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A Coda On Voting Dealbreakers

[ 71 ] October 17, 2012 |

I’m happy to leave most of any response to RAF’s post to djw later in the week. Instead, in lieu of a too-long comment I’ll just offer a few quick clarifications:

  • I’ve read Downs; I don’t particularly care who any particular individual votes for.   What motivated me to enter this discussion was not Henry saying that he would be reluctant to vote for Obama but rather his assertion that “it isn’t at all clear that the consequences of voting for Romney over the longer term, would be any worse than the consequences of voting for the guy who was supposed to be better on these issues, and was not.”  If his post had just said “Obama is clearly preferable to Romney but I’m reluctant to cast my meaningless vote for him anyway” I probably wouldn’t have said anything, because it does indeed not really matter.    Similarly, Russell’s strategic vote for Stein in Kansas won’t matter.
  • Having said that, the “but my personal refusal to vote won’t affect the outcome anyway” defense doesn’t really wash when you’re writing a lengthy essay about your decision for the Atlantic Monthly.   When you’re addressing this argument to a large audience, you’re 1)presumably trying to persuade people, and 2)presumably making an implicit assumption that your individual decision represents the best collective decision of like-minded people.  And it’s fair game to point out that your argument is transparently wrong on that basis.
  • Would I strategically vote for Stein if I had the franchise in my non-swing state?   Well, no.  First, because I think third parties are either irrelevant or actually counterproductive to social change at the national level.      And, second, even if I believed in any “dealbreaker” apart from “the other guy isn’t as bad,” I continue to insist that singling out Obama as simply too evil to support in the context of an American presidential election is extremely odd.   Of RAF’s parade of dealbreakers, well, one (his administration’s requirement that institutions that accept taxpayer money to perform secular functions treat their employees equitably) is a positive good.   The other five are various degrees of bad, but also represent far, far less evil than one would have had to swallow to vote for LBJ or FDR, the two presidents of the last century who could plausibly be said to have a longer record of progressive accomplishments than Obama.  The dealbreaker argument can only be squared with a willingness to absent yourself from national electoral politics in the United States altogether, which…well, I’m not sure what this is supposed to accomplish.
  • Finally, it should be noted that my calculus that Obama is vastly preferable to Romney is based on my own left-liberal calculus.   On this measure, Romney is vastly worse than Obama in countless respects and better on nothing, so directly or indirectly supporting the former’s election can be supported only on “heighten-the-contradictions” grounds I consider grotesquely immoral.    But to an (admittedly bleeding-heart) libertarian like Jacob Levy or a left-communitarian like Russell, the calculus might be different.

Comments (71)

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  1. Bijan Parsia says:

    But to an (admittedly bleeding-heart) libertarian like Jacob Levy or a left-communitarian like Russell, the calculus might be different.

    And wrong.

    Not just wrong in terms of my calculus (which overlaps a lot with yours), but really quite wrong on most plausible libertarian (esp. bleeding heart) or left-communitarian calculii.

    Seriously, a left libertarian that would find the contraception coverage mandate anywhere but a minor blip compared to the Romney blight is just awful. Hell, I would say that most reasonable Catholic views should go Obama, and the struggle for some of them to deal with abortion would be much more internally serious.

  2. StevenAttewell says:

    Just to get this out f the way: voting is everywhere and always an act of collective power, not individual expression. Treating it like the latter is the original classical liberal fallacy about democracy created because of classical liberalism’s discomfort with universal suffrage and mass political action.

    If you want a political system in which your individual vote is deceive, become a monarch.

    • StevenAttewell says:

      Damn autocorrect:
      - out of the way
      - individual vote is decisive

    • Heron says:

      It isn’t really an “either-or” situation. If individuals feel no reason to vote, then there won’t be any elective-collective-action in the first place. Collective action is, implicitly and necessarily, the expression of numerous individuals’ desires; and so it will remain until the heroes of DBZ finally decide to teach us mere mortals the fusion dance. Frankly, I don’t care how many more votes it lets me cast, I’m not wearing those earrings!

      This “one vote doesn’t matter” argument accomplishes one thing very well; it makes people remarkably cynical about democratic politics. It makes them shrug off corruption and underhandedness as “just the way the game is played”, and that makes it much easier than it already is to undermine elections and government. Yes, democracy is fundamentally collective; after all, it’s got “people” right on the tin! But that it takes more than one person to accomplish something doesn’t make that one person irrelevant.

