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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Some Thoughts about the 2016 Election

I wanted to record a few thoughts I had about this election cycle and who I voted for in my first election cycle as a registered Democrat.

I want to start by addressing the subject of the primaries/caucuses.  More specifically, I want to talk about the closed primaries, particularly in light of the complaints about New York.  The purpose of the primary or caucus is for a *PARTY* to select its presidential candidate for the fall.  Since the parties are private groups that you have to join, they have every right to pick and choose who they want to/not to vote in their primaries.  Saying that everyone should be able to vote in any primary/caucus that they want is akin to telling any other private group that they have to let non-members have a say in electing their officers.  Sorry, but it doesn't work that way.  This article gives a great explanation about the process.

The closed primary system is why I have never registered as an independent, except for one non-presidential cycle.  I wanted to have a voice in the primary process, so I stayed a registered Republican even though I was growing increasingly distant from the parties political stands.  Information about voting is readily available for anyone who takes time to look, so I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for people who don't know about it because they could have easily found out if they had taken a few minutes to look the information up.  I will say that if there are people who are working 2-3 jobs and didn't have the time to look it up, that is a different story.

I will say that I was surprised to learn that, in New York, you had to pick your party registration in October.  That did seem way too early, so I do feel sympathy for people who wanted to change their parties recently.  In Maryland the same deadline is 21 days before the election, which seems like a much better option to me.  While I would like same day registration, I would not be in favor of same day party affiliation change because that has the potential for a lot of mischief from people switching parties simply to pick a candidate who is weaker or something like that.

That being said, I voted in Maryland's primary last Saturday.  A few weeks ago, I had indicated on my Facebook page that I would be voting for Bernie Sanders.  Even at that time, I was really uncertain which candidate I would vote for because I have things about both of them that I did and did not like.  As I was reflecting on each of the candidates, I realized that I could not bring myself to vote for Bernie Sanders for a couple of reasons.

My first reason is that I have an intense dislike for any sort of populist candidate.  While Sanders is not the same as Trump (and I would never suggest that he is), they do have certain things in common that I cannot stand, populism being the foremost among them.  I will freely admit to being something of an elitist.  In my experience, most people don't spend enough time considering who they are voting for, instead they simply go for who appeals to their emotions, which is a truly poor way to choose an elected official.  Most people act too much like sheep and follow whoever is popular at the moment, leading to a fickle electorate.  I hasten to add that I am not saying that all Sanders (or even Trump) supporters are unthinking sheep, but there are a lot of them out there.  I know of several very thoughtful people who are supporting Sanders (can't say the same for Trump, but you never know!).

My second reason for not supporting Sanders is that he is promising to do things that he has to know will never happen, which can only lead to a disillusioned electorate.  While I agree with a lot of what he stands for, I think that it is better to make fewer, more achievable, promises than many promises that cannot be achieved.  Basically, I ask that the candidate I am supporting show a certain amount of pragmatism and not just idealism.  While ideals are wonderful things, they need to be tempered by what can realistically be achieved.

All this being said, I will be voting for whoever the Democratic candidate is in the fall.  To do otherwise would be tantamount to voting for the Republican candidate, who will be either Cruz or Trump.  Both of them are exceedingly unpalatable choices who are not worthy of the mantle of president.

Just my two cents.  I'll probably write more as the election continues.