Andrew at ObWings wont break any ground for originality, but he does set up a useful basis for discussion:
A simple thought experiment for the Democrats in the audience: suppose (again, this is a thought experiment, so we can be very farfetched here) that 20 years from now the Democratic Party, having taken power in 2008 after the disasters of the Bush administration and the Republican Party became common knowledge, has become disturbingly corrupt. The Republican Party, while not obviously corrupt, appears to generally espouse the same beliefs you always hated: trimming government aid to the poor, cutting taxes, helping business, etc. But the Democrats have reached a point where they’re no longer doing what you like, either: they’re selling legislation to favored constituencies, and their sole goal appears to be to retain power rather than to accomplish their stated goals as a party. How difficult would it be for you to cross the aisle and vote Republican? Could you do it?
That isn’t a very hard question for me. In 1999 a truly awful Democrat, Cyril Wecht, ran for the Allegheney County Executive. Not a minor race when the prize is the third most important office in a large state like PA after Governor and mayor of Philly. To give a sense of Cyril Wecht’s awfulness, he was in a technical sense the incumbent since he had last held the job years back when County Council fired him and eliminated the position over charges of, among other things, embezzlement. Wecht pretty much fit Andrew’s hypothetical to a T. For that matter so did the Republican Jim Roddey, a Marine veteran, scarcely partisan (in this county a wingnut wouldn’t stand a chance in hell) and a generally likable guy with decent ideas for government.
Considering my practically tribal liberalism it might shock Andrew that I jumped into the Roddey camp with both feet. Amusingly enough I spent most of my time at Roddey HQ reassuring Dem callers who wanted somebody to tell them that Roddey wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade. Fortunately for Jim the County Executive has precisely zero impact on that debate, a factoid that had no small impact on my decision as well.
In fact I think that Andrew has hit on less of a defining character trait than a sad testament of the times. Predicting behavior twenty years in the future, after all, implies deep-rooted convictions that practically nothing in the outside world can dislodge. In fact contrary to Andrew’s point I hardly think that my example is less an exception than the rule. Even among the combatants at this site I know of a surprisingly small number who can say that they have followed a straight tribal ticket for any significant period. As they say, all politics is local and local politics is messy.
However, while Andrew misdiagnoses tribalism when simple passion will do, he perfectly well points out that an amazing number of people today wouldn’t vote for the opposing party if you held a gun to their heads. No accident there, as I pointed out before a relatively small number of people decided to make that happen. These folks, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay and, later and most effectively, Karl Rove, calculated that their political fortunes would be improved by poisoning the partisan atmosphere in America. Split the nation, as the theory goes, and make sure that you end up with the slightly larger half. At this point, looking around at the Washington that they created, you have to say that they look pretty smart. Not exactly role models, but a smart person doesn’t look to politics for those.
Anyhow it looks today like the people who sowed the wind, so to speak, won’t be around to sow much longer. Let’s see whether the poisonous environment that they created long survives them. Maybe it will, but honestly I think that the second Gingrich Revolution (counting the Contract With America as the first) is more or less spent.
How difficult would it be for you to cross the aisle and vote Republican? Could you do it?
The question completely ignores recent history. Democrats already did cross the aisle and vote Republican. They even had a name for them “Reagan Democrats”. I know many of own family – (die hard Democrats from New England, including a few local politicians) crossed over at the time, and continued voting for Republicans for years.
I wouldn’t vote Jesus Christ if he was a Republican because he would enable the rest of them to remain in power.
The Other Steve
But the Democrats have reached a point where they’re no longer doing what you like, either: they’re selling legislation to favored constituencies, and their sole goal appears to be to retain power rather than to accomplish their stated goals as a party. How difficult would it be for you to cross the aisle and vote Republican? Could you do it?
Hold up. That’s supposed to be remotely equivalent to what the Republicans have done over the past decade? They’re just not “doing what conservatives like”? From my vantage point, it looks like they handed the reins over to a bunch of barking-mad lunatics who proceeded to throw our military to the wolves, wipe their ass with the Constitution, smear menstrual blood all over our national image and set it ablaze, declare ignorance and bigotry as virtues, and… Jesus, words can’t describe what wankery this is. Where was the part about the Democrats lying us into a suicidal war just so they could pad the bill for their arms-dealing cronies?
