Why I regard a vote for Nader as irresponsible

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The general argument from the Naderites seems to be that both major parties are really bad, and that therefore the short-run (who is President the next four years) matters less than trying to reform the political system in the longer run.

To these people I say "Don't kid yourselves." The differences between the two major candidates are such that it is very! important who our next President is.

-- Peter Errington (petere@ricochet.net), October 19, 2000


It is irresponsible to simply vote for the lesser of two evils because of the flawed logic of "wasted votes." The only "wasted" vote is the one not cast. If the greens earn enough of the popular vote, the door is opened wider in future elections, i.e. federal matching funds. They gain credibility to launch local and state candidates. They become a force in forging public policy... but only to the extent they represent a share of the vote. The greater the share, the greater the influence.

Unfortunately, the greens appear to be another personality-driven party. The greens need to develop grass-roots candidates and use Nader's presence as a short-term lever to build the foundations of a political party. If not, they will go the way of the reform party.

Oh, lest anyone think otherwise, I'm really not a fan of the green party. From my perspective, it's just socialism in a biodegradable package. Still, there are some starry-eyed folks (and multi-million rock stars) who think it is the road to Heaven that is paved with good intentions. There will be no shift in the tectonic plates of American politics until people start voting convictions rather than convenience.

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@att.net), October 19, 2000.

Peter, I am touched that you concern yourself with the responsibility of other people's votes. I regard that as a matter for myself to decide. But thanks anyway.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), October 19, 2000.

>> The greens need to develop grass-roots candidates and use Nader's presence as a short-term lever to build the foundations of a political party. If not, they will go the way of the reform party. <<

I agree. That's the goal I will be working toward for the next six years at least. Then I will reevaluate based on what has happened in the intervening elections.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), October 19, 2000.

To Brian:

Unfortunately I read the thread started by Maxwell on the 18th (about pyramids, diamonds etc.) after I had started this thread. Otherwise I wouldn't have started this thread, or at least would have done it differently.

Anyway, on Maxwell's thread, you and Celia discuss the possibility of voting late to make sure Gore doesn't need your votes. Is this not agreeing with the point I am making in this thread?

-- Peter Errington (petere@ricochet.net), October 19, 2000.

Peter, I think the idea of waiting until the last minute to vote, to make sure that your vote for Nader doesn't help Bush, is merely a compromise for those of us who are worried about Bush getting in office. I agree that there is an APPARENT difference between Gush and Bore, but in the past, I've seen too often that campaign promises aren't worth the lips they're lying from, so I'm voting for Nader, regardless. I consider a vote for Gush or Bore a wasted vote, really.


-- jumpoffjoe (jumpoff@echoweb.net), October 19, 2000.

The "pirated vote" theory suffers from the same false assumption that the "pirated software" theory did -- that the money (votes) *would have otherwise* been spent on "valid" candidates. In practice, almost nobody who pirated software would have dreamed of paying retail for the same product. And I suspect few who vote for Nader would otherwise have voted for anyone.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), October 19, 2000.

I sense a great deal of unhappiness which is partly due to the fact that some people are going to vote in a way which does not reflect their disgust with the choice we face. What we need, obviously, is a way for them to cast their same votes, but also to register a protest. Yes, it's time for the following Modest Proposal for Election Reform.

Warning: I fear this proposal may be far too sensible to ever be adopted.

For all candidates, a person should be able to vote in two ways. Thus the choices for the two major candidates would be:


Gore (P.U.)


Bush (P.U.)

The P.U. votes and the other votes would be combined for a candidate, but the two subtotals would be announced publicly.

-- Peter Errington (petere@ricochet.net), October 19, 2000.

I say anybody that doesn't vote for either Gore or Bush, well, let'em have their fun. Geeze. Democracy, right?

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), October 19, 2000.

You all make it sound like you have always had a candidate that you agreed with 100%. I have been voting a long time and I have never had that experience. You might call it a vote for the least offensive candidate. Me: I look at direction. I choose the candidate who is most likely to move it the direction that I think is wise. Of course this means that the candidate must have some chance of winning and some chance of instituting, at least, part of his/her stated goals. In the case of Bush, I agree with Flints analysis from several days ago. Not a road that I want to travel. Its not Bush but the direction set by the Republican leadership. As a political independent, I have decided against voting for any member of that party [for the first time; and I have a lot of friends in elected office who belong to that party].

Green party; we have discussed this before. I dont look at what Nader says, I look at what my local Green party says. Once again, not a path that I want to take. Our local Libertarian party exploded a few years ago. It was a conflict between the anti-tax nuts and the others. I dont think that they even have candidates for local office this year. The rest of the parties are not worth considering at this point.

Best wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), October 19, 2000.

Best said Z.

We'll vote for different guys but still, best said.

