Businesslike Voting

Voting is more businesslike than romantic. Every four years, you get to choose between two (and only two) Presidential candidates. One way or another, one of them will become President. Voting and campaigning are your ways to help decide which one it will be.

It’s not like romance, when you decide whether you’re really in love or not. You can’t choose to be single, because you’re going to have a President no matter what you do. You can’t wait for someone else to come along, because these choices are made from a two-person menu every four years. And finally, you almost never will find a candidate worth falling in love with.

On a scale of one to ten (with five “sort of OK”) you’re going to find a lot more ones and twos (very bad leaders) than you are nines and tens (very good ones) — in other words, it’s not a normal bell curve, but instead a curve which is fat on the bottom and gets thinner the higher up you go (like the graph for any other form of competitive accomplishment).

It’s really the way of the world; being good is a tremendous, difficult accomplishment, whereas being bad is easy and can just be from laziness, ignorance, bad luck, carelessness, etc. (And the best guys in the world, the Lincolns, if you look at them closely, are imperfect).

So anyway, it’s rare to have a perfect candidate you really admire, and it’s common to have a horrible candidate who scares you. If you have the horrible candidate, it’s pretty much your duty to vote for the sort-of-OK candidate, since in our system you only get the two meaningful choices.

Deliberately not voting is OK if the election is inconsequential or the candidates about the same. And it’s OK if you have given up on the US and are planning to emigrate. It’s just barely OK if one candidate isn’t too bad and you want to “send a message” to the other party (the mistake I made in 2000).

Note:: voting for a third-party candidate is the effective equivalent of not voting, though it does send a more intelligible message to the party you’re boycotting.

Voting isn’t like marriage. It’s a routine thing you do every four years.Your own personal involvement in a candidate you don’t especially like is really nothing at all. You don’t need True Love. You really don’t want to die of a broken heart when The Only One never shows up.

So does this mean that I’m lukewarm about Kerry? Not really. It would be impossible for me to like any candidate as much as I dislike Bush. This is partly because Bush is as bad as he is, and it’s partly because it’s really not reasonable to hope to be in love with candidate for President.

(This post is based on a comment I made in Dan’s thread below.)