To Vote In Primaries
And Not Be An Idiot
By David Swanson
A Short Instructions
Virtually nobody votes in primaries (or caucuses) compared to general
elections. Therefore, each individual primary vote is worth many times
what it is in the general election. And, it's more likely to be counted,
since there's typically less fraud and abuse of the system in primaries.
So, if you vote in general elections, you pretty much have to vote in
primaries in order to not be an idiot. Bring a few friends to vote too,
and you're practically a genius.
2. If you
have to join a party that you don't support in order to vote in a primary,
you can always unjoin again immediately after the primary. In the meantime,
maybe you'll have helped to create a party you can support. You can
even vote in a primary without planning to vote in the general election.
If the 50% of Americans who don't vote at all (or even a small fraction
of them) voted in primaries, they would determine the candidates in
the general elections, in which they might then choose to vote as well.
3. If there's
no candidate you like in a primary, you can write one in. A relatively
very small amount of organizing can even lead to a victory for that
candidate. (Or some signature gathering could place your candidate's
name on the ballot.)
4. If there
is a good candidate on the ballot, then an extremely small amount of
organizing can lead to a victory for that candidate. And something short
of a victory can still mean some number of delegates for your candidate
going to the party's convention from your state, or momentum for your
candidate in future states. Primaries, unlike general elections, are
not winner-take-all. (You can even become a delegate for your candidate
and get a trip to a convention out of this.)
5. In most
presidential elections, the party's nominee is decided before many states
hold their primaries. So, for most people, the point of voting is not
to choose the nominee. (And therefore almost nobody votes, opening the
door to effective action by non-idiots.) The point is also not to "show
support and loyalty" for a nominee already chosen (democracies
have no need for such displays, which are best suited to another type
of regime). Rather, the point is to elect as many delegates as possible
for the candidate whose positions you most favor, so that those delegates
can influence the party's platform and the nominee's positions at the
convention, or even make your candidate the vice presidential nominee.
6. In early
states, surprise underdog candidates can build momentum, and voting
for such a candidate does not entail spoiling the primary for a mediocre
candidate who you believe has a better chance of defeating the worst
candidate. This is because it takes several states over a period of
days or weeks for one candidate to lock down a victory. A surprising
showing for an underdog candidate with dramatically distinct positions
can put that candidate into the running in the minds of future voters,
and can very quickly move the mediocre candidates to become better than
mediocre, and therefore better able to compete in future states.
voters almost do not exist. Fewer than 4% of voters in 2004 ever planned
to vote for Kerry and switched to Bush or vice versa. So, appealing
to one's own base and turning those people out to vote is key to winning
the general election. Therefore, Democrats who want to win the general
election, for example, should nominate the most Democratic, not the
most Republican, candidate in the primaries. (Republicans already know
corporate polls that purport to tell us who is most "viable"
and "electable" are primarily a product of corporate media
coverage and spin, much of which is "coverage" of the previous
polls. The way to determine which candidate is most viable begins by
canceling your newspaper subscriptions and recycling your television.
9. In a democracy,
the most electable candidate is the candidate whom the most people actually
like. The most reliable gauge available to any of us of whom people
will like is whom we ourselves personally and honestly most like. Therefore,
there can be no distinction between whom you like and whom you consider
"viable." The candidate you most like, honestly, in your own
considered private opinion, is the most viable candidate. And you can
make that even more so if you lead by example. Don't just vote, but
campaign, promote, and contribute, as much and as early as you can.
"To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for
you in your private heart is true for all men [and women], -- that is
genius." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
10. The following
are majority positions among Americans, and overwhelmingly majority
positions among Democrats: end the occupation of Iraq, impeach the vice
president, create single-payer not-for-profit universal health coverage,
withdraw from corporate trade agreements like NAFTA, and slash the Pentagon
budget in order to invest in diplomacy, foreign aid, education, jobs,
and green energy. Only one candidate supports this platform. He came
in third in MoveOn.org's poll, and then second in Democrats.com's, then
first in Democracy for America's, and most recently first in Progressive
Democrats of America's poll. These are polls done outside the corporate
media, polls of progressive activists. His campaign is where the energy
is, but it is energy that must resist the influence of the corporate
media. Our country and our planet are in peril, and we have no viable
alternative. Nobody else comes close. His name is Dennis Kucinich.
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