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The Democratic Party is the New GOP

If it was wrong for Bush, it is wrong for Obama.

Be logical about this, if the Democrats are no longer a liberal party, and objectively behave as badly, or even worse than, Republicans, does the party deserve your support? Of course not! The only solution you have as a voter, is to not vote for either Republicans or Democrats. There is however, a long and storied tradition of denigrating third parties in this country. Some of the main arguments include:
  • The other guy is worse -- vote for the lesser evil.
  • Voting third party is wasting your vote.
  • Third parties can't win.
Let's evaluate the arguments logically:
Glenn Greenwald

American Extremist (cartoon)

Matt Taibbi Blog

Dan Carlin (podcast)

ACLU: Keep America Safe and Free



Argument Brief Counter Argument Validity
Lesser Evil When Bush was in the White House, Democrats vociferously attacked his policies, at least in their speeches and comments. After Obama was elected, the Left was peculiarly silent as one by one, Obama recycled the Bush/Cheney policies and in some cases, took them to new extremes. Even top Democrats who once lashed out at the Bush regime for its abuses, are now employing the exact same abuses (e.g., Marty Lederman is now writing Obama's secret legal memos to justify extreme positions when he once excoriated the Bush administration for the identical abuse).

The Democratic party would have fought hard against a continuation of the Bush/Cheney philosophy if a Republican had advocated it, but instead, because it is a Democrat in the White House pushing that same brand of evil, the Democrats are falling all over themselves to don pointy tails and pitchforks. The irony in this debacle, is that liberal issues would have been safer had a Republican won because the Democrats would have gone on pretending to care about liberal issues and fought back, at least a little.

While few expected Obama to become as evil as Bush/Cheney -- Obama's campaign was a massive lie -- people often will choose a perceived lesser evil. As Obama's administration proves, voting "least worst" is hardly a safe option and can ultimately have even more terrible consequences.

Low

Evil is Evil
Wasted Vote It depends on how you think of "waste". The underlying message is that if you don't vote for a winner, you are wasting your vote. If that is the case, then slightly less than half of all the voters who vote for a Democrat or Republican in any given election are wasting their votes because they failed to vote for the winner.

It is a clever misdirection to define a wasted vote as one which depends on the probability of victory. If such were actually the case, we would not even have elections -- we would do a random sampling opinion poll and declare a victor because everyone who would have voted for the losing candidate was merely wasting their vote.

The true wasted votes are those cast in favor of a person who will thwart your hopes and dreams. It's like choosing to voluntarily take anthrax over ebola. There is a third choice and that choice is to resist. The voters might be poisoned in the end, but obedient acquiescence is not the only option. Is it not better to fight against those who would poison you than it is to kneel down before them and take it without a whimper? The "wasted vote" argument ignores the third choice -- the choice to resist.

The only wasted votes are those cast in favor of a hated candidate. Winnability is not the sole criteria defining whether one should vote for a candidate (see Third Parties Cannot Win below).

Low

Voting for a candidate you hate is a wasted vote. Voting for a candidate you like is not.
Third Parties Can't Win This argument can be summarized: "It is futile to vote for third parties because they cannot win."

First, this is a self-fulling prophecy and surely, no third party will ever win anything if it is followed. Consider however, that there is fallacy buried in this argument which claims that if a party cannot win an election, it can't have any effect on politics. This is patently untrue.

Third parties bring ideas which, if they were not totally ignored by the press, would inject those ideas into the public consciousness. The one sure fire way to ensure that nothing changes, is to ignore alternative or new ideas. Even if a third party will certainly lose, it can be helpful if the ideas it represents to find expression in the mainstream media.

At some percentage of the vote, surely far smaller than anything approaching 50%, the press will take notice, candidates will face questions, and incumbents will have to justify their policies. Those questions and answers will be reported, and people may find themselves question whether to vote Republican or Democrat. At that point, candidates in the major party may fear for their positions, and adjust them. So even if a third party candidate never wins an election, it is possible for those candidates to have a major influence on party politics, and thus, win by losing.

Low

Wrong question, the question should be: can third parties affect policies of the major parties and spur dialogue on important issues ignored by the major parties. If yes, that's a win, even in the face of election losses.


Comments, corrections, or additions: obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org