Why I voted Democrat across the board

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.

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14 Responses to Why I voted Democrat across the board

  1. john zande says:

    Good luck tomorrow. I hope you sweep both houses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely fantastic points, Sap!

    I used to oppose blanket voting, because I idealistically thought that one should symbolically vote for each candidate that they favor over another. You make a good case for why there is some symbolism to voting across the board.

    Applause for you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wyrd Smythe says:

    It sucks that one votes more against a less-desired outcome than for a desired one. What really sucks is that our expectations are so low that we accept this as the best we can do. And what double-plus sucks is that it may be.

    Like

    • I think the reason is actually that most Americans don’t agree with most other Americans on most contentious issues. Even most conservatives don’t always agree with most other conservatives or most liberals with most other liberals. As a result, political parties gravitate toward the profile of positions that offend as few people as possible, but enthuse no one. I think it’s a side effect of the way our government is structured and (in most of the country) first-past-the-post voting.

      Like

      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        I forget who said it, but it’s a great line, “Every issue in America turns out to be 50/50.” It’s a big country, and we’re all over the map on opinions. That said, I suspect there are fewer variables on the conservative side of things.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You might be right on the conservative side. I do know that Republicans are an uneasy alliance of pro business low-regulation people, social conservatives, libertarian minded individuals, and nationalistic types. Democrats tend to be comprised of civil libertarians, academics, labor, and just about every category of minorities (religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, etc).

          Developing demographics favor the Democrats, although I think that, in time, the Republicans will gradually change their positions, but likely keeping to the conservative side of the least offensive profile of positions.

          Like

  4. Liam Ubert says:

    I am sorry to see that you, a scientist and philosopher, inhabit a partisan trap! I was expecting more nuance. I voted straight Republican, probably because I am lazy, but there are many conservative positions that I disagree with. There are also many liberal positions that I disagree with. Then there are also questions of where one should fall on the socialism/individualism divide. Listening to or reading partisan political diatribes makes clear that these narratives are all incoherent in the final analysis. It all boils down to what one considers best for self, community, country or the planet. One should deal with issues both separately and as part of a whole. This is really all too complex for everyone, including our President, certainly for an old geezer like me. But I try my best.

    Like

    • Sounds like we’re each in our own partisan trap 🙂

      Actually, for me, it’s more of a game theory strategy. (I suspect it is for you too.) On average, I agree with the Democratic candidates far more often than I do with the Republican candidates.

      Often at the local level, the only thing I know about a candidate is their party affiliation. Their campaign information is usually vague platitudes and attacks on their opponents. That doesn’t leave me much with which to select who to vote for. I could vote for the one whose name I heard the most often on the radio, or the one with the best sounding name, or the one who looks most attractive on TV or in photos. Or I could vote on the only substantive thing I know about them, which is what party they choose to affiliate with.

      None of this is to say that I don’t occasionally think Republicans have valid points. For instance, government can mess up an industry with poorly thought out regulations, but I’m far less worried about that right now than I am about the things I listed above.

      Regardless, Republicans won big last night. We’ll see what develops. I’m expecting more gridlock, but now with Presidential vetoes.

      Like

  5. Darren P. says:

    It seems neither party is going to have my back if I needed them, I voted for Ross Perot because I wanted to see it as a big snub to the other two. I also voted for Obama because I saw that as unsettling to those old money smokey room politicians if he won. They may have a few differences but are all about getting re-elected by playing people to dislike the other side. As far as birth control goes how often do people who want birth control not able to get it? Gay people should be able to marry because they choose to. But even with Democrat president and congress they haven’t made that happen. It all seems more like promises to keep you locked in. If they fixed those what will there be left to vote for? I don’t expect it to work perfectly so maybe I could participate more but so far both parties have kept our county with the most stable economy and the highest output of all others. So as bad as they seem they both have good folks as well. I guess I like both enough not to feel upset when either wins.

    Like

    • I fear we’re stuck with the two party system. If you look at American history, except for brief periods, we’ve always had two parties. It’s baked into our political structure. For that reason, a vote for a third party candidate is actually a vote for the major party that they oppose (they often claim they oppose both parties, but they’re usually more opposed to one than the other). If I vote for a third party liberal, I’m giving aid and comfort to the Republican candidate, and a conservative who votes for a third party conservative is aiding the Democratic candidate.

      So, from a game theory perspective, you’re best strategy is to figure out which party is closest to your positions, or perhaps which is the lesser evil, and then support that party.

      On birth control, I think most people can get it, but I’m not sure about poor people. But I also strongly believe that women should have control of their bodies. Our current stance in this country toward abortion effectively makes it feasible for a woman with money to get one, but often impossible for poor women, depending on where they happen to live.

      I agree that our country is mostly doing well, and the arc of history is mostly going in the right direction. It can be hard to remember that with the election results, and the current Ferguson situation. But this country is more prosperous, and generally more just, than it was 50 years ago, even if the gains haven’t all been equally shared.

      Like

      • Darren P. says:

        Yep that is what me Perot vote counted for basically. I don’t see any way out of the two party system either. I personally don’t like corporation minded dogma of the Rep. party specifically how they treat the petrol-chemical industry. On the structure of the marine platform’s coral grows creating a false coral ecosystem lessening the actual impact. As for the chemical plants the leakage is more than gets reported and when it does the fines aren’t a deterrent, the only deterrent is getting in trouble with the corporate headquarters for the shutdown and money losses. I worked at several different plants and the stories of how they used to operate along with what I personally have seen are terrible. What is shocking is that nature is a tough cookie. You would expect dead non-vegetative land around them because there is truly alot of chemical seepage going on. But it was more the opposite with critters everywhere and constantly taming the growth enough to get work done, this is Louisiana where I live btw. The green takes over pretty fast if you stop cutting it back LOL. So as far as political platforms I would call that my biggest concern.

        Humanity is hard to figure out, we can be completely nurturing to our children and the next moment become demonic savages if our kids are threatened. It is not quite wildlife but were still very similar.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: A Democrat in a two party system | SelfAwarePatterns

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