WHEN NOT TO VOTE FOR A CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT
By Bill Sizemore
There are times when it makes sense for a conservative voter to choose a conservative Democrat candidate over a liberal Republican or moderate Republican. Usually in local government races, such as for a city council or county commission seat, voting for the best man or woman makes more sense than simply voting based on party affiliation.
However, there are times when voting for a conservative Democrat over a squishy liberal Republican is actually the wrong thing for a conservative to do. Such a vote could seriously undermine all of the issues conservatives support. This fact is due to something called the “first vote principle.” It is a little known fact that the first vote a legislator or congressman casts is usually his or her most important vote.
The “first vote principle” works like this: When a candidate wins his election and takes his seat, whether in the State Legislature or the United States Congress, the first vote that candidate casts is called the “organizational” vote, the vote to determine who will be the next Speaker of the House or the President (or Majority Leader) of the Senate.
The person who wins that position will call the shots and run the show in the House or Senate for the next term. That person will appoint the chairpersons for all of the committees where all of the bills will be heard - or not heard, as the case may be. The Speaker or Majority Leader will decide which bills will get a hearing, which bills will get a vote in committee, and which bills will get a vote on the floor. Speakers and Majority Leaders usually dictate such matters with an iron hand. If they decide a bill is going to die a silent death in obscurity, that’s the way it will be.
Here’s the rub: If you vote for a conservative Democrat, that Democrat will vote for a member of his own party to be the leader of that body. That is the case 99.9 percent of the time. A conservative Democrat from the deep South, for example, will vote for ultra-liberal Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco to return as Speaker of the House, if Democrats maintain majority control. Philosophically, he may be a conservative, but he will vote for Ms. Pelosi to be Speaker. You can take that to the bank.
If Democrats maintain their majority, the chances that a Democrat congressman will vote for a Republican to be Speaker of the House is almost zero.
The same goes for the Senate. A conservative Democrat elected to the United States Senate will vote for Harry Reid (if he wins his Senate election in Nevada) to return as Senate Majority Leader. There are no two ways about it.
Never mind that your beloved conservative Democrat is with you all the way on issues like protecting gun rights or limiting abortion. Never mind that he would vote against reinstating the estate tax or in favor of keeping the Bush tax cuts. None of that will matter, because if his party maintains majority control none of those bills will ever see the light of day. Your conservative congressman’s (or state legislator’s) first vote will ensure that all conservative bills will be buried in committee and only liberal bills will be forwarded to the floor for a vote.
This is no small matter. The “first vote” is usually more important than all of the other votes combined, because the first vote determines what all the other votes will be.
Turning the discussion around, a liberal or squishy moderate Republican will vote for a Republican Speaker or Majority Leader, if Republicans gain control, and that one vote likely will be of more value than all the other “less than wise” votes he or she may cast later on.
The same logic applies in principle to voting for minor party candidates. If a minor party candidate has a decent chance of winning, then sure, go ahead and vote for him. But if your candidate has no realistic chance of winning, then you might was well be casting your vote to leave the liberal Democrats in charge. That is the actual effect of your vote.
I can foresee the emails I will receive for saying this. Many will say, “I am sick of voting for the lesser of two evils,” or something to that effect. Well, who isn’t? I hate such choices. But do you really think leaving the Democrats in charge will remedy your self-described “sickness,” or will it in fact make you sicker?
This is precisely why I have stopped voting for minor party candidates for state legislative races and congressional races in any election in which majority control is at stake. A vote for a minor party candidate who has no chance of winning is a vote the major party you dislike the most.
Sure, the Constitution Party candidate or Libertarian candidate may be a better choice, based on the issues. But if he or she doesn’t have a chance, and most don’t, why cast a vote that will leave liberal Democrats in charge?
Things are what they are. Thus, it is self evident that the lesser of two evils is the lesser of two evils. Given that, why cast a vote that helps the greater of the two evils win the election? Wouldn’t you prefer the lesser evil - at least in this historic election when our nation’s fate is very much at stake?
Some years ago, I was asked to sum up the difference between the two major parties and I answered almost without thinking (which sometimes can be quite revealing), “Democrats are dangerous and Republicans are worthless.” The more I thought about what I had said, the more I agreed with me.
Sure, it may be a bit pathetic to vote for the worthless over the dangerous, but it is actually quite rational to do so.
This country is in uncharted waters right now. These are scary times. Wouldn’t you agree that there is at least a chance that a large number of Republicans have learned their lesson and will actually do what is best for the country for a change? The Tea Party type groups may actually have put enough of the fear of God into enough politicians to make a real difference. I am a bit skeptical of that, but there is at least a chance.
One thing the Tea Party movement has taught us is that it really is possible to take out deeply entrenched liberal Republicans in their primaries. That is very encouraging. If we want to end situations where we have to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” Republican primaries are the best place to fight that battle, not general elections where the alternative is Democrat control.
Returning Democrats to power this election could be the end of this country as we know it. This is not the 1950s. Democrats like Obama and Pelosi and Reid are a new breed. They are scary folks. These three are hell bent on taking us down the road to serfdom as fast as they can get us there, even if it means their own political careers will be ended. These “heroes of the left” are willing to fall on their swords for their cause. Obama Care showed us that.
Yes, some of the Democrat incumbents running for office in this election cycle are decent folks with reasonably conservative voting records. However, their voting records are conservative only if you ignore their first and most important vote and we simply cannot afford to do that, not this time.
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You can bet your bottom dollar that every one of those conservative Democrat incumbents running for reelection voted for Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid to lead their chamber last term and will again if placed in the same position. And frankly, that one “first vote” wiped out every good vote they cast.
© 2010 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved