with runoff elections -- which is what we have now. At least there'd be fewer hurdles to jump.

I dunno whether JL would push the button as cheerfully as I would, or whether he would push it at all. But perhaps posing the question helps clarify our thinking. If you wouldn't push the button -- why not? What useful purpose do you think the continued existence of the Democratic Party serves?

And if you would push the button -- then how can you justify pulling the lever?

Comments (3)

"pulling a Dem lever"? I'm certainly more subtle and wily than that.

3. One reasonable criterion choosing who to vote for for president is to consider who I'm going to have to listen to for the next 4-8 years. That is, if my vote mattered, which it doesn't. Easy choice, I think, but in California I have the luxury of making another futile gesture, and probably will.

It's true that Obama is the easy answer to my question there (though I may well change my mind before November), but actually voting for him wasn't the futile gesture I had in mind.


Much as I usually hate to feel that I've missed the point, in this case I'm relieved.


sounds like
u two oughta settle this
in a motel

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