Patterico's Pontifications

9/29/2003

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THE

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 am

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THE TOM/ARNOLD DILEMMA: I may have found a way to resolve the dilemma that I have spoken about repeatedly (see here and here): Arnold or Tom? Practicality or principle?

Tom is the obvious choice for those of us who want to see the three Cs in government: conservatism, competence, and character. Tom has all three. Comparatively, Arnold has none.

For fans of the movie Broadcast News, McClintock is the character played by Albert Brooks: a knowledgeable, competent guy who is terrible in front of a camera. Arnold is the William Hurt character: a vapid and popular on-screen personality. I liked both characters in their way, but I always liked the Brooks character better. (You’re supposed to.)

There is a great scene where Albert Brooks is talking to Holly Hunter about the empty William Hurt character (ironically named Tom):

I know you care about him. I’ve never seen you like this about anyone, so please don’t take it wrong when I tell you that I believe that Tom, while a very nice guy, is the Devil. . . . What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he’s around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I’m semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing . . . he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance . . . Just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being salesmen. . . . And he’ll get all the great women.

I love this speech. It sums up much of what I think about life. And these sorts of thoughts make it almost physically painful to contemplate voting for Arnold.

Plus, one difference between the William Hurt character and Arnold is that William Hurt in the movie was actually a pretty nice guy. From what I have seen, Arnold appears to be an arrogant jerk (see here and here for examples).

But Arnold sure has moved up in the polls. So the dilemma remains, painful as ever. What to do? Will it really come down to voting for the “Devil”?

Here’s my personal solution. My wife, who is a Democrat, has all along leaned towards voting for Bustamante. (Don’t ask.) She loves Albert Brooks’ character in Broadcast News too, and the quote above is one of her favorite speeches in any movie. She hates the idea of Arnold being Governor, and she hates the idea of my voting for him. So we have discussed the following compromise (nothing definite yet): if I vote for McClintock, she’ll vote for Camejo.

If we do this, I eat my cake and have it too. I vote on principle, but it’s not a vote for Mr. N-Word Cruz Bustamante — because my vote takes a vote away from BoostaMyTaxes.

I think it’s the perfect solution.

UPDATE: A regular reader and Arnold supporter writes to tell me (among other things): “your harebrained idea of ‘vote-swapping’ may be illegal.” I will admit that I had not considered the issue before. However, I must disagree with my good friend (who normally is a friend of the First Amendment), and register my opinion that it would be “harebrained” to deem our arrangement illegal.

The main point is this: what my wife and I propose is not really “vote-swapping.” We are not proposing to vote in a way inconsistent with our true feelings. To the contrary, we are simply agreeing that we will both vote the way we want to vote on principle — were we not to concern ourselves with how other people may vote. In essence, we have persuaded each other to stick with our respective principles. This is pure political expression, which lies at the heart of the First Amendment.

Moreover, even crude vote-swapping, of the type that Naderites and Gore supporters were doing across state lines in the 2000 election, is arguably protected under the First Amendment. Our very own Ninth Circus has ruled that efforts to block such arrangements threaten to chill First Amendment rights. (Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483 (9th Cir. 2003).) (Relying on the Ninth Circus! Can I sink any lower?!) Also, vote-swapping is such a time-honored tradition among federal and state legislators at every level that they have a name for it: “log-rolling.”

Far more important than the opinion of the Ninth Circus is the judgment of common sense. The applicable statutes are described in this article in Slate. Federal statutes prohibit only offering your vote “for something of monetary value” — language that clearly doesn’t apply to vote-swapping. In California, it is a crime to get “any money, gift, loan, or other valuable consideration” for “induc[ing] any other person to . . . vote or refrain from voting for any particular person or measure.” An agreement to vote a certain way cannot be “valuable consideration” under this statute. Otherwise, it would be a crime to try to convince (“induce”) someone to vote a certain way, and use as part of your argument the assurance that you feel so strongly about the issue, you will vote that way too. Nonsense!

I continue to believe that my wife and I have hit upon the perfect solution to the Tom/Arnold problem. And next time we watch Broadcast News, we won’t have to wince when Albert Brooks delivers that great “Devil” speech.

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