mailed my absentee ballot today
There may be more important decisions in life that I should devote this level of agonising to, but deciding whether to vote for Hillary or Edwards in the primary race for Democratic presidential candidate occupied my little mind for months. A few New Yorker articles convinced me that Edwards was the Leftiest, Obama too religious and reactionary and Clinton the smartest. I want the Leftiest, but I want the woman too. Which is more important: to vote for the policies that I think are the most ethical or for the woman? I started out thinking I should vote for Edwards’s good old Lefty anti-poverty policies but Erin began a campaign to convince me that women’s status the world over may finally get better if the leader of the free world is – at last – female. She has a point. I was going over to her side. And then the Iowa commentariat settled it: all anyone had to say was women weren’t coming out in support of Hillary and that was it. I needed to show my solidarity!
I received my absentee ballot in the mail. I was so excited! That big green form is like freedom to me. I immediately (finally!) went to the uni library to surf the internet and make sure my feelings about the candidates were informed enough. I went to the candidates’ websites and I confirmed what I already thought from The New Yorker but Hillary’s website was sooo disappointing. I was crushed! What’s a ‘working families’ plan compared to an anti-poverty campaign (which both Edwards and Obama had)? And who the hell isn’t a working family except for singles? A stupidly meaningless concept: rich people are working families too. She’s clearly trying to appeal to everyone. And worst of all her Israel policy is unfettered support: kill all the Palestinians if you want, we support your right to a state!
I know deep down that these kind of policies will get her elected. Edwards has no chance in hell and even Obama seems too Lefty for conservative-leaning swing voters to elect. Hillary’s saying exactly what she needs to say (the Jewish lobby is powerful, and she is New York’s Senator after all) and playing it very smart. But, oh, I don’t want to vote for those policies! I want to vote for her in all good conscience, not simply because she’s female. Two committed Hillary friends believe she’s just as Lefty as she always was and she’ll do what she really believes when she gets in office… God, I hope so. Though from the New Yorker I got the impression that the health care debacle she instituted under her husband’s reign taught her that the only way to get things done is to play WITH the Republicans rather than against them. Which sounds about right.
While I was exploring the web and becoming increasingly distraught, I was also wondering if my agonies were actually over, because it seemed like I could vote both for who I wanted to be president of the USA and whose delegates I wanted to vote for (its a very complicated voting system that I don’t really understand but I think it is really the delegates who ‘vote’ and not the people – the people’s vote helps establish who will get more or less delegates). So, the way I figured was that I could symbolically vote for Edwards by choosing him for Prez and practically vote for Hillary by choosing all her delegates (and not Obama’s – only those two of the five candidates had delegates).
This seemed to good to be true. Could I really vote for two different candidates? Would I invalidate my vote, lose Hillary delegates? I went online to try to find answers, but to no avail. Clearly, America doesn’t want Americans to know how to vote properly. Last night – knowing I wanted to get my ballot off by today to ensure it is counted for the 5 Feb primary – I emailed the NY State Board of Elections and asked my questions. And lo and behold (thank you, thank you, thank you) someone answered back by this morning with the short email, ‘yes, you can’ – vote for both. So I did! Agonies over! Gooooo Hillary! And here’s hoping the Lefty Edwards can influence things.
On another note, the whole black man/woman thing has been highly publicised (and polemicised) but I wonder if anyone is paying enough attention to the significance that this must be the first election in American history where all the major candidates aren’t white Protestant men. Kennedy was Catholic and Barry Goldwater was a Jewish Episcopalian, but other than that, no one has ever been ethnic. In 2008 we have not only a black man and a woman (who in all other respects is a ‘proper’ candidate: white, rich, married, Methodist) running, but also Giuliani, who is Italian, Catholic and divorced; Romney the Mormon, McCain the Irishman. It’s fantastic and surely speaks to a positively-changing world. The most ironic part is that the one I want to vote for – Edwards – is the Mr Whitebread of the gang…
So what happens to your vote now that Edwards has dropped out? After all the thought and effort you put into your vote, you have to hope he endorses your second choice. Or does the US system not work like that?