Hey, I getcha. I volunteered & voted for Nader in '00. I saw a real opportunity to get the Green Party matching federal election funds by attaining 5% of the national vote. I didn't buy Nader's line about Gore & Bush being Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, but could see how someone could. First & foremost, I wasn't paying enough attention to understand that Gore didn't have the election in the bag even if he didn't lose 5% to Nader.
On Election Night, watching returns coming in, I realized I--we, all Nader supporters--had made a mistake. Gore lost TN, something I didn't think would happen. Shit. Then more bad news, culminating with goddamn FOX News & Florida.
Nader isn't solely to blame--everyone who's eligible to run for president should be able to do so if they choose; you can't blame someone for doing so, & Buchannan, FOX, the SCOTUS, Katherine Harris, & Tom DeLay's brownshirt brigade played every bit as significant a role--but in the bigger picture, it was an error to support him with votes.
Everyone should get this after such a powerful lesson. The lesson is that our system punishes us for voting 3rd party except in totally safe political environments. There is no such thing as a vote of conscience alone, because every vote is always more than an expression of conscience: it is an action that chooses one of two sets of somewhat predictable consequences (most predictable for President, perhaps less predictable for some local representatives). We must acknowledge the reality of the voting system we have.
(There is one exception re: 3rd parties; they can do well if led by a Big Name. Here in CO, former Republican hero & current asshole Tom Tancredo ran for governor on the Constitution Party ticket, & finished with 37%, well ahead of no-name GOP candidate Dan Maes, who managed 10%. If Tom Hanks or Oprah decides to run for President, the calculation changes, but there's little point in discussing something so unlikely.)
Here's a great video explaining the problem:
And here's the solution:
I'm a partisan Democrat, because it is useful to be so. I don't believe necessarily in being proud to be a Democrat anymore than I feel particularly proud to be an American; I don't really see a choice. Flawed as they may be--increasingly so, in the 90s & even into today, in many areas--they are one of two choices our system has evolved for us. In an increasingly polarized environment, strategic voting becomes more, not less, entrenched. I would love to change this; I would love to be able to vote for Dr. Stein & the morally superior Green Party platform. I'd love to see the influence of the Big Two busted, & the ability for every race to have room for One More, meaning there can always be at least one anti-corruption candidate who makes plain that s/he is running against Wall Street, against dominionism, against our ecocidal economic theories, regardless of what party that person belongs to.
A day may come when we have a multiple choice ballot, giving We The Voters more power rather than less. But it is not THIS day! This day, & every day until then, every good & sane person has a moral responsibility to vote straight-ticket Democratic. In order to get closer to the better world we conceive in our moral centers, we must first disempower the party that institutionalized modern corruption in D.C. & infected the Democratic Party in the process. There is no movement Out There by voting for someone who will have no influence Out There. That's what matters.
Every day, we get to activate on behalf of that better world. Every day is another chance to motivate, persuade, convince, make skeptical, make curious, generate questions, demonstrate care & love, educate, instigate, Occupy, all of it. But when it comes to voting, all that stuff hits the Pause button. The elections determine what kind of job we've done up to that point, serving as a test to see what will be the laws of the land going forward. It's a form of evolution. Why act in a way that doesn't help solidify what precious gains we have made?
There's no reason to except to feel better about yourself; to say you voted on principle. But that just denies the very real consequences when the GOP wins an election. Work for Ranked Choice voting, please, but always, always vote for the best Democrat until our other choices evolve from phantom to firm.
Put this in front of the people who need to see it.