In yesterday’s thread on the race between Dave Loebsack and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, secondtonone referred to the fact that a right-wing Republican group put Miller-Meeks on their “Wall of Shame.”
I assumed that this was related to bad blood from the hard-fought Republican primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district, but a commenter claiming to be a member of that group posted the following:
We would have included anyone from that race on the Wall of Shame. There was no candidate that we could have supported in that race. They all left us wanting. What do you do when it is a trio of unsatisfactory candidates?
It’s a good question, and not just a theoretical one for many of us who follow politics closely. On several occasions I have not been thrilled with any of the candidates in a Democratic primary. Many more times I have volunteered for a primary campaign, only to have a different candidate win the nomination.
What is the best way to handle this situation?
One of my dad’s favorite expressions was, “There is more than one right way,” and I think that fits the bill here.
Many people become active supporters of their party’s nominee. Regular Bleeding Heartland commenter lorih has been out knocking on doors for Barack Obama, even though she strongly preferred Hillary Clinton for president. Bleeding Heartland user secondtonone is supporting Becky Greenwald for Congress, despite having backed William Meyers in the fourth district primary.
A group of bloggers who supported Clinton created the “Clintonistas for Obama” blog, where they write regularly about the race. This group includes a few people who preferred two candidates to Obama–first John Edwards, and then Clinton after Edwards dropped out of the race.
Angry Mouse, who was a tireless and often lonely advocate for Clinton at Daily Kos during the primaries, now writes occasional diaries supporting Obama at that blog.
Another approach is to vote for the nominee you don’t care for, but focus your energy on other candidates you can support wholeheartedly. Anyone who’s been reading this blog since the spring will be aware that I am not satisfied with the representation I get from Congressman Leonard Boswell. Since he defeated Ed Fallon in the third district primary, I have mostly ignored him. Because I want the Democrats to have a large majority in Congress, I will vote for Boswell in November, as will just about every Fallon voter I know. (A few may leave that line of their ballot blank.) But I see no reason to keep re-fighting the third-district primary, even though many of the attacks on Fallon from the Boswell camp were ridiculous.
Obama’s not my favorite politician either, to put it mildly, so I decided to volunteer for down-ticket candidates in Iowa.
The blogger RDemocrat has also focused his political energy in a constructive way since John Edwards left the presidential race. RDemocrat isn’t a fan of Obama but has spent many hours volunteering for Heather Ryan, the Democratic candidate in Kentucky’s first Congressional district.
Tough primaries are a fact of life. If you think Iowa saw some bruising ones this spring, you should have seen the battle between Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Oregon. Merkley won that race narrowly, and I think he’s a fantastic candidate, but many Oregon-based bloggers preferred Novick.
Are those activists spending their time taking pot-shots at Merkley? No, if you read the Democratic community blogs Loaded Orygun and Blue Oregon, you will see that they are putting their political energy to use in other ways. Here’s an example of a post in which a Novick supporter gives Merkley some credit, even though he isn’t a big fan of the candidate.
Incidentally, Novick himself has gone above and beyond the call of duty, strongly supporting Merkley’s general election campaign despite what must have been a very disappointing loss in the primary. I remember that Paul Hackett was not nearly as gracious after Sherrod Brown defeated him in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio two years ago.
By the same token, Hillary Clinton has been out stumping for Obama in key states like Ohio and Florida and has raised about $8 million for Obama’s campaign, even as she tries to retire her own campaign debts.
If you dislike your party’s nominee and you can’t find a different candidate you strongly support, I advise you to get involved with a non-profit organization. So many groups can use a few good volunteers, and no matter where you live, I’m sure there is some cause worth your time.
Getting back to the question at the top of this post, what is a voter to do if all of his or her party’s candidates are unacceptable? Some people might vote for a third-party candidate, as Ron Paul is asking his supporters to do in the presidential election.
My preference is to vote for the least-bad candidate if it’s a primary election. If it’s a general election, I usually hold my nose and vote for the Democrat despite my personal feelings. Only on very rare occasions have I written in someone’s name or voted for a third-party candidate rather than for the Democratic nominee.
Use this thread to share thoughts and suggestions for voters who are disappointed in their party’s nominee.