February 18, 2008
The NY Times’ Purple State blog offers a nice video retrospective on the Ron Paul candidacy, exploring his bipartisan appeal. Watching this makes me all the more disappointed that Rep. Paul isn’t considering a third party run. I for one would love the opportunity to vote for a candidate without holding my nose, plugging my eyes, ears, and nose like Tommy in the opera by The Who—and guarding other bodily orifices against unconstitutional searches authorized by the Patriot Act.
The key line in the video is the closer, where a smart independent says, “I’m not here voting for the guy I think might win. That defeats the whole point.” Too bad more voters didn’t think so clearly. It’s a grim irony that the Republican primaries chosen a candidate who clings like a fetish to failed and futile war, and immigration policies that are unpopular even among Democrats. What makes the whole thing funnier (in a slow-motion train-wreck involving one’s own immediate family kind of way) is that McCain’s seriously considering as VP a liberal Democrat who supports partial birth abortion. For this, we have to thank those reckless “conservative” opinion-mongers who made support for the Iraq War the litmus test for right-wing orthodoxy.
If the race comes down, as it seems it will, to a choice between McCain and Obama, with no decent third-party alternative, it will be hard for millions of us to decide it’s worth the bus fare and bother to get to the polls. It will feel a lot like going to serve your jury duty during the OJ trial.
Until this year I was privileged, for every presidential election since 1988, to reside in a solidly “blue” state where my vote could not possibly make any difference to the outcome of the election. That freed me up from the need to waste my vote supporting the mediocrities squeezed out by the Republican candidate grinder. I was able to vote for the Constitution Party in 1992 and 1996, for Buchanan in 2000, and the Libertarian Party in 2004″and to feel good that my vote was going for a candidate whose views I largely supported, and wasn’t wasted on supporting the “evil of two lessers.” It didn’t even bear thinking about.
Since I now reside in New Hampshire, a red state quickly purpling like a grape infected with a fungus from Massachusetts, I no longer have the comfort of futility. And I’m really wondering what to do in November. Were Ron Paul running as a third party candidate, this choice would be a no-brainer. I could enthusiastically cast a vote for him, despite his likelihood of winning, in order to support a candidate who was resolutely pro-life, pro-peace, and pro-liberty”and whose name and visibility was sufficient that it might help build a movement in support of those three central social goods which my Christian faith demands I further. Now I doubt very much that there will be any such candidate. Barring his emergence, I’ll be faced with the choice of voting for John McCain, in the faint hope that he will move the Supreme Court a little further in the right direction”or refusing to vote, out of disgust at the wide range of other, appalling and poisonous things he is likely (or has even promised) to do.
It leaves a single-issue voter like me in a genuine quandary. If I (and millions like me) refuse to vote, or write in Ron Paul, and the Democratic nominee wins and promptly packs the Court with like-minded egalitarian feminists, are we not responsible for the loss of unborn lives and the further degradation of our Constitution”not to mention the actual, legislative policies that would be pursued by the (center-left) Clinton or the (far-left) Obama? Conversely, if we vote for McCain and he pushes forward with unjust wars, will the blood of those Iranians/Syrians/Lebanese (fill in the blank) be on our heads? Can America’s heritage of individual liberties stand four more years of Red State Fascism? At what point must we accuse ourselves of voting for the Enabling Act that repeals our fundamental rights in the vain pursuit of safety?
As Pat Buchanan admits, there are no good answers here, and have been none since we allowed that smirking, dry-drunk Bible-polisher, who never deserved to be president of a decent fraternity, to win the nomination in 2000.
Later this week, I’ll try to retrace the steps we took that led us down this rathole, and see if someone might have left a trail of breadcrumbs that might lead us home.