I am not entirely beholden to a single political party. There have been times in the past — rare, but times — I’ve voted for a Republican. There are times when, not particularly impressed with either major party candidate, I’ve voted third party.
But this is 2018, and, to my mind, what’s at stake today is the very soul of American democracy.
In 2018 there are two types of political candidates and office holders: The Disablers, those who have vehemently spoken, acted, and voted in opposition to the lying, corrupt, and thuggishly racist Trump / McConnell / Ryan government (or who can be expected to do so), and the Enablers, anyone else.
Practically any Republican can be presumed to be an Enabler. The one notable exception I can think of is John Kasich, who isn’t in my state and isn’t on the ballot anyway. Likewise, almost all Democrats can be presumed to be Disablers, though there are some red state Democratic senators whose Disabler credentials are pretty weak.
The lesson of 2017–18 is: The Enablers have to go. Every last one.
That means, in any election where both Enablers and Disablers have a chance of winning, one must oppose the Enablers. That’s necessary, but it’s not sufficient. Merely withholding support from Enablers isn’t enough; you have to give support to someone who can stop them.
So if there is a stinky Republican, a slightly smelly Democrat, and a pure as the driven snow third party progressive running, you don’t vote for the progressive. Not unless they’re polling ahead of or even with the Democrat. To defeat the Enabler, the strongest Disabler has to get enough votes to win, so you hold your nose and you vote for the smelly Democrat. You can support their opponent in the next primary, but for today, you help them get elected.
And not voting isn’t an option either. Our votes matter. There have been enough whisker-close, even tied, races in recent years to make that abundantly clear.
The exception is if there’s a landslide in the making. If one candidate — Enabler or Disabler — is polling 30 points ahead of the nearest opposition, then face it, they’ve locked it up. You can’t do anything to change the outcome. You can send a message (which’ll be ignored, but why not) by voting for the candidate you like best, regardless of how far behind or not they may be.
But you have to be sure a blowout is coming. Remember the Virginia gubernatorial race in 2017; Northam was supposedly only about 3 points ahead according to the polls, and then won by 9 percent. In local races (and, yes, the Disablers have to be stopped at every level, from the Senate down to the Town Clerk) polling is harder; one probably should assume any contested local race is a tossup.
(And in the next Presidential election, remember what matters is who wins the state, not who wins the nation. People who voted for Nader in Florida in 2000 should be ashamed of themselves. Those who voted for him in New York did no harm.)
So today, I… voted mostly third party.
I can explain! I like voting the Working Families line. In New York they’re a party that mostly endorses the same candidates as the Democrats. This year, notably and, I think, wrongly, they backed Cynthia Nixon for Governor when the Democratic Party re-nominated Cuomo, but they switched to Cuomo after the primary. Today I voted Working Families for every office they had a candidate for, but those were the same as the Democratic candidates. They didn’t have candidates for State Supreme Court, so I voted the Democratic line there. The one exception was the gubernatorial race. Cuomo’s polling well ahead of the Republican (RealClearPolitics has him up by 18%, FiveThirtyEight by 19%), and I’m not much of a Cuomo fan, so I voted for former Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner who’s on the ballot as an independent.
Have you voted?