A friend recently broadcast the fact that he was, yet again, voting for Nader. When I asked if he and his ilk hadn't already done enough damage to the nation, he said he was 'voting his conscience'.
What shocks me about this "voting my conscience" routine is its incredible narcissism. In essence, those who adopt this stance are saying, "It's more important to me to be able to boast to my friends about my ideological purity than to keep the nation out of the toilet."
I have a message for them: your ideological purity is of interest to no one but yourself -- just a form of political masturbation.
The reason given for his choice was, of course, Obama's tactical move to the center as he competes with McCain for swing votes. I'm not crazy about this tactic, and I'm not even certain it's the best one. But given the nation's racism and conservatism, the Republican media, and the yahoo bias created by the Electoral College, I can acknowledge that it might be necessary. The important thing, after all, is that we don't put another right-wing loony in the White House and that the Supreme Court doesn't sink any further into the Dark Ages.
It amazes me that so many people only care about what comes out of a candidate's mouth. Yes, Nader talks a good game, so does Kucinich. Who cares? Neither one of them is ever going to make a dent in the right-wing stranglehold on America. Obama spoke out against the war in Iraq. McCain voted for it and still supports it. Nader wasn't, isn't, and never will be in a position to vote for or against anything.
Politics is about doing, not talking.
Unfortunately the Nader impulse has even deeper roots. I think most Nader-lovers are people who really want to lose. They seem much more comfortable when right-wingers are running the country. What they're best at is groaning about the latest new atrocity perpetrated by 'Them'. But if anyone actually makes a move toward achieving a progressive goal, he or she suddenly becomes one of 'Them' -- a Compromiser, a 'Sellout'. It's obviously frightening to narcissistic leftists to think they might one day be called upon to do something constructive themselves -- something besides marching.
At heart, these folks are deeply passive and deeply authoritarian. They dream of an uncompromising leftist dictator who would take over the country and force everybody to accept a radical agenda. But of course, if they got their wish, the dictator would quickly become 'Them', because Nader-lovers can never really be happy without 'Them'.