Going into next Tuesday’s elections, I am in an enviable spot. As a Green, I’ve got not one, not two, but *three* Presidential tickets from which I could conceivably choose. I’ve got Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente (www.runcynthiarun.org), the Green Party nominees. I’ve got Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez (www.votenader.org), who are running an independent campaign. And I’ve got Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the Democratic nominees. (I’d be in a similar spot if I were more conservative, being able to choose from Republicans, Libertarians, and Constitutionalists.)
Normally, of course, I wouldn’t include the Democrats, not even this time around. There are a number of issues (nuclear power, health care, and military policy among them) where I have some serious disagreements with Obama’s positions. The Democrats as a party have not acquitted themselves particularly well in the last two years; their refusal to pursue impeachment in the face of clearly criminal conduct by members of the Bush Regime particularly rankles. And I would have strong reasons to support either the McKinney or Nader tickets.
Whatever else you might think about him, Ralph Nader’s understanding of our current political, economic, and societal problems remains the most cogent and accurate analysis being voiced by any political candidate anywhere in this country. Amongst all the criticisms of Nader, most of which center on his personality or on the efficacy of his campaigns, I haven’t seen anyone actually attempt to refute any of the facts he cites or dispute the conclusions he draws from them.
The McKinney/Clemente ticket, for its part, brings a greater emphasis on social justice issues than what Nader’s campaigns have been traditionally known for. And to the groundbreaking nominations that the Republicans and Democrats have made in this cycle, Greens can respond, “We’ll see your African-American President and your female Vice-President, and raise you a female President and a Hispanic VP!” Under normal circumstances, as a County Chair for the Green Party, I would of course be making the best case I could for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente.
But I live in Pennsylvania, and these are not normal circumstances. Here it’s a battleground, and the raw numbers are important, down to the last digit. To me, the most important thing is not so much that Obama wins, or even that McCain per se loses – but that the Republican Party is defeated on the national level, thoroughly, definitively, and unambiguously. Through their support of the actions of the Bush Regime, they have disqualified themselves from executive office for the next generation at least. Their leaders must know in no uncertain terms that they, their methods, and their policies are being rejected and scorned by the American people as just (and overdue) punishment for their reprehensible and irresponsible conduct over the last eight years. The only way to do that is by overwhelming force of numbers. A squeaker, a razor-thin margin, a mere plurality will simply not do the job.
So I will, with equal measures of regret and excitement, but without illusions or unfounded hopes, be casting my vote for Obama.
I will do my penance, however, by sending some additional contributions to the Nader and McKinney campaigns – what they need most now, maybe even more than the votes, are the resources to continue their work. And I will be voting for Green and other third-party candidates downticket, and I encourage you to do the same wherever possible. One of the key jobs for the next four years will be to keep up the pressure to make the system more inclusive, more accessible, and more friendly to third-party participation.
And somehow, I feel it won’t be too long before you’ll be seeing long screeds from me decrying this or that action of the Obama Administration.
But there will be a difference between these next four years and the last eight – it will be an Administration, not a Regime; and I will be proud to be able to use the word “President” again to describe the inhabitant of the White House.