Friday, May 21, 2004


President Bush is Louisiana today, to deliver a speech at LSU and to raise money.  I got to thinking about the upcoming election the other day, and I don't know if I can vote for either Bush or Kerry.  In my opinion, Bush does not deserve reelection.  He took the country into a war on flawed intelligence, then underestimated the aftermath.  His reckless fiscal policies have contributed to massive deficits.  His administration is arrogant and secretive, and everything with this White House is ideological, not practical.  Finally, I'm opposed to amending the Constitution in the way Bush seeks to do.

Bush has done a few good things.  His response to 9/11 was nearly perfect.  He raised morale in the aftermath of that event and justifiably went to war in Afghanistan.  And his reckless fiscal policies put more money in MY pocket.

On the other hand, John Kerry is the quintessential Eastern establishement liberal, a type I just can't listen to for more than five minutes at a time.  Morever, I fear that he suffers from the Vietnam syndrome in foreign and defense policy.  Iraq showed that the US should not plunge headlong into military adventures without a parachute, so to speak.  However,  the US is the US, and should not be hesitant about using force and supporting bad regimes when it is appropriate.  I agree with Samuel Huntington that in order to protect our liberal, open society, we must be willing to behave cynically abroad.  I don't know whether Kerry shares my views.  And Kerry is boring, too.

I take some comfort in Craig the Philospher Lawyer's theory that individual votes don't matter.  Maybe I'll vote for the Natural Law Party this year.  That would be in keeping with my Eastern outlook.

12 comments:

Lance said...

I'm willing to admit that I'm NO fan of John Kerry, but the thought of what Bush could do with a lame duck four years puts the fear of god in me. (Or should I say the fear of god will be forced on me). I'm greatful for his (actually his advisors) response to 9/11 (remember his initial response?) But it doesn't make up for the growing hatred of our country overseas, his sending 700 young, poor, Americans to their death. All so he could finish up what his father didn't.

I know that my individual vote doesn't count, especially here in Utah. At least I'll be able to look back in 20 years and say "I didn't vote for that bastard".

Ann said...

I dunno, Randy. That individual votes "don't count" may be true, but individual votes are all we have.

At least trade your vote. I thought of doing that last election, when my daughter in Ohio voted for Nader, and I in Texas voted for Gore. Voting for Gore in Texas was an exercise in futility (Bush was an enormously popular governor there), but every vote for Gore counted in Ohio.

Louisiana has two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor in a state that is not known for its progressive thinking. I think Kerry has a shot here, and voting for someone else as some kind of protest vote is a VOTE FOR BUSH. Unless you really support the positions of the candidate for the Natural Law party, you're taking the easy way out with cynicism.

Face it, selecting our politicians is often a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. Louisiana has nine electoral votes. If Al Gore had won here, he'd be President right now. Don't tell me your vote doesn't matter.

Randy said...

Here is Craig's reasoning:

The meaning of the right to vote . . .

Anguished by the Republican re-districting of Texas, Brian Leiter laments:

[I]t was decided to split Austin three ways and put my portion in to a congressional district which would vote Republican. In other words, my vote was nullified through redistricting. And, for those new to American law, there is, as things stand, no legal remedy. I have the right to vote "on paper," but no meaningful right to vote at all, which was precisely the legislature's intent.

Although I understand the gist of Leiter's complaint - that redistricting has caused Leiter's favored party to lose a seat - I disagree with Leiter's contention that redistricting "nullified" his vote, leaving him with "no meaningful right to vote." It is true that Leiter's vote is essentially nullified, and it is true that Leiter has no "meaningful" right to vote. However, redistricting is not to blame - the worthlessness of Leiter's (or, really, any individual's) vote is part and parcel of any large-scale democracy.

Any individual vote is essentially meaningless in virtually all elections, regardless of the manner of drawing up legislative districts. Before the shift, Austin may have had a democratic representative, but that had absolutely nothing to do with Leiter's vote. His vote was meaningless (except, perhaps, in a pyschological sense to him alone). After the shift, Austin may have had a republican representative, but, again, that had nothing to do with Leiter's vote. His vote was still meaningless, and in the exact same sense that it was meaningless before the shift. Leiter has never had any say in the outcome of any of these elections - and he could only gain a say by nullifying the voices of great swaths of other voters.