Fucking pork is just the tip of the iceberg. And you know, sure, it would be enough to make me not go vote for any Democrat involved. But the Republicans have a long, long, long path to forgiveness.
The Other Steve
Are they still trying to ressurect Terri Schiavo? Ban abortion? Bash teh gays? Install “Christianity” as the state religion?
The problem with the Republican party isn’t that they aren’t implementing their stated purpose. It’s that they know their stated purpose is bad and wrong for the country, but they still advocate for it because they know it’ll win them voters, and they don’t implement it because doing so might scare off the rest.(Terri Schiavo was hubris on their part, and they didn’t realize it would scare people)
I don’t have a problem with debates about cutting spending, or cutting taxes, or whatever. As long as they are open and honest debates. Hell, I’m in favor of a balanced budget amendment because it would FORCE that debate to occur even if it shut down the government.
But it’s impossible to have an honest debate with Republicans, because they’re too stupid to realize they are lying.
If that changes 20 years down the road, you bet I’d vote for them.
The Other Steve
Looks like scarshapedstar and I are on similar wavelengths.
I am three weeks away from voting out the GOP, and I ma having no secomd thoughts or reservations. Although, I had a different strategy. Although I find loudly kicking your tribe members in the balls until you are no longer welcome helps you get over the discomfort of ‘going against the team.’
In all seriousness, the Rovians have had me voting Republican for a few years simply because they are not Democrats. In short, it is their fault that I am now wholly comfortable voting ‘not Republican’ in the upcoming election.
I live in Bergen Co, NJ. The county government is a strongly entrenched Democratic machine. I am a staunch Democrat, but I have, and will, vote for Republicans on the local level, if only to break the logjam.
In my own little burg, I vote Independent, rather than Democratic, because the Dems will only abet the County machine.
I’ve had no problem crossing the line in the past and will do so in the future when merited.
I’ll not fall prey to a foolish consistency.
There’s another option: stay home. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for the opposition, you can always sit out an election. People do it all the time.
Yes. I just posted a long comment over there, saying essentially that very thing.
It’s not that the GOP is garden-variety corrupt. Christ, it’s unfortunate but true that some corruption is to be expected among politicians, of whatever Party.
It’s that the GOP has become the antithesis of Americanism. A barking mad wrecking crew.
Yes, but you just think they’re a barking mad wrecking crew, because you’re a member of the non-barking mad wrecking crew tribe.
The important thing is to get over our differences and not dwell on reasons for a barking/non-barking split in American politics.
I used to vote Republican about 80% of the time. That changed in 2004, when I voted 100% Democrat. I hated doing it but had no choice. I’ve never understood people who voted straight party ticket, it’s like disengaging your brain on election day. But there is no way in hell I’ll vote Republican until the neo cons are gone.
Merl, everyone knows the neocons don’t exist, and if you say otherwise it proves you hate Jews.
I was just about to say that I’d still vote for the Democrats, when I realized that I voted for a Republican candidate (Katz) in the last Philly mayoral election because John Street was so utterly reprehensible….
which means I’m not quite the completely partisan jerk I think I am, I guess….
I think this question is really indicative of how much some folks still don’t get that this isn’t about politics or Democrats vs Republicans. It’s about open, honest, effective, competent government.
Look, the democrats will always suck, but they will never innately embody hypocrisy the way republicans always do.
I always vote for the third party, and dem only if I have to keep a republican out of office. If a dem Congress was running amok with spending, I’d consider voting for a non-barking crazy republican (but won’t ever happen again until 10-million or so evangelicals stop voting).
I’ve dispised the Republicans since Regan. Their lack of faith and loyalty to the constitution was the decider for me (see Iran-Contra). My dislike for the Republican deepened with the rise of the Religion freaks that wanted to put prayer in school. My first opportunity to vote for President was Dukakis(sp?). That was embarassing, but I did it.
