Why I Plan to Vote for An Electable Candidate

This may be a controversial post and I’m sure many will disagree with me. But that hasn’t really stopped me before…

I’d like to start out with a quote from Winston Churchill:

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

That sounds completely un-American, doesn’t it? We strongly hold to the ideal of democracy in America. Our nation was founded on that principle. Quite frankly, it truly is the most optimal system. I’d be hard pressed to disagree with it.

But think about the majority of Americans. Think about the things that sway them, the factors that come into play. People look at a candidate’s religion, their family life, their looks, their background, whether or not they have a dog, how big their house is, how much money have, how they made their money, etc. Have you noticed that I haven’t mentioned how they stand on the issues?

Think about the reasons people vote (or don’t vote) for a particular candidate. “I like the way he (or she) looks.” “He seems to have a good family life so I could vote for him.” “I don’t like him because he’s a Mormon.” “I won’t vote for somebody named ‘Obama,’ that sounds Muslim to me.” “I don’t like him because he’s been married three times.” “He cheated on his wife, so I can’t vote for him.” “Well he certainly looks presidential.” “We’re not ready for a female president.” “I think America needs a black president.”

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to deny that this mindless drivel has entered into the political process! There are voters in America that vote based on trivial information rather than where a candidate stands on the issues. Furthermore, some will vote for a candidate of a particular party without questioning the candidate’s stances.

I wonder how many times a voter does not make up their mind who they will vote for until they arrive at their particular polling place.

So many Ron Paul voters, Mike Huckabee voters, and Sam Brownback voters act like I’m crazy because I tell them that their candidate won’t win. They act as if I oppose the issues that their candidate stands for. Oddly enough, I don’t necessarily disagree with thim on the issues! I just know that based on various dynamics and circumstances that we are in, their candidate is unelectable.

It’s not that I necessarily think that the Presidential election is a complete popularity contest. I do believe that some voters have truly researched their candidates and are voting according to their conscience.

But while truly educated voters do exist, there are several more that aren’t. It’s almost as if the candidates have to “trick” the American public into voting for them because honest and logical persuasion is merely an afterthought.

In conclusion, this post is not necessarily an argument against democracy, but rather an argument for an American public that will truly research its candidates based on ideology and principle rather than personality and popularity. I want Americans to see through the smokescreen of trivial circumstances and examine the candidates based on their stances. Until that is achieved, Churchill is making one heck of an argument against democracy.

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24 Responses to Why I Plan to Vote for An Electable Candidate

  1. rich says:

    i guess in 1991 you would write off bill clinton: 1-2% in the polls. an unknown governor from an unknown state. much the same for carter in 1975 – 1% in polls.
    just do a mathematical regression on the increased growth in support for ron paul so far.

  2. Buckwheat says:

    It’s nice that you “know” Ron Paul is “unelectable.”

    Not that you “think” he might have an “uphill battle” to becoming president, but that you “know” he’s “unelectable.”

  3. Braden says:

    Ah the Paulocons ignore the nature of my post. And why shouldn’t they? They always have.

    It’s over halfway through ’07 and Fred Thompson hasn’t even entered yet. If you really think Ron Paul will win this race, you are living in a dreamworld. Yes, I’d say that I “know” Ron Paul won’t win this race. You can point back to the same 2 Democrats all you want, but under the current circumstances, Ron Paul will not win. Check back in February and we’ll see who is left standing.

  4. John Campbell says:

    I prefer to vote on principle, but if you prefer a pragmatic approach, I can understand.

    I believe the Iraq war will be THE single most important issue in the general election. The Iraq war is becoming more unpopular every month, and by November 08, it will be hugely un-popular. I’ve seen polls of REPUBLICAN voters in conservative IOWA that say 54 or 57% support a full withdrawal from Irag within 6 months. The percentage approaches 70% of the general electorate.

    Given the choice between a consistently pro-war Republican and a formerly pro-war Democrat, voters will choose the formerly pro-war Democrat. But given a choice between an anti-war Republican and a formerly pro-war Democrat, the Rupublican can win.

    Ron Paul is the only anti-war Republican running. So if you want to base your choice on pragmatism, Ron Paul is your man.

  5. Maz2331 says:

    One good thing to keep in mind is that your vote during the primary is not the same as your vote in the general election. In the primary, never base your vote on issues such as “electability”, which really is just slang for “same old, same old”. It really doesn’t matter if who you vote for in the primary wins or not, just the vote count for any particular candidate provides feedback to the nominee to craft his message and policies to meet the percieved needs of the party itself.

  6. Hava says:

    Braden, great blog as usual. I completely agree 100%. Politics have really changed – this election year is the earliest start for campaigning America has ever seen. Did you know that back in Lincoln’s day, it was considered uncouth to campaign for yourself? You never gave a speech where you said, “I am the best candidate for President of the United States because of…” because that was considered completely taboo.

