This Tuesday, November 4, is election day here in the United States. If you are a US citizen, and you didn’t do early voting, then you need to go vote. Getting people, particularly young people, to vote in the midterms is always tough. I know when I was young, I was barely aware that the midterms even existed. But they remain a crucial part of the democratic process.
Maybe you’re a Democrat hearing about how the Republicans are going to gain seats this time around, feeling that your vote doesn’t matter, and wondering if the effort is worth it. If so, you should consider that many Republicans might be watching the same news, and concluding that it’s in the bag and they don’t need to bother. If you’re a Republican, you should resist complacency, and if you’re a Democrat, you should resist despair. In both cases, you should go vote, if for no other reason than the other side may or may not choose to, and allow a change in the result everyone is presuming.
That said, when I voted, it was Democrat across the board, which has actually been my practice now for several years. I haven’t always voted this way, and the reason I do it now isn’t because I agree with every Democratic position. I do it because for me, frankly, the Democrats are the lesser evil, at least in the current political environment.
My long term correspondents will know that I have a passionate love of science. I see it as a major boon for humanity. Modern life is immeasurably better than life 400 years ago, mostly due to centuries of cumulative science. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that the future of our civilization depends on what investments we make now in science.
Now, I’m fully aware that some Democrats have issues with science, and that many Republicans are passionate supporters of it. But my perception is that fear of GMOs is not nearly as pervasive, nor as damaging, as the current opposition in mainstream Republicanism to climate science, evolution, medical reproductive sciences, or the social sciences. (There are claims that the vaccine scare is predominantly on the left, but from what I can see, that particular issue is bipartisan.)
I’m also not eager to vote for anyone who wants to take away people’s rights, particularly the rights of people who are often defenseless. Republicans too often are on the side of restricting gay rights, women’s reproductive freedoms, minority voting rights, and many other issues. I know many Republicans will claim that Democrats want to take away their rights in areas like gun ownership, religious freedom, and economic liberty. But most of these issues I perceive to be not issues of rights, but of privilege, such as the religious “freedom” of a corporate executive to deny coverage of birth control for their employees.
I also tend to think that America’s social safety net is woefully inadequate. When compared to the safety nets in Europe, the United States is far behind. We’re slowly catching up. We now have a better health care system, although it’s admittedly still very problematic. (Personally, I would have preferred to see Medicare expanded for everyone, but that simply wasn’t doable with our current politics and economic structure.) Overall, I think the prospects of improvement in safety net programs are much stronger with Democrats than Republicans.
I’m moderately well read in economics, and while I think both parties have far too many economic hangups, the current Republican neo-Reaganism is far worse. There seems to be supreme faith in the power of tax cuts to cure all economic woes, often with only token lip service to corresponding spending cuts (which is just as well as they would actually be ruinous if ever really carried out). Coupled with their opposition to any social safety net improvements, this makes the Republican ideal society, in my view, a harsh unforgiving place, except for people in the right demographic category.
Democrats have many faults, but they are by far the more diverse party right now. If you’re outside of the mainstream in just about any way, you’re much more likely to be welcomed by the Democrats than Republicans. You just don’t see many gays, transexuals, atheists, Buddhists, asians, blacks, or even Latinos at Republican conventions, but all you have to do is casually glance at photos of the floor of a Democratic convention to be struck by the diversity there.
Strangely enough, as a white heterosexual middle aged moderately successful male, I fit the category that benefits the most from Republican policies. If I only cared about myself, it would be extremely easy for me to just fall into the Republican mindset, except for one glaring thing. I’m not religious, and while there are conservative atheist and agnostic pundits (George Will and S. E. Cupp come to mind), they remain a tiny slice of the Republican electorate.
So, those are the reasons I support Democrats at the national level. Even when I don’t care for a particular Democratic candidate, they’re going to get my vote because I know that, no matter how appealing a particular Republican candidate is, they’re going to be forced to work with their party’s leadership. (Yes, the same thing works in reverse. If you’re a conservative, I couldn’t honestly advise you to vote for conservative Democrats, although I certainly wouldn’t mind if you did 🙂 )
It used to be that my blanket support of Democrats only applied at the national level. My reasoning was that state politics were different. However, that was until I realized that Congressional voting districts are determined by state legislatures, federal elections in each state are administered by state elected officials, and many national politicians graduate from state government. When a party has control at the state level, it provides many advantages to the national party, and when they don’t, it hurts them. As a result, the Democrats now get my vote at the state level.
That same line of reasoning now has me supporting even local Democrats over local Republicans at the municipal level, although where I live, there often aren’t opportunities to actually vote for Democrats. (The small town I live in typically only has Republican candidates for mayor or city council.)
So, that’s my current voting strategy and the reasons for it. In years to come, it could change. I doubt my positions will change much, although it’s possible since they certainly have changed from my younger days. But the positions of political parties also change over time, and it’s always possible that, from my perspective, the Republicans might, in time, become the more reasonable ones and Democrats the more extreme. (It pays to remember that in the 19th century, the Republican were the progressives and the Democrats the traditionalists.) But, at least in the short term, the Democrats are by far the lesser evil for me.
Agree with me? Then go vote.
Disagree? Think I’m dangerously wrong? Then counteract me by voting.
Go vote, or give up any justification to complain.