Quantcast

«

»

Oct 27 2012

The one brief message I have about the election

If you’re voting third party, you’re voting for Romney. Stop being an idealist and wake up to the reality of how our system works. I agree we need to have more parties in the dialog – trust me, I’d be way happier voting for someone more liberal like Jill Stein if I had the knowledge my voice would be heard – but that’s not going to happen by throwing your vote away and helping a Republican win. If you need any more convincing, remember Nader in 2000.

Obama isn’t perfect, but he’s the only option that supports equal civil rights for women, racial minorities, and LGBT individuals. And to me nothing more is important in my country than equal rights for all. If you put your pocketbooks ahead of equality, you’re selfish and downright immoral. My grad student stipend is technically at the poverty line for Washington state, and I would still happily pay higher taxes if it meant providing social services and helping those who need it the most. Heaven forbid I don’t have the luxury of an iPhone because I think someone’s children having food on the table is more important.

That’s the society I want to live in, and that’s why I’m voting Obama.

152 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    chasia

    Good to have you back, even if it may be briefly.

    I have to agree that voting often has to be tactical, an unfortunate circumstance of our defacto two-party system.

  2. 2
    gworroll

    I hate the lesser evil too, but yeah, Obama is really the only decent choice. The big problems I have with him, I’ve seen *nothing* to suggest Romney would be any different. At best, Romney hasn’t said he’d continue certain problematic Obama policies- but if he’d stop them, he’d shout it from the rooftops every chance he got. Quite a few progressives would be tempted to vote for him if it meant an end to drone strikes, even if the other Romney problems remained. I’m not sure that alone would get my vote, but I have to admit it would be tempting.

    Maybe we’ll get instant runoff voting some day. Then you could vote for whoever you want, and if they don’t get in, you can have a second, or third, or so on choice to cover the lesser evil options.

  3. 3
    LeftSidePositive

    And seriously–why aren’t these people pushing viable primary candidates or contributing to activism to reform the electoral college or change the first-past-the-post system? Why do these people love to just parade around every four years being idealistic in a way that doesn’t actually change any of the underlying problems they purport to care about? And another thing: why are these (in my experience, mostly male) people totally happy to exchange real adverse effects on things like women’s reproductive health and gay rights for the symbolic support of values that they know full well are not likely to come to fruition through their actions?

  4. 4
    thomaspenn

    I agree, and it’s great to see you posting. I hope there will be more to come.

  5. 5
    anteprepro

    I really don’t understand the mindset of people who think that voting for a third party president is anything except throwing one’s vote away. And the people who are about to do so are people who should know better. It is so fucking frustrating.

  6. 6
    elizabethh

    If I lived in a swing state, I’d agree with you. I might even agree with you if I lived in a red state. I live in a blue state, so I am voting Stein/Honkala. I know they won’t win and I do want Obama to win, which is why I have repeatedly donated to Obama (small amounts but I think the cumulative is over a hundred dollars by now), but my voting Stein in a state this blue will not make it harder for Obama to win my state and might make it easier for the Green Party to get a space on the stage in 2016.

  7. 7
    elizabethh

    #3 LeftSidePositive: What makes you think we’re not trying to change the system?

  8. 8
    alkkemist

    Very much agreed with here. I have been out canvassing in the sometime swing-state of NC.

    (Always a treat to see a post from you dear-heart)

  9. 9
    A. Noyd

    anteprepro (#5)

    I really don’t understand the mindset of people who think that voting for a third party president is anything except throwing one’s vote away.

    It’s typical American denial of systemic entrenchment, is what it is. We love to pretend that systemic change relies on nothing more than a critical mass of individuals changing what they do. We don’t realize that, like a cell, our social systems are buffered against small- and medium-scale changes.

  10. 10
    Raging Bee

    And seriously–why aren’t these people pushing viable primary candidates or contributing to activism to reform the electoral college or change the first-past-the-post system?

    And just as seriously, why aren’t these people running for state or local offices before running for President? The fact that the Greens have ZERO credibility isn’t the fault of the two-party system — it’s their own fault for never bothering to reach out to the people, engage with other interest-groups, try their hand at local issues, and build their own base of support.

    I knew someone in the Green Party who ran for a statewide office that had nothing at all to do with her primary issue areas. She was too old to campaign statewide, she never had any intention of campaigning in the state’s big cities, and the office she was running for had nothing at all to do with the policies she wanted to enact. Shouldn’t someone in the party have advised her to run for a local-government post instead? She’s a great person with sensible ideas (some of which she carried out on her own land), but her party did nothing but waste her time and energy. And we wonder why the Greens are such a joke in this country?

  11. 11
    Raging Bee

    … my voting Stein in a state this blue will not make it harder for Obama to win my state…

    So the only way you can justify voting for Stein is by insisting your vote won’t count? That alone pretty shows the intellectual bankruptcy of most third-party “campaigns.”

    I really think that if you want the progressive “left” to be relevant again, the only way to do it is to work within the Democratic primary process, and prove they can work with others and deliver votes. That is, after all, how the Tea Party came to dominate the GOP.

  12. 12
    jamesfrank

    Until the voting system is changed the only sane approach is to work through primaries. We don’t need to end up like Canada where the weakened left-leaning elements can be trounced by a conservative minority.

  13. 13
    elizabethh

    #11 Raging Bee: I am not saying my vote will not count. I am saying my vote will work towards the 5% of the national popular vote the Green Party needs in 2012 to get federal matching funds in 2016. You disagree; fine. You do it your way and I’ll do it mine.

    I thought about running for state representative as a Green Party candidate. I’m a few months too young this round, so I didn’t think about it for long, and anyway this address got redistricted and I don’t know whether candidates have to have been living in the district for a year or to have been living at an address currently in the district for a year. But 2014 or 2016, I think I might try. Won’t win, this area’s too rural, but that isn’t necessarily the point.

  14. 14
    lochaber

    I understand what you are saying, but I disagree with it.

    As long as the Democratic party continues to support the 2-party system, and avoid implementing something akin to instant-runoff voting, then I feel they loose any right to complain about Greens (or other minor parties) splitting the vote.

    As it is now, the Democrats can ignore many of the more progressive/liberal folk, and their desires, but still count on receiving their support. That really bothers me.

    Back in 2004, a friend used this same argument, and persuaded me to vote Democratic instead of Green. With reservations, I did, and we still got Bush. Plus, I felt like I had compromised my ideals. I decided I wouldn’t do that again.

    My vote for Jill Stein isn’t going to cause Obama to loose. On the unlikely chance that enough liberals vote Green, and the Democrats loose, hopefully it will force them to start listening to the far left, or backing some sort of instant-runoff.

  15. 15
    lpetrich

    FairVote.org | Home advocates such third-party-friendly reforms as Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation. Even if third-party candidates don’t win big, one will get a much better picture of their support.

    Duverger’s law – Wikipedia was discovered by sociologist Maurice Duverger over half a century ago.

    First-past-the-post / plurality voting / one vote and that’s it leads to a two-party system.

    Proportional representation / parties get seats in proportion to their votes leads to a multiparty system, since parties can easily get a start even if they are small.

    Two-ballot / delayed-runoff is in between.

  16. 16
    Francisco Bacopa

    I am a big supporter of the Harris County Green Party. I voted Green for Sheriff and a couple other local offices, but I did not vote for Jill Stein for President. The Green Party needs to build from the ground up and gain seats on city councils, school boards, and maybe even state legislatures. We need candidates with real experience in politics and we need local Green Party offices with real clout before the Greens should be running for national offices.

    I fully support my local Green Party. We even made a good showing for an at-large seat on Houston City Council, and next election I expect we will will do even better. And that’s what I think the Greens should be focusing on nationwide. We don’t need to be running non-viable spoiler candidates for President. All that money spent on the Stein campaign and the national convention should have gone to local candidates with a chance of winning.

    This election we need to stop the Republicans, and Obama and the Democrats are the only people with the power and influence to do this.

  17. 17
    sparks

    Welcome back Jen! Give ‘em hell.

  18. 18
    sanderaarts

    If you take strategic voting to the extreme it will always effectively result in a two-party system. Newcomers won’t have a chance.

    I’m glad we don’t have such a system in the Netherlands. We have 11 parties in our current parliament and government is always made up of coalitions of two or more parties, which has its shortcomings as well. It seems to make politics less polarized though.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote strategic as there may be valid reasons to do so. But there always are and it does consolidate the two-party system.

  19. 19
    Brent Royal-Gordon

    A vote for Obama is a vote for killing small children in foreign countries with military drones. Even if Obama weren’t wishy-washy on gay rights, even if he hadn’t abandoned his first-term promise to scale back our racist drug war, even if he were a vigorous defender of civil rights instead of someone happy to entrench Bush’s tyrannical policies, that alone would make voting for him unconscionable.

    Romney is probably worse on all of these points. And I live in a safely Democratic state anyway, so my vote won’t decide anything. But this year, “the lesser of two evils” still encompasses serious, serious evil, and I can’t endorse it.

  20. 20
    unbound

    Running even at local levels as a truly independent or alternative party candidate is actually pretty difficult in at least some cases…and I suspect more common than most of us think. In my county, the Board of Supervisors is composed almost entirely of Republicans (although about 1/2 of them claim to be independent). Even at this level, there is a lot of money that they command from the business interests in the county (Toll Brothers for instance) that they have successfully used to crush the opposition for well over a decade now. So, in my county at least, it isn’t that there hasn’t been competition, but that competition is already squashed that early. We really, really have got to get business money out of our elections if we want true change at all levels of government.

    In regards to Jen’s message, I have to agree completely. Voting for anyone other than Obama is voting for Romney. It is the simple reality of our times. Obama is no liberal by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to take the slightly conservative candidate over the extremist conservative candidate.

  21. 21
    ohiofreethinker

    That’s funny. The Republicans I know are convinced that a vote for a 3rd party candidate would be a vote for Obama. I think you’ve all been snowed.

    We hear this every election cycle. Don’t vote for X! Vote for Y! This is the most important election in Z years! The fate of the universe depends on it! The next election you can vote for who you really agree with, but this time don’t do it!

    Guess what? You’ll never vote for what you really want. You’ll always vote for a candidate from the two major parties.

  22. 22
    Aratina Cage

    FairVote.org advocates such third-party-friendly reforms as Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation.

    You have to be more specific here. Jill Stein is against Top Two primaries [link to her answer in the 3rd Party Debate about it], for instance. And Chris Clarke at Pharyngula noted that in his district, the top two winners were both Republican!

