Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Seven Days To Decide

One week from today is election day. Seven days from right this minute I will have already done my civic duty and voted. I always try to time my visit to my polling station in the late morning somewhere between 900am and 1100am, or in the early afternoon between 100pm and 400pm. These are the best times to avoid the lines. I like democracy to be line-free. So what and whom will I vote for?

For president I'm one of those irratating undecideds. If you've read my blog over some time you well know I won't vote for Bush. So who am I undecided about you might ask? I'm conflicted between Ralph Nader, David Cobb and John Kerry. I live in a battleground state, Michigan, so my presidential vote is somewhat crucial. Recent polls have been suggesting that Michigan is leaning Kerry, but I don't trust polls enough to believe it.

My conscience screams at me to vote for Nader or Cobb the Green Party candidate. The problem with voting for Cobb is that he has stated that battleground states should not vote for him and to vote for Kerry. So since Michigan is still close, Cobb doesn't want my vote. This is odd in my opinion. The Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates don't say vote for Bush instead of them in battleground states. I like the Green Party and the issues they stand for, but their presidential candidate doesn't want my vote.

My strongest inclination is to vote for Ralph Nader and to not be an "anybody but Bush" Kerry voter. To do this I'll need to close my eyes to the polls and just assume that Michigan will be a blue state for Kerry. It's time to tell my year 2000 story. Four years ago I had a strong aprehension about George Bush. Back then I saw how the Bush team used dirty tricks on John McCain in the South Carolina primary. They used a whisper campaign accusing McCain variously of being a hothead, having a screw loose from his time as a POW in Viet Nam, called his wife a drug addict and said he had an illegitimate black daughter (an adopted Bangladeshi). This was enough for me to vote in Michigan's Republican primary for John McCain in an attempt to stop Bush. McCain won the Michigan primary, but Bush went on to win later primaries and finally the Republican nomination.

Then came the general election. I wanted to vote for Ralph Nader because he embodied all the issues I believe in. Yet, I was just too scared of a Bush presidency, so I voted for Al Gore. Michigan ended up being a Gore state, but as we all know Bush was handed a victory by the Supreme Court. In 2000 I took two shots at voting against Bush, both times my fellow Michiganders agreed with me as McCain beat him in the primary and Gore beat him in the general election, yet Bush became president. So what happened is that I kept voting to beat Bush and in the end it didn't matter.

So here I am again facing the same situation. Vote for Kerry because he has the only legitimate chance of beating Bush or vote for the candidate that really represents my thinking, Ralph Nader. The electorial college has a small part to play in my thinking because I am in a battleground state, but if it didn't exist it would still be a close election in a popular vote. It really does come down to voting my conscience or voting to beat Bush. I have been struggling with this problem since 2000 and here it is seven days away and I'm still struggling.

If I vote for Nader and Bush wins my state and the presidency, I will never hear the end of it from Democrats. I won't have a problem defending my choice, voting ones conscience is a brave and truthful stance, but I would have a sense of sadness if Bush wins. Further I have to realize that it would be astronomical odds that Michigan will be decided by my one vote.

And I still haven't forgotten David Cobb. I endorse the Green Party for their ideals and will be voting for Greens lower on the ticket. I've seen him on C-Span in a couple of third party debates and find him to be an enthusiastic idealist thinking for his party for the future. He knows the issues well and represents the Greens as a self proclaimed safe states candidate. This was a divisive issue within the party, run a full presidential campaign or run hard only in safe states (states that are heavy red or blue) in an effort to not alienate Democrats and to not be blamed for a Bush win. There are many progressives that want to work with Democrats in the future as the Green Party grows, but there are others that see the Democrats as being sell outs and are not worth negotiating with. For now the Cobb candidacy is the current strategy. And in the long run it probably is the better idea as they can let Nader once again be blamed if Bush wins.

I've always despised the villification of Ralph Nader as the reason Bush won. It was always just a place to blame the Gore loss. There were a number of reasons Gore lost, some of them because of the poor race he ran, some because the Democrats had a lack of fight in Florida. Other reasons include dirty tricks by Republicans (Florida voting roll purges) and a poor reasoned Supreme Court ruling. As well many Nader voters were disenchanted Republicans (not just Democrats), but most were simply either new voters or previously disengaged voters. This year anyone thinking that Nader's 1% polling are from Democrats are wrong. That 1% would never vote for the type of centrist Democrat that end up running for president, this time Kerry. These are conscience voters.

So here I am, still an undecided. I'm not one of those undecideds that the media speaks of. These are the people who are just waking up and realizing there is an election upon us. Or they are attention seekers, the media is interested in them. Or they just don't understand politics or their own idealism. These are people that probably couldn't even name any of the third party candidates, they only think the choice is Bush or Kerry.

I'm an undecided that the media doesn't really consider. My conscience is screaming at me. My feelings of dread of four more years of Bush are strong. My yearnings of a strong third party in the Greens are earnest. My independent streak is ever present. Nader, Cobb or Kerry, I'm still trying to decide. But I will, time is running out.


Post a Comment

<< Home