August 14, 2015

Liberals for Donald Trump

Trump 2016

If the United States did not have the electoral college and the winners of presidential elections were determined by which candidate received the majority of the popular vote regardless of which states the votes came from, the system would make far more sense and everyone's vote would count. But until this changes, we are stuck with a system that places those of us whose political orientation is at odds with the majority of voters in the state where we live in an interesting situation.

Take me, for example. I am far to the left on the right-left political spectrum, left of where today's Democratic Party finds itself. I live in Mississippi, a state where the vast majority of voters are far to the right. No matter how I vote, the state goes overwhelmingly Republican in every presidential election. It isn't even close. It does not matter who I vote for in the general election; Mississippi's few electoral college votes always go to the Republican candidate. This frees me up to vote for third party candidates who are sometimes strike me as much better options than whoever the Democratic Party nominates. Because of how the electoral college system works, I am free to support these third party candidates without worrying about handing the election to the Republican (i.e., the Republican candidate will inevitably win all of Mississippi's electoral votes).

The one scenario where my vote might sometimes count happens in the primary elections. Assuming that there was an extremely close contest for a particular party's nomination, my vote could help to decide a party's eventual nominee. And since Mississippi has open primaries, I could vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary. This state of affairs creates the situation where it might make sense for people like me to vote for candidates we do not support if we think that doing so would be disadvantageous for the other party.

Suppose that the Democratic primary is nearing and all the polls are showing that Hillary Clinton has an overwhelming lead over the far more desirable Bernie Sanders. Based on how late Mississippi's primary is held, I'd already have a sense as to whether the poll numbers are reflected in other states' primaries. In a scenario where Clinton was almost certain to be the Democratic nominee, it might make more sense for me to vote in the Republican primary. It is in this context that it is possible to argue that people like me (i.e., liberals in red states with open primaries) should vote for Donald Trump in the primary. Here is an example of just such an argument being made by another Mississippi voter.

As long as it appears that Trump's candidacy is harmful to the Republican brand and that his presence in the race is likely to reduce the odds that the next U.S. president will be a Republican, it might make sense for people in my situation to support him. A genuinely narrow race between Clinton and Sanders could certainly change that. If the Democratic nomination was closely contested, it would be hard to argue that voting for Trump in the primary would make more sense than voting for Sanders. As unlikely as this seems, it is still early enough that all sorts of change is possible. It would be silly to make any decisions at this point.

I envy those of you who live in so-called swing states, states where the electoral votes can go either way. Voting in the general election in these states seems so much more important, as one's vote can help to determine the outcome. It would be nice to have the sense that one's vote truly counted.

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