Sunday, October 03, 2010

Can I ever vote Republican?

I just added "Divided We Stand" to the blogroll on the right. I first encountered the author, "MW", at the Freedom Democrats blog, back when the Republicans controlled the entire Federal Government. He made the case that single-party government is generally a bad thing. Single-party rule leads to extreme, unstable policies, and also facilitates corruption. Speaking to libertarian concerns, single-party rule results in greater government spending.

I generally buy his argument. What's more, I dislike fanatical partisanship, and the core of the "Divided Government" strategy is the realization that voters should treat parties as part of the system of government, rather than identifying with one or the other. However, the limitation of the strategy is that voters need to vote for parties rather than individual candidates, and we can't have a strong preference for the policies of one party over the others.

So the question that faces me in November is whether I can vote against the Democrats. This shouldn't be too hard for me -- I've voted Democrat occasionally, but have never beet terribly happy with the party or the candidates. For instance, I don't have any particular fondness for Bob Casey, but I despised Rick Santorum, so I voted for Casey in 2006 (and the Republicans had the Presidency regardless).

Anyway, for the upcoming election, I looked at my choices to find a Republican Congressional candidate that I could vote for. No luck.

First, there's Pat Toomey for Senate. I don't remember what I dislike about him, but he left a bad impression six years ago when he challenged Specter for the Republican nomination. I also don't care for the Democrat, Joe Sestak.

There's also the House race, so I went to Project Vote Smart to get some info on who is challenging Mike Doyle (with whom I disagree a lot); and it is Melissa A. Haluszczak. She's an unknown (no ratings from interest groups), so I check out her website. Let's see if she takes any positions that are intolerable...

Under "Issues", there is Immigration. It's the only one I look at. Straight off, she calls for a range of punitive measures against illegal immigrants. She tops it off with a call to make English the national language. As an afterthought, she notes that immigrants (legal ones) are decent people. Okay, that about does it. There is no way I could support this woman.

So I'm not going to vote for either of the Republicans, but I'm also not going to vote for either Democrat--neither of them are good enough to justify the power that the Democratic party has. I guess that I am essentially going to sit out this election, and cast a protest vote (Haluszczak doesn't have a chance anyway). The Greens have candidates for both positions, and their issue positions range from exciting to tolerable -- except for their apparent desire to eliminate private-sector employment (e.g. 32 hour work week). The Libertarians have put up a candidate for Senate, but he doesn't have any web presence yet (nor does their candidate for Governor!), which is a bad sign for their campaigns this late in the process.


mw said...

Hi Alan,
Thanks for the link and for the thoughtful comments. I'm glad to find you again, always find your analysis thought provoking, and have also blogrolled you.

This is a courtesy comment, just to let you know that I linked, excerpted, and commented on your post in my latest compilation of divided government writing.

To close the loop, I'll also paraphrase my comments here -

I'll take your decision to not vote for Dems this cycle as half-a-loaf victory. Your rationale points out why I don't expect this voting heuristic to ever be adopted by more than a sliver of the electorate. It is hard to vote against ones preferred political party proclivities.

The good news is that we do not need more than 5 - 7% consciously voting for divided government, to keep the government divided. It does require a shift in mind-set, a willingness to change teams, an appreciation of the benefits of divided government, and a recognition that Republican vs. Democrat is a false choice. The real choice for change in Washington is between voting for Single Party Rule or Divided Government. If you don't like Single Party Rule and the excesses and bad legislation it produces, then you have to vote against it. And to maintain divided government, some will have to vote for candidates we disagree with, or even dislike, in order to get a more palatable and rational federal government we do like.

One final note - You said you voted for Casey, although you don't agree with him on many issues. I'll ask you to consider whether having your state represented by Casey and Toomey, would not more closely mirror your own values and convictions than having it represented by Casey and Sestak. Finally - consider that Pat Toomey himself may be a Dividist.

Ricketson said...

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree that in a pure vote-counting sense, my approach is half-dividist.

Aside from the fact that I generally prefer Democrats over Republicans, a big part of the reason that I don't follow a strict dividist strategy is that I think there is some value in casting a protest vote. I dislike the range of options being offered by the Democrats and Republicans, so I would like some new ideas to get some attention as the result of an alternative candidate getting a substantial number of votes.