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Why I Voted for Ron Paul in the Michigan Primary

by: nirmal

Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 08:46:20 AM EST


John McCain on "liberal Democrats" participating in the Michigan primary:

But today on his Straight Talk Express bus (powder blue interior with a musty smell), McCain dismissed the idea by imagining what a “liberal Democrat” in Michigan might be thinking. “Oh, gee. I’ll go find out where the polling place is, drive down, take my lunch hour or whatever it is, so I can vote for one of these jerk Republicans.”

Uhhh, not exactly.  My vote for Ron Paul in the primary was motivated by three beliefs:

1.  The Democratic primary is meaningless.  On the other hand, voting in the Republican primary actually has an impact on the race.

2.  Voting in the Republican primary effectively penalizes the MDP and the MRP for their power grab.

3.  The rise of Ron Paul is harmful to the well-being of the Republican party as it exists today.

nirmal :: Why I Voted for Ron Paul in the Michigan Primary
The Democratic primary is meaningless

Last time I checked, elections are supposed to tell us who the public thinks is most qualified for a particular office.  The Democratic primary fails this basic "gut check."

There are a lot of people who are going to be confused when they see that their favorite candidate isn't on the ballot.  Some will vote "Uncommitted," some will vote for another candidate, and some will write-in their favorite candidate anyway.  Simply because voters will be doing all three, the outcome isn't representative of true public sentiment.

So what's so bad about voting Uncommitted?  Voting "Uncommitted" is like saying "hey, someone else, decide my vote for me."  It's fundamentally undemocratic, and irrelevant to the nomination process.  For me, voting in the Democratic primary only legitimizes an inherently illegitimate process.  The Republican primary, on the other hand, actually has relevance to their nomination contest.

Voting in the Republican primary effectively penalizes the MDP and the MRP for their power grab.

Every political actor who arranged for the January 15 primary was motivated by self-interest, or a desire to see Michigan play a more important role in the nomination process.

I agree that the current Presidential nominating process is completely flawed.  Iowa and NH voters aren't any more deserving, informed, or representative of America than voters from any other state.  I personally advocate a rotating regional system that is skewed toward smaller states going first.

But Michigan agreed to the DNC rules, and understood the consequences of violating them.  Knowing fully well that the candidates pledged to ignore any state that pushed its primary up, they did it anyway.  And in attempting to increase our relevancy, the Governor, legislature, and state parties actually made us irrelevant.

Even more alarming, at least $10 million of public money is going to spent on this farce.  Even though the primary is publicly funded, only the state parties control the voter lists, a valuable resource.  In what world is that morally justifiable?  Are party loyalists so devoted to the Democratic leadership in Michigan that they lose sight of that?

There's no doubt that the individual turnout data from the primary is critically important.  Partisan primary vote history is usually a strong predictor of an individual's self-reported party ID and candidate support -- both of which are of immense value to anyone running a political campaign.

So, the best way to penalize both parties is to give them shit data.  The more "crossovers" there are, the less meaningful the information about this particular election becomes.

The rise of Ron Paul is harmful to the well-being of the Republican party as it exists today.

Kos believes that a Romney win in Michigan hurts the Republicans the most.  I disagree -- the rise of Ron Paul is incredibly harmful to the well-being of the Republican coalition.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm an economic populist and Ron Paul's core views are antithetical to everything I believe in.  His libertarian vision of drowning government in a bathtub is nothing short of repulsive.  A vote for Ron Paul isn't a gesture of support, but a strategic decision to maximize impact.

Ron Paul's presence in the race fractures the Republican coalition.  The more he rises, the more the Republican establishment tries to shut him down.  Every time this happens, his supporters become increasingly alienated from the Republican party.  Remember when Saul Anuzis wanted to exclude Ron Paul from the debates, and his supporters went nuts?

If Ron Paul ends up running as a libertarian or independent, he'll take a lot of otherwise Republican voters with him.  We might be in trouble with voters who are attracted to his antiwar stance, but it could actually force the Democratic presidential nominee to move to the left on Iraq.  There is a clear benefit to encouraging him to stay in the race.

