We're not Talking about Peanut Butter

photo: Gage Skidmore for Weekly Standard

Yesterday I unloaded on the idiocy of letting Bernie unwillingly become 2016's version of Nader and assure the election of a Republican (as Nader most certainly did in 2000).  It's even worse this year because as bad as W was - and that was plenty! - either of the two likely GOP candidates this year will be much, much worse.

I got fewer whines back at me about this than I expected, which might be a sign that people are more savvy about what's realistic this go-round.  Or it might be a sign that nobody reads this stuff....

The ones I got, seem to fall into three categories:

1. That's not how democracy works!  I can vote however I want!

2. We "deserve" a Republican president because we're such sheep and this is the only way to shock us back into awareness.

3. The system is broken; this is why Bernie is not winning the nomination.

I will answer #1 in this post.  Tomorrow and Wednesday I will handle #2 and #3.  And all of this assumes that we're on a downhill coast to Hillary being the Democratic nominee: an assumption I would be more than happy to have popped like a bubble anytime between now and July 28.

First of all, just give me a moment to sit back and ponder how cute it is that you refer to our system of government as "democracy."  This is what people voicing objection #1 invariably call it.  But unless you live in a village of fewer than 500, I promise: you are not under a democratic form of government at any level.

Regardless, you seem very sure about how it's supposed to work.  Well, here is how it does work: about a hundred million people will be voting.  Based on their statistical tendencies, we can predict with enormous confidence that one of the two major-party candidates is going to win.  If we don't like either of them very much, that's too bad for us.

You need to remember that this is not like shopping for peanut butter.  When you are shopping for peanut butter, you can choose Jif or Skippy or Peter Pan.  Millions of people happily choose Jif or Skippy or Peter Pan.  But suppose you don't like Jif or Skippy or Peter Pan?  Well, then, you can go right ahead and buy Betram's Artisanal Peanut Butter or some Mongolian brand you discovered at Trader Mike's or... whatever.  Enjoy the hell out of that.  I don't care.  The fact that you choose to eat peanut butter whose aroma reminds me of yak dung does not really affect me in any way (as long as you eat it in a well-ventilated area, and preferably several miles away from me).

But voting for national office, and especially for President, that does affect me.  This November, we will likely have: a Republican nominee who is toxic and a Democratic nominee who is meh.  You might say, well, that Democratic nominee wasn't my favorite of the Dem field so I will vote for _______ (fill in the blank with anyone who can not even theoretically win, i.e., anyone else on the planet).  If you had to vote and you had to vote for one of the first two, there's no question you would vote for the Democratic nominee.  Absent your deciding to be perverse, that is.  But again: large numbers are at work, and large numbers of people seldom ALL decide to be perverse at once.  So either staying home or voting for a quixotic third-party choice (sorry, Jill Stein: love ya, but it's not going to happen, again this year) are effectively the same thing: you are withholding your vote from the Democrat when it would have offset a vote for the Republican.

And yes, I know how the Electoral College works, and I know the difference between safe and swing states.  But if you really think you can espouse this kind of "write-in Bernie" campaign in New York or Texas and people won't pay attention to it in Ohio, Michigan or Florida, you are even more deluded than you seemed at the beginning.

NOT TO MENTION: if you support your whine about "how democracy is supposed to work" with numeric reasoning around electoral college vote-counts, my only remaining question for you is, how does your head not explode from the cognitive dissonance?

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F