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Eck + Lonegan = NOTA


I just voted “None of the Above” in New Jersey’s Special Primary Election for U.S. Senator while checking the proofs for Reason Papers’s forthcoming symposium on Jason Brennan’s The Ethics of Voting. Oh, the irony.

Yes, I voted as a registered Republican. The Republican slate this time was Alieta Eck vs. Steven M. Lonegan. Worthless.

The interesting contest is the one on the Democratic side between Cory Booker and Rush Holt, both of whom I admire as individuals, but are probably too pragmatist/statist to vote for. Probably.

I wonder if it’s time to abandon the Republicans altogether. I’ve been one since 1992, but I can’t remember the last time I voted for one. Pathetic.


PS. I usually vote by absentee ballot, and hadn’t been inside a polling booth in a while, so I forgot the procedure for write-in ballots:  it’s push “write in,” then type the write-in on the keypad, then hit enter. I walked into the booth, and started typing without pushing “write in”; naturally, the keypad wouldn’t work. I hadn’t had my afternoon coffee, so I wasn’t about to figure it out on my own. “Wait,” I said to the poll worker nearby. “How do you do a write in, again?” He was so startled by my question that he was left speechless. Finally, he just pointed to the two options on the ballot, and said, “Write in? No, you just have to pick one of the options.” I knew that couldn’t be right: actually, my flight response began to kick in at the prospect of having to vote for either of them. Finally, I remembered the correct sequence: you have to start by pushing “write in.”

The worker was just trying to be helpful, but it’s interesting that write-ins are so exotic that a poll worker wouldn’t know that write-ins are a possibility. It’s time to change that.

PPS, 12:42 am, August 14: As expected, Lonegan won the Republican nomination, and Booker won the Democratic. Booker will probably win the general election, and frankly, more power to him.  (No, I didn’t stay up for the election results.)



  1. I gave up on the Republicans in 1987, and voted LP after that. I never officially decided to give up on the LP, but I couldn’t bear to vote for Barr in 2008, and after that the LP had lost its lustre for me and I haven’t felt moved to vote for any candidates since then. Plus I’ve grown increasingly skeptical of the utility of electoral politics, though I don’t take a principled anti-electoral stand.

  2. irfankhawaja says:

    I was still a Democrat in 1987. In fact, I was a card-carrying member of the Rainbow Coalition. My first political campaign (1986) was “Frank Askin for Congress.” But I became an Objectivist in the early 90s, so I felt the need to switch to the Republicans. Problem was, I could never vote for them. For awhile I thought it was just some Democratic hangover, but 20 years is a long hangover.

    The LP has some good ideas, but seems to me captive of some serious oversimplifications about politics. Minimizing government is not the right way of looking at things, and maximizing freedom makes no sense. (That’s its slogan.) That quantitative focus on minimizing and maximizing–and the related obsession with budgetary austerity–reveals an inability to deal with moral complexity. It’s an unfortunate fact that the existence of a Leviathan creates path-dependencies, but it’s still a fact, and one can’t just wish that away. I can’t accept “shock therapy” as a way of doing politics, and that seems central to the LP.

    So I’m thinking: why not go back to the Democrats? I’ve spent 20 years hoping “the Republicans will improve.” Is a free market Democratic party really such a quixotic idea? Yes, there’s Obamacare, but maybe that’s the price we pay for a more restrained foreign policy. Well, if it is more restrained. Of course, there’s always Samantha Power to worry about.

    When all else fails, there’s NOTA. And all else fails a lot.


  3. Amanda says:

    There are some good choices in the major parties in New Hampshire with the Free State Project folks running as Ds and Rs. My favorite race in the last election had two libertarian roommates pitted against each other in Manchester for state rep: the minarchist ran as an R, and the anarchist ran as a D. The D won. (I speculate that he may be the highest elected anarchist.)

  4. A couple of recent stories—about payments from his “former” law firm while he was serving as Mayor of Newark, and about his less than overwhelming Web startup that until recently had the 14 year old son of Jeff Zucker (former NBC executive, now CNN executive) on its Board—suggest that Cory Booker is already heavily into the cronyism. Not that this is likely to hurt him in New Jersey.

    The obvious impediment to a free-market Democratic Party is which elements of the coalition would move in that direction. Unless large numbers of lower-income African-Americans and Latinos turn to the market. Change surely won’t be coming from the trial lawyers, the environmentalists, the AFL-CIO and SEIU, the NEA and AFSCME, the NTEU, the AARP, or the Wall Streeters who know that Federal jobs await and that Eric Holder will never prosecute them.

  5. irfankhawaja says:

    There’s a kind of robust indisputability to all of that, I must admit.


  6. irfankhawaja says:

    OK, so there’s a Republican I could have voted for. It happens.


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