Monday, September 20, 2010

Ideology Vs. Practicality

Archangel M just posted a blog at the Hillbilly Report offering his suggestion for reforming the Democratic Party: Vote third party. He makes a good point: For quite a while now, the narrative has been about “swing voters” who won’t vote for candidates that are too liberal, which has led Democrats to move closer and closer to the right. If enough of the Democratic base abandoned them for left-wing third parties, maybe the party would get the message that voters are fed up with a Democratic party that is almost indistinguishable from the GOP.

This is not a novel idea. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re no longer going to vote for the lesser of two evils. Most of the people who say this now count members of either major party as “evil.” Barack Obama was the breaking point for many of us: he promised us real change during the campaign, but once he got elected it was business as usual.

I agree with Archangel’s sentiment, but I don’t think it’s a good idea across the board. Particularly, I think abandoning the party in the upcoming Kentucky Senate race is a very bad idea. If Jack Conway were running against Trey Grayson, I’d feel comfortable voting for a third party candidate--after all, the differences between a typical Democrat and a typical Republican these days are so minor that a GOP win wouldn’t be much more damaging to Kentucky or America than a win for the Democrats.

Of course, Conway isn’t running against a typical Republican, he’s running against the one man who may be more dangerous (and embarrassing) than Jim Bunning: faux Libertarian Rand Paul. Even if you ignore the fact that the degree of evil between Conway and Paul is huge, diverting votes to third parties and allowing Paul to win this election is bad because the whole country is watching this race. If Paul wins the election, no matter what the reasons, Kentucky voters will have legitimized the kind of ideologically inconsistent, uninformed, hate-mongering, and generally apeshit crazy politics that Aqua Buddha espouses, and that’s just not a good thing.

In a race between two candidates who are roughly on the same level of evil, I’m all casting a symbolic vote for a non-evil candidate just to send a message. However, when one candidate is a vanilla Democrat and the other is Lex Luthor without the charm, a symbolic vote Superman is less important than keeping Lex away from Washington.
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