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Candidates and parties

June 14, 2009

With the previous post on parties in mind, I want to recap generally why we vote the way we do:

  • We vote for parties who stand for the same things we do–we agree with their platform, which has tended to be about issues.
  • We vote for candidates who think like us because they’re going to have to make decisions about things that are not on the platform–we agree with their beliefs or ideology.

Issues and ideology.  That’s it in a nutshell.  A third factor is rational voting behavior:  if I really don’t like either candidate I will vote for the candidate who most closely resembles what I want.  This is commonly called voting for the lesser of two evils.  Or I might just stay home.  A lot of this happened in 2008.

This country has had remarkable political stability over time because our disagreements what been about policy.  We have agreed about the fundamental ideology on which this country was founded.  It is enshrined (literally, in the National Archives) in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.   A Rasmussen poll this week says 84% of the population still believe in the Constitution.  That means we believe in classic liberalism (see my 5/7 post, “Liberalism–it’s not what you think”) which in turn means limited government, a free market economy and individual freedoms.

The tragedy of 2008 is that we as a country elected to the presidency a man who believes none of this.


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