I voted today, and my ballot looked pretty much like a black dotted line down the Democrat column. There was one category where I could vote for up to nine people, and there were only seven Democrats, so I voted for one Republican: my high school Latin teacher, who I remember being a pretty reasonable person. At least, definitely stubborn enough to stand against a Republican party line he personally disagreed with. I don't know much about most of the people on my ballot. But I still voted for them, and, yes, I voted for them for no other reason than they were the person in the D column.
And I think that's the right thing to do.
Well -- more accurately, I think the right thing to do would be to make voting mandatory, create systems for voter education and information distribution that are disconnected from the parties or partisan Super PACs, and provide a multiple-day voting period for maximum opportunity to consider.
But given that I have to work within the United States's terrible voting system, I think voting a straight ticket is the right thing to do, relative to not voting, or leaving blanks, or trying to rapidly brush up on one or the other person to see whose buzzwords sway you faster.
Because in a party system, the simple volume of party members matters in governance. When I vote for Jim Somethingface because he's in the Democrat column, I'm not just voting for Jim Somethingface, an individual with virtues and vices and character flaws and all. I'm voting for a warm body in a seat that might otherwise be occupied by a Republican -- and that warm body is, at least some of the time, probably close to all of it, going to vote along party lines. In a real, meaningful way, it's a vote for Democrats.
And like with most of the person v. person races in politics, I don't think Democrats are the Good answer and Republicans are the Bad one. I think Democrats are the Less Worse answer, and that's a considered position that has meaning and value.
I want, given this choice and only this choice, more people in my state legislature to feel pressured to feign allegiance to progressive, liberal principles than people who feel pressured to feign allegiance to conservative, classist principles. If I don't know their names, I'm going to assume the worst: that the people on my ballot are entirely corrupt. And if they're entirely corrupt, then most of their votes are going to be for more money, and whatever, that's awful but fine. But when they have to do something to appease their base, I want that appeasement to be in the direction of my values, not away from them.
I, like a lot of people I've noticed, am exhausted with the corruption of the American government, and with the flat-out badly arranged system that would fuck shit up all the time even if everyone was doing their jobs properly.
But the solution, insofar as a solution is possible, is not to Stand for your Principles and Refuse to Take Part In This Farce. The solution is to throw your hands up and say "Whatever, I'm gonna game the system just as much as everyone else is, because more sand in the gears of corruption is better than less."
If you were going to go and vote a straight R ticket, though, I think maybe you should stand for your principles and sit this one out because you don't have enough information. (Unless you're in North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District, in which case go vote for Walter Jones and leave the rest of your ballot blank.)