      • Murc says:

        This.

        I would say that “one vote doesn’t matter”, if internalized sufficiently, doesn’t make people overly cynical; what it does is make them numb.

        I count myself as a pretty cynical dude, but I never, ever stop being outraged at the abuses I see around more, nor do I ever stop thinking that my actions, personally, can make a difference in stopping them. The day I start thinking my vote doesn’t matter is the day I just stop voting.

        Voting requires deliberate effort on my part; I have to get up early and stand in line. Why would I go through that if it didn’t matter?

        • Because your vote matters when combined with the votes of others. So it’s not good enough for you to cast your vote in the general election; you should be active in your local political party before and after the primary, and you should be mobilizing people in your community to vote the same way you do.

      • “Collective action is, implicitly and necessarily, the expression of numerous individuals’ desire.” Depends on how you frame it – there’s more to collective action than the sum of individual desires.

        My larger point is that frames that posit the individual voter and their self-expression are bad. They don’t describe reality and they don’t offer good tools for how to engage in politics: they ignore and underplay the need to get together with like-minded votes, to organize yourself into a majoritarian coalition with a common agenda, and then get out the vote. Worst, they’re hostile to institutions (like those icky partisan political parties) that actually do that integral part of democracy.

        • dilan esper says:

          The thing is, you don’t have any right to dictate that others use their votes the way you use yours

          • I can’t dictate, certainly, but I can criticize, and I can point to the consequences of this kind of thinking and activism.

            Civic virtue is a learned skill, after all.

            • dilan esper says:

              And they can point to the consequences of letting parties take you for granted.

              There is blood on your hands too.

              • StevenAttewell says:

                get together with like-minded votes, to organize yourself into a majoritarian coalition with a common agenda, and then get out the vote

                Is the antithesis of letting oneself be taken for granted, because it applies to party politics as well as partisan politics. A well-organized internal faction that can actually influence nominations, endorsements, and platforms has independent political power.

                But I think the blood on my hands reference is actually telling, because it reveals that the impulse of protest voting isn’t actually to exercise political power but to promote ones own sense of spiritual purity. The problem with this is that political power doesn’t vanish when you do this, rather your share of political power is left for those with less scruples to pick up, which makes it more, not less likely that blood will be spilt.

  3. To go along with Bijan above, I’m not sure that on a strictly libertarian calculus Obama wouldn’t be better.

    A Romney administration would give more power to the bankers to coerce society to benefit their interests. And they would be using the government to do it, so the ol’ “private/public” distinction doesn’t even come into play.

    Plus the overwhelmingly likely outcome of any Romney tax plan would be to lower rates for the rich and shift the burden onto poorer taxpayers. So if taxes are theft there will be more theft of more, poorer people.

    Plus, ya know, more militarism and public military largesse at least and in all likelihood more boots on the ground somewhere.

    Immigration. ‘Nuff said.

    And on the other side of the scale are . . . forcing institutions that receive public funds to select a health care plan that covers contraception? Environmental regulations? Insurance mandates? Forcing corporations to allow unions to exist?

    There’s a question of scale, here, seems like. Fighting the Beast Rabban won’t give you control of the spice liberty when the Emperor Shaddam’s got Sardaukar running around everywhere.

  4. OlderThanDirt says:

    If you are a white male, upper income and educated, it is entirely possible that your life will not be immediately different under a Romney administration. It will take some time before the economy’s steady slide down because of lack of demand reaches a point where you yourself are at risk. Those people who are on food stamps or have student loans, or are capable of becoming pregnant, will see an immediate change for the very much worse.

    This whole discussion reminds me of those people who say, “I’m just being a devil’s advocate for the sake of the discussion. Don’t take it so seriously.” Well, I’m just trying to survive, and this is MY LIFE, not an interesting thought experiment.

    • Leeds man says:

      white male, upper income and educated

      That describes most of the dissenting theoreticians, of course. Which was probably your point.

  5. TBogg says:

    I remember the good old days when people used to masturbate in private. What is he trying to do? Prove to his parents that his college education wasn’t a waste?

