Tonight, I had dinner with a friend of mine from graduate school. Good friend, good conversation and good restaurant, the last being a place where the servers also take turns being the singing entertainment.
My friend said near the end of our meal that, in protest of Kerry's non-supportive stance on same sex marriages, he was not going to vote for either Kerry or Bush.
"You're going to vote for Nader?"
"No, I'm going to vote for my father." This person's working-class father being a recent but enthusiastic champion of the right to same-sex marriage.
Obviously, when someone not of a storied political lineage decides that they are going to cast their vote for the father, you are not going to convince them otherwise in casual after-dinner conversation. It did show me, however, that I needed to extend my resolve to confront my Nader issues with love to also embrace people who still plan to vote but even see Nader as being too much of a sell-out-to-The-Man to be a true protest candidate.
It also helped me nail down my general principle on these things: I vote with the idea that, if people whose opinions are generally like mine also vote the way that I vote, we would be together contributing plausibly toward the actual production of a social outcome I would regard as favorable. This, to me, is exactly what "voting one's conscience" should be about.
"Hmm. I see your reasoning. I mean, imagine if we could get three or four or even five percent of the liberal electorate to cast write-in votes for their parents. That would be a start toward reversing some of the distressing policies we've seen over the last three years. Bush would see the votes for all those single-supporter write-in candidates and know that his next administration was going to have to make some big changes or maybe even more liberals would vote for their parents next time."
(Thought and said with love, of course. Especially since my friend seems to be doing well for himself on multiple fronts in DC.)