It's election day in Georgia, and I just went and cast the shortest ballot I ever did: there was exactly one question before the electorate today. Although it's an important question, it's not very significant that you get out and vote today: Nate Silver estimates that my preferred candidate has a zero-percent chance of winning (running third behind Mr. Romney, whom Silver estimates to have a one-percent chance). My opinions line up about as well as usual with that of the democratic majority, even in Georgia.
Still, delegates are divided proportionately, so it's not a complete waste of a trip; and more, there's something to be said for participating in its own right.
Much has been said about the damage done by an extended primary, but there is a real virtue in counting the votes. The longest primary I can recall was the 2008 fight between then-Senators Clinton and Obama, which was also said to be crippling to both; but in fact, there was a landslide victory for their party in the fall. It's a good thing if people listen to the debates, read and think, and then have a chance to vote and know that their vote counts.
The Democratic Party fell down on that last point in 2008, resolving contentious issues of vote counting by having Sen. Clinton accede to a nomination of her opponent by general acclamation. She was a loyal soldier in that, as probably Mr. Santorum will be also should he lose: after all, he was once the Republican Party's whip.
The idea of democratic legitimacy may not survive, but it is an ideal I have fought for and continue to defend. This is not because it means that my side wins, because -- insofar as I have a "side" at all, there being so very few people who believe as I do -- there are far too few people like me to prevail even in the smallest and most local contest.
No, it is because my father told me as a boy about people who would stand in line to vote even though guerrillas would come and fire into the line. It is because, in Iraq, we defended people who stood in line even though mortars would fall and suicide bombers would threaten. It is because in Afghanistan we have killed men who would themselves kill to prevent women from voting, and because those women may not be able to vote for much longer.
Democracy may not be the right way to choose a government or a policy, but democracy is our cause whether it's right or wrong. That may not be a good argument, but sometimes honor demands that we do things that wiser people wouldn't do.