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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How I decided not to vote for Steve Lonegan

I wrote recently about being unsure whom I would vote for in the New Jersey Senate race. There was a time when my vote for the Republican could've been taken for granted. Long ago, as a New Yorker, I voted for some of the mediocrities the GOP put up against Sen. Moynihan, even though I liked him, on the grounds that I wanted more presence for Republicans in the Senate. That reflexive desire to see victories for the Republican Party (which I've now been a member of for 30 years) has dissipated. Interested readers can find a couple of broad snapshots of my political evolution here and here.

The polls' recent tightening shows Steve Lonegan a "mere" 12 or 13 points behind Cory Booker. In all likelihood, he is going to lose, and I doubt the current showdown in Congress is going to help Lonegan, who praises the GOP legislators for "having the guts to hold the line" -- and, after all, why wouldn't they, given that their paychecks continue and many of them represent safe, gerrymandered districts? I share the widespread disagreement with using a government shutdown (and worse, a possible debt default) as a mechanism for stopping Obamacare, which by the way I consider to be a bad piece of legislation that should over time be replaced with better health care reform ideas (which the GOP has been slow to produce).

So, my dislike for what's now going on in Washington lessens my willingness to vote for a "hold the line" conservative. So does the appearance just now in my county of one Rick Perry, campaigning for Lonegan by calling Obamacare a "criminal act" and a "felony." (Why not "treason" too?) I might have voted for Lonegan, despite generally disagreeing with him on social issues, if I saw in him even a hint of the open-mindedness and policy innovation the Republican Party needs now. It needs people who would be willing to consider such policies as a carbon tax (coupled with other tax reform), market monetarism, and substantial long-term investments in science and infrastructure.

The Democratic Party is not a vehicle for such things because it's too busy generating subsidies and regulations that calcify the economy. But the Republican Party is worse--at present--because it's dominated by a misguided and destructive knee-jerk Tea Party conservatism, and sending Lonegan to Washington would be a message to continue in that vein. So, with no particular enthusiasm, I'll vote for Cory Booker.

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