    Now, people campaign for months, even years, before the election is even held. What a change, eh?

    And when I mention change, I am also saying that times have changed even since Clinton and Carter. They could come in with those low numbers and go on to win because campaigning didn’t start 2 years before the election. There wasn’t this build up that there is now. Clinton and Carter could not win, if they entered the race now with the numbers they had then. It was a different political atmosphere, and it allowed for runs like that.

    Not to mention that this is a campaign battle where you need millions of dollars to succeed. Fred Thompson has been given a hard time by the press because he “only” raised 3+ million dollars. Can anyone tell me how much Ron Paul has raised? I’m not being facetious, I actually want to know, because I don’t remember. Regardless, I am 100% positive he has not raised $3 million dollars, even with his whole campaign combined together. Romney, on the other hand, raised $3 million dollars in ONE MORNING.

    To win the POTUS, you must have financial backing. You absolutely have to. Ron Paul, although he has a legion of online fans, does not have that financial backing.

    I am a Republican with some serious Libertarian leanings, so I would like to see Ron do well (although his stance on Iraq is completely unlivable – I could never vote for him in good conscience when he believes what he does about Iraq.) Everything else, though, I could see agreeing with and enjoying having in the White House.

    The fact is though, he’s never going to make it. In order to win, you must have the money. Paul doesn’t have it.

    End of story.

    Havs
    http://www.votemittforpresident.com

  7. Scott McDonnell says:

    Maz2331,

    Way to hit a home run! People keep saying Ron Paul is unelectable because of his current standings and they bring up the general population. The problem is that the first step is the primaries. This is where you vote for the best candidate, regardless of whether or not you feel they can win. Only 12% of the voting population vote in their State’s primaries. If Ron Paul wins the nomination, he has a 50/50 chance of winning the presidency, his name recognition will go up and his funding will go up. Republicans will stand behind whoever the party nominated. So Ron Paul gets all his fan base now, all the republican vote, and finally everyone that hears about him the first time and loves his message.

    You simply cannot call Ron Paul ‘unelectable.’ He has just as much of a chance as anyone else at this point. We can increase his chances by helping him win the primaries. Join your local meetup group to find out how.

    If everyone that wanted to vote for him but won’t because he is ‘unelectable’ actually voted for him in the primaries, he can most certainly win.

    The people claiming he has a snowball’s chance in hell are politically naive and really aren’t qualified to make the types of observations.

  8. jens says:

    I would tend to agree that voting your conscience in the primary is the best bet. The primary voters are by and large very politically informed compared to the general electorate so “electability” takes a smaller role to the issues in the primary for both parties.

    I also agree Braden that the American public in general is woefully uninformed about the candidates. I’m constantly reminded of voting for student body president. The cute girl always won unless someone else brought cupcakes and handed them out before the election. (I went to a small school, only 150 cupcakes needed to buy an election). I would guess the average person in america could not hold a 5 minute debate on the issues but by election time they can spout their favorite candidates talking points and talk about who has better hair for 15 minutes. Even that might be a bit much.

    I still think instant-runoff is the answer. It would make the electoral college obsolete, allow people to vote their conscience, and nobody would complain about a candidate not recieving the majority of the popular vote.

    Unfortunately there is no cure for a stupid electorate except hope that the education system can churn out a more informed next generation. (Well, the press could stop nit picking about the candidates looking at watches, or making faces, or making sounds during debates and actually challenge their answers to the issues, but CNN is crap anyway so I doubt things are going to change soon)

  9. Scott says:

    I agree Braden, and Hava is absolutely right except for Mitt Romney being the 1st choice, but that’s another discussion. Ron Paul would be a good president if he wasn’t a non-interventionalist. It is interesting that the Ron Paul minority keeps encouraging the majority to split their votes because that’s the only chance that Ron Paul has.

  10. Braden says:

    Oh the reasons Ron Paul won’t win: low money, low popularity, low interest (except on the web), and an overall lack of campaigning. I’m sure his visits to key primary states would be outnumbered by at least 5 to 1 by any top tier candidate. It’s bad enough that he won’t win because of the reasons I mentioned in this post. But on top of that, he’s not running his campaign to win. I mean, instead of grassroots, he’s thinking underground. I know that all the Paulocons are forsaking reality for optimism, but when February rolls around, I think they’re going to be disappointed big time.

  11. Gordy! says:

    No. I don’t think we will. Do I think it’s possible for RP to win? Yes. Do I think it’s going to happen? Probably not. But that’s not going to stop Ronpaulicans from standing for what they believe in. Is that really so bad, honestly?

