Wednesday, June 4

I voted for Nader in 2000

This isn't a confession.  I'm not ashamed of my choice and I'm not going to apologize for it.  But things have changed, and they've changed in ways that I don't know that I can fully articulate, though I think most of us know.  If I'd lived in a swing state, I probably would have voted for Gore, but in Vermont I had the luxury of making a protest vote.   The electoral college map wasn't going to change. Vermont was going to go for Gore no matter what I did.  If I'd lived in Florida, Ohio, New Mexico or New Hampshire, I would have voted for Gore.  I didn't have to make that choice.

For those of you in Vermont, the first few paragraphs that follow will be familiar to you.  For those of you who don't, you'll learn some very strange things about the way we choose a governor.

To explain this a little further, I didn't cast a protest vote in our Governor's race.  [Warning: obscure Vermont political rules follow].  In Vermont, we had a 3-way race between Howard Dean who, at the time, was a bit of a weak Democrat (I like him a lot better now, which is a whole other story), and he was running against a right wing loon (Ruth Dwyer) and Anthony Pollina, who was a lot more openly left-wing than Dean was.  I wanted to vote for Pollina, but Vermont's got odd rules.  If any candidate for Governor doesn't meet the 50% vote threshold, it gets kicked to the legislature, and there was a good chance we were going to end up with a Republican legislature: it was the election right after civil unions were enacted, and there was a short-lived right-wing backlash which lasted a single election cycle before reversing itself.

So there was this genuine risk that if Dean got 49.7% of the vote, we could end up with Ruth Dwyer as governor and I thought that as much as I liked Pollina, I just couldn't take that risk.  So I voted for Dean.  He got just over 50%, and I'm glad.  The second place (Dwyer) got around 35%, so yeah: good choice.

And I think that, given what I knew and understood at the time, both Dean and Nader were, in Vermont, good choices.  It wasn't because I liked Nader.  I've met Nader.  He's a jerk and a bit of a self-aggrandizing fool.  I was voting for the Green Party, which I'd previously respected a great deal.  Now it's a bit of a joke, which sometimes happens to political parties.

You might ask why I had such trouble voting for Gore.

The answer is really simple: the death penalty.

I have serious problems supporting any candidate who supports the death penalty.  This is a major problem for me, and still continues to be one.  It gave me trouble when I was supporting Dean in 2004, and it continues to give me trouble with just about every candidate I come to support.  Very few of them are anti-death penalty and I find that unconscionable.

But I have to let it go, for one specific reason: it's far better to have a candidate who supports the death penalty than to have one who supports the death penalty and will help to overturn Roe v. Wade.

It's infinitely better to have either Clinton or Obama than to have McCain on just about any issue you can measure, whether or not any of these candidates support the death penalty.

It's so much better to have a Democrat in the White House than to have McCain in the White House.

In 2004, when I was a bit disgusted with Kerry, I voted for him.  I didn't make a protest vote.  I wasn't happy with him being the choice, but I accepted the choice of one of the weaker candidates, and let it go.  I wasn't happy with the way he slimed Dean, and I wasn't happy with all sorts of things he did.  I even refused to work for his campaign, though I did work for anti-Bush groups.

But he got my vote.

I don't think I even have that much luxury any longer.  I don't think I can sit this next election out and only cast a vote.  I don't think Obama is the best choice we could have made for a nominee, but I don't think Clinton is either.  

I voted for Nader in 2000, and I'm not sorry about that, but I'm not voting for a non-viable candidate again.

I didn't work for Kerry in 2004, and I'm not sorry about that, but I'm not sitting back and letting other people do all the work this time.  I don't have the luxury to sit this election out and let it go without my involvement.  And this goes even if Clinton manages to pull off some sort of insane upset at the convention.  Would I be angry?  Oh yeah.

But I'd still work for her campaign.

I am going to do what I can to take down McCain and take down every last vestige of this sewer of an administration.   There's a really big cesspool in D.C. right now.  It's time we clean up all the toxic runoff that's coming from Crawford.

It's going to take a long time, and we all need to see to it that this clean-up effort starts today.

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