  23. 23
    wholething

    A vote for Obama is a vote for killing small children in foreign countries with military drones.

    But so is a vote for Rmoney. As many positions as Rmoney has held on so many other issues, I have never heard of him flip-flopping on this. He has only criticized Obama for not being aggressive enough. If you’re in a swing state, voting against Obama is voting for Rmoney.

  24. 24
    TrailRunner

    Some people are hesitant to vote for anyone besides the established two parties because they feel that anything else is a wasted vote. I think the only wasted vote is the one not used and even worse is to vote for a party you don’t believe in. Voting for a third party when your values agree with their values is the right thing to do. Keep doing what you’ve always done, and you will always get what you’ve always got. You shouldn’t have to settle for second best when your vote is concerned. Vote your conscience and not with the majority. As Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”

  25. 25
    michaelraymer

    I’m in Wisconsin, and I voted for Obama because I have no intention of letting this state turn red. Of course the drones issue is horrifying, but the war Romney seems eager to start with Iran is even worse. People in solidly blue or red states voting their conscious seems fine, but it’s not worth risking in a swing state. Just look at Florida in 2000: 537 votes in the other direction could have changed the course of history, and it’s hard to imagine a potential alternate universe where we wouldn’t be better off today with that result.

  26. 26
    LeftSidePositive

    Thank you, dleleux1, for reminding me that I don’t need my reproductive rights when I’ve got platitudes!

  27. 27
    lpetrich

    Top Two primaries? That’s a sort of delayed-runoff system.

    I watched the part of the debate that addressed that question, and none of the candidates proposed any alternatives to Top Two. They got into issues like campaign financing and government spending and states’ rights, which I think are separate issues.

    I think that we ought to have Single Transferable Vote or Proportional Representation for multi-seat positions, like for states with more than one Representative in Congress.

  28. 28
    TrailRunner

    On the contrary LeftSidePositive, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The truth is not a platitude and your reproductive rights are just one issue among many. If the Green Party has a good showing this election, it will be a positive step forward for all of us. Dr. Jill Stein with the Green Party is on the ballot in 85% of the states, yet she was not allowed to debate with President Obama and Governor Romney. Many people have never heard of Dr. Stein because it takes a great deal of money to advertise nationally and get the word out. Democrats and Republicans on the other hand have lots of money with lots of corporate sponsors. Denying a presidential candidate that is on 85% of the ballots the opportunity to debate the issues is wrong. It is no wonder many people have never heard of Dr. Stein. Perpetuating the two party system will not advance the liberal position.

  29. 29
    LeftSidePositive

    dleleux1, don’t fucking patronize me about my reproductive rights. Moreover, voting for Jill Stein will not address the fact that spoilers are inevitable in a first-past-the-post system. Having Jill Stein debate will not change the first-past-the-post system. People hearing about Jill Stein will not address the fact that you’re splitting the vote when half the country apparently thinks that voting for someone who treats rape victims like incubators is a good idea. Fix the structural issues that are wrong with our election system FIRST, and actually make room for good candidates to have more than a snowball’s chance in hell, and then you can talk about advancing the liberal position. Voting based on your vanity will not change the two-party system, and will just get us saddled with the worse of the two parties.

  30. 30
    Loqi

    That’s funny. The Republicans I know are convinced that a vote for a 3rd party candidate would be a vote for Obama.

    And they’re right. If they would vote for Romney, but they don’t think he’s conservative enough and write in Jesus instead, it reduces Romney’s vote count by 1.

    I think you’ve all been snowed.

    And I think you don’t understand the argument. I realize that people phrase it as “voting for a third party is the same as voting for x,” but they mean, “voting for a third party *instead of voting for major party candidate y* is the same as voting for y’s opponent, x.”

  31. 31
    TrailRunner

    LeftSidePositive, I’m not trying to patronize you; there are many issues, and you tried to distill it to one. I think the best way to “fix the structural issues that are wrong with our election system” is to build a new party that is more in line with the liberal position. I think Obama will probably win this election regardless of how you personally vote. I voted for the Green Party because that’s the way I want my vote counted. You are free to do as your conscience advises.

  32. 32
    anteprepro

    dleleux1, that is facepalm worthy. No, the existence of a new party does not solve the problems with the election system that prevent serious, viable third parties from existing. We need to change how we elect people in order to make a third party last. Making a really really nice third party doesn’t change those problems. The only way the problem with current parties will be solved that way is if the new party REPLACES an existing party. In which case, why not just try to make the Democrats more liberal from within instead of ditching them and trying to start some scratch through wildly implausible means?

  33. 33
    Joshua Adams

    I agree that since third parties can’t win, one should vote for Obama. If Obama and Romney will both do X (drone strikes, etc) then your vote can’t prevent X. It isn’t a symbol or a signal, but a move taken to influence the outcome, which must be decided on the differences between the candidates. Any sane and decent person ought to be able to see that Obama is better when you look at those differences.

    Inviting third parties to the debates could be helpful in that the problems shared by both parties would be discussed in the media. Consciousness raising, in other words. Even if they can’t win, the Greens and so forth can manage that, at least. Maybe the Democrats would be forced to do better on banking regulations and foreign policy and civil rights if there was someone pointing out how barely adequate a job they’re doing.

    As has been pointed out, we need a different way of voting to enable third party success. But IRV isn’t a good alternative to our current system. I would advocate range or approval voting if you want a system that probably makes third parties viable. Rangevoting.org explains why IRV, and other systems, aren’t as good. For one thing, IRV hasn’t actually helped third parties in the countries that use it, but it also suffers from a number of theoretical problems (e.g. you can actually hurt your candidate by ranking them higher, that sort of thing).

    Of course, even if election reform advocates settle on a good system, I’m not sure how you get the government that’s run by the two parties to enact it knowing it would take their parties’ power away.

  34. 34
    TrailRunner

    From what I’ve heard you say, anteprepro, Joshua, and LeftSidePositive, the problem is with the way the voting system works, i.e. first-past-the-post. How does a vote for the Democratic party fix this? It only seems to perpetuate the problem. My emphasis is on fixing the problem not winning this election. A vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party would be one step closer to a woman in the Presidency. To me, this is a big step forward. Your emphasis seems to be different.

  35. 35
    amandamilstein

    I agree with the first point. A vote from a liberally minded person is a potential vote for Obama, and if you live in a battleground state, voting 3rd party is essentially throwing your vote away to Romney.

    But what you’ve done in the second paragraph, rather than making that point, is assume that people vote third party in order to give weight to Romney’s campaign on purpose. If someone wanted to vote for Romney, they would vote for Romney. No one votes Green because they want a Republican president, and accusing people of greediness is on par with the “Not the 99%” photos (Like this one: http://catallaxyfiles.com/2011/10/16/not-the-99-percent/) that were making the rounds during the Occupy movement.

    Everyone is entitled to their views on the economy, and wanting taxes to be done this way or that way is not the same as believing that an ipad is a basic human right. Literally no one is arguing that. It’s a slap in the face to liberally-minded people who believe the two-party system is broken to shout at them like they’re as ignorant as the conservatives who are trying to shut down rights for minorities and women right now.

    I agree with your basic point, but it could have been made better, and in a way that doesn’t alienate people we should be befriending.

  36. 36
    LeftSidePositive

    dleleux1, voting for Obama does nothing to advance changes to our voting system. It is a matter of reducing harms until we can figure out how to get public support and awareness for system-wide changes.

    And no, voting for Jill Stein does absolutely nothing toward getting a woman in the White House. All it is is a step closer to having someone explicitly anti-woman in the White House, because actions have consequences, and la-la-land idealism that doesn’t even TRY to address practical effects in the real world harms far more than it helps.

    And it would be nice if you’d have a little more awareness of the people who would be harmed if this election isn’t won by at least a moderate, while you so blithely say your emphasis is not on winning this election.

    Josh: the Range Voting idea is interesting, but I’ve got to say that’s one of the worst-designed websites I’ve seen in some time.

  37. 37
    unbound

    Couple of interesting discussions in this thread. My two cents:

    - Drones killing children is hardly new. There have always been many innocents killed whenever any military (including ours) is performing actions. It has gotten better than the massive burn everything campaigns (e.g. carpet bombing), but it has never been better than it is now, and it will never go down to zero (at least in my lifetime). “Smart weapons” are not that much better than the dumb ones.

    - Creating a truly viable 3rd party probably won’t solve anything in the US at this point. The primary problem is all the money from the super rich (0.0001%) and the large corporations. Until we solve (or at least drastically limit) the problem of their influence in politics, any viable party that comes up will end up being corrupted by the rich. Basically, we are actually becoming (or perhaps already have become) one of the most corrupt countries on the planet. It’s just harder to see since we are in the middle of it and the rich have paid for some really good PR (like Faux News, but don’t think for a minute that NY Times and Wash Post are immune to the influences). Federally funded campaigns only would be a good first step.

  38. 38
    Joshua Adams

    @dleleux1

    Voting Obama won’t fix it. It isn’t intended to fix the two-party system. The vote is intended to make sure Obama defeats Romney, because an Obama presidency is higher in my/our preference ordering than a Romney presidency. It’s that simple. As I said, your vote decides that set of policies which aren’t agreed on by the two main parties. No other issues, even if they’re critically important to the health of our democracy, are pertinent to that particular choice.

    For example, I think we really need to reign in Wall Street or we’re fucked, but Obama doesn’t seem all that interested, and Romney obviously wouldn’t do anything. So the election won’t help with that crucial issue. But I’m not going to throw women or the uninsured under the bus by saying that therefore they’re indistinguishable as candidates or that the election doesn’t matter.

  39. 39
    cortex

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/09/every-person-is-afraid-of-the-drones-the-strikes-effect-on-life-in-pakistan/262814/

    Under Obama, we are terrorists. Under Romney, we would be terrorists. I can’t just pretend that doesn’t matter.

    Sometimes the right move isn’t in the rulebook. Sometimes the right move is to throw the board against the wall, scattering pieces everywhere.

  40. 40
    Joshua Adams

    @LeftSidePositive

    Agreed, the website isn’t very well designed, but their arguments are what counts. I think they provide good information about the pros and cons of a variety of systems and convincingly explain why theirs is the best. Every time I hear anyone advocating instant runoff I try to bring it up, but I hope the source isn’t putting people off. Unfortunately it seems people immediately leap to IRV for an alternative since it’s the only one a lot of people have heard of, apparently.

