Later today, I will cast my Super Tuesday Virginia primary vote for a Democrat: Joe Biden. There’s a first time for everything.
Some people won’t like this decision. Supporters of Bernie Sanders (who, ironically, shouldn’t be considered a real Democrat) may resent the intrusion of conservatives like yours truly, especially when they learn that I am unlikely to vote at all in a general election (more on that later).
And to the extent that Donald Trump supporters approve of meddling in a Democratic primary, their goal is to boost Sanders and doom Biden. This sort of strategic voting strikes me as unethical, risky, and presumptuous.
My brand of meddling is different. First, to assuage my Democratic readers, I happen to be voting for the candidate who I sincerely believe would have the best chance of defeating Donald J. Trump. Second, for my Republican friends, what I am doing (albeit within the confines of the Democratic primary) is following the Buckley Rule: supporting the most conservative candidate who has a chance to win.
I have an affinity for Biden. He has been through a lot in his personal life. And now, having stumbled badly at the start of this campaign, his underdog status makes him all the more endearing. At some level, it’s hard not to root for Joe.
Admittedly, though, my real goal is to stop Sanders. That’s because the worst possible scenario for America is a Trump vs. Sanders match-up.
This “lesser-of-two-evils” scenario pits a right-wing nationalist against a socialist. It’s the Ali vs. Frazier of horrific elections. Given a binary choice that hearkens back to pre-war Europe, most center-right folks will hold their nose and vote for the guy who isn’t a commie (which is precisely why Trump wants Bernie to win).
You might scoff at this overwrought fear of Sanders, but I do not. Bernie is someone who praised Soviet-backed communist regimes—at the very time when America was engaged in what appeared to be an existential battle against them. He praised Castro’s literacy programs. He called Daniel Ortega “a very impressive guy.” Even if you doubt Sanders could follow in Trump’s norm-breaking footsteps as president—even if you assume he would be reined in by our liberal democratic institutions—the fact that he has talked fondly of evil regimes with gulags and human rights abuses out the wazoo is, in my estimation, a dealbreaker.
Sanders must be stopped. precisely because the Bernie-Donald binary means that, either way, America ends up with a president who is far. far outside the mainstream of traditional American thought. This would be the most radical and least small “c” conservative match-up possible.
Republicans won’t replace Trump on the ballot, so nominating Biden is the best way for Democrats to defuse this looming disaster, which is why I’m voting for him in the primary and urging all my conservative brethren to do the same.
The good news is that many of you can join me. My maneuver is possible because I reside in the commonwealth of Virginia, a state that has an open primary, which means any registered voter can cast a ballot in either party’s primary.
Other Super Tuesday states like Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Vermont also allow this. Other Super Tuesday states like Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Oklahoma allow unaffiliated or Independent voters, but not Republican ones, to vote in the Democratic primary.
One knock against open primaries is that outsiders can meddle. But one argument for them is that people who vote in a primary may then experience a sort of “buy-in,” where they suddenly have skin in the game and are invested in the party’s success. It seems very likely to me that many center-right folks who vote for Biden today will also feel compelled to support him come November.
In this regard, I suspect I’m weird (how many normal Americans have a political column?). As previously noted, I’m still unlikely to vote in November. The reason? Because of my views on a myriad of important issues, including life, I cannot, in good conscience, cast a vote that, in my mind, is tantamount to endorsing the unacceptable platform, policies, and appointments of a presidential administration.
For this same reason, I have wrestled with the question of whether I should vote in the Democratic primary. This may open me up to charges of inconsistency, but ultimately, I was persuaded that stopping Sanders is a clear net-plus. I’m confident I can sleep well at night knowing I tried to do that.
Still, voting for a Democrat feels utterly unnatural, and politics makes for strange bedfellows. On Super Tuesday, educated white suburbanites (including Never Trumpers) will join with the African-American community (once, but no longer, viewed as the most progressive Democratic coalition), in what might be a last-ditch effort to save American and stop crazy “woke” white folks from nominating Crazy Bernie.
What a long strange trip it’s been.