The election season is upon us, and again the comments section of some conservative sites are awash with guys - it is almost always guys - telling us why they will NOT vote for Candidate A, supposed conservative that he is (they get angrier at the male candidates from their own side, too), because he is somehow the wrong sort of conservative. He didn't vote with the Obviously Right people on some issue or another, which just proves it. There will be long complaints about having supported weak candidates or RINOs in the past, but the writer is sick of being betrayed and taken for a fool. No more. He's staying home.
Do liberals have some variation of this? What does it look like? Are there commenters over at Democratic Underground who go on about working for Clinton and Gore campaigns, but being tired of being betrayed because the candidates aren't liberal enough, or the wrong sort of liberal? An accusation that they are all corporate tools is perhaps more likely. But I'm guessing here.
I don't think it's a merely strategic difference, I think it has to do with personality, and what one expects from leaders at a basic level. I have said many times over the years that Republican candidates tend to say they will work for you, Democratic candidates that they will fight for you, and that this is a look inside the minds of both. (This may be changing, BTW.) But this group of conservatives don't fit that generalisation. They do want someone who will fight for them. They are not staying home bored, unexcited, because the candidates don't inspire them much - there are plenty of those folks, but they don't tend to be commenters. No, these citizens are staying home angrily, as a protest, no matter if Candidate A is running against Senator Palpatine.
Thus they also want people who are proven fighters, foxhole people, who will be with us to the end, going down in glorious defeat if necessary, so long as honor - variously defined - is not compromised. I have never found it to be the least bit productive to discuss this with them. I have enough sympathy with their idea that I always find at least one race to leave blank each election. But that doesn't have the emotional resonance that thumbing one's nose and staying home does.
I think the libertarians do it most, at least historically. A long-time Republican Party activist told me almost two decades ago that the economic conservatives supplied the contributions, the social conservatives made the phone calls, stuffed the envelopes, and put up the signs, and the libertarians complained about how everyone else was doing things wrong. I am detecting that it is the social conservatives becoming more likely to balk, while the libertarians may be moving toward slight accommodation. But I have no data for tha, only an impression, and may be wildly off.
I am curious what happens with the disenchanted liberals. Do they just quietly stay home? Become single-issue advocates? Go 3rd-party?