  12. Electability doesn’t quite cover it. Did you watch the debate today? There is a huge gulf between the “top tier” of Rudy, Mitt, and McCain and the rest of the pack – not just in regards to electability, but competence, intelligence, poise, etc. Frankly, I don’t see how somebody can support someone like Brownback or Tommy Thompson when we have all stars like Mitt and Rudy.

    Ron Paul is in a class by himself. Watching the debate, I kept asking “why is that loony old man even allowed on that stage? ” He will not win. No chance in hell. He has a handful of rabid online supporters who scatterbomb every online poll and respond to every blog post – no matter how obscure. In real life, he has virtually no support.

  13. in simple terms…we get what we deserve, and we have George Bush. Just changing why we vote for someone isn’t going to help. What we need are more parties, and therefore more options. You see, the choice last time was John Kerry. Dumb and dumber.

  14. jens says:

    criminyjicket,

    I agree with you. Instant Runoff or Single Transferable Vote elections are the answer in my eyes. Nothing else, other than a complete meltdown of the major parties, will get people thinking outside the two party rut.

    Jens

  15. Braden says:

    Well I’ll say this, more parties are better than less parties. But in reality, as it stands right now, “third parties” will only take away a modest amount of votes from the major parties, so it’s only a matter of which candidate has the biggest slice, which will only work to the advantage of the Republican or Democrat anyway.

  16. I’m not so sure that more parties is really what we need. We have 10 candidates on the GOP side, and 8 on the Dem side – can not everyone find someone to get behind among all those candidates? What a 3rd party would do is disrupt the balance of power between the two existing parties. Imagine we get a Ron Paul Libertarian party going. A real political party, not the book club that passes for today’s Libertarian party. Thing will change. You’ll have maybe 40% of people supporting Democrats and maybe 40% supporting Republicans – with 20% supporting the 3rd party (these totals aren’t really important, just follow me on this). Who controls things now? The 3rd party. The party with the smallest amount of poupular public support – is that how a representative republic should work? Now, the two big parties can’t do a darn thing without a coalition with the 3rd party to make a majority. And the 3rd party gets to use this fact to get pretty much whatever it wants. This is what is happening in Europe. We do have a good system – two fairly broad parties that can adapt and change to cover a wide-range of views. In any given system of government, we have one party with a majoirty – and with majoirty comes accountability. When that party fails, we vote them out and put in the other party. Notions of majoirty and accountabiltiy get real fuzzy when we add a 3rd party.

  17. jens says:

    Which is why we should introduce IRV as they have in many places. Republicans have done it in Alaska to get away from just the scenario you mentioned PR.

  18. jens says:

    Also, I would be careful making too many statements about Europe. Most use indirect proportional representation so there is an inherent understanding that you must build coalitions. Here in the states we have very little history of coalition building within Congress.

  19. Braden says:

    So Jens, your idea of IRV would be virtually the same as what we have now except the primaries would involve ranking the candidates instead of only being able to select one on each ballot? If that’s what you mean, then that sounds good to me. I’d be for it. As long as each candidate is given the time to put forth their platform and run their campaigns prior to the first primary, I think ranking the candidates would be good.

  20. you’re staying inside the box guys. It was made by the two parties and rules governing third parties are also made by them. We need true representative democracy, and no, I don’t see one single candidate that even comes close to representing my views. I have a choice between the status quo, and the same old thing. I want a green party, and a labour party, and a socialist party. I want voting blocs making deals. Do I think it gaurantess better government? Nope. Do I think we have any chance at better government with the two parties? not on your life.

  21. jens says:

    Braden,

    Yes, you are correct. Read up on instantrunnoff.com. It is fascinating.

    Criminyjicket,

    Looks like you would be a proponent of single transferable vote. It would give proportional representation without changing our current political system to the core.

    Jens

  22. Having lived in Europe for several years, I’ve got to say that I am not a fan of the proportional representation system – although I can see the appeal of it. In my experience, coalitions (and many of the parties themselves) just don’t last long. People don’t know who to hold accountable and the system lacks stability. We have a more candidate-centered system where people vote, ultimately, for a person, not a party – although the 2 party system helps to stabilize and structure elections. In my view, I just think this works better. Is it perfect? No, but I like it better than the alternatives.

  23. jens says:

    That’s the beauty of single transferable vote. You vote for a person, not a party, but the representation is proportional. This maintains accountability of the individual representative.

    I agree that our system has lots of advantages over most parlimentary systems, but I think having some form of proportional representation, or at least IRV, would empower more voters and let people vote their conscience. It might get more than 30% of the electorate to the polls.

  24. jens says:

    Oops, Braden I missread your previous reply. IRV could happen in the primaries, although that is up to the party, not the government. I would support IRV in the actual main election since it would allow third party candidates to prosper without stealing votes from either side. I would support it in both, although I think the main elections are more screwed up than the primaries are.

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