UPDATE - Klobuchar is out and will endorse Biden. The anti-Bernie consolidation is nearly complete. Now I need to decide whether I follow Klobuchar's advice and cast an anti-socialism vote for the former Vice President tomorrow. I'm inclined to do so. My original post is below:
For the first time in my life, I will cast a vote for a Democrat. I will do so in Virginia's Super Tuesday primary election. Let me make three things clear before I explain my decision any further: First, I do not consider this to be a candidate 'endorsement' in any traditional or meaningful sense. Second, I will not be voting for the Democratic nominee in the fall, no matter who it is. And third, I am not urging anyone to follow my lead; I'm simply laying out my personal decision, having thought about it at some length. As a Virginia resident and voter, I do not hold a partisan voter affiliation because that's not an option in our commonwealth. I'm therefore eligible to vote in either major party's primary election, and the state GOP chose to cancel its primary. The Democrats are the only game in town. I will vote for Amy Klobuchar. Here are my reasons why:
(1) I am adamantly and viscerally opposed to Bernie Sanders' candidacy because I view Socialism as destructive, economically ruinous and immoral. Though Joe Biden would be the most obvious 'strategic' vote to block Sanders in Virginia (I'm more or less expecting the Bloomberg bubble to burst), I don't feel obliged to pull the lever for him. His forced lurch to the left, especially on long-held supposed "principles" like this, has been disappointing to watch, and I have serious questions about his capacity to do the job if elected. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to actively cast a vote against socialism at every stage of the 2020 election, if necessary. I appreciate and respect that Sen. Klobuchar had the fortitude to raise her hand when asked if anyone on a recent debate stage would be uncomfortable with a socialist at the top of their party's ticket. She was the only candidate willing to make that statement.
(2) I'm under no illusions that Klobuchar is a moderate on the merits, though that term is certainly relative and subjective. She's more or less a down-the-line liberal Democrat who nearly always sides with the leadership of her party. Still, on a number of fronts, she has rejected the sort of mindless, knee-jerk "resistance" opposition to President Trump that has gripped much of her party -- including voting to confirm more Trump-appointed judges than many of her hardcore colleagues. I have also welcomed her detailed and clear-eyed warnings about the fiscal recklessness of the spending proposals laid out by the likes of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She has relatedly refused to indulge easy applause lines on "free" college and other programs, going out of her way to make the harder and riskier case for a more responsible and prudent course.
(3) Klobuchar does not seem to regard those who disagree with her on charged social issues like abortion and guns with sneering contempt. Though she's a reliable vote in favor of gun control and abortion (her NRA and National Right to Life ratings are dismal), she's at least willing to link arms with people who hold different views, in pursuit of some common ground. This is admittedly pretty thin gruel, but it's something, especially when compared with the more dogmatic, hostile, and exclusionary views espoused by other candidates in the field:
Today I asked @amyklobuchar if there is room in her coalition for pro-life people. She said yes of course. I asked if she’d try to find common ground on bringing down the number of abortions.— Chris Crawford (@CrawfordStuff) February 10, 2020
She said “Yes. Yes.” And told me about her work in the adoption caucus in the Senate. pic.twitter.com/CIvfMSulEE
(4) One of the events in recent political memory that radicalized me was the scandalous treatment of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process. Nearly every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee behaved abominably during that circus of an attempted character assassination, with two notable exceptions: Sen. Chris Coons, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Though they both strongly opposed the Kavanaugh nomination (I of course supported it), they didn't climb into the gutter, generally asking respectful and relevant questions. On substance and tone, they stood out from the howling pack of political hyenas on their team, particularly among those who were planning to run for president. Professionalism and thoughtfulness should be noticed and commended.
(5) Aside from our deep ideological differences, one factor that gives me pause about Klobuchar is her widely-documented history of abusive behavior toward her staff. The stories of her volcanic temper and mean-spiritedness range from disconcerting to outright bizarre. That this side of her personality rarely rears its head for voters to witnes is strange to me; there's something unnerving about someone who can compartmentalize that sort of nastiness while convincingly putting on a gentler, more inclusive face for public consumption. But ultimately, some private ugliness and intemperate comportment are not disqualifying in my book, especially as someone who is seriously considering voting for President Trump in November.
As I stipulated at the outset, I am not endorsing Amy Klobuchar for president. I have no intention supporting any Democrat in the general election, which is something I have never done before and do not anticipate doing any time soon. I also do not expect people to emulate, or even care about, my planned course of action. That's not the point. Because I offer commentary and analysis on politics every day for a living, and because we are living through a highly unusual, volatile and consequential political era, I've opted to be transparent and lay out my thinking on this aspect of my civic duty for my audience. You are more than welcome to agree, disagree, or simply shrug.