“Dummy” candidates

(or Why I can’t leave the Republican Party, yet)

It makes sense that political parties choose their own candidates — until it doesn’t.

ScreenShot142In American politics, parties usually choose their candidates by primary voting and then each party’s  winner competes in the general election.  Everyone can vote in the general election, but usually only party members can vote in the primary.* This is plausible, in that fairness suggests that each party should have a chance at self-definition.**

Nevertheless, historically, there have been many times in which belonging to the minority party was tantamount to self-disenfranchisement.  If you belonged to Party A, you could certainly vote in the general election, but the winner might be a foregone conclusion if Party A accounted for only a small percentage of the electorate.  In such circumstances, the pragmatic strategy would be to join  Party B so as to have a say in the primary election (where there might be two relatively strong candidates) rather than wait for an essentially meaningless general election.

In order to avoid this situation, there are times when primaries are open, such as when Party B puts up no candidate at all.  In that situation, everyone can vote in the primary.***

Unless.

Unless someone runs a write-in campaign and thus gets on the ballot for the general election.

That is actually occurring in Duval County in 2016, in two very important races — for State Attorney and for Public Defender.   The incumbent State Attorney and incumbent Public Defender have highly publicized problems, mostly self-caused. These problems brought strong, well-qualified Republican opponents into each race.

However, in order to “protect” the incumbents, sham write-in candidates (“dummy candidates”) have entered the races to close the Republican primaries.

So I’ll keep my “R” until after the local primaries — these races are too important (and the choices are too clear) to stand on the sideline.  My Trump-exit will have to wait.


*Open primaries, as are held in some circumstances, allow voting without regard to party affiliation.

**Most people would agree that it would be “unfair” for the Tea Party supporters at a University to all join the College Democrats and take over the College Democrats’ platform so as to undermine the “real” Democratic agenda.  (It might not seem so unfair for the Tea Party group to try this with the College Republicans.)

***In Florida, we actually have a Constitutional provision to assure this. Florida Constitution, Article VI, Sec. 5(b) [link] (“If all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in the primary elections for that office.“)

****I know some lifelong Democrats who are going to change temporarily, too.  It is actually pretty easy, but needs to be done soon.

No political options

ScreenShot164Another thought piece on why believers may simply have to sit out the 2016 presidential election, this one by Alan Noble:

There are no good political options for evangelical Christians in 2016, but we have a critical opportunity to stand by the convictions we have proclaimed and to do so in a way that offers other Americans an alternative political imagination, one committed to principled pluralism, to the flourishing of local communities, and to the common good.

Alan Noble, “Evangelicals like me can’t vote for Trump ∼ or Clinton.  Here’s what we can do instead,” Vox (June 7, 2016) [link].

We better be praying, people.

 

Tyranny coming?

ScreenShot196An interesting and frightening take on the 2016 election (in light of Plato, Sinclair Lewis, the Constitution, Eric Hoffer, and others), in which Andrew Sullivan says:

Trump tells the crowd he’d like to punch a protester in the face or have him carried out on a stretcher. No modern politician who has come this close to the presidency has championed violence in this way. It would be disqualifying if our hyper­democracy hadn’t already abolished disqualifications.

Andrew Sullivan, “Democracies end when they are too democratic: And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny,” New York Magazine (May 2, 2016). [link]

This article is very long — and very worrisome — but well worth reading.

A[nother] Republican defector?

ScreenShot142I was proud to be a Republican. The GOP I worked for, fundraised for and fundamentally believed in put forward candidates who reflected my values. But now? I’m embarrassed to be a Republican because of who is leading in the polls. We’ve become a party that preys on the discouraged, not one that fosters hope. We’re incentivizing anger, not integrity. We tear down others to promote ourselves.

T.T. Robinson, “Why I’m no longer proud to be Republican” Washington Post (April 25, 2016) [link].

Don’t despair, T.T.  There are a lot of Republicans who agree, and who will continue to be “compassionate, innovative and enthusiastic . . . . woven together by our common belief in . . . the importance of character.”  Of course, this group may have to become “former Republicans” to make a point.

