Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Boycotting Logic

Many have argued that a vote for McCain is somehow synonymous with a vote against the Republican party being the conservative party and therefore they feel obligated to abstain from voting for McCain in the general election in spite believing that the Democratic front runners would be worse.

The idea is that if they abandon their principles with their vote their party will continue to stray away from those principles.

Some have been swayed by the idea that we are currently at war and ensuring we have the best Commander in Chief at the helm as possible is a higher priority than other policy differences for now. Some don't buy into this argument due to long term party goals taking priority. I can't see this being possible, but apparently it is.

Worse, I couldn't disagree more with those who believe that boycotting the general election will somehow sway the party back to their cherished principles.


Let's say that McCain eventually seals up the nomination for President, obviously without their vote. Let's take a look at the major contested primaries he's fully competed in so far, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and now Florida.

In each and every race the bulk of his support has been Republicans, with his support being made up of ever increasing majorities of Republicans as you go down the list. This trend is likely to continue if he ends up winning the nomination with stronger and stronger support.

If he wins the nomination it will then become apparent that one doesn't need this particular segment of the very conservative voting block to win the nomination. Given McCain's ability to appeal to conservatives generally, Republicans generally, independents generally, moderates generally, and to many crossover Democrats/liberals... as well as many other voting segments out there... there is a good chance he could go on to win the presidency without their support too.

What will this segment have proved? That they're irrelevant? How will that convince other Republicans to swing back towards their principles?

What if their lack of support is enough to throw the election to Hillary or Obama in the general election. Will the other Republicans who supported McCain feel beholden to the segment of Republicans who intentionally stayed home to ensure this happened? Will it convince those voters that they should embrace the principles of the folks who just got Hillary in charge of armed forces during a war? Or would it be more likely to cause resentment.

Who are they really hurting?

It's one thing to try to teach "the party" a lesson. It's a monolithic entity with figureheads and spokesmen, etc. It's quite another to realize that the party is more accurately all of the voters who disagreed, it would be those other Republicans who would feel punished by such vindictive actions, or inaction as it were. Worse, there's the possibility that such behavior is interpreted as putting party purity ahead of the needs of our troops during a time of war. Such methods aren't typically the best way to convince people to move to one's viewpoint.

Libertarians bang their head against this wall time and time again, election after election, and with the same results. You'll hear their current figurehead, Ron Paul, spout on and on about how he's the only true Republican/conservative/etc in the race right now. And his followers assure us that they won't vote for any of these other phonies in the general! Yet they are dismissed fairly easily by the overwhelming bulk of the party as fringe extremes of the party not needed to win the general election... so their threats of inaction ring hollow.

As well intentioned as some of the anti-McCain folks are about saving the party, their methods in this case may do more harm to ensuring the party comes back to the principles they consider non-negotiable under any circumstances.

Supporting the flawed candidate while being candid about whatever reservations they may have and working towards producing a better candidate for the next election cycle will not only ensure the "greater evil" does not win, but also ensure that the bulk of the party considers them a necessary ally, not a fringe group of spiteful antagonists. Advocating stronger adherence to their cherished principles will sell much better to those that view them as being on the same team.

For those who still can't bring themselves to pull the lever for their nemesis, I'd strongly recommend still at least voting for independent or third party candidates that come closest to your views. Not voting isn't a protest vote at all... non-votes just get lumped in with all of those who didn't bother or didn't care. As such, non-votes are the least likely to be factored into the consideration of those interpreting the results.

1 comment:

Kem said...

Pictoral evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster wants me to vote for John McCain? Sweet.