Monday, 22 October 2012

A Bestiary of Voters – Voter 5

Okay, those are the really annoying ones out the way, yippee! Now here are literally millions of voting positions I can just about get on board with. I’ll start with the weaker ones though:

THE LESSER-OF-TWO-EVILS, DEMOCRATS-CAN-CHANGE VOTER. “So the Democrats are a right wing party. But they’re still to the left of the Republicans. And if the Democratic Party can hold the White House for another term, and the one after that, and the one after that, and win back Congress, perhaps it can make the slow crawl from the hinterlands of the right back towards the centre, dragging the Republicans behind them. Perhaps it can start to redefine the language and conceptual and emotional repertoire of American political life, and even start to reconnect it with reality.”

Okay, this was nearly in the other category. I find it vastly implausible, but at least it’s a roadmap. How does the lesser-of-two-evils, Democrats-can-change position translate into voting behaviour? If such a specimen believes the election hangs in the balance, it should probably vote for Obama if it lives in any state with a hint of swing. In super-safe Democrat states it should vote for a third party. However, if it’s confident of a Democrat victory (as if), it should vote for a third party wherever it lives.

UPDATE: For an example of a thorough development of such a position, cf. Christopher Glazek at the n+1 Election Preview. Here's a longish excerpt:

"Frustrating though it may be, this election is about the past four years, not the next four. It’s about ratifying the hope of November 2008, protecting the change enacted in March 2010, and rolling back the counterrevolution unleashed later that year. These goals may appear modest, but the effort has cost billions of dollars and has left almost no room for error.

On foreign policy, could Obama have ended the drone program or brought American troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan with greater haste? Not without blunting the Democrats’ newfound national security edge, an advantage that would have delivered the White House to John Kerry in 2004 if he’d had it.

During the financial crisis, could Obama have nationalized the banks, as he did the auto companies, instead of bailing them out? He couldn’t have. TARP was unpopular enough at the time, but not nearly as unpopular as the government’s purchase of GM and Chrysler. The auto rescue, though, is now bearing indispensable electoral fruit; nationalizing the banks would have risked transforming Romney’s image from greedy financier to hero of the resistance. Could Obama have done more to prevent climate change? In fact, the administration’s new fuel efficiency standards for cars do more to combat global warming than anything done by his predecessors—and the achievement depended on circumventing the legislative process through executive order. Could Obama have done more to transform Americans’ views of social justice? The President can’t flip a switch to end bigotry, but polling suggests he did roll back prejudice in the one place he really could: support for gay marriage has increased among African Americans.

On these and other issues, from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to mortgage modification to Palestine to the Supreme Court, the electoral evidence suggests that the President has pursued the correct priorities with nearly as much vigor and almost as much success as our system allows. If this realization leaves the left feeling deflated after four years, its discouragement may recede after eight, when a new—and probably worse—regime will come to power. We do not live in the best of all possible Americas, but we do live in a country whose politics, despite our disappointments, are getting better with each painful victory."

No comments: