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February 10, 2008

Primary Strategy

In Vermont we get to choose which primary we vote in. It now looks like that choice and how we vote might still make a small difference on Town Meeting Day, March 4, which is when our Democratic and Republican primaries will both take place. It’s an interesting decision for me.

On Friday I was convinced that John McCain (whom I like) had safely wrapped up the Republican nomination. But the Republican nominee could well end up NOT being president, so a vote in the Democratic primary would be a vote for my second choice in case I don’t get my first choice. That seemed like a good strategy, and I’d tentatively decided to vote for Obama although I’ve been put off lately by his preachy generalities without many specifics.

Yesterday results in Kansas and Louisiana, which McCain lost, and even Washington, which McCain has apparently won, made clear that there are a large contingent of Republican primary voters and caucus goers who’d like to keep the party on the evangelical right or have it move even further in that direction. That’s their right but it’s not my preference. Did more moderate GOP voters stay home because the race is “wrapped up”? Have moderates left the GOP so that they no longer vote in its primaries even if they sometimes vote for its candidates in the general election?

It would be an unfortunate result of complacency if moderate Vermont Republicans left the Vermont GOP primary to be won by the right wing minority of the party here. Time for a change in strategy. If Mike Huckabee is still in the race, I’m voting for McCain in the primary.

This Republican primary season is turning out to be a fight for the direction of the party; it’s a fight that’s overdue. I’m an American first and a Republican a distant second. The nation is poorly served when either major party strays too far from the center where ideas can be debated rather than ideologies shouted.

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