Friday, March 7, 2008


On Tuesday, I voted in the Texas Democratic primary.

I almost didn't, and I'll tell you why. It's pretty simple, really: I'm not a Democrat. Sure, Texas has an open primary and I was allowed to vote for a Democrat, but I am not one, and not just in the sense that I am unregistered. The Democrats just plain don't represent me. The Democrats are, at their best, a liberal party, and I am a radical among liberals.

But I did vote. Shortly after I did I ran across a great piece by Howard Zinn in The Progressive and he said something that really explains why I did it.
I'm talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes — the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.
I don't think there is any significant difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, certainly not one to get excited about, and there are only the token hot-button issue differences between either of them and John McCain. I don't "support" Obama, though I voted for him in the primary. But I don't have to spend much time considering about the insignificance of those differences — it is simply a fact that one of them will be the "leader" of the "free world" in January, and there is no real opportunity cost to my preferring one over the other for long enough to vote.

I don't think elections are necessarily ever going to win us the society we deserve. We're going to have to do that ourselves. But elections do have real outcomes for real people, and even minor improvements in outcomes are worth it if you don't lose anything in the process. I lost nothing by voting for Obama, and so I did.

But in November, assuming as seems likely that Obama is the candidate, I won't be voting for him. Unless Texas becomes a hotly contested state, its electoral votes will all go to McCain, so there is no reason for me to even consider voting other than my conscience, which would lead me to a Green or a Socialist before a Democrat. And that's really my general rule for voting: always vote, and always vote for the left-most option available. Then forget about the whole game and go back to making the world a better place your own way, whatever that is.

In other words, vote for Obama in the primary and promptly protest his capitalist, imperialist policies when he's president.

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