Discussion: Lesser-Evilism You Can Believe In: The President Is A Thing, Not A Person

Discussion for article #234643

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Thank you.

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I live in the author’s home state. There is a 0.0% chance that Hillary will carry WV in '16. Maybe she’ll lose the state a bit less badly than Obama did. But a loss is a loss. And that’s the way it is for the vast majority of folks in this country, Republicans and Democrats alike. Our votes for president, protest or not, just do not matter. I’ll vote for Hillary for Prez, even if she’s not my ideal candidate because I’m a Democrat and unless there’s a really good reason not to, I’ll always pull the lever for the Democrat. But I can understand why a lot of folks are tempted to cast a protest vote.

Yes. This times 1000. It is not about the candidate or even politics, it is about basic morality and ethics. I would extend this argument to the senate as well, 100 people who each hold almost dictatorial power over key positions in virtually every government department. And 2016 doubly so because of the probable Supreme Court replacement. There is no argument that can be made in good conscience for not voting or “protest” voting.

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But the national vote total counts enormously to the president. Each vote is political capital that the president can use to move forward a slightly more liberal agenda. The difference of 1% could be the difference between the president having the confidence to fight that little bit harder for a nominee or settle for a “safer” one. Every single vote gives advantage to the president, every single vote not cast causes damage to the president.

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YES! I have been telling people this for years - you don’t vote for the president, you vote for the 2500 or so people he appoints to serve!

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Amen.

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In politics, the choice is always between “better” or “worse.” “Best” is never an option. Mr. Tomasky’s essay is a brilliant example of clear thinking. Fundamentally, in a presidential election – or, I would argue – any election one votes for the party that better represents one’s values and vision. Given the GOP’s extreme move to the right in recent decades, no true liberal can sit out an election by casting a protest vote. To do so is moral posturing, making an election about oneself.

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Josh, please put this article as TPM’s front page lede…and leave it there until Election Day next year. Nothing else that happens on any given day between now and then will come close in importance to this. I am not joking, this, this, this and more this.

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Okay, but you could probably count the Nation readers and TPM readers, however disgruntled, that sit out a presidential election or vote for a Naderesque protest candidate, on one hand. The substantive problem is the people who don’t vote – not for any ideological reason, but because they’re completely disengaged, or they had to work a double shift and couldn’t make it down to the polling place, or they didn’t have their ID with them, or the line was too long or whatever. Obama’s mandatory voting idea is not a bad one – or wouldn’t be if it had a snowball’s chance of passing.

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Well, I’ve had a few dust ups with those folk right here in the Hive, so I think they are more prevalent than you think. I don’t think mandatory voting would be good for democracy, but I think every democracy should have a “National Democracy Day” for national elections where most business must close for half the day to allow people to vote. Schools can stay open for children and be used as voting places so childcare is not an issue and children can vote with their parents.
This would increase the status of voting and make it clear to everyone that voting was important. Blue states could implement this first in clear opposition to the voter suppression laws in red states.

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Actually, Obama did not endorse mandatory voting. He suggested that everyone needed to vote – that it would be politically transformative – and used the example of one place where voting is mandatory.

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Yes,I agree most people voting would transform politics. The question is how to enable and encourage even 10-20% more people to vote consistently, or even just in midterms. A “Democracy Day” every other year would be a very good start.

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I agree that would be a good start. We need to promote voting as a necessary component of good citizenship.

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This. Ethics isn’t the thing that lets you feel pure, it’s the thing that does the most good, or the least harm, to others, by definition a social and not an individual concept. And the vote isn’t a vehicle for personal expression; for most people, even those involved in their communities or in other good works, it’s the act that directly affects more people than anything else they do. I think more people realize this after the Bushies populated not just the DoJ but most agencies with ideologues and hacks dedicated to perverting those agencies’ functions, and as the full impact of right-wing courts becomes clearer. But not everyone has those memories or that information; of those who don’t, I beg them to recognize that their vote is actually about all of us.

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Spot on, Michael. Every national election is called crucial, but 2016 truly is, if we are to preserve our shredded democracy from a free for all by the plutocrats, Sheldon Addled-son and the Kochs truly calling the shots, we have to fight voter suppression tooth and nail, and GOTV. When people care enough to vote, Dems usually win, except in the ignorant and brainwashed states.

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I LOVE this as well. Hillary is far from my ideal choice as a candidate (Run Warren, run!), she is definitely GOP-lite, but I will take her any day of the week over whatever knuckle-dragging troglodyte the GOP nominates because whoever wins that nomination, should they win the WH they will bring with them all the neoconservatives who desperately want another war so that they can vindicate their policies. That alone should be enough of a reason, but if you need more then think about the Supreme Court justices the next president will appoint. Think about how Obamacare will be gutted. Think about how the GOP wants to hand your Social Security to Wall Street. Think about how we will not only not do anything about climate change under a GOP president, we will actually go backwards.

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I see two arguments in this article: 1) that the republicans are extremely dangerous right now, and intelligent people should do whatever they have to to keep them from assuming more power, and 2) that people on the left who vote for a third party are casting a selfish, harmful, “protest” vote, and should instead vote for the Democrat, regardless.

The first argument makes some sense to me. It underscores the importance of the 2016 presidential election. The second argument makes no sense to me. People like me who vote for alternative candidates do so because we believe in the mission of the candidate for whom we vote; not because we want to voice some generalized complaint.

When Ralph Nader was asked to abandon his presidential campaign to tilt the odds in Gore’s favor, he rightly pointed out that he was being asked to abandon the very principles on which his candidacy was based, effectively betraying his supporters. I would have felt like all hope was lost if he had agreed to call it quits. He was accused of megalomania when, in fact, the opposite was true: had he made the personal decision to quit, his campaign would have been all about him (the person), not the mission of all the people who supported him (the thing).

If you want a Democrat to win, get out the votes. They’re out there. As for my vote, it’s not a protest—it’s an argument, and it has a rightful place in the biggest argument of all, the US presidential election.

and how did that work out, that protest vote for Nader? Did it make you feel better about 9/11? Did it make you feel better about Katrina? Did it make you feel better when the economy exploded? Did it make you feel better when Iraq was turned into a slaughterhouse and we wasted those trillions of dollars there? Do you have any concept what could have been done with just a fraction of the money we pissed away on that fool’s errand?

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We’re going to see HRC introduce Warren-like philosophies into her campaign, not just as convenient slogans but as platforms she will try her best to have enacted. She’s a smart and savvy woman who understands the strength and popularity of Warren, who will not run but will be extremely powerful in the Senate perhaps as majority leader. Left of center won’t have a chance in this election, but wherever it is HRC is deemed to be on the spectrum could and should win.

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