    Just vote for the wealthy dilettante Green party flavor of the quadrennial and shut the fuck up about it.

  6. Warren Terra says:

    the “but my personal refusal to vote won’t affect the outcome anyway” defense doesn’t really wash when you’re writing a lengthy essay about your decision for the Atlantic Monthly

    This. I can understand casting a protest vote where you know it can’t affect the outcome, and encouraging others to do so, even though I can’t support this tactic myself. But this argument would have to be paired with an encouragement of tactical voting where it does matter. Unless you think there’s no meaningful difference between the two candidates, which I think would be a pretty silly claim to make.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      I do support this tactic but I agree 100% with your caveat. When I endorse voting for minor party presidential candidates (if they better represent your POV, that is) in non-battleground states, I always point out that: 1) progressives in battleground states should vote tactically for Obama (and their doing so is far more important than anything progressives do in non-battleground states; and 2) since in my very red state the only two candidates on the ballot are Obama and Romney, I’m voting for Obama (though I’d vote for Stein if she were on the ballot).

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        I would also add one more thing: the normal thing to do ought to be voting for the candidate who one would most want to see as President.

        Unfortunately, our first-past-the-post vote-counting system frequently creates incentives not to do this if one’s preferred candidate is not one of the two major-party candidates, as voting for one’s preferred candidate might help the worse of the two major party candidates to win.

        In such cases, tactical voting makes perfect sense.

        But let’s not pretend that tactical voting isn’t merely tactical by stigmatizing voting for the actual candidate of one’s choice as “protest” voting.

        As I’ve said before, my view is that one should vote for whichever candidate most represents ones own views, except in situations in which one’s doing so might accidentally help the greater evil of the two major-party candidates to win. In such cases, one should vote for the lesser evil major party candidate tactically.

        In fact, in the case of presidential elections, most of us live in non-battleground states, i.e. states in which voting for a third-party candidate (and encouraging other progressives with a preference for a third-party candidate to do so) would not have the perverse effect of helping the greater evil major party candidate to win. Situations in which tactical voting is called for are thus in the minority in the case of presidential elections.

      • Christopher says:

        Incontinentia, your immoral efforts to heighten the contradictions make me sick.

        What really tremendously annoys me about the lesser-evilists here is that their position is absolute. Scott has just explicitly stated that the only conceivable reason to vote for a third party or abstain from voting is that you have the evil desire to make America worse in hopes of inspiring some kind of rebellion.

        I have never said, and don’t believe, that voting for the lesser evil is an immoral act. I don’t understand why people are incapable of extending that courtesy to me.

        And I’m sorry, but I don’t see how you can so blithely make an argument that essentially is “I don’t understand why people get so worked up about the deaths of millions! I mean, how else are you going to get progressive bills passed?”

        • Christopher says:

          Not “you” Buttocks but “You” Scott in that last sentence.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Scott has just explicitly stated that the only conceivable reason to vote for a third party or abstain from voting is that you have the evil desire to make America worse in hopes of inspiring some kind of rebellion.

          No, I said the only reason anyone on the left could think that Romney was no worse or better than Obama is because they have an evil desire to make America worse. If people want to cast meaningless votes in safe states for third parties that have no chance of effecting progressive change…well, I don’t know what this will accomplish, but knock yourself out.

  7. mpowell says:

    Yeah, it’s one thing to privately decide not to cast your vote for Obama, but you are completely full of sh*t if you’re going to write an article about it in a major magazine and then claim that your vote doesn’t really matter for exactly the reasons Scott identifies.

    Writing an editorial is an act of public advocacy. There’s really no way around that. I’m not sure where the line is exactly. A highly public blog is pretty similar. But obviously at some point your personal blog is just your personal blog. But just because there is a gray area it doesn’t mean that we can’t know and state precisely where an article in the Atlantic Monthly falls.

  8. wengler says:

    A little while back on Democracy Now! there was a debate in which one of the speakers called Obama ‘the more effective evil’. His argument was that Obama could do all sorts of things that a Republican president would have a hard time getting away with, like slashing social security and Medicare.

    I think that calculation is wrong. Romney is a much more competent politician and manager than George W. Bush. Whereas Bush’s tendency would be to basically sit as a figurehead letting incompetent loyalists mismanage disaster after disaster, Romney would be crafting his 1 percent policies and dispensing executive order one after the other to implement them.

