There is no doubt that Herschel Walker is absolutely the worst candidate for state and national office that I can think of, at least in my lifetime, someone who is utterly unsuited for any responsible position. And that is against stiff competition from Sarah Palin, Doug Mastriano, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mark Finchem, Lauren Boebert, Louis Gohmert, Paul Gosar, and the list goes on. In an earlier post, I expressed my amazement that he had got over 1.7 million votes and came within 100,000 votes of defeating Raphael Warnock, and wondered how so many people could for for such a cartoon candidate. Is it just that they were going to vote for the party however bad the candidate was? Was there no bottom to what they were willing to ignore as long as the candidate had an R after their name?
In response, commenter billseymour made a good point that I would like to explore further. The comment was:
I, too, am mystified by almost half of the folks who showed up at the polls voting for a stupid celebrity who has exhibited some rather awful behavior. My current guess is that they weren’t voting for the candidate, but for a reliable Republican vote in the Senate.
But I must confess that I see my own image on the other side of that coin: I’ve voted a straight Democratic ticket in all general elections for a decade or more, even when the Democratic candidates didn’t appeal to me much. Am I just projecting? Or is it that the current state of electoral politics in the US has all of us trapped in some zero-sum game?
I too cannot recall ever voting for a Republican, though I have voted third party. Is it because I too am ideologically rigid, like the Walker voters? In my defense, I have always lived in areas where the Democrats were reasonable candidates, even if they were not as left wing as I would have liked. I was never personally confronted with the choice between a nutso Democrat versus a reasonable Republican. But then I started wondering if I could think of any Democratic candidate for a major office anywhere in the country who was anywhere close to being as awful as the set of Republicans I named above.
I do not mean people that I disagree with ideologically. I deeply disliked both Clintons for their politics but they were not ignorant or stupid or crazy conspiracists. There have been Democrats who had skeletons that were exposed (like Gary Hart and John Edwards) but those were about extra-marital affairs (transgressions that seem quaint in these days of Trump and Walker whose personal histories were far more scandalous) and they were both eliminated from the race for higher office once the scandals were revealed.
Can any readers think of any Democratic candidate who was truly appalling and yet reached the stage of being the party’s candidate for high office and continued to be backed by the party establishment? Offhand, I cannot. But, like billseymour, I wonder if that is because I am too blinkered to notice the flaws of Democrats.