Thomas Nast cartoon, featuring Boss Tweed ( referencing the 1876 disputed election)
Boss. "You have the liberty of Voting for any one you please; but we have
the Liberty of Counting in any one we please."
"Do your Duty as Citizens, and leave the rest to take its course." - New York Times.
My overwhelmed friends in Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and elsewhere will find it difficult to believe, but I've barely seen a single political campaign ad, TV or print, all year long. (I'm not complaining, of course, especially since no real information is ever conveyed by this stuff.)
Yeah, so I don't even watch TV (except Jon Stewart and SNL) and somehow I've always been able to turn a blind eye to print advertising of any kind (except for those which include particularly sexy men). Actually however my relative isolation from the campaign (it's always war metaphors in America) has more to do with the perverse wonders of the Electoral College and the fact that everyone long ago agreed that New York belongs to the Democrats.
So where do I leave my teeny tiny vote for president tomorrow? Not for the Republican candidate of course, but I'm also not going to check the Democratic column. As I've said often before, both clubs are Rightwing parties and while only one of the two standard-bearers has a mind, he's used it to argue, among other things, that the Iraq war must be expanded, that Americans can't have single-payer universal health care, that he might nominate anti-choice candidates for federal courts, that the WTO is a good thing, that lesbians and gays should not be permitted to marry and that we need the Patriot Act.
But do I have an alternative? Like most of the United States, New York makes it very difficult for parties or candidates to get onto the ballot, the result being this abysmal selection (taken directly from the New York State Board of Elections site).
[REP] REPUBLICAN: George W. Bush
[DEM] DEMOCRATIC: John F. Kerry
[IND] INDEPENDENCE: Ralph Nader
[CON] CONSERVATIVE: George W. Bush
[WOR] WORKING FAMILIES: John F. Kerry
[PJP] PEACE AND JUSTICE: Ralph Nader
[SWP] SOCIALIST WORKERS: Roger Calero
[LBT] LIBERTARIAN: Michael Badnarik
New Yorkers can choose among only five people (all men). There are probably twice as many kinds of premium brands of butter available at each of the two food stores a block away from where I'll be voting tomorrow!
The Democrats and the Republicans are clearly part of the problem and are both responsible for our current crisis, the Conservatives think the Republicans are too Lefty and the Libertarians would eliminate government from all regulation and welfare responsibilities.
I don't know whether to admire or ridicule the fact that the only socialist party on the ballot has advanced a candidate who, regardless of his merits, could not Constitutionally become President of the U.S. and who in fact is not even a U.S. citizen. I do think this tells us a lot about support in the U.S. for the kind of social contract other industrial societies take for granted, even the parties on the Right.
Aside from his own heroic history of social contributions which have benefitted the entire world, Ralph Nader once again represents an almost perfect platform, and I will not condemn his campaign for accepting funds from sources to whom he could never be beholden. The money is well-spent. Nader is one of the few true democrats in American politics.
There is still the possibility of pulling the lever for Kerry on the Working Families line, but while that excellent party is worthy of the attention and support of any progressive, that is still a vote for a seriously flawed candidate. Besides, it's totally unnecessary to keep every one of New York Electoral votes away from Bush.
Whoa, wait a minute. Where are the Greens? What does it say about our fake democracy that so important a party (okay, make that any party) is not permitted on the ballot? But I think we are still allowed a write-in candidate, so in very good conscience we could make it David Cobb, the Green Party candidate for President.
But back to the discussion of the least of many available evils, or at least a resolution of the current dilemma. Even now I can't say for sure if I'm going to vote for Nader on the Independent Party line, Kerry on the Working families Party line or Cobb as a write-in. Wow! I guess this means that technically I could be labelled as one of those reviled "Undecideds," even if my indecision does not relate to anything having to do with Bush or the Republicans. At least I don't have to agonize about deciding between someone who has already demonstrated he's a bungling idiot and someone without Bush's extraordinary record.
Anyone but Bush? I don't think so.
The only point I wanted to make with this post is the fact that in New York and a large number of other states voters with consciences and minds should be able to see that "anyone but Bush" could still mean that there is a choice, even on Election day itself. We don't have to feel totally powerless when we walk into a polling place. The anti-democratic system we have to work with allows at least some of us to balk at ratifying a slate or a platform not established democraticaly.
Many of us do have some choice tomorrow, and our numbers will be recorded. We have to think ahead - now.
[image from HarpWeek]