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), October 19, 2000.

We could fill volumes about the foibles of third parties in America. I doubt the greens will beat the odds and become the third party in American politics. Third parties tend to coalesce around a single charismatic personality and a political philosophy. A defined and accepted leader allows the third party to focus. Without this leadership, the third party usually implodes. The political pragmatists war with the ideological purists. This intercine warfare is far more damaging than usual bully boy tactics of the major parties.

The libertarian "purists" will not tolerate a political candidate who advocates anything less than total individual freedom. Shockingly, Mr. and Mrs. America aren't quite ready for crack cocaine to show up at the 7-11. Are there libertarians who think electing candidates is a good idea?

The greens will have the same problems. The environmental extremists will lash out at any meat-eating, automobile driving, ozone-producing candidate. In my experience, the environmentalists have even more religious fervor (and less tolerance) than the Christian right.

What we need is a third party that could actually elect candidates. A novel idea, I know, but one worth exploring.

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@att.net), October 19, 2000.

How about one of these, Ken?

Check out some of the third party names for the independents running for President. We have Mike's Party, Buffalo Party, Boring Party, and my personal favorite: Tupperware Party. [Believe it or not, this is NOT a joke site.]

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), October 19, 2000.


The problem with third parties is structural -- our winner-take-all single-member districts. For most local offices, the party is irrelevant, and very few office holders are seriously opposed. But for higher offices, where voting districts are larger, having a single winner leaves no room for more than two serious candidates.

We have never chosen to adopt a European-style proportional representation, where everyone runs for state or national legislatures "at large" and the top N vote-getters are elected. This structure permits many parties to actually *elect* people, and generally forces government by coalition, issue by issue and bill by bill.

By observation, I don't really see that the US system is either inherently superior or inferior, that important issues are more or less likely to get considered under either system, that political gridlock is more or less likely, etc. We even elect our share of lunatics, whatever party they claim allegiance to.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), October 19, 2000.

Anita- Re: your third party write-in candidates...


Jim Watkins (Tupperware party - Indiana) (snip) "...he claims he's running under the "Tupperware Party ticket, which promises fresh ideas while preserving traditional American values."

-- CD (costavike@hotmail.com), October 19, 2000.

Voting third party is the ONLY way that I can make my opinion clearly known to TPTB that neither of their candidates is acceptable. If I hold my nose voting for Bush (my only other option), it will be spun as a vote in his favor. If I don't vote, it will be spun as agreeable compacency or as a vote in favor of the winning party. I know from the last election that my local paper won't even post the third party results, but I have no other respectable choice. Don't tell me about voter responsibility, Peter.

-- Whatever (who@car.es), October 20, 2000.

Why not just have a constutional convention and re-configure ourselves to be a parliamentary state where there are dozens of parties, none of whom have a majority, governing by coalition and a new election could be held whenever there is a crisis in confidance. Wouldn't that be grand?

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), October 20, 2000.

Flint, I must disagree. Local elections are often hotly contested with a much higher number of candidates. Why? It takes much less resources than running for state or federal office. The average citizen can mount a campaign for the school board or the town council. The higher the office, the deeper the pockets must be. This makes national elected offices the playground of the wealthy or the sponsored candidates of the two major parties. For a third party to be viable, it would have to demonstrate the ability to fund campaigns for state and national candidates.

The structural issues, like ballot and election laws, are often written to preclude third party involvement. There is also an incentive towards collusion between the two major parties to exclude all others... witness the debates.

This collusion is similar to collusion in an economic marketplace. The political oligopoly of the major political parties reduces the efficiency of the marketplace... or so I think.

Lars, why not just find a tin-pot dictator? A totalitarian state is far more able to respond quickly to crisis than a messy democracy. (chuckle)

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@att.net), October 20, 2000.


I suggest you look at the standard deviation of vote distribution in local elections. While some are indeed hotly contested, many candidates also run unopposed, or the real action is the battle for the nomination of the dominant party. In the actual elections, one candidate receiving 80+% of the vote is quite common, perhaps more common than not.

[The structural issues, like ballot and election laws, are often written to preclude third party involvement. There is also an incentive towards collusion between the two major parties to exclude all others... witness the debates.]

I consider all this to be both deliberate and carefully thought out. A lot of care went into structuring a system that withholds any reasonable chance of election from those whose positions are too far from mainstream opinion. The best way to do this is to make third parties cumbersome, while the two mainstream parties must be quite similar in platform to compete effectively. And maybe this is to our benefit. I notice that neither fringe candidates nor their supporters tend toward compromise, which in turn keeps them on the fringe.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), October 20, 2000.

Hi, Flint, long time no read!

As you know, I have a lot of respect for your analyses, generally speaking. But I don't agree with too much of what you've said on this topic.

