Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The American Voter

A voter comments on the Arizona senate primary, where John "I never said I was a maverick" McCain defeated challenger J.D. Hayworth:
“I don’t like either of them,” said Blanche Kinsley, 84, a retiree, who voted for Mr. McCain without much enthusiasm. “But I used to hear J. D. Hayworth on the radio and he annoyed me.”
Never mind that Hayworth is a fascistic anti-immigrant fanatic, I'm voting against him because he annoys me.

This business of "I don't like any of them" bothers me. There are sometimes elections, like the upcoming Maryland governor's race between moderate Republic Bob Ehrlich and moderate Democrat Martin O'Malley, in which the candidates are nearly indistinguishable. And I can see somebody sitting out this one, thinking that his vote just doesn't matter. But much more often in America the parties present us with a clear choice. You might not have "liked" either McCain or Obama, but you have to be blind not to see that the election presented the country with an important choice. As voters, it was our duty to make that choice, not to sit home complaining that neither candidate lived up to some impossible standard of political and moral excellence.

What is it that people who don't "like" any of the candidates are looking for? Is it some kind of magical charisma that makes them feel uplifted and understood, like Kennedy gave to many Catholics and Reagan to many conservatives? If so, I say, get over it, because that kind of charisma has very little to do with governing the country. Is it perfect agreement with all of their positions? This is democracy, and that means compromise; nobody gets everything he wants. Is it answers to all of their problems? Well, then, wake up, because government can only solve a few of your problems, and that at very great cost. You're on your own about the rest.

My favorite example of voter confusion has to do with partisanship; polls seem to say that two thirds of the voters are upset about excessive partisanship and want politicians to work together to solve problems, while the other two-thirds wants politicians to stand up strongly for what they believe in.

Whenever people start ranting about American politics, I remember the old saw that "every nation gets the government it deserves." If our politicians are confused, shallow, two-faced, greedy, or mean-spirited, it is because we are.

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