However in 1996, Clinton was to smarmy (triangulation and all that). I was looking to vote for Dole cuz he was such a budget hawk. I figured if a guy spent 30 years harping on a balanced budget, I could at least trust him for 4 years. Towards the end of the campaign Dole chose to throw 30 years of consistancy out the window with his 15% across the board tax cut proposal, with no way to pay for it. I voted for Clinton again. I figured if I am going to get a unprincipled president Clinton was a better bet.
Thru that time I kept voting for Conney Morella (R) the congressman from my district. Then in 2000 (I think) Maryland gerrimandered her out of office. I was sick of how smug the Dems were in MD state politics. In 2002 I voted for Erlich.
I have voted Dem most of my life, but for the sake of balance I have and most certainly could hold my nose and vote for a bunch of looser Republicans just to put the smack down on looser Democrats.
However, the few things I liked about Republicans (states rights, restrained government, and balanced budgets) are completely gone. They have gone completely pseudo-Religion Nuts (I wouldn’t want to insult real Religious people by assosiating them with the Republicans). They have gone crazy for Big Buisness. Two thirds of our GDP growth comes from the small and mid-sized businesses (less than 500 employees roughly). Do any Republicans on this board really think modern day Republicans care about small business?
Republicans have gone completely Fascist (my definition is One Party above all other considerations), Theocratic (codify one religious group’s moral conclusions into law), and the inevitable (due to the two previous attributes) Authoriarian. The Republican disrespect for the constitution from Nixon to Regan to Bush Jr is now complete.
Given all that, I may not be able to vote for the current brand of Republicans even if the Dems were merely sleazy corrupt. But if they were also disrespecting the Constitution like the current Republicans. I would seek a third option, and I expect a third option would become available if the above situation were truely occuring.
Ideally, I’d always like to make a meaningful vote for the better candidate, but our political system itself makes that difficult. I think the easy answer is just to sit out the election, or not vote for a few positions on the ballot. The real answer depends on the people and the parties involved, though. I’d vote for a sane moderate Republican over a crazy corrupt Democrat, but at this point that’s not likely to happen here.
I think you’re probably right about that one (even if your spelling is way off!).
I despise ideologues on both sides of the fence, but in America the right is much worse because they have the means to be, so therefore they attract the worst bullies and hypocrites. (Yes, there are plenty on the left as well, but tenure seems to be the highest level of power that they achieve.) I look for practical, reality-based policies that help maintain a balance of power, relatively equal opportunities and civil rights for all. So far, those policies consistently come from left-leaning moderates, at least in this country. I choose the policies I want to support first, and then choose the politicians that I think are most likely to support those policies. I don’t think the corporation-dominated Republican party is ever going to support those policies, so I probably won’t ever vote for them, except perhaps on a local level. If the Dems really got that bad, I would support a third party, as many left-wing voters have been doing for some time now. Like most Dems I suspect, I’m not really loyal to any party.
You’d think they’d get bored reciting the same old b.s. eventually, wouldn’t you? It’s like reading Darrell all over again.
Are you on the West Coast like me, or are you an insomniac as well?
Jess, I’m on the east coast (check my link, I’m in that district) but I’m no insomniac–actually, I should be getting to sleep, now that you mention it! :)
I used to be a ‘vote the person not the party’ kind of guy though I leaned Democratic… OK leaned a lot Democratic. But I did get to vote for Barry Goldwater in his last run for the Senate, I’ve voted for John McCain before he turned into a whore after 2000. I thought Mondale and Dukakis were horrible candidates but I held my nose and voted for them because I just couldn’t vote for Reagan or Poppy Bush.
I’m so disgusted with what the GOP has been up to since 1993 – particularly since get-Clinton-mania reached its shrill, ridiculous peak in 1996-98 – that I have sworn that I’ll never vote for a fucking Republican again so long as I draw breath.
Now, I suppose there are circumstances where the Democrat would suck so badly that voting for the GOP candidate would be the only sensible act. I’ve often told people that if the Democrats had run a candidate for president as obviously ignorant and incompetent as George W. Bush seemed to me from the word ‘go’, I would denounce him and vote for the GOP guy (holding my nose). But I don’t believe the Democratic party would ever run such an empty suit for such an important office. If anything the Dems tend to run people who are ‘too smart’ like Gore. I think it’s atrocious that people would not like Gore because he’s an egghead, but that’s just the way things are in Jesusland.