    @unbound

    Yes, getting big money out of our elections is also necessary. I don’t want to give the impression that I believe simply changing the voting system will fix everything by itself. It’s necessary but not sufficient. Of course, you’re more likely to get a Justice that disagrees with Citizens United if Obama can pick them, probably…

  41. 41
    TrailRunner

    Joshua, et. al. I sounds to me like you think this is a game of good versus evil, and I don’t need to engage my brain….just vote the party line. I’m sorry but that’s not how I see it. Voting is not a game of you’d better vote this way or the other side wins. If the liberal position means anything, then other people will vote for it too. If you feel this position is right you will try to educate people otherwise. For instance, I wrote a reader essay to the paper today. That’s the way I think it should work.

  42. 42
    Loqi

    Joshua, et. al. I sounds to me like you think this is a game of good versus evil, and I don’t need to engage my brain….just vote the party line.

    That’s not what anyone is saying. Are you actually going to engage what people are saying, or are you just going to dismiss what you wish they said and then re-assert your initial position?

  43. 43
    ohiofreethinker

    And I think you don’t understand the argument.

    I understand it, and I reject it. People with liberal tendencies are being railroaded into voting for Obama lest Romney get elected. People with conservative tendencies are being railroaded into voting for Romney lest Obama get elected.

    Result? Nobody really “wins”, nobody really expresses their honest political opinion via their vote. They just lose less than they otherwise would have, and send the incorrect signal that they actually want who they voted for.

    The whole thing is a farce. I’m withdrawing my consent and support of the whole thing.

  44. 44
    LeftSidePositive

    I’m withdrawing my consent and support of the whole thing.

    And do you think anyone gives a shit about your consent? Do you think your prominent walking-off will have any effect on your society whatsoever? Do you think society will notice your refusal to vote and feel obligated to address your concerns? Nearly 40% of this country regularly doesn’t bother to vote…and this hasn’t spurred any massive systemic change, so what makes you think you’re different from those other easily-ignored 90 million people?

  45. 45
    oddree

    I will never vote for a person who murders US citizens, which is what dropping a drone one someone who has never been convicted of a crime in a court-of-law amounts to. He didn’t have Bush prosecuted for his war crimes because he wanted to “look forward”, which, apparently, is ramping up the worst of Bush’s polices. Everyone having the right to marry isn’t going to matter much when you can be killed by the president via a whim. I will vote my conscious every time. Keep on voting for the better of two evils, your still getting evil in the end.

  46. 46
    Loqi

    I understand it, and I reject it.

    What does it even mean to “reject” the argument that voting for a third party instead of a major party is helping one side or another get elected?

    People with liberal tendencies are being railroaded into voting for Obama lest Romney get elected. People with conservative tendencies are being railroaded into voting for Romney lest Obama get elected.

    Oh, so you don’t “reject” it like you claim, you just don’t like the reality of the system.

    The whole thing is a farce. I’m withdrawing my consent and support of the whole thing.

    And since you don’t like the reality of the system, you’re not going to help prevent the worst-case scenario. Makes sense.

  47. 47
    Loqi

    I will never vote for a person who murders US citizens, which is what dropping a drone one[sic] someone…

    I don’t think those drone strikes are targeted at US citizens…

    He didn’t have Bush prosecuted for his war crimes because he wanted to “look forward”, which, apparently, is ramping up the worst of Bush’s polices.

    What? You think he “ramped up” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Everyone having the right to marry isn’t going to matter much when you can be killed by the president via a whim.

    Every president ever has been able to kill you on a whim. In fact, pretty much every head of state has always been able to do this. By your logic, no issue in the history of governance has mattered. Reducing everything down to a single issue is irrational, especially when none of the choices in play would change the reality.

    Keep on voting for the better of two evils, your still getting evil in the end.

    As opposed to what? Either Obama or Romney is going to be president. One is bad. The other is really, really bad. You can choose to vote for one or the other. That’s the reality, whether you like it or not. Saying “neither one is good, so I’m refusing to help prevent the worst” is irrational.

  48. 48
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    @ohiofreethinker,

    I’m withdrawing my consent and support of the whole thing.

    So you’re perfectly happy if Mitt Romney wins, that’s an outcome that you’re completely satisfied with. Gotcha. You are comfortable with civil rights for LGBT people being flushed down the toilet, the social safety net being eliminated, war with Iran, and all the rest of the “worst case scenario” stuff people are talking about.

    You’re fine with that, if the alternative is dirtying your precious self by voting for the person who is the less-bad choice. You’d rather see more people’s lives destroyed then compromise on a decision that obviously doesn’t affect you either way. You can pretend that’s an ethical decision, but it is nothing besides putting your ego ahead of the lives of real human beings.

    Obama is a shit choice. But your “principles” are even shittier, if they aren’t based on the best real-world outcomes for real-life people.

  49. 49
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I don’t think those drone strikes are targeted at US citizens…

    There was one, Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi. One article claims that 2 other U.S. citizens have been killed too, but didn’t name them. This incident created an enormous amount of butthurt in segments of the population that didn’t seem all that concerned drone strikes or wars of aggression generally until someone with the right papers stopped a bullet from the wrong source. That’s apparently far far worse than murdering thousands of people with the wrong citizenship for no better reason than Al-Aulaqui was killed, and also far worse than putting thousands of American citizens into situations which gurantee that many of them will be killed, also without due process of law (Not that I support the government killing anyone even after such process; I am opposed to the death penalty as well as to war generally). People like OhioFreethinker apparently only believe that American citizens are actually entitled to any kind of rights, and often not many of them. I, OTOH, am opposed to government sponsored murder in all cases, but am smart enough to realize that this election will not change the general attitude of the U.S. government towards murdering people, so I’ll settle for the guy who will exercise that power less often, and murder fewer people.

  50. 50
    lyndamo

    Jen, good to see you posting again. I hope that all goes well here in the comments. I sure as hell hope that Obama gets elected. I did what I could to help educate and register. Let’s hope it was enough.

  51. 51
    Megillicuddy

    And seriously–why aren’t these people pushing viable primary candidates or contributing to activism to reform the electoral college or change the first-past-the-post system? Why do these people love to just parade around every four years being idealistic in a way that doesn’t actually change any of the underlying problems they purport to care about?

    I agree to the extent that reform of the electoral system outside of an election year is the ideal solution, but the “these people” I know are exactly the people who do work toward those big picture goals. They’re all-the-time activists who push for radical reform, devote time and resources directly to causes important to them, and vote their principles.

    They’re also a very tiny minority relative to the number of people planning to hold their nose and vote for Obama, many of whom I’d guess either did the same in 2000 or made a vote for Nader on principle and got burned.

    Not wanting to make a futile symbolic gesture during an election is one thing, but how many times do we have to throw away our vote on a candidate we don’t really believe in (even as the differences between the lesser and greater evils diminish) before we acknowledge that our options are to throw our numbers at the cause of structural reform or accept elections that function as an attendance record rather than a reflection of what we stand for?

  52. 52
    Christoph Burschka

    It sucks beyond imagining, but it’s true.

    And to me nothing more is important in my country than equal rights for all. If you put your pocketbooks ahead of equality, you’re selfish and downright immoral.

    I read the same on Salon recently. I’d go further and say that anyone justifying a vote for Romney with “because of the economy, but I don’t agree with him on marriage or race stuff” is simply lying. Of course they do, and are at best ashamed to say so. Nobody who seriously disagreed with a candidate on fundamental human rights could vote for him based on tax policy.

  53. 53
    Christoph Burschka

    (Mind you, I also disagree with Obama on human rights, viz, drone warfare and whistleblowing, but I hardly have a better option there.)

  54. 54
    joachim

    Hey Jen, if you would happily pay higher taxes, no one is stopping you from sending extra money to the IRS…if you pay taxes at all.

    As for Barry Hussein Obama, he continued the Bush Wars and has taken from Medicare, so he has already hurt my family.

    And we won’t even fully know how bad Obamacare is until 2014…after all, as Nancy Pelosi said, we wouldn’t know what was in it until we passed it.

    Hint…there really are death panels.

  55. 55
    Christoph Burschka

    Hi joachim,

    you appear to be able to write, or otherwise know somebody who can, so I’m going to assume you can also read.

    This is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is available both in text and PDF form. This, all of this, and nothing but this, is the law that is referred to as Obamacare.

    I eagerly anticipate your citing the part about the death panels. While you’re at it, I suggest you also look through it to find all the references about Obama faking 9/11 and the moon landing.

  56. 56
    standancer

    Thanks for posting this Jen. I get so tired of people who can’t understand that voting for some “progressive” third party candidate actually has moved both parties to the right and not to the progressive goals they claim they want.

    As for joachim “Hint…there really are death panels.” all I can do is facepalm.

  57. 57
    Nick Gotts

    Good to see you back Jen, even briefly.

    The first point that needs making in this discussion is that the chance that one vote will make a difference in the Presidential election – or even one for Congress – is negligible; if you want to make a difference, then you should get involved in campaigning or vote registration. That said, while I have no truck with the nonsensical claims that there’s no important difference between an Obama win and a Romney win (which I fear looks increasingly likely), if I were American and in a state safe for either main candidate, I’d vote and campaign for Stein; if in one that could plausibly make a difference to who wins, then for Obama.

    On Duverger’s law, it isn’t by any means absolute. In the UK, 11 parties are currently represented in the House of Commons, including our first ever Green MP. Total share of the vote for the two main parties peaked at 94% in 1951; since then it has followed a generally downward trend, and in 2010 it was 65% – and this resulted in a coalition. So FPTP does not by any means absolutely force a two-party political system (it hasn’t in Canada either). The USA system has additional structural features, notably the vast amounts of money the rich can pump into political campaigns (just about every other democracy has limits on campaign finance and political advertising); and redistricting being controlled by political parties, not by an independent commission (again, just about every other democracy has one).

  58. 58
    Nick Gotts

    joachim,

    if you would happily pay higher taxes, no one is stopping you from sending extra money to the IRS…if you pay taxes at all.

    Are you being stupid or dishonest here? What Jen means of course, is that she’d happily pay higher taxes if other people do as well – if an individual sends extra to the IRS, unless they are one of the super-rich, the effect would of course be negligible. And of course she does pay them, you are in effect accusing her of lying with your final phrase.

    As for Barry Hussein Obama, he continued the Bush Wars and has taken from Medicare

    A lie, of course.

    Hint…there really are death panels.

    And another. So once again, are you a liar yourself, joachim, or just a fool?

  59. 59
    sanderaarts

    I get so tired of people who can’t understand that voting for some “progressive” third party candidate actually has moved both parties to the right and not to the progressive goals they claim they want.

