By now, the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch will be aware that I’m firmly non-partisan: I hate politics in general, and (pretty much) all who have made it their trade. Nevertheless, it’s largely safe to be around me. This nation of 330,000,000 people has approximately 500,000 elected-official positions: a mere 0.15% of our numbers. Unless you’re one of that poisonous half-million, you have little to worry about from me. (As for the millions of “civil servants” – a breed that is both habitually uncivil and notably un-servile – keep your hands where I can see them; I get edgy around your kind.)
That having been said, politics is “where the action is” for a commentator today. So I write about it rather frequently. Yes, it’s a chore. Yes, it has deleterious and long-lasting effects. And yes, given my druthers I’d drink and chase women; however, my wife disapproves. (She doesn’t have any objections to my political blather, as she never reads it.)
The reflections of other commentators are a portion of the grist for my mill, for which reason I try to keep up with other bloviators on the pro-freedom Right. You can find the ones I cite most frequently in the right sidebar. I usually agree with them, but now and then I feel an urge to differ with them or supplement their analyses. Such is the case this morning with this highly useful essay by David Reavill:
[W]hile candidates may feel that they’re in charge, guiding the course of the campaign, a circumstance often takes over. History leads the election and the nation in an entirely different direction. Such was the case for Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter, as both saw their re-election bids sink under the weight of a disastrous economy.
Although he won’t appear on the ballot this year, there can be little doubt that Joe Biden, and his record on the economy, will be front and center on every voter’s mind.
Ah, not quite. Yes, many voters will be thinking along those lines. My estimate is around 25% of those who go the polls come November. But probably no more than that.
The typical American voter is not a thoughtful person who reflects upon specific matters such as the state of the economy or the performance of incumbents. He’s a partisan: a man who votes “straight ticket.” His allegiance is to a party rather than to what its platform espouses or what its elected officials might be doing at the moment. Since World War II, at least three out of every four Americans who’ve entered a voting booth have been straight-ticket voters.
It’s unclear “which is the horse and which is the cart.” Did partisanry give rise to the famed and dreaded “two party system?” Or did the rise to dominance of the two major parties engender partisan voting? There are arguments for both propositions.
For a long time, voting was done by the use of mechanical devices. One would flip levers, conveniently arranged in rows according to the party affiliations of the candidates, and when satisfied would pull a big lever to finalize one’s choices. At the left end of each row was a “straight-ticket lever,” by flipping which one would vote for all the candidates nominated by one’s party of choice. That lever is the reason so many voters would spend a mere ten or fifteen seconds in the booth.
Many electronic and paper-fed voting machines lack a straight-ticket lever or any equivalent. I don’t know the reason, but I rather suspect that it has some connection to the rash of vote fraud that currently pollutes American elections. Remember the thousands of suspicious ballots, marked with a vote for Joe Biden for president and nothing else, arrived at polling places in swing states in November 2020?
The larger point is that partisanry is among the major reasons that large changes in electoral balances are unlikely. The partisans constitute an overwhelming portion of the vote; the ponderers are minuscule in comparison.
Partisanry is a lot like a religious belief. It’s often inherited from one’s forebears. Arguing a man out of it is next to impossible. There are even jokes on the subject:
In 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt was running for president on the Bull Moose ticket, one of his campaign speeches was interrupted by a heckler in the audience, who jumped up and yelled “I’m a Democrat! My father was a Democrat, my grandfather was a Democrat, and my great-grandfather was a Democrat, so I’ll always be a Democrat!”
“Well, Mister,” replied Teddy, “if your father was a jackass, your grandfather was a jackass, and your great-grandfather was a jackass, what would that make you?”
But the heckler had a reply ready: “A Bull Mooser, sir! A Bull Mooser!”
So while the economy is terrible, the dollar is turning into wastepaper, our military has become a laughingstock, the arts have turned to poison, the media are proven liars, the streets are unsafe, the lunatics are taking command of the asylums, our foreign relations are a shambles, and the nation faces threats of many kinds from within and without — all of it the directly traceable responsibility of the Bidenite Usurpers — don’t expect a huge swing in the voting this coming November.