Thursday, February 07, 2008

Primaries are different

Poll worker Albert Shaw applies a sticker on the coat of a voter on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Primaries are different. I, for one, make voting choices during a primary on a very different basis than I use during the general election. In a primary, I let myself vote my hopes and my personal warm fuzzy feelings. In the general election, I practice pragmatic citizenship -- usually I hold my nose and revert to the choice of the "least worst" in the words of a friend's 6-year old.

San Francisco used to hold November elections that were really primaries -- unless someone got more that 50 percent there would be a run off. In those days, I got to vote for some wonderful choices for mayor: a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence and Jello Biafra, among others. Then in the next round, I'd dutifully vote for the responsible choice (unless it was Dianne Feinstein).

Now that the Democratic hopefuls have managed to arrive at pretty much a tie in the country at large, I'm afraid that the primary season is about to lose its pleasure. After the long Bush-NeoCon-KnowNothing regime we've been enduring, up to now the campaign has been fun -- as chance for disheartened voters to savor three and then two attractive candidates who offered different flavors of hope for a better country. What's not to like?

But now that we're down to the tied twosome, the season begins to demand more of a pragmatic response. We'll feel called upon to vote "responsibly". We'll have to ask ourselves which of these people will be most likely to stomp that odious panderer to the Right masquerading as a maverick that the Republicans have chosen to nominate?

A discussion of Clinton and Obama framed around our opinions concerning "electability" is not going to be pretty. It's guaranteed to undercover the underside of our national psyche, our racism and our sexism. Folks are going to say ugly stuff and think they are peddling political analysis. I'll probably do this myself.

Let's try to remember that we're all yearning to replace the monstrous people and profiteers who have been running the country. And we can only start doing that together.

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