    Maybe my knowlegde of US politics is not sufficient enough, but I’d say that because they now only have to fight the Republicans on the right, only the right wing issues get a lot of attention. A lot of votes for a third liberal party would tell the Democrats that there are many voters in that segment. A segment that the Republicans won’t be able to reach. Democrats would therefore be forced to put more emphasis on the left issues as well.
    A third party on the left would also make the Democrats seem more like a center party, which could make them more attractive to voters who may be afraid it’s too left now. Indeed that might move the party somewhat to the right, but probably at the expense of the Republican party.

  60. 60
    jackhuskey

    Well, as a conservative I am glad to see that the loyal opposition has some of the same problems we do. Any mass movement by strict constructionist Libertarians like myself moving to the libertarian party hurts the centerist Republicans odds of getting elected, instead of convincing the centerists that they should put some planks in the program that will appeal to us on the far right.
    But in the “Count your blessings” department, those of you on the left actually do get leftist canidates who can win in the democrat party. Clinton ATTEMPTED to nationalize healthcare at least. While bush did cut some taxes (good conservative move there) he also cut into civil liberties (Patriot act and TSA/Homeland SA) in totally unacceptable ways. Obama came into office saying “I am going to make American as socialist as I possibly can in 4 years”. He didn’t hide it. What was McCains msg? “I’m a vet!” (And gawd bless him for his service and the horrors inflicted upon him during that service but that alone won’t get my vote.) So here we are in 2012 and the republicans have put annother milktoast centerist on the top of the ticket and those of us on the right are just now getting the message “Support this weaksause guy in the center or we get the socialist AGAIN, worse yet he is a lame duck socialist and that extra flexability he was offering Putin… he will have it.” Is Obama not as leftist you would like? Cry me a river… he is alot more left than Romney is right.

  61. 61
    ohiofreethinker

    And do you think anyone gives a shit about your consent?

    I’m well aware nobody does, or about the consent of the ~40% of the rest of the people you pointed out. What does that number need to be before the state can’t pretending to be operating with the “consent of the governed” anymore? 50%? 70%? 99%?

    I’ll bet it wouldn’t matter if everybody stayed home except the candidates themselves and their families. Because, well, we all had the opportunity to vote, didn’t we?

    The fact that people voted is such an important part of a ruler’s claim to legitimacy that it is often mandatory under despotic regimes. Gotta make it look like everybody had a voice and chose the government they got.

    Oh well, look at it this way. At least you get one more person to choose from than people who “voted” under Saddam Hussein.

  62. 62
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    @ Christoph Burschka #52

    It’s more than that; anyone who says they’re voting for Romney for economic reasons is a fool and an idiot, regardless of their position on human rights, which may also make them evil. Republican economic policies are bad for everyone, rich and poor alike. Granted that the rich are hurt less by them, but the stock market consistently does better under Democratic administrations, as does the overall GDP. Rich assholes don’t appear to recognize or acknowledge this fact, but that doesn’t change the facts.

  63. 63
    davidjanes

    it’s their own fault for never bothering to reach out to the people, engage with other interest-groups, try their hand at local issues, and build their own base of support.

    I think the primary problem is that both of the “major” third parties actively despise the idea of compromise and therefore cannot produce viable candidates for legislative seats where compromise would be required. Thus they tilt at the executive office windmill with zero broad based support and wonder why the rest of us think they are crazy, when doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.

  64. 64
    lpetrich

    I don’t see how approval voting or range voting will be better at breaking a two-party stranglehold than IRV. They are all more multicandidate-friendly than FPTP, but that’s about it.

    To be fully multiparty-friendly, one needs multiseat districts.

    -

    Turning to US history, the creators of the US Constitution had wanted no political parties — they disliked factionalism and partisan politics. However, that was not to be, and a few years into the operation of the US Government, the politicians split up into parties: Federalist and Democratic-Republican.

    In the early decades of the 19th cy., however, the Federalist Party faded out of sight, and the Democratic-Republican party split in two. One became the Democrats, and it has continued to exist to the present day. The other was the National Republicans. They also pooped out, and the Whigs took their place for a couple decades. But they also went down the drain, and the Republican Party emerged nearly a decade before the US Civil War. It has lated to the present day.

    Despite numerous third-party efforts in the decades since, the Democratic and Republican Parties have reigned unchallenged, though in the second half of the 20th cy., the two parties exchanged regional bases.

  65. 65
    ericdutton

    It’s ironic to hear so many people accuse third party voters of being short-sighted. If you talk to some of them, you’ll find that many of them are doing it because they are thinking about the next 40 years, not just the next 4. It’s not just that third party voters are distracted by the shiny liberalness in the window and have decided to spend their lunch money on those yummy confections without a thought for the future. They don’t want to be stuck buying from the closest ice cream vendor on the beach, who is drifting farther and farther away most years.
    If you think that a vote for anyone other than Obama is a vote for Romney, then you don’t understand what those votes are about. Persuading those voters requires making a case that the Democrats have NOT been drifting to the center, rather than trying to convince them that they just haven’t really thought about it yet and that if they just sat down and put their little brains to work adding and subtracting on their fingers, they would see how voting works.

    At the same time, though, I think that if you’re a liberal who isn’t going to vote for Obama, you need to do it loudly. If you’re trying to create actual consequences for left-ish candidates who take the liberal vote for granted, then you have make yourself distinct from those who don’t know, don’t care, or who just forgot to vote. The reasons for your non-vote have to be known, or else the party you’re tying to shake up will just think that the solution is to work harder to get out their milquetoast message. They need to know that they lost your vote because they weren’t doing their jobs, not because you weren’t doing yours.
    I will, however, be voting for Barack Obama (in Florida, by the way). I really don’t like what I see in Mitt Romney; his willingness to impose an imaginary set of values and motivations on an inconvenient class of vulnerable people in order to make them expendable is disgusting and dangerous. Still, I don’t think that a Mitt Romney victory is going to make it easier for future Mitt Romneys to win elections, but allowing Democrats to win with a More-Liberal-than-the-Alternative justification might. I think Obama is a LOT better than Mitt Romney, but I am trouble by those who seem to be arguing that it doesn’t even matter if he is.

  66. 66
    LeftSidePositive

    you’ll find that many of them are doing it because they are thinking about the next 40 years, not just the next 4.

    And what evidence do they have that their strategy will be effective on a 40-year scale? Before setting upon a long term strategy, and sacrificing short-term gains to do it, I’d want some evidence that it WORKS.

    If you think that a vote for anyone other than Obama is a vote for Romney, then you don’t understand what those votes are about.

    Voting is a matter of math. It doesn’t affect the outcome in any way to preen about what one’s vote is “about.”

    Persuading those voters requires making a case that the Democrats have NOT been drifting to the center,

    No, it requires making a case that Republicans have been drifting further right (which they are at liberty to do since they actually run primary challenges and get involved in local offices to make their base significant in politics, not to mention extremely well-funded donors and churches), and Democrats increasingly feel they have to go to the center to make up for the voters on the left who have quit.

    rather than trying to convince them that they just haven’t really thought about it yet and that if they just sat down and put their little brains to work adding and subtracting on their fingers, they would see how voting works.

    Well, they obviously don’t get basic math, so what else are we supposed to do?

    At the same time, though, I think that if you’re a liberal who isn’t going to vote for Obama, you need to do it loudly.

    The electoral college system doesn’t care how loudly they don’t vote. This is basic math. If they want to have more of a voice, why the hell weren’t they involved in supporting credible primary candidates at multiple levels of government? Spoiler voting, however loudly they think they’re doing it, is simply slacktivism.

    I think Obama is a LOT better than Mitt Romney, but I am trouble by those who seem to be arguing that it doesn’t even matter if he is.

    Who exactly is arguing this?

  67. 67
    eidolon

    Eric @65

    O.K. – suss this. There are two candidates with any realistic chance of becoming president. That is the reality. If you decide to vote for some 3rd party candidate with abso-fucking-lutely zero chance of winning, you will might as well have not bothered.

    Do you think the results of a Romney victory would be as desirable as the results from an Obama win? What you appear to dislike is the choice between the lesser of two evils. This just in – that is the norm because no candidate is going to match my or your set of priorities to a “T”. Do you think that the Democratic party moved left because of the impact – negative – that Nader had? No – they moved towards the more moderate stance because there were more votes to win there than would be lost by swinging left. You can whine and piss and moan all you want, but until you and others who want a more progressive agenda start by working at the lowest levels of government, it is NOT going to happen. Take a lesson from the godbots on the right. That did not happen overnight, it took time and gradual moves up the ladder, building a political base along the way.

  68. 68
    liamjones

    My pastime re electing war criminals then acting smug towards those that refuse to

  69. 69
    davidjanes

    Comments like #68 & #65 sort of reinforce my thesis that the people who want to vote third party are not actually interested in the work of governance but in exercising their supposed moral superiority. It’s one reason their candidates are outpolled by Santa Claus and Heywood Jablome on most ballots.

  70. 70
    ericdutton

    LeftSidePositive @ 66
    eidolon @67

    The thought of responding to these comments is exhausting since it would mostly be a matter of doing a close-reading my previous comment. If you have read everything I wrote as a argument against voting for Obama, you misread.

    I will say this in response to eidolon:
    You wrote:
    Do you think that the Democratic party moved left because of the impact – negative – that Nader had? No – they moved towards the more moderate stance because there were more votes to win there than would be lost by swinging left.
    I almost made the argument that, after losing to George W. Bush because of Ralph Nader, Al Gore became a whole lot more liberal than he was before–at least publicly. But then I thought, “That’s the kind of cause and effect argument that requires a whole lot of evidence.” So I decided against it. I would appreciate it if you would show similar restraint.

  71. 71
    lochaber

    As to potential beneficial outcomes for voting 3rd party, there are two thinks that come to mind: (I’m sure there are others, but these seem the biggest to me)

    If enough liberals vote Green (or some other third party) it would possibly push it over the threshold to gain federal funding and official recognition.

    If the Democrats loose the election due to loss of support from the far left, then hopefully that would be enough of a kick in the ass for the Dems to either start appealing to the far left, or to start pushing for (instead of blocking) voting systems other then FPTP – that way they could keep their current policies, and keep trying to appeal to moderates/conservatives, but wouldn’t have the concern of loosing the far left votes.

    Anyways, I think I understand most of the thought behind the major sides of this, and I’m not trying to say one is wrong or one is right, just trying to help explain some of the reasoning behind my decision.

