>And why righteously indignant Republicans should get off their high horse
I voted for Hillary Clinton in last week’s TX primary and then again in the caucus. Why would I do such a thing? It is very simple really. It would be better for our country if the Republican candidate wins in November rather than the Democrat candidate. Therefore, I am generally in favor of that which hinders the Democrat’s chances of winning and helps the Republican’s chances of winning.
It seems to me that it would hurt the Democrat’s chances of winning in November if they have a protracted, knock-down-drag-out battle for the nomination that lasts through their convention in August. Both Clinton and Obama seem to be willing to get increasingly negative about the other and the winner could emerge from the contest very weakened. John McCain obviously had the GOP nomination wrapped up going into Tuesday and could spare several thousand votes. I believe he will beat either Obama or Clinton in November. So I decided to vote for Clinton in order to keep her campaign alive so that the Democrats can continue to slug it out for months to come. If Clinton was ahead and Obama was close behind I probably would have voted for him. There could be a downside to the continuation of their race such as McCain receiving even less media coverage since the Democrats have the only active contest now but the pros seem to outweigh the cons for Republicans. Exit polls show that a decent number of Republicans voted for Clinton in TX. Who knows whether this was the difference or not but it certainly helped her. Mission accomplished.
Some Republicans, not very many I think, are tsk-tsking those of us who used this tactic. Huckabee devotee Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost used the occasion of Tuesday’s election results to lambaste Rush Limbaugh for urging his listeners to vote for Hillary. He wonders if Republicans can really be so stupid as to have followed his advice. Now, I have nothing against Carter. I’m sure he’s a terrific guy. Evangelical Outpost is a good blog with a ton of readers whereas almost no one will read this meager contribution to the blogosphere. But, c’mon, give us some credit. Republicans in TX were talking about doing this way before Limbaugh ever mentioned it. The idea of voting for Hillary in this situation was obvious. I, for one, am not a regular Limbaugh-listener and was not even aware that he had made these comments until Election Day. I have followed politics for about 15 years now and can think fairly well for myself when it comes to these things by now. I understand that Carter is very bitter toward Limbaugh for the comments he made against Huckabee these past several months but I respectfully submit that those of us who voted for Clinton on Tuesday can’t be dismissed as “stupid” dupes who “Rush[ed] to Idiocy.” But apparently we are immoral.
Carter says he agrees with one blogger who was upset with the “shrill” Laura Ingraham who was cheering on Republicans who were voting for Hillary last week. He wrote,
“It seems to me that if you love this country you’ve got to hold the electoral process in a kind of reverence. The fact that there are cynical people out there who game the system doesn’t justify us, the people who say we believe in moral absolutes, in pretending to belong to a different party so we can sabotage its nomination process. If they did it to us, I’d be angry about it.”
Carter adds, “Say it ain’t so, Republicans; say you didn’t stoop that low.”
Reality check: we didn’t have to pretend to belong to a different party in order to vote for a Democrat in TX. We don’t declare party affiliation in TX so you are neither Republican or Democrat in the eyes of the state. I’m looking at my Voter Registration Certificate right now and there is no mention of party affiliation. There is one line that says “Voted in the ___________ Party Primary” for an election official to stamp because you can’t vote in one party’s subsequent run-off contest, if needed, if you voted in the other party’s primary. I’ve never been asked whether I’m a Republican, Democrat or otherwise. We have the freedom to vote in either primary down here. Sorry to mess up a good cheap shot there but I humbly suggest that you should know what you’re talking about before accusing those of us “who say we believe in moral absolutes” of acting immorally by pretending to belong to a different party. That didn’t happen.
Now about this “hold[ing] the electoral process in a kind of reverence if you love your country” bit. First, where was this hyperbole when the McCain and Huckabee supporters “gamed the system” in West Virginia? Mitt Romney received the most votes but didn’t reach the 50% mark. So the McCain and Huckabee camps worked a deal to “sabotage the process” by swinging all the McCain voters to Huckabee in the second vote in order to prevent Romney from winning the state. These Republicans in WV “stooped so low” as to vote for someone they didn’t really want to win because it would help McCain in the long run and it was celebrated! Romney supporters were told to quit whining. But when Republicans in TX voted for someone they didn’t really want to win because it would help McCain in the long run they’re accused of being morally compromised idiots. Amazing!