I agree that 40 years of Democratic domination of Congress was probably a bad idea, but the GOP has managed to be 10 times as bad in only 12 years. You know what made Speaker of the House Jim Wright resign? A scandal over book sales that were used to disguise illegal campaign contributions. Then there was that business with the Congressional bank and all those NSFs and so on. Oh and remember how everyone was up in arms over Congressional pay raises? And the deficit? The radio talk show hosts even got people to send in teabags to protest the deficit.
To make a long story even longer… I really don’t think the Democrats could possibly be as bad after 20 years of running Congress as the Republicans have been after 12. I mean, they’d have to try really, really, really hard to beat this bunch.
But if the Dems fuck it up too, I won’t hesitate to withdraw support from them. And I think that’s really important, that if we hand the Congressional keys to the Dems this fall, that we remind them that we turned to them not because they were the only alternative, but because we expect a lot better of them than the current crop of fools, criminals, sex predators and thieves.
I’m almost always inclined to vote Democrat, but I’d jump ship in a heartbeat for a quality Repub over a Democrat hack. I recall Hunter S. Thompson despising Hubert Humphrey (an embodiment of Demo hackdom) so much that he vowed to vote for his old nemesis Richard Nixon if Hube had won the ’72 nomination.
As a Californian, I’m no Schwarzenegger fan, that’s for damn sure, but there’s no doubt that he’s done a better job in the Governor’s seat than his numbnuts predecessor Grey Davis. Do not, by the way, consider that an endorsement of Arnie in the current campaign…
Seems like if decent GOP’ers manage to rear their heads in the political marketplace, they ought to be supported. Think of it as positive reinforcement. Having said that, I’m unable to think of any.
If the Democratic candidate was really bad and the Republican was like today’s Republican, I’d stay home (or more likely vote indy or neither).
If the Democratic candidate was really bad and the Republican was like a classical Conservative, I’d probably still stay home (or more likely vote indy or neither).
If the Democratic candidate was really bad and the Republican was a sane, rational and thoughtful human being, I’d vote for the Republican.
I get the feeling that ObWings Andrew was intending this to be a trick question. I’m supposed to say I’d vote Dem anyway so he could say, “See! Gotcha! That’s why I vote Repub!”
I really can’t imagine the dems supporting preemptive war, torture and suspension of habeas corpus and shredding of the Constitution. But if the dems were able to match or even approach the current GOP’s level of depravity, there’s no way in hell they’d get my vote.
Dustbin Of History
Hell, this was the top of my 2004 ticket:
John Kerry – Obvious.
George Voinovich – Voinovich was acceptable as one of the rare moderate Republicans as opposed to the Dem candidate, Eric Fingerhut, ran a campaign more limp than Richard Simmons in a sauna. If you want me to vote for you, act like you actually want the bloody office! This year, fortunately, we have Sherrod Brown, who is actually campaigning as if he wants to (gasp) win.
Dennis Kucinich – If he spent more time thinking about Cleveland than Washington or Hollywood and had the balls to debate his opponents, he wouldn’t be that bad of a Congresscritter. However, as I was afraid the one-issue (WAR GOOD DENNIS BAD) but well-funded Repub candidate might actually defeat Kucinich, I pulled the lever for him over the independent. This year, it doesn’t look like I’ll have to worry too much about voting third-party for OH-10.
I’ve always tended to vote for the person, not the party. The way our system is set up is a pain in the ass, though. You vote for your local Member of Parliament, and then nationwide, whichever party wins the most seats – their leader becomes Prime Minister. So it tends to engender a fair bit of internal conflict. In the most recent federal election, I really wanted to vote for my local conservative MP, as he’s a great, non-partisan guy who gets a lot of shit done for his constituents. But…I still didn’t trust Stephen Harper. I didn’t have a hell of a lot of choice, though, because my local guy is so popular (and rightly so), that voting anything other than Conservative would be akin to throwing away my vote, as he always wins by a landslide. I wish we could vote for our PM and our MP separately.
Let me put it this way.
If Jesus was the Republican and Satan was the Democrat I’d have to think seriously voting for Satan about staying home. After the election I’d impeach Satan if he won.
