Once again, when the choice is homophobic misogynistic anti-science culture warrior vs sleazebag...count me on Team Sleazebag every day and twice on Sunday.
That's how I chose to respond to the post about Virginia's new governor elect, a post which highlights his various questionable investments and business dealings and refers to him as a sleazebag. It was a glib response, because this is Gawker, and I feel like it's a place where I can be glib on occasion. However, there have been three general themes when talking about those of us who voted for McAuliffe, and I wanted to actually address them.
1) How the hell were Cuccinelli and McAuliffe the choices?
It's two parties, so there are two answers. On the GOP side, it's because Cuccinelli was able to strong arm the state party into cancelling the typical primary in favor of a convention. This was largely because he was seen as an underdog to Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. This is the GOP, after all, which traditionally likes to nominate the person whose Turn It Is, which in Virginia means the Lieutenant Governor not the Attorney General. So he got his convention, Bolling dropped out in protest (and while Bolling never endorsed McAuliffe, his former campaign adviser did), and Cuccinelli was the candidate.
On the Democratic side, the answer is deference. That's how the Virginia Democratic Party tends to select its candidate. Someone steps forward, and everyone else agrees to step aside. It's easy to forget that, since four years ago we had a contested primary. But that was the exception, not the rule. This year, McAuliffe said he would run only if Mark Warner didn't. Warner didn't, so McAuliffe called up some of the other likely nominees, they all said go for it, so he ran and no one else did. It's weird, I know, but Virginia politics is weird. Virginia everything is weird. Don't get me started on our geography.
2) Man, this must have been some sort of Sophia's Choice of suck. Like being asked whether you want to be shot or hung. Or voting for douchebag or shit sandwich.
Not really, no. Alright, let's get the obvious out of the way. I don't think I'd particularly like Terry McAuliffe if I met him in person. And he's not my favorite Democrat in the whole wide world.
However, let's get a few things straight. Terry McAuliffe is for same-sex marriage. He's for abortion rights. He's for improved gun control (and wasn't afraid to campaign on that here in a state where even the Democrats often seek NRA endorsements). He's for broadening public transit. He's for acting on climate change issues. He's for the ACA and Medicare expansion. He is, in short, for all the things that I am for. So...it wasn't particularly hard to vote for him, because he was the candidate that I agreed with politically.
To say I shouldn't have voted for him because I find him a tad odious? I reject that kind of personality politics, because it gets into that dangerous question: Which candidate would you rather have a beer with? Remember when we were asked that question? Where did that get us again? I don't care if I want to have a beer with a candidate, I'll vote for a candidate who I wouldn't even want to be seen in the same bar with, so long as we are politically compatible.
(On the same wavelength: I also don't mind candidates who are elitist, because let's be frank, any person who thinks he or she is the single best person to run a state or the country is automatically a little elitist.)
3) But you had a third choice! Even a fourth choice with write-in!
Yes. I did have a third choice. We had a Libertarian on the ballot in Virginia, and I could have voted for him. A lot of people did, and I don't think he just split the conservative vote, because I've seen a few liberals say they voted for him as well. Just because we're in a system dominated by two parties doesn't mean that I'm legally required to vote for one or the other.
But you know what? I didn't vote for him because I'm not a Libertarian.
Look, I did research his positions. And, as with many Libertarian candidates, I agreed with some and disagreed with others. That's what makes Libertarians (real Libertarians, not Republicans who claim Libertarianism because its kinda with the youth vote right now) such odd ducks. They take bits from both sides and merge them into one message. That doesn't work for me. I'd say I agree with about 25% of the Libertarian candidate's message, but about 80% of McAuliffe's. That's some pretty easy math.
And, personally, unless there's an organized write-in campaign for an individual, I don't think write-ins actually send a message to anyone.
So. There. I voted for Terry McAuliffe. And I don't feel the least bit bad or icky about doing so. He was, from my perspective, the clear best option available for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and in the end, that's what matters to me.