Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

My philosophy: stop, look, and listen

Jerry Stratton, August 26, 2010

I was just thinking this morning that Alaska’s system for absentee ballot counting is kind of nice. They’ll have one counting of most of them just seven days after the election, and another counting of any stragglers a few days later.

In a close election that everyone thought was going to go another way, such as the Miller-Murkowski election this year, there’s a tendency for the kind of people politicians are to think, in the flush of the loss, hey, this was just chance. If I try again I might win!

But they can’t—it would really suck to switch parties and discover you actually won the primary. For one thing, your chances of winning the general would be even lower than just switching parties; you’d be a joke.

A week without any counting gives time for passions to cool in a way that a week with counts trickling in would not do. By the time August 31 rolls around, Murkowski will be running less on adrenaline and more on reason; she’ll be less likely to make a rash decision on August 31 or September 3 or 8 (depending on how the tally changes) than if she had to watch the tally continually over this week. She may still make a poor decision—politicians are like that—but it’ll be less likely.

A delay gives the losing candidate in a close election time to go through the stages of grief and come down from the ledge. In a hotly-contested election like this, it also gives voters a chance to relax and consider their real choices.

Now I see Doug Brady on Conservatives 4 Palin calling for Murkowski to concede before the absentee ballot results are in. I love C4P; they’ve done very good work and are one of the few links in my blogroll because of it. But that’s wrong. In a race this close and this dynamic, it is reasonably possible that Murkowski could win. She almost certainly won’t. But it is reasonably possible, and for that reason it is wrong to ask her to concede. Alaska’s system is that the votes aren’t in until up to September 8. That system should be changed or respected, and in my opinion should be respected.

So I’m going to counter their call to Lisa with a call to Joe: say that you think candidates should stay in the race until the votes are in. Not just that it’s their right, but that it’s their responsibility. Their responsibility not to act rashly; their responsibility to wait for the true facts.

Waiting and seeing—and calming down—is a good strategy that we employ too rarely today. I’d like to see it a lot more in congress.

Disclaimer: I donated to Joe Miller and am thrilled to see the underdog do so well in this race.

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