Well, I don't like to consider myself a defeatist... I'm just hoping that Dean (who I guess I meant by another Clinton) or somebody who would have the personality to beat Bush will be the one running . . . I can't help seeing it as fact that if everyone who voted for Nader had voted for Gore, we might very well not be in nearly the mess we're in now. On the other hand, I certainly don't blame them for voting for the candidate they thought fit... but I wonder if they were being a little too patient and/or contrarian?
It's a slippery slope when we stop voting with our ideals and start accepting that our ideals can't win (i.e. accepting defeat). I really sincerely think Nader might have won the election had he been let into the debates. Of course Gore would be a better president, but I still wouldn't want him for a president. We're not a democracy if we can't vote our conscience. And really, voting our conscience isn't really working right now, so maybe we're not a democracy.
I do agree with you there, but what about when your conscience comes up against reality? Can there be no compromise? What if your conscience tells you, "Voting your ideals is almost certain to take votes away from the lesser of the two predesignated evils, causing the worst candidate to win." I, too, burn with resentment that the elections are so spun that no alternative is ever taken seriously, but that's the case. Until that's fixed, isn't it a little bit selfish or at least stubborn to the point of biting off our nose to spite our face if we vote for the best candidate that we know is going to lose?
That point of view comes from my disagreeing with you about Nader being able to win, however. I would need to see a lot more support from mainstream Americans before I could believe that. Mainstream Americans, "liberals" included, would never vote for Nader; they obviously believe that too much change is bad. That problem is not going to be fixed by even the best, most convincing candidate or campaign; therefore, I don't believe Nader could've won. Those of us who are progressives living in urban areas have an easy time deluding ourselves that we're in the majority when the coffehouses in our neighborhoods are packed with people who would seriously consider voting for a Nader, but in fact, we're in the majority in our little corners of the world ONLY. Even 20 miles outside of the cities we live in, you'll find people saying, "Ralph who?"
I'm not trying to say that's right, but I guess I'm just too pragmatic to feel like voting my precise ideals isn't just a sure way get the conservatives- who, despite their sometimes very intense differences, can muster a united front- into power. I'm ready to compromise to get Bush out of office. A step in the right direction is still better than ten steps in the wrong one, and I feel like that's where the Nader movement got us. We don't even have a place to move forward from, because we've moved so far back. I think we as progressive voters have got to have priorities, we have to face reality.
We don't have to be happy about it, however. I know I'm not. But I don't think supporting a spoiler candidate is the right solution, at least I know it's not for me.