Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Straight Ticket

I am a registered Republican. Now, before you get all excited and bent out of shape about this, let me explain. I almost never actually vote for a Republican in the general election. In Pennsylvania generally and Philadelphia specifically, elections are largely decided by the two opposing political machines. Democrats control Philadelphia County, Republicans pretty much the rest of the state. In Philadelphia, Democratic primaries are foregone conclusions, the victor decided by trade union representatives and the various ward bosses before the ballots are printed. It's all for show. The Republicans are a more contentious lot. Their primaries have actual influence in selecting the candidate who will oppose the pre-ordained Democrat. In the GOP run off, I have a voice.

I rarely use it. Here in the city, the machine picked Democrat will win most of the time. But if the heir apparent is a total jackass, a pay-to-play patronage bonehead (this happens fairly frequently) and the GOP has a competent moderate in their primary (this happens all too rarely), I'll vote for him. If he makes it, I'll cross my fingers in November. Likewise in Republican dominated state races, if the Democrats have a candidate with a real shot, and the republicans have a stable of fascist hopefuls hoping for their party's nod, I'll vote for the worst of the lot, hope he gets the nomination, and pray that suburban swing voters will go for the moderate Democrat rather than the right winger. It's worked before. I vote issues and record, but won't hesitate to pick the lesser of two evils with an eye on the larger power dynamic. I did not vote for Nader.

For the first time since I began voting two decades ago, I voted the straight Democratic ticket. Tuesday morning in front of the New Caledonia Baptist Church, my polling station for the past six years, my neighbor James D., who lives two houses down the block, jammed the flyer laying out the Democratic Party pics into my hands. He has done this each voting day for the last six years. He is our local Gladys Kravitz and all round nosy busybody. He is also the local Democratic ward leader, and so knows the party affiliations of all our neighbors. He pursed his thin lips and announced that it was surely a waste of both effort and paper, and then tossed his head and laughed at his "joke". He has said this each voting day for the past six years. I'm of course never give him the satisfaction of knowing, but I think James would have been very pleased with the content of my ballot.
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