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Voting for President: All About Limiting the Damage?

Since Peregrin Wood explained this Spring why he would no longer support a run by Bernie Sanders for President of the United States in 2016, I’ve been thinking about whether I agree and why. Peregrin felt that Sanders went one step too far by voting to confirm David Barron to a prominent position in the federal judiciary. Barron, you see, wrote the legal opinion asserting that the U.S. government can kill its citizens without proof, without trial, indeed even without arrest.

I agree wholeheartedly with Peregrin that this move by Barron makes the relationship between the U.S. Government and its citizens tyrannical. I agree wholeheartedly that Senator Sanders’ vote to confirm Barron is worthy of condemnation. However, I just haven’t been able to take that last step with Peregrin and condemn a Sanders for President candidacy on that basis.

My thoughts on the subject are not settled, but I find myself gravitating toward the following points:

1. The presidency does not attract saints. Rather, it attracts people who have a desire for power. To run for the White House, you’ve got to be egotistical enough to think either that you really are the best choice to wield the power of that office, or unethical enough not to care that someone else could wield power more responsibly than you. In short, anyone who runs for President is likely a major-league asshole, and anyone who takes hold of the presidency is likely to take actions reflecting that fact.

2. The way that the political system is currently set up, power-mad assholes who make promises to other power-mad assholes with money are most likely to make it through the presidential election process, simply because running for president has become an big-budget industrialized business and those who attract the most money tend to win.

3. Given this, the ideal course of action for citizens as a group would be to change the system so that presidential power is more effectively distributed to other offices (dissuading the most power-hungry of aspirants) and so that elections are not so dependent on fundraising.

4. Until that ideal is achieved, voting for the least assholic of the assholes is a reasonable course of action for an individual citizen.

5. Bernie Sanders is a possible presidential aspirant, so we can presumptively classify him as an egotistical ass, but look at his record and it’s hard for a liberal to deny that he’s the least assholic of the assholes. Given the alternatives — staying home and voting for a bigger jerk — it’s reasonable to vote for Sanders.

These are my thoughts. What are yours?

5 comments to Voting for President: All About Limiting the Damage?

  • Tom

    It isn’t going to matter as climate change wreaks havoc with humanity’s ability to grow enough food. Overpopulation and rampant pollution have done significant damage to the Earth and we’ll be going extinct along with most other species before mid-century due to lack of habitat.

  • It’s reasonable to VOTE for Sanders, but it’s not the only good choice.

    Furthermore, is it reasonable to give the Sanders campaign your enthusiastic support? Is it reasonable to spend time and money supporting Sanders for President, when there are alternative liberal activist opportunities available?

    I don’t think so. Voting is a quick action without much opportunity cost. Other campaign activities aren’t so easy.

    I also think there’s a mistake in promoting Bernie Sanders as a great choice for liberals, as if electing him is going to make everything marvelous. That’s the wide-eyed view that Sanders supporters tend to take, and it reminds me of the tone Obama supporters used in 2008. I don’t trust the political strategy of candidate-as-savior any more.

  • Unfortunately, while talking about who to vote for is interesting, according to all polls, Hillary Clinton being elected may be a forgone conclusion.

    There may be several good third party choices as alternatives to Clinton Bush (Hillary and Jeb respectively). With no party machinery behind them, independents have a harder time getting ballot access and I doubt he will receive ballot access in my state. My states is Indiana in case you were wondering.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_third_party_and_independent_presidential_candidates,_2016

    D: Hillary Clinton
    R: Jeb Bush (maybe Chris Christie instead?)
    L: Gary Johnson
    G: Jill Stein
    PF: Roseanne Barr

    Independents
    Terry Jones
    Bernie Sanders

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