Monday, November 3, 2008

Supporting the Long Shot

I had a friend back in 2004 who sheepishly admitted to me, right after he'd left the polling place, "I voted for Kerry. I couldn't bring myself to vote for Nader."

I told him, "Well, I voted for Nader. I couldn't bring myself to vote for Kerry." I had supported Kerry before he started backing down on his antiwar stance, and I didn't like his gay marriage/civil union policy either.

Now, four years later, many of my friends feel the same way about this election as my friend did about that one. I can appreciate Obama's appeal, and I understand where his supporters are coming from--I used to be one of them. In fact, I supported Obama in the primaries, which is something some of these same friends can't say, and I was for him even way back when he looked like a long shot. I guess I was really stupid back then to support a guy who looked like he didn't have a chance. Right? No? Then why is that a reason not to support Nader, as some of my friends have argued?

Imagine if Obama's early supporters had said, "Well, it doesn't look like Obama has much of a chance, so I guess I won't vote for him in the primaries." That would be silly, right? I mean, it's because of our support that Obama succeeded in the face of tough odds. Maybe if Clinton had won the nomination, I would have looked like an idiot. But she didn't, and that's due, in some small part, to my support of Obama.

But you can't say, "Well, as it turns out, your vote wasn't stupid, because Obama ended up winning the nomination." If you want to say that, you might as well tell my friends who voted for Kerry in 2004 that their votes were stupid because Kerry lost. And then you'd have to say that Bush voters voted intelligently because they voted for the winner. Do we really want to say that? See how bizarre things get when we judge the quality of a vote by the success of the candidate?

One more example: my home state of Texas is considered a strong "red" state. I'd guess that Obama has about as much of a chance of winning this state as Nader does. Does that mean I'd be stupid to vote for anyone but McCain? Even though it's dumb to vote for McCain anyway, since he's probably going to lose? You see how this stuff becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. I mean, why even have the election? Why not just inaugurate Obama now? Think about it.

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