    • Offsides says:

      I don’t think that’s about being effective, I think that’s the “only Nixon can go to China” construct.

      Rupert Murdoch has reportedly said that Tony Blair was able to get things passed as a conservative wolfe in Labour sheep clothing that the Tories never could have gotten passed on their own. (Google Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair if you don’t know their history and why Tony Blair belongs in the permanent Politics Hall of Shame – at least after that you’ll understand why he followed Bush into Iraq.)

      So, it is argued, Obama can push for things that the GOP could never do on their own.

      I don’t agree with that. Oh, I’m sure that Obama, like Clinton, will sell out progressive principles just so that he can get a photo op and celebrate his “grand bargain”. But neither Obama nor Clinton is actively pushing for this shit like Blair did. They are just examples of the unprincipled elected Democrats that unfortunately are the majority at the national level. But anything right wing thing they’d approve could just as easily get passed under a Romney administration with a few bought Democratic Senator souls.

    • Heron says:

      I’d actually make the reverse argument. We can’t trust the legislative Dems NOT to vote for SS and medicare cuts during a Romney presidency, but we can certainly trust the Republicans to not vote for them so long as Obama is there. They’ve already shown us two or three times that, for the sake of denying him legislative victories and slight upper-class tax increases, they are more than willing to abandon their decade-long campaign to dismantle the New Deal and Great Society programs.

    • greylocks says:

      I’m pretty sure Romney never actually managed Bain or anything else. What he’s good at is lobbying and fundraising and otherwise getting suckers to part with big gobs of money, which is basically how he “saved” the SLC Olympics. Romney is the sort of crypto-aristocrat who looks down even on the management class, for they, too, are The Help.

    • rea says:

      His argument was that Obama could do all sorts of things that a Republican president would have a hard time getting away with, like slashing social security and Medicare.

      Note the hysterical hallucination that Obama wants to slash social security and Medicare. Some people seem to be looking for a deal-breaker, and if it doesn’t exist, making one up. Being a member of the allegedly principled opposition is more comfortable than grapppling with the real problems of governing.

  9. wengler says:

    Also 3rd parties need to understand that unless they are looking to kill off one of the institutional parties, they aren’t gonna get shit done until they change the way voting is done, or the way we are represented by those votes. I think the former is infinitely easier than the latter which would probably take some sort of war.

    • DocAmazing says:

      Oh, there’s plenty to get done at the state & local level–and in safely blue California, we’ve managed from time to time to throw a scare into the Dem apparatus without getting a Republican in.

    • Warren Terra says:

      There is another model: the non-party-party, or the within-party-party. Just in my own lifetime, a couple of different organized constituencies have successfully taken over the Republicans from within (the Christian Right, and the Tea Party). They did this by being organized, and effectively a political party, but by setting themselves up as a faction within the Republicans rather than competing in general elections against them.

      I’m sure this has happened before, but concrete examples escape me.

      • Previous examples include: the Howard Deaniacs who followed him into the party when he became DNC chair, the Gingrich Revolution, the DLC/New Democrats, the “New Politics”/McGovern faction, the Goldwaterites, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the New Dealers, progressives in both the Republican and Democratic Parties, the Populists in many states, radical Republicans, etc. etc.

        And that’s just large-scale efforts within the mainstream American parties – organizing as a party within a party is pretty standard on the left.

  10. soylenth says:

    My argument is that 1-month before a presidential election is the absolute worst moment to discuss how best to create an alternative to a 3rd-party system or to shoe-horn in a little known 3rd party into the presidency. There was a time to build a broad base of support for a Green or Libertarian candidate for this election and that time has passed. Voter recognition moves glacially, a month will be insufficient time. Most people I know have no idea who Jill Stein is.

    Mostly, I’m dis-inclined to vote for a 3rd party that hasn’t spent years making a convincing case that something the like the Green party should also be your mayor, your state legislator, your governor, and your congressman. We pick our presidents from otherwise successful political candidates at small, regional levels, who have broad name recognition because they’ve been working for smaller groups of constituents successfully for years. I’m not sure why the Green party thinks it gets to bypass earning our trust at the local level, and thinks it can just skip to the top.

