I am poised over my absentee ballot, anxious to vote and stick it in the mail and be done with it. I’ve tried to convince myself that by voting I will be freed from “the Horror” that is this year’s US election for President. I have figured out all our California ballot measures, some of which I’m even happy about, like the death penalty ban which could bring us a step closer to the “civilized world”. Though significant, this is small consolation for the two horrendous “choices” we have in our two party monopoly for president.
But I have an unexpected dilemma and I suspect it is not the dilemma most other Americans are facing. On my ballot, under President of the United States, I notice the Peace and Freedom Party. I had fully intended to vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party, but I’ve never much supported the Green Party in the US, mostly because I’m not a capitalist/socialist and because the strategies that have made the GP successful in parliamentary systems in Europe do not apply to the US. Also, the more exposure Jill Stein gets the harder I find it to take her seriously despite the fact that I’ve voted for her twice before.
I intended to vote Green Party for the same reason I’ve voted for them before: they are the only third party in any position to hurt the Democratic Party, the party of ecocide, income inequality, corporate rule and endless war. I’ve reached the point with the DNC that Martin Luther King had reached with Northern liberals before his death- I’ve decided they are a bigger impediment to change than the right wing. They create, through historical myth and empty rhetoric, the impression that they provide an alternative to Republicans on the above mentioned issues. They do not.
So, my thinking has gone, my strategy will be to support the third party most likely to hurt them. If a third party can reach 5% of the vote, they get matching funds from the government for all donations. This, theoretically, will make them more competitive with the two party monopoly. No third party has achieved that. Ralph Nader, in his last and most successful run, was polling at 5% prior to the election. His actual numbers dropped to 3% as voters got cold feet in the voting booth and let fear drive them to the lesser evil. More Democratic Party voters, in the end, voted for the Republican Bush than for Nader, though Ralph still gets blamed for Gore’s loss and for every bad thing George W Bush has done.
But Jill Stein is only polling around 3% even BEFORE voters turn coward in the voting booth. So where is my already feeble “strategy”? Stanford U and Princeton, and even liberal darlings like Robert Reich and Jimmy Carter have declared our democracy dead, something evident for a long time to anyone paying attention to the corporate influence on our government and elections. So why even treat it as a functioning system?
I look up the Peace and Freedom candidates who turn out to have great and radical resumés. Gloria la Riva, running for president, is an Hispanic activist, arrested many times in protest, and Dennis Banks, running for VP, is Native American and co-founder of AIM, the radical American Indian Movement. The more I read about them the more my dilemma disappears. We are often told that voting third party is “throwing away our vote” but what does that even mean if the democracy itself is a sham? In that situation the ONLY valid vote is a protest vote. And when I protest, I always prefer to do it with the most righteous radicals around. This election, that’s Gloria La Riva and Dennis Banks.