I’ve been a registered California voter since the 2000 election. Living in the most populous state in the union should make a guy feel pretty influential in an election, but because Iowans are so much more important than we are, I’ve never had the chance to vote in a meaningful presidential primary; by the time it gets to us, it’s all over. This year, for the first time in my adult life, a Californian can make a difference in the primary, and what a difference: we’re the crown jewel of OMFG Tuesday, and the race is too close to call. So who am I voting for?
I have no idea.
Voting in the general election is like being a vegetarian in a standard American restaurant: the decision is quick because the options are limited. I didn’t necessarily feel like voting for Kerry in 2004, but it was that or go hungry. It turns out that voting in a primary is like going to a vegetarian restaurant, and in both cases I’m not prepared to deal with even the concept of choices: even though, in this case, there are only two options, I find myself totally paralyzed.
Luckily, I have an easy forum for people to tell me what to do: this blog. I’ll tell you what I’ve got so far, and I hope you’ll weigh in with some ways to make this decision easier. Here’s how I see it:
Opportunity to elect the first female president: Attractive.
Opportunity to elect the first black president: Attractive.
Opportunity to nominate someone who has weathered the right-wing attack machine: Attractive.
Clinton’s connections to a corrupt, entrenched centrist Democrat establishment (personified by Mark Penn, say): Unattractive.
The dynasty thing: Totally indifferent.
Opportunity to take a bold new direction by nominating a candidate with an attractive message and without serious baggage: Attractive.
Thought of nominating an unknown quantity in an election with such high stakes: Unattractive.
Obama’s health care plan in comparison to Clinton’s: Unattractive; equivocal.
Clinton’s stance on immigration in comparison to Obama’s: Unattractive; equivocal.
Other decisive policy differences: N/A
Clinton’s vote for the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq: Unattractive.
Clinton’s refusal to call that vote a mistake: Unattractive.
Clinton’s vote for the Kyl-Lieberman Resolution calling Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organization”: Unattractive.
Mitigating factors: Hardly any.
Indications that Obama has his own history of equivocation: Troubling.
Opportunity to take part in historic grassroots movement of young, progressive voters: Attractive.
Sense that we should all calm down about this guy, because he might be a big disappointment: Pervasive.
Obama’s charisma and dry wit: Attractive.
Arguments that Obama is the candidate, at long last, that the right wing will not attack with undiluted vehemence and nastiness: Unpersuasive.
Frank Rich’s uncritical pro-Obama hackery: Extremely unattractive.
Maureen Dowd’s petty anti-Clinton mudslinging: Extremely unattractive.
Commentators on the left, whom I will not name, who have argued that Clinton should not be nominated because she somehow radiates pure insincerity and unlikability, comments that are hard to attribute to anything but sexism: Extremely unattractive.
Chance to prove them all wrong by electing Clinton: Extremely attractive.
Sense that spite may not be a good enough reason to vote for someone: Grudging.
Chances, in my view, that the victorious candidate will put aside bad blood and pick the other as a running mate, creating a no-white-males ticket: Nil.
* * *
So what do you think? Whom do I vote for? You have 48 hours; after that, I’m going to the polls and I’m following my gut. Which is the last thing anyone should want.
(I also don’t know how to vote on the Indian Gaming Compacts, but that’s a list for another time.)