« Glorious People's Republic of Toontown | Main | No blogging next week »

February 01, 2005

Vote for the party, not the person

"I vote for the person, not the party." Most of us have heard this at one time or another, usually accompanied by an unmistakeable note of self-righteousness. The implication is that people who choose a candidate primarily because of the presence of a D or an R next to his name are somehow lesser than those who get to know the candidates and make their selection based on positions on individual issues.


There are times when this is the right course of action, but there are other times when the rational choice is to vote solely based on party. The latter is especially applicable to elections for the Congress.

For example, in the open seat race in Washington's 8th district, I voted for Dave Reichert over Dave Ross. I didn't much care what Reichert or Ross thought about particular issues. All I cared about was that Reichert was an R and Ross was a D. This isn't because of blind loyalty to a party. I did care about positions on the issues... just not the ones held by Reichert or Ross.

Your Representative will be one voice among 435. He won't have much say. It doesn't really matter what his views on the issues are. It's the Congressional leadership that decides what issues are discussed, what bills are brought to the floor, what the agenda of the House will be. The most important votes your Representative will cast will be his first votes of the session, when he votes to elect that leadership. And those votes are always made purely on party lines.

Had Ross been elected, he would have voted to make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House. Had Ross been elected, he would have voted to make John Conyers the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Ross would have given Charlie Rangel the chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Given that I prefer the views of Dennis Hastert, James Sensenbrenner, and Bill Thomas respectively, it's perfectly rational that I vote to elect a Republican over a Democrat. Even if Ross's views meshed perfectly with my own and Reichert's views were antithetical, the correct vote would still be the one to install the House leadership I prefer.

February 1, 2005 in Election '08 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Vote for the party, not the person:


I always like this site, but this was the first time that I read an article that I didn't really agree with when I started reading it. It absolutely makes sense, and I would agree that most of the time this would be correct.

However, there are a few instances when someone running must be voted against, regardless of their political sway. For example, if the person runs a blatently dishonest campaign. People, regardless of their persuasion, need to realize that we demand high quality individuals in congress, not just someone who is a democrat or a republican. In thise case I wouldn't vote against my party, but I wouldn't vote for that man (or woman -- it could be a woman as well).

Posted by: Jesse | Feb 3, 2005 6:50:46 PM

More proof that you are an idiot.

Posted by: Libertarian pig | Mar 4, 2005 7:29:51 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.