Step Away From the Political Blogs
Posted on September 18, 2006 Posted by John Scalzi 29 Comments
It’s getting to be about that time in the election cycle where for my own personal mental safety, I stop reading political blogs. On an average day I can handle the screediness, but now that we’re less than two months out from election day, I find they give me toxic amounts of electoral anxiety, and I don’t really need much of that. I already know for whom I am voting in November: Ted Strickland for Ohio governor, Sherrod Brown for US Senator and no one for US Representative, because I don’t particularly care for John Boehner’s politics, even if he’s got a plum role in the House, and because Boehner’s Democratic candidate, Mort Meier, is so damn hapless that his only real campaign position is that he’s not John Boehner (note his political campaign Web site is not mortmeier.org but victimsofjohnboehner.org, which is like Pepsi selling itself as CokeSucks Cola), and that doesn’t exactly inspire loads of confidence.
So my candidate shopping is done, settled and out of the way. All I need to do now is get my absentee ballot because
that way Diebold can’t change my vote I’ll be away on election day, and I’ll be set. That given, I’m not entirely sure what the benefit for me is in hanging out at a political blog and getting worked up over which candidates who are not mine are up or down on a minute-by-minute basis, or what latest campaign ad outrage is happening in Montana or whatever. This not to say I don’t plan on keeping up with the news — nor that I’ll stop talking about politics here — but there’s a difference between keeping up with news and reading foam-flecked partisans seize with outrage over their keyboards. One is useful for me, one is really not.
Now, this should not be construed as me telling you not to read the political blogs of your preference. Really, do what you want. But I’m going to stay out of them until the first Wednesday of November at least. I expect this will keep me happier and more relaxed than otherwise.
This year, it seems like the key difference between the Republican and Democratic platforms is which version of the Apocalypse they endorse.
Vote Republican: Book of Revelation. Rain of blood, locusts, falling stars, beast with many horns, global thermonuclear war.
Vote Democrat: Eco-tastrophe, New World Order, self-righteous blogging as world disintegrates.
I really wish we had a third party that a.) wasn’t nuts, and b.) didn’t plug Armageddon as a key platform plank.
You’re right, and it’s time to re-examine my RSS feeds. I was beginning to suffer from outrage exhaustion, anyway.
Hurray for moderation!
It’s bad enough that I can’t screen out the visual polution known as road-side political signs, the least I can do is not volunteer for such idiocy.
Whenever I don’t like the choices that the major parties have provided for me, I vote for the libertarian or other minor party candidate. I figure if a lot of people started doing this, the rising percentage votes for minor parties might (not would, but might) shake up the reps and dems just a little.Also, whenever anyone is running “unopposed” (which usually means the other major party didn’t field a candidate) I vote for a minor candidate whether or not I like the unopposed candidate.
Last week, in the New York State Democratic Primary, we had a choice of Hillary Clinton and some guy who’s name I can’t remember.
I voted for the nameless guy, just so Clinton couldn’t claim a “mandate”. I’m proud that I was partially responsible for holding her down to 83%.
TAKE THAT HILLARY!!!!!
That’s OK, Nathan. In a year or so she will resign from the senate to run for president. Maybe the NY governor will appoint the guy whose name you can’t remember to replace her, and you will have won after all.
I know you’ve made up your mind, but can I still suggest you do vote for Mort Meier, even if he is hapless, just to help the Democratic Party get control of the House?
The US desperately needs to get at least one branch of government away from the Republicans before it is totally wrecked.
“Can I still suggest you do vote for Mort Meier, even if he is hapless, just to help the Democratic Party get control of the House?”
The fact that the Democrats have fielded a schmoe in this district and given him absolutely no support on the national level suggests to me that the Dems have no illusion they’re going to take Boehner’s seat. If they’re not going to make the effort for this dude, I’m not entirely sure why I should, especially because I’m not a Democrat. Especially since I’m not otherwise impressed with him or his platform.
I reserve the right to change my mind on the matter between now and November, but right now I’m inclined to not.
Your description of Meier’s campaign reminds me of my feeling of the entire Democratic Party’s strategy in 2004. “Vote for us: we’re not Republicans.” And John Kerry’s ever-popular “I’m not George Bush.” They’re a frakking national party: they get the money, the easy ballot access, and the publicity (at the expense of the others, perhaps?). Shouldn’t they be required to actually have viable ideas and platforms? Either that, or get them out of the way and let some other parties in.
Nameless guy in 2008!!!!
