Saturday, March 5, 2016

More thoughts on politics and primaries

Ol' Buzzard left a comment expressing a concern I've heard a few times recently: Democrats are voting in lower numbers during the primary season than the Republicans are. Various experts, pundits, whatever, are concerned this signals low voter turnout come November. IMHO, this is nothing to worry about. Last fall there was a handful of Democrats announcing they'd like to be the party's nominee: Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee, Martin O'Malley, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders.

The first two vanished pretty quickly, which was fine with me. Jim Webb had anointed himself as the voice of the angry white redneck/hillbilly, a remarkably small constituency within the Democratic Party these days, and Lincoln Chaffee was just too bland to resonate much with the potential voters. Both also carried the stigma of having once been Republicans. Granted, Webb had run for the Senate in Virginia as a Democrat and won, but then he'd walked away from that job after one term. In any case, the poll numbers for both Webb and Chaffee were abysmal. From what I saw, I doubt that either had any supporters outside their immediate families, and even then I'd bet the in-laws weren't planning on voting for them. Being an angry white guy with an over-inflated opinion of himself, Webb stalked away muttering about making a possible Independent run. Chaffee just quietly vanished. That left O'Malley, Clinton, and Sanders still competing for voters' attention.

O'Malley hung in there longer -- my own guess is that he was actually campaigning for Vice President all along -- but bowed out a couple weeks ago, leaving Clinton and Sanders. According to an article in our local paper, there is actually still another person running for the Presidential nomination, a businessman from San Diego named Rocky De La Fuente. I'd never heard of him until I saw his name in the paper. According to Wikipedia, his name is on the ballot in most states, but if he's campaigning, he's being so low key as to be nonexistent. At this point, he seems to be functioning as "None of the Above."

Anyway, before the primary season had barely started the Democrats were down to basically just two candidates. Thanks to the enthusiasm Bernie Sanders generated, Hillary Clinton's stump speech has now evolved into something that sounds like it came straight from Bernie's list of talking points. Every Democrat I know is thoroughly convinced that either one of them would do just fine as the nominee. Depending on the poll, they both can beat a potential Republican nominee, especially if that nominee is (at it appears it will be) The Donald. So what difference does it make which one wins the <insert name of state here> primary? I know both Bernie and Hillary have followers who are passionate about their particular candidate -- we're hearing the usual "If he/she is the nominee, I won't vote in November" bullshit -- but most people don't get that worked up. They look at the candidates, they hear them saying essentially the same thing, and they decide they don't care which one ends up on the ballot for the general election.

The Michigan primary is this coming Tuesday, March 8. The S.O. and I will be voting, but it won't be because we have strong feelings one way or the other about a particular candidate. It's because there are also two local millage renewals on the ballot. If it wasn't for those millages, we'd probably skip it. So would most people. I cheerfully predict, in fact, that our county will be another one that gets described as having low turnout on the part of the Democrats while unusually high numbers of Republicans vote. The Republicans have a side show going on so everyone wants to get a glimpse of the tattooed lady. The Democrats? Two people who have behaved like adults (so far) and keep giving speeches that talk about actual issues. Boring. Not worth worrying about. Whoever the nominee is, it'll be fine -- we know they're both grown-ups.

In short, I don't think we can read much into voter participation rates at this point. If anything, Democrats should be relieved the primary process for them has been fairly low key -- so far all the Republicans have managed to do is slide ever deeper into the muck while terrifying the rest of us. The convention is in July. There's going to be plenty of time between then and the first Tuesday in November to fire up the base.

As for me and the S.O., the big question for us when we vote in next week's open primary comes down to do we want to do a replay of 2000 and help toss a spanner in the works for the Republicans, or do we feel the Bern and maybe contribute a little to keeping the pressure on Hillary to walk farther away from Wall Street. Decisions, decisions. ..


  1. being a yellowdog democrat..I really don't care if it's bern or long as they beat anyone of those assholes..

  2. You are right. Bernie won the Maine caucus, but my wife and I didn't show up and vote. Caucus suck. But you can safely bet we will show up at the election.
    the Ol'Buzzare


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