Democrats are not going to win Ron Paul's libertarian-leaning supporters on economic issues.  If we can't have these people on our side, and if the Republicans aren't really representing their viewpoint, we might as well do everything we can to relegate them to a third party.  Looking at the New Hampshire exits, there appear to be cross-pressures between Ron Paul supporters and the rest of the Republicans on the Iraq war and feelings about the Bush administration.  After being alienated from a Republican party that doesn't want them, we can use these issues to pick up Ron Paul supporters that will vote for our candidates.
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I think you're right
on # three. And if I voted today that is how I would be voting. Ron Paul on the ballot as a third party candidate is the best thing that could happen to insure a Democratic win. The only thing to stop me from voting for Ron Paul will be if the Hillary Haters continue motivating me to support her to the point where I protest their actions by voting for her.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ron Paul will stay in the race
and keep raking in dough from his supporters if he doesn't win Michigan (and he won't). A few percentage points more for him won't mean much. The media and Republican leaders will ignore him regardless.

But Mitt needs to win Michigan to stay alive. He's the only Republican who needs Michigan. One might argue that Thompson needs a good showing, too, but does anyone even notice whether Thompson is in the race? Keep the Republican field large. Keep the Republican field divisive. Keep Mitt in the race.

[ Parent ]
1. The Democratic Primary is only POTENTIALLY meaningless.

A. The Horse Race. If Sen. Hillary Clinton performs poorly -- say, less than 70% -- against Uncommitted, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Sen. Mike Gravel, then that is a black eye for her campaign leading into South Carolina and Nevada. Conversely, if she sweeps all of the potential delegates (that is, no one else manages 15%), then she scores a win, adding to her New Hampshire momentum. The media, obsessed with the horse-race aspect of this contest, will make a lot of noise either way.

B. Kingmakers? If the MDP, Carl Levin and Debbie Dingell are right, in the end the Michigan delegation will be credentialed by the DNC. Say a bloc of those delegates are Uncommitted, and for some reason neither Clinton nor Sen. Barack Obama has a clear majority: Suddenly the Michigan delegates gain some real power. The chances of this are low, but not zero.

2. Grabbing a Republican ballot doesn't penalize the state parties.

Both parties will get both lists. It's a stupid law, but like it or not, so far it has survived judicial challenges.

One thing that will happen if there are more GOP votes than Democratic: Saul Anuzis and Mike Bishop will claim victory, and pronounce that Michigan is now "in play" for November -- especially if Romney wins.

If the national GOP thinks Michigan is winnable, they will pour assets into the state, which will benefit Republican candidates all the way down the ballot. I don't think we want that.

Taking a Democratic Party ballot is the best way to blunt the impact of what could be a big GOP win in terms of turnout.

3. Ron Paul is going to do his thing no matter what happens here on Tuesday.

The release of newsletters bearing Paul's name going back 30 years show him -- or (being extremely charitable) staffers and volunteers chosen by Paul and writing on his behalf -- to be a racist, anti-Semitic homophobe with a belief that the Civil War was wrong. Such a person doesn't deserve anyone's vote, no matter what his rhetoric is about the war.

"Fortunately" for us, his particular form of sorta-Libertarian craziness is going to draw about 5% of the vote no matter what we do here tomorrow. He's primed to jump and give the national Libertarian Party its best showing ever -- all of it coming from the GOP side. That's going to happen whether a few thousand rogue Michigan Democrats give him protest votes or not.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison

Should we try to predict the future?
The Democratic Primary is only POTENTIALLY meaningless.

It is CURRENTLY meaningless as of today.  The political prognostication skills of the luminaries who got us in this mess is demonstrably poor, so I am not confident of their being correct at the end.

[ Parent ]
One prediction we can be sure of is that, if too many people cross over, we WILL see Saul and Sen. Hair Gel crow about Republican vs. Democratic turnout, declaring "victory" regardless of the number of caveats.

The last thing we need is to give the impression that Democratic support here is "soft" or that Michigan is winnable for the GOP in November.

Both of which will happen if there are significantly more Republican ballots than Democratic.


"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison

[ Parent ]
interesting perspective...

Thanks for the detailed analysis on this issue.  I understand your desire to make your voice heard and show your distaste for the debacle that is the Michigan Primary. I agree with you on #1 and #3, but maybe not as much on #2.  But the real reason that I personally cannot vote for Ron Paul is that I subscribe to the theory that by voting for a candidate, I endorse that candidate and his/her platform.

