DANG IT — I’m still coasting on my holiday weekend high (a.k.a. hungover on booze and poutine) and I really don’t want to wade into a political debate right now, but that’s what we’ve got in our inbox so that’s what I’m gonna answer. And if my answer reeks of stale alcohol and lukewarm gravy? Then you’re welcome, world!
[Reminder: You can get yourself your very own gravy-smeared dubious replica of “advice” for the low low price of… well, expending the energy to email us a question at [email protected]. Basically, it costs you nothing, and earns you nothing, and we’re all just here farting into the wind. Together.]
So what’s on deck this week? Voting for that one really nice Republican guy from down the block — or not!
A neighbor I like is running for re-election to a local county board. He and his wife and kids are the kind of good neighbors we all should have. I’ve known them a long time and they are good people.
The problem is, he’s a lifelong Republican, running as an independent. He disavows Trump - and did so in 2016.
I think it’s really important that Democrats win as many elections as possible this year, and with as many votes as possible. My neighbor, the only independent on the local board - all the other members are Democrats - has a Democratic opponent who seems like a decent guy. It isn’t like there’s much at stake even if my neighbor were to win.
But should I vote for him? I’m a lifelong Democrat. I loathe Trump and the gutless way his party has let him get away with such bad behavior and such horrible policies. But I feel like the (very) few Republicans who have spoken out should be rewarded, no? My heart tells me, death to all Republicans. But my head tells me the two-party system still needs to work and that means we need reasonable people from both parties.
What does Pajiba World think is the right thing to do?
Look — in an ideal democracy, I would tell you to vote your conscious. Vote for the candidate that you trust, who has values you believe in and will support policies that you think will make your city/state/country a better place, regardless of party affiliation. Or barring that, at least vote for the candidate who is less morally corrupt than the others. That’s the goal, right?
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal democracy, and this certainly isn’t a great time for our less-than-ideal democracy. So I’m gonna fold up my idealism, tuck it into the back pocket of my big girl pants, and give you my honest answer:
If you think your friend is truly the best candidate, with beliefs you support, and your trust in him goes deeper than the fact that you know him personally, then vote for him… because he’s running as an Independent. But if he was still a Republican, or if this was a higher-stakes election than a county board filled with Democrats, then I’d probably say “naw.”
By becoming an Independent, your friend has acted on his disavowal of Trump, and that’s something we should keep in mind when assessing ALL so-called “reasonable” candidates of any party. The two-party system IS flawed, and maybe some candidates can change it from within, but also maybe they should just sever all ties. It’s easier on the local level — much harder on the national stage. But it IS possible. On the other hand, does your friend only disapprove of Trump or does he also disagree with Republican stances on actual issues? Because I think Trump is just a glaring example of some of the deeper problems of the party as a whole, and there are plenty of other Republican policies that I’d be wary of inadvertently supporting with my vote if this guy is going to still act as a Republican in all but name. It’s important to be clear on just what he was disavowing when he left the party.
I’m torn because I do think there are reasonable, moderate Republicans. But I also think that the party is basically toxic now, and continuing to align yourself with it taints you by association. There was a time when it didn’t. There was a time when we could weigh the issues on their own merits, and decide which candidate or which party represented MOST of our values. But when one party aligns itself with hate and open discrimination, what else is there to say? I’d love to have a detailed talk about foreign policies or tax reform but not if my neighbors are being deported, or I’m looking at the names of white nationalists on my ballot, or my reproductive freedom is at stake. I didn’t draw this line in the sand — I just noticed it when the Republican party as a whole sashayed right the fuck across it and camped out on the other side.
I live in Vermont, a state that re-elects Bernie Sanders over and over again but also has a Republican governor at the moment. And that man, Phil Scott, has likely just botched his chances at re-election by changing his position on gun control and signing a package of gun-related bills earlier this year, despite serious protests from gun rights activists. Vermont loves guns (hunting is a way of life, y’all), and Scott listened to his party AND his constituents on that issue for a long time… until a school shooting was narrowly avoided in Fair Haven, VT, this past February. Now, would I support Scott for re-election based on this ONE reversal? No, probably not. I think he absolutely did the right thing, and I admire that he did the right thing at the risk of his own political career. But as important as gun control legislation is, it’s not the only issue I am voting on. And let’s be real — the only reason he changed his stance was because there was almost a school shooting on his watch. That level of violence didn’t convince him in theory — only in practice.
So no, I don’t think that all Republicans are mustache-twirling villains. I think some of them are faithfully representing their constituents (who are maybe the ones I disagree with), or are capable of acting on their own conscience rather than toeing the party line. But a lot of them kind of ARE villains — and the ones that aren’t need to stand up and do something about their colleagues.
Your friend is running for re-election, so presumably, you believe he’s already proven himself to be doing a good job for your community. And that’s great! Seize this opportunity to vote for the person you believe in. Because that IS the ideal, and it may be a long time before we can vote that way again. The blue wave should be our immediate goal, to help mitigate the very real social dangers/ civil rights violations happening in this country. We’ve got to course correct from this crisis somehow.
But don’t lose sight of that idealism either. Because maybe we don’t have the luxury of voting for the best person, regardless of party, right now. But long-term, that’s still the dream. Being represented by people who listen to their conscience, and to their constituents, and think for themselves? Who place the future of the country above the desires of the biggest lobby? Who don’t just blindly follow their party on every issue? Oh pinch me, I think I just got a little hard imagining that.
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