Thanks for your patiently-worded reply. One thing is for sure, of course: you have the freedom to do whatever you want to do with your vote, and to use only your own criteria in doing so. Noone can say you havent got the right, or you shouldnt be allowed to do so. Only thing any of us can do is cry "aargh" and even yell out, "are you out of your mind!?", if we get exasperated by the consequences. <big grin>
Nimh, I don't think you have listened to my main point. I will try to make it as clear as I can.
If people like me voted for Gore (or the mediocre candidate of the day) there would be *no* pressure on the democrats to change. There will be nothing to keep them from continuing to stand for nothing.
My vote adds a pressure for change on the system. This is certainly accomplishing something.
I did listen to that point, and already specifically addressed it. I.e.:
Couldn't you have given a "clarion call" in a context where it would actually have achieved anything practical - where it would have anyone elected in, for example?
If Greens start replacing Dems in functions that they actually have a chance of winning in the first place (hey, Bernie Saunders got into Congress), the message would get through to the Dems also - without it in the meantime having lead to a drastic deterioration in the way the world was ruled.
My question here is: how does
your presidential-race vote for Nader put pressure on the dems to change? One could just as easily surmise that the Dems, knowing there is a 2% fringe on the left they can't rely on, will be all the more intense about the 3-4% they will need to win extra in the middle
- enter Joe Lieberman. The fall-out of a vote that didnt bring any Green in, but did negatively impact the Dem's race, can go many unpredictable ways. The resulting bitterness alone will have made any Nader policy recommendation a non-starter among Democrats, for example. Its like you push on a button of which you know
it wont have the effect it advertises ('make Nader president'), while you have no idea what it will
Now a third party can
make a difference, on many levels. Wherever the system is PR (proportional representation), or where districts are left-leaning enough to allow a Green (etc) candidate a chance to make it into the city council, etc (even Congress, eventually), a vote for one makes a difference. Moreover, it is only
through votes with such an effective consequence - where the Green vote actually costs the Dems very real seats
- that it can be sure to pressure the Dems in the way you describe, as well.
In many election cycles you can promote system change by supporting third party candidates. Its just the presidential race thats the one example of where a third-party vote does not
make any difference. Hence the frustration that so many people cho(o)se those elections, specifically, to make their (protest) point.
So, yeh, you're right, we disagree about the criteria a voter should use to cast their ballot. I mean - I understand your dilemma well enough. I remember the discussions I had with my mother. She was Labour - I went to the Green Left. She had little understanding for such "testimonial politics" - after all, only Labour would ever get into government, so why waste your vote on a more principled, small party to its left, if it was doomed to protest its disagreement from the opposition benches forever? I would counter that the only thing that would keep a right-wing government out, in the end, would be the right-wing parties failing to gain a majority of seats among themselves - and my vote, translating as effectively into parliamentary seats as hers did, in our PR system, contributed just as much on that count. And there's the difference with a vote for Nader. Because the latter doesnt translate into zilch, in that respect - it simply withdraws your vote from the final count, making it possible for the Right to get into power with less votes than it would otherwise have needed.
Moreover, it doesnt contribute to a strong, left-wing, third party either, considering it produced resentment and recrimination more than anything else. The only plus I can imagine is that it catapulted the radical platform into media coverage for the duration of the campaign, but that would have been achieved without persisting to the bitter end as well, much like a credible Radical participating in the primaries does so.
If Americans are really serious about getting a third party into the system, they will have to learn about distinguishing which vote can be used for what - ask the Brits, they know all about it. If you live in Edinburgh you might vote Green for the Scottish parliament (elected by PR), LibDem for the local council, and Labour for the House of Commons, to make sure that on each level, you help in the one closest to your opinions from among those who could feasibly be elected
- while the sum list of your votes will still reasonably reflect your political convictions.
In my defense I will point out that no one knew how extreme the Bush presidency would turn out to be.
I was in too many Abuzz discussions at the time to buy that defence, really ... the warnings about what a Bush presidency would entail had been made, exhaustively. Naders cynical claim that "Gush or Bore", it would all be the same, anyway, had been contested with concrete examples of suggested policy measures every step of the way.