    I agree with most everything Scott said otherwise, this is just the argument that compels me most to vote for the actual, functioning party that enjoys a broad base of support and a history of, however imperfectly, working towards ideals that are important to me at every level of the political spectrum. Not just focusing all their energy on taking the presidency and then somehow achieving all their goals while working in a government with no other green party representatives.

    That said, I’d be happy to start voting for green party candidates at regional levels, if I like what they’re saying better than other candidates.

  11. Jim Lynch says:

    “The dealbreaker argument can only be squared with a willingness to absent yourself from national electoral politics in the United States altogether, which…well, I’m not sure what this is supposed to accomplish”.

    Maybe those people represent the tinder that will turn the two-party system on its ear.

    • dollared says:

      Jim, gotta call a mixed metaphor foul on that last sentence.

      • elm says:

        Only if you don’t think you turn on your ear in order to get your face away from the fire.

        • Jim Lynch says:

          Mea culpa. I never have been any good with the metaphor thing-a-majiggy.

          • rea says:

            To be, or not to be, that is the question:
            Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
            The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
            Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
            And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
            No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
            The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
            That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
            Devoutly to be wished.

            Don’t feel embarrased, Jim–others have made the same mistake.

  12. McDuff says:

    I think third parties are either irrelevant or actually counterproductive to social change at the national level.

    And in what way are first and second parties productive to social change? Other than “they’re what exists, so they are necessarily the mechanism by which change, as crippled as it often is, happens. Except when it’s driven by organisations outside of the 1.5 party deadlock, which is quite often”?

    I think the thing that gets me about “you’ll never be the change you want to see in the world if you vote for a third party!” is that it implies the alternative, voting for one of the major parties, *will* get you there.

    • Except when it’s driven by organisations outside of the 1.5 party deadlock, which is quite often”?

      Organizations, yes. Third political parties? No.

      Organizations other than the big political parties do quite often succeed in effecting social change. They just don’t do so by running pointless, barely-noticed campaigns for high political office.

    • This seems problematic to me. Political parties are made up of groups of people with varying levels of organization, so categorizing groups as “outside the…party deadlock” becomes tricky when you’re dealing with groups that aren’t explicitly third-party or rejectionist of mainstream electoral politics.

      The civil rights movement had independent organizations, no question. But the civil rights movement was also organizing within the Democratic Party since the 1930s; so, inside or outside? Is the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party rejecting the two-party deadlock or organizing within a party?

  13. dilan esper says:

    Of course, this completely ignores that dealbreakers force parties to move your way.

    Scott dismisses this as “heightening the contradictions” but it exactly what unions do in a strike- make everyone miserable in the short term to move the ball.

    • Jameson Quinn says:

      Strikes make everyone miserable, starting with the strikers and the bosses. Privileged voters going Green make everyone miserable, except the privileged voters and the Republicans. And also the misery is the most abstract for the Dem candidates it targets while totally literal for others.

    • “Of course, this completely ignores that dealbreakers force parties to move your way.” When has this ever happened in politics? It’s been forty years since the last major effort of the left to organize within a political party, and the result has been forty years of rightward movement on the part of both parties.

    • Socraticsilence says:

      Remind me again of the last strike that left thousands dead (in the strike country alone) and help precipitate the destruction of a major American city.

      • N__B says:

        Sherman’s strike on Atlanta.

      • dilan esper says:

        Outside of the United States, strikes have many times led to mass killings and violence. And it happened a lot here in the 19th Century. And even modern strikes risk it, e.g., PATCO risked causing plane crashes.

        • StevenAttewell says:

          Yes, and historically, many if not most of them didnt force employers to bend to the will of their employees. Homestead, Pullman, Haymarket, 1877, labor history is laced with plenty of examples of strikes that left unions shattered and employers further empowered.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      dealbreakers force parties to move your way.

      No, they don’t.

      • dilan esper says:

        Tell that to a GOP politician who wants to defy Grover Norquist.

        Look, Scott, fundamentally you are a center left guy who can’t stand the far left for undermining your electoral preferences. Just admit it! You have no problem with a labor union heightening the contradictions by making usb miserable, because you agree with the union’s goals. But you don’t agree with pacifism or socialism, and that’s why you dont want THEM to try to undermine your liberal ideology.

