We saw plenty of it both during and shortly after the election, but as with most cycles, it died down pretty quickly afterward. Oh, you missed it? I’m talking about the tempting, low hanging fruit of blaming independents and third party candidates for your fortunes after you get your ass absolutely kicked in and handed to you on a platter in the killing fields of the political arena. But today, watching the fumbling, crumbling remains of the national Republican Party in this nascent era of Democratic hegemony, Dr. Melissa Clouthier decides that she’s once again found a convenient scapegoat for her dismay. And, of course, it’s all those evil, stupid, thoughtless, stupid, selfish, stupid, shortsighted (and oh, did I mention stupid?) people who voted for Bob Barr.
Don’t blame me!” Bellowed one of my redneck relatives,”I voted for Ross Perot!” Did ya now? And that vote wasn’t a “screw you” vote, that felt inwardly satisfying while it also served Bill Clinton the presidency on a nice, silver platter (the one taking a prominent position on a shelf in his sprawling residence out on Long Island)? Oh no! It was a vote of conscience. It was a morally superior vote. Sniff.
Have conservatives, libertarians, and other factions on the Right learned nothing from history?
So now, people are coming out of the woodwork saying, “Don’t blame me! I voted for Bob Barr!” I ask you, Is that something to be proud of?
In a word… absolutely. I should point out up front that I actually like Melissa, her anti-American, unconstitutional views not withstanding. We’ve spoken on a few occasions and I was even a guest on her radio show a few weeks ago, where we had a good deal of fun. But even then some of this brewing resentment and disregard for the electoral process were on display. She was asking a series of profile questions of myself and Rick Moran. When she got to the inevitable “who did you vote for” query, and I responded “Bob Barr,” she scoffed and made a derisive comment. When I sarcastically thanked her for respecting my constitutional right to vote for whoever I felt was the best candidate, she heaped on more derision and made a comment about thousands of tiny violins playing for me.
If you take the time to read the entire linked column, you’ll get a good feel for what I’m talking about. It only begins with her apparent failure to grasp the idea that American elections are for everyone to pick the candidate who best suits their views and that elections are not European style automat vending machines which are perpetually down to only two kinds of sandwiches. Underlying that is her flawed and, frankly, offensive assumption that anyone who voted for Bob Barr must, by definition, automatically be a Republican (either in practice or at least at heart) who would have – should have – voted for John McCain, were it not for their evil, pernicious (and did I mention stupid) desire to damage or cause mischief to the GOP because of its perceived shortcomings.
In the likely vain hope that I might be able to offer a clue, here are some things to consider. First, not every voter in the country is beholden in slave-like fashion to one of the two major parties. Some us don’t find a comfortable fit with either, and when we do vote for a Republican or a Democrat, it’s often a compromise ballot, settling for the better of two flawed candidates who don’t fill up our dance card completely. And when we find somebody we like better, it’s not a “protest vote” if we fail to “grow some balls and pick a side” and vote for one of yours.
She also breaks out the tired old strawman of claiming that Barr voters are somehow smug traitors who wish to claim a mantle of “moral superiority” for our vote. I’m not sure about the rest of Bob’s backers, but it’s rather hard to muster feelings of any sort of superiority when your candidate does’t pull a single electoral vote. But it doesn’t mean that we regret trying, voting for the best choice for what we want for the country, and keeping alive the tradition of recognizing that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are mentioned by name in the Constitution.
You want to know why the Republicans have been getting their butts kicked for the last four years, Melissa? Because you fielded candidates that didn’t convince enough voters to cast their ballots for them. The end. The blame lies with the party, with the candidates, with the platform, and with you. If you want to win elections, you have to be providing what the majority of the people want. And for at least the last two cycles, they haven’t been buying what you’re peddling.
I’ve said repeatedly that I was not satisfied by the choices I was offered in Barack Obama and John McCain. Barr’s combination of hard core fiscal discipline, social libertarianism and foreign policy quasi-isolationist tendencies were absolutely the best match for the items on my wish list. I didn’t vote for him to “teach the Republican party a lesson” and I didn’t do it to punish you. In fact, I can honestly say that you never once crossed my mind while I was in the voting booth.
Republicans who do this remind me of the spoiled child on the little league team who seeks to blame his loss on the poor equipment, the hostility of the crowd, the sun being in his eyes… anything but the real reason. You had your turn at bat. You struck out. Dust yourself off, have a team meeting and try harder next time.
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Editor’s Update: Clothier has gotten some people really REALLY mad.. –JG.