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 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 13, 2004

Ford for nominee

In the aftermath of the disastrous performance by Democrats in 2002 and 2004, speculation has begun over who will carry their flag in 2008. Hillary Clinton is by all accounts the frontrunner, with universal name recognition and immense popularity among the Democratic faithful. The nomination is probably hers for the taking, and I can't help but view the prospect with mixed feelings. On the one hand, a Clinton candidacy would have many advantages for whoever is the Republican nominee. The intensely strong feelings she inspires among her opponents would guarantee a unified GOP base right out of the gate. A number of ready-made scandals could be resurrected and brought back into the light. She's another Northeastern liberal, who haven't exactly had the best track record at the top of the ticket lately. And so another Clinton candidacy would make the GOP's job a lot easier.

But on the other hand, I'd like to see the Democrats return to the mainstream. I want to see them shift to the center, reflecting the generally rightward shift of the country, and nominating Hillary would not be a step in that direction. And with that, I place into nomination the name of Representative Harold Ford of Tennessee.

Ford has many significant advantages that would make him a real threat to win the Presidency. He's a moderate, being a member of both the New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Coalition. He's articulate and attractive. He's young; he will be 38 on Election Day 2008, just barely passing the Constitutional threshold of 35. His youth will be an asset for a party that desperately needs new blood. Despite his youth, he's not callow, and in 2008 he'll have 12 years of experience in the House. He's Southern, as have been the past three successful Democratic candidates for President.

Oh, and he's African-American. I mention this last because I feel it's a shame that race continues to matter in this country, but his heritage would be an undeniable asset in the election.

Harold Ford could win, and become our second President Ford as well as our second black President. If the Democrats are smart, he'll be the nominee.

November 13, 2004 in Election '08 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack