This Week in the Mayonnaise Clinic: I'm a Red-State Liberal. Should I Vote in the Republican Primary?
Advice for a reader on how to play her weak political hand. Plus: Am I blaming Schumer for Biden's failures?
It’s Wednesday, and it’s time for the Mayonnaise Clinic! You may have seen there were some consequential primary elections yesterday. A few days ago, Elizabeth wrote in from Idaho with some timely questions about her state’s then-impending primary, which featured several heated races on the Republican side. She asked:
For the first time ever, I'm registering as a Republican to vote in my state's closed primary. In my ruby-red state, the Republican primary is essentially the real election. There are some legitimately disturbing candidates in the Republican primary, and while my vote might not make much of a difference, it at least has the chance of making a difference there. Also, there are some good statewide candidates in the Republican field, and while I might disagree with them on various policy issues, I think they'd do their jobs well, and I'd like to see them make it through to the general election.
I have several progressive and Democratic friends who are appalled that I'm doing this. They're of the opinion that if the scary candidates make it through to the general election, then all reasonable people will have to vote for the Democrats. I think this is, to put it politely, too optimistic. From what I've seen, many general election voters just don't pay close attention to politics, and on the ballot, they're looking for the preferred letter by a candidate's name.
My question for you is this: What do you think is the best strategy here? Do you think I'm being unfairly dismissive of my friends' perspective? In the medium- and long-term, I'd like to see the state Democratic party build itself into something that's actually competitive, but that's not happening this year. (They're already automatically ceding the legislature to the Republicans, because they couldn't recruit enough candidates. That's how weak they are.)
More generally, do you think there's a way to get the Democrats to focus more on local and state party-building? My impression right now is that they just can't be bothered trying to win the votes of anyone who isn't already a true believer. I also think they're disproportionately obsessed with federal stuff when a lot of important governance is done at the state and local level.