Is there one issue, above all others, that a candidate has to satisfy before getting your vote? Interesting discussion revolving around a column from The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf, a progressive who proclaims that he's not voting for President Barack Obama, as he did in 2008.
Actually, he says it in stronger terms. In Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama, Friedersdorf says:
Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn't "precise" or "surgical" as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment.And:
Obama established one of the most reckless precedents imaginable: that any president can secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Obama's kill list transgresses against the Constitution as egregiously as anything George W. Bush ever did.
Friedersdorf isn't voting Republican, either, by the way. But for him, the drone policy is too much to ignore. It's an absolutism that seems uncommon, but is it? Most of us have issues dearer to us than others - abortion, immigration and gay rights are among those we hear about often from readers. But for election years in which the economy is a primary concern, those issues tend to become more supplementary.
Some commenters said in response to Friedersdorf that having dealbreakers in a two-party system is irrational. I'd say "impractical" is the better word. Voting, for most, seems not to be an exercise of eliminating candidates issue by issue. It's choosing the person who would most often make the decisions you feel are correct, with a thumb on the scale for issues you feel are more critical. And those can change, too. If you're a fiscal conservative and social progressive, the former probably carries more weight this election than others.
Or, maybe not. Friedersdorf says we're less utilitarian than we think - that if President Obama were caught on tape uttering anti-Mexican slurs, or if Mitt Romney were to utter a racial slur at Wednesday's debate, many of their supporters would consider it a dealbreaker. But standing behind that voting touchscreen, making a choice no one will see, I wonder if even then, pragmatism might win out over principle.
Disagree? What's your dealbreaker?
Peter St. Onge