Tag Archives: politics

The Lesser of Two Evils

Another post about politics!  Aren’t you excited?  Anyway, I want to talk about something that rustles my jimmies: people who are voting for a third party candidate for president because they believe that they shouldn’t have to “vote for the lesser of two evils”.  Now, they aren’t wrong: one should be able to vote sincerely (i.e., vote for whoever you want).  Voting for an third party candidate because that candidate more accurately represents their views should be the ideal way to vote.  My jimmies should be unrustled by this, and yet, they are quite rustled.   The problem is we don’t live in an ideal world.

Voting third party (or independent) often ignores the current realities of our voting system:  the we way vote for presidents (and pretty much everything else in the US) is stupid.  First Past The Post voting isn’t very conducive for third parties.  If you vote for a third-party candidate you agree with most instead of one of the two major parties candidates you agree with most, you may end up splitting the aforementioned major party candidate’s votes and causing the major party candidate you agree with least to win.  Florida in the 2000 U.S. presidential election is a very good example of this.  If approximately 600 more people voted for Al Gore instead of Ralph Nader, George W. Bush wouldn’t have won that state or the election.

What we need is voting reform in order for people to be able to vote sincerely (replacing First Past The Post with Instant-Runoff Voting, Approval Voting, or some other superior option, for example), and we need to care about this problem during the years where we aren’t electing a president.  Until that happens, you pretty much have to throw your support behind the two people who have the best shot of winning.  And while I’m on the topic of “voting for the lesser of two evils”, I have to mention that I really don’t like that phrase.  You aren’t really voting for the lesser of two evils, you’re voting for the greater of two compromises.  Compromise isn’t a bad thing: better to get some of what you want instead of everything you don’t want.

Also I’m not a fan of the “well, I don’t live a swing state, so…” calculus that some people do. I think voting one way because you expect other people to vote some other way contributed to the Brexit vote turning out the way it did. Then again, if you have absolutely no preference between the two major party candidates (i.e., both are equally good/bad in their own way), then feel free to vote for third party.  But I would argue that most people have some preference when they really think about it (although this year’s presidential election does seem a unique case).  Now I’m just rambling, so I guess need to wrap this us.  My point is this: if you don’t want to be strategic with your voting, then you have to accept the possibility of the major party candidate you want least getting elected.

Not feeling the Bern

Oh, hi there.  It’s been a while.  The last time I posted a new entry was…almost a year ago.  I’m such a slacker.  But it’s a new year, and this year is a multiple of 4, so it’s time for another presidential election in the US.  These past few months have been as fascinating as they’ve been completely horrifying.  Now, I could go on at great length about the rise of Donald Trump and why he repulses me (for all I know, I may do that in a future post that hopefully won’t take another 11 months to write), but I think I want to talk about who I’m voting for instead of who I’m voting against.

The race for the Democratic nomination has basically been a two man (technically, one man, one woman) race since January.  And since any Republican that I might possibly consider voting is very unlikely to win the nomination given the current state of the GOP, there are really only two choices for me: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  Around January, I felt pretty okay with either of them winning the nomination.  But now, I’m really not feeling the Bern.  That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t vote for him in the general election should Hillary drop out of the race for some reason (because that’s basically the only way he would win the nomination at this point), but that’s mostly because of my aforementioned disgust of Trump.

But why Hillary over Bernie?  It’s not because of how annoying some of his supporters are, but wow, some of his supporters are super annoying and incapable of understanding delegate math.  My reason is really simple: I think she’s better prepared to be president than he is.  I first thought that he might not be ready for the job during the second debate when the topic changed to foreign policy.  Hillary was giving nuanced answers to difficult questions, as one would expect from a former Secretary of State, while Bernie just kept saying he didn’t vote for the Iraq War.  Okay, that may be a little hyperbolic, but my point is that it seemed like he didn’t have the chops for or interest in foreign policy.  That bothers me quite a bit given that foreign policy is one of the few area that the President has (mostly) free reign over.

After that, I thought about some of the things he advocates for a bit more.  Raising the minimum wage?  I’m all for that, it has not kept up with inflation at all.  But raising it to $15 nation-wide seems way too high, even if you phase it in over a few years.  He calls for spending on social programs, many of which I can get behind (especially Medicare for All), but it doesn’t seem like he’d raise taxes enough to pay for those things.  Not that he can unilaterally raise taxes, he needs a cooperative Congress to do that.  And while he does seem to realize that (he does call for a political revolution), I get the impression that he’s an ideological purist.  I’m worried that if a good bill comes across his desk, he’s veto it because it’s not a perfect bill.

But was really gave me pause was when he did an interview with the New York Daily News a couple of months ago.  Bernie Sanders has been saying we should break up the big banks since day one of his campaign.  So, one might expect that by that point in the primaries, he’d be able to give details as to how that would be done when asked.  Unexpectedly, he struggled to do so, and I don’t know how that could have happened.  If you’re running for the highest office in the land and you’ve been saying on a near-daily basis that we should do thing X, you should a) expect that someone might press you for details about how you would do thing X during an interview, and b) have details about your rock-solid plan to do thing X ready to fly out of your mouth.  Comparing that interview with the one Hillary Clinton did where she was a cornucopia of details makes me worry that behind Bernie’s rhetoric, he doesn’t have a lot of concrete plans.

What I want in a president is…obviously someone I agree with on a majority of the issues.  Second to that, what I want is competency.  For example, I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney in the last election because I vehemently disagreed with him on many things (social issues, why 47% of the country wouldn’t vote for him, etc.), but I didn’t doubt that he could actually do the job if he got elected.  I agree with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on a majority of the issues, but I think Hillary is way more prepared to do the job than Bernie is.  I’m not saying she’s perfect, but she’s good enough for me.