If there were ever a time when this was a noble sentiment, it would have been when Republicans and Democrats shared basic moral and American values and differed only on what policies would lead to the two parties' shared goals.
For example, though they never ran against each other, one might argue that the differences between the Democrat John Kennedy and his Republican predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, were not particularly great. But that was very rare. The fact is that, since the inception of the Republican Party, which was founded to counter the Democratic Party's defense of slavery, there has almost never been a time when the philosophical differences between the parties were not great.
And since slavery, there has never been a time when the two major parties differed as much as they do today. Therefore, the notion that one should vote "for the individual, not the party" has never made less sense. It would be as if someone in the mid-1800s had said, "I strongly oppose slavery, but the Democratic candidate is a much finer and more likeable individual than the Republican candidate."
Fine Democrats who defended slavery did as much harm to blacks and to America as disreputable Democrats. And elected officials vote with their party more often than in principled opposition to it, however fine they may be as individuals.
Nevertheless, a great number of Americans still vote for "the individual."
The most obvious examples are Republican "Never Trumpers." They say that they would vote for any Republican except Donald Trump because they find his character so objectionable.
My friend, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, is one prominent example. He believes in a strong American defense, supported Trump's withdrawal of the United States from Barack Obama's agreement with Iran, credits Trump with the Israeli peace agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, saluted Trump's moving of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and presumably supports other Trump policies, such as the president's extraordinary success with regard to the American economy prior to the lockdowns that crushed the economy.
Yet, he so loathes the president that he will vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
He and many other Americans (we will soon know how many) who support the president's Republican policies will vote for the party that stands for almost everything they oppose because they will "vote for the man, not the party."
I find nothing admirable in this position — morally or rationally. At this time in American history, to care more about an individual candidate than the party is to support the unraveling of America. It is so irrational as to be incredible.
Voting for any Democrat — whether for mayor, district attorney, state legislature, state governor, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate or president — is to vote for someone who will enable the left to destroy America as we know it. (That is their wording, not only mine.) The Democratic Party was once largely liberal. But today, it is left, and the left readily acknowledges it wishes to "transform" America, which means to destroy America as we have known it.
To vote for any Democrat is to vote for the party that believes America is "systemically racist," that it is rotten to the core, vile from its inception (in 1619, they claim, not 1776).
To vote for any Democrat is to vote for the party that will renew the Obama agreement with one of America's and the civilized world's greatest enemies, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
It is to vote for undoing every economic policy that led America to its greatest economic boom in memory.
It is to vote for Kamala Harris, the most left-wing member of the U.S. Senate, for vice president (and, given Biden's age and health, perhaps soon president).
It is to vote for the party that wants to allow millions more illegal immigrants into America and grant them benefits heretofore reserved for Americans. Democrats don't use the words "open borders," but they support this country-wrecking policy.
It is to vote for the party that supports the Green New Deal, or something very close to it, which will further ruin an economy already in ruins from Democrat-supported lockdowns.
It is to vote for the party that seeks to nationalize American health care ("Medicare for All").
It is to vote for the party whose mayors, governors and district attorneys allow violent riots and seek to "defund" police, a policy even most blacks oppose.
It is to vote for the party that supports the unprecedented suppression of free speech by Big Tech and universities.
It is to vote for the party that insists that men menstruate and that biological men must be allowed to compete against biological women in sports, no matter how often the biological men defeat them.
It is to vote for the party with the only anti-Semites, not to mention Israel-haters, in Congress.
It is to vote for the party that, for the first time in American history, openly identifies with socialism more than with capitalism.
It is to vote for the party that Big Pharma, big corporations and radical teachers unions support.
All because many Americans like their Democratic candidate for a Senate seat (as in Arizona) or the Democratic candidate for president more than the Republican candidate. They do not appreciate a likeable Democrat will do as much harm to our country as any other Democrat.