Howard Zinn Will Vote For Nader After All

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After having added his name to the list of leftists intending to vote for Barack Obama out of anti-Republican sentiment, Howard Zinn has written a letter to Ralph Nader in which the historian admits that he "was wrong in saying that he would vote for Obama" and promises the consumer advocate that he "will vote for [Nader]." Admittedly, Zinn seems to imply that, were Massachusetts not a "slam-dunk state" for the Democrats, he would have cast his vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday.


At the heart of this story is something I have been discouraged by, namely the tendency of self-described liberals to vote for Barack Obama less out of a genuine enthusiasm for the man (though, undeniably, the Illinois senator does seem to elicit the sort of fervor one might expect of tweens attending an N'Sync concert from decidedly un-tweeny people) than out of a hatred for George W. Bush and the GOP.

The argument, of course, is that Barack Obama is better than the Republican alternative.

Thus, when I tell people that I intend to cast my vote for a third party candidate, I am greeted with the same sanctimonious refrain I hear every four years: "you're throwing your vote away."

And I hate that sort of bullshit. It's presumptuous to assume that I would want to give my vote to either of the major party candidates if I did not have a third party candidate for whom I felt any preference.

When the pro-Obama pragmatists fail to convince me with their case -- you wouldn't want another Republican in office would you? -- for my supporting their candidate, I am often accused of cynicism, which is ironic. It is ironic because it is precisely my lack of cynicism that enables me to vote for the person I feel I should support. If I were cynical, I would agree that my vote is worthless and that, if anything, I should accept the lesser of two evils as the best choice. But I do not believe this to be the case. The minute a vote for someone becomes a vote against someone, it ceases to be a vote for anything. It signifies a giving up, an acceptance of the belief that what one wants, one will never get.

And it is this sort of acquiescence that is exactly what leads to the sort of political stagnation we have in the United States. I mean, the Democratic Party would be considered a center-right party in most of the Western world while the Republicans would be a bit further right. The differences between the two parties, despite the passionate pleas to the contrary, are really quite minor.

And this is my point: I am not voting against Barack Obama nor am I (as some of my more vocal "liberal" friends claim) voting for a conservative America. I am voting for what I want, even if the polls say I won't have my way. If I want a de-corporatized democratic socialism, voting for Barack Obama or John McCain would be throwing my vote away and, if people like me (progressive, liberal, and often educated folks) stop saying "no thanks" to the two big parties, it won't matter that they're wrong because they will have effectively silenced the dissent necessary to bring about real change.

I want change, not the illusion of progress.

And if that hope is too audacious, America's Straight Thought Express derailed at the station.

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This page contains a single entry by Sobriquet Magazine published on November 2, 2008 5:18 PM.

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