For me, a vote for Ron Paul is a vote against Choice, for Racism and Hate and against Public Education.   Candidates are judged on the issues and by the people who advise them.  Voters are judged by the candidaets for whom they vote.

Do stupid people know they are stupid?

It's not a vote for Ron Paul
It's a vote to siphon votes from the Republican nominee in the GE. By doing this, I not only get to vote for  the eventual Democratic candidate come November, I also can take satisfaction in knowing I helped take votes from the Republican candidate(if indeed Ron Paul is on the ballot).  

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Parent ]
The man vs. the nominee...
I keep saying ... the only thing you're voting for is who will represent the Republican Party come November.  One wonders how well the Republicans would do at the polls with a raging xenophobe as their nominee (or at least peeling off the raging xenophobes in the party)...

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Don't Throw Your Vote Away - Vote for Ron Paul
Instead of casting a meaningless vote on the Democrat's ticket, you can vote in the Republican primary, helping bring a "win-win" ballot for the 2008 Presidential election by voting for Ron Paul. The war in Iraq has consistently rated the highest issue important to voters. Another issue not polled which I'm sure matters to voters is the restoration of our civil liberties.

Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate who is against the Iraq war and for the restoration of our civil liberties. All of the Democrats oppose the war in Iraq, so by voting for Ron Paul in the Republican primary you can help create a "win-win" 2008 Presidential ballot. It will be an anti-war, pro civil liberties Democrat versus an anti-war, pro civil liberties Republican. No matter who wins the election, the war will end and our civil liberties will be restored.

Think for yourselves - don't listen to the Neo-Conservative propaganda. They don't want him to win. Ron Paul will just undo all the hard work they've done chipping away at our Constitution Rights.

Please read Ron Paul's positions on the issues. Look at his voting record over the 10 terms he has been in Congress - then, help us out in Michigan.

Thanks for your concern.
Nice of you to show up the day before the election and copy and paste a spam e-mail I've gotten four times today into the body of a comment.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
You would think they would at least
come up with a new piece of spam to chew on.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Parent ]
I wonder
how many people in Weimar Germany thought they were casting an FU vote...

Did I just invoke Godwin?

That was quick n/t

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Parent ]
I agree Nirmal
I will also be voting for Ron Paul tomorrow. I explained my reasoning in my dairy about the Great Michigan Primary Debacle of 2008.


"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams, speech at the Pennsylvania State House, August 1, 1776

I get where you're coming from
Back around the time of Iowa I was strongly leaning towards Paul as a protest vote. But he's no longer an amusing Libertarian to me. Read the excerpts from the Paul newsletters. They're chilling.

Yes, the Primary is a Debacle for the Democrats this time.

A strong showing for Ron Paul would be a second Debacle.

Protest votes for Paul won't undo the first, or change his decision to bolt the GOP. Besides, if and when he does, any delegates pledged to him would be irrelevant anyway.

And how far do you suggest we take this protest? Will we see Democrats gathering petitions to put Paul on the November ballot?

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison

[ Parent ]
I just got done casting my vote for Ron Paul...
...and then I came home with a hot-and-ready and flipped on the tv.  Michigan is the talk of the town on all the cable news networks, nice to see the state get some attention I think.

Maybe the Parties, Legislature and Governor weren't crazy for holding this primary.  Was this all a grand scheme by the aforementioned politicos to give Michigan a front seat nation-wide on it's own day where there's an open primary, and only one party truly competing.  Coverage at poll closing time will be widely watched nation-wide and candidates were forced to spend a collective couple million bucks in the state and make commitments relating to Michigan's dire situation.  I think we'll be better off for.

Excuse the rambling, just a few thoughts!  My suggestion on handling the various dilemmas inherently existent for Democrats who want to participate today (ie.  "should I take a Democratic ballot so that the R's don't get a turn-out win" or "should I vote 'uncommited'")

1.  If you decide to take a Democratic ballot, vote for one of the candidates who actually had the courtesy to allow us to print their names on our ballots!  Don't vote "uncommited."

2.  If you opt to participate in the Republican primary, then vote for Ron Paul.  

Have you actually read
the pledge the candidates signed?

It is reproduced here.

It could be interpreted that everyone should have removed their names from the ballot...

THEREFORE, I ___________, Democratic Candidate for President, pledge I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as "campaigning" is defined by rules and regulations of the DNC.

[ Parent ]

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