Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Friday, May 12, 2006

On punishing the bums by sitting out an election

One of the reasons I like Jim Geraghty is that he and I share a pragmatic element, and that's on full display on TKS today:
By the way, put me down as one of those guys who cannot comprehend the argument that conservatives ought to sit out this election to “punish” the GOP so that they’ll “learn a lesson” and get better/more conservative in the future.

To advocates of this position, I must respectfully ask… are you out of your flippin’ mind?

By what logic does a constituency become more influential and powerful by becoming less active, and demonstrating less capability to turn out the vote and influence elections?

Let’s say Congressman Tom Tancredo represents your views on illegal immigration. You’re angry at the GOP leadership for not espousing his positions; you’ve concluded that they don’t listen to him. Do you really think the ball will get moved in your direction by throwing the party that has Tancredo out, and replacing it with the party that doesn’t have a Tancredo figure in it at all?

Do you really think a Democratic Congress will get tough on illegal immigration? Yes, Howard Dean has said, “The first thing we want is tough border control.” He’s also talked out of another orifice about gay marriage on the 700 Club and blamed conservative Supreme Court justices for Kelo vs. New London when the four most conservative ones voted against it. (For that matter, you’re a conservative. Why the heck are you listening to and trusting Howard Dean?)

Or let’s say you’re unhappy about high federal spending. Your solution is to give Congress to Democrats, who have a long and well-established reputation for flinty tightfistedness on public spending and an ironclad commitment to spending taxpayer’s dollars wisely… oh, that’s right, they don’t! To deal with a Republican Congress that spends too much and a Republican President who won’t veto enough, your solution is to replace them with a Democratic Congress almost guaranteed to spend more, coupled with the President that doesn’t veto enough. How is that a win?

Yes, let’s punish the GOP for too much pork and earmarks by dis-empowering the Tom Coburns, John McCains, and pork-busting GOP House members. Sen. Robert Byrd will get a handle on this once he’s chairman of the appropriations committee!

And that's not even getting to the topics where conservatives are happier with President Bush. What kind of Justice is likely to get on the Supreme Court between January 2007 and January 2009 if Democrats control the Senate? The John Roberts and Sam Alito kind, or the David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor kind?

What kind of foreign policy statements do you expect from Democratic Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi, or Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Biden, and majority committee members John Kerry, Russ Feingold, and Barbara Boxer? How about “President Ahmedinjiad, we can work this out”? “Mr. Zarqawi, you can have Iraq, because we’re outta there”? “Kofi Annan, you're doing a heck of a job!”

How big a fan of impeachment are you, since the rage of the left-wing blogs will drive Pelosi and Judiciary Chairman John Conyers to try to simultaneously impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney?

Yes, yes, I know the “I’m going to not vote, that’ll show ‘em” crowd is very, very angry. They also appear to be very, very under the influence of mind-altering drugs.
And, I might add, a similar principle applies if your preferred candidate doesn't win the Oregon gubernatorial primary. I'm not saying you must support the Republican candidate, whomever he is. I'm saying, you need to vote. Don't sit on your a** and think that's going to resolve your issues.


  • At 5/12/2006 11:07 AM, Anonymous gullyborg said…

    I do agree that we need to vote. And I am glad to see you aren't in the "you must vote Republican or else" camp. If Atkinson is not the nominee of the GOP, then (barring some sort of divine or infernal intervention) the nominee will be either Ron Saxton or Kevin Mannix. I can't in good conscience vote for either one. If Saxton had run the same campaign as in 2002, liberal but honest, I could have supported him as the best alternative to 4 more years of Sleepy. But not after the campaign he has run this year. And I actively voted against Mannix in 2002 and would do it again this year. He is no different from Ted Kulongoski, except on abortion (which I honestly don't care about much as an issue as no Governor can do much about it). In fact, I made the point elsewhere that, if Mannix had been pro-choice, he would have been elected AG in 1996 as a democrat, and would today probably be the democrat incumbent governor we were working hard to replace.

    So those two are out.

    But a lot can happen between now and November. For one thing, we might have Ben Westlund on the ballot. I could vote for him, even though he is very liberal. At least he is honest about where he stands on issues, and that means a lot to me. Plus, as liberal as he is, he would still be an improvement over Kulongoski. I view Westlund as sort of like the 2002 Ron Saxton: too liberal to be ideal, but good enough to replace a very liberal democrat. As little enthusiasm as there is for Saxton or Mannix with large blocs of the GOP, and as unpopular as Sleepy is with democrats, Westlund might actually pull it off...

    Then we need to consider Libertarian and Constitution Party nominees. Right now, we don't even know if there will be any.
    And yes, I know that voting for a far-right third party is mathematically like not voting at all as far as the real results vis-a-vis the democrat-republican race. But unlike the non-vote, the third party vote does count for something: the more support these far-right third parties get, the more they push the GOP to stay conservative in order to mitigate future losses. If Nader hadn't run in 2000, Gore would have been President. But... if Gore had been just a tad more liberal instead of playing to the center, he could have kept Nader out of the picture. Likewise, if Bush had been just a tad more conservative, he could have kept Buchanan from running, and won the popular vote. Playing to the center is dangerous: usually the only people who like what you do ARE the center, and that's a pretty narrow slice of the pie.

    So, regardless of the outcome on Tuesday, I will be voting for someone in November. I just won't know whom. We'll have to see how the next several months play out.

    Or else Atkinson pulls off the big victory, and I support him all the way.


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