A Political Hypothetical

Imagine a voter that generally wants to vote for their party. In an election cycle, this voter likes one of the party candidates and supports them actively throughout the primary and caucus season, but their candidate falls short and another candidate becomes the nominee.

The voter wants to vote for their party candidate, because the other party is, of course, y’know… the other party. However, the voter finds their official party candidate to be repulsive, dangerous, icky, and generally bad for the future of the country.

How should the voter vote?

Should they hold their nose and go along with the official party candidate, despite personal objections?

Should they not vote?

Should they write-in a candidate they do want to see elected, even though the party nominated someone else?

Should they switch parties?


Bonus Questions:

Does it matter if they are Republican or Democrat?

Does it matter what year the election is being held?

Comments | 12

  • On the minds of many voters

    These questions go all over the place. They also only apply to voters, obviously. But the questions are most certainly are on the minds of many voters who are not loyal die-hard party voters.

    There were 235 million people of voting age in 2012 but, the voter turnout was only 55 percent. Since 1968 less than 55% have actually voted in any given presidential election year.

    Two questions I’d answer are:

    “Does it matter if they are Republican or Democrat?”

    Yes and No. The two party system is clearly the Incumbency Party with a money trail that largely feeds into the wealthy.

    “Should they write-in a candidate they do want to see elected, even though the party nominated someone else?”

    If makes them feel better. But not every state allows write-in voting, so it’s throwaway vote that makes a statement with no teeth.

    • A vote with no teeth

      I wouldn’t vote for anyone I didn’t have any feeling of strong support for, and so I would not vote. You take a Clinton or a Bush or a Rubio, or a Cruz, and they are not going to win without teeth. Clinton has the least number of teeth of them all.

  • Jimminy Cricket

    Always let your conscience be your guide.

  • thoughts

    One of the reasons I like this question is because this year, at least, the answer could swing wildly depending on what party and what candidate one is thinking of. As I see it, many people have a favorite and few like what might be their second best choice. And, one’s feelings about one own’s party are probably opposite one’s thoughts on the opposition.

    A Kasich supporter saddled with Trump might not want to vote for him. A Sanders supporter might not want Clinton. But the Kasich supporter might also not want Clinton, and might “need” to vote for Trump. Likewise, a Clinton supporter might not like Sanders, but couldn’t stomach a Trump or Cruz.

    Many Democrats think that everyone should come together around the eventual nominee this year (a previously Republican approach to elections), but hope that the Republicans ignore their top contender. Republicans seem to be wanting to ignore their top contender, but GOP tradition is to step into line eventually. It’s all mixed up.

    I tend to think people should vote for who they think would be the best president, no matter how likely it is that that candidate will win. They certainly won’t win if one is talked out of voting for them in the first place. I don’t think it is these voters “fault” if someone they didn’t want to win wins, either. (It’s the candidate’s fault, for not reaching more people.)

  • Primary considerations

    What if hypothetically you realized the government you lived under was the outgrowth of both a native genocide, and a metastasized industrial economy built on slavery. Then, hypothetically you see the government now is as much PR wing of some much larger multinational corporate conglomerate. You try to focus on this election, these candidates, but are pulled back to the reservations and plantations, and your inner voter rationalizes, “well all that happened long before my birth….”

    But then what if you realized those methods of subjugation and exploitation were no less virulent now, just directed towards us all, as if we were nothing but some kind of dollar spewing consumerbot. The means and modes of control are softer and subtler, but still insidious, using psy-ops of advertising, surveillance and data mining, branded entertainment, all in the name of keeping us ‘connected’.

    What if, as a digression, you saw this winter come and go with little snow to speak of. What if in this winter with unfrozen ground and bare earth you see the election is a vast nasty leading to a larger and far more dangerous rip tide. You hypothesize, a vote is the unit of measure of democracy, like facts are the unit of measure of knowledge. But facts get twisted and votes depreciate through polling manipulation, rigged proportionality, blowout funding, thwarting voter fairness laws, corporate media collusion.

    You don’t love any of the candidates, but you still love life. You don’t believe the voting booth is a vehicle of liberation, like you don’t believe the confessional offers absolution. You say, hypothetically, I’ll vote with my pocketbook, that’s the real bottom line. But a buck ain’t worth what it used to be.

    • Facts

      Those aren’t hypotheticals, they are facts. : )

      But, if we are to take them as a search for someone to vote for, it rules out all but one person.

      In a speech just yesterday, Sanders mentioned that we need to set things right with Native Americans, wants to get corporations out of government, wants to deal with climate change, and that the system is corrupt and can only be fixed if a large number of us work together to demand it be changed. He’s willing to lead if others are willing to assist.

      It may not be perfect, but for me this is a turn toward the right direction after 50 some odd years of going the other way. I don’t think he’s magic, nor will everything be accomplished, but he’s given a generation or two permission to think these things – that we can follow in the footsteps of other long, difficult movements for change, and can demand more.