What’s the difference between McCain supporters voting for Huckabee in WV and McCain supporters voting for Clinton in TX? The only reason I can see why it was OK for McCain supporters to game the system in WV is because it helped Huckabee. Again, we have an open system and don’t declare party affiliation in TX so don’t tell me the difference is that we voted in another party’s primary. If its sabotage, stupidity, and stooping low for McCain supporters to vote for Clinton in TX in order to help McCain then it was sabotage, stupidity, and stooping low for McCain supporters to vote for Huckabee in WV in order to help McCain. McCain supporters in TX voted for Hillary at Obama’s expense in order to help McCain and McCain supporters in WV voted for Huckabee at Romney’s expense in order to help McCain. So much for holding the electoral process in a kind of reverence. It might be difficult for some Republicans to believe but we still love our country even if we didn’t vote the way you wish we would have on Super Tuesday II.
Second, the electoral process is what the state parties decide it is with these primaries and caucuses. There is nothing sacred about TX deciding to hold a primary for 2/3s of the delegates and then a caucus for a 1/3 of the delegates. There’s nothing morally absolute about an open or a closed primary or requiring a candidate to reach a 50% threshold in order to win. What’s important is that we have an open and free system where every citizen has the right to vote. TX decided to allow its citizens to vote in the primary of their choice. I decided to vote in the Democrat primary. I did it because I thought it might help the Republican candidate win in the long run which would be better for the country. I’d like to think that my love of country has been demonstrated in something like serving in the military in the Middle East on a few occasions. Calling our love of country into question because we voted fair and square as we saw fit according to the rules of our state hardly seems justified.
Not all Republicans agree with voting for someone in the primary when you don’t intend to vote for them in the general election. I understand that. But some Republicans, especially Huckabee supporters who had no problem with the shenanigans that helped their boy win in WV, need to get down off their high horse and quit with the ludicrous accusations of deceit, stupidity, idiocy, stooping low, lacking in love of country, and failing to act as someone who believes in moral absolutes. At least do a little homework next time so you can have your facts straight before making these kinds of over-the-top accusations against your fellow conservative and evangelical Republicans. And take a look in the mirror to be sure you didn’t give a wink and a nod to the same tactic you’re condemning when it was used to help your candidate win just a few weeks ago.
Post Script – Since I haven’t really dealt with the morality of the issue yet I will do so briefly here. On what grounds was voting for Hillary Clinton an immoral act? We don’t really know from either of the posts I cited above. They just assert that it was stooping low and implied that it was not a proper action for someone who believes in moral absolutes (not to mention that we were stupid and idiotic for blindly following Rush but we have already seen that this was not the case).
We can bypass appeals to the authority of the law because 1) it has already been demonstrated that our actions were in accordance with the law and election rules and 2) we know that some laws are immoral so appealing to the legality of a matter doesn’t necessarily establish its morality one way or the other.
The bloggers imply two reasons why voting for Clinton was an immoral act. First, it was assumed that we lied in order to vote in the Democrat primary but we have already established that this was a false accusation. Second, it was implied that we violated the Golden Rule: “If they did it to us, I’d be angry about it.” It shouldn’t be done because you should only do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It can be shown that we also did not violate this principle. How? The people of the state of TX have agreed to permit all registered voters to vote in the primary of their choice. It is known that those who are more closely aligned with the principles of the Democrat Party will vote for Republicans for whatever reason they choose to do so. It is known that Republicans can and will do the same if they so choose. Many Republicans voted for Hillary Clinton in TX and Democrats enjoyed the same freedom to vote for John McCain or Mike Huckabee. If Democrats voted for Huckabee in order to undermine the McCain campaign, more power to them. So we can see that we did not violate the Golden Rule since we did not do anything that we were unwilling to have done to us. We need to look to some other argument in order to understand why voting for Hillary Clinton in TX was an immoral act.
Now, if it had been said that it would have been preferable for us to have voted for John McCain I would not argue the point. We would have been positively supporting what we believe is beneficial rather than acting negatively by merely undermining what we believe to be detrimental. If we were discussing whether the former (voting for McCain) were preferable over the latter (working against the Democrats) then I would agree that voting for McCain would have been preferable. But that is not what these critics have argued. They asserted that our actions were immoral, deceitful, and stooping low. I will leave it to them to offer an argument demonstrating why this is so.