I’ve been meditating on this question of whether voting against a candidate, rather than for, is ultimately the right thing to do. I certainly am not much enamored of John Kerry, who wants to send 40,000 more troops to Iraq, who has shown support for the abominable and frightening Patriot Act, who just seems a little bit weasely to me, etc.
I’m registered Green, and I like David Cobb a great deal… though not as much as Dennis Kucinich, who struck me early in the primaries as one of the most articulate, plain-spoken presidential candidates I had ever heard. But I’m a pretty hardcore pragmatist, and know that candidates who actually reflect my views are too “radical” for mainstream America, i.e. don’t stand a chance. Interestingly, the voter’s guide (PDF) put out by the Green Party of Contra Costa County explicitly offers “No recommendation for president” (followed by a brief essay).
Earlier tonight, Mark Odell left a comment on an old post (Peace and Love) including a number of links to writers making the case that there is no such thing as a “wasted vote.” Do we (those of us who do not feel that mainstream candidates adequately represent our views) really want to spend the rest of our lives voting against candidates rather than for them? It’s a valid question.
Some say that success in politics is all about knowing how to compromise. I think it’s more like the game of Survivor – vote the weak and the strong players off the island first, leaving only the middle ground as contenders. The need to satisfy the widest possible swath of voters becomes a built-in middling mechanism, which almost guarantees that mediocrity will be rewarded. Every time.
Living in California, I probably have the luxury of voting Cobb without putting my state’s electoral votes at risk. But somehow, with the stakes this high, I think I’d rather wait for Instant Runoff Voting to become a reality before taking that plunge. This is my reality compromise: Register Green, vote Green in the primaries, and then become a begrudging Democrat in the general election. Every time.
In the end, I think that my moral responsibility to defenestrate Bushco trumps my desire to help pave the way for alternative candidates. But only just. And I pray for a future in which the race isn’t so close, the consequences so grave.