The Republican party is like a shit sandwich. There may be lots of untainted bread around the creamy center, but you still have to eat it all.
Well, let’s see.
1988 – Pops Bush
1992 – The Ears (it was college…)
1996 – Clinton (Dole did nothing for me)
2000 – Ralph Nader (*)
2004 – John Kerry
2008 – Anyone run against the neocons
For Congress I’ve voted a hodgepodge of R, D, Libertarian and Green depending on the seat. For governor I’ve cast votes for Zell Miller (before he went batshit insane) and, oh Christ, I forget the guy that ran against Sonny Perdue last time. I couldn’t vote for Perdue because he was riding the Confederate flag issue, and because he had Dubya down here campaigning for him all the time. Two strikes.
I live in John Lewis’ House district and I’ll be sending him back to DC every year, along with everyone else in the district, until he decides to quit. I’d do anything to boot Saxby Chambliss out of office but don’t see anyone doing that any time soon. Georgia isn’t getting any bluer these days. Which brings us to…
(*) – The vote for Nader was actually an attempt to get the Green Party recognized on the GA ballot. The only three parties listed on the ballot currently are R, D and Libertarian (because of a large L vote in 1994 and 1996). I could vote for the Greens because even if I voted for Gore 10 times, dug up all of my dead relatives and had them vote for Gore 10 times and did the same thing with 1000 other people, Georgia was going Bush in 2000.
I have never considered this a viable option. Your vote is, quite literally, the only opinion you have that counts. It sounds simplistic, but I truly believe that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain and your opinions are worthless. If you sincerely cannot pick any of the options on your ballot, write someone in. But to just say, “fuck it” and not bother is a waste of a perfectly good citizenship.
i wouldn’t say that i hate the ideas of trimming gov’t aid, cutting taxes and helping business. i believe in those ideas if done at the right time and done fairly and practically.
if a gooper made promises that fulfilled the above, i’d have no problem voting based on those promises.
the biggest roadblock for me in voting GOP is what they consider their biggest strength, namely their monolithic nature; you vote for a republican, you’re basically voting for the entire party’s political ideals even if you vote for a ‘maverick’. because the dude you vote for will more likely than not end up a reliable party-line voter, or at least when it really counts. otherwise he won’t get any committee assignments or anything worthwhile.
many of us believe in voting for the person, regardless of party. unfortunately the GOP these days makes it very difficult to vote for them for exactly that reason.
I’ve voted for a Republican over a Democrat twice, once in Connecticut and once in DC, but then the Democrats running were Joe Lieberman and Marion Barry.
Isn’t that ad hominem? :)
This isn’t rocket science. A lot of people will choose to do the best thing for the country before doing the best thing for a political party.
It’s just that none of those people are in charge of any political parties at the present time. So we don’t hear from them.
Of course I’d vote for Republicans if I thought the Dems were corrupt. If I thought the Dems would pimp a useless war just to keep themselves in power. If the Dems were running the country into a ditch of debt, and screwing the middle class in order to serve their corporate masters.
Loyalty to a party which is destructive to the country is crazy. Crazy is apparently okay in North Korea, but it really won’t get the job done here, over the long term. We’ve had almost six years of crazy now. How are you liking it?
That’s beyond simplistic, really. It’s also false, besides. Purposely not voting is no different from going to the ballot box and not checking anything; it’s a conscious decision not to endorse any specific candidate. Meanwhile, note that voting is not required in the United States at all, it’s entirely optional. However, the right to complain, to hold opinions, and to express them, is guaranteed nonetheless, under The Constitution, to the extent that it still applies…
What’s the difference between “purposely not voting” and “can’t be bothered to vote”, and how do you make that distinction known?
When was the last time you went to vote and found only one office to vote on, or only one question on the ballot? You don’t like either Gore or Bush, so you aren’t going to bother with any of the other local, state or federal elections and questions?
Yeah, voting is not required, and is entirely optional. So the fuck what? It’s a right of a citizen, and a responsibility of a citizen as well. Ever see an election (and thereby a government) be decided by counting up the opinions of the non-voters? You want to make some kind of a statement by staying home and not voting? Fine, stay at home. You want to complain about the results of the election afterwards? Why should I listen to you now, if you can’t even be bothered to cast an empty ballot? You want the luxury of complaining, take the responsibility of voting. Otherwise, I’ll just assume you can’t be bothered and your opinion is worthless.