    Also, it appears to me that the Democrats (and society in general) have been getting more conservative over the past couple decades. Granted, we’ve made some great gains in some areas like LGBTQ rights (though, we still need to make a lot of progress yet), but I can’t help but feel that we have been backsliding in other areas, like reproductive rights, science education, sex ed, income/wealth inequality, environmental protections, etc.

    And, Ms. McCreight, it’s a bit late, but nice to see you posting again, hope things have calmed down a bit with you and yours.

  72. 72
    ericdutton

    davidjanes @ 69

    “Comments like #68 & #65 sort of reinforce my thesis that the people who want to vote third party are not actually interested in the work of governance but in exercising their supposed moral superiority. It’s one reason their candidates are outpolled by Santa Claus and Heywood Jablome on most ballots.”

    Comments #68 and #65 are pretty poor support for your thesis.

  73. 73
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    jackhuskey #60:

    Well, as a conservative …

    So here we are in 2012 and the republicans have put annother milktoast centerist on the top of the ticket

    Further proof that conservatives live in their own little bubble. There are no centrists in the Republican Party by a long shot; they’ve either retired, or followed the Teabaggers.

    lochaber #71:

    If the Democrats loose the election

    Anyone who says this should just go ahead and vote Republican because they obviously do not care about the rights of anyone who isn’t a rich straight white cisgendered Christian male.

  74. 74
    Jafafa Hots

    I live in California.
    My Presidential vote is meaningless, as it is for all of those in a “back-pocket state.” If your is solidly in one candidate’s back pocket – your vote does not count. They aren’t even campaigning in your state.

    So yes, I can vote third party and I will.
    I’m voting for Jill Stein.

    Obama will win this state, barring alien invasion. Voting for him is meaningless. Voting for Romney is meaningless here too (except for being repugnant.)

    The ONLY way my vote counts, and it still counts for essentially nothing, is for it to be registered as a “I want so-called liberals to not actually be conservatives” vote. One little number that with a few other MIGHT be a reminder to someone.

    But probably not.

    Still, it’s the most impact my vote could possibly have, as little as it is.

    The only “wasted vote” is a vote cast for someone other than the person you want to vote for.

  75. 75
    Prof. Bleen

    Is Obama not as leftist you would like? Cry me a river… he is alot more left than Romney is right.

    BWAAAAhahaha! That’s the funniest thing I’ve read this week. The Political Compass shows exactly how “left” Obama really is. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney’s policies were every bit as “leftist” as Obama’s are now. But that’s reality for you.

  76. 76
    Jafafa Hots

    There is a man running who, despite the clear illegality of it, reserves the right to have people secretly killed at his own discretion. No arrest, no trail, no charges, no sentence, no publicity, no burial site, nobody even supposed to know.

    And he has used it, including on American civilians.

    Have fun voting for that.

    I get the “don’t be an ideologue” thing, but choosing not to vote for secret executioner in chief doesn’t seem like a rigid ideological stance.
    The other guy would likely continue or even extend that illegal policy.

    But go ahead, chastise those who make a different choice. Chastise those who would dare vote for the candidate that represents THEIR views. What a horrible selfish thing for them to do.

    Everyone knows it’s not possible to do anything but choose the least worst.
    Everyone knows that all you can do is slightly slow the slide to the right, you can’t possibly move the other direction.
    Everyone knows that of all positions on all issues, there are only two choices.

    That’s the way God made it. To imagine something else is fantasy. Fall into line and vote the way you’re SUPPOSED to. That’s how democracy works?

    Seriously, when I was moving from FL back to NY and knew I would be voting from there, I planned not to vote for Obama in the first election. He had already stated he took some of these unconstitutional, illegal and barbaric attitudes. McCain was worse, but NY is “back-pocket” for obama.

    Then due to my brother-in-law’s cancer I was delayed in moving, stayed in FL month as he was dying. FL, being a swing state, needed a different vote for me, so I voted Obama.

    Now I’m in a “back-pocket” state again, and I can safely vote for who I want, knowing that it has no effect.

    Contrary to what every wants to scream in my ear, my vote will have absolutely NO EFFECT on who gets appointed to the Supreme Court. MNy vote will have no effect on who becomes President.

    So my vote will be nothing more than a statement that nobody will hear.

    Don’t tell me that my meaningless statement has to be one in support of a continual rightward march, only differing by how quickly I want to march there.

    Let my meaningless statement be what I want my meaningless statement to be. It ain’t much but because of the electoral college, etc., it’s the only value whatsoever in my vote.

  77. 77
    A. R

    Has anyone considered that perhaps the Democrats have been drifting toward the center (and largely ignoring far-left uprisings like the Nader candidacy) because they realize that the number votes they gain by going after center and center-right voters (who are being abandoned by the Rethuglican Party) is much larger than what they would get by moving left? The Republicans have been successfully moving the Overton Window to the right for the past three decades, and this the the only recourse the Democrats have. If we get lucky, they might get into power for long enough to start pushing it the other way. But if people keep voting for third parties in a FPTP system, the Overton Window will only move further to the right.

  78. 78
    liamjones

    @ #74.

    I completely agree, unless you are in a swing state, you may as well vote for the person who represents you the closest. Most of the states are pretty firmly each color, and voting for the “lesser of two evils” in one of those states simply reinforces this entrenched 2 party system the US has brought upon itself.

    Obama would be a fine candidate if he weren’t a warmongering asshole, his social policy is fine, and far superior to Romney’s but I will certainly not vote for a war criminal(drone strikes on civilians and underage US citizens), or someone who has no respect for constitutional rights(NDAA), or transparency in government(relentless war on whistleblowers).

    I am not going to compromise my integrity by supporting four more years of this. I guess it is lucky that numerically, my vote will not count, it can only send a message to the main parties that I do not support such things as endless war and the constant expansion of the Military Industrial Complex. The tea Party was successful in shifting the republican party further to the insane right, it is possible for us, given a big enough push to shift the parties, or at least one of them back to a sensible position.

  79. 79
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Jafafa, has anyone been arguing that non-swing state voters must vote for Obama?

    Also, this,

    The only “wasted vote” is a vote cast for someone other than the person you want to vote for.

    Doesn’t really square with this,

    Seriously, when I was moving from FL back to NY and knew I would be voting from there, I planned not to vote for Obama in the first election. He had already stated he took some of these unconstitutional, illegal and barbaric attitudes…
    FL, being a swing state, needed a different vote for me, so I voted Obama.

    Unless you are just telling us about this one time you “wasted” your vote.

  80. 80
    A. R

    Oh, and I might ask you “back pocket” state voters to consider that if, as certain people have said “enough liberals vote for a third party,” your state might not be quite as “back pocket” as you thought? California is a great example of a state with a ruby red core. (California Electoral Map by county.)

  81. 81
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Could someone explain how a vote for Jill Stein* could realistically help change our current two-party system?

    *If you are not in a swing state, I am not talking to you.

  82. 82
    liamjones

    @#79

    Jen’s post does not specify swing states, most people don’t specify

    There are 8 swing states, out of 50. This is a whole lot of hullabaloo for a very very very tiny number of people who might even be on this page.

  83. 83
    Pseudonym

    I agree with everyone else here who pointed out that there is one important proviso: the argument is correct only if you are in a “swing” district.

    If you are in a solidly safe district, then a vote for a major party (either major party) will not realistically affect the outcome. In that case, it would be selfish not to vote for a third party, minor party or independent candidate.

    If you’re in a safe district, a vote for a major party is a vote for the corrupt lobby system.

  84. 84
    LeftSidePositive

    Actually, even if you’re not in a swing state, it is generally not a good idea to assume others will step up and make sure the state is “safe.” All those other people dragged themselves to the polls for a vote they knew wouldn’t matter in isolation, so do you think you’re cleverer than they are? What if, at some undetermined point in the future, too many people in one of those states were to vote for the idealistic choice?

    And for those who say, “But if we get 5% we’ll get matched funding for the greens!” … Great. So they can spoil the election even more?! This is not an effective or even coherent long-term strategy.

    And for those who say, “But the Tea Party insisted on going further right, and look how successful they were!” Keep in mind they worked WITHIN the Republican party, and ran primary candidates. They got involved at all levels. They didn’t keep running isolated presidential campaigns with no other bastions of support.

  85. 85
    liamjones

    What if too many people vote for the party they want, instead of again endorsing the least evil of both candidates? Shit, imagine that.

    There are right wing blogs out there warning that a third party vote is a vote for Obama, unfortunately there are ideologues on both sides unable to notice that this binary system of getting fucked over by red or fucked over by blue is not going to end unless there is a push.

    If you disagree with some of the morally abhorrent policies of Obama, and you vote for him anyway, (especially in a safe state) then you have just endorsed that shit. You have said “I am fine with my president giving himself the power to indefinitely detain and even assassinate anyone he wishes US citizen or not) I am fine with an ever increasing surveillance state. Gitmo wasn’t so bad anyway. More wars are fine with me, more lies and secrecy, and I am fine with the drug war. Who knows, Romney will probably be worse, but unless you actually vote for Romney, you aren’t actually voting for Romney.

  86. 86
    Pseudonym

    @81: To Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts, possessor of the best handle in the thread, a vote for a third-party candidate does two things.

    1. It sends a message to the major parties that they can’t rely on your vote.

    Yes, the rights of women matter, and as you rightly point out, it’s too important to lose. I would not condemn anyone in a swing district from voting for the lesser of two evils.

    However, kill lists and drone strikes, the war on drugs, the erosion of civil liberties, the military-industrial complex, the corrupt lobby system… these also matter. Indeed, the corrupt lobby system is the problem from which most other problems arise.

    The major parties both need to know that there are electoral consequences for doing the wrong thing, and you will not be scared off just because the other guy is scary. (Yes, I’m aware that he’s really scary.)

    If you believe that the government should not be allowed to get away with anything just because terrorists are scary, then they should also not be allowed to get away with anything just because Mitt Romney is scary.

    2. (This is the more important point of the two.) Real change in US politics won’t happen this election cycle. No third party candidate will be elected this time around.

    The immediate goal, as I understand it, is to increase the popularity of a third party (or two) to the point where they are a realistic option. Ideally, it would be to the point where someone other than the duopoly will have to be included in the next cycle’s debates, so that the major party candidates will be forced to answer substantial questions about important issues which have been absent from the campaigns.

  87. 87
    Jafafa Hots

    Woo, I didn’t waste my vote because who I wanted to vote for was conditional on where I was and what effect my vote would have.

