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Friday, November 08, 2002

The Art of the Protest Vote-Both Bobby Allison-Gallimore and Kevin Holtsberry have chimed in on the issue of ideology and politics; go thou and readest if you haven't already. [Update 9:00 11/9-Add Ben Domenech to that list; good stuff] There seems to be two schools of thought on protest votes, which I define as voting for a third-party candidate (or a third person in a clearly two-horse non-partisan or primary race-Alan Keyes in the 2000 primaries was a protest vote) that stands no chance of winning. One school would hold that you should vote your conscience regardless of whether your candidate stands a chance of winning; the other will vote for the best of the two major-party candidates that most closely reflects their views, wanting to have some say in who will hold that office. I’m generally in that more realistic second school of thought. One rant I heard on one of the radio ministry shows leading up to Election Day was railing on people who vote for candidates who have “unbiblical” positions on issues like abortion and homosexuality because they are better on economics; in context, it wasn’t chiding evangelical Democrats, but Republicans voting for more libertarian candidates. The question I would posit is to various people of the “right” be they evangelical and Catholic conservatives who hold their nose at moderates and libertarians or libertarians who hold their nose at the “religious right:” is it better to “send a message” or to have an say in who will have the seat? In most cases for both libertarians and religious conservatives, a flawed Republican candidate will advance more of what we want than the Democrat. The only way that a message vote will be effective is if the GOP nominates someone more to our liking next time, but even that is problematic, as the other factions might sit on their hands if “our guy” gets the nomination. Baggy-Slims points out that a pro-life Reform party candidate cost the GOP a house seat in Kansas; large-l Libertarians were the difference in many races, including the South Dakota Senate race. Do both camps prefer a Democrat in office? Not likely. To the religious conservatives who are tempted to vote for hard-right third party candidates in protest; are we better off venting or getting someone who will vote for Republican committee chairman and majority leaders and will vote on some of the issues, or do you want to vent and see a Democrat get the seat? The venters remind me of a Mad sticker from three decades ago-“Express how you feel in the voting booth”-with a yellow puddle coming out of a occupied and curtained voting booth. Voting for the “lesser of two evils” isn’t fun, but if we want to improve things, we should be better to vote for the RINO and do a better job of campaigning for our guys next time. To the libertarians: is permissive statism better than prudish dynamism? Some would say Yes; there are some libertarians who have a visceral hatred of fundamentalists. This piece “Our Secularist Democratic Party” looks at the demographic of secular voters who are characterized by such a mindset. Even though the Republican package creates greater liberty than the Democratic run, more secular libertarians may vote Democratic (or Libertarian) in order to vote against the Religious Right rather than vote for liberty. This is one are where the perfect is the enemy of the good. Sometimes we’re better off settling for 80% of what we want rather than go on a quixotic quest for the whole loaf. In a first-past-the-post system, you’re going to get coalition building that doesn’t make all the members of the coalition ecstatic.

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