(N.B. by "philosophical/artistic/sophisticated" I mean "lazily posting links to songs I happen to enjoy".)
A friend of mine recently announced his decision to support Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican primaries. And he phrased his decision thus: "Reluctantly, Romney 2012."
Since when do we have to be reluctant about our vote?
I don't like this idea that I have two options. I don't like thinking that I have to choose between (gulp) two evils. Why not? Because when I vote for the lesser of two evils, in essence I'm not casting a vote for anyone. I'm casting a vote against someone. I'm saying "Okay, Candidate1 is bad, but Candidate 2 is worse. I don't want worse, I want just regular bad." The choice is not motivated by appreciation for the ostensible principles of Candidate 1. It's motivated by disapproval for Candidate 2.
And I don't think that's quite how things should work.
My reluctantly-Romney-supporting friend seems more enthusiastic about removing Mr. Obama from the White House than putting Mr. Romney in it. This is a problem, in my uninformed opinion. It's a problem philosophically, and it's a problem practically.
The philosophical problem is simple. If candidates devolve into a contest of "At least I'm not that guy", then the likelihood of actual intellectual and principial honesty decreases drastically. If voters only want reassurance that "I'm not that guy", politicians everywhere are let off the hook. They no longer have to be consistent (or have the appearance of consistency). They no longer have to be principled (or have the appearance of principle).
As for the practical problem, well, start by reading what Dave Begel has to say. Personally, I try to avoid bringing up problems unless I have a possible solution in mind. Because a problem without a solution only fosters discontent.
If my friend's intent is to cast a vote against Mr. Obama, he's trying to solve a problem when there isn't a real solution available, in his opinion.
Don't cast a negative vote, this upcoming year. Cast a positive vote, one you can get behind. Or don't vote at all.
Long live Variety.