      I think the permission-granting is significant, and find it refreshing to see basically 40-70% of the Democratic party turning this direction. These may just be roots or shoots, but I think they’ve taken hold and will grow.

      They have to, or your facts will eat us alive.


      Trump is now having people raise their right arms in a pledge to vote for him. They look like nazi rallies.

      Clinton, in a response to a question about whether unions protected bad teachers, proposed an educational SWAT team to go into schools, find these problems, and fix them.

      (Side observation on Clinton. Having watched many a speech on C-Span, I’ve come to the conclusion that she doesn’t really like giving speeches. She isn’t great at them. But where she does really well is the post-speech hand shaking and photo taking. She lights up , looks comfortable, and seems to have a great time with the one on one interaction.)

      • Reminder: Business as Usual

        Americans consistently play the presidential sweepstakes game thinking that their candidate will give them what they want.

        We need to be reminded that Sanders, Trump or whoever wins will face a Congress that will likely be obstructionists. Even if Bernie where to roust the troops of public opinion, that doesn’t mean they and him will sway a hostile Congress and likely will not enlist the aid of the all powerful media.

        The 2016 Democratic National Convention will be held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia July 25th-28th.
        The 2016 Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland from July 18th-21th.

        • Realism

          That’s one of the things I like about his candidacy. He never promises to do these things by himself, and always says it will take a concerted effort by everyone to make things happen. That’s realistic, to me, and puts the burden back on me to help.

          (Yesterday’s campaign speech has a significant section about how change takes people willing to fight, and that it can take a long time. There’s no promise of instant cures from him. (Trump says he’ll have instant cures. Clinton says she’ll defend what we already have. Crux hopes we trust in God. Rubio wants a way to quit and still look good.)

          I like that Sanders is inspiring new people to run for office, and supporting good folks already working on similar issues.

          Congress budges when there is significant pressure. Not often, but it can be done. They need to worry they’ll lose their jobs if they vote the wrong way.

          All I “want” is someone who’ll try a bit… I’m realistic about outcomes. I just know we won’t go anywhere without aiming in the right direction, and doing a bit of work. I was hoping Obama would use his enormous popularity to ask us to do some heavy lifting, but I have’t heard it.

          Back to the hypothetical, is the best option not voting? Voting for who you really want regardless of chances? Supporting the party?

          The majority of people usually don’t vote at all. If they all got together, they’d be a very large majority, capable of dominating the discussion. I wonder why no one appeals to them?

          • I was hoping Obama would use

            ” I was hoping Obama would use his enormous popularity to ask us to do some heavy lifting, but I have’t heard it.”

            You have to wait for him to ask after all he’s gone through?

            Obama said the same thing, I’ll need your support. Bernie will probably have just about as much luck as he has getting people to help out if he gets elected. The short attention span of the engaged voter. Once the election is over everyone goes back to hitting the Like button on Facebook and thinking they’re helping. Sorry for the cynicism but this has been Obama’s world and it’ll be Bernie’s also if he gets to the White House.

          • just ask

            “You have to wait for him to ask after all he’s gone through?”

            He wouldn’t have to go through all this if he had asked. He had the country’s full attention when elected. He could get everyone’s attention if he had wanted to on any issue.

            And yes, when someone needs assistance it is good for them to ask for people to help in some way. We could have had single payer, imho, if he had said it was crucial and asked us all to call and write our reps until it passed. Or any other issue. I saw no attempt. Maybe I missed it.

            Sanders has a history of working with his constituents unlike many others. This bodes well, in my view, if he were to become president. I can’t imagine him NOT rallying people to action if he were president, on a range of issues.

            And yes, our congress folk are pretty much on our side, so there isn’t as much for us to do here as in some other states. Strength comes from numbers, though, and I do write to our reps in DC often on many issues outside of election years, and do talk to people in other parts of the country.

            It is tough for whomever gets in office. We may never get anything done ever again because everyone is in permanent gridlock. Or we may work a bit and break it. The rest of the system is breaking. : )

            Just my view. Others are entitled to theirs.

          • Obama's enormous popularity

            Obama won 53-46 in 2008 and 51-47 in 2012.

            What heavy lifting could you have done that was going to overcome the other party’s obstructionism? Not much I can think of besides devoting a major part of your life to winning competitive state legislative races in 2008 and 2010 and competitive Congressional races in 2010 and 2014.

            It is possible that Bernie will be a more effective President than Hillary will be. It is even possible that he’ll be a more effective President than Obama has been. But the bully pulpit is not going to be the thing that makes the difference, it’s going to be leaning on the levers of power — executive, Congressional, judicial appointments, litigation defending his program, and getting better Congressional districts drawn after the 2020 census.

            Your Congressman is Peter Welch, no other Congressman is going to budge for you.

          • I was just wondering what

            I was just wondering what luck you would have writing a letter if your Senator was Mitch McConnell. The Supreme Court having a liberal and not conservative majority and getting a Democratic majority in both houses seems like it would be helpful.

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