For instance, you said, "I consider all this to be both deliberate and carefully thought out. A lot of care went into structuring a system that withholds any reasonable chance of election from those whose positions are too far from mainstream opinion. The best way to do this is to make third parties cumbersome, while the two mainstream parties must be quite similar in platform to compete effectively."

Who is it, in your opinion, who has done all this careful planning? The framers of the Constitution? I think not. I think it is the "powers that be", which certainly appear to be the big multinational corporations. I for one do not subscribe to the "representation by bottom line" which these businesses subscribe to. And I believe that the Democrats and Republicans are pretty much owned by these corporations, because of the amount of money they accept from them.

I am generally an independent, and historically have voted for a lot of Democrats, and only a few Republicans. I've been voting for 34 years now, and have been getting more and more frustated by each of these parties' practice of saying one thing, and doing another. I'm also frustrated by their acceptance of the current systems focus on passing more and more of our country's (and the world's, for that matter) wealth to fewer and fewer individuals. These individuals, unfortunately, are largely the ones who are paying the big bucks to maintain the current two party system, because they know that they will continue this terrible path to fascism.

I am very encouraged by the response that Ralph Nader has been getting from so many people. I hope that enough people will vote against "the lesser of two evils" this November, so that maybe we can begin to break this stronghold over our nation.

You also said, "And I suspect few who vote for Nader would otherwise have voted for anyone." Your suspicions are noted, but I disagree. I am seeing a very large number of people getting as fed up with the the corporate candidates as I am, who have been voting for years, and have opted either to vote for Nader, or to wait and vote for Nader after they have ascertained that their individual states are not "contested". I think your opinion that it's only the fring element voting for Nader is self serving and unsubstantiated.


-- jumpoffjoe (jumpoff@echoweb.net), October 21, 2000.


I can agree with some of what you say. I have nothing against Nader, although I don't agree with some of his positions. My problem is with the green party. I can only speak about the local green party. They used to get elected to local positions. Not anymore. They have been taken over by the radical animal rights folks. Many of these folks have been involved in criminal activity. If the Green Party doesn't straighten itself out [Brian agrees], it will disappear. Folks like me who could support some of their programs are working hard against them.

So it goes.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), October 21, 2000.

a vote for the communist party will help turn this country around

-- (red@redsquare.com), October 21, 2000.


The communist party in the US only exists in the minds of paranoid militia freaks. It always has. Nearly 40 y ago I had an Honors course in Communism in America. It was taught in part by Gus Hall. That convinced me that the American Communist party was a straw man. Of course, you may be one of the folks who are still dreaming of a communist utopia. Ah, Dreams.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), October 21, 2000.

Z, I regret that there local Green party candidates that are not so great. Life's a bitch. On the other hand, I occassionally have to vote for a good Republican, because the Democrat is such a disaster. Or vice versa. So it goes both ways.


-- jumpoffjoe (jumpoff@echoweb.net), October 21, 2000.


Nope: I am not talking about individual candidates. I am talking about party policy. I have posted this before, when you were gone. I don't remember all of their planks, but they include:

Illegal to keep animals as pets.

Illegal to raise animals for food.

They are more complicated than that, but you get the idea. Makes it easy to campaign against them. My cats don't want to be offed; the greens want to make that law; here. By-the-way, my cats are armed and dangerous; greens should avoid my farm.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), October 21, 2000.

z, I'd sure appreciate it if you'd give me a bit more info on this. Like where did you get this information? It sounds like it was someone's idea of a joke on the Green Party. Even if someone favored such a thing, they'd have to know that it would never get them any votes.

I have before me the Pacific Green Party Statement in my voter's pamphlet. Nothing about animals at all. Mostly about republicrats, corporations, etc. You've heard their positilon, I'm sure. If you're interested, I'll scan it, and e it to you. Send me your email address; mine's real.

If the Green party platform has statememts like that, I'll hide my cats. And my dog. Jeez.


-- jumpoffjoe (jumpoff@echoweb.net), October 21, 2000.

Z, I went to the Green Party's official Platform, and the closest thing to what you're saying is the following:

Finally, as Greens, we must add that the mark of a humane and civilized society truly lies in how we treat the least protected among us. To extend rights to other sentient, living beings is our responsibility and a mark of our place among all of creation. We find cruelty to animals to be repugnant and criminal. We call for an intelligent, compassionate approach to the treatment of animals.

Could someone have paraphrased this to mean no raising of animals for food, or no keeping of animals as pets?

My animals would probably kill me if I didn't keep them as pets. They'd have to work for a living. Problem is, my dog is in the Dog Union. The only rules are "you can never, never do anything useful".

Here's the URL for the platform:



-- jumpoffjoe (jumpoff@echoweb.net), October 21, 2000.

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