I was heartily pissed at the people who voted for Nader, but only because I thought they were misguided. I was also heartily pissed at the eligible voters who chose not to bother voting at all, and for them I had the utmost contempt.
OK, I see where you said “Purposely not voting is no different from going to the ballot box and not checking anything“, which would temper my rant somewhat. I will grant that that is not “not voting”.
The rest of the rant holds, though. Those who can’t be bothered are wasting the franchise.
Actually, I didn’t vote in 2000. I wasn’t terribly politically active at the time, but I was pissed, and under other circumstances, I would have voted. You see, votes for Nader weren’t being counted, period, in my state–not even write-in votes–where’s the fucking democracy there? Our election laws are incredibly screwy. I have voted since, however; hell, I even voted in 2005.
But yes, about 10% of the adult population doesn’t vote; they tend to be younger, poorer than average, less educated, more cynical, and as a group right in the political center. Incidentally there’s another disaffected group of roughly equal size that does vote despite their belief that government is ineffective, and in fact leans Republican. More here.
Really? I thought that number was a lot higher. Where did you get that figure? I agree with Bombadil that it is crucial to vote, even if you write in Mickey Mouse as your candidate–it’s how the elected officials know we care and are paying attention, and that if they spoke to our needs we would respond. Otherwise they just write us off the way they believe we’ve written them off. This is the main reason why I’ve been registered Green Party even though I usually vote Dem–I want that little blip on the screen, even if it’s almost too small to count. It’s about the care and feeding of that fragile creature Democracy.
Check the link, Pew’s got all sorts of cool statistics. The actual number probably is higher when you tally it all up, I guess what I should have said is that there’s an actual demographic group within the United States that consistently doesn’t vote. And incidentally, I’m registered independent.
From Pew’s numbers there, I’d say roughly 25% of adults didn’t vote in the last election, and the group I was talking about consists of roughly 40% of those not voting.
all in all, how is that any different from purposely staying home? either one is a form of political protest.
i doubt any elected officials are going to notice if one dude writes in mickey mouse.
maybe if there was a very large effort to get a bunch of people to write in the same fictional name or ‘none of the above’, maybe.
i must protest. he was NOT a hack.
loyalty to party in itself is not the problem.
if the party has ideas that you support, be loyal to the party. and work to shape the ideas that the party embraces.
it is unthinking loyalty to the party regardless of the ideas the party supports or how it supports them that is the nexus of hackdom.
HHH was an early and enthusiastic supporter of civil rights. RMN was an early and enthusiatic supporter of the southern strategy. flako Hunter Thompson can argue that HHH was a hack but i am unconvinced by the facts as i know them.
In analyzing your “political protest”, how do you propose determining how many of the non-voters are protesting something, and how many are lazy jerks don’t give a rat’s ass? Or does it really matter?
Make that “lazy jerks who don’t give a rat’s ass”.
it doesn’t. the outcome is the exact same.
Well, Tim, this article, and your little story has given me the insight to understand how you can be such a rabid Dem partisan.
If it took Wecht for you to see corruption in the Democratic Party in Allegheny county, you surely have Pollyanna eyes.
The machine set up by David Lawrence was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg from the start, and its heirs have simply continued the fine family tradition.
Cyril Wecht wasn’t an abberation, his corruption was of a rather ordinary sort for Alllegheny county.
Your failure to see that explains much, and I think you really need to look in a mirror when you talk about “unthinking loyalty to the party”.
BTW, my mother was a Ward Committeewoman in TC, and I observed much of the underside of politics around the kitchen table.
Bob In Pacifica
Tim must have been beaten by conspiracy theorists as a child. Here’s some more information on Wecht’s case, from TalkLeft: http://talkleft.com/new_archives/013773.html
Then staying home is not an act of protest. It just makes you a lazy jerk who doesn’t give a rat’s ass.
What a cynical tool. You could ask whether I was even old enough to know who David Lawrence was, or even in Pittsburgh during those years. Or you could run off on uninformed tangents. What a surprise that you chose (B).