I have asked Retired Spook to post this as a thread because as we near Election Day I think we need to consider the fact that we will not be voting for a person, but for a political system. Amazona
I have taken a lot of abuse here on this blog for making this statement, criticism which I think reflects a basic lack of knowledge of how our political system works. The other day I was listening to a Denver radio talk show host, Mike Rosen, who has often discussed his theory that Party Trumps Person, and he spoke to a caller who explained that he has always voted for the person he thought would be best for the job and wondered why Mike disagreed with this approach.
Mike gave a very concise and detailed explanation, and then referred listeners to the column he had written in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News during the last Presidential campaign, a written version that is essentially what he had just told the caller. He said all we have to do is substitute “Romney” for “McCain.
In part, he says: “I say party trumps person because regardless of the individual occupying the White House, his party’s coalition will be served. A Democratic president, for example, whether liberal or moderate (conservative Democrats, if any still exist, can’t survive the nominating process), can only operate within the political boundaries of his party’s coalition. The party that wins the presidency will fill Cabinet and sub-Cabinet discretionary positions in the executive branch with members of its coalition. Likewise, the coalition will be the dominant source of nominees to the federal courts, ambassadorships, appointments to boards and commissions, and a host of plum jobs handed out to those with political IOUs to cash in.
It works the same way in the legislative branch. After the individual members of a new Congress have been seated, a nose count is taken and the party with the most noses wins control of all committee and subcommittee chairmanships, the locus of legislative power.”
This is important for us to remember. While it may feel more principled to vote for someone from the opposing party because you feel he or she is a better person than the one from your own, I suggest that the wiser course is to consider the result of having the other PARTY filling all these discretionary positions, committee chairmanships, etc. and vote for the party, and then work to make sure that the next party candidate for this position is a better one.
Your candidate is only one component of a political machine, and while he or she may represent a view you like, he or she will probably not be a deciding factor in a vote but will add to the total of party representation in the House or the Senate.
I take Mike’s statement a bit farther, as I think it is important to understand that when you vote for a party you are really voting for an ideology, because voting strictly by party, without this being based on ideological conviction, is really nothing more than Identity Politics.
For the first time in a long time, the Republican Party is taking a stand on ideology, openly stating its focus not just on issues but on broader ideological concepts such as adherence to the Constitution, reducing the size and scope and power of the federal government, fiscal responsibility, and redistribution of power to acknowledge state sovereignty. The Democrat Party is not running on its ideological agenda, which is for all intents and purposes the opposite of the Republican ideology, but we can see it in its actions and the issues it promotes.
And at this time, in this place, understanding of ideology and long-term agendas is more important than ever before, as well as an understanding of how the process works.