In the course of playing political "king of the hill" to see which state in the union can have their primary or caucus first this year, we ended up with the Presidential primaries (which normally happen in the spring) happening immediately after New Years and throughout January until culminating in "Tsunami Tuesday" on February 5th when over 20 states will have their primaries on the same day. Then we get to look forward to nine months of hard core negative Presidential campaigning instead of the normal three months.
In the middle of all that fun, the Michigan Democratic Party went and broke National Party rules about not infringing on the "importance" of Iowa and New Hampshire and decided to have our primary before February 5th. In response, the National Democratic Party has announced that they will not seat any delegates from Michigan at the National Convention.
If that happens, it means that Michigan will have no say in deciding who the Democratic candidate will be.
Also, because we moved our primary before Feb 5th, Barak Obama and John Edwards both inexplicably decided to pull their names from the ballot in Michigan completely, essentially handing Michigan over to Hillary on a silver platter.
So here we are... Michigan's primary is going to be January 15th, this coming Tuesday, and Michigan progressives are still unsure who to vote for.
Even if my vote does count the only major candidate I have to choose from is Hillary Clinton and she is not my first, second or even third choice. Any vote I cast for Kucinich or Dodd would essentially be nothing more than a protest vote.
So essentially there is a game of chicken going on between the Michigan Democratic Party and the National Democratic Party. So far the National Party has given no indication that they intend to back down from their stated intention of refusing to seat our delegates and all we have is the assurance of the Michigan Party leadership that they "wouldn't dare" refuse to seat our delegates at the convention.
If I do go vote in the Democratic Primary...
...and if I vote "uncommitted" because my preferred candidate, John Edwards, is not on the ballot...
...and if our delegates get seated at the national convention... then there is still no telling how the delegates I send there are going to vote. It could end up going to Mike Gravel for all I know.
What is important to me is to use my vote to its greatest effect. Normally that is simply voting for my candidate of choice but this situation has created quite a conundrum for me.
I could go vote for Hillary but I have been saying all along that she is my least favorite candidate and as long as there are other candidates out there whom I would rather vote for, I do not think I should go contribute to handing my state over to their competitor.
I could go vote for Dennis Kucinich, who I agree with on most issues and who I think would be a great President. Normally I would think that supporting Dennis would be the best use of my vote, but given the situation with the Democratic delegates from Michigan, it would be a gamble.
So...why not go vote in the Republican primary? At least they are guaranteed half of their delegates at their national convention. I may not be a Republican but I can take advantage of Michigan’s open primary system to possibly have some positive effect on them.
If I go vote in the Republican primary for Ron Paul, and he has a strong enough showing in Michigan to at least get a few delegates, then it may send a strong message to the Republican Party that Ron Paul's anti-war message resonates with their base and it might move them ever-so-slightly to the left, away from the edge of fascism and totalitarianism they are currently teetering over.
The fact is that on some issues Ron Paul is even farther to the left than any of the Democratic candidates. Ron Paul is the only candidate on the Republican side even talking about the Constitution and the Legislative branch’s responsibility to check the power of the Executive branch. He is bringing some small measure of sanity back to the Republican Party and he deserves to be supported by progressives for that reason alone. If I want to move the discussion in the direction that I want it to go, then I have to support the people talking about the subjects I want to talk about, no matter what party I find them in.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a Ron Paul supporter. I actually wrote an article not that long ago entitled "Why Ron Paul is Unfit to be President". I agree with him on some issues, like Congress’ responsibilities in declaring war and how we should not be putting military bases on foreign soil all over the world and how wars of aggression are wrong. However, Ron Paul also thinks that corporations should be allowed to police themselves and he believes that the best educational system is home schooling. Those are pretty clear reasons to oppose him, which is why I did until recently.
Rob Kall wrote an interesting endorsement of Ron Paul over at OpEdNews recently where he made some good points. Even if Ron Paul got elected President, the only things he would actually have the authority to change would be those matters of war and peace where I do agree with him. He would not have the authority to do any of the other stupid things he wants to do. As Commander in Chief he could pull our troops out of all the bases around the world and save us billion of dollars. However, getting rid of the IRS or FDA would require an act of Congress and he wouldn’t be likely to get that much cooperation from either the Republicans or Democrats on that.
If I went and voted in the Republican primary for Mitt Romney, and he won, he would continue both the occupation of Iraq and conservative policies of disaster capitalism. At least with Ron Paul, he would end one of the two worst mistakes in modern American history.
So as I see the situation;
Since I can’t vote for the candidate I want...
And since there is a good chance any protest vote I make within the Democratic Party will be a complete waste of time...
...the best use of my vote this week may actually be to go vote in the Republican Primary for Ron Paul. At least I could do my part to push the Republican Party, and therefore the entire political discourse in America, to the left.
With all the disgruntled Democratic voters who may flood the Republican Primary this year, the outcome could be very interesting.
Perhaps it is Providence.
Perhaps the Great Michigan Primary Debacle of 2008 is really an opportunity in disguise.
Perhaps this whole mess is an opportunity for Michigan Progressives to use their votes for something even more important, saving America by saving the Republicans from themselves.