        Stop pretending this is anything other than an ideological disagreement. The left hates liberalism, and you hate the left.

        • mark f says:

          Doesn’t a union have a fundamentally different relationship with management than the electorate has with the government?

          • StevenAttewell says:

            Yes, they do. One step further, a union has a very different relationship with employers than an ideological faction has with a political party.

            Unless you’re living somewhere with codetermination.

        • Tell that to a GOP politician who wants to defy Grover Norquist.

          What does Grover Norquist have to do with conservatives not supporting Republican nominees? Norquist’s scheme works within Republican primaries, and has nothing to do with general elections.

          Stop pretending this is anything other than an ideological disagreement.

          This is what somebody incapable of anything but ideological disagreement says.

          The left hates liberalism

          Liberalism accounts for well over 90% of the left in this country.

        • StevenAttewell says:

          Grover Norquists enforces ideological orthodoxy within a party and the result has been lockstep party unity on taxation.

          I don’t think this Norquists means what you think it means,

        • Janastas359 says:

          But you don’t agree with pacifism or socialism, and that’s why you dont want THEM to try to undermine your liberal ideology.

          If there’s one thing this blog is known for, it’s passionate war advocacy

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Tell that to a GOP politician who wants to defy Grover Norquist.

          As has already been pointed out to you, Norquist proves my point, not yours. Changes come from within parties, not through third-party spoiler campaigns. Norquist isn’t trying to undermine Romney, even after he started to run to the center, because (alas) conservative activists are much more strategically sophisticated than Naderites.

          Look, Scott, fundamentally you are a center left guy who can’t stand the far left for undermining your electoral preferences

          You’re just wrong about this. My politics are substantially to the left of Gore or Obama. I’m just not dumb enough to think that throwing elections to Republicans will make my political preferences the basis of a majority national coalition.

    • Of course, this completely ignores that dealbreakers force parties to move your way.

      Cite?

      Name one, dilan. One time happened.

      Did the Democrats move left after Humphrey lost? How about the Kennedy/Anderson double-team on Carter? Ooh, I know – Gore’s defeat in 2000 totally made the Democrats move your way, which is why you love them so much, amirite?

        • Wrong. Grover Norquist has never, not even once, recommended that any conservatives vote against the Republican nominee in a general election.

          His shtick is about primary challengers. Come the general election, he’s out there pushing for the Republican nominee, reliably.

          The relevance of Grover Norquist to this conversation is as an example of a successful party-mover who has never, ever adopted your strategy. Perhaps those two things are connected.

        • StevenAttewell says:

          Good god, man. Read the history of the Goldwaterites, or the Gingrich Revolution. The whole ethos of modern conservativism has been to support the most conservative electable candidate in the primaries and then work for the party in the general election while hammering your electeds into line when governing.

  14. Roger says:

    Reminds of that once-honorable guy who ran to the left of Al Gore in 2000. He too said there was no difference between Gore and Bush, between Democrats and Republicans. Then Bush got elected; then Iraq happened. Guess that proved his point, eh?

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Yeah, but there’s no way that the Chomsky/Avakian ticket wins in 2004 without throwing the election to Bush. That’s how you move the ball!

  15. FlipYrWhig says:

    Another problem with all of the dealbreaker / contradiction-heightening stuff is that, at present, there aren’t enough leftists to make it work. If leftists dropped out of the Democratic coalition, well, there are more fiscal conservatives/social liberals to woo than there are leftists, so the effect can only be to skew everything more to the right. The gambit could only work if leftists-willing-to-sit-out were like a third or half of the left side of the American political spectrum — 15, 20, 25% of the public. But there is WAY too little time and energy spent on how to get from where they are now — wild-ass guess, more like 4 or 5% of the public, tops — to the threshold at which any real message can be sent.

    • djw says:

      there aren’t enough leftists to make it work.

      Yes, but let me offer a friendly amendment: there aren’t enough leftists foolish enough to think this strategy makes any damn sense after 2000 to make it work. Not that there were before, either, but 2004 and 2008 saw 3rd party voting decline to a normal level of ~1-1.5%, where they’re likely to remain as long as the major parties retain their current configuration. Most people who once entertained Dilan’s worldview were sufficiently connected to reality to realize that the 2000 election demanded a rethinking of that view.

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