“No, I don’t” [link]  “To be clear . . .” [link]

To be clear . . .

ScreenShot142I did not realize that “No, I don’t” would strike a nerve like that. I may have had more political conversations in the last four days than in the prior four months.

The people who disagreed said two things that bear response, because they are right:

1. “You can’t restrict yourself to voting only for people with whom you agree 100%.” This is absolutely true. Most of the votes I have cast in my life have been for people I agreed with only in part. But isn’t there a limit to this? I have come to think that there is and that some candidates do not meet the minimum.*

2. “The next President is going two be able to appoint two Supreme Court justices, and that is going to affect the country for the next 25 years, not just the next four.” This is, if anything, too weak. President Obama is going to nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement, and the next President may well nominate replacements for the three remaining Justices who are over 75 years old. That is a huge turnover in the Court, and it is very important. Before 2020, the Court may well consist of Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayer, Kagan and four people we have not heard of. Nevertheless, I think we are going to have to trust God, not the candidate, for these selections.**

In the end, that is my real point.

The Republican Party has entirely lost control of its process and the Democratic Party seems never to have guessed that a 74-year old Senator might not make a 68-year old former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State look energetic and youthful.

But God has not lost control of anything at all.

 

*Should I say “my minimum” to be completely clear? I am not telling anyone “You cannot vote for Donald Trump,” or “You cannot vote for Hillary Clinton.” Maybe they sufficiently reflect your values and your sense of right and wrong. I am saying “I cannot vote for either, and there is no spiritual duty to vote pragmatically.”

**Of course, many Presidents have found that it is hard to guess how their Supreme Court appointments will turn out. Eisenhower was supposed to have said that his two biggest mistakes were sitting on the Supreme Court — Earl Warren and William Brennan.  These things are not entirely within human control.

No, I don’t.

ScreenShot141How many times have we all heard that it is our civic responsibility to vote, that if we are unhappy with our choices we have to make a pragmatic choice and pick the lesser of two evils?

I reject that position.

First, because you and I have a responsibility to do good and to worship God. There are real ethical dilemmas, but we must do good, not evil.

Second, because we don’t have only two choices, we have at least five. Assuming that things go as the polls suggest, we will all have a choice between the Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate, a variety of third-party candidates, a write-in candidate, or not voting. No matter which candidates the parties offer us, one of the latter two options would be permissible. (Of course, I am well aware that not voting is not practical. I do not put much stock in practicality when it is weighed against morality.)

Third, because the GOP, at least, needs to understand that this is unacceptable. Mr. Trump reflects rage and dissatisfaction, not statesmanship and leadership. (Ms. Clinton, to be fair, reflects the mainstream of the Democratic Party leadership, whether or not she reflects the core of the general population.)

Fourth, because I believe that there is power in prayer, and that God’s plans don’t develop along election cycles. Maybe this is exactly what’s necessary to bring both parties back to sanity and civility. Maybe this is what’s necessary to get believers to pray for those in power.*

Finally, there is still something that can be done — perhaps you can still vote in a primary against a candidate by voting for an acceptable candidate who is in second place. Perhaps you can write your political party and explain why they have lost your vote or registration. To be clear, if the Republican Party nominates Mr. Trump, I will change my registration to Independent. It is becoming increasingly difficult to accept that in any sense the GOP is representing me.

I have to vote?

No, I don’t.

I need to pray.


*1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV): “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, or kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Civic duty?

Here’s the question.  Do we have a civic duty (or a spiritual duty) to vote?  What if our two-party system gives us two politically/morally/spiritually unacceptable candidates?  What then?

One answer is given by Russell Moore in “Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?” Christianity Today (Mar. 2, 2016) [link].

Moore says

“This side of the New Jerusalem, we will never have a perfect candidate. But we cannot vote for evil, even if it’s our only option.”

The article is very short.  I want to write something over the weekend, but that might be a good place to start the thought process.