February 27, 2019

Blame Us For How We Vote

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Suppose for a moment that there was a Democratic candidate for president who held some genuinely troubling ideas about an important subject (e.g., border security, affirmative action, climate change, or even something really vital like "manspreading"). Assume that I found these views to be bothersome in a way that goes beyond merely disagreeing with them. I regard them as detrimental to the country at large. If I were to vote for this candidate, even if my reasons for doing so had nothing to do with my desire to support his or her position on this subject, wouldn't it be fair to say that I was supporting this position?

Too vague? Okay, I'll try again. Candidate A wants to abolish ICE and have open borders. I think this is a ridiculous idea that would be bad for the U.S. After evaluating the rest of Candidate A's positions, I discover that I agree with most of them. In fact, I agree with 80-90%. Even though I strongly disagree with the open borders/abolish ICE thing, I decide to vote for Candidate A anyway. Candidate A wins, takes office, and goes to work on abolishing ICE and opening the borders. Aren't I at least somewhat responsible? I voted for Candidate A despite my strong disagreement with that one position. If we end up with open borders, don't I deserve some of the blame?

Is there a candidate out there like that running for the presidency? I am not sure. I am not thinking about anyone in particular as I write this post. I do not yet know enough about what any of the Democratic candidates think about the issues to have anybody in mind. I'm just presenting this as a hypothetical to see what others think.

I suspect that almost all of us have had the experience of voting for a candidate we disagreed with about something. Hopefully, it was something relatively minor, something we regarded as trivial. We then tell ourselves something like, "I'm not crazy about his position on issue x, but I agree with him on almost everything else." My question is whether we then bear some of the responsibility for what this candidate, if victorious, does on issue x. It seems like we do.

Here's a somewhat far-fetched example that might make this clear if it isn't yet. Suppose Candidate B has repeatedly made statements throughout her campaign that another country is our enemy and that we may need to go to war with this country. It becomes increasingly clear during her campaign that this is her plan. If she is elected, she will pick a fight with this country. I think that's crazy, but I vote for this candidate anyway. Maybe she promises to ban manspreading or a similar atrocity, and that is more than enough to earn my vote. She wins and quickly takes us to war. I think I would deserve a share of the blame. After all, the outcome of supporting her was easily foreseeable. I may disagree with what she's doing, but I helped put her in the position where she could do it.