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I'm Voting For Nader

Yes. That's right. I said it. I'm voting for Nader this year. He has absolutely no chance of winning. I'm still doing it.

But Obama's the best candidate we've had since FDR, you say. That may well be true. He's definitely intelligent (see my Is It Sexism? post for my thoughts on our current prez's little gray cell capacity). He's absolutely a fantastic orator. He seems on track with his stump speech on providing relief for the middle class and taxing rich people more. And ferchrissakes, it's a momentous occasion. He could be our first black president. I pretty much agree with all of this.

I'm still not voting for him. He's a centrist. I'm a liberal/leftist/progressive. Sure, he's been pegged as a liberal. Relatively speaking, when you're as far right as the Republicans have gone, the center would seem liberal. And that's really the crux of why i'm not voting for Obama.

For decades, the conservatives have been pulling the center further from the actual center and more to the right. Now centrists like the Democrats are labelled "liberals" and liberals are "radicals". Except, when you take abortion out of the equation, many moderate conservatives share very similar opinions on social programs, the economy, and healthcare with these supposedly liberal Dems. Where the majority of the nation share the same ideologies is where the center should be, not some contrived location on the GOP home turf that the GOP has browbeated everyone into excepting lest they brand you a "liberal" (dun da dun!). So, my vote is in one part an effort to tug back on the left to help bring it back to equilibrium.

Obama might be an inspiring candidate and definitely one of the best i've seen, but he doesn't share all of my ideals, and i'm not falling for the "lesser of two evils" mentality that we've been conditioned to believe with our two-party system. I want the Democrats to remember that there are people here on the left of center who have a voice and have the power to vote and that they can't just worry about appeasing the right of center voters, sure that we on the left will always vote Democratic because we have no other viable option. Yes, that's right, it's a protest vote.

For those of you confident that an Obama presidency will be a breath of fresh air, let me remind you that he supported reauthorizing the Patriot Act and voted for FISA.

Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay.

That's not a Bush operative saying it. That's your liberal, Democratic presidential nominee.

He voted in favor of building a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico and supports the guest worker program which sounded to me more like an indentured servitude program than anything.

Immigrants are still susceptible to exploitation under the bill at key points in their U.S. work experience: when they are first being recruited to work in the United States and must compete with other workers for a limited number of visas; when they fear losing their jobs because it means losing legal status in the country after a period of unemployment; and when they are asking an employer to sponsor them for early green card eligibility. The opportunities for employers to exert excessive power over immigrant employees at these junctures has the potential to shape their entire U.S. work experiences, rendering them unable to exercise their rights effectively and to advance in the workplace. So much for enhanced labor rights for immigrants, and so much for the effort to prevent exploitation that drives down wages and working conditions for U.S. workers.

Equally troubling is the way that, as a formal government program, McCain-Kennedy institutionalizes guest workers' second-class status, marking them as a group that, for all the attempts to enforce labor law, remains more vulnerable and less secure than the mainstream of American workers. While McCain-Kennedy creates a path to full citizenship for guest workers that is currently blocked off, the existence of the program ensures that there will always be more temporary, disposable workers to take their place.

Obama supports "clean coal" as a viable alternative to our oil dependence. What the hell is clean coal? How can coal be clean? Well, according to Wikipedia, it's using technology to clean up the emissions you normally get from processing/burning coal. This leads me to the question: and where does the waste go instead?

"Clean coal" methods only move pollutants from one waste stream to another which are then still released into the environment. Any time coal is burnt, contaminants are released and they have to go somewhere. They can be released via the fly ash, the gaseous air emissions, water outflow or the ash left at the bottom after burning. Ultimately, they still end up polluting the environment.

Obama has also claimed to be ok with offshore drilling. It's a statistical impossibility that offshore drilling could be 100% safe for the environment. Any drilling would have risks of spillage and leaks, not to mention wastes from the operation. Oh, and hey, what about hurricanes? At least on land, it can be somewhat contained. Oil can only seep through the soil and groundwater at a certain rate. You've got a) more time to react and b) some hope of recapturing most of what you spilled. In the ocean, your spill is going to be swept away by the current immediately. You may be able to contain some of it eventually, but it could never be enough. You could never recapture all of it.

Then there's Israel. Every politician knows it's political suicide if you don't show immediate and strong support for Israel. And Obama has done his best to vocalize how much he is a friend of Israel. Now, look, i'm not saying it's wrong to support Israel's bid for survival. I'm just saying they're not completely free of blame for the situation between them and Palestine. There's no reason why an Israeli shouldn't be able to sit down at a cafe and have a cup of coffee without being afraid a suicide bomber might run up at any moment. But i think it's a very complicated situation and there are no good guys and bad guys. I think each side has a legitimate claim and each side has done their share of heinous acts. So, to simplify it into "I support Israel" doesn't do justice to the complexity and seriousness of the situation, and it's disappointing to see yet another politician dutifully recite the meme.

And finally, universal healthcare. Obama's plan is better than what we have now, granted. But it's not healthcare for everyone. And my fear is that having been tossed this bone, the push for universal healthcare will die a quiet death. Like most things, when there is no pain point, there is no effort made to change.

In voting for Nader, i know i might have to suffer some criticisms of having "thrown my vote away" on that "spoiler" Nader. My response to that is what gives the Democrats the right to assume they have my vote without working for it? I'm not even being "brave". New Jersey is a safe win for Obama. I don't know what i would do if i lived in a swing state like Florida or Virginia. I don't know that i wouldn't get behind the "lesser of two evils" in order to help prevent a McCain win. In 2004, i voted for Milksop Kerry in the hopes of preventing a second Bush term. I've since regretted that i didn't vote for Nader then, as well, because that vote for Kerry went against all the reasons i stated earlier in this post on what i believe my vote means.

I know that the tiny portion of the votes Nader will win today will be nothing more than a blip when compared to the millions of voters coming out for Obama. It doesn't matter. What's important is that blip is there, and the Democrats know that the blip isn't going away, and there will be a pull from the left as well as the right, and we will not be complacent in our relief that finally we have someone in power who's not George W. Bush.

So, this year, i'm giving up my chance to be one of the many who cast their historic vote for the first black president in order to stick to my ideals, misguided or otherwise.

By min | November 4, 2008, 12:29 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life