should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 2
February 15, 2013
A reflection on the Great
Waste that vote!
By RONALD N. NEFF
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Now that the Great Election is over (and the new campaign season has not yet quite begun), and the passions stirred by the event are perhaps at a rest, let us see whether we can turn our attention to some arithmetic. Don't be scared: there won't be many numbers.
For the sake of this discussion, I am going to pretend that voting is a perfectly agreeable activity for adults in possession of their faculties.
Many of my readers, no doubt, watched some part of the election returns. During the exciting run-up, we were told that there were several states on which the outcome and the future of the republic would hinge. Among them were Virginia and Florida. The race was close, oh, much too close to call in those states. Would there be a repeat of 2000 in Florida? (I cynically suspected that the news commentators expressing that fear were secretly hoping there would be a repeat. It would guarantee them even more face time on the telescreen than their contracts might dictate, and they would not have to come up with new subjects, the ongoing vote count being ready-made for their appearances.)
Virginia in particular was witness to some interesting jockeying. You've heard of Virgil Goode. Right? Well, of course, you haven't. He was the candidate for president on the Constitution Party's ticket in 2012. Founded by Howard Phillips in 1991 as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party, it normally gets exactly the coverage you would expect, which is to say, almost none.
Its candidates for president (Howard Phillips himself in 1992, 1996, and 2000) never get many votes, and they are normally excluded from the televised debates run or sponsored by conventional champions of democracy (e.g., the League of Women Voters). It just wouldn't do, you see, for the American public to be burdened by hearing too many candidates voice their views.
Last year, however, Virgil Goode got coverage in the magisterial Washington Post that his predecessors could not have purchased at any price: two lengthy articles one of them a front-page article. It seems that the election in Virginia was expected to be so close that if Goode attracted the voters he was expected to attract (or rather, those the Post expected him to attract, to wit, those of dissatisfied Republicans Goode himself voiced other expectations), he might actually deprive the Republican candidate (what was his name? it will come to me perhaps a little later) of just enough votes that his opponent (a Luo well-known in these parts) might win.
I suppose there could be an innocent interpretation of the Post's coverage of a party they have in past years barely noticed: the coverage was justified by the possibility that it could play an important role in the election at hand (as opposed to the diminutive role it had played in past elections). That is to say, that in 2012, unlike years past, the Constitution Party's existence and fielding of a candidate who had something to say that was different from that of the officially approved candidates was newsworthy.
Alas, your humble servant is simply unable to disabuse himself of the dark suspicion that in fact the Post was giving so much publicity to Mr. Goode in the hope, perhaps even expectation, that it could bring about the very outcome that it was suggesting.
There were, of course, many people who may have wanted to vote for Goode, but who would not, because they didn't want to "waste their vote," as the saying goes. Voting for a candidate who is not expected to win is considered "wasting" it. Voting for a candidate who is expected to win but who does not is, apparently, not wasting it. I'm not sure what it is, but it is not wasting it. Even so, the Post was interested in the number of people who were not worried about "wasting" their vote, and warned or hoped that there would be enough of them to keep the Luo's opponent from winning.
But the Post's possible attempt to manipulate the outcome of the election is not the point of this offering.
As you may have heard by now, the Luo won, and his opponent oh yes, I remember now: someone named Romney lost. And that loss was announced about
10:30 p.m.here in the vicinity of Trantor. And announced before anyone had final results for Virginia or Florida.
When the final results of the national popular vote were approved and released, the Romney person had accumulated
60.86million votes. There was something about that figure that gnawed at me. A friend helped me discover what it was a few days later: it wasn't very much more than the last person to go up against the Luo had won. That was in 2008, and that guy a person named McCain won 59.95 million.So the GOP had managed to pick up fewer than 1 millionvotes in 4 years.
I remembered that I had heard a number of people on talk radio say that they thought people with the improbable names of Santorum, or Huntsman, or Pawlenty, or Paul would be good candidates, and they agreed with them on most things, but they chose to vote for Romney in the primaries because they were confident that he could beat the Luo. Let's understand: they did not vote for the person they believed in. They did not vote for the principles they believed in. They voted for someone they thought could win.
Where do people get such ideas? Who told them he could win? Why think he could? The event shows he could hardly have won against the McCain person!
But let's not dwell on that too much. Not yet. Let's go back to Virginia.
Since the election was called before the number of votes was approved for Virginia, the winner did not need a single one of them. Every voter in Virginia could have cast a vote for the Romney person, and he still would not have won. Every voter in Virginia could have cast a vote for Virgil Goode, and it would not have thrown the election to the Luo.
In other words, the people who wanted to vote for Goode, but were afraid of wasting their votes, could have voted for him. It would not have altered the Romney person's resume one bit. Republicans could have voted their beliefs in the GOP primaries. Everyone could have voted his beliefs in the general election. And it would have made no difference whatever to the outcome.
They could have "made a statement" or "sent a message" or whatever voting for minority candidates does, and it would have made no difference to the Luo's job prospects whatever. Perhaps if they had voted their beliefs or conscience, the "statement" or "message" conveyed by their vote would have been even stronger. Who knows?
What we know for a certainty is this: In Virginia and in Florida, if you voted for the Romney person, you did nothing NOTHING to prevent the catastrophe of the reelection of the Luo tyrant who will oppress us for the next four years.
You might as well have wasted your vote ... Ω
February 15, 2013
Published in 2013 by WTM Enterprises.
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