May 4, 2016

Rejecting #VoteBlueNoMatterWho

voteI cannot think of anything about freethought that would necessarily prevent a freethinker from being loyal to others. Many freethinkers are loyal to their friends and families. Many are loyal to their countries, employers, organizations, groups, and so on. As freethinkers, I would not expect them to be blindly loyal or to refuse to think critically about the object of their loyalty; however, I see no reason why they couldn't be loyal in a thoughtful and reasonable sense. Similarly, I would not expect freethinkers to be uncritically loyal to any ideology, as they would recognize that no ideology is beyond reproach. At the same time, freethinkers certainly can and do support certain ideologies in reasonable ways.

What has me thinking about the question of loyalty is a particular meme that has emerged from the Democratic primary contest: #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. It is being used on social media by supporters of Hillary Clinton who want to make sure that supporters of Bernie Sanders will support Clinton once she wraps up the Democratic nomination and he exits the race. These Clinton supporters recognize that the primary contest has been at least somewhat divisive, and they are sending a message to Sanders supporters that it will soon be time to get in line behind Clinton. Why? She will be the party's nominee, and loyalty to the party is what is most important.

As a freethinker, I cannot in good conscience go along with the idea of #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. I say this not because I am in the #BernieorBust crowd. I reject this stance as well, and it is fair to say that I have come to like him less the more I have heard from him. I cannot go along with #VoteBlueNoMatterWho because I can think of all sorts of candidates the Democratic party could select that would lead me to vote for third party alternatives instead. I am not saying that Hillary Clinton is one of them; I am still undecided on that question. What I am saying is that who I vote for matters to me more than blind loyalty to any political party. In fact, I want no part of blind loyalty to any political party, candidate, or ideology.

I reject the commonly heard claim that any and every potential Democratic candidate is better than any and every potential Republican candidate. Even if this looks true based on the current crop of candidates, I cannot pretend that it will always be true. I also reject the even more commonly heard claim that nobody in the U.S. should ever vote for third party candidates under any circumstances. In fact, I suspect expanding support for third parties might be part of the solution to fixing a political system most voters now regard as broken. But mostly, I reject #VoteBlueNoMatterWho because it places loyalty to a party that is seriously flawed in many important ways ahead of the real progress and reform most of us say we want.

#VoteBlueNoMatter who sends a clear message to the Democratic party that we will blindly support whoever they put in front of us, regardless of the flaws of the party or its chosen candidates. I am not sure how this leads to progress. In fact, it seems to virtually guarantee a lack of meaningful progress by indicating that they can and should take our unconditional support for granted. If today's Democratic party is not everything you'd like it to be, then it seems like uncritically supporting whoever they put in front of you will make it more likely that it continues to be something other than what you'd like it to be.

I will approach the general election by weighing my options, examining each candidate's positions on the relevant issues, and voting for the candidate I would most like to see in the White House. I will not pledge to support any party "no matter who" they select as their candidate.
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