Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Virginia Primary

If you live in Virginia, you can choose which political party’s primary you vote in, regardless of what party you belong to, or even if you claim no party allegiance at all. The Old Dominion is not alone in this seeming insanity.

I believe that the concept of voting amounts to casting your ballot for the candidate that you think best represents your political/social/economic philosophy. Following this concept when you go to the polls if you are a Democrat you vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and if you are a Republican you vote for John McCain, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul.

However, if you are a Democrat you have the option of voting in the Republican primary if you want to, and, or course, Republicans have the option of voting in the Democrat primary if they want to. Consequently, voters have several considerations to mull over before heading out to the polls. They first have to decide whether or not to vote for the candidate they think is the best one in the party they profess allegiance to, if they claim allegiance to a party. That is a straight-forward vote on one’s conscience.

On the other hand, if they decide to use their vote strategically, as opposed to voting for the “best” candidate, and if they decide to vote for one of their party’s candidates, they can vote for the candidate they think has the best chance of winning, whether or not that is the candidate they believe is the “best” one. Or, they can vote for one of the other party’s candidates, perhaps the one they believe would be the easiest to defeat.

At our weekly dinner at a local restaurant I encountered both kinds of voters. One friend voted for Fred Thompson [who even though he has withdrawn from the campaign was still on the ballot] because he thought Thompson was the best choice. His wife voted for Mike Huckabee because she liked him better than John McCain. Another friend voted for Hillary Clinton, not because he wants her to be the president, but because he thought she would be the best candidate for the Republican nominee to defeat in November. Another friend also voted for Mike Huckabee because she didn’t think John McCain is conservative enough.

You are obviously on the edge of your seat wondering how I voted. Well, since I am conservative, but not a Republican; since I am definitely not a Democrat; and since I am also a person of principle, I decided I couldn’t in good conscience vote in either primary. So, I didn’t vote today. I will, however, vote in November, and I will vote for the Republican nominee, even if that nominee is John McCain (as seems likely), for the simple reason that I just can’t bring myself to vote for either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama; their political philosophies are far too liberal, and thus too dangerous for the country.

More important than who wins in either party in Virginia is that the system in Virginia and some other states is foolish. We need a system that—at least—determines which candidate the people think will be the best president in the political parties. What we do not need is a system that allows strategic votes to be cast not to nominate the best candidate, as the people see it, but that allows voters to sabotage the opposition by crossing party lines to elect the weakest opponent. Such a system is not unlike from throwing dirt in your opponent’s eyes so that you can beat him at a game he may be better at. It may be effective, but it isn’t honorable.

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