Martin Wisse: As much as I want the Democrats to regain control of (at least) the House, I won’t ask anyone to vote for a candidate that doesn’t offer solutions. If Mort Meier is only running on not being John Boehner then he does not deserve to win.
ianrandalstrock: During the 2004 campaign, the Kerry/Edwards camp published a book outlining their positions on lots of issues. While it certainly had its share of criticism of the Bush administration, it was more about how they planned to fix the problems facing the country, whether they were Bush’s fault or not. It didn’t get much air-time from the media because it didn’t fit with the Republican meme that the Democrats don’t have any ideas.
“Whenever I don’t like the choices that the major parties have provided for me, I vote for the libertarian or other minor party candidate.”
Yeah, Jon! A man after my own heart. I’ve been a protest voter ever since I could vote (back in the Stone Age). Be aware, however, that every once in a while the impossible happens and a protest vote ends up winning. Who in their right minds ever thought Jesse Ventura would actually win the governorship of Minnesota?!?
Yeah, speaking as a proud owner of a “My Governor Can Beat Up Your Governor” t-shirt and a Jesse: The Governor doll (still in its original packaging so that I can sell it for millions if he runs for President), I’m wary of protest votes unless I really honestly do prefer the candidate I’m voting for.
(I didn’t vote for Jesse. I voted for Skip Humphery. I was optimistic that Jesse would do a good job, though, and was really disappointed.)
“I figure if a lot of people started doing this, the rising percentage votes for minor parties might (not would, but might) shake up the reps and dems just a little.”
Woo! I do this too. I hate only having two choices. It’s my only way (besides my political affilation as “independent”) to protest the current duopoly. If one of the two main parties have a candidate who represents my ideals, then I’ll vote for them, but I refuse to be sucked into the us-or-them drama. The cynic in me says the conflict is generated purely to make money (for the media, the lobbists, the political machine). The idealist in me says it’s because they’re deluded. It’s probably both.
I’m not surprised that no third party has yet cracked the big time, but I am surprised that the two major parties have not yet splintered.
Nobody would ever confuse a Democrat in Georgia with a Democrat in New York, and yet we use the same name to designate each. I think each of the parties should split into two or three sub-parties, to more accurately describe the people they’re representing.
That way, a primary race in Ohio might feature a Socialist Democrat running against a Conservative Democrat, or a NeoConservative Republican running against a Freedom Republican. Either way, the winner represents the umbrella party for control-of-legislature issues, but our candidates aren’t forced into political straight jackets.
That way people who feel like “the parties don’t represent my views” would have candidates with different articulated opinions, and might feel more a part of the political process.
Don’t worry, the machines they use for counting the absentee ballots are also made by Diebold. In fact, here in CA we had a problem where the machines were miscounting the votes. Turns out there was a bug with using multi-processor machines to run the software. The solution was not, as some simpletons might expect, to fix the bug. Instead, they replaced the multi-processor machines with single processor ones. Diebold – they have my vote! Whether I want them to or not…
Strickland used to be my rep, and there’s no way I’d vote for him for governor (if I still lived in Ohio). But then, I’d be pretty inclined to vote for Boehner, so I’ll assume that we’d disagree on candidates and that I can’t convince you. :)
Coincidentally, I used to live in Ohio and now live in Sterling, VA, and you apparently used to live in Sterling and now live in Ohio. Anyway, I get to choose between Allen and Webb for Senate this year, which is not a great choice but I will probably stick with Allen, unless I go the no vote route. (I no voted for rep last election, when I lived in Falls Church and had the choice of either Jim Moran, who I despise with the fire of a thousand burning suns, or a generic Bushy Republican who I don’t even remember anymore. No thanks.) For rep, I’m not really convinced about Frank Wolf yet, but he’s not Jim Moran or Ted Strickland or Jim Trafficant (if you think I hate Jim Moran…), my previous reps as far back as I’ve been politically aware, so I’m already happier than I have been before.
I tend to stay away from most political blogs anyway… I read Instapundit, and I like Glenn a lot, but he’s not big on the outrage thing.
“For rep, I’m not really convinced about Frank Wolf yet”
I really liked Frank Wolf, and happily voted for him, although he had a number of positions that weren’t my own. I found him to be an honest and able public servant.
Thanks for the endorsement. Honestly I haven’t looked into him that much yet, and I’ve only lived here 6 months or so. Does remind me I should figure it out soon though.
I think my parents are both voting for Blackwell, so my own poll is now showing Blackwell at a 2-1 lead over Strickland. ;) Though while I don’t like Strickland as I said before, I can definitely understand not wanting to vote for anyone associated with Bob Taft…
I like what Kevin Q said about parties splintering. Our legislature isn’t really set up for multiple parties like many parlimentary systems are, but it would be nice. I keep seeing a lot of dissatisfaction from both sides, so I too am surprised that the parties are holding together… it’ll be interesting to watch, anyway.
