Thursday, July 8, 2010

McWon’t. McCan't Make Me

There’s been a good bit of talk in the Tennessee blogosphere about Mike McWherter, our Democratic candidate for governor. For my readers not in Tennessee, McWherter is the son of Ned Ray McWherter, who became governor right after I first moved to Nashville.

So now we have his son Mike running for the same office. He “won” the Democratic primary simply by hanging in there while all of the other candidates dropped out. He hasn’t said much, preferring to sit back while the Republican gubernatorial candidates suck up all the air in the room in advance of their August primary. But what he has said hasn’t pleased Tennessee’s liberals. Last fall he came out in support of a ban on gay adoptions, which sparked an uproar among lefties here. And now he has decided that the Obama Administration is wrong to sue Arizona over its immigration bill, citing a right wing argument about state’s rights (and see Aunt B for a classic response).

He’s even, for crying out loud, against selling wine in grocery stores. Not a big shock, since he’s Mr. Beer Distributor. But still, his exact words were:
“I support the current state law with respect to wine sales.”

Everyone knows our current state law in respect to wine sales is antediluvian, designed to protect distributors not serve consumers. Heck you can’t even buy a freaking corkscrew in a wine store in Tennessee. How stupid is that? You’re not open to a minor bit of tweaking? Anything?

So this is the Democrat we’ve been given for governor. Needless to say, a lot of us Democrats are none too pleased. He hasn’t told us much about himself but what he has told us offends some major Democratic Party constituencies (I’m thinking gays and immigrants, not wine drinkers, though we liberals have been known to love our elitist swill.) All we need now is to learn he supports SJR 127 and we’ve hit a home run.

Look, I realize it’s still early. Lots of things can change between now and November. But here’s my sense of things. Not only are the Dirty Fucking Hippies on the internets not jazzed by McWherter, but some far more moderate folks than myself aren’t psyched either, and they’re talking about voting Republican. They’d like to vote for a Democrat, they really would, because with all the culture war crap coming out of the state legislature last year they think the Tennessee Republican Party has jumped the shark. But with McWherter looking like a TNDP sacrificial lamb, they'd just as soon vote for Bill Haslam, assuming he gets the GOP nomination. I'm not sure I get the logic, I think it has something to do with sending the message that Tennessee is a moderate state, not the wingnut Mecca we've been portrayed as. Maybe it's an attempt to send a message to the Zach Wamps and Ron Ramseys of the TNGOP. I dunno, I don't get it, but there it is. People like to back a winner, not a loser. And McWherter has that unmistakeable stench of fail wafting around him right now which turns off that segment of voters who can go either way.

Left Wing Cracker writes:

Look, if Mr. Pilot Oil becomes Governor, he'll be the GOP version of Bredesen, except that it will be the wingnuts screaming for 8 years that Haslam has betrayed them, which he will, which could be real fun to watch.  I would still rather have a DEMOCRATIC governor, if Mike will just stay away from the the right-wing bullshit, this could still be salvageable.

Well, I don’t want to see Mr. Pilot Oil become governor either (that's Haslam, for my non-Tennessee readers). Can't imagine Mr. Pilot Oil will support things like the smart grid solar-powered EV charging stations TVA is planning across the state, for one thing. So maybe McWherter can step it up at this late date. I don’t know. A lot depends on who his opposition is going to be.

But I can tell you, I’m not excited about voting for someone who seems to think he can win by running as a Republican, without the big money the TNGOP brings in. I really don’t get that logic, either. And it occurs to me that maybe there is no logic. We bloggers tend to overthink these things sometimes, but perhaps it’s possible that Mike McWherter really does believe that having two gay parents is bad and maybe he really does think that Arizona was right to pass a racial profiling law targeting Hispanics. In which case, dude, I’m so never voting for you.

I’ve never been a believer in third party candidates, ever. It’s a nice idea but most of the time third party candidates, if they are at all competitive, end up being spoilers. That’s just the reality of our winner-take-all elections. Personally I’d love to have some kind of election reform, instant runoff voting or some such, which I imagine would appeal to people on the right, too. Maybe those Tea Party candidates might actually win a few elections for a change.

But we go into the voting booth with the elections we have, not the elections we wish we had. On top of which, Tennessee’s third party candidates can be a little nutty. Not voting in a race is simply not an option. So, what to do?

Election day is four months away but I’m thinking we’re going to have a Republican governor. I can’t be like my "mushy middle" friends who see the writing on the wall and prefer to back the winner, provided he's not batshit insane. I’d sooner cut off my arm than vote Republican, at least in this political climate. Good grief what a thought.

I’m thinking we lefties need to write in a candidate. We need to put our heads together and figure out who our ideal candidate would be, maybe Sen. Andy Berke or Rep. Steve Cohen -- and don’t worry guys, you won’t win, so no fear, carry on with your day jobs as usual. But just write that person’s name in on the ballot in November to -- and I shudder as I write this -- “send a mesage.”

I know it sounds lame, “send a message,” who am I kidding. I used to laugh at people who said they were casting a vote of conscience to "send a message." Oh how the worm has turned. But honestly, I don't see McWherter having a chance anyway and I'm pissed off. What is wrong with the Tennessee Democratic Party that it can't seem to find any Democrats to run for office? Hello?

I won’t not vote and I won’t vote Republican or Green. And if no one I like has a chance of winning anyway, then maybe this is the one time I really should cast a vote of conscience.