  88. 88
    TrailRunner

    The best you can personally do is vote with your CONSCIENCE. If you do anything otherwise, you are voting with the GAME. George Carlin on the American Dream. It is an illusion and if you think otherwise:

  89. 89
    Jafafa Hots

    Has anyone considered that perhaps the Democrats have been drifting toward the center…

    No, I haven’t considered that because it’s not reality.
    The Democrats are drifting from moderately conservative to what would, just a few years ago, have been considered extreme conservative. They left “center” before Clinton got in.
    We have a right-of-center party and a radical extremist right-wing party.
    We don’t HAVE a centrist major party, let alone a liberal one.

    Nixon would be too “liberal” to get the Democratic nomination at this point.

  90. 90
    Jafafa Hots

    A. R., California does have many conservatives.
    Nonetheless it has NO CHANCE of going to Romney. None at all.

    Yes, it could, IF masses of liberals and Democrats voted for Jill Stein.
    It also could if masses of liberals voted for Romney.

    We both know that will not happen. There’s a reason there’s essentially no campaigning going on here.

    “Don’t vote for the party you support that has no chance! If everyone did like you, the party you support COULD make a difference in the election!” is not a great argument.

  91. 91
    Jafafa Hots

    “Don’t try to fight the two-party system! Accept the two-party system, because if you try to fight it you’re just helping it win!”

    Yeah.

  92. 92
    LeftSidePositive

    “Don’t vote for the party you support that has no chance! If everyone did like you, the party you support COULD make a difference in the election!” is not a great argument.

    The part that you’re eliding is that it could make a difference in the election THE WRONG WAY. There’s a big difference between the 10-20% of the vote that could make an election go to the Republicans, and the 51% you’d need to actually influence the outcome positively, and how exactly do you intend to span that chasm (and even then, that’s only in one state, and what would that accomplish)?

    “Don’t try to fight the two-party system! Accept the two-party system, because if you try to fight it you’re just helping it win!”

    Where, exactly, has anyone said this? I think what people have been saying is that we should look to STRUCTURAL changes to the two-party system, and advocate for those, and not just wallow in our own idealism every four years with a symbolic vote that everyone ignores. We’re not saying don’t try to fight it, but we’re saying just don’t do the stupidest, shoot-yourself-in-the-footest thing imaginable and pretend to yourself that you’re actually fighting in any meaningful way.

  93. 93
    A. R

    Perhaps we should look at what’s happened historically when third parties have been taken seriously:

    1. Perot: Drew votes from the Rethuglicans. Helped give the election to the Democrats. Rethuglicans don’t really care enough to change anything.

    2. Nader: Drew votes from the Democrats. Helped give the election to the Rethuglicans (Giving us a second term of a Presidency that may have done irreparable damage to this country’s government, economy, and international image). Democrats begin drifting to the center to capture centrist votes.

    I think there is an appropriate Einstein (or Ben Franklin, depending on who you ask) quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

  94. 94
    redpanda

    I’m voting for Jill Stein, but only because Romney has no chance in hell of winning my state. If I lived in a swing state, I’d vote for Obama because Nader.

  95. 95
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    LeftsidePositive,
    I think many of your posts in this thread are excellent, but I disagree with your @84.

    Actually, even if you’re not in a swing state, it is generally not a good idea to assume others will step up and make sure the state is “safe.” All those other people dragged themselves to the polls for a vote they knew wouldn’t matter in isolation, so do you think you’re cleverer than they are? What if, at some undetermined point in the future, too many people in one of those states were to vote for the idealistic choice?

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to assume others will “step up and make sure the state is “safe””. It would be very surprising if somehow a third-party candidate got a landslide of votes. You can’t just suggest some implausible outcome and pretend it is reasonable because you tack on the vague qualifier that this will happen “at some undetermined point in the future”.

    And for those who say, “But if we get 5% we’ll get matched funding for the greens!” … Great. So they can spoil the election even more?! This is not an effective or even coherent long-term strategy.

    I thought we were talking about non-swing states or “back-pocket” states, as Jafafa calls them. The Greens are not spoiling elections in those states. Here I agree with Jafafa that,

    “Don’t vote for the party you support that has no chance! If everyone did like you, the party you support COULD make a difference in the election!” is not a great argument.

  96. 96
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Where, exactly, has anyone said this? I think what people have been saying is that we should look to STRUCTURAL changes to the two-party system, and advocate for those, and not just wallow in our own idealism every four years with a symbolic vote that everyone ignores. We’re not saying don’t try to fight it, but we’re saying just don’t do the stupidest, shoot-yourself-in-the-footest thing imaginable and pretend to yourself that you’re actually fighting in any meaningful way.

    FTR, I agree that structural changes are what is needed, and that this is the ONLY way to change the two-party system. I agree that a third-party vote, in a back-pocket state, is merely symbolic that does not significantly fight the existence of the two-party system. I just don’t agree that voting third-party in a non-swing state is “shooting yourself in the foot”, because it doesn’t fucking effect shit.

    Because I agree with you that the third-party vote is so weak as to be symbolic, I do not agree with you that a third-party vote is in harmful.

  97. 97
    A. R

    OK, so it seems that many of us agree on a hold your nose vote in swing states to prevent a reversion to the 18th century, but we disagree on voting for 3rd parties in solid states. In this case, how might we force the major parties to abandon FPTP in favor of runoff elections without giving an election to the Rethugs? Especially considering that they have a vested interest in not changing.

  98. 98
    A. R

    For the record, I think the only way that a spoiler candidate could change the electoral system would be to take a solid state from a major candidate.

  99. 99
    lochaber

    See, this is one of the ways where I think voting third party can help that.

    Right now, the Democrats and Republicans pretty much have a stranglehold on the populace, and while support for one or the other will wax or wane with any given year, each party is virtually guaranteed ~40%+.

    That, combined with fearmongering about spoiling elections, leaves most people choosing to vote betwixt ‘bad person’ and ‘really bad person’.

    I don’t think there has been any significant progress towards abandoning the FPTP system, and I don’t think there will be any until the major parties are severely hurting (most likely from multiple ‘spoiled’ elections)

    I think it’s going to have to get a lot worse before it gets better. unfortunately, with the Democrats consistently shifting to the right, I think it’s going to get a lot worse regardless.

  100. 100
    A. R

    As I said above, either a solid state, or several swing states would have to be spoiled before we see any change. And people are going to suffer if we go that route. (Do we really want Roe v. Wade going before a court with more Rethuglican appointees than it has now?) And imagine with the Rethugs would do with the Drone program, and targeted killings, and extrajudicial executions. I simply cannot justify spoiling an election if it means allowing a Rethug into an office they weren’t going to get anyway.

  101. 101
    alexstrinka

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/giddygirlie/2987270819/

    “It’s a two party system! You have to vote for one of us!”
    “I think I’ll vote for a third party candidate!”
    “Go ahead, throw your vote away!”

  102. 102
    ericdutton

    #93:
    That cause and effect analysis could sure use some evidence.

  103. 103
    liamjones

    “I think there is an appropriate Einstein (or Ben Franklin, depending on who you ask) quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

    So lets keep voting the same two parties in and hope things change.

  104. 104
    Pseudonym

    By the way, the argument doesn’t just apply to liberals. If you have any friends who self-identify as conservatives who live in a safe district, you could try to persuade them to vote Libertarian, or even Constitution. After all, everyone agrees that the current corrupt system must be fixed, conservatives and liberals alike.

    One other possibility would be what in 2000 we called “Nader trading”. If you live in a safe district, offer to swap votes with a genuine Green Party or Justice Party voter who lives in a swing district: get them to vote for the less-worse major party in return for you voting for their third party of choice.

  105. 105
    Jafafa Hots

    I think what people have been saying is that we should look to STRUCTURAL changes to the two-party system, and advocate for those, and not just wallow in our own idealism every four years with a symbolic vote that everyone ignores.

    Then you should argue that position to everyone here who is telling you that that ISN’T necessary.

    Let’s recap:

    Post topic: “You HAVE to vote for Obama or else Romney!”

    Some responses: “not really, where I am I can cast a virtually useless vote instead of a completely useless vote and at least send a tiny message.”

    reaction to responses: “Yes you do, because! Plus, if you want to end the two-party system, your little sole vote is NOT going to do it!”

    My reaction to that reaction:
    Who the fuck said it WAS?

    I don’t shop at Walmart. My not shopping at Walmart is NOT going to bring Walmart down. When I tell you I won’t shop at Walmart, are you going to argue to me that my effort is pointless? That unless I can dismantle capitalism, or change US/China trade policies, or whatever, then my gesture is useless – or, maybe WORSE than useless because Target!

    My not shopping at Walmart does not stop Walmart. What it does is make me not shop at Walmart. It also might make me shop at John’s Corner Market.

    Voting for Jill Stein will not change who California’s electoral votes go to. It won’t change who becomes President.

    What it will change is who I voted for. I won’t have voted for a man who claims the right to have me secretly killed at his sole discretion, and it WILL mean I’ve voted for someone I support.

    Won’t make a difference in the larger scheme. Makes a difference to me. Makes a tiny difference to Jill Stein.

    Voting for Jill Stein is the one thing, the ONLY thing I in California can do to make my vote slightly more valuable than just staying the fuck at home.

  106. 106
    brucegorton

    I think you are very wrong here.

    First of all on Nader – Nader didn’t cost Gore the 2000 election. Gore did.

    About the only way a vote for the Greens is a vote for the Republicans is if American votes are tallied as follows – The Republicans get X votes, other parties get Y and the Democrats get the rest.

    That is not how the vote works, the Democratic Party needs to win its votes too.

    Voters who vote Green are voting based on the fact that they are not able to bring themselves to vote Democratic, which means that they would otherwise be staying home. By voting Green they demonstrate there are actually liberals in America wanting to vote for a liberal platform, which means there is a constituency for the Democratic left to chase.

  107. 107
    gshelley

    I can understand the principle, but in reality your individual vote doesn’t matter. Even in the closest of swing states, victory is going to be by an order of hundreds if not thousands. If you stay at home, Candidate A wins by 500. If you vote candidate A, he wins by 501. If you vote Candidate B, candidate A wins by 499 and if you vote Candidate C, Candidate A wins by 500.
    There will be no national position, and probably not even any local positions or ballots where any person will be able to say “If only I had voted differently, the result would have been different?

