voter information website. I used it to take a look at the sample ballot for my district, which has only the presidential primary on it. So there's nothing of real importance to vote on.
OK, that's not entirely fair. The primary elections are important, and of course the general election in November as well. But this primary sure doesn't feel very momentous. Part of that is because we've already had months of campaigning, with months more to go. Part of it is the way the primary process works, with so many votes already in around the country, and a bunch of candidates out of the race already. (Many of whom are still on the ballot, but at least they make a note of who has already dropped out.)
In Michigan, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic race, but not both. Fortunately you don't have to register with the party to do so, or I wouldn't be voting at all. I have no desire to be associated with either party, though I've voted for candidates from both over the years. The parties still know who voted in their primary, though. Four years ago I voted in the Republican primary (easy choice, there was no Democratic primary race that year), and I got an awful lot of Republican party junk mail over the next couple of years.
Before we get to candidates, let's first take a look at issues. Yes, I try to actually vote based on issues, not who had the best zinger in the latest debate or which campaign is constantly in the media coverage. Everyone puts a different level of importance on various issues; combine that with the different stances on those issues, and it's easy to see how you end up with a big field of candidates. Here's my priorities:
- Changes in the electoral process to address the lack of real voter representation. No one is talking about this in any substantive way, sadly.
- The US economic climate. The concentration of wealth in a small portion of the population is my main concern here, followed by using government resources to encourage economic development.
- Willingness to work together with the rest of the world. We have it pretty good here in the US, and I'd like to keep it that way. Neither ignoring nor bullying the rest of the world will do that.
Looking at all the candidates from both parties that are still in the race, I'm once again reminded that the people who would likely make the best Presidential candidates are much too smart to go through the craziness required to get elected. Still, one of these people will be President next January, so I'd best pick the lesser of all the evils.
Clearly the greatest evil is Trump, who can't be bothered to check that anything he says is true, and appears to have no understanding that viewpoints other than his own might have some merit. He'd be a disaster for #3, and highly likely to make #1 and #2 worse as well. I tend to lump all the other Republicans together because they all fail #2 by having the same old "cut regulations, cut taxes, smaller government" economic refrain. Taxes are already as low as they have been in 40 years, and the various candidates' tax cut plans just happen to give the biggest breaks to the people who are already filthy rich. As for regulation, you hear most nights on the news about something gone wrong because government regulations didn't exist or weren't properly enforced. (The Flint infrastructure failure, exploding factories, auto repair fails, poorly run veteran homes, etc.) I have a hard time taking any of them seriously.
That leaves the Democrats. Hillary Clinton is the front-runner and I expect she's going to win the nomination, since she seems to be winning everything in the South and because of all the Democratic "super-delegates" that back her. Her experience as Secretary of State certainly speaks well to her ability to work with the world for #3. She's got some good ideas for #2, although most of her proposals in the economic area don't go nearly far enough for me. The idea of voting for our first female president is appealing, too, in much the same way that voting for the first African-American president appealed to me eight years ago.
Nevertheless, I'd have to say that I prefer Bernie Sanders, mostly because of his stance on financial regulation. He goes further than Clinton in some key areas, particularly in resurrecting the Glass-Steagall act to separate investment and consumer banking. I think Sanders has some overly-rosy expectations for how well his policies would do in the real world, especially in the tax reform and health care areas. (Robert Reich tried to explain that's not the case, but those numbers sure look overly optimistic to me.) He's also more protectionist than I like in terms of international trade. Nonetheless, the things he talks about are the kind of actions that I think could make a real difference on #2. As for #3, I'm confident that he'd be a reasonable negotiator with other nations (outside of those trade deals), though without the experience that Clinton has.
So I think I'll vote for Sanders on Tuesday. I doubt it'll make a difference to the end result - which is true of pretty much all my votes - but that hasn't stopped me from voting before, and it won't now. And if Clinton ends up winning instead, that's fine, I'll have my chance to support her in November.