Today is Super Tuesday.
This week a couple of candidates dropped out and threw their support to another one in an effort to neutralize a different one. In all of that there has been a lot of talk about strategy and game theory and electability and who is rallying around whom, why they’re doing it and how it might impact the race. As someone with a political science degree and at least a small bit of experience with electoral politics it’s interesting to me in a certain way. I put that political past behind me long ago, but when I’m in just the right kind of mood I still appreciate that kind of stuff on and intellectual level.
For now, though, I’ll say just two things about all that:
(1) Don’t let anyone tell you that all the jockeying is “unfair” or a “conspiracy” or something, because the first rule of politics is that there are no rules other than “do what you have to do within the law to win.” On the candidate’s side it has always been about brute force. About coopting your former enemies if you can and freezing out those enemies you can’t co-opt. It’s just part of the exercise in the system we have. At the end of it all the only thing that matters is getting more of your voters to the polls than your opponent can get to the polls, and as long as that competition is conducted legally, complaining that the other side has it in for you or whatnot is beside the point.
(2) All that being said, you as a voter do not have to be a participant in that. You are not a paid pundit or a political operative. You do not have to play their games. You all should vote for who you want to vote for. Who you think would be the best president. Do not let yourself be shamed or bullied into backing any candidate for whatever reason putatively smart people think you should. You don’t get extra credit for being savvy or sagely cynical.
I won’t tell you who to vote for. I have my preferences and, if you’ve read even a fraction of the stuff I’ve written about politics on this site you probably have a good guess as to what they are, but I do not think I have a monopoly on wisdom.
I would ask, however, that when you vote, you at least try to think of the future. Of ends beyond merely your preferred candidate simply winning the election. About how this country could be made better. About which candidate is more likely to begin to put an end to the things we’re doing wrong — including the way we run our political system — and begin to put into motion things that will improve people’s lives.
We can aim higher than simply getting a bad president out of office. We can do that while also trying to make the world and the lives of people living in it better. We deserve better. There is nothing naive or shameful about believing that and about trying to make that happen.