Aha, goes the rebuttal, but Leiter's vote, and those like him, matter in the aggregate. While this may be true, it certainly doesn't go to show that Leiter's vote is meaningful. The aggregate exists, and is meaningful, with or without Leiter's vote. Hence, its meaningfulness and Leiter's vote's meaningfulness are independent states, unrelated to each other except perhaps by wishful affinity. This quick analysis of the meaningfulness of aggregate votes reveals a sorites problem, the examination of which requires that I be more exacting in my analysis. When I say that a vote is meaningless, I am asserting that the probability that the vote will affect the outcome (using something like a "but-for" analysis) is so low as to be reasonably considered zero. When I say that an aggregate of votes is meaningful, I am asserting that the probability that the aggregate will affect the outcome is significantly higher than zero. As the probability shifts (presumably in a somewhat linear fashion), at what point is it sufficient great so as to be considered non-zero?

I side-step this difficult problem for now because I think that the voting-matters-in-aggregate argument has other flaws, especially in the context of complaints about redistricting. Voting-in-aggregate arguments requires categories for aggregating. Discerning which aggregate groups exist (in order ensure that the districts grant each aggregate group a chance at mattering) is not an obvious process. You could use racial groups, socio-economic groups, geographic groups, political affiliation groups, age groups, etc., etc. However, you can not pick a set of groupings unless you are already committed to the idea that the criteria underlying your groupings is primarily important in American politics - and this the very sort of controversial claim that the political procedures are supposed to be settling.

Ann said...

I dunno, R. I'm not disagreeing that this post makes some points. But as someone who is not part of a powerful, rich lobbying organization, the only power I have is my vote. I'm not willing to surrender that. 300 individuals made a difference in Florida. We live is a swing state. If you don't like either of the major parties, and you don't really, really believe in the platform of the minors, then vote the lesser of two evils. Hold your nose while doing it, if you want. Fer cryin' out loud, you voted in a state election when the choices were between Edwin Edwards and David Duke!

There was a fun article in the last-but-one Utne Reader about rewarding people for voting. Free beer with an "I voted" sticker was mentioned as an incentive.

doug said...

ah hell Randy, that was such a juicy provocative post I just don't no where to begin, maybe I should just tell a joke, that might be safer for me.

I have been thinking about your post for most of the day since it came up

do you like Dennis Millers new show, do you get that, have you seen it?

doug said...

fuck it all to hell I wish I could go back and edit my comments when I am sloppy and don't check my grammer, I really am not the idiot I am writting myself to be. :)

Randy said...

I like Dennis Miller, but I dig Bill Maher's show on HBO. It's a lot like his old one, but much rowdier. He had a great show a few weeks ago on which a conservative talking head slam-dunked Gore Vidal, who was making sweeping statement with absolutely no facts to back them up. Like we've talked about, it helps to acknowledge the limitations of your knowledge.

doug said...

Bill is on HBO eh, we don't get HBO, it's not 'spirit' friendly (ouch, I gave myself stomach pain saying that). Humph, I would like to see Bill's show. Now that reminds me of SNL's "Mr. Bill", do you remember MrBill? "oh no Mr. Billllllllllll" good times.

Dave said...

Not voting is still voting. It’s like in the movie Brewster’s Millions… “Vote for None of the Above.” If you don’t like either candidate, why fuck with your integrity just so you can say, “Well at least I voted!” What good does that do? Give you the right to complain? Don’t you have the right to complain that nobody was running that you could get behind?

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dave said...

I don't know what it is about these comments, but I keep double posting...

(Let's see what happens with this one!)

Miranda said...

I couldn't get past Gore Vidal's freaky deaky expression. Bill's conservative guests were much better this last season. The liberal panelists, not so much. I don't mind spirited, but have no patience for idiotic blowhards. Ann Coulter, I'm talking to you! Janene Garafelo, you are close behind!

I was really impressed with Andrew Sullivan, who I vehemently disagree with on Iraq and have for a long time, and there was a Republican congressman, maybe from California? He was very well spoken and made his points without unnecessary hyperbole.