  108. 108
    gussnarp

    @gshelley – I’ve seen your argument pop up a couple of places when this issue is discussed and, frankly, it makes no sense. An election is the sum of all individual votes. If the election is decided by 500 votes (and there’s a decent chance this election will be decided by hundreds or a few thousand votes in a swing state) and 500 people sit at home, or vote for third party candidates, then those 500 votes mattered lost decided the election. It doesn’t matter if it’s “yours” in particular. The simple fact is that there are thousands of people in every swing state who would generally prefer Obama to Romney who are considering sitting at home because they don’t think their vote matters, or considering voting for a third party candidate (or sitting at home) because they think Obama’s just not good enough. If a decent number of those thousands change their mind and go vote for Obama, that could turn the election. The notion that “your vote doesn’t matter” would mean that we might as well all sit home and not vote. But I’ll guarantee you the rich, old, white men who support Romney will vote. Heck, we could just do away with elections and let them pick the President every year if votes don’t matter. Every vote that is counted, counts.

  109. 109
    gussnarp

    @jafafa hots – By all means, everyone in a state that is a foregone conclusion who supports ending the war on terror, ending extra judicial killings, restoring due process, or just thinks we ought to have more choices, should vote for a third party (I for one would prefer those votes go to Jill Stein so that the parties see the vote as a push to the left, rather than the right). In fact, I encourage you to cast a Jill Stein vote for me. I’ve already cast an Obama vote in Ohio for all of you.

    But if someone is in a swing state and voting third party because Obama isn’t far enough left, then they are absolutely taking an action that, if enough others follow it, will lead to a Romney victory, and on a lot of issues a Romney presidency will be very different, and much worse, than four more years of Obama.

  110. 110
    starskeptic

    So, we should vote our conscience only when it’s convenient?

  111. 111
    scorinth

    @starskeptic, 110:
    Welcome to the real world, where the planes aren’t frictionless, the cows aren’t spherical, and social and economic “laws” hold true most of the time.
    If your morality stems from doing the least harm and the most good that you can, then believe it or not, sometimes following your principles exactly, 100% of the time, is actually not the moral choice. (Of course, then you might make, “Don’t follow your ideal principles all the time” your number one ideal principle, but that way lies madness.)
    Full disclosure: I’ll be voting Green or Libertarian. Still not sure which, but I’m comfortable in doing so because my state is red as blood. Mammalian blood, that is. Oxygenated mammalian blood…

  112. 112
    starskeptic

    @scorinth #111

    I’m well aware of the “real world”; after voting against Republicans for thirty years, what have I got? Democrats stumbling over themselves to placate morons while telling the electorate that they have no other choice. The result is business-as-usual. That’s why I voted Green this time.

  113. 113
    Amethyst Starling

    There are a few problems I have with this argument. You are assuming that by voting third party we are being an “idealist”. And as such by voting third party you are throwing your vote away and allowing Romney to win. Voting third party is not causing the Democrats and Obama to lose, they lost the election themselves by pandering to the centrists. On a philosophical level, one can argue that by voting against your ideals just so you can avoid the greater of two evils is morally wrong. You are still supporting all that is wrong with America. People voted for Nader in 2000 because Gore was another horrid candidate for liberals. I voted for Kerry in 2004 and I still got stuck with Bush (I wasn’t old enough to vote in 2000).

    All Obama cared about when he got into office was his second term. All Obama cares about is himself. If he truly wanted to make a change, he would have done anything he could during the four years he has been president and not worried about getting reelected.

  114. 114
    Amethyst Starling

    I hit the submit button too quickly! That being said, there are a lot of valid arguments about why you should vote for Obama and not, say, Jill Stein, and I understand that and I can appreciate that. I just don’t believe that Obama is necessarily worth voting for, and if he deserves a second term. I just don’t believe he is all that different from Romney, despite what he says. I am probably going to vote for Stein, but I still haven’t decided yet on if I should vote for Obama.

  115. 115
    Skeptimus Prime

    I tend to agree, Just about anything that Obama does that I don’t like, are things that Romney does too. Not likely to end the patriot act for instance.

  116. 116
    anthonysaviano

    You are the cancer that is killing America. The most rational voters are the ones who vote for the candidate they think will do the best job. That’s the whole point of having a vote in the first place. It’s the only way to get rid of this two-party, lesser-of-two-evils system we have now. How dare you try to perpetuate the current system. This system exists precisely because people are following the advice you just gave. They’re voting for either the douche or the turd. I don’t care if a third party vote will end up helping the douche or the turd in the long run. They’re both despicable to me anyway. What I care about is that my vote went to the candidate I think will do the best job. That’s not idealism. That’s voting. Traditional American voting.

    “I agree we need to have more parties in the dialog.”

    And you think the best way to achieve that is to vote for a major party?

  117. 117
    BrianX

    Cue predictable flood of dimesworthers and self-destructive left-wing purity trolls… twelve years and you lot still won’t admit that swing-state Nader voters threw the rest of us under the bus because they were unwilling to compromise and take half a loaf rather than none at all.

  118. 118
    oddree

    @ Loqi
    “I don’t think those drone strikes are targeted at US citizens…”
    Have you ever heard of Anwar al-Awlaki? Or better yet his 16 year old son? Both killed by drone strikes both US citizens. How about this video is you don’t believe me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MwB2znBZ1g&feature=related
    The fact that you don’t know this is really pathetic.

    When I refer to ramping up, I am referring to his violation of the sovereignty of other countries, violation the 4th amendment rights of US citizens, and killing US citizens. And no, every president has not had the ability to kill people on a whim…and they certainly have not been bragging about it to the press. Obama leaked his kill list to The Times. Try looking in to things Loqi, you might be surprised by what you find.

  119. 119
    paul

    There have been real-life examples from the Hugo awards, which use instant-runoff, where this system results in a winner that only a minority of the voters actually liked. It works like this: Suppose the race is between Stupid, Evil, Boring, and Incumbent. Suppose Boring is the most popular second choice–almost everyone would be willing to settle for Boring if they couldn’t have their favorite. But their favorites are split among the other three candidates. So, almost everyone votes their favorite in first place and Boring in second place. Because Boring received the least first place votes, they get eliminated from the ballots. Poof, just like that, the whole point of instant runoff has evaporated, and you will get one of Stupid, Evil, or Incumbent even though the majority of the people would rather have had Boring in office than the person who did end up winning.

  120. 120
    TrailRunner

    If you’re going vote with the electoral college GAME, here are the rules to maximize liberal effect:

    1) If you are in an Obama “back pocket state,” vote Green. Obama’s going to win anyway.

    2) If you are in a Romney “back pocket state,” vote Green. Romney’s going to win anyway.

    3) If you are in a swing state, vote for Obama as the “lesser of two evils.”

    My recommendation though is to not vote with the GAME. Vote with your conscience, i.e. vote what party matches your values. Don’t play the GAME.

  121. 121
    texanbychance

    Two points:

    First, as many others have pointed out, a third party vote in a non-swing state does not hurt Obama or help Romney. Here in Texas, my Stein vote is no more “idealistic” than my Obama vote was in 2008. All of Texas’s electoral votes will go to the Republican no matter who I vote for.

    Second, I suspect, Jen, that if Obama had done everything good that he’s done, BUT he had also signed a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, you would find that impossible to swallow. Well that’s how I feel about the extra-legal killing of American citizens. I’ve devoted my life to maintaining the rule of law and I just couldn’t pull the lever for, write a check to, or make a call for a president who claims the right to unilaterally impose a death sentence on an unarmed American far from any battlefield.

  122. 122
    paul

    By the way, Jen, we miss you. :-(

  123. 123
    TrailRunner

    As an academic exercise, I’m going to assume many of the people reading this blog want to maximize the liberal effect in the election and want to play the GAME. Given the rules in #120 and assuming there are only 9 swings states: Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

    If you live in one of these 9 states and you want to maximize the liberal effect, vote for Obama. Your vote helps ensure Romney doesn’t win.

    If you live in the other 41 states and you want to maximize the liberal vote, you should vote Green. For the presidential ticket that is Dr. Jill Stein.

    Bottomline: In 80% of the states, you should be voting Green to maximize the liberal vote.

  124. 124
    paul

    As an academic exercise, I’m going to assume many of the people reading this blog want to maximize the liberal effect in the election and want to play the GAME.

    If you want to break the two-party duopoly, the place to start is pretty much anywhere BUT the presidency. Take a look at Vermont: Senator Jim Jeffords announced that he would represent the state of Vermont rather than a political party, and the people of Vermont bought it. The Republican party tried to convince Vermont that he had betrayed them, but the punative measures that it was enacting against Vermont to punish Jeffords just further convinced people that it was the Republicans who had betrayed Vermont, not Jeffords. When Bernie Saunders replace Jeffords, he also refused to run as a member of a party. It looks like we are going to have an independent senator from Maine as well.

    Of course, even the Senate is a bit too ambitious to start with–Vermont and Maine were kind of special. Begin with state and local offices, or a house seat. Play your cards right, and you can convince people that there is some merit to having officials who are neither R nor D, then aim a little higher. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  125. 125
    j mfilipowicz

    Whenever you guys have an election I feel like moving to the states just so I can vote democrat. Your republican candidates are always so SCARY and your politics affect the whole world.

  126. 126
    formerfetus

    “And to me nothing more is important in my country than equal rights for all. ”

    Equal rights for all! Sounds so noble! Ring that social justice bell, people!

    Except your declaration is empty, until it cries out for equal rights for the unborn, however unpopular such a stand may be.

    For those who have an authentic, logical, evidence-based scientific background, you know, not one eclipsed and saturated with a false, secular ideology…pro-life positions originate from divine revelation more importantly, but also through simple, objective, reasoning:

    http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2009/06/abortion-debate-reasoned-pro-life.html

    Pro-choice positions are illogical. Emotional. Marxist-Feminist. Invalid.

    If Obama supported widespread killing of grandmothers, yet got every other issue right (he doesn’t), would you support him?

    Wait, he supports killing babies—so that’s okay.

    Right-to-life deniers, are the Holocaust deniers of today.

    It’s quite funny—you fail to see your most odious hypocrisy~

    A vote for Romney should be the only valid vote.

  127. 127
  128. 128
    liamjones

    @formerfetus, you are going to use a link to your blog which features a “paid political advertisement” as some sort of argument?

  129. 129
    Brad Emery

    @formerfetus,

    LOVED that article from the libertarian site. It was HILARIOUS.

    Oh… Wait… They weren’t joking? Seriously.

    Logicfail is illogical.

    I counter their ‘from conception’ argument with this-

    http://pigroll.com/img/abortion_not_a_difficult_concept.jpg

  130. 130
    sleeper

    Funny you are having trouble sticking to your… I am DONE with blogging pronouncement.

  131. 131
    elpayaso

    Jen, glad to see you back posting! hope it’s not just a one time thing. i always enjoy your thoughts and often learn something……..

