The real ABB candidateI'm starting to understand why people don't vote. Not just the apathetic types who don't know what party the president belongs to. Not voting is sometimes an expression of principled disgust for the status quo. I'm not sure if that conscious boycott sends any more of a message that voting for a smaller party candidate or writing in someone's name, but I no longer wave my hand in contempt at this category of non-voters. I still don't agree with it, but I can respect it a little more.
People's reaction to Ralph Nader's candidacy has made me come to this appreciation. And I mean not people's reaction to the substance of Nader's candidacy, but to the fact of his candidacy.
It's disheartening to read sources like Alternet and The Nation jumping on to the ABB bandwagon. I stopped reading The Nation a while ago for other reasons; I thought it was predictable, not especially challenging and lacking in intellectual rigor. Alternet purports to "[provide] readers with crucial facts and passionate opinions they can't find anywhere else" yet their 'Nader doesn't have the right to run' columns are found all over the place.
That these so-called 'alternative' publications would so eagerly mimick the self-serving rationalizations of the Democratic establishment is sad. Even if these folks had endorsed no one, rather than a smaller party candidate, I could've accepted it. But the regular Nader bashing columns in these publications hardly meshes with their self-glorifying iconoclastic image. I don't like using the phrase 'sell-out' but it fits here.
Certainly any progressive should be condemning the Donkey Party's machinations to keep Nader off the ballot in many states; machinations which may be Democratic, but certainly not democratic. Richard Nixon would be proud of what they're doing.
If you believe in a fair electoral process, you should condemn these Democratic actions which are anything but democratic. If you believe that winning an election is more important than the democratic health of this country, if you believe we need to sacrifice democracy in order to save it, then you should vote for Kerry. Or better yet, vote for Ashcroft.
Elections are no longer driven by issues anymore, even if I'm hardly the first person to point out this.
I'd be willing to bet that if you gave a majority Kerry supporters a blind test with Kerry's and Nader's positions on a few dozen issues (but not identified as such) and asked them which they agree with and which are most important to them, they'd correspond more closely to Nader's agenda than Kerry's.
The most vicious anti-Nader rants come from the least likely people... at least if the world were rational. I've challenged any ABB Kerry supporter to name four Nader positions that they strongly object to. None has answered the challenge.
The irony is that while the two causes championed by President Bush that most enrage liberals and progressives are the Patriot Act and the Iraq war, Kerry supported those two things while Nader opposed them. So, who's the real ABB candidate again?
These ABBers demand that instead of supporting the guy doing the bad stuff, I must waste my vote on his willing accomplice.
When I issued the above challenge, one respondent said something to the effect: "I went to Nader's website. I was surprised to find that I agreed with him on almost everything. And that makes me even more convinced not to vote for him."
My head spun when I read that comment. It's then I determined that people who don't vote because of a principled disgust for the status quo are doing far more to adhere to his principles and are far more deserving of my respect in that regard than anyone who holds the above mentality.