Voting for Kerry will do the same thing settling for the 'lesser-evil' always does...allow politics to slide further rightward as the Dems take the left completely for granted. Next election we'll have Jeb vs. Lieberman. And in 20 years, at the rate things are going, we'll get to pick between Satan and Beezlebub. (ABBers - Anybody But Beezlebub - will point out that Satan is less likely to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court...) Where do y'all draw the line?Now, some might go the route of arguing that if Satan would protect women's reproductive rights, while Beezlebub will make arcane references to Dred Scott to show his committment to reversing those rights, then the difference between Satan and Beezlebub is not for nothing. However, I just want to focus on the issue of where someone on the left should draw the line. Imagining that everybody can be put a single left-right political dimension is a dramatic oversimplification, but it is embraced by the argument above and so I figure it's good enough for my response to it. So, here, the electoral field on which the line is to be drawn.
While Nader supporters typically have various ideas for reforming our electoral system, they generally still support the basic idea of democracy as well as the basic idea of their being a President. Under such premises, I have a very clear idea of where I draw the line:
This results in a candidate that runs a good deal to the right of my own personal politics. However, I recognize that the President is going to be the person who amasses the most votes, and my druthers would be to have that person assemble the coalition of the 50.1% of people whose beliefs are Most Like Mine rather than the 50.1% of people whose beliefs are Least Like Mine.
Now, if 5% of the left decides they won't be "taken for granted" and so opt out of voting for either major party candidate (either to vote for a third party candidate or to stay home and eat Cheetos, it doesn't matter which), then here is where I draw the line:
I like this person even less, but, subtracting those 5%, I'd rather have the President win by assembling a coalition of the 48.6% whose beliefs are Most Like Mine than the 48.6% whose are Least Like Mine.
Say enough people on the left get angry that 20% of them opt out of the two-party system. Then here is where I draw the line:
I like this person even less, but, subtracting those 20%, I'd still rather have the President win by assembling a coalition of the 40.1% whose beliefs are Most Like Mine than the 40.1% whose are Least Like Mine.
Upshot: Thanks, guys, you are really helping! (I say "guys" because it seems like the to-the-end-Naderites are overwhelmingly male, presumably because women on the left are more likely to see the issue of Supreme Court appointments as being more than just a superficial matter.)
Secondary upshot: It is common for people on the left to bemoan the particulars of the electoral system for why there is not a viable left third party in the United States. The bigger problem: unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans don't agree with us! And don't start blabbering about nonvoters, because the vast majority of them don't agree with us either. This all sucks, but an inconvenient thing about the truth is that sometimes it does, indeed, suck. Under whatever system of governance you like, the progress of progressives in America is going to be stunted as long as efforts to gain support for progressive positions continues to go so badly.
Incidentally, I do support instant runoff voting, which would give me the chance to vote for a way-left candidate first and then the electable-Democrat candidate second. I support this not because I think it would make any ultimate difference in who gets elected to national office, but because of the comfort it would apparently provide to others on the left.