One of the more curious arguments coming out of the Democratic side of the aisle lately runs something like this:

"If you vote for Ralph Nader, you're really voting for George W. Bush."

The premise, one supposes, is that in states where Nader has measurable strength, he may draw away enough disaffected Democrats who can't bear to vote for Al Gore — and Dubya will collect those electoral votes in the end. A vote for Nader, therefore, must be a vote wasted. The usual Friends of Al will actually say so, in so many words.

The proper response to this, I submit, is "So?" How is it Ralph Nader's fault if Al Gore can't hold on to his traditional Democratic base? Isn't it entirely possible that some people might actually want to vote for Nader? Where does Al Gore get off thinking he has some dubious droit de seigneur(1), the right to claim all the votes of registered Democrats — and that includes mine, dammit — as his own?

Of course, from my particular point of view, this is purely theoretical. Ralph Nader will apparently not be on the Oklahoma ballot this fall, having fallen just short of 36,202 petition signatures, the minimum number required by state law. (The Greens have filed suit, claiming that the Oklahoma procedure is unduly onerous; for example, Arizona, a state with half again as many people as Oklahoma, requires only 9200, while Texas, with six times as many people as Oklahoma, requires 56,116.) And it's not like Nader is exactly an angel. What's more, George W. Bush will carry this state with about 62 percent of the vote, depending only slightly upon how close Governor Keating keeps his nose to Dubya's keister. But I resent the Goregonzolas' insistence that not giving them my vote is tantamount to throwing it away. Isn't it mine to throw away if I want? (And are the Bushnicks worried about losing the GOP fringe to Pat Buchanan?) If you ask me, voting for any of these clowns counts as a waste.

(1) (Yes, I know where that term came from, and I would suggest that the "tradition" of the lord getting first crack at some vassal's bride is not entirely dissimilar from the current system of tax withholding.)

The Vent

#211
1 September 2000

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