Saturday, March 8, 2008

Vote Strategically

Back at the Fischman home page, where this blog began, I have made three points about the Nader candidacy:

  1. By running, Nader is in a position to raise issues that none of the major party candidates will touch.
  2. If we had instant runoff voting, nobody would have to fear Nader. People could vote Nader #1, the eventual Democratic candidate #2, expressing their real preference and electing their most acceptable candidate who's really competitive at the same time.
  3. The Democrats have their fate in their own hands. If they run a good enough campaign, they can convince most progressive voters to swing their way.
Let me add a fourth practical point. If you were tempted to vote for Nader in 2000 or 2004, most of the time, it was a safe thing to do. Massachusetts voters could vote Nader knowing that Massachusetts would go for Gore, then Kerry, come hell or high water. Proud progressive Texans could vote for Nader knowing that the candidate the late lamented Molly Ivins famously called "Shrub" was going to carry that state. There were only a handful of swing states where progressives really had to worry about "wasting their vote" or Nader becoming a "spoiler." If you didn't live in Florida or Ohio, for the most part, you could vote Nader with a clear conscience.

This year, if Clinton is the nominee, the same logic will probably hold. She will aim to win all the blue states and a couple of the swing states to gain a majority in the electoral college. So, if you're not in a contested state, you can vote for Nader, Mickey Mouse, or Che Guevara if you want to. It won't matter a whit.

If Obama is the nominee, all bets are off. He is the first Democrat who stands a chance of putting Howard Dean's "fifty-state strategy" to the test. I can still do whatever I want. Massachusetts is not going for a Republican, no matter what I do. But if you're in the Rocky Mountain West, or the Carolinas, or any of the other places that went for Bush last time but might go for Obama this time, watch the polls and decide on Election Day how to use your ballot.

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