April 20, 2008

Mad As Hell

Thoughts on the election.

Choosing between the current presidential nominees is a lot like being asked to choose between terminal illnesses. “Clinton, McCain, or Obama?” Not all that different than, “Leukemia, brain tumor, or bone marrow cancer?”

Of course, there are dozens of third-party candidates running, candidates from the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, the Green Party, and—yes, they’re still around—the Prohibition Party. The problem with these people, of course, is that they don’t stand a chance of winning. Therefore, voting for such a candidate is a waste of time, it’s throwing your vote away. Or at least that’s what we’re told.

I’ve never been all that persuaded by this argument. Far from throwing your vote away, voting for a third-party nominee is making a statement. It’s saying, in the immortal words of Howard Beale, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” And, let’s face it, unless you’re either (a) a moron or (b) a total schmuck, you should be mad as hell, you should be unwilling to take this anymore. Our government is corrupt, pandering to corporate elites, exploiting millions of individuals both here and overseas.

So voting third-party sends a message. To the media—to stop kissing up to the Democrats and Republicans. And to the Democrats and Republicans—to stop…well, to stop doing what they’re doing.

But what about the lesser of two evils argument? You know, “That leukemia’s really a bitch, but a brain tumor—well, what can I say, I really don’t want a brain tumor.” Yes, the lesser of two evils argument.

It’s a compelling argument, I’ll be the first to admit that. In fact, as an anti-imperialist, I’m struggling with it quite a bit this year. I see very few reasons not to hate Barack Obama. Yes, I know he gave a great antiwar speech in Chicago in 2002, and I know he promises to engage in “aggressive diplomacy” (whatever the hell that is), but he’s undoubtedly an imperialist. Yet, as bad as Obama may be, I’d much rather have him in the White House than either Clinton or McCain.

Let me put it this way. If these candidates were diseases…no, no, no, let’s switch the analogy. If these candidates were required reading material, then Obama would be the white pages and McCain and Clinton the U.S. Tax Code. Now, given that it’s shorter, I’d rather read the white pages—but, my God, even that would be worse than having my legs chopped off!

So what do I do? If Obama gets the nomination, it might be a tough decision.

I could always watch the polls and vote for Obama if it looks like Colorado is going to be a swing state, but otherwise vote third party. There seems to be a certain logic in this. And yet I just don’t know if I could actually go through with it.

No matter what I decide, I plan to go on dreaming that there’s still hope for this nation, that the current two-party monopoly will one day come to an end.

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