I suppose it comes as no surprise, but I love elections. And voting. Oh, of course, I can only dream of being able to vote sincerely for someone who reflects my political views and have that vote affect the overall balance of forces in the policy-making process. I sometimes say I vote as if I were Dutch or Israeli–or pick your country with national proportional representation and a low threshold–because I really do not believe in lesser-of-evils voting. It is my one chance to express my hopes and dreams for my country or state, as an equal citizen, as the democratic ideal requires. And if those views are shared by only 2 or 3 percent of my fellow citizens, so be it.
I have voted since 1978, but I have never been so excited–yes, excited–about the act of voting as I am about the vote I am about to go cast. We should have a nationwide primary. We don’t, but this is as close as we ever have had to one. And elections should be real contests, because competition improves politics and policy as surely as it spurs innovation in business. And competition we have!
I regret that this primary has been winnowed to two candidates in the Democratic field. I had almost decided to vote for John Edwards on the grounds that 15% of the statewide delegates would be a useful voice for the relatively progressive and political-reformist message that he, alone among delegate contenders, was offering. I regret that he is gone from the contest, even though he had no realistic shot at the nomination. I regret that competition for delegates is not enough for someone to stay in. And I regret that the field is so winnowed by a few mostly small1 subnational electorates before most of the national electorate has even had a chance to vote.
By all of the above, I should be unhappy and frustrated. There were eight candidates at the start, and while my sincere first choice is still as much in the race as he ever was, his vote percentage is one that gets reported as zero by a news media not versed in the art of the decimal point.2 The two remaining competitive candidates were my fifth and eighth choices within the Democratic field.
Yet I am excited. I am about to go cast a vote that I feel is both sincere and will count. It is sincere not on policy positioning. I am about to go vote for a candidate who is well to the right of me, and whose only expressed political-reform idea (pretty much my top issue) is to open House-Senate conference committees to the public.3 It is sincere on “presidentialist” grounds; that is, on the grounds that what matters most in a presidential system is how the prospective candidate will use the office–especially its vast persuasive potential at home and abroad–not what his or her policy and reform ideas are.4 And, while I have actually tried to resist the emotion of this candidate’s campaign, I admit it: Even this jaded electoral studies professional has caught the bug.5
The vote counts, even though my district is one of those even-magnitude districts sure to split 2-2 regardless of the vote margin–because there are 81 delegates in my state apportioned by the statewide vote. Every 1.23% by which my candidate closes in on–or surpasses?–the candidate who has led most polls in the state will amount to an additional delegate. That’s “counting,” and in a very close national race, in a way in which few votes I have ever cast in my life have counted. And that is exciting.
Now pardon me while I go vote. For a presidential candidate younger than I.6
The above is not an endorsement. F&V does not endorse candidates, after all.
- Florida and Michigan have voted, but in its infinite wisdom the “Democratic” Party managed to turn those primaries into sideshows. Of course, I would prefer that they–and all states–were voting today, anyway. [↩]
- Not that 0.4% looks that much better!! [↩]
- An important, but small step. [↩]
- For more on this theme, see this comment of mine (and several others by me and others in the thread), and my initial planting on this candidate. [↩]
- As one of my colleagues put it, what is wrong with voting on emotion, anyway? [↩]
- Something that dawned on me just the other morning! [↩]