Nameless Guy is still hard at work on his PhD. I’m afraid he’ll be too busy preparing to defend to run in 2008.
Even if I back away from the political blogs, and even if I click through every ad on the tube (and California got started with the ballot initiative ads back in, what…January? March?), there’s still one way The Bastards Will Get Me: junk mail. Because I’m one of those idiots who votes in every election, that means my house is inundated with flyers and glossy postcards from Friends For The Fighting Of The Negation Of The Proposition To Allow The Clubbing Of Baby Seals In Order To Feed The Homeless To The Whales. And from their opponents, too.
I’ve gotten to the point where I vote for whoever bugs me the least. So, sorry, baby seals. It’s clubbin’ time.
Here’s a bit of cogent alarmism. I’m citing it to provide food for thought on the concept that there’s no reason to vote for a lousy/mediocre Democratic candidate that the party isn’t even supporting. The link is to a bit of civilized fearmongering. You might well argue that allowing pro-Democrat rhetoric to frighten you into casting a vote for a doofus is no different than allowing pro-Republican rhetoric to frighten you into casting a vote for a doofus.
But, Tristero succeeds in scaring me.
(You certainly might fill some screens rebutting Tristero’s underlying belief that “there are no good Republicans.” My own feeling is that there are probably large numbers of good and reasonable voters registered Republican. But after enough time watching the Spector/McCain/Graham dance with Bush’s administration, I’m not convinced that these “opposition” forces in Congress will vote sanely if Bush does try to start World War III. And I’m not as sure as you may be that Bush & Cheney are “sane” criminals.
I too, need to take a break from the political blogs once in a while. I find I get jittery and on edge after I’ve been reading for a few months. I keep all the political blogs in a folder in my newsreader: when it comes time to lay off the sauce for a w–er, stop reading for a while, I just close up the folder and don’t look at it. I get more work done, too. Funny that. I always fall off the wagon though.
I am an independent, and in the past I have tended to vote for third party candidates because neither major party represents my own views.
But I will vote for any Democrat on the federal ticket this year, no questions asked. They can appear on live TV sodomizing a cat and smoking crack. Don’t care, for three reasons:
1) We can’t take two more years of this administration without oversight. Six years have been bad enough. The dems will politicize it, and they’ve been a pathetic opposition party to date, but I don’t see any other way to check the power of this administration before they do more harm. The dems must get a majority in at least one house of congress. This is the time to hold our noses and vote for the democratic crack-smoking cat sodomizer.
2) A democratic vote is a protest vote against the GOP, who have failed conservatives and the nation so spectacularly. They republicans deserve some serious hurt, and voting for the nameless guy in that other party won’t cause the same pain as voting for a democrat. Heck, losing to a recklessly incompetent democrat is like bonus pain! We can give the dems and the whole electoral system a protest vote later on when the rule of law isn’t an open question and torture isn’t something that is debatable.
3) The democratic margin needs to be large, or the republicans will have an opportunity to steal the election. It has to be a landslide, so that any fudging is obvious. (Pre-election polls and exit polls are wildly off from the results.)
Maybe not an issue everywhere, but as an Ohio resident, I don’t trust Blackwell and the election system he supervises. I mean, shit, Blackwell’s running for office and running the election process. And Blackwell has taken umbrage at suggestions that he should recuse himself. How can that possibly be OK?
I was remiss to mention the whole cat sodomy thing without the obligatory link. (http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/002809.html)
As a Canadian, I always feel bad for Americans, with their two-party system. Only two parties? And, from an outside perspective, it seems that most people are either R or D, and not much switching back and forth. How horrible. Now, we’ve got the Liberals (who screwed up so badly that they finally got dropped from top dog status), the Conservative Party (who are a new party, made up of Progressive Conservatives and Alliance (who used to be Reform)), New Democrats. These are our three main parties that cover most of the country. There’s also the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec only (but don’t despair, there’s enough votes there that they were actually the opposition for a few years, which in itself is ironic, since their entire mandate is to separate from Canada). Then there’s the Green Party, the Rhino Party, some party out west that likes weed, plus various itsy parties like the Family whatever, and the Communists, and whatever else.
Unfortunately, reading political blogs is still not that much fun, unless there’s a particular scandal going on. Otherwise, it’s always variations of “you’re in charge right now therefore you suck” kind of stuff.
Because of stress causing both my blood pressure and my blood sugar to rise to unhealthy levels, I’ve already given up political blogs until there is sanity there. Which probably means that I’ve given them up for good.