On Pre-Primary Thoughts

Maryland votes today.

In what some might consider an ironic turn, I received yesterday my official John Edwards ’08 t-shirt. (The magnetic bumper sticker? Still on back-order.) The order was placed, a donation made, and then… Edwards suspended his campaign.

Edwards is still on the ballot here in Maryland. At least, according to the state’s election office, he’s on the ballot. (For that matter, on the Republican side, so too are Rudy Guiliani, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. Though all three have left the nominating race, I will note that Thompson’s campaign in Maryland is as vigorous as his campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire were.)

If it’s true, that Edwards is on the ballot, then I’ll cast my ballot for Edwards. I’ve been a supporter of his message of economic justice and the “Two Americas” since his last presidential campaign in 2004. (Which is why pundits who said that Edwards’ move to the left in this campaign was inauthentic always bothered me — did they not pay attention to his campaign rhetoric in 2004? Edwards’ message may have been a lot more honed this time around, but it was the same message.)

My friend my friend, Geoff Trowbridge asked a week ago, in reflecting on the Super Tuesday results, “Who is in this retarded 10% of voters that are still casting ballots for John Edwards?” And Edwards did, in places, pull ten percent. Mainly from absentee ballots cast before the suspension of his campaign, but there were voters who consciously pulled the ballot lever for Edwards, knowing that he was no longer actively seeking the nomination.

Geoff asks a good question. Why would people vote for a suspended campaign?

I think it’s very simple.

It’s the message.

In a general election, voting to send a message is a fool’s game — Nader ’00, anyone?

But in a primary? In a primary you’re voting as much for the ideas and the party’s direction as you are for the candidate. The candidate may embody certain ideas, and by voting for that candidate you’re voting for those ideas. In short, a primary vote is about setting the direction of the party.

Voting for Edwards will, I think, show the remaining Democratic candidates that they can’t take the left flank of the party for granted. That economic justice, universal health care, and breaking the corporate hold on government are worthy goals of the Democratic Party. Edwards Democrats will vote for the Democratic candidate in the fall, but it shouldn’t be a hold-your-nose vote.

But what if Edwards is not on the ballot? Who would be my second choice?

Honestly?

Hillary Clinton.

Unfortunately, it makes more sense for me to vote Clinton. As a practical matter, she can win the nomination and the White House, while Edwards cannot.

Yet I don’t believe in Hillary Clinton. I believe in John Edwards. I believe in his message.

(And Barack Obama? He’s America’s answer to Harold Saxon.)

I’ve never voted in a primary that mattered. I’ve never had a candidate I believed in. I think everyone needs to feel that, just once in their lives.

Just once. 🙂

3 thoughts on “On Pre-Primary Thoughts

  1. In a general election, voting to send a message is a fool’s game — Nader ‘00, anyone?

    I truly believed in Ralph Nader back in 2000, which is why I voted for him. I didn’t like Al Gore’s posturing at the time and Bush, well I won’t say what’s already been said a million times before and by folks more eloquent.

    I don’t buy this business that Nader cost Gore the election. If the Al Gore of today had been running then, I fully speculate that Florida would not have mattered at all.

  2. I should have expounded more on my Nader thought.

    Essentially, a majority voted in 2000 for a center-left government. Of course, that’s not what we got.

    I don’t think that Nader had that much of an effect on Gore’s loss in 2000. I think Gore made some major mistakes, from running away from Clinton to picking Joe Lieberman (which was a choice that never made any sense, as it didn’t bring any sense of balance to the ticket).

    I agree. The Al Gore of 2008 would have cleaned Bush 2000’s clock.

  3. I saw your post — cute blog. However, I did a post finding, Senator Clinton to be the American version of Harold Saxon. This wekend I will be at the gallifrey convention here in LA — maybe the issue can be debated.

    Which Democratic candidate is the American Harold Saxon?

    Here come the drums….

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