07 May 2008

Clinton & Obama: Party Poopers

Two more states have voted and the Democratic campaign goes on. Senator Obama's lead remains apparently insurmountable, but he remains unlikely to secure a majority of all delegates before the convention. That fact enables Senator Clinton to continue to make a case to superdelegates for her superior electability. Opinion polls continue to reveal personal animosity between the two factions, sizable minorities of each declaring their refusal to support the other's candidate in the general election, despite the urgings of the candidates themselves. Liberals lament this bitterness, but these people's instincts are at least partly correct. It is their right to prefer persons over parties. The only fault I find with them is that their feelings are pretty much all personal; one group hates Hillary, the other abominates Obama.

What liberals lament about this, of course, is that it might cost them the election and elevate Senator McCain. To be fair, it would be pretty sad if the warmongerer were elected out of liberal spite toward a fellow liberal. But hard-core Clintonites and Obamites have as much right as anyone to reject the Bipolarchical logic that orders them to vote for someone they despise as the only alternative to someone they despise more. As always, I insist that every American citizen has the sovereign right to vote for whomever he believes would make the best president, regardless of whether that candidate is "viable" or has a "realistic" chance of winning. Our first duty is to vote for the best, not against the worst. The people to blame for the election of the worst candidate are those who voted for him, not those who refused to vote for the next-worst. For someone to argue, for instance, that the only way to prevent a war against Iran, or to end the Iraqi occupation, is to vote against McCain, and therefore for whomever the Democrats nominate, is to say that the ordinary American's responsibility for preventing a foolhardy war begins and ends on Election Day. We have a responsibility to prevent an Iranian war, if we think it unwise or unjust, no matter who gets elected. If McCain wins, that only means our individual responsibility as citizens to pressure our representatives to deny him any irresponsible authorization becomes that much greater. That applies equally to the Democratic candidates, and especially to Clinton.

The above was a long-winded way of saying that those who refuse to vote for the Democratic nominee won't be responsible for either McCain's elections or his actions as President. That also applies retroactively to those who refused to vote for Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004: don't blame them for George W. Bush, but blame Republican voters instead. Blame the Democratic party for failing to nominate better candidates. If you must blame other people for the past or the future, blame them for failing after repeated quadrennial disappointments to figure out a better way of choosing candidates and presidents.

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