There's an Election?
I suppose I should weigh in on this whole election thing, eh? It's tomorrow, right?
More seriously, I'm probably closest to Chris's position here. Historically, I've been a conscientious abstainer. It does indeed "only encourage them." I did vote LP in 1984, the first year I could vote, but have not voted in a presidential election since. As this week's brilliant South Park put it (hat tip to Glen Whitman for the dialogue):
MRS. MARSH: How was school today, Stanley?
STAN: It was ridiculous. We have to have a new school mascot and we're supposed to choose between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.
MRS. MARSH: What did you say?
MR. MARSH: Did you just say that voting is ridiculous?
STAN: No, I think voting is great, but if I have to choose between a douche and a turd, I just don’t see the point.
MR. MARSH: You don’t see the point? Oh, you young people just make me sick!
MRS. MARSH: Stanley, do you know how many people died so you could have the right to vote?
STAN: Well Mom, I just don’t think there’s much of a difference between a douche and a turd. I don’t care.
Yes indeed, not much difference at all between a douche and a turd sandwich. But why not vote LP? Historically, I've believed that the whole process of voting, even if I voted LP, was akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It's not just that my individual vote doesn't matter, or that it doesn't matter whether a douche or a turd wins (both of which I believe to be true), but that the real problems we face as society are so deep and profound and are at the levels of the intellectual and the institutional, that voting as a process has little effect. We need to make other more fundamental changes first. Like the sheep who get to decide which wolf will eat them, choice is cold comfort.
I should add that my conscientious abstention drives my left-liberal colleagues far more batty than any particular position I take as a libertarian. I find that so interesting. It's not as if I'm not engaged politically. Aside from the fact that my classroom is a place where I see myself helping students become informed and articulate citizens, I'm a total political junkie, not to mention my recent appearance at a local town forum on Wal-Mart (I was pro). But to my colleagues, there's something so fundamental about the act of voting that not doing so, even with good clear reasons, just cannot be abided.
This election, however, has tempted me more than any other recently, if only because the incumbent is so, well, turd sandwich-like. As I've said before here, I'm "rooting" for Kerry, but I cannot force down my bile long enough to vote for him, as douche-y as he is. Were I to vote, and I still might, it would be for Badnarik, and for largely the reasons David, Rod and Keith put forward. However, although he's neither a douche nor a turd sandwich, he is a wingnut (even by LP standards). I so agree with David's point about the LP putting forward a candidate with name recognition who I could really get behind (Penn Jillette is perfect), but I do see the argument for voting LP to keep the "remnant" moving forward. It's just so hard to pull the lever for a wingnut, even with the lackluster alternatives.
So, I'll probably sit this one out. Of course that decision is harder and harder to explain to my kids, especially since if they tell other people, the Village of Canton might ride me out of town on a horse, stranding me at the local PETA compound, where I can begin to understand what it truly means to love animals and die a horrible death at the hands of Puff Daddy (go watch the whole South Park episode...)
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