  132. 132
    scenario

    When I decide who to vote for I look at the differences between the major party candidates. If the difference is fairly minor, I usually vote for a third party candidate. If one candidate is clearly superior, (usually because his or her opponent is really, really bad), I vote for the better candidate among the major party candidates.

    My opinion of Romney is that he is a poor candidate whose views are exactly the opposite of mine in many area. But the big thing for me is that many of his supporters are sociopaths.

    President Obama is an average candidate at best whose views are the same as mine in many but not all areas.

    Because I am terrified of the sociopaths that back Romney, I consider the difference between them to be substantial enough to justify voting for the lesser evil.

    I’ve had two telephone calls today about who you are going to vote for. One was a live person and the other one was a robot call. I am planning to vote for the third party candidate in several local elections. My only options in either pol was the democratic or republican candidate.

    How can these pols be accurate when they don’t even count the third party candidates? In the 2000 election, my governor was an independent who was elected with 35% of the votes in a four person race. The polls then listed all four candidates for governor. Why not now?

  133. 133
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    Slightly OT… but beware of what you hope for.

    In the UK we’re currently run by a coalition of our Conservatives (kinda Republicans) and LibDems (previously liberal/centre party who under the last govt were more left that the incumbents[Labour, ex-socialist]).

    One of the issues that was on the cards as part of the coalition was a referendum on changing the voting system to make it a bit more proportional as opposed to first past the post. The well got thoroughly poisoned by supporters of the status quo (including from the Con section of govt who had promised to be neutral, and the majority of the press) and the step towards change failed. We won’t get a chance to change again for decades.

    I suppose that what I’m saying is that even minor change will be fought by everyone who has a stake in the current system. Not just the political parties but the media and party sponsors (who could lose influence) too.

  134. 134
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    To clarify – yes, our system in England (there are local/national parties in the other states) has more choices available but in practise, because of first past the post, the final results are very heavily weighted towards the 2 major parties.

    The problem is FPTP and the whole issue of swing votes where a tiny number of votes can make a massive difference.

    Elections for local council posts and things like London Mayor use a more proportional system. The mayoral election had countback on 2nd (and maybe 3rd, I can’t remember) choices, etc.

  135. 135
    Skeptic Dude

    ” My grad student stipend is technically at the poverty line for Washington state, and I would still happily pay higher taxes if it meant providing social services and helping those who need it the most. Heaven forbid I don’t have the luxury of an iPhone because I think someone’s children having food on the table is more important.

    That’s the society I want to live in, and that’s why I’m voting Obama.”

    How can you or anyone else be so mind-numblingly naive as to think that the government is efficient enough to directly translate higher taxes on you and your iPhone into food on a poor person’s table?

    Here’s a novel fucking idea, why don’t you sell your iphone and buy groceries for a homeless person rather than asking the government to use force on other people to OSTENSIBLY do your charity for you?

  136. 136
    LeftSidePositive

    Skeptic Dude, because it’s not about “charity.” It’s about systemic empowerment and social justice. Paying for education, job training, health care, living wage standards (and enforcement of fair working conditions like inspections, etc), product safety, rent subsidies, mental health support, secure retirement, etc., etc., etc. cannot be done by a few charitably-minded people just giving $20 here and there. It’s about building an infrastructure where people have a more fair shot at access to the benefits of a civilized society.

  137. 137
    sanderaarts

    Here’s a novel fucking idea, why don’t you sell your iphone and buy groceries for a homeless person rather than asking the government to use force on other people to OSTENSIBLY do your charity for you?

    Because what you propose is highly inefficient and random. And it’s not about anyone’s charity, it’s about our (or in this case your) common society. Having any wealth also means being able to benefit more from that society than when you have no wealth at all.

  138. 138
    mildlymagnificent

    Surely the biggest consideration for people who are in real doubt would have to be the presidential power to nominate Supreme Court justices.

    Even from this side of the Pacific that looks a pretty big deal, because it’s one of the lasting effects a president has beyond the four year term. Anyone who wants to keep any particular person’s hands off that long lasting lever of power should be prepared to hold their nose and vote for someone who’s otherwise unappealing or positively unattractive.

  139. 139
    Nick Gotts

    How can you or anyone else be so mind-numblingly naive as to think that the government is efficient enough to directly translate higher taxes on you and your iPhone into food on a poor person’s table? – Skeptic Dude

    Why is it that people with “Skeptic” or “Rational” or “Reason” etc. in their nym so reliably turn out to be ignorant idiots? That it is possible to use high taxation to pretty much eliminate severe poverty (the type that leads to hunger, homelessness etc.) has been proven empirically by the example of several Scandinavian states over the past half-century.

    formerfetus,

    Another ignorant idiot. Forced-pregancy advocacy has absolutely nothing to do with “equal rights for fetuses”; it’s all to do with controlling women’s sexuality. If this were not so, the forced-pregnancy advocates would be campaigning vigorously for free access to contraception, comprehensive sex education, and a massive research programme to cut the huge rate of spontaneous abortion.

  140. 140
    Nick Gotts

    Incidentally formerfetus, you’re also a futurecorpse. Are you campaigning for equal rights for corpses? Because that makes just as much sense.

  141. 141
    howhigh

    “Obama isn’t perfect, but he’s the only option that supports equal civil rights for women, racial minorities, and LGBT individuals. And to me nothing more is important in my country than equal rights for all. If you put your pocketbooks ahead of equality, you’re selfish and downright immoral.”

    Obama is also the better choice for those interested in their pocketbook. Are you suggesting otherwise? Or were you speaking to the 1%’ers who probably aren’t reading this?

  142. 142
    lazlosother

    Good to see that you seem to be doing OK. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that I can vote this election. Both candidates are horrible. I don’t feel that the democratic party will do anything meaningful regarding global warming, individual rights, foreign policy. The republicans are far worse. I’ve pretty much given up hope.

  143. 143
    paul

    Unfortunately, I don’t feel that I can vote this election. Both candidates are horrible.

    There are local offices where you can make a difference–and alternative to the two major parties are often viable. There may be issues and initiatives on the ballot as well. Leave the space for president blank if you must, but vote!

  144. 144
    anna

    I will say up front that my perspective is formed from being older and being Canadian. I have been watching this dynamic for a long time now and noticed how the drift has been less pronounced in our multi party system.

    I have been hearing the “you can’t vote third party or you will get an evil republican” thing since the early 1980′s. I even bought it for a while and advised people to vote democrat and not to work to create an option because it would cost the democrats government.

    I began to notice the drift though. Democrats in the US began to drift right They cut social programs, affirmitive action became a dirty concept, civil rights I took for granted as safe in the US became questionable, immigration got cut and then cut more and we suddenly had racist drug wars and schools that became prisons.

    In the 1990′s using the fear of republicans you had a democrat president named Bill Clinton do a welfare reform bill so right wing that Republican in the 1970s would not have even considered pitching it.

    The US continued this trend. Obama is clearly further right than Clinton, who was further right than Carter. Even the losing candidates have been part of a move to the right, they have not lost by going left.

    Even worse as the democrats move further right it gives license for the republicans to move right too. The center has shifted to the point it scares me. As a trans woman I very much understand the urge to vote for candidates that will more protect the rights of woman and the GBLT community but I also think these rights may have been safer now if people had called stop on the drift long ago.

    When is it ever going to be safe to call the democrats on right wing moves? There is always going to be a republican running and they are always going to be frightening. I have never seen that change, but what I do see changing is the number of democratic candidates that dont make me sick.

    Even if Romney loses this time there will be another right wing democrat next time facing another even more right wing republican. People will agian use scare tactics to urge Democrat voting. Is this what you want? Something has to change sometime.

  145. 145
    julian

    Nothing like reading 3rd party voters to remind me why I hate them so much.

    Their entire attitude is “Fuk you. Keep suffering. We’re doing this and you can’t stop us.”

    I dislike Obama. A lot. But I’m not giving any support to Romney. I, unlike you shits, care about the situation we’re in and haven’t deluded myself into believing we have even 12 years to spend.

    So I’ll vote Democrat and see what I can do locally.

    And I’ll mutter a fuck you right back every time I pass one of you.

  146. 146
    paul

    Something has to change sometime.

    Fine, but start with anything but the presidency. Maine and Vermont are going to elect independent senators on Tuesday.

  147. 147
    icsifil

    Calling 3rd party voters selfish is not the right message. Pushing for alternative vote is and non-district voting is.
    Seriously, you’re critiquing people for throwing away their vote when it’s thrown away anyways.

    Non swing state? Thrown away.
    Non swing district? Thrown away.
    Big population district? Thrown away.

    If you say “Vote practically!” then there will never be a change in the presidential arena. I would rather ‘throw away’ my vote on Jill Stein and contribute to the disenfranchisement statistics that people use to fight for election reform.

    Besides, who says Obama is entitled to everyone’s votes? When you tell me to vote for them, you are telling me to vote for an administration that’s putting fucking drones into Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan. I can’t vote for that.

  148. 148
    scenario

    I live in RI and I have almost no choice at the lower levels. All of my local candidates, except one, from mayor on down, ran unopposed. What incentive do any of the candidates have to fix anything when they have no opponents in the general election? What does democracy mean in a one party state? Strangely enough, we regularly elect Republicans to statewide offices when there are almost no Republican or independents at the local level.

  149. 149
    kreativekaos

    Trailrunner @ 88:

    Thanks for the effective reminder via George Carlin. I always loved his creative, expressive and no-bullshit way of conveying the truth.

  150. 150
    jamesfrancesco

    “If you’re voting third party, you’re voting for Romney. Stop being an idealist and wake up to the reality of how our system works.”

    Fuck you.

    Don’t blame me when you’re too spineless to vote for someone who, you know, could actually REPRESENT your views in this republic and I actually can stick to my principles.

    I did not vote for Romney by voting correctly. YOU however, voted for a murdering centrist who won’t actually make a real change. Congratulations…you sold-out your principles. Or is being a doormat a principle of yours?

  151. 151
    thewhollynone

    I live in the most solidly Republican state in the country, Mississippi, and I voted for the Green Party electors, and also put up a Jill Stein sign in my front yard. Now that the election is over (and I find that I am greatly relieved that Romney lost), I would like to know the statistical facts about third party votes; did they make a difference anywhere at all in this election? Just facts now, please. As soon as I can ascertain the facts about the Mississippi statistics, I will post them.

  152. 152
    Nick Gotts

    thewhollynone,
    As far as the Presidential election goes, no: in every state the difference between Obama and Romney exceeded the number of third-party votes.

Leave a Reply