I voted for the independent anyway because generally speaking, I don’t think any vote is wasted in theory or in practice. There is of course the notion that voting your conscience is the foundation for democracy. There’s also the fact that after the elections, when either Democrats or Republicans see how many votes went to other candidates, the most natural reaction is to want those votes and to ask what those other candidates’ platforms were. These platforms are then often incorporated into either the Democrat or Republican fold. In effect, even if the alternate candidates don’t win, their ideas sometimes will.
This year, however, even though John Kerry is the least likely person I would vote for among the initial list of candidates, I’ll still be voting for him. Not because I’ve had a sudden change of heart and now like the mainstream Democrats; I’ll be compromising my principles and voting Kerry because there’s just too damn much at stake to be overtly idealistic. Many others on the Left in the US seem to feel the same way, as even Greens and socialists are throwing their support behind Kerry.
The irony is, Ralph Nader would normally be the guy I would vote for, despite knowing that he’ll inevitably lose. But this year is different. Bush has engaged the US in a war that seems to have no end in sight and has hinted at military action in other parts of the world – both acts have helped give birth to thousands more terrorists. His unilateralism is dangerously isolating the US from the rest of the world, even from former allies. On the home front, he has run the US into the deepest debt in US history and cost the country over 3 million jobs. We simply cannot afford four more years of Bush.
Nader and Bush could not be more diametrically opposed in terms of domestic and foreign policy, yet many Republicans are campaigning for Nader – the hope here is to water down the Democratic vote and to keep Bush in office. Nader knows this is happening and doesn’t care. One wonders where Mr. Nader’s priorities lie.
Bush is not an ordinary Republican or even an ordinary conservative. He and his administration present a clear and present danger to the US and the rest of the world. Priority Number One should and must be to unseat Bush. After the smoke has cleared, then we can focus on campaign finance reform and a multi-party system. For me and others to not compromise our principles this year and vote Democrat would be, in effect, the same as washing a sink full of dirty dishes while the house burns down – they might both need to be addressed, but one clearly takes precedence over the other.