Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Primary Colors

I voted for the first time in Rhode Island yesterday. It was pretty exciting to be casting a ballot in the most important primary in the country. It was also pretty exciting to vote in a health club for the first time. I've voted in schools, churches, and fire departments, but never in a private business and certainly never in a gym. According to a study cited in Marginal Revolution, voters were more likely to vote in favor of measures to increase school funding when casting their ballots at a school and more likely to vote against stem cell research when casting their ballots at a church. So I suppose that voting at a health club would make people more like to vote for former athletes.

I also voted defensively for the first time. I pulled the lever for Steve Laffey in the Republican Senate primary for no reason other than I felt like he had the best chance of losing in the general election. I used to find defensive voting somewhat unsavory. It seemed like a perversion of the democratic process to me. That position seems somewhat naive to me now. I guess in an ideal world, elections would be reasoned debates about important issues. Since this is not the case, defensive voting is a tactic that one must resort to from time to time.

The incumbent, Lincoln Chafee, managed to pull though with 54.2% of the vote, so in the end, my defensive vote really didn't make a difference. This doesn't guarantee him victory in the general election, but it he will be a much more formidable challenger to former state attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse. How's that for surname determinism: he hasn't even been elected to the Senate yet and he's already got the White House in his sights.

I have to admit that beyond their electability, I really haven't paid very much attention to the candidates. I know where they stand on all of the hot button issues, but that's about it. I've definitely become more of an independent voter over the past few years, but at the same time, I can't in good conscience cast a vote against divided government this November, so I'm going to be voting for Whitehouse unless he gets pulled over with a dead hooker in the trunk of the car.

In another time, perhaps I could have supported Chafee. He claims to embrace most of the principles of the Republican party that I agree with and eschew the ones that I dislike. Still, I find it hard to get too excited about him. I was put off by a campaign ad that he aired a couple months ago where the first priority that he mentioned was restoring civility to government. Is this really an issue that anyone outside of the media cares about? I'd like my elected representatives to not be arrogant jerks, but politics being what it is, sometimes, you have to take the gloves off. Politics is a dirty game even when the stakes aren't high and I can't imagine anyone who would want their representatives to not be willing to play that game when the interests of their constituents are under attack. Of course, Whitehouse will get my vote even if he says the exact same thing, so it really doesn't matter, at least, not this year.

1 comment:

MDS said...

Thank you for doing your civic duty. It would have been great to see Chafee lose, even though he's probably the best Republican in the Senate. It just goes to show how huge a difference there is in the two parties right now: I think Chafee is the best Republican and Lieberman is the worst Democrat, and yet I'd be happy if the results had been reversed and Lieberman had won his primary while Chafee lost.