'Vote for the party, not the man, and vote Republican
"I vote for the man (or woman), not the party" is what millions of Americans say and what, in fact, many do. It is intended as a noble sentiment: "I am not one of those Americans who votes blindly